Spend a morning at the farmer’s market in northern Michigan and you’ll see how lucky we are to live in Michigan. But the farmer’s market certainly isn’t just for farmers anymore. It’s a gathering place. It’s where locals and visitors meet the growers and makers.
This displays when logged in
Did you know…
Michigan agriculture is leading the nation in many ways. Here are a few fun facts about how we rank:
Fourth in the country as a net exporter of hops
Third in the nation for the number of farmers markets (300+)
Second most agriculturally diverse state in the Country, next to California
First in the Country for the production of blueberries, tart cherries, dry black-beans, picking cucumbers and squash
Picked and Processed
Upward of 1 billion pounds of sugar is produced annually in Michigan
Thanks to our local farmers, we are the nation’s leading producer of potatoes for potato chip processing
Buy Michigan Made
The best part about farmer’s markets is the opportunity to buy local. Whether we’re talking fruits or vegetables, beer or wine, soaps or lotions, salt or sugar, buying locally-produced goods supports the area economy.
Handmade soaps are one of many non-edible items available at the farmer’s market
Not only do farmer’s markets offer fresh food, local brews, and natural products, they also provide great entertainment! With vendors that are so good you can’t say no, we are used to watching our money turn to fruit, and occasionally, watch it DISAPPEAR like magic.
This young entrepreneur will keep you on your toes as he makes the seemingly impossible, possible. Providing good fun for the whole family!
Visit a Farmer’s Market in Near You
Here are a few must-stop farmer’s markets in northern Michigan with a variety of vendors that meet weekly
In this video we’ve featured two of Traverse City’s family-run farm markets Groleaus Farm Market just south of Traverse City, and Gallaghers Farm Market to the west. Click to get a tour of their markets and hear their stories. These are just two great examples of local farm markets to discover as you explore the highways and back roads of our region.
The list of farm stands, u-pick farms and independent markets in northern Michigan is long. Our friends at Taste the Local Difference have done a great job gathering that info together in one place. For details visit them online.
Be A Traveler
Farm markets aren’t the only way to eat fresh, and eat local. Many restaurants in the area support local farmers so stop in for a meal or a snack. Check out our Dining Guide, to browse menus from area eateries. Or for easy access on your iPhone or Android download our app and be a traveler in no time.
Thanks to our summer intern Carley, for the Day at the Market video featured above, which she filmed, edited and post produced. Watch it for a glimpse into her journey through the Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market in downtown Traverse City.
National Lighthouse Day dates back to 1789. On August 7th many moons ago, Congress approved an act for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys, and public piers. It was not until 200 years later, in 1989 that this important Act received it’s own day of recognition. Happy National Lighthouse Day! Celebrate today and visit a lighthouse that’s not far away.
Old Mission Point Lighthouse
Located on 45th parallel the Old Mission Point Lighthouse is a popular park and playground along the shore. Pack a picnic and spend the day. There are beautiful hiking trails surrounding the lighthouse. It’s also a museum open for tours, and in search of volunteer keepers to serve as tour guides.
Directions: take M-37 to the end of Old Mission peninsula, approx. 22 miles from Front St. in Traverse City.
Point Betsie Lighthouse
The oldest operating light in Michigan —and perhaps the most photographed— Point Betsie is a must-see on a visit to Benzie County. It’s a great spot to hunt for fossils like Petoskey stones and Charlevoix stones. The lighthouse is open for tours in the summer Thursday – Sunday. Directions: take M-22 to Pt. Betsie Rd, 4 miles north of the blinking light in Frankfort.
Directions: South Manitou Island may be reached by ferry from Leland. The lighthouse is located 0.6 miles from the ranger station and dock
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum
At the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula you’ll find the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. For a glimpse into our maritime history take the tour, or better yet, ask about their guest lightkeeper program. The lighthouse and museum are open May through October, and weekends in November.
Admission: Adults $5, Children 6-12yrs $2, under 5yrs are free Directions: 9 miles north of Northport inside Leelanau State Park (entry fee charged)
Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse
The Frankfort Lighthouse marks the entrance to the Betsie Bay, a popular port for fishermen and sailors. You’ll find kids jumping from the pier in the summer, surfers riding the waves well into the fall, and the most storm watching along the north and south piers when the wind is high. Plus it’s a spectacular spot to watch the sun say goodnight to Lake Michigan.
Directions: Take M-22 past the blinking light to Main St, then west through downtown to Frankfort beach
We Love Our Lighthouses
The importance of lighthouses is hard to ignore. Especially when you consider the fact that at one time, the beacon of light could be seen across almost all of America’s shoreline!
Have you visited any northern Michigan lighthouses? Let us know your favorite in the comments below.
For more information on lighthouses in the area, and get directions right from your phone, download our mobile app. You’ll find them listed under the Attractions section. The Traverse Traveler app is a handy way to navigate through the Traverse area and discover must-see destinations like these.
It’s time for the annual Traverse City Film Festival. It’s a great chance to discover new movies, attend fun events and enjoy the hospitality of our city. We thought we’d share a few tips on how to be a traveler — not a tourist — during the film festival.
Film Festival Tips for Travelers
Take advantage of the free festival shuttle provided by BATA. The Bayline will bring you into town from your hotel. And look for details about their festival loop traveling between film venues. The buses are all ADA accessible, air conditioned and have wifi.
Travelers know it pays to be flexible. If you didn’t get tickets to a movie, try the standby line. You just might get in, even if you don’t get to sit with your friends.
Not all the movies are shown at The State and The Bijou. Make sure you know where your movie is playing before you get in line.
Speaking of lines, bring a little patience. Don’t be that tourist who thinks lines are for other people.
The outdoor movies in the Open Space are not to be missed. They’re free, they’re family-friendly and there’s usually something for everyone. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and arrive before dusk to claim your spot on the lawn. Here’s the Open Space lineup for this year: Tuesday | Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Wednesday | 9 to 5 Thursday | The Greatest Showman Friday | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Saturday | Black Panther Sunday | Coco
The Traverse City Film Festival is the perfect excuse to spend the day downtown. Try a new restaurant, grab a drink with some friends, or do a little wine tasting. Our Dining Guide can be a helpful resource if you’re looking to try something new. It’s fun to be a traveler for the day, even if you’re a local.
Check out this year’s TCFF promotional video below:
We hope you use our tips to be a traveler during the Traverse City Film Festival. Enjoy the shows!
We are excited sponsor the Traverse Traveler Choice Award at the Frankfort48 Film Contest. The 2nd annual event will take place June 21-23, 2018 at the Garden Theater in Frankfort. This unique contest offers teams of all ages and experience levels a chance to share a story of their creation using the power and beauty of film. We’re proud to showcase this region in film on our Traverse Traveler Visitors Channel everyday. That’s why we jumped at the chance to get involved in the Frankfort48. If you love movies, love making videos, or just love Frankfort, you’ll want to read on.
