Downtown Mount Pleasant is destination for food, shopping and entertainment
A look at some of the diverse amenities downtown has to offer
Whether you’re new to Mount Pleasant or returning for another year, there are more places to discover in downtown Mount Pleasant.
While the plethora of bars downtown like The Bird and Blue Gator attract a late-night crowd, there are plenty of specialty businesses, parks and eateries just a short walk from the campus of Central Michigan University.
Downtown locations, no matter the city, provide a unique perspective on the town and the community that it encompasses, and this is especially true for Mount Pleasant. As a university student, it can be easy to get stuck in a bubble on campus, resulting in a disconnect from the surrounding community.
Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponseller, encourages students to explore the downtown and meet local business owners.
"Take this time as a student to become part of our community," Sponseller said. "When you're shopping or eating local, those dollars stay in our community."
Browsing downtown offers a break from driving that congested, long stretch of Mission Street, and helping these local store owners also helps contribute to the local economy, Sponseller said.
Despite what you might think, downtown has so much to offer students and young adults all the way from resources to de-stress and get fit, to one-of-a-kind restaurants and boutiques. Here is your student guide to downtown Mount Pleasant.
Eating out is a pastime loved by many, and is a frequent occasion for college students with busy schedules. Next time you are trying to decide where to eat, remember the 14 unique local eateries downtown that have a range of price points.
Miss that homemade breakfast your mother used to make on weekend mornings? Stan’s is the quaint hometown diner on Broadway Street that has lasted more than 60 years in the downtown area. The small diner is usually packed on weekend mornings, but worth the wait.
"(Eating local) you get a flavor for the local community," Sponseller said. "You're going to meet people who are tied to the community. The owner of the restaurants – you're going to know who they are because they're probably working at the establishment."
If you need a little caffeine during your trip downtown, Ponder Coffee Co. and Pleasant City Coffee both offer great service and tasty drinks and food.
Max and Emily’s Bakery and Café is a popular lunch deli with soups, burgers, salads and vegetarian options. This eatery has an outdoor patio, perfect for enjoying the downtown environment and eating lunch outside.
In business for 50 years, Pisanello’s Pizza might just prove to be your new favorite pizza place. Its menu features pizzas, “famous” sub sandwiches and salads. Pisanello's is best known for its massive lunch pizza buffet that starts at $10.
There are upscale date night diners as well, like Camille's on the River, Adelaide's Bistro and The Brass Cafe on Main Street. Brass Cafe's lunch and dinner menus feature decadent items like lobster bisque, lamb chops and a portabella gouda flatbread.
Be adventurous with Midori Sushi and Martini Lounge, which offers fresh Japanese cuisine and craft cocktails. Their lunch and dinner menus include items like miso soup, a “fire up” sushi roll with eel sauce, teriyaki bowls and “drunken noodles.”
There are certainly more restaurants downtown and taverns to keep in mind when deciding where to go for a night out, such as Mountain Town Station Restaurant and Brew Pub, one of Michigan's first craft beer breweries, Dog Central, Marty’s Bar, Blue Gator, Blackstone Bar, and more. When it comes to iconic downtown hotspots, The Bird is the word.
"People know The Bird as a place for the bar but some people may not realize the great food that you can get there," Sponseller said. "Like a Bird burger I highly recommend."
Central Michigan University offers endless entertainment options, but there is a lot of fun to be had by bursting out of the bubble that is campus. Downtown is a hub for entertainment in Mount Pleasant. Venues like bars, restaurants, clubs and outdoor spaces regularly host concerts, and businesses provide fun activities to cure boredom.
RedBloom Yoga and Mt. Pleasant Hot Yoga both offer classes for beginner and intermediate yogis. At RedBloom, your first class is always free and there are discounts offered for students who present a valid school ID. Mt. Pleasant Hot Yoga focuses on using heated rooms to warm the muscles, which “helps prevent injuries and allow a deeper workout.”
Spend a day letting your creative energy flow by painting ceramic pieces at the Painted Turtle Pottery Studio, browsing local art at GraySky Gallery, or taking a workshop class at Art Reach of Mid Michigan. Art Reach frequently offers open galleries, hosts speaker events and is a medium for art appreciation. If you're craving more mental stimulation, Intrigue Escape Games on Broadway Street offers a rock star themed escape room attraction.
Through Oct. 25, Mount Pleasant’s farmer’s market is held downtown on Thursdays and Saturdays. Frequently, they host music groups at the Thursday market in Island Park. Another popular venue for concerts, mainly of the rock variety, is Rubble’s Bar. On Sept. 14, Rubble’s will host “The Black Sabbath Experience” with a cover band and a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne on Nov. 3.
A newer "hot spot" in town is Centennial Hall. Last year, there were monthly concert events dubbed “Centennial Nights” that showcased local artists and musicians in a unique two-room experience. It was Mount Pleasant’s own take on a music festival. With already one event passed this semester and another called “Pleasant Town Music and Arts Festival” planned for late September, Centennial Hall continues to be a center for entertainment.
