During the Festival of Trees, the Muskegon Museum of Art opens its doors for guests to frolic through a winter wonderland of themed trees and seasonal décor. Partygoers can grab an hors d'oeuvre and jam along with a live blues band, a dance-floor motivator even better than pistols rhythmically fired at dancers’ feet. In time for snow season, staffers deck the halls of the museum with holiday decorations and custom-designed spruces to lighten the mood. Revelers can snag potent nog from the cash bar and take sips while viewing the mechanical movements of a model train set, or track down your pet scone's long-lost relative in the gingerbread village. During the festivities, patrons can explore the museum's hallowed halls, which contain exhibits including celebrated paintings, sculptures, and cultural artifacts.
As the sun dips below Coopersville Farm Museum and Event Center’s grain silo, local musicians gather in the high-ceilinged hall against the backdrop of patchwork quilts and antique farm tools. They sing gospel, country, and folk songs that have been passed down for generations. Events such as these are one facet of the museum’s mission to honor and uphold rural traditions. In addition to the monthly jam sessions, the 12,000-square-foot facility hosts quilting circles, line dancing, and other skill-swapping events. Curators spotlight the region’s agrarian past by recruiting antique-farming tools and folk art and freeing hopelessly lost scarecrows from corn mazes. In addition to shining a light on the region’s past, the museum strives to support current culture makers; The hall serves as a gallery space for local artists, and during the youth-led Kids’ Day local teens teach tykes creative skills.
Midnite Sun & Cruise spritzes golden hues on clients' skin with equipment that includes multi-level UV beds and spray booths by VersaSpa and Mystic Tan. The salon boasts an array of tanning booths with different amenities, including facial lamps and fast-acting, high-pressure beds. The MR International products for sale at Midnite Sun & Cruise work in tandem with the tanning beds and UV rays to yield a deeper, darker tan. In addition to traditional tanning beds, Midnite Sun & Cruise supplies spray tans and red-light skin rejuvenation. The VersaSpa spray-tan solution mingles with the skin's amino acids and proteins, perpetuating a bronzed sheen for five to seven days, and Mystic Tan sprays boast a natural color that evenly fades and diminishes the slight DHA odor. Red-light therapy promotes collagen production for smoother skin, and fights acne harder than a dermatologist with a soap-filled fire hydrant.
The Coopersville & Marne Railway Company whisks riders back in time aboard passenger cars from the early 1900s, a diesel locomotive built in 1952, and tracks laid in 1858. Trained volunteers dressed in period uniforms welcome passengers, who then set out on a route through scenic fields and family-owned farmlands as a soundtrack of 1800s train music plays in the background. Throughout the ride, the conductor shares stories about the train and its route, filled with glimpses of deer, wild turkeys, and eagles, as well as several flowing creeks. Upon request, passengers may join the engineer in his cab to see how the train works or perform duets of “The Ballad of Casey Jones.”
The railway company regularly hosts special events aboard its trains, including the Great Train Robbery, a Wild West–themed escapade with volunteers playing Jesse James, the Earp brothers, and other legendary figures. To celebrate the holidays, the company operates a Santa train where kids can meet Kris Kringle; a bunny train with a walking, talking Easter bunny; and a fall-themed ride that includes a visit to a pumpkin patch.
Engines start to roar, propellers spin, and a large parachute expands into the sky, carrying a light aircraft and its passengers toward the clouds. Silver Lining Aviation's certified instructors create adventures like this every day as they teach visitors to soar behind the controls of sport aircrafts such as powered parachutes, weight-shift trikes, and gyroplanes. Led by licensed FAA flight instructor Craig Ewing, Silver Lining's team takes prospective pilots on introductory flights that allow them to experience aircrafts such as the Airwolf 912 and nibble on different flavors of clouds. The aviation experts also sell sport aircrafts, which patiently wait onsite as customers work through custom ground- and flight-training programs. In most cases, the flight instructors prepare their pupils for aerial navigation in as little as two weeks. They also assist new pilots with replacement parts, provide 24/7 support, and cook oil soup to feed hungry aircraft.
Armed with a variety of art-, sensory-, and experience-based programming, Grand Rapids Children's Museum plots a plethora of strategies for holding the attentions of unruly tots. Permanent exhibits include a hands-on bubbles display; a construction site made of Legos, building blocks, and more; and an interactive play-banking site complete with cash registers, ATMs, and legally binding loans. Beginning January 27, the temporary exhibit Izzy's World of Shapes will entice creative kiddos with three-dimensional stacking puzzles, drawing activities, and an enormous light-bright structure.
Jaden James Brewery isn't the Bonga family's first foray into the world of sippable fermentation. In the same space where they now create specialty beers, they've spent years crafting wines from the fruits of Michigan's bountiful vineyards and orchards.
"So many people come for the wine, but we often get one half of a couple who says, 'I like beer,'" says Bob Bonga. The brewery's current selection includes a creamy ale to be savored between bites of pretzels, a Russian Imperial Stout, and an oatmeal porter that Bob characterizes as "wonderfully dark, with roasted tones of chocolate and coffee hops." The juice of apples harvested in northwest Grand Rapids goes into hard ciders.
The family also prepares a short list of snacks for visitors. In the future, the Bongas may grow their menu further by distilling their own liquors.