Here’s How the Frankfort48 Film Contest Works
Participants have 48 hours to create a 3-5 minute film celebrating the beauty of northern Michigan. The Frankfort48 Film Contest is open to teams of any size or age, amateur or professional. Registered teams will be given three required elements that must appear on screen: a character, a prop and a line of dialog. They will have from 9am on June 21st to 9am on June 23rd to develop a concept, scout locations, film, edit and submit their film via Vimeo. That’s 48 hours of frantic fun in Frankfort!
The contest awards will be determined by an experienced panel of celebrity judges including Michael Bofshever, Jamie Donnelly and Stephen H. Foreman. Members of the Visitors Media team will participate in the judging to select the winner of the Traverse Traveler Choice Award.
What’s at Stake
The Frankfort48 Film Contest cash prizes include:
1st Place: $500 plus 2 VIP passes to the 2018 Frankfort Film Festival
2nd Place: $250
3rd Place: $100
Traverse Traveler Choice Award
The Traverse Traveler Choice Award winning film will be featured in a promotional ad for next year’s Frankfort48 Film Contest. The ad will air on our Traverse Traveler Visitors Channel, playing in over 3000 hotel rooms in the greater Traverse City area. We’ll put together a special prize package for the winning team along with the opportunity to take part in the ad creation.
2017 Frankfort48 Film Contest Participants
Join us for the Public Screening
On Saturday June 23, 2018 at the Frankfort Garden Theatre the contest entries will make their debut on the big screen. We want to encourage the public to join us at the screening. Check out the amazing short films these teams can pull together in just 48 hours. It’s a testament to the power of film, the dedication of creative minds, and the beauty of northern Michigan… a place we’re lucky to call home.
How to Enter
To secure your entry visit the Frankfort48 website. To download the entry form with all the details click here. It’s only $25 per team to participate in the Frankfort48 Film Contest. If you’ve got the crew, the stamina and the creativity to pull it off, we can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Here’s a look at last year’s first place film, When it Rains:
In honor of Michigan Wine Month Traverse Traveler created the Northern Michigan Winery Guide. This at-a-glance reference is designed to help travelers who are wine tasting in the Traverse City, Michigan region.
Which winery should you visit?
With 45 tasting rooms near Traverse City—and counting— it’s hard to decide where to go. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. However, we can offer some guidance to help you make an educated decision for your next wine tasting adventure. When you ask us which winery to visit we often answer with more questions:
Are you visiting Leelanau Peninsula, Old Mission Peninsula or another part of our region?
Are you wine tasting only, or are you looking for cider or mead?
Do you want vineyard views, or a view of the water?
Every winery has something unique to offer their guests. For the Northern Michigan Winery Guide we focused on answers to commonly asked questions. We gathered information on tasting fees. We noted the wineries with wine clubs. And, since destination weddings in Traverse City are so popular, we highlighted wineries equipped to host special events. This infographic provides the answers to the most common questions about planning a wine tour in Traverse City.
The Northern Michigan Winery Guide
Click the image for a downloadable PDF
How to Get There
One of the best reasons to spend the day wine tasting in northern Michigan is taking the opportunity to explore our beautiful area. The vineyards and orchards, rural landscapes and small towns are part of the wine tasting experience. The scenic route is your path to adventure.
To help navigate from one winery to the next, use the Traverse Traveler app. The geo-location feature will sort the listings to show wineries closest to you. And you can use the maps to get turn-by-turn navigation.
We’re Growing All the Time
It’s important to note our wine region is growing and changing all the time. We anticipate new additions, updates and edits to the Northern Michigan Winery Guide. If you have new information that would help us keep it current, or tips for categories you’d like to see in the future, please leave us a comment or contact us.
Looking for an easy read to kick off your next adventure in northern Michigan? Support a local writer and pick up 100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die. Author Kim Schneider draws upon her experience as a travel writer and long time resident to share 100 ways to navigate northern Michigan.
Our Book Review
As a fellow foodie, explorer and consumer of the “best of” this region I was anxious to dive into the pages. I wondered if we would share similar tastes, favorite familiar hangouts or if, by chance, I might learn something new from her recommendations.
We tout many of the same places to eat, drink and shop like a local. And we agree on dozens of must-see destinations like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visiting area wineries and learning how to spot a Petoskey stone. But I was thrilled to discover that I too could pick-up something new in her pages of recommendations.
One of my favorite things about the book are the author’s tips shared from personal experiences. For instance, I didn’t know there’s a secret garden on Sixth street welcoming visitors when the sign says “Open”. I did appreciate the reminder that you had better bring cash to Art’s Tavern as they don’t accept credit cards. (I learned the hard way on that a time or two.) And who wouldn’t appreciate the handy reference lists of businesses associated with each suggestion. Like shops that rent fat tire bikes? You never know when you’ll want to try one of those.
100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die would make a great coffee table book for the cottage, gift for the mitten lover in your life, or glove-box reference guide for locals looking to flip the pages and set off on an adventure.
You can pick-up a copy of 100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die at local book stores including Brilliant Books, Horizon Books and Nifty Things in Traverse City, as well as Dog Ears Books in Northport (open seasonally).
To meet the author, pick her brain and get a signed copy, why not stop by one of the following launch parties and special events.
We love supporting local authors, artists and creators. They are a vibrant part of our community. If you enjoy the topic of this book review and are looking for more food for thought on Things to Do in Traverse City, explore our Dining, Shopping and Attractions pages for inspiration. And don’t forget to download our free Traverse Traveler app.
Is a vacation or staycation in Traverse City on your mind this spring? The kids have been cooped up at home long enough. Spring Break is a popular time for the locals to get-away, which means it’s a little less crowded on the streets and in the hotels. So here’s my list of 9 things to do with kids on a Traverse City staycation. Watch the videos for more details on each destination!
Breakfast at Round’s
If you’re traveling for vacation odds are nobody has to cook. So, I think it’s fitting that a staycation includes going out for breakfast. If you’re an early-riser check out Round’s, a true local hang-out, where the raspberry french toast is out of this world. Look for their menu in our Dining Guide.
Free Movies at The State
The State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay have a once-annual free movie fest, which lines up with Traverse City’s spring break. That means free movie tickets, and lots of family-friendly films all week! If your break doesn’t match ours don’t despair! These arthouse volunteer-run theaters offer great kids programs including $.25 kids matinees EVERY Saturday. And you can’t beat the popcorn and candy prices either.
Bounce it Out at Busy Bodies
Sometimes you just need a place to let the kids run, skip and bounce out that energy they’ve been storing all winter. Busy Bodies Bounce Town is the solution. With wristband access you can spend an hour, go grab a bite to eat and come back later that day to wear them out before the car ride home.
