If you are as entertained by the War of 1812 as I am, the only time a US city (Detroit) surrendered to the enemy (Great Britain), then Monroe may actually be the city for you. "Remember the Raisin!" is the local battle cry. A long and bloody battle waged for six days on the shores of the River Raisin (which, seriously, is as purply-brown and thick as a raisin, whether or not it was named for that particular sugary snack). The British and their native allies won, which put a serious crimp in the US's plans to retake Detroit. Frenchtown, what is now Monroe, was ravaged.
Nowadays, we don't really remember the Raisin (sorry to all the Yankee soldiers who died), but we do remember a certain other military group that has ties to Monroe via a little thing called Custer's Last Stand, also known as the Battle of Little Big Horn. Yes, that's right. General George Armstrong Custer once called this city home, and they are quite proud of him. (Well. They're proud of this fact, anyway.)
So as far as military history goes, Monroe doesn't look so good, at least not for the American side. But I won't hold that against them because it's a pretty nice town. (Even if it is a bit far away from any action of city life, and I heard the schools are rated pretty poorly, so even if you are into raising your family in a quaint small town, you may want to double-think moving there. Really, I'm not trying to knock Monroe, I like it there, I just keep coming across things that are not so nice and rather entertain me.) Wikipedia informs me that Monroe is also the world headquarters of La-Z-Boy, which is pretty cool, and is "recognized as the home of Belgian Feather Bowling," which means I have to go back and investigate this claim because WTF?? You may have actually seen feather bowling before as Anthony Bourdain played it in one of the early episodes of No Reservations. (I don't think he was in Monroe, but I could be wrong.)
We started our day at Agua Dulce, a little coffee shop that has two locations in Monroe, one downtown, where we were, and one a short distance away on Telegraph. Agua Dulce is what I would call a real coffee shop, not like Starbucks or Biggby. The cappuccino I ordered was far from sweet or syrupy. I managed to refrain from adding sugar, and I was quite proud of myself for this. It's a little small on the inside, but there a number of tables, and it's the type of cafe I would love to hang out in with my laptop or a notebook and write for hours.
For dessert, we headed over to Cravings, a fantastic little ice cream and candy shop! They serve Hudsonville ice cream, a West Michigan-based brand that I don't see often on this side of the state. We also noticed that they sell bacon dipped in chocolate which I was not about about to try. Greg and I both ordered single scoop ice cream cones as we were warned that Cravings single size is equivalent to a double scoop from most other ice cream parlors. I love places like that! (I love ice cream.) Westlake Drug in Portage, MI was always known for their big scoops when I was growing up.
I had to work later that afternoon, so around 3pm, we headed home so I could get ready. I quite enjoyed our day in Monroe! I might even go back. Especially if it means I can go feather bowling!