Midwest Staycation: A Short Drive for a Fun Family Trip

Midland Doesn’t Disappoint with Curling, Canopy Walks, and Good Food

Central Michigan may not be the first thing that comes to mind while looking for a spring break destination to bring your family, but Midland, Michigan has grown to be a city with award-winning lodging, high-end dining and family friendly entertainment.

Midland is around a two-hour drive from Ann Arbor, making it just far enough to take a break from everyday life and explore a different Michigan city. 

In addition to a comfortable bed and sofa, the rooms at the H Hotel have many deluxe features including microfiber robes and a television that doubles as a mirror. Photo by Mary Gensen.

Family fun in Midland

Dow Gardens is a major tourist attraction that brings visitors to Midland. Spring and summer are popular times to visit the gardens once flowers are in bloom, but it is open year-round. 

The gardens have a notable amount of unique bridges and a canopy walk for guests who are not afraid of heights. For those brave enough to venture onto the nation’s longest canopy walk, they will get a new perspective of the gardens as they look at it from above. 

Each garden area along Dow’s clear paths is engaging in its own way. Once it opens for the season, the Children’s Garden is full of flower and vegetable gardens and interactive activities. 

The canopy walk at Dow Gardens offers interactive elements for families throughout the path. Photo by Mary Gensen.

If you want to add some extra educational value to the experience, you can scan a QR code to access an audio tour of the gardens. 

For lunch, we gravitated towards the big sign that said “tacos.” Proper Taco has around 30 different taco options, each creatively given a first name such as Clyde and Sharon. My favorite was the Mango Jerry, a bacon braised pork taco with poblano crema, mango habanero slaw and green onion. 

We also got an order of queso, which ended up being more than enough food for two people. This big bowl of pepper jack cheese tasted fresh and had a satisfying cheese pull. 

Other lunch options in downtown Midland are Crepes Et Amis and Molasses Smokehouse and Bar

Before checking into our hotel, we took a stroll over the Tridge, one of Midland’s greatest landmarks. Located in Chippewassee Park near downtown Midland and the H Hotel, the Tridge is a three legged footbridge that spans the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers. Each 180 foot spoke leads to the center with benches and signage pointing to different Midland attractions. 


Now is the time to test your skills and try curling at the H Hotel’s synthetic ice sheet. Reserve the sheet and equipment for an hour and learn how to play as well as popular curling lingo. Photo courtesy of H Hotel.

The H Hotel experience 

Occupying a whole block downtown with luxury lodging and dining is the H Hotel. Within the hotel’s premises is enough to entertain a family for a weekend staycation, but if you care to branch out, there are several shops and restaurants within walking distance. 

The hotel just officially announced they were awarded the AAA prestigious Four Diamond award for lodging for the 10th consecutive year.

We stayed in one of the H Hotel’s deluxe suites which provided spacious comfort and high-tech appliances. Hanging on the wall over the desk was a television which doubled as a mirror when turned off. In the deluxe room with a queen bed, there is also a sofa which is backed by a large window. You control the blinds for this window through a control system attached to the wall. 

Other highlights from the room were the Keurig coffee maker, walk-in shower, microfiber robes and comfortable bed. 

The courtyard at the H Hotel is a multipurpose area with dining, curling and lounging by fire pits. Photo courtesy of H Hotel.

The decor throughout the hotel was simple but elegant with a unique periodic table of elements motif. 

The courtyard is a focal point of the H Hotel, including entertainment, dining and lounging options. 

If you are like me, you have been wanting to try curling since you first saw it at the Olympics. For $25 you can reserve a time to try a street version of this winter sport in the courtyard of the H Hotel. 

In “Courtyard Curling,” you get to push a real curling rock with rollers on the bottom across the sheet of synthetic ice. The general objective of the game is to aim the rocks toward the target, or the “house,” but the informational sign in the courtyard gives clear direction on how to play the sport. One side of the sign also lists some curling terms and lingo that your family will have fun using while you play. 

Included in the price to reserve the curling sheet and equipment for an hour is a $15 voucher for one of the dining outlets at the H Hotel and access to the fire pits in the courtyard. 

1- The dining pods at the H Hotel create an intimate and customizable setting for a fine dining experience. You can pick the temperature of the dome and the music you listen to while you eat. Photo courtesy of H Hotel.

Seating areas for groups of varying sizes are scattered throughout the courtyard where you can relax and maybe even grab a drink from the Oxygen Lounge to enjoy fireside. 

Café Zinc and ONe Eighteen are the two restaurants on the H Hotel premises. ONe Eighteen is open for dinner and serves American cuisine; Café Zinc serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and specializes in European classics. 

After we checked in and curled in the courtyard, we went to our dinner reservation in a dining pod at Café Zinc. These unique heated domes offer an intimate setting for a romantic date night or a stress-free family dinner. 

While Café Zinc is a fancy restaurant, the dining pod puts less pressure on the younger members of your family to sit still and perform perfect dining etiquette. 

The dining pods are spacious and fit a maximum of six guests comfortably. A heater and soft blankets are provided to ensure the temperature is just right for your group. 

Only three dining pods are available in the courtyard so reservations are encouraged. 

To pair with the bread brought to our table when we sat down, we started our meal with soup and salad. I trusted the server’s recommendation and went with the french onion soup au gratin, and was delighted by the flavorful broth topped with a generous amount of gruyere cheese. The soup and salad portions were large, maybe even the perfect sized meal for a younger kid. 

We also ordered parmigiano reggiano frites as an appetizer. These fries are blasted with complex flavors and come with rosemary truffle aioli and ketchup on the side. Among the other appetizer options are baked burrata, layered hummus dip and shrimp medallions.

For our entree, we ordered the oven roasted Statler chicken and the special of the day which consisted of 4 seared U-10 scallops, fingerling potatoes, crispy bacon, roasted pearl onion, sauteed mushrooms and spinach in a black garlic cream sauce. 

These perfectly seared scallops were flavorful without having an overwhelming fishy taste. Each element worked together in this dish to complement the fresh taste of the scallops. 

The Statler chicken came with fingerling potatoes and was covered in a mushroom sauce. Inside the light and crispy exterior, the chicken was perfectly juicy and tender.   

We finished our meal with dessert from the case at the front of the Cafe. If it hadn’t been for our desire to try multiple desserts, we could have shared one. We ended up choosing a Godiva chocolate cheesecake and a peanut butter mousse cake, however, this was a tough decision after looking into the display case full of desserts and french inspired pastries. 

We capped off the night with a swim at the H Hotel’s pool and hot tub. For guests who do not like to miss a workout, there is also a fitness center adjacent to the pool area. 

When we woke up, we walked down to our reservations at Café Zinc. Since we ate in the cafe this time instead of a dining pod, it was an entirely unique experience from our dinner. One thing they still offer for breakfast though is their fresh French pastries at the counter. 

The breakfast menu includes options ranging from a classic American breakfast to a smoked salmon plate. Something that stood out about the breakfast were the hashbrowns which consisted of crisp potato shavings with decadent flavor. 

The H Hotel’s dedication to personalized service was the highlight of our stay because it heightened each element of our entertainment, lodging and dining experience. 

With just a two hour drive from Ann Arbor, this stay could be as short as one night for a quick getaway.

Check out more on this with our “Spring Break Roundup” 

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