Hike through the Art Park
The Michigan Legacy Art Park is a hidden gem, and worth a drive to Crystal Mountain in Benzie County. Discover larger than life sculptures tucked between the trees along a beautiful hiking trail. These permanent art installations are impressive any time of year. March and April can still be snowy in the woods, so wear your boots, or rent a pair of snowshoes.
Eat Lunch at Scalawags
Scalawags Fish & Chips in downtown Traverse City is the perfect lunch spot for the whole family. The restaurant is decorated tip to tail in fishing-themed memorabilia and artwork. The fish is incredibly fresh and prepared right after you order. Tell the kids to watch for Spongebob as he pops up every time the front door opens.
Bowling and Laser Tag at Lucky Jacks
If you’re entertaining teens or tweens and the weather isn’t cooperating, I’ve got just the place for you. Lucky Jacks has indoor fun for the whole family. From bowling and laser tag, to arcade games, bumper cars and did I mention they have a full restaurant and bar? Yep, this spot checks a lot of boxes for some good old fashioned family fun.
Explore History at The Village
One of the nation’s largest historical renovations is taking place just off the beaten path in Traverse City. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a former state asylum with stunning 19th century architecture, and a fascinating history. Sign-up for a guided historic tour of the buildings, or spend your time hiking the trails all around Traverse City’s central park. Ask for the path to the hippy tree for an instagrammable discovery.
Play at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum
Traverse City is blessed to be surrounded by water. As Michiganders we want to ensure the importance of the Great Lakes is not lost on our youngest adventurers. Kids can explore our watery resources in hands-on exhibits, playscapes and activities at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum.
Discover Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is always on our list of things to do with kids. On a sunny day the views of Lake Michigan are blue and beautiful no matter the season. Hiking the dunes or riding a bike along the Heritage trail are great springtime adventures. Start at the Visitors Center in Empire and ask about the Jr Ranger program for some activities that will entertain and educate the youngest visitors.
So when it’s too warm for snowmen, but too cold for swimming, there are still plenty of things to do with kids of all ages in Traverse City. If you live here, it’s a good reminder to get out and enjoy the reasons why. If you’re traveling to Traverse City…welcome! The trees might be leafless, and the pot holes large, but activities abound for you and your traveling band.
Who needs basketball match-ups when you can battle it out to see which Riesling reigns supreme! Left Foot Charley is getting in on the March Madness with a Riesling wine contest.
Beginning Thursday March 15 and running for four weeks they will match up current and previous vintages of Left Foot Charley Riesling in a bracket-style tournament. Stop by their winery located at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons to taste, compare and vote for the winners on Thursday and Friday of each week.
Left Foot Charley has chosen 8 wines for the field that range from dry to sweet, pulling from vintages as far back as 2008, including a rare Riesling collaboration never previously offered for tasting or for sale.
The cost is $5 for the samples and the opportunity to vote. Guests who participate each week will be entered to win a $25 Left Foot Charley gift certificate.
We can’t resist a good Riesling, and Left Foot Charley has been producing them for years. Get in on the March fun and join the Riesling Madness. Specialty food pairings from Trattoria Stella as well as cheese and accoutrements will also be available for purchase. Glass pours and bottle sales are a way to extend the enjoyment – and perhaps pick up something unexpected.
Visit Becky Thatcher Designs in downtown Traverse City this Saturday, April 25th from 1-4pm for ‘Chocolate & Pearls,’ an open house event for jewelry lovers. Get a glimpse of new designs featuring pearls in earrings, necklaces and more. Pearls come in all shapes, sizes and many colors. At the open house event you’ll learn about the differences between Cultured, South Sea and Tahitian pearls.
Becky will be in store to share her knowledge of these traditional adornments. Browse her displays of creative handmade jewelry or peruse the loose pearls available for a custom design.
All community members are invited to a free screening of the brand new 2015 documentary, How to Dance in Ohio at the State Theatre. This film has been well received on the film festival circut and will make its debut at The State for our event. The documentary follows a group of teens with autism who spend 12 weeks preparing for a typical teenage rite of passage: a spring formal. Learn how these students tackle the social skills needed to ask someone on a date, invite them to dance and explore the complex world of social dynamics. More information about the film here.
April 24: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks | 4-7 pm
Families of children with autism are invited to join us for a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will Light up the Lanes in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event. This is an open house event with no reservations required.
April 25: Sensory-friendly Film at The Bijou | 10:30 am
Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing at The Bijou in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Children of all ages will enjoy Rio2, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.
Supporting Autism in our Community
Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of building awareness about autism, and fundraising to support children with autism in our local schools. In the last three years we have raised over $27,000 and purchased 52 iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City area public schools and T.B.A.I.S.D. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and donors. If you would like more information about donating or supporting students with autism in our schools please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A holiday weekend is the perfect time to enjoy one of northern Michigan’s favorite outdoor activities: ice fishing. And it’s not just locals who are itchin’ to go fishin’. Visitors come from miles around to catch their limit on our frozen lakes.
Here are a few tips from a local for the casual weekender who wants to give ice fishing a try —from advice on equipment, to safety and a fish finder for area lakes. These tips won’t guarantee a prosperous catch, but they’ll set you up for a fun, safe angling adventure on Michigan’s frozen playgrounds.
Licensed to Catch
The first thing every angler needs is a license. And the MDNR offers several options.
There are three licensing options: one-day license, season license and a new 72-hour all species license. The last option is great for the weekender as it’s available to residents and non-residents for $30.
Fish for free on one of Michigan’s free fishing weekends. Mark you calendars for February 14-15, 2015 for this winter’s free weekend.
Here’s a list of the basic equipment and supplies you’d need for an afternoon out on the ice. And like most sports and hobbies, there are the necessities, and then there are thousands of variations, and upgrades that can expand the options, and empty your wallet. These are the nuts and bolts. You take it where you want to from here.
Ice Auger or spud, depending on the depth of the ice. More than four inches of ice and you’ll probably want an auger;
Sled to pull your gear, depending on how much you have;
Portable shanty, foldable chair or bucket to sit on;
Tip-ups or ice fishing rods;
Bait: for tip-ups use minnows like golden shiners or blues. For rods use wax worms or artificial bait like jigs and spoons.
Tip: Don’t forget to keep the receipt from the bait shop if you buy live bait, like minnows. Live bait must be certified to prevent the spread of disease. DNRE officers may ask for proof of purchase.
Safe ice is thick ice. Four inches is recommended for safely fishing on Michigan’s inland lakes. If you’re heading out with a snowmobile or ATV, err on the side of caution and wait for 5″-6″ of ice.
Watch for holes, cracks and open ice. Freshly abandoned ice fishing holes are a quick way to twist an ankle or worse. Anglers often leave branches or markers in their abandoned ice holes as a warning, so keep your eyes open.
Bring emergency gear. Safety spikes are a great solution, and can be worn around the neck. They look like a short jump-rope with handles on the end, each equipped with a spike. If you fell in the ice you could use the picks to pull you out. A lifejacket and some rope are a good back-up plan.
