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  • Writer's pictureAmy Sherman

Let's Meet in Mt. Pleasant

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

It’s almost time for back to school, and that means that by the end of August, about 25,000 students will descend upon Mt. Pleasant, Michigan for a new year at Central Michigan University. Whether you are dropping off your freshman for the very first time, or heading back to campus for a game this fall, we’ve got you covered here at Behind the Mitten with great things to do, places to go, and things to eat and drink right in the middle of Michigan.

Mt. Pleasant holds a special place in John Gonzalez’s maroon and gold heart since he attended and graduated from CMU. He’s always ready to fire up!

We recently hosted a recording of Behind the Mitten in downtown Mt. Pleasant at one of our favorite lunch spots, Max and Emily’s. This bustling little joint offers up over 80 different sandwiches, and is a favorite of CMU Chippewas, downtown workers, and tourists alike. Owned by our good friend, and major Mt. Pleasant fan and supporter, Chris Elmo Walton, Max and Emily’s is a great spot to grab some nosh to go if you are heading out to one of the many parks and rivers in the area.

You can listen to our podcast from Mt. Pleasant here:

Our friends at the Mt. Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is casually known as Meet Mt. Pleasant, came out to give us the scoop on this thriving community. Executive Director Chris Rowley was excited for this season in Mt. Pleasant, as downtown is all dressed up with pink flowers and outdoor dining tables.

“Summer is busy,” Rowley said. She commented on how Mt. Pleasant is the “big” city for some, and a “little” city for others, and that there really is something for everyone here.

Downtown Mt. Pleasant is only about ten blocks from campus, and there is a handy shuttle to get you easily back and forth. As a former student, Gonzo highly recommends that you come maybe a day early for drop-off, and take some time to visit downtown before you leave.

Marketing Director Claire Doty agreed and said that “sometimes people don’t realize what we have that close to campus.”

Downtown Development Director for Mt. Pleasant Michelle Sponseller stopped by and shared a few other favorite spots downtown, including The Bird Bar, which you most likely love if you went to CMU. I didn’t, but I still adore the super fun atmosphere, the fact that everyone goes here, student or not, and the very delicious and very buttery Moon Bread that they’re known for. The Bird just recently celebrated their 90th anniversary of being in business.

Scattered through downtown are a variety of shops to explore, from specialty clothing stores to the new Pure Vitality Spa where you can experience a sensory deprivation pod, cryotherapy, or just grab a fresh juice.

Just minutes from downtown you can find yourself in picturesque, rural Isabella County. Miranda Walker and Rachel Rollin, from Isabella County Parks and Recreation, shared a few of their favorite spots for outdoor activities, including Deerfield Park. This 590-acre park features 8 miles of hiking trails, many of which run right along the Chippewa River. There is also rustic camping available, and two 18-hole disc golf courses.

The other huge draw in the area besides the university is Soaring Eagle Casino. If you haven’t been here recently, you’ll be mighty surprised at just how large this incredible campus has grown over the years. The casino is a thriving, vibrant, and engaged community partner, and Tanya Bardy, Advertising and Public Relations Manager with Soaring Eagle Casino came by to share some new developments.

“We are going to introduce a ‘food district’,” at the casino, Bardy said. Construction has started, and “we’re going to have four different restaurants in the food district, which will be like a food court setup. We want to offer more eatery options, not only to our guests who come out to visit us, but to those who might be in town attending events that the CVB is doing, or in town for sporting events at CMU. So we’re going to have four restaurants there, and one will be Guy Fieri’s Chicken.”

Yes, you can certainly gamble at Soaring Eagle, and it is a fun, energetic floor. You can also go spend the day at the spa, take the kids to the giant indoor water park, or attend an outdoor concert with about 12,000 of your closest friends. They offer a full lineup of entertainment year-round, and it’s easy to just stay right on-site at the hotel. For concerts, look for the Soaring Eagle shuttle to get you from downtown out to the casino.

So whether you meet in the middle with friends or family, to canoe or casino, Mt. Pleasant does have a little something for everyone. “Come downtown,” said Rowley. “Come out on the Chippewa River, we have several liveries. Go out and golf. There are events. There is always something going on. Get out and explore other areas of the city, that's what we encourage.”

You can plan your trip at, where you’ll find tons of resources and ideas to make your journey to the middle of the mitten a blast. They also have an app that you can download. Now get on out there and get ready to Fire UP!

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