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Happy new year! This year marks 20 years since I started as a freelance writer with The Times Media Co. of Northwest Indiana. For many of those years I was a columnist and wrote a parenting column called “Mom Moments.” I’ve really been missing it and am happy to introduce this bi-monthly travel column.

I’ve been doing travel writing for even longer than I’ve been writing for The Times, and each year I take several trips — usually road trips around the Midwest with my family or sometimes other writers.

On every trip I come back with lots I want to share, and I’m so glad I’ll have that opportunity with this new column. Every other week, I’ll share 10 things to love about a city or a region or a resort or an attraction. I hope it will encourage you to look deeper into it or consider incorporating it into an itinerary as you travel.

10 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MARSHALL, MICHIGAN

WELCOME CENTER - When you get to town, be sure to swing by the Welcome Center, located in town hall at 323 W. Michigan Ave. for brochures on some of the historic sites, maps and literature to help you do your own walking tour of this historic little town.

The friendly staff can help you plan out your itinerary, let you know what you must do and see while in town and give you the 411 on the gems you don’t want to overlook.

HISTORIC WALKING TOURS - There are so many historic structures in Marshall that they have a map of four guided walks you can take (in addition to a cemetery walk) that cover the downtown, the historic residential area, the riverwalk and Capitol Hill.

In great detail, the brochure carves out your route and distance. For the full primary home route, there are over 100 structures along 1 1/2 miles. There also are almost four dozen historic plaques that you can stop and read along the path. The brochure even has a list of significant trees in town!

DARK HORSE BREWING CO. - This craft brewery has a fun vibe with thousands of mug-club mugs hanging on every available inch of wall and ceiling space. There’s also a cool fish tank table that you can sit at to dine and drink.

They rotate a number of seasonal brews with standbys and have a sizable menu of snacks, sandwiches, soups, tacos, pizzas and desserts with a weekday fast lunch menu. Try a flight of five 5-ounce pours to get a sample of several of their on-tap brewed-on-site beers.

SAYLOR’S LANDING - This pull-off is easy to miss, but take time to stop by this little recreation area along the Kalamazoo River that was part of Saylor farmland for several generations. It’s a peaceful place to take a stroll, photograph the bridge and water, listen to the sounds of nature and watch the birds. In warmer weather, watch the canoes and kayaks make their way down river.

THE NATIONAL HOUSE INN - Stay in this lovely downtown bed and breakfast located near the town hall and the Honolulu House Museum and within walking distance of the charming downtown main street. It overlooks the town circle with a stunning fountain in the center.

The inn has welcomed visitors since its early stagecoach days over 170 years ago. Spend a night or two in one of the 15 luxurious rooms in the oldest operating inn in the state.

EIGHT MUSUEMS - This town of about 7,000 boasts eight museums that visitors can explore to learn about the area and other topics. One is the Honolulu House Museum, an architectural gem built in 1960 by Abner Pratt, the U.S. consul to the Sandwich Islands.

Another is the American Museum of Magic, which honors Harry Houdini and other master magicians.The United States Postal Service Museum has the largest collection of U.S. Postal memorabilia outside of Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution.

SCHULER’S - Longevitiy is uncommon in the restaurant business, but Schuler’s Restaurant has been around since 1909 when it began as a combination cigar store and eatery on Main Street. The structure has been added on to over the years and has been serving up hearty meals to customers who enjoyed their Bar-Scheeze cheese spread and other specialties.

Today they serve upscale meals in the restaurant, including fresh local ingredients and top-quality seafood. The Winston’s Pub menu offers elevated classic bar bites and filling burgers, sandwiches and more.

GARDEN WALK - Each summer in the second full weekend in July the Marshall Area Garden Club hosts its Garden Tour of exclusive private gardens in the historic Marshall area. Also part of the event is a garden market where you can purchase garden art and plantings to take home. There’s also a quilt show co-sponsored by the Cal-Co Quilters Guild.

THE FRANKS CENTER FOR THE ARTS - It features a beautiful interior dome. The venue hosts a number of live musical artists — blues, jazz, folk and more — children’s theater productions, film festivals.

THE GOVERNORS MANSION - Take time for a guided tour of the 1839 Greek Revival Governors Mansion situated on Marshall’s Capitol Hill near the site intended for the capital of Michigan. The home was built by James Wright Gordon and in 1966 given to the Mary Marshall Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for their chapter use.

Call ahead and check hours before planning your trip as some attractions and historical sites have seasonal hours.

Times correspondent Carrie Steinweg writes a local travel column that appears every other week in Lifestyle.

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