Don’t fish alone. It’s not as much fun anyway, so bring a buddy.
Tip: If you’re unsure about the safety of lake ice, get some advice from the bait shop or a local. Many small inland lakes are not ideal for ice fishing because they’re spring fed. The way the ice forms can also determine whether it’s strong enough to support additional weight. So if you don’t see any tracks, or evidence of activity on the surface, don’t venture out, especially alone.
There are dozen of lakes in northwestern Michigan that could be great for fishing. And certain species thrive in specific lakes. Here’s a short guide to some of the most popular species, and where you can find them.
If your fishing for pike check out Portage Lake in Onekema and Green Lake in Interlochen;
For smelt try Crystal Lake in Benzie county, and Green Lake;
For perch Crystal Lake and Glen Lake near Glen Arbor;
For walleye visit Long Lake in Traverse City, and Lake Leelanau on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Tip: Know your limit, and stay within it. The DNRE limits the catch on each species, and limits vary. Check out the MDNR website for all the details.
Kathy Kelly, general manager of Traverse City’s Sleep Inn & Suites in Acme, was recognized for her commitment to help the homeless. L-R Rob Rodenroth (Owner Sleep Inn & Suites Acme), Kathy Kelly & John Malone (Area Director Franchise Services Choice Hotels)
What if the homeless no longer had to be without a warm bed on a cold night?
Just stop and think about that for a minute. Imagine you’re a mother with two young children and you’ve run out of options. Your car is nearly out of gas. The temperature is in the single digits. It’s New Years Eve and you have nowhere to go. Goodwill Inn is full, and the other shelters in town won’t allow children. You call a crisis center and the best advice they can give is to find a store that’s open 24-hours and keep moving. With two children? All night?
This is the call that Kathy Kelly answered one night while volunteering at a crisis center. It’s also the reason Kathy has been honored by Choice Hotels — recognition for the choice she made to help this mother, and many more, with a warm bed for the night.
That bitter evening Kathy made a decision. “I run a hotel and we have a room. I’m going to send them over there.” Working with the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, and Third Level Crisis Intervention Center, Kathy was able to house this family for the night through the use of the hotel voucher system. The vouchers are obtained by those in crisis and presented to hotels willing to participate in the program. Hotels are reimbursed at a reduced rate for the room. A room that would otherwise sit vacant.
Hotel occupancy in the coldest months can average 65% in Traverse City. That’s a lot of rooms. That option alone could give a warm bed to anyone who finds themselves desperate for shelter with nowhere else to go. In this economic climate the face of homelessness has changed. In many cases it’s families who have found themselves in a situation they never expected. “I think we all know that just a couple changes in circumstances and that could be any of us,” said Kathy.
In 2014 Sleep Inn & Suites Acme received roughly 100 vouchers to provide shelter for those in need. They also worked with Cherry Capital Cab owner Doug Dornbos, who offered transportation support. Thanks to Kathy’s commitment to grow the voucher program six more lodging properties have come on board.
Kathy acknowledges she couldn’t have joined this program without the support of the hotel ownership. At an event to honor Kathy’s efforts as a community hero, hotel owner Rob Rodenroth fully supported Kathy’s decision. “We just said yes. We can’t imagine that feeling – where do you go? What do you do? You’re helpless.”
This program is making a difference in Traverse City. Meanwhile Kathy is looking at the big picture. “I took it to Choice Hotels only to say, hey we’ve created a model here that could work – it is working. You have hotels in every city, in every state of this Country. You can take this on at a much bigger level.” Thanks to Kathy’s passion and persistence they are inclined to listen.
Choice Hotels recognized Kathy Kelly with a 2014 Service Hero Award for her commitment to helping the homeless. Traverse Traveler is proud to share her story with the hope that it inspires more Traverse City hotels to join the effort to help the homeless in our community, one room at a time. Congratulations Kathy!
Traverse City in September is the place to be if you’re a hockey fan!
The NHL Prospects Tournament begins this week at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City. Today organizers announce a special one-time event. NHL Hall of Famer Mark Howe, son of Mr. Hockey himself, will be at Centre Ice Arena this Saturday September 13, 2014 from 9 am – 11 am to for a book signing.
In a last minute addition Mark will return to Centre Ice for an additional signing Friday, September 19, 2014 from 8:30am – 9:30am.
Only 200 copies of the book will be available, with a limit of 2 signed copies per person. No other memorabilia will be signed at this event.
Expect a big line as NHL and Detroit Red Wings fans are beginning to find their way to Traverse City for the upcoming NHL Prospects Tournament (September 12-16th) and Detroit Red Wings Training Camp (September 19-23rd), both hosted by Centre Ice Arena. Tickets are still available for these events.
A visit to Glen Arbor isn’t complete without a stop at Becky Thatcher’s studio.
I’ve been a fan of Becky Thatcher Designs since the first day I walked into her Glen Arbor studio and saw her jewelry displayed in cases filled with birch, sand and stones collected from the nearby Lake Michigan shoreline. A pale purple and blue landscape was painted on the walls, and I felt as though I’d never left the beach. From her petoskey stone watches, to freshwater pearls and signature rings that blend gold, silver and gemstones, Becky has a gift for crafting exceptional jewelry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge as well. I thought it would be fun to share a piece of her world with you.
I asked Becky if I could get a behind-the-scenes look at the world of jewelry design for the Traverse Traveler blog, and Becky had the perfect solution.
Invitation to a Gemstone Roundtable
Earlier this summer I had the privilege of joining a gemstone roundtable hosted by Becky Thatcher and gemstone dealers from Mayer & Watt. Twice each year Becky Thatcher welcomes a handful of guests to join her in experiencing what it’s like to purchase gems directly from dealers who travel the world in search of beautiful stones. This was to be my glimpse behind the scenes of the gem buying process.
Our presenters, Simon & Laurie Watt, of Mayer & Watt, are accomplished gem dealers with whom Becky has worked for many years. Simon has served on the board of the American Gem Trade Association for more than 9 years, and Laurie was one of the first three women in the gem business.
Becky Thatcher Designs, located on Front Street in downtown Traverse City. Becky also has stores in Glen Arbor, Leland and Harbor Springs.
We met at the Becky Thatcher Designs store in downtown Traverse City. A lovely light dinner and refreshments awaited while guests mingled and met our hosts. We sat at a long narrow table carefully prepared for the process of examining stones for purchase.
For over 30 years Mayer & Watt have developed relationships with a network of cutters and miners in every corner of the gem world, to bring stones to jewelers like Becky. Fair trade and fair labor are of utmost concern to be sure their products do not fund terror. They specialize in rare and unusual stones, many of which we had the chance to see and to hold.
