a woman with a snowboard
Have Your Happiest Winter in Livingston County

January 2, 2022

Please enjoy this guest blog from Livingston County resident, Em Piro.

If you were to google “Happiest Countries in the World”, you would find a list determined by various factors including GDP per capita, life expectancy, and perceived freedom/ generosity in one’s country. Additionally, one cannot help but notice year after year the overwhelming majority of “happiest countries” seem to be places with extended winters. 2020’s top five all enjoy a northern climate; Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway. Many of these are repeats of years past. So is there something to it? Can values from these places help us truly enjoy the final parts of winter in Livingston County? Let’s take a look at concepts from these cultures and find out how we can utilize them in a few favorite Livingston locations!

Get Out and Get Moving

The Norwegian word ​Friluftsliv ​(pronounced “free-loofts-liv”) translates to English as “free air life” but holds a deeper meaning than its translation. In Norway, it refers to an uplifting ambiance from getting outside and enjoying nature no matter the forecast (baring unsafe weather). This can be outdoor exercise, napping, bird watching, etc.

Get Moving Outdoors Here:

●  Mt. Brighton​ – These slopes can be an all-day or all evening activity. This year is a little different as all lift tickets must be bought online. If you are looking for a discount try searching the website for weekday after 3 pm tickets. Plus you are less likely to run into lift lines!

●  Kensington Metropark​ – While this park is technically not in Livingston County it is a local fan favorite! There are miles of trails and beautiful views. Although the days are getting longer, be sure to check the time of sunset so you can plan the hike back to your car accordingly. This location is dog-friendly! Many dogs enjoy this space so plan to walk on a leash​.

●  The Howell Nature Center​ ​and the​ ​Island Lake Recreation Area trail​ ​are also dog-friendly favorites! These trails typically have less hike traffic.


a woman with a snowboard

Mt. Brighton


a red dog at kensington metropark

Kensington Metropark

Outdoor Beers

Utepils ​(pronounced “OOH-ta-pilz”) is a Norwegian word that has a literal English translation. “Ute” – outside, “pils”- beer. It is assumed that this will be a fairly sunny day but not necessarily warm. Keep in mind the saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” when dressing for these outdoor brews.

●  Brewery Becker​ ​ – Thanks to new guidelines you can now dine indoors here but we still prefer the Bier Garten! The brewery has a few amazing gas fire pits, heated standing areas, and a heated igloo that is even nicer on a sunny day! This area is also pup-friendly. Four-legged friends enter the Bier Garten through the parking lot gate.

●  Champs Pub​ – Always a fan favorite for beer specials, burgers, and popcorn! Champs has two igloos out front, on weekends you should call ahead to receive an igloo for your party. Or feel free to sit inside and enjoy the irreplicable Champs atmosphere.



a woman with a beer and a dog

Brewery Becker


a woman drinking a beer

Champ’s Pub

Find Your Cozy Haven

The Danish word​ “Hygge”​(pronounced hue-gah” or “hoo-guh”) has become more commonly used in the United States.​ ​It means coziness that makes you feel a sense of contentment or well-being. This can be a result of things such as enjoying a warm drink, sitting by a fire, cuddling up with a blanket and a good book, or even spending time with people you are close to.

Get Cozy Here:

●  Two Brothers Coffee Brew & Eatery​ ​​- Who says hot cocoa is just for kids? Two Brothers does coffee, cocktails, and everything in between. Ask for a Ghirardelli hot cocoa with Baileys. Take it to go or snag a window table if you can. Bring someone you love! Indoor dining here is pup-friendly. The baristas may have a special treat for your pup!

●  Total Cluster Fudge​ – 3 words. WARM COOKIE DELIVERY. Make a night in the house a special occasion with the delivery of warm cookies through DoorDash. These treats could go perfectly with a movie night, wine night, pajama night… pillow fort? Whatever you choose, the night is sure to be special.

barista gives a dog a treat

Two Brothers Coffee


a girl and two dogs next to a blanket fort

Total Cluster Fudge

Find Your Stamina

Winter is long, it can take a toll on physical and mental health.​ ​Our last word is ​Sisu (pronounced – see’-soo), a Finnish concept. Sisu is the strength of your perseverance, determination, will, and ability to act rationally when things get hard. It’s not whether or not you are brave or resilient but that you are ​consistently ​those things. This will allow you to overcome anything.

Build Stamina Here:

●  The Space​ – This fitness studio in Brighton combines hot yoga with strength-based fitness. My favorite class is called “The Release” which combines yoga with core strength, bodyweight exercises, and interval training. This class will quickly make you feel a part of the community as there are lots of opportunities to jump around and engage with fun voice “releases” (more plainly- yelling the class with each jumping jack) (it’s a blast). Other classes offered are The Fusion, The Strength, and The Calm (an awesome slower class focused on expanding your flexibility.)

●  The Ride​ – This is the sister business of The Space, an immersive indoor cycling studio. Both The Space and The Ride are an experience that will leave you with a rush of endorphins not only from the workout but also from the experience. The instructors are great with music, lights, and a class pace that can be differentiated for a range of abilities. Both the yoga and spinning classes end with an inspirational dedication that is sure to boost your Sisu! Just a few of my favorite instructors between the studios are Kelli McMullen, Liv Monte, and Hayley Pierzynski.

a cycle studio

The Ride

Happiness doesn’t have to be reserved for 75 and sunny although, we will welcome that weather when it comes! Now you have the fun new vocabulary, locations, and tips for enjoying the final stretch of winter!

Em is a local social studies educator with a passion for stories of people, places, and things. Born of her love for adventure, she began to curate her blog Captain & Em in 2020. She loves to explore Michigan with her dog Captain while writing about the places and products they love. Her photography was among My North Media’s Top 10 Most Popular Instagram Photos of 2020. Follow her adventures on Instagram!

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Mt. Brighton

Mt Brighton Ski Area, 4141 Bauer Road, Brighton, MI, 48116 USA

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Kensington Metropark

Kensington Metropark, 4570 Huron River Pkwy, Milford, MI, USA

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Howell Nature Center

Howell Nature Center, 1005 Triangle Lake Road, Howell, MI, USA

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Island Lake Recreation Area

Island Lake Recreation Area, 6301 Kensington Road, Brighton, MI, USA

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Brewery Becker

Brewery Becker, 500 West Main Street, Brighton, MI, USA

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Champ's Pub

140 E Grand River Ave, Brighton, MI 48116

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Two Brothers Coffee

Two Brothers Coffee Brew & Eatery, 423 West Main Street, Brighton, MI, USA

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Total Cluster Fudge

124 W Main St, Brighton, MI 48116, USA

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The Space

9695 Village Place Blvd

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The Ride

9715 Village Place Blvd, Brighton, MI 48116

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