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Take Me There Tuesday: Midland

Welcome to your first edition of "Take Me There Tuesday." In this weekly blog edition, you can expect to travel across the mitten state with your MichiganScapes team. We'll take you to towns, cities, fairs, events, forgottenscapes and historical sites all across Michigan! Learn about some of the most photographed landmarks and hidden adventures just waiting for you and your camera. Now get ready! This week I'm taking you on a tour of my hometown, Midland.

The city of Midland has a population of right around 42,500 people and is often thought of as the "City of Science and Culture.” The innovation of the residents and love for nature has provided many places I can take you to. We'll start downtown as that's where my portrait studio is located and where my heart lies! It's also where you can visit the famous Tridge! This is a three legged wooden footbridge located where the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers join together. One leg is located in the Chippewassee Park, another is in the St. Charles Park, and the last is located near the retired farmer's market area and Pere Marquete Trail loving referred to as the rail trail by locals. Fishing is typically not permitted from the Tridge, but occurs there frequently. There is also a night curfew to keep the Tridge clear of pedestrians.

Just a short walk up the hill into the business area of downtown will bring you to numerous shops and restaurants. You can see a listing of the most up to date businesses HERE. During the summer months much of the downtown streets will close down and become what is known as Pedestrian Plaza. Seating, games, and concert stages spread out onto sidewalks and into the street where visitors can stroll and enjoy time with each other while listening to entertainment, eating or having a drink. Sometimes you can see the hot air balloons in glow down the street. Other times dinner tables will stretch down main street as supporters gather for a fundraising meal. When you walk through downtown, you will notice murals that have been hand painted on several buildings. Most of these were installed as part of an art fair and draw in crowds of people who want to snap a photo. Many of my high school seniors request to have their own photos taken with a mural as a backdrop. I always try to oblige since my studio is housed in a building covered with one of the largest and most vibrant murals in downtown! 

Just a short stroll up Main Street will bring us to the Santa House. You may be wondering why on earth I would mention the Santa House. Well, this isn’t just any old Santa House. This is THE Santa House, and it’s is a magical experience for kids and adults alike. It is free to visit and picture taking is welcome. The pathway leading up to the white wooden house with green trim has lights that glisten and change colors. The sound of Christmas music can typically be heard only to be drowned out by the children playing in the yard. The clock tower bell chime every 15 minutes and each hour little children come out of the doors to ring the bells. It can be quite a wait to get to the curved top door, but once Santa’s else opens it up and you enter inside your eyes will be wide with wonder! 

The line moves to the left where you’ll find many little scenes set with elves creating toys for good girls and boys both high and low. Take your time looking around. Every year something changes. One year, long ago it snowed inside Santa’s house and I will never forget my little boy’s hands lifted high as he looked up towards the rooftop where the snow originated from. It was a magical memory I will carry with me forever. Santa’s throne sits in front of the most beautifully crafted stone fireplace. Be ready to take your photo of Santa and let an elf take one of you with the big man, too! 

Not too far down Main Street is another historical bridge that was recently refurbished. The upper bridge is now known as the Currie Parkway Bridge. This shiny red bridge has recently been reopened for one-way traffic only after having been damaged when a truck much too heavy attempted to cross it and created damage to the recently remodeled structure. The bridge was closed for several years before being reopened.

Midland has no shortage of bridges if that is what you like to look at through your lens. Let's take a journey to Dow Gardens where you will find several shiny red bridges as well as some made of stone and wood crossing the water. In addition to bridges, you will find 110 acres of botanical gardens with over 35,000 annuals, a waterfall, greenhouse with butterfly house, children's garden and play area, The Pines (historic Dow home), Estate Garden, Founder's Circle, Orchard and Whiting Forest which is home to the longest canopy walk in the nation. There are several times during the year that I love to visit the Dow Gardens starting with early spring when the butterflies are busting out of their cocoons. Appointments for visiting the butterfly house are required post covid, but it is well worth the trip! In later spring the tulips bloom, and that is a spectacular sight in the gardens! The many colors of tulips can only be matched by the blazing colors of autumn leaves on the trees in the autumn. For a special treat enjoy the Fall Walk or Halloween Hike through the gardens and experience the changing colors of the season. Or for a magical moment stroll through the gardens at night and take in the Christmas lights that are strung through the trees. 

Speaking of trees, there is no shortage in Midland. To the north you will find City Forest, a local favorite for mountain biking, hiking, sledding and 7.5 miles of groomed trails for cross country skiing and snow shoeing. In the winter months you can also find ice skating and four snow-packed, iced and elevated toboggan runs. City Forest is 520 acres of hardwoods and pines that are pet friendly and has ample parking. 

Looking for somewhere a little more quiet to bird watch or capture some wildlife with your camera? Check out Little Forks Conservancy properties. They have several in Midland County that are a little off the beaten path. Many of the properties contain trails to hike and some border the Tittabawassee River. If you would prefer to stay closer to the City of Midland, you can head to the Chippewa Nature Center for wildlife and biking trails as well as a historical portal back to the ways of logging and Indian trade. With over 1200 acres of land filled with barns, rivers and nature you will find plenty of subjects to photograph. The Chippewa Nature Center also hosts many educational classes and programs for the community as well as events such as snow shoeing, night hikes, and maple syrup festival. If barns are your preferred subject this is the place for you!

Okay, so far I’ve taken you on a tour of small downtown lights and murals, large gardens and preserves with bridges and barns, but what if you want to capture that big city look? On the city’s edge you will find a little park known as Whiting Overlook Park. It literally overlooks industrial row, and specifically the fortune 500 company Dow Chemical. From the park you will see buildings and smoke stacks just beyond the pond and river. During the evenings this view is lit up and resembles a cityscape reflecting on the water’s edge. Fair warning, during the winter months you will find locals sledding the hills of Overlook both day and night! 

Everyone knows that I love night sky photography, and I have to be very honest with you here. Most of Midland’s parks are closed to the public during night hours and not available without special permits or during special night events. The Chippewa Nature Center is known to host some night nature walks. However, it is not impossible to get evening images. Downtown Midland is a beautiful place to photograph at night. Just be careful to stay off the bridge an not venture too close to the parks or water. If you are an Aurora chaser you will need to head out of the city for hopes of capturing the lights. If a storm is strong you will not need to go too far!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief journey through my hometown of Midland with me today. While I couldn’t introduce you to all of the amazing places my city has to offer you, I did try to take you to some of the most sought after places to photograph, as well as, some of my favorite. If you choose to explore Midland the destinations here will keep you photographing for days! 

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We took a trip to Port Huron and this was our first stop in October 2021. It was a lovely place to photograph and I hope to be back again.

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