Guests were seated around a long table with Simon at the head. He held a box with dozens of simple paper envelopes inside. We were asked to pass the envelopes around the table one by one. The outside was labeled with the name of the stone, the cut, the carat weight and the price. Since all stones were available for purchase we employed a special process for laying claim to a certain stone.
At the roundtable event we viewed over 150 gemstones which ranged in price from $99 to over $100,000.
As the envelopes passed round the table each guest carefully opened the paper folds to reveal the loose stone(s) inside. Some were single stones and others were cut and sold as a pair. If one of the stones caught our eye and warranted a second look we called “dibs” along with our name and the number on the envelope, then passed it along. Dibs wasn’t a commitment to buy, “just a flirtation,” said Simon. A chance to see the stone again, handle it, and perhaps compare it to another stone that came along.
Guests had an opportunity to view each stone up close as they were passed around the table. To see a stone a second time you call ‘dibs’ and they placed the stone on a tray in front of you.
Stones were packaged in a folded paper envelope, numbered and labeled. Each guest had the opportunity to see the stones unveiled for the first time upon opening the final fold. After viewing we passed them on folded inside just as they had been received.
I saw amazing gems that evening. Stones I’d never heard of. From Spinel, Chrysoberyl, Nephrite and Alexandrite to the familar Opal, Amethyst, Sapphire and Ruby. But the most unusual name and the most amazing story go hand-in-hand. We waited for the Rhodocrosite. Simon came across this award-winning stone 16 years ago. He offered to buy it and was told to “get in line.” Years went by and he never forgot the beauty of that stone. Just weeks before coming to Michigan he received a call about a special stone for sale. Lo and behold it was one in the same. The stunning Rhodocrosite (shown above) was finally his. You’d think this one would be marked “not for sale” but in the gem business that’s not how it works. The stones are always for sale. “It’s like getting to fall in love all over again,” said Simon. And he hopes someone will fall in love with this beauty.
Some stones were presented and sold as pairs.
It took hours to make our way through the entire box of stones. We all had fun calling “dibs” to see some of the stones up close. We marveled at the beauty of these treasures and imagined what Becky could do with them in her capable hands.
This amazing gem is a green beryl. What a stunning cut, and surprisingly affordable.
Attending a gemstone roundtable was a fascinating experience. If you’d be interested in seeing this first hand I’d suggest you pay a visit to Becky Thatcher Designs in Glen Arbor, Leland, Harbor Springs or Traverse City and inquire. Becky will be hosting another roundtable yet this year. It could be a great place to start shopping for Christmas!
But wait, there’s more! Have you heard about Becky’s Tuesday Tea & Talk series? Throughout the summer she hosts a formal tea in her private garden behind the Glen Arbor store where Becky’s husband David shares a lecture on gemstones. The topic changes each week. Click here for the Tuesday Tea & Talk schedule and stop by for high tea in the garden and a glimpse into the world I found fascinating.
Onto every vacation a little rain may fall. But don’t let bad weather ruin your trip to Traverse City. You just need to give your plans a little flip. Today we’re going to explore three indoor attractions that offer activities for everyone in your family. We’ll turn those rainy frowns upside-down!
When mother nature throws a wet blanket on your outdoor family fun, head to Lucky Jack’s, where blue skies are not required. Inside these doors you’ll find 50,000 square feet of boredom busting fun! Locally owned for over 50 years Lucky Jack’s is the largest bowling center in the region. With bumper rails and ball guides kids of all ages can stay out of the gutter and score a strike.
Need to burn off some excess energy? Suit ’em up for a challenging game of laser tag. Or test your skills in the arcade. Keep track of all your activities and points with the Fun Card, then cash in, for the loot of your choice.
Lucky Jack’s knows how to keep kids and parents happy. Did I mention they have a full bar, and some of the best pizza in town? That’s why they’re known as Traverse City’s FUN Destination.
Take Aim at Shooter’s Range
Let’s face it, the little kids aren’t the only ones pouting when plans get cancelled due to weather. When it’s too rough to fish, or to wet to golf, the temperature’s always perfect at Shooters Indoor Gun & Archery Range.
Northern Michigan is a hunter’s paradise. And this place, is where they come to hone their skills. Shooter’s 8 lane firearm range allows shoppers to try before you buy. They even offer lessons if you’re new to the sport – like me.
If archery is more your style take aim at one of 15 life-size targets in their 3-D course. Or step inside the technoHUNT simulator where you can stalk a whitetail deer or an animal on safari. From guns to ammo to bows and arrows Shooters can outfit any Michigan sportsman —or woman. So visit Shooters. Where they aim…to please.
Shop in Comfort at Cherryland Antique Mall
Update: The Cherryland Antique Mall is now closed. However antiquing in the area is still a great rainy day option.
On a sunny day you’ll find our downtown streets are filled with shoppers. So what’s a girl to do when she’s dying to buy something new, and window shopping is out of the question? How about searching for something new to you.
The Cherryland Antique Mall is filled with treasures of times gone by. It’s a far cry from the hot dusty flea markets and auctions my parents used to drag me to. Here you can browse to your hearts content, in air-conditioned comfort. I can spend hours strolling through these isles. Booth by booth you’ll find a wide variety of antiques, furniture, vintage jewelry, memorabilia and collectables.
Why not pick up a unique souvenir from your trip up north… one with a little history attached. The knowledgeable dealers at the Cherryland Antique Mall will help you find just what you’re looking for.
So when your plans are cancelled because the forecast is wet, remember these rainy day ideas for a Traverse City vacation you’ll never forget. Download the Traverse Traveler app for directions to these — and many more — rainy day attractions.
Cherry Festival is over, but the cherry season has just begun. Local cherries are the gems of the northern Michigan summer. Each year we anxiously await the arrival of the ruby fruit that brings visitors to the area, and keeps many of our businesses running.
Whether you like sweet cherries by the pound, tart cherries for your pies, dried cherries for snacking, cherry wine or cherry products, you can find it in the Cherry Capitol of the world… Traverse City.
Cherry Fun Facts
Michigan grows 75 percent of the US crop of tart cherries, and about 20 percent of sweet cherries
Northern Michigan is responsible for 90 percent of the state’s sweet cherry production
There are close to 7000 cherries on the average tart cherry tree, enough for 28 pies
It takes 100 cherries to produce an 8 oz. glass of cherry juice
Ease arthritis pain and inflammation naturally with cherry juice, thanks to the anthocyanins, which give tart cherries their color
Michigan cherry wine is made primarily from Montmorency cherries
Peninsula Cellars is the only area winery to produce a white cherry wine, made from the Emperor Francis cherry
U-Pick Farms & Farm Stands
Some of my favorite childhood memories are from roaming the U-Pick farms. We’d lug around our galvanized buckets and climb the rickety old wooden ladders to carefully select the largest, juiciest, ripest cherries. When the buckets were full, or too heavy to carry, we’d know it was time to go home. It took a long swim in the lake to get rid of the purple stained fingers, but it was worth the memories.
