5 date night ideas sure to stir up the romance in Macomb County

When it comes date night, there's lots of things to see and experience together in Macomb County. Here are just a few ideas of wonderful local places where you and your sweetheart can share some special moments.

Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township. (David Lewinski photo)1. Have a little vino

There's nothing quite like sipping a fine glass of wine with that special someone. And Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township is an excellent choice for a classy night out. It's what's known as a winery on-premises, meaning the wine is made on-site with imported materials. 

"We work with distributors throughout the world and they send us the grapes that have already been crushed and pressed down. And we blend, ferment, bottle, everything right here in our facility,"  says co-owner Gerard Giacona.

Filipo Marc Winery was founded in 1999 by  Phillip DeTomaso and Marc Schneider. Five years later, they sold the business to the current owners, Gerard and his wife Tressa. It currently offers more than 70 varieties of wine from various regions around the globe. Cheese, charcuterie, and chocolate are also available.

Visitors can stop by anytime to for a quick free sampling of wine or make reservations for a day flight or formal tasting. This year, the winery is hosting a special Valentine's Day event open to both couples and singles. It will feature wine, pizza, salad, and dessert. Sampling begins at 6 pm. Reservations are suggested due to limited seating.  

Wine lovers looking to explore the county's options a little further can also visit Cellar 104 in Mount Clemens and Unwined Winery in Shelby Township, plus there are more Macomb wineries in this story.

Ford House in Grosee Pointe Shores. (courtesy photo)2. Get nostalgic with some history

History is having a romantic moment in pop culture at the moment (thank you "Bridgerton"). The Ford House is an estate in Grosse Pointe Shores that was once owned by Edsel and Eleanor Ford of the Ford Automotive dynasty. Located at 1100 Lake Shore Rd. in Grosse Pointe Shores off the coast of Lake St. Claire, the estate was named a national historic landmark in 2016.

"It is a magical and inspiring place that no matter when you arrive or what your pursuits are, be that history, architecture, landscape, gardens, there is always something," says Tommy Karr, Director of Communications for the Ford House. 

The house itself was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn and is inspired by English Cotswold-style cottages. Edsel and Eleanor Ford moved into the home in 1928. It stayed in the family until Eleanor's passing in the 1970s, when it was transferred to a trust and made open to the public. 

There are several levels to the house, including an attic and extensive basement, as well as an underground tunnel leading to a power facility. The interior of the home features a classic western European design style and is decorated with fine art. A visitor center on-site features a permanent exhibit on the history of the Ford Family as well as rotating exhibitions. The 87-acre grounds at the Ford House were designed by Jens Jensen, who at one time was one of the country's most distinguished landscape designers and conservationists. 

The estate is well known for its gardens, including the rose garden, which was a favorite of Eleanor. It also features a newly restored lagoon and pool. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll to Bird Island, a wildlife preserve that happens to be a well-known stopping point for various migratory birds. Those looking for a bite to eat after taking all this history and nature can stop at the Continental, a restaurant that serves a menu prepared by Chef Jeremy Robertson that includes items that were popular at the Ford House while the family was still living there. Reservations are encouraged for the Continental, but for those who just want to drop in, a quick-service food counter is available at the visitor center.

Other historical sites that might be worth a trip in Macomb County include the Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township, the Wolcott Mill at Wolcott Mill Metropark, and the Upton House in Sterling Heights.

Stray Cat Lounge in Clinton Township. (David Lewinski photo)3. Go out for a show

Music is definitely something that can get the heart racing. 

Couples looking for a happening spot to enjoy some sounds ought to consider Stray Cat Lounge. Perched right down at 40813 Garfield Rd., the venue features live music as well as an ample selection of martinis, cigars, beers, craft cocktails, and other liquor.

Now nine years old, Stray Cat Lounge is owned by Jackie and Scott Baumgart, who previously operated Robusto's Martini Lounge in St. Clair Shores. As for the live music, there's an ample dance floor and lots of different styles to choose from.

"We have a lot of talented musicians grace our stage, everything from R&B, funk, Motown, classic rock, tribute bands, jazz, and blues," says Jackie Baumgart.

In addition to music, the venue also offers events like cigar-, martini-, and wine-tastings as well as holiday-themed gatherings. Those seeking other date night music destinations in Macomb County can also check out the Emerald Theater in Mount Clemens and Freedom Hill amphitheater in Sterling Heights.

Total Axe Throwing in Clinton Township. (David Lewinski photo)4. Throw caution to the wind

For those interested in an unconventional date night, there's always axe throwing. Although it might sound a little archaic, axe throwing is something that's become quite popular in the last few years. And venues have been popping up around Macomb County to cater to demand.

Total Axe Throwing is an axe-throwing range located at 44159 N Groesbeck Hwy. in Clinton Township that offers a variety of objects for couples (and non-couples) to toss around.

 "We offer more than just the axe throwing," says owner Chris Ross. "We have throwing stars. We have throwing knives. We have metal playing cards and a small trench shovel."

Closed-toe shoes are required for activities at Total Axe Throwing and participants must also sign a waiver to join in the fun. Open throwing takes place each week Thursday through Sunday, and walk-ins are allowed at specified times during those days. Total Axe Throwing also offers reserved and league sessions.

While Total Axe Throwing offers a pure range experience, there are other axe-throwing options in Macomb. Detroit Axe at Partridge Creek mall offers an axe-throwing range alongside a full bar. And axe-throwing is just one of the many activities available at Full Throttle Adrenaline Park in Sterling Heights, which also features go-kart racing, virtual reality games, and a rage room.

Argentine Tango Detroit in Utica. (David Lewinski photo)5. Step out a little

If you're really in the mood for a good time with your partner, why not go out dancing? Argentine Tango Detroit is a popular Southeast Michigan dance studio that focuses heavily on Latin dance styles. Located at 7758 Auburn Rd. in Utica, it offers a variety of styles including salsa, ballroom, hip-hop, and swing dancing, but the Argentine Tango is its specialty.

For those who might be intimidated by the thought of actually doing the tango, studio owner Amanda Accica reassures them there's nothing to worry about. 

"People always see the movies with the roses, and it's very flamboyant. And they think, "Ooh, that's too difficult'. It's actually the opposite," she says. "It's very natural. It's basically a walking dance that has turns and different elements to make figure eights and circles around each other."

Argentine Tango Detroit was founded by Accica's mother Lori Burton-Kassin in 2001. An experienced dance instructor, she fell in love with the studio's namesake dance in the 1990s and opened the studio in Utica to help Southeast Michigan residents get a better chance to get acquainted with it. 

The studio features a staff of skilled instructors, including Donato Juarez, a native Argentinean known for his mastery of the tango. Argentine Tango Detroit offers weekly classes at all levels, and both couples and individuals are invited to participate. Private lessons are also available.

All photos by David Lewinski, unless otherwise noted. 

This series, made possible with the support of Macomb County, captures the stories of how residents and visitors live, work, and play in the region.
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