This wasn’t my first trip to New Baltimore. In fact, I had visited the city for the 2021 Anchor Bay Triathlon in early July. But touring through the city during the bustling afternoon hours is a very different experience from visiting in the morning for a race by the pier. As I pulled into downtown New Baltimore this time, I was viewing the city through a completely different lens.
New Baltimore is a beautiful place. Much of my trip took place downtown, but I did explore the surrounding neighborhoods and parks. Maynard “Red” Aurand Memorial Park in particular was a treat to visit. It honestly felt like the perfect place to hang out with friends or hold cookouts with family. The area was large, with a playscape, a skate park, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a pavilion and a trail that encircled it all. Marking the location is the New Baltimore water tower, which stands high above the vast plot of grassy land. This memorial park also had a large hill, perfect for sledding during the cooler weathers.
Another location I passed by, about a few minutes away from the downtown area, was the All Star Sports Center. This facility is mostly for young children and other residents to utilize for sports like volleyball, basketball and so on. The courts are used for games, tournaments, camps and other events of that nature.
I also visited the Anchor Bay Aquarium on Alfred Street, just a block out of downtown. It’s a shop that offers pet food for animals such as dogs, cats and birds. Within the store, there are countless tanks and other enclosed cages with cool fish and locally raised reptiles like geckos, iguanas, chameleons and more. In particular, one large bird named Bo stands out above the rest. He’s a parrot that actually talks! Many times throughout my visit he demanded to be fed a cracker! The pet store itself was established about 43 years ago, and has since offered quality products and services. I was able to speak with the owners, who helpfully told me some other interesting tidbits about the area.
For instance, the house to their left apparently once hosted a speakeasy in the basement during 1930s prohibition. Once prohibition was lifted, however, the owner then moved across the street and opened up an actual bar, known to those in the area as The Town Pump. Over the last 80 years or so, it has been through many owners and has since changed its menu as well.
After driving around for a while and looking at the varying architectural styles of the homes in the area, I drove down Huntley Avenue. As I reached the intersection where the avenue turns into Main Street, I just so happened to glance to my left and spotted Bad Brads BBQ, a restaurant that had been recommended to me on multiple occasions. Without a second thought, I turned into the parking lot and stalked inside for dinner. It was a decision I do not regret in the slightest. Once I was seated, I noticed the stylish rustic interior and was enamored by the cool light fixtures and bar stools. The customer service was great, as well. My server kindly relayed to me everything I needed to know about the restaurant once I admitted it was my first time eating there. The food is all made fresh at Bad Brads BBQ and their draft beers are mostly all from Michigan. On each table, you can find four special BBQ sauces: Spicy, Sweet, Sour, and 3, 2, 1. The 3, 2, 1 sauce is actually a mixture of their spicy, sweet, and sour sauces, and I must admit, it was my favorite.
After dinner, I ventured back into the downtown area and walked up and down Washington Street. There are tons of amazing different shops and restaurants, including antique stores, ice cream parlors, bars, bakeries and more! I stopped in at On the Bay Customs Boutique & Cafe where I mostly wandered around their boutique section. But On the Bay Customs is more than that. As the name implies, it’s also a cafe with an outside patio at the back of the building where you can eat, drink and enjoy the nice summer breeze.
Around 7 pm, I made my way over to Walter & Mary Burke Park. On Sundays, this park hosts the New Baltimore Farmers Market, which will be held until the end of October. But when I visited, it was a Wednesday, and I was able to witness one of the last music in the park performances of the season. As The Gobies performed to a crowd of happy park goers, I weaved in and out around the area. Walter & Mary Burke Park has a lovely playground and lots of open space for people to enjoy. There is even a small beach for swimming, and a pier to walk along as well. Beside the boardwalk and pier stands the tallest flagpole in the state, at about 160 feet in height, and close to that sits a long pavilion for park goers to sit under.
At the end of my visit, I grabbed a small cup of ice cream that was being offered for free beside the stage, before finally leaving the town, satisfied with my trip and all of the places I experienced while on it. I definitely plan to venture to New Baltimore again in the near future. What other places should we know about for any future visits?
Rachel Dearing is an intern for Macomb County Planning and Economic Development.