If you’re looking to pick up some fresh cherries on your visit up north there are plenty of options. A drive along the Old Mission or Leelanau Peninsula will offer several roadside opportunities to buy direct from the grower. And you can’t beat the scenic views along the way. Eating fresh washed cherries from a roadside stand always makes my Summer To-Do List.
For those of you who prefer your cherry products without the pits, Benjamin Twiggs in Traverse City has everything you could ever need. From cherry-themed merchandise, to cherry products of all kinds, you’ll find all your cherry dreams come true at Benjamin Twiggs, the oldest cherry purveyor in Traverse City. And they’ll even ship if you’re craving a taste of Michigan from far away.
Tips and Tricks
Cherries with the stems attached will stay fresh longer
To remove cherry stains from fingers and clothing try a little lemon juice, and rinse with water
For an inexpensive cherry pit remover try placing a metal pastry tip on your finger and pushing them out. A bobby pin or a bent paper clip can be used to scoop out the pit and only leaves one hole.
An Up North summer begins and ends on a holiday. That’s 59 days to soak up the sun. So I put together a list of 59 ways to squeeze in every last drop of Pure Michigan fun. This year, let’s all Be a Traveler in Traverse City. On your mark… get set… go!
Hunt for petoskey stones. Point Betsie is a good stony beach with miles of shoreline for walking. Not sure what you’re looking for? Pick up a rock hunting guide from Korner Gem. Kevin’s an expert!
Sip a cold drink under the warm sun. I love to look out over the marina from the deck at Harbor 22, or better yet… cocktails on a boat, in the harbor will do just fine.
Read a paperback on the beach. Ok, so this one makes my list every summer for nothing more than pure selfish relaxation. I’m usually giggling at Stephanie Plum in the latest Janet Evanovich book, but if you’re looking for a new read I’d suggest a stop by Brilliant Books in Traverse City.
Buy a flight at a local brewery. Our little town is one of the beeriest cities in the U.S. You’ll find a dozen craft breweries in Traverse City and new ones popping up in small towns, like Stormcloud in Frankfort. So grab a flight and drink local.
Bike the T.A.R.T. trail or Benzie trail. Follow this stretch of the T.A.R.T. that runs along Boardman Lake behind the Traverse Area District Library and look for the planetary signs. It’s great fun for the kids.
Celebrate our independence with fireworks. We park and walk for miles to Lake Michigan beach in Frankfort with a bag of licorice, glow necklaces and dig our pit in the sand to watch a spectacular show every July 4th.
Reel in a king salmon. Forget the worm, up North, the early bird gets the fish! The best bite is at dawn and dusk, but the thrill of the catch is worth it. On a good day you’ll bring home dinner. On a bad day it was a still a nice boat ride that followed the colors of the sun.
Fill a basket with fresh picked fruit straight from the orchard. Stop at a U-Pick farm for a hands-on experience or pull up to a roadside stand and select from nature’s best.
Count satellites and ponder the stars. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore holds ‘Star Parties’ several times each summer where you can explore the night sky through powerful telescopes. Or kick back next to a campfire and watch for meteors.
Try a new restaurant. Our region is blessed with fantastic local eateries. Try one that’s new —or at least new to you— this summer. On my list: The Franklin on Front and Cass in downtown Traverse City and Tucker’s in Northport.
Walk barefoot along our freshwater coast. Take some time to feel the sand between your toes on a beach walk. You’ll find busy beaches along the shores of West Bay, Frankfort and Empire, or seek solitude at the end of a quiet road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Drink the fruits of our land. The wineries are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Grand Traverse region. But as a local, I’m proud to say I love them too. Take a trip on Old Mission or Leelanau county and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Before you go, check out my tips for wine-tasting in Northern Michigan.
Jump off a dock. Swing from a rope, dive in a pool, take flight over a body of water and land with a splash. That’s summer lovin’ at its watery best.
Run down the dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes is a must-visit every summer. From the dune climb that overlooks Big and Little Glen, to the quieter spots in the National Park, find your spot to run with the wind in your hair and legs out of control.
Eat dessert from a cone. Is there a more perfect summer food than ice cream? We make regular trips to Moomer’s for homemade deliciousness complete with farm views. But if you want to feel like a local order the Cosmo cone from the Dairy Lodge.
Roast s’mores over an open flame. My secret for a perfect s’more: buy the giant marshmellos, roast until gooey, remove skewer and slip two squares of chocolate inside the marshmello. Squeeze between two grahams and enjoy. This will be the most delicious mess you eat all summer.
Float down the Platte. Whether you like to bob on a tube, cruise in a kayak or navigate with a canoe, a trip down the Platte from Riverside Canoes is the best way to enjoy the river. Plan to spend some time at the mouth swimming in the warm current as it empties into Lake Michigan.
Dinner at the Manitou. After spending my high school and college years as a waitress here I can’t let a summer go by without a trip to the Manitou Restaurant on M-22 near Crystal Lake. No skimping either. Start with the skinny dippers and finish with blueberry raspberry pie.
Climb a lighthouse tower. Nothing beats the view from the top of a lighthouse in Michigan. We’re lucky to have several you can climb including the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. Did you know you can see four islands from their tower?
Ride the new Heritage Trail. Bikers will want to check out the brand new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that runs from the Dune Climb south to Empire. It’s a beautiful new addition to the park.
Dine al fresco. I do a lot of grab-n-go dining as I’m on the road. But in the summer I try to slow down for a meal al fresco. Check out the seating at Morsels along the Boardman River for a coffee or snack. Or grab a bite from the food trucks that park at The Little Fleet.
Buy fresh fruit from a roadside stand. Cruise up M-37 on Old Mission Peninsula and you’ll find lovely roadside stands all summer selling cherries, peaches, apricots and flowers. Some are washed and ready to eat.
Play golf. This region is surrounded by world class golf courses so grab a tee time. My favorite course has waterfalls, pirates and a zipline that traverses over the go-carts. Yep, I’ll be working on my hole-in-one at Pirates Cove.
Take the boat to South Manitou Island. If you want to experience true north, the way it was before settlements took hold, then take the Manitou Transit from Leland and visit South Manitou Island. Climb the lighthouse, walk the beach and look for shipwrecks off the coast.
Shop around M-22. Some of my favorite summer shops are scattered among coastal towns along M-22. I always sneek up to Suttons Bay to visit The Happy Woman, and At Home, Haystacks has my favorite skirts, and check Wildflowers in Glen Arbor for great garden gifts and fun jewelry.
Photograph a sunset at Point Betsie Lighthouse. The most photographed lighthouse in the state, Point Betsie is an iconic subject for so many reasons. Catch the light at sunset, with waves crashing along the sandy shore… it’s a moment worth capturing on film.
