With a charming downtown, featuring independent restaurants and shops, and thousands of acres of outdoor space, this Livingston County spot is worth a visit
By Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder
Brought to you by Dan Gutfreund Realty Group
EAT + DRINK
675 W. Grand River Ave.
Dining is not just about filling your tummy at The Wooden Spoon. Instead, the owners of this upscale, intimate bistro believe it’s an experience that can elevate emotions and build human connections. To this end, everything is perfectly executed, whether you order the Sandwich of the Week or the Spoon-Style Tapas. Delight your senses with meals and drinks featuring fresh seasonal ingredients from local growers and breweries across Livingston County. Insider tip: Order the Wholly Cow sandwich, packed with shaved beef ribeye, Grafton Village cheddar, balsamic-soaked onions and horseradish spread on a Zingerman’s baguette.
400 W. Main St.
Just try to resist the pull of this American Bistro in the heart of downtown. Whether you dine al fresco or inside, top-notch service, food, and drinks merge together seamlessly. Try the tasty, cheesy House Quesadilla, or the cajun-dusted, pan-seared filet tips served with Detroit-style zip sauce.
124 W. Main St.
Total Cluster Fudge owner Alisa Shakespeare has come a long way since 2015, when she appeared on the Food Network to pitch her gourmet fudge shop and baked-goods company. Today she hawks baked goods, candies, and snacks from her bright, cheerful downtown shop, where everything is handmade in small batches. The hot cocoa bombs are, quite simply, “the bomb.” Plop one into a cup of milk or hot water and watch with wonder as it dissolves and morphs into a delicious hot chocolate — complete with mini marshmallows!
140 W. Main St.
At first glance this locally owned, cozy restaurant looks rather typical — but owners Steve and Lauren Pilon offer inspired and unique tacos with a twist. Nosh on a Nopales Taco (grilled cactus) or Brussel Sprout Taco (flash fried with homemade sauce), washed down with a Give Me Summer margarita, a glorious blend of house-infused mango and papaya tequila, sour mango puree, and triple sec.
217 W. Main St.
This tried-and-true Brighton hotspot has long been known as a prime celebration spot. Overlooking the beauty of downtown’s Mill Pond, Ciao Amici’s has been serving award-winning, authentic (and healthy) Italian cuisine for over two decades. Treat yourself with the popular spaghetti Bolognese (made with imported pasta) or a generous portion of butternut ravioli, bursting with squash purée, walnuts and exotic mushrooms in a creamy Marsala sage sauce.
306 W. Main St.
Since 2018, the Brighton Coffeehouse and Theatre has been a go-to for great coffee: Thanks to its artisan roasting methods, its brews are rare, unusual, and full of flavor. Every cup also comes with a side of virtue — these folks are serious about eco-friendliness, sustainable bean sourcing, and fair payment for farmers. While the coffee takes center stage here, you should call ahead to see about timing your visit to take in a scheduled musical or theatrical performance.
500 W. Main St.
Delicious hand-crafted beer is the main event here, but Brewery Becker — located in a restored 1873 hotel with gorgeous French windows and wrought-iron staircases — offers so much more. Take a turn at one of their game tables, settle in for an open-mic night or try a Bend and Brew Yoga class. Outside, the award-winning biergarten is open year-round and decorated with umbrella-topped tables, raised garden beds, a firepit, and a pretty pergola.
412 W. Main St.
Carly and David Leisk love cheese and craft beers — and they share their passion with each customer that steps into their little shop on Brighton’s main drag. Let staff guide you toward an array of cheeses, accouterments, cured meats, and more, including the perfect beer pairing for your selections. And don’t skip the scrumptious, cleverly named crepes such as Brie Didn’t Start the Fire and I Wanna Hold Your Ham.
THINGS TO DO
Brighton’s Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit is part and parcel of the city’s undeniable charm and character. Grab a map from The City of Brighton Arts and Culture Commission and check out the 17 permanent pieces scattered around town. (There are also some remarkable rotating works.) Be sure to scope out “Decision Pending,” Vietnam Vet Jay Holland’s creation of a naked, disproportionate man that has sparked local controversy over the years.
In 1838, a Brighton resident decided to open a grain mill. In order to function, the mill needed a dam; the mill pond was a side product. Today, this magnetic body of water is surrounded by a landscaped park with a paved promenade and inviting outdoor seating. Set time aside to take in the daydream-worthy views and people watch, or catch a live performance from local talent such as the Livingston County Concert Band. A three-armed structure called “The Tridge” connects city shops and restaurants and a wooden walkway — so once you’ve soaked up the vibes, you won’t be too far off from your next adventure.
6301 Kensington Rd.
Many consider a visit to this 4,000-acre area a close second to an actual trip Up North. Plan to spend a few hours walking the numerous trails while admiring the mature hardwood trees and open meadows before meandering down to the Huron River. If you want a faster pace, there are a number of options such as canoeing, kayaking, or swimming at one of several blissful beaches. Fishing enthusiasts can get easily hooked here, too. Between the Huron Riv-er and four lakes, opportunities to throw a line are plentiful.
307 W. Main St.
This fun gallery offers a unique collection of rotating regional craftwork, plus high-quality pottery, paintings, ceramics, rugs, and other handcrafted wonders. Looking for a unique gift? You’ll nd it here — it’s not everyday that you come across a lamp made from a car jack or a scented candle that invokes the warm sands and sunshine of Sleeping Bear Dunes.
322 W. Main St.
Get your fill of simple, classic, and stylish pieces for women at Rosy’s Boutique, where you’ll nd cute jackets, traffic-stopping shoes, and flirty rompers. Bonus: Part of the mission at Rosy’s Boutique is to bring awareness to local charities — a portion of all proceeds gets donated to a rotating “cause of the moment.”
421 Mill Pond Ln.
Pop into Oh My Lolli! and prepare to be dazzled by the wide array of brightly colored sweets that taste as good as they look. At any given time, you might see the shop’s candy-makers folding and rolling the molten candy into their final mouthwatering incarnation. Try the shop’s rendition of an age-old hard candy recipe from Europe that they sell in both traditional lollipop form and in smaller bite-sized pieces called Lollirocks, and if you have kids (or are one at heart) ask about the DIY candy-decorating Lolli-Art Kits.
200 Hyne St.
Family-owned for more than 40 years, this cute shop is located in a historic home built in the 1890s. ere’s a hearty stock of unique gifts, home decor and collectibles. More recently, they opened up an outdoor shed building (simply called THE SHED) that sells interesting outdoor and garden decor. And don’t forget to take a selfie in the antique train caboose outside.
428 W. Main St.
This brightly colored shop is the brainchild of longtime friends Jeri Kay Thomas and Jeanne Blazo, who’ve done a bang-up job of manifesting their vision of a friendly neighborhood bookshop that inspires joy in each customer. A knowledgeable staff and equally impressive inventory of carefully curated books keeps bookworms (and those who love to shop for them) coming back.
334 W. Main St.
Fashionable accessories are in abundant supply here — think head-turning hats — but there are also cute and cheeky Michigan-themed gifts. You might not know anyone who could use a baby onesie with the line “Smitten with the Mitten” emblazoned on the front, but a trip to Bink & Babs Boutique will make you wish you did.