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Spending the Summer in Big Rapids

A variety of smaller sites and events for summer fun and food

by Published: May 19, 2013

Fun For All : The Mecosta County fair offers rides, games, food and activities for people of all ages to enjoy. The county fair will run July 8 - July 13 this summer. Photo by Brock Copus | Multimedia Editor

Fun For All : The Mecosta County fair offers rides, games, food and activ­i­ties for peo­ple of all ages to enjoy. The county fair will run July 8 — July 13 this sum­mer. Photo by Brock Copus | Multimedia Editor

The weather has finally taken a turn for the warmer, and sum­mer approaches. Though many anx­ious, Big Rapids-weary Ferris stu­dents are itch­ing to head home, not all the out-of-towners are high­tail­ing it out of town mere min­utes after their last exam. For those stick­ing around look­ing for bud­get and mileage-friendly out­lets for their time and energy, here are a few nearby, lesser known places that won’t take you too far beyond city limits.

Pocket Park Concerts

Live, local music is offered right in down­town Big Rapids in Pocket Park.

All of the musi­cians are local and pro­vide music from all gen­res includ­ing rock, blues, jazz, old coun­try and blue­grass. There are cur­rently 17 acts lined up for the sum­mer from May 10 to Aug. 30.

All the con­certs take place from noon to 2 p.m. on Fridays. Pocket Park is located between Pepper’s Café and Chemical Bank on Michigan Avenue.

Nawal’s Mediterranean Eatery, Gourmet Cupcakes and Desserts

For those inter­ested in find­ing some­thing tasty and out of the ordi­nary, Nawal’s Mediterranean Eatery, Gourmet Cupcakes and Desserts located in down­town Big Rapids will sorely tempt those with a sweet tooth.

Specialty home­made Mediterranean dishes are served, and the menu changes each day. Gourmet cup­cakes are also offered. Nawal Braden-Swart, owner of the Mediterranean Eatery and a native of Egypt, has been fea­tured on tele­vi­sion mul­ti­ple times for her home­made cup­cakes, most recently for her Michigan Avenue busi­ness which opened April 2, 2013.

Paris Park

The Paris Park is approx­i­mately seven miles north of Big Rapids. It’s great for a long walk, quick bike ride or rollerblad­ing jaunt. The path is paved all the way, mak­ing trans­porta­tion via rails or trails per­fect for the out­doorsy type. For those not into the exer­cis­ing thing, the drive is a short five min­utes on Old 131 North.

The park hosts native Michigan ani­mals, such as geese, ducks and a pond full of trout, which vis­i­tors are able to feed. The park itself is a camp­ground with a very rec­og­niz­able land­mark: a minia­ture Eiffel Tower.

Small lakes, rivers and their beaches

Tubing is a Big Rapids sta­ple, but some­times peo­ple want to cool off with­out the work and the tube. Brower Park, Young’s Lake Camp Ground and School Section Lake are all within 15 miles of Big Rapids, each offer­ing a cool retreat with­out the wor­ries of float­ing away from the group.

Baldwin’s Shrine of the Pines

Northwest of Big Rapids is an attrac­tion that fas­ci­nates as much as it func­tions: an entire eco-friendly house built out of reclaimed old-growth Michigan tim­ber. The cen­ter­piece is a 700-pound din­ing room table made from the stump of an enor­mous pine tree. The many hid­den com­part­ments and inlays of the prohibition-era house are things to be appre­ci­ated even by the casual.

The Ice Cream Run

A trip for the tasti­est treat, start this run in the late morn­ing. Begin at the Pioneer Emporium in Big Rapids with a single-dip ice cream. From there, travel south to Stanwood’s Copper Top Convenience Store for another sin­gle dip. Following 131 South brings one to Morley for a stop at Udderly Delicious.

If that sweet tooth still isn’t sated, con­tinue south on Old 131 to Howard City’s Dairy Bear for another sin­gle dip. For the grand finale, King’s Trading Post in Sylvester, near Mecosta, makes up for being out of the way with a sin­gle dip the size of your head.

Mary’s All About Health and Wellness

Big Rapids is full of fast food and retail, the bulk of it dom­i­nat­ing the front of Ferris’ cam­pus. There are other options around, though—ones that won’t have din­ers walk­ing around with uncom­fort­ably heavy stom­achs on a blis­ter­ingly hot sum­mer day.

Downtown Big Rapids offers a vari­ety of such options, one of them being Mary’s All About Health and Wellness. Providing one of the few shop­ping options for the more health-conscious or meat-unfriendly eaters, the small gro­cery pro­vides every­thing from sweets to big din­ner ingre­di­ents, in addi­tion to mid­day meals and many other services.