Pick blueberries. It could be strawberries, or cherries, but every year I say I’m going to pick blueberries from one of the farms on Old Mission or in Benzie County but I never make it! This is going to be the year.
Visit the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Along Grace Rd between Benzonia and Frankfort you’ll find the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Bring the kids to pet the animals, and bring your wallet to buy some of the amazing clothing and gifts they make on-site.
Drink from Mineral Springs. I don’t know if this makes you a tourist or a traveler. But every year my family drinks from the Mineral Springs in downtown Frankfort. Drink for tradition, drink for good health, but hold your nose. I still don’t like the smell.
Learn about our legends and lore. Our native American heritage fills this region with legends, artifacts and traditions. Spend a day at the History Center, or Eyaawing museum near Suttons Bay to learn about our native cultures, and the people who built these communities.
Find a secluded beach. Most days I’m happy if I can squeeze my towel in between beach goers from all different states, and watch families enjoying the shoreline. But somedays I seek a quiet place to walk and think. Find a happy stretch along the shore and relax.
Set sail on Grand Traverse Bay. Kids will love to help hoist the sails aboard the Traverse Tall Ship Manitou that cruises daily on the bay. Looking for dancing and cocktails? Check out the Nauti-cat. And if a romantic sunset is what you seek, set sail aboard Scout.
Listen to a concert at Interlochen Center for the Arts. We are so blessed to have a world renowned school for the arts in our woodland backyard. Once you’ve listened to an Interlochen concert at Kresge with the summer breeze on your shoulders and music in the air, you’ll make sure this is on your list every year.
Catch up with old friends. From backyard BBQs to campfires to a night on the town summertime is my favorite time to schedule time with old friends. Each year I meet my college roommates for at least one weekend of out-of-town fun.
Make new friends. When you sit down at the bar for a cup of coffee, or are waiting in line at a popular restaurant, strike up a conversation with the person next you. More often than not I’m amazed by our connections and what a small world this really is.
Tour a local art fair. From craft fairs to fine art juried shows, there’s an artfair somewhere nearly every weekend in the summer. I never miss the Frankfort art fair in August, but not just for the art. I’m in love with the chicken dinners they cook in the park. Best Chicken EVER!
Boat party at the sandbar. The party crowd heads to Torch Lake where the sandbar is legendary. But the locals? We hang at Power Island when the beaches get crowded. Don’t have a boat? No problem. Hitch a ride from Bowers Harbor over to Power Island on the new transit and you’ll find pop-up parties all summer long.
Get soaked to the skin in the warm summer rain. Surprise your kids, and perhaps yourself, when you throw logic and reason out the window and dance in the rain. No umbrella, no shoes, just pure spontaneous fun. I promise this will bring a smile to your face on a rainy day.
Pick a bouquet of wildflowers. Baby’s Breath, Queen Anne’s Lace, wild Thistle, there are dozens of lovely wildflowers growing along the roadside. Pick up a field guide to help identify flowers, rocks and animals found in northern Michigan. Just be sure you don’t pick anything protected.
Watch a ball game. Traverse City has the Beach Bums to quench our thirst for America’s pastime. Their beautiful stadium just outside downtown Traverse City is fun for the whole family. And every game finishes with fireworks.
Visit Fishtown. Browse the quaint shops that line the century-old fishing wharf, pick up some smoked whitefish from Carlson’s, have a Chubby Mary overlooking the falls or grab a pretzel bread sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty. A day in Leland’s fishtown is a summer must-do.
Tell stories around a campfire. Beach bonfires, campground fires surrounded by tents, patio hearths with potbelly stoves, pick your poison and enjoy one of summer’s iconic experiences. I like mine on the shores of a lake telling stories of summers past.
Shop the farmers market. We are blessed to live in an agricultural paradise. And that’s never more apparent than on a trip to the farmer’s market. Every town has them.
Eat cherries everyday! Well, maybe not that often. But when you live in cherry country why not enjoy it? Benjamin Twiggs has everything Cherry so you can shop to your heart’s content. And if you just want a sweet cherry treat: stop by Reflect Bistro inside the Cambria Suites for a cherry bread pudding that’s to die for!
Party in the street. Wrap up the week with an evening at Friday Night Live in downtown Traverse City. Buy a balloon, enjoy live music, have your face painted. A perfect place to be a kid again…or bring one.
Savor a simple homebaked snack. The smell of warm bread or cookies coming out of the oven is delicious any time of year. If I walk into Pleasanton Bakery I’m walking out with their Parmesan Olive bread and one of the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever tasted. So much yum!
Get out on the water. Hop on a boat or a jet ski and ride out to where the deep water lives, clear and blue green as far as the eyes can see…and dive in! That is pure Michigan bliss.
Eat your fill of fresh sweet corn. Nobody beats Hall’s farm on North Long Lake Road in Traverse City. For a fabulous summer salad try this corn and blueberry salad. It’s great served like a salsa with tortilla chips too. My secret potluck party weapon.
Photograph the everyday moments. It’s not the parties and holidays that spark nostalgia but the details of summer memories past. Capture the special places, people and things in your life. You’ll thank me later.
Play a sport on the lawn. Badmitten, croquet, bocce or new favorites like ring toss and bean bag games make fun family competitions a must-do for summer. For an entertaining contest try shooting ping-pong balls off of golf tees with rubber bands.
Spend a hot day at a cool pool. My kids love the outdoor pool at Waters Edge at Crystal Mountain and can’t wait to try their new ropes course that lies above. Or you could stay and play at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, an indoor waterpark resort.
Watch a movie at an historic theater. Our community is lucky to have several renovated theaters back in action. The State Theatre in Traverse City, The Garden in Frankfort and the Bijou by the Bay (formerly the Con Foster Museum). Restored classic theatres where the movies are great, and so are the prices.
Eat, drink and shop local. Summer is the absolute best time to enjoy the bounty of northern Michigan and support the businesses that thrive on the extra traffic. So eat at a local hotspot, drink our wines and beers, and buy something that will forever remind you of this summer. The summer you spent enjoying EVERY DAY in this beautiful land of ours.
I’m Brandy from Traverse Traveler, and this is my list. I hope you’ll find something on it to add yours. If you have a favorite that I’ve forgotten, please add it in the comments. I love to discover new ways to enjoy this community. Happy Summer everyone!
April 4: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks | 4-7 pm
To kick-off Autism Awareness month we’re inviting families of children with autism to a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will “Light it up Blue” in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event.
April 14: Film and panel discussion at Bijou by the Bay | 6 pm
All community members are invited to a free screening of the 2009 documentary, The Horse Boy at the Bijou by the Bay theater. This hit on the film festival circuit chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel to Mongolia hoping to find a nomadic shaman to heal their five-year-old son’s autism. A moderated panel discussion will follow the movie, offering the community a place to ask questions, dispel myths and learn about how autism affects people in the Grand Traverse area.
