Spending time with other people is one of life’s greatest pleasures. These social connections make our lives richer and our communities stronger.
With technology making it easier to hang out remotely with people across the globe, we got to thinking: Where do people in Livingston County like to hang out?
Here in Livingston County, we are blessed with five distinct communities — Brighton, Fowlerville, Hartland, Howell and Pinckney — each with its boundaries defined by one of our five public school districts, and each with its own personality and assets. We assembled a team of experts — each of whom lives in one of the five communities — and we asked them to tell us where people in their community liked to hang out.
Maybe you’ll agree with their picks; maybe you won’t. If you have places you think we’ve left off the list, we’d love for you to tell us about them by leaving a comment below.
Today, we are checking in on the hangouts in Brighton. Tomorrow, we head west to Fowlerville.
Best place to hang out: the Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater
Although relatively new to downtown, the Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater (306 W. Main St.) has already established itself as the place to see, be seen, and be part of a thriving local arts scene. As the name implies, the owners are big fans of both coffee and theater, and are seeking to elevate the presence of both in the community.
On the coffee side, you’ll find a delicious array of coffees from around the world roasted on site and fresh brewed to order, handcrafted espresso drinks, and single origin pour overs. Feeling hungry? You’ll find a delicious assortment of artisan breads, deli sandwiches, soups, freshly baked pastries to go with your java. You’ll even find some gluten-free offerings and a nice selection of milk alternatives (be sure to try the oat milk for an extra creamy non-dairy treat!).
With its big, round window facing the Millpond, a roaring fireplace, and plans for outdoor seating when the weather warms up, the coffeehouse is the perfect spot to meet up with friends, hold a small group meeting, or just hold down the fort with a laptop or a book. But what really sets the BCAT apart is the focus on the arts. The space holds about 70 people and includes a grand piano, making it an intimate setting for a rapidly expanding list of events. The BCAT has already hosted open mic nights and has plans for everything from swing dance nights to book readings, singer/songwriter showcases, art shows, and musicals/plays.
The Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater is open daily from 6:30am-11pm. www.brightoncoffeehouse.com
Best place for kids to hang out: Sky Zone
Are your kids bouncing off the walls at home? Then bring them to Sky Zone Brighton, where that sort of behavior is not just encouraged, it’s practically required! The indoor trampoline park, located at 8151 Movie Drive, is a great spot for kids of all ages to get some active playtime.
The only equipment you’ll need to participate in the fun is a pair of Sky Zone’s special “SkySocks,” which can be purchased onsite. Before jumpers begin, their parents/guardians must sign a waiver (which must be updated once/year) and everyone is required to watch a safety video and listen to some rules from one of the many staff members who supervise the different areas. Then, it’s time to JUMP!
In addition to its original wall-to-wall trampolines, dodgeball and basketball areas, and a foam pit, the Brighton location was recently renovated and now also features a warrior course, a warped wall, parkour-style elements, and a zipline. During open jump times, kids are separated by age in different sections of the freestyle jumping area to prevent smaller kids from being trampled, but for the very young it’s best to come during one of the designated Toddler Times. The music is typically blaring, but special jump times are also set aside for the sensory sensitive, offering a quieter, toned-down experience. Sky Zone also offers competitive dodgeball league, summer camps, glow-in-the-dark jumps, aerobics classes, and a separate room for birthday parties/special events. Food and drink can be purchased onsite, and and there is plenty of seating (including massage chairs) for non-jumpers.
Along with the renovation, a new pricing option has made Sky Zone Brighton all the more attractive. While one hour of jumping typically runs about $14, now you can pay just $9.99 per month for a membership that allows your child to jump every single day!
Hours vary at Sky Zone Brighton and reservations are recommended. www.skyzone.com/brighton
Best place for adults to hang out: The Wooden Spoon
With its eclectic, inventive menu of food and drink, and live music on the patio, The Wooden Spoon has elevated the dining experience in Brighton since it opened its doors in 2011. A newly expanded and renovated bar is the crowing touch on this local gem, run by award-winning local chef Steve Pilon.
Local is a big deal at The Wooden Spoon, where much of what you’ll see on the menu comes from local growers. The philosophy is that the closer they source the food, the fresher it tastes when it hits your plate. The restaurant bills itself as New American, but the eclectic menu features everything from modern Korean, to Mexican, Indian, Italian and American fusion. Dishes like Tandoori Wings, Pork Belly Momo buns, blue corn green chili tarta aren’t thing sort of thing you can find on every street corner in Brighton, Mich., and that’s part of what makes the Wooden Spoon so special. If you’re looking for creamy comfort food, you can’t go wrong with the Spoon’s signature mushroom and brie soup garnished with sourdough croutons and fresh chives, or the grilled chicken mac and cheese studded with bacon. If lighter fare is what you’re looking for, you’ll find an array of salads with fresh greens, house made dressings, and bold flavors. The Wooden Spoon has a long list of gluten free and vegetarian options, an expansive wine selection, and handcrafted cocktails. It’s a menu with options for everyone: adventurous and full of flavor as well as fun takes on classics.
But the food is just the beginning! The vibe at The Wooden Spoon is the hippest in town, especially with the addition of the new sit-down bar area. The outdoor patio is comfortable and even has a separate kitchen with a small plates menu — they’ll create the dishes right in front of you. Price wise, The Wooden Spoon is a bit of a splurge, but the unique dining experience and atmosphere make it a place you’ll want to keep coming back to.
The Wooden Spoon is open for lunch and dinner, and often holds special dining events to celebrate holidays and seasonal food/beverage items. www.woodenspoonmarket.com.
— Mona Shand