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Visitors to Jackson’s 2019 Bright Walls Mural Festival enjoy concerts and art.  JTV file photo.

The Chicago Tribune has named Jackson as one of the “Best of the Midwest” in its annual list of midwest getaways.  The 2020 ten destinations are “A mix of well-known spots and under-the-radar destinations…worth exploring”. 

In an article in the January 7 Chicago Tribune Travel Section, Travel Editor Lori Rackl points out several highlights visitors should check out in Jackson. 

Rackl calls Jackson “one of the more interesting southern Michigan trail towns” on the new Great Lake-to-Lake Trail which attracts hikers and bikers.  The trail runs through Jackson County, along the Falling Waters Trail and north through the city.

In the article, Rackl mentions Jackson’s rich Underground Railroad history, “a bunch of museums”, the downtown Amtrak Rail Station, Bright Walls, public art, notable architecture and more.

Grand River Brewery’s brisket and Monkey Mouth and Gilbert Chocolates get props in the article.

Rackl suggests visitors explore downtown and enjoy the 36 murals of Bright Walls.

Other destinations in the “Best of the Midwest” include Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio; Marquette, Beaver Island and Charlevoix, Michigan; Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Indiana Dunes National Park, Bloomington and Ft. Wayne Indiana;  Stillwater, Minnesota; and Route 66 in Illinois.

You can read the Chicago Tribune Article here.   

JTV asked the author how she learned about Jackson and her reasons for including Jackson in this year’s list.  Rackl said she starts researching her “Best of the Midwest” in September. She asks state tourism reps to give her ideas about what cities in their states have a lot going on in the coming year or have made substantial changes recently. 

Rackl said, “A PR person for Pure Michigan gave me a bunch of suggestions, one of which was Jackson, which I’d never heard of. I started doing more research and was intrigued by what I found, especially in terms of the town’s history and its ties to things like the origins of the Republican Party and the links to the Underground Railroad and the historic train station that many a Chicagoan would have passed through on their way to Detroit.”

Rackl, an avid cyclist, was also intrigued by Jackson’s position on the new Lake-to-Lake long-distance trail connecting Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. 

The travel editor decided to check out the city for herself, so she visited last fall.  “It was the first day of deer hunting season I believe. Everyone working at Grand River Brewery was wearing camouflage (good brisket and beer there),” said Rackl.

“I used the new app that guides people to some of the historic sites. I ate a Coney dog and had a lovely conversation with a kind woman at Gilbert Chocolates. She was so sweet. Kept giving me samples and told me stories about the old building the shop is in, the history of Gilberts, etc.” continued Rackl.

“I liked the murals downtown. And I had a nice, comfortable stay at the new Courtyard by Marriott, “she added.

Rackl said her only regret was she wanted to try some of the local wineries.  And she was sad to learn Cell Block 7 was closing down.  “And the Cascades wasn’t in operation because it was too cold”, she said.

As a closing comment, Rackl told JTV:

“One more thing: I had a delicious cinnamon roll from Roxy Cafe on my way out of town, and I entered through the back door in the kitchen just like the locals.

“I hope my story sends some more visitors your way. Jackson is one of those under-the-radar spots that holds a lot of interesting elements if you take the time to seek them out.”

Artists at 2019 Bright Walls. JTV file photo.

A St. Patrick’s Day crowd at Grand River Brewery. JTV file photo.


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