By Del Belcher
I’ve had some pretty great birthday parties throughout my life; especially as a kid. Backyard baseball at age 10. All night video games at age 14. The list goes on. But now I’m an adult and the birthday scene is a bit different. While the stakes are different then when you are a kid, it is still very acceptable to throw a birthday party for yourself or a friend. I’ve lived in Jackson for most of my adult life so I’ve been a part of some amazing birthday parties. If you are looking to celebrate a birthday in a style that is distinctly Jackson, I’ve come up with some recommendations based off of personal experience.
The home of the Cascades Falls; Sparks Park is possibly one of the most beautiful and unique parks in south central Michigan. Nestled just south of town off of West Ave, Sparks Park is often assumed when someone says they are “going to the Cascades.” Surrounded by a 1.5 mile bike/walking path, Sparks Park includes everything you could need for a perfect grownup birthday party. There is lots of open space for yard games or touch football, basketball courts if that’s more your speed, or my favorite, nice grassy areas for ladderball or corn hole. Sparks Park is a perfect place to bring your own birthday party set up, or you can bring some hot dogs and brats for one of the grills located throughout the park. And if you are looking for something more suitable for a larger party, a pavilion on the south side of Sparks is suitable for about 40 people. The pavilion is also free to rent if you call the County Parks office to make a reservation. Best of all, no matter where you are at Sparks, you are within walking distance of the best ice cream in town at the Cascades Ice Cream Co. If you are looking for a family friendly party environment Sparks Park is the place to be!
I love coffee. And for coffee lovers everywhere, sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down with a fresh americano and chatting with a few friends. Located in downtown on Mechanic Street, Jackson Coffee Company is a perfect location for a low-key evening with friends, an array of hot coffee or tea, and great conversation. To add to this mellow mood, Jackson Coffee Co. has a reservable private conference room that is ready to be bedazzled with your favorite birthday flair. If your party is on a Friday, you’ll be treated to the free live music that happens every Friday night. Another perk about having a birthday at JCo is that it is within a short walking distance from a pre-party dinner or a post-party drink. All of these reasons makes JCo the perfect place for an intimate birthday evening for you and a few of your closest friends.
Bifferhaus Brewing & 127 Brewing
In the last few years, Jackson has been blessed by an upswing in local beer culture. The craft beer boom has certainly found a home in Jackson and the wealth of quality micro and nano breweries are proof of that. While Jackson is home to one of the best brew pubs in the midwest, one thing I love in particular is our selection of tap rooms. Tap rooms are a tradition of beer houses that don’t serve food. They may have popcorn, pretzels, or peanuts for munching but tap rooms are places to showcase the tap - the beer. Most of the time, because tap rooms don’t serve food, you have the option of bringing your own food or even ordering into the brewery itself. In the last three years, two of my birthdays have been at two of my favorite taproom breweries in Jackson: 127 Brewing and Bifferhaus Brewing. 127 Brewing is located just off of 127 on Shirley Drive, and Bifferhaus is near downtown on Lansing Ave. Both taprooms provide a wide selection of quality micro brews, and both are home to incredibly friendly and accommodating staff. If you’re looking to have a larger party, 127 has the bigger space. If you’re looking for a low key intimate setting, then head over to Bifferhaus. While smaller, Bifferhaus is very flexible, features live music, and the owner Terry is always ready to make you feel like you’re at home.
In all my years of birthdays, the last few years of living in Jackson has been home to some of the best birthday parties. I’m so proud to have had so many great experiences all over this great town. I hope that you too will be able to create some of your own birthday memories in Jackson.
Del Belcher is a digital media professional and Jackson advocate based in Jackson, Michigan. He works as the Social Media Specialist for Jackson College, Live Stream Designer for Westwinds Community Church and founder of the Jackson Social Media Club. In 2015 he and his wife Stephanie co-founded Mich Marketing, a full service digital marketing firm specializing in social media and market research. You can follow Del’s Instagram adventures @delmigo.