The fun doesn't end in the winter after the snow starts to fall. Sidewalks along Main Street and throughout downtown, including the parks, are cleared of snow and there is an annual Mount Pleasant Christmas Celebration, landing on Nov. 30 and Dec. 31 this year.
Mount Pleasant is home to 11 parks, which collectively span over 300 acres, many of which highlight the Chippewa River. The downtown parks mentioned here, are all connected by the 1.8 mile long Gregory K. Baderschneider Riverwalk Trail.
"(People) might be really surprised to find out the number of parks we have, how large they are and all the things you can do," Sponseller said.
Parks are that perfect escape from a busy schedule and a friendly way to spend an afternoon. Luckily, there are options for you.
Located at the north end of town, Island Park is appropriately named as it is completely bordered by the Chippewa River. This 50-acre park houses a Michigan Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, a skate park, a Timber Town playscape, eight horseshoe pits, open shelters, gazebos and more. It makes the perfect location for club picnics or to hangout with your new roommates.
Nelson Park, which is connected to Island Park by a bridge, sits in the downtown area as well. Smaller than Island Park, Nelson Park features a canoe landing, picnic tables, charcoal grills, a fishing deck and public restrooms. The park lends itself as the perfect place for an end-of-the summer cookout. In the center of the 5-acre plot, there is a rock-covered fountain on display, dubbed Centennial Gardens. Visitors may notice a bear statue at the top of this display, which gives homage to a real bear that used to be housed there.
Millpond Park, off Adams Street, is a 90-acre park located in the center of the community, with the Chippewa River running through the area.
Salons and spas
Being a college student comes with change, self-discovery and learning how to take care of yourself. Spas and salons are great for helping you pamper yourself, de-stress and change up your look.Whether you need a fresh haircut and color or a relaxing massage, there are several options for salons downtown.
De-stress with healthy smoothies or a 60-minute session in a float pod at Pure Vitality Juice Bar and Spa. Located at 128 E. Broadway St., this spa is a newer addition to the area and offers students different ways to unwind. Their services include infrared massage beds, infrared saunas, float pods and a juice bar. Their drinks are packed with superfoods and unique ingredients like chia seeds, bee pollen and hemp. For example, their “fire up lemon-aid” juice contains lemon, aloe vera, Michigan made syrup, cayenne and filtered water.
In addition to Vitality, there are more than a dozen salons to choose from. Salon Blue and Day Spa, located on University Street, is another spa destination. This salon is unique, however, because their stylists’ range in skill level. The price you pay correlates with the skill level of your technician. The Upper Cut Salon on Main Street offers permanent makeup options, like microblading and permanent lip liner.
Other salons in the area include, Aphrodite Salon, Bob’s Barber Shop, (Real)Experience Hair Design, Total Eclipse Design, Level 7 Studio, Headliner’s, and The Downstairs Salon and Boutique.
Downtown offers local shops that are unique to the area, such as Hall of Heroes LLC, Motorless Motion, Le Fleur Boutique, Trillium Fine Clothing for Women, and others.
Department stores are on the list of "things millennials are killing" and perhaps one reason for this is because there are so many great local shops that offer uncommon styles.
If you’ve been wanting new clothing to spice up your wardrobe, you could stop by Le Fleur Boutique or Trillium Fine Clothing for the latest fashion trends from casual denim and tees to special occasion ensembles. Trillium caries popular brands like Vera Bradley, Brighton accessories, and Estee Lauder.
Biking is a popular way to stay fit and get to class without a parking permit. Motorless Motion is a bicycle shop on Main Street, owned by Terry Quast and managed by Allison Quast-Lents, mayor of Mount Pleasant. In addition to selling bikes, Motorless Motion offers free tire wear checks, brake pad checks, frame inspections and other services to help you get your best and safest ride.
Where can you find Wonder Woman, Deadpool and Shirtless Bear Fighter all under one roof? The comic book and pop culture store Hall of Heroes, which recently relocated back downtown to 201 1/2 E. Broadway St. Owner Michael Shuler said the store provides the latest in Marvel and DC titles as well as comic books from independent publishers such as Image and Dark Horse, and toys and collectables. Freshmen get a 10 percent discount in the store through the end of September. The store also caters to fans of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons.
Tired of the mundane and overwhelming grocery shopping experience? GreenTree Cooperative Grocery is a small grocer downtown that offers “healthy, earth-friendly foods.” The store has products such as deli items, frozen and fresh produce and wellness items. Their goal, according to their website, is "to be Mount Pleasant’s premier retail provider of organic and natural foods, while keeping sustainability in mind." You won’t find foods containing hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, but you can find products that are certified organic, locally produced, certified non-GMO, fair trade certified and free of growth hormones and antibiotics. If this interests you, you can visit the shop at 214 N. Franklin St.
Until you explore downtown for yourself you won't be able to appreciate its amenities and the beauty of Mount Pleasant. Next time your bored, take the short walk or drive to downtown and explore one of these businesses or activities.