On the banks of the River Raisin, in Michigan’s southeast corner, lies the city of Monroe, Michigan’s third oldest community. Its location made it the natural crossroads for the Native Americans, the French missionaries, and the fur trappers who settled in the area.
Caught between the British Army and the U.S. forces during the War of 1812, Monroe is also the site of the deadliest battle during the war, when after having been pushed back into Canada, the British counterattacked, killing 300 Americans in the Battle of the River Raisin. “Remember the Raisin” became America’s rally cry after the Indian allies of the British killed another hundred injured soldiers who were unable to retreat after the battle.
In the 19th century, Monroe also became home to General George A. Custer and his wife, Elizabeth.
Of course, with shopping and dining possibilities galore, this quaint town offers more than just history. If you’re hoping to stay on the healthy side during your trip, check out the weekly farmer’s market (20 W. Willow St., 6 a.m.–noon every Sat. year-round, 6 a.m.–noon Tues. in summer and fall) for some locally produced treats.
The Monroe Street Grill (2 W. Front St., 734/241-1112, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, $4–18) provides a touch of fine dining (but also has more casual fare). Try the artichoke chicken or the beef tips.
To better enjoy the riverfront, you can purchase an inexpensive bike from Jack’s Bicycles (206 S. Monroe St., 734/242-1400, www.jacksbike.com, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), a fantastic shop with a huge variety of bikes, plus sporty apparel.
If you want to splurge on yourself or someone else, check out Frenchies Fine Jewelry (15 E. Front St., 734/242-5840, www.frenchiesjewelry.com, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.), where you can browse through their extensive coin, stamp, and fine jewelry collections.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel