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Patch Passport: How About a Trip to Saline?

Annual Celtic festival, featuring bagpipes, games, dancing and a 5K, begins July 13.

We wrote this little day trip guide to Saline for a summer series called Patch Passport. The other Patch sites in Michigan — from Fenton to Trenton and two dozen in between — have done the same. 

All summer long, we'll offer up a weekly daytrip guide to another southeast Michigan destination. But to start, here's what you helped us come up with for our own daytrip guide. Have more suggestions? Add them in the comments.

Welcome to Saline

Saline is known throughout the country as a great place to live and for some of the

It’s also a terrific place to spend a sunny afternoon or a warm summer night.

Located 20 minutes south of Ann Arbor’s Main Street shopping district and 15 minutes south of the University of Michigan football stadium, keep driving south and you’ll find historic downtown Saline at Michigan Avenue, bustling with independently-owned restaurants, cafés, boutiques and salons. 

Mayor Gretchen Driskell is fond of saying Saline is a great place to “live, work and play.” In this guide to Saline, we’re highlighting all the different ways to play.

Dining

For a town of 9,000 people, Saline offers fairly eclectic and internationally-flavored variety of dining options.

On the main corner, in the beautifully restored Murphy’s Crossing, specializes in traditional food from Canada’s east coast. Across the street is an English-style pub and grill, offering burgers, steak and sandwiches. Next-door is Saline’s newest kid on the block, , a family-owned restaurant offering traditional Italian-American fare. On the north side of Michigan Avenue, the recently expanded is known as Saline’s “working man’s bar,” and is known for its burgers and happy hours.

If you’re in town in the morning, the Downtown Diner, Mark’s Coney Island, the Saline Inn and City Limits Diner and Pancake House are good spots for breakfast. Saline also has a couple Chinese food offerings in Joyful House.  Biwako Sushi is Saline’s only sushi bar. The east-side plazas offer restaurants like Mancino’s, Ruby Tuesday and Gabriel’s Hoagies. East of town, near State Street, there are more dining options, including Mi Zarape Mexican restaurant, Leo’s Coney Island and Wings Pizza-N-Things.

Always percolating, Saline has also become known for its independent coffee shops.

The tiny, rustic Drowsy Parrot is one of the more unique cafés you’ll find in Michigan. My Favorite Café is more spacious and usually features artwork and photography created by local artists. Out near State Street, Brewed Awakenings is known for its scones, Panini and live performances, as well as décor provided by students at the nearby Saline High School. Just further east is Biggby Coffee, which has a drive-through. For your Canadian friends, there is also a Tim Horton’s in town.

Shopping

Historic Downtown Saline offers more than restaurants. Some of Saline's most well-known retailers draw customers from all over the region. and are Saline’s signature downtown businesses. Cobblestone Rose offers hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind home décor items in a peaceful, relaxing environment. Pineapple House, located at Saline’s main intersection, also sells home and garden décor in an enchanting environment. A tuxedo shop, jewelry store, banquet hall and hair salons are helping to make Saline a one-stop shopping trip for wedding planners. 

Another downtown gem is the , which is home base for the whose wine can be found all over Michigan.

Saline is also becoming a destination for antique and thrift shoppers. Resale Boutique and Reincarnations are two of Saline’s downtown consignment stores.

Another popular Saline-are retail store is . With a playspace and learning center, My Urban Toddler is more than a place to buy clothes and gifts for children and young families.

Parties

Saline knows how to throw a party.

Perhaps the most famous Saline Party is the annual Celtic Festival, held July 13-14, 2012. Born out of Saline’s sister-city relationship with Brecon, Wales, the Celtic Festival features bagpipers, the Highland games, Celtic music and dancing, a 5K run, and much more at .

Saline Summerfest, held Aug. 10-11, 2012, is Saline’s summer homecoming party. It features hours and hours of live music and dancing, the Saline Street Machines car show, casino games, a trolley tour, and more.

Oktoberfest and Harvest of the Arts takes place Sept. 28-29. The Oktoberfest party celebrates Saline’s sister city relationship with Lindenberg, Germany featuring a bier garden, quilt show, music, dancing, kids activities and more. Harvest of the Arts is Saline’s art fair, featuring the work of local artists and creative people from throughout southeast Michigan.

Saline’s newest festival is Winterfest. The 2013 Winterfest takes place Jan. 26.  Past events have featured ice-skating, sled dog demos, a euchre tournament, ice carving, a 5K run, kids activities and more. Winterfest is also where Salinians compete in the Snowman Building Championship of the Free World. Saline won the championship in 2011 and still holds the title, as 2012 didn’t bring enough snow for competition.

Each Thursday in the summer, the Saline Summer Music Series presents a free concert in downtown Saline.

At Play

Saline loves to play. You can golf, at courses like , or

is a great place for picnics, with open fields, natural settings and a giant playscape for kids. Across Michigane Avenue, features nature trails through wooded areas, dedicated nature interpretive areas, an observation deck over the Saline river and more.

Culture

Saline’s culture mixes a little bit of Ann Arbor’s college town hipness with Saline’s old farm town Americana

is the heart of Saline’s cultural scene. Two Twelve Arts Center is one part gallery, one part community center, and one part classroom.

, a converted church, has become home to weddings, banquets, and, in the wintertime, is home to a music series and monthly art shows.

Saline is also well known for its student fiddling groups. The Saline Fiddlers and Fiddlers ReStrung have played their brand of bluegrass, folk and Celtic fiddle music all over the country.

The Saline Big Band and Saline New Horizons Band are also two bands that play events all over the region, while given adults the opportunity to continue their music pursuits.

Agricultural Heritage

A small village in the middle of a farming community, Saline survived and then thrived because of the railroad. Even today, some of the subdivisions are still freshly carved out of corn and bean fields.

Saline pays homage to its agricultural history with two historical museums. The Rentschler Farm Museum, open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May to December, allows guests to see what life on the farm was like in the 1930s. Guests can tour the home, visit the farm animals, look at farm equipment and check out the crops in the garden. The Depot Museum is located in the town’s former railroad depot, is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays all year long. Visitors can see a station agent’s room, a furnished caboose and a freight room.

Up the road, the Washtenaw County Farm Grounds is home to events every week, from rodeos, 4-H fairs and the Saline Community Fair, to antique shows and gun shows.

And if you just want to get away from it all, aim your car south or west until you see a dirt road, and then keep driving.

For more information about Saline visit these sites:

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