April 16: ARN monthly speaker | 6:30 pm
Karin Chandler, founder of Life Solutions for Autism, will speak on developing a childs skills to enable independence at the regular ARN monthly parent support group meeting. Advocating for and Empowering Children with Autism will be presented at Munson Medical Center room 11 (lower level).
April 27: Sensory-friendly film at The State | 10 am
Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing of one of Thomas the Tank Engines feature-length adventures. Children of all ages will enjoy Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.
Donating to iPads for Autism
Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of raising funds to help children with autism in our local schools. In the last two years we have raised over $25,000 and purchased 47 iPads for TCAPS students with autism as a partner in education. This year we will continue to raise money for ipads through voluntary donations collected at all events.
In addition, we’re thrilled to announce all four Traverse City area Walgreens stores will collect donations for iPads for autism throughout the month of April.
We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to enjoy Winter in northern Michigan. There seemed to be a festival in every town. But event planners around the region were trumped by mother nature as thousands made the trek to see the ice caves on Lake Michigan.
My social media circles have been buzzing for days with stories and some spectacular photos showing 20′ and 30′ ice cliffs just offshore near Leland, the pinky finger of our mitten state. After reading the story on MLive.com I just couldn’t pass up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these formations.
This winter has been uncharacteristically cold, snowy, and now ice-filled. In fact, Lake Michigan is likely to break the all-time ice coverage record of 95 percent. Our frigid temps and windy weather are the perfect storm for creating these ‘ice castles’ just 500 yards off shore. They’re far from common, so it became my mission this weekend to make the migration.
Mission completed. Although at times it felt more like Mission Impossible. So I wanted to share a few tips in case you’re planning to make the trip to see the ice caves.
Tips to know before you go
Park close to the lake. The top viewing area is off of Onomonee Rd and N. Gills Pier Rd. Do not make the same mistake we did and park the moment you find a space. We parked on N. Gills Pier Rd near M-22 since there were so many cars. It is an HOUR walk from there! Keep driving, even if the going is slow. You’ll find a space.
Don’t forget to bring water. I know, obvious right? If it were summer and I were headed out on a big hike I’d have packed smarter. But I had no idea we’d be out there so long, or have to walk so far. I was ready to eat snow.
Bring your camera, not just your iPhone. Guess what? iPhones don’t love the cold and snow. If you want to capture the beauty of this trip to share with those who didn’t join you, bring a point-and-shoot camera along with your phone.
Wear good boots with traction. The terrain is a mixture of hard pack slick snow, smooth ice and sloping, unpredictable grade. It’s incredibly easy to lose your footing. Consider wearing crampons, or yaktrax if you have them. And just be slow and careful on the ice.
Was it amazing? Absolutely! But after traveling with my two kids, and my two parents we all agreed these tips would have been nice to know beforehand. I’m not sure how long the weather will permit visitations to this spectacular show of mother nature’s beauty and power. So get out there if you can, but be safe!
If you’re like me New Year’s Eve sneaks up on you after a long holiday of feasts, friends and family. Sometimes we have a plan, and sometimes we’re making it up as we go along. So for all you last minute planners out there here are a few ways to enjoy New Year’s Eve up north.
The CherryT Ball Drop
If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to be a part of huge crowds chanting a countdown to ring in the new year, then this option is for you (in a much smaller scale of course). Downtown Traverse City is bustling on New Year’s Eve during the CherryT Ball Drop. No that’s not a spelling error. The CherryT stands for Chartity ball, as the event is a fundraiser by design. The entrance fee is a $3 cash donation or 3 canned goods, with proceeds benefiting the Goodwill Food Pantry.
Looking for a family-friendly way to count down to 2014? How about glow bowling, music, pizza and enough arcade games to keep the kids busy for hours. You’ll find it all at Lucky Jacks from 5:30pm – 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve. If whipping your friends at laser tag or on the pool table sounds better than freezing outside, why let the kids have all the fun? Show up later for the adult party. It lasts from 9pm – 1am.
Hoping to celebrate outdoors, but not interested in the big ball drop crowds? How about donning your skis for a torchlit parade followed by fireworks? That’s what’s in store at Crystal Mountain Resort this year. There’s an ultimate family pirate party the kids will enjoy, or join the Slopeside party for dinner and dancing along with a champagne toast. Party cover varies. Lift ticket or season pass required to participate in the torchlit parade.
Shimmers on the Bay inside the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort has two times the fun this year. They’ve got two bands: Soul Celebration & Twice Shy, along with DJ Shawny D as the host. Rock in the New Year with party favors, an old-fashioned balloon drop, champagne toast and lots of dancing fun. $15 cover
If you’re a fan of Billy Strings & Don Julin you’ll want to be at InsideOut Gallery for the Swingin’ Stringin’ New Year’s Eve. For a $10 admission you can enjoy the sounds of the True Falsettos and legendary aforementioned duo who will take you clappin’ and toe tappin’ into 2014. There’s a full bar available at the Outre Lounge, or step out for a craft beer and a bite next door at the Workshop Brewing Company.
Have a bubbly New Year!
Bring on the Bubbly
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve if there weren’t some corks a poppin’. As always our glasses will be be full of Michigan selections. So we thought we’d share a few local recommendations.
You can’t go wrong with L. Mawby this time of year. They specialize in sparkling wines from dry to sweet. My picks shy away from brut, which is why I opt for Detroit or Wet.
One of my personal favorites is only available seasonally from Black Star Farms. The Bubbly Nouveau tends toward the sweet and pink, which makes it a great choice when going to a party. If you’re lucky to find any left on the shelves by New Year’s Eve pick up a bottle or two. Otherwise log that idea away for next year.
Left Foot Charley is bringing out something special for the holiday. Stop by on New Year’s Eve for a glass of their 2010 Gitali, a brut bubbly. Available by the glass (for a limited time) or by the bottle.
Celebrate by Chateau Chantal is another great sparkling wine option from the Old Mission peninsula. It also makes a nice hostess gift if you’re attending a New Year’s party with friends.
My favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve is at a house party with friends. But you can’t show up empty handed. So I’m going to share a handy holiday recipe that’s sure to please.
Cranberry Brie Bites
Washed whole fresh cranberries
cherry preserves (I like Old Mission Traders or Benjamin Twiggs)
brie, rind removed and sliced in 1/4″ thick slices
water table crackers
fresh mint leaves (optional)
Directions: Soak the cranberries in maple syrup overnight. Drain and roll cranberries in granulated sugar. Assemble the crackers with a slice of brie, top with small amount of cherry preserves and 2 or 3 sugared cranberries. Add a mint leaf as an edible garnish.
They’re beautiful, and they taste great!
You’ve got your bubbly, a great appetizer, and lots of options for how to spend your New Year’s Eve. So get out there and party like it’s 1999. It may not the be the turn of the century, but I’m looking forward to the turn of the calendar page just the same.