Brighton eateries, shops, history and parks attract visitors downtown

Brighton eateries, shops, history and parks attract visitors downtown

On a warm summer day, Brighton resident Ellen Smith dipped her feet into the Mill Pond to take a load off. 

Smith, 53, said Brighton’s downtown is why she moved there. When friends and family come to visit, she likes to show it off. 

She said about 24 years ago, they were passing through. They had just hiked at Kensington Metro Park and were looking for a place to eat.

“Definitely coming downtown was the sole reason we moved here,” Smith said. “We came from Westland. We really liked the downtown.”

She said a perfect day or weekend trip to Brighton would include attending a summertime festival or concert and checking out restaurants and shops.

“I love the Brighton Coffee House and Theater and the bookstore (2 Dandelions Bookshop) because I’m grateful to see a bookstore come back downtown,” Smith said.

The coffeehouse is among the unique small businesses in downtown Brighton. It offers live theater and a patio on the Mill Pond. 

The bookstore was founded a few years ago by a couple of school teachers. 

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Downtown features bistros and upscale restaurants, clothing boutiques, gourmet markets, a candy shop and a running store. 

Everything is close to the Mill Pond, which features walking bridges that connect to trails and outdoor amphitheater The AMP. 

Take a walk through time

Brighton Area Historical Society president Jim Vichich said Brighton attracts history buffs.

Vichich said visitors should check out some of downtown’s most historical buildings, including the CoBACH Center. It is a 1879 building that was the site of city hall and the firehouse. It is now home base for the historical society, the Livingston Players and the Brighton Art Guild. 

Brewery Becker, a local eatery, is located in the 1873 Western House Hotel. It was built after the railroad came to town. 

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church held its first church service in 1881. 

“One thing is there’s always a select group of people who are interested in Civil War history,” Vichich said. 

The Old Village Cemetery is the resting place for nearly 600 people who lived in Brighton in the 19th century. The oldest gravestone, which is made of marble, was erected in 1838.

Vichich said 45 Civil War veterans are buried there. 

The historical society has worked for several years to restore the cemetery. They fixed 161 broken headstones and reinstalled more than 250 headstones that were leaning. 

One famous gravesite there belongs to Kinsley Bingham, Michigan’s 11th governor who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. 

A mailbox at the entrance of the graveyard contains copies of a guided walking tour of veteran gravesites with information on each veteran. 

People can also learn about Brighton history by viewing a series of 15 cut-outs of historical figures from the 1860s through the 1920s. The silhouettes are placed around downtown. 

Hundreds of square miles of parks within reach

Brighton is located near large state recreational areas and metroparks.

Smith said she loves going to Kensington Metropark, located a few miles from downtown Brighton.

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“We also have the Brighton State Recreation Area,” she said. “In the Bishop Lake area there are amazing hiking trails for people who want to get out there and connect with nature.”

Bishop Lake also features Jump Island, a cluster of large inflatable play structures, when the weather is warm.

Island Lake Recreation Area and Huron Meadows Metropark are also nearby.

It is a short drive to the Pinckney and Waterloo state recreation areas, the Huron River and dozens of lakes with public access. 

Ski bunnies head to Mt. Brighton

Sure, Brighton does not have real mountains. And it’s way too early to be talking about snow. 

But Brighton does feature a ski and snowboarding area owned by Colorado-based Vail Resorts. 

Mt. Brighton has five chair lifts, seven surface lifts and 25 trails on about 130 acres in neighboring Genoa Township. 

It first opened in 1960. Vail Resorts purchased it in 2012 and has invested more than $10 million on upgrades to the slopes, main lodge, restaurant and snow-making equipment.

Several features added to Mt. Brighton in recent years include a snowboard training area for children, new mogul fields and new terrain park obstacles. 

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at jtimar@livingstondaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.


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