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25 Ways to Entertain Out-of-Town Guests in Traverse City this Winter

It’s easy to plan activities in the summer, but what are the best things to do in Traverse City in the winter? When out-of-town guests come to visit it can be challenging to think of new ways to entertain them, especially in the winter. Let Traverse Traveler be your guide. We put together 25 winter activities in Traverse City for guests of all ages. With these ideas, you’re sure to get the kids outdoors, send the in-laws out of your kitchen, and keep the peace this holiday season.

Winter activities graphic
  1. Take a History Tour at The Village
    Book a tour at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons and spend 2 hours learning about the history of the buildings that once housed an asylum for the mentally insane. Explore the underground steam tunnel, go inside untouched buildings and discover how an abandoned asylum was transformed into a modern community. Try the Taste the Village tour which includes wine tasting at Left Foot Charley and beer flight at Earthen Ales. Reservations required. Online booking available here.


  2. Hit the Ice for a Twilight Skate
    Turn the music up, the lights down, and ice skate under the disco lights at a Twilight Skate at Howe Arena. Traverse City brings back the rockin’ rink to create memories for the next generation. This family-friendly winter activity is only $5/person with $3 skate rental available on-site. Evening skates on Fridays/Saturdays and extra hours during holiday vacations. Check Twilight Skate schedule here.


  3. Experience a Theater Performance
    Traverse City is home to several theaters with fabulous performances throughout the year. Check out the calendars for the City Opera House, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Old Town Playhouse to see if there’s a concert, play or music performance while your guests are in town. Pair that with a dinner out and that’s a full evening of great entertainment.


  4. Drink Beer in an Igloo
    We can’t hide the fact that it is winter, so why not embrace it? Hoplot in Suttons Bay was the first to employ igloo seating in the winter and the idea took off. It’s so popular in fact that you’ll want to book your igloo in advance! If you prefer to take your chances you’ll also find the geodesic domes at St Ambrose Cellars in Benzonia.


  5. Go Sledding on the Dune Climb
    You’ve probably taken your guests to see the Sleeping Bear Dunes in the summer. But if you want a real adventure grab some sleds and head to the Dune Climb this winter. There’s plenty of parking and one giant hill that won’t disappoint. A word of advice: if it’s windy, don’t let go of the sled. You won’t be able to run fast enough to catch it. And don’t park too close to the bottom of the hill. It’s not uncommon for sledders to end up in the parking lot! National Park Pass required.


  6. Snowshoe at a Winery
    Turn wine tasting into an active adventure. The 45 North Vineyard Trail is a 3-mile groomed recreational trail for biking, skiing or walking located at Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery on the Leelanau Peninsula. Take your guests for a hike followed by wine and cider tasting at the winery. Check their Facebook page for trail conditions.


  7. Hike in an Art Park
    At Crystal Mountain Resort you can explore an outdoor sculpture garden known as Michigan Legacy Art Park. More than forty larger-than-life sculptures are nestled along the trail which loops through a 30-acre forest. The park is open every day year-round. Donations accepted for park access. Snowshoe rentals available through Crystal Mountain.


  8. Catch a Movie at The State or Bijou
    When the wind chill drives the kids indoors, head to the movies. Downtown Traverse City is home to two beautifully restored theaters. The State Theatre and Bijou are non-profits operated by volunteers. Which means you can buy a ticket, popcorn, and a drink for less than $20! They host a kids 25 cent matinee every Saturday at 10am, and a calendar of special events that take movie fun to a whole new level. Visit their website for showtimes.


  9. Instagram an Art Walk Downtown
    Within the Downtown district, you’ll discover outdoor art throughout the city. Why not make it an Instgrammable adventure. Pose with the statue of Perry Hannah, Traverse City’s founding father on Union Street. Make heart hands in front of the heart wall on Park Street. Witness our native heritage as you walk through the Cass street tunnel. Find your wings on East Front Street and a mosaic mural on West Front. It’s a fun way to enjoy a winter activity in downtown Traverse City.


  10. Shop for a New Winter Hat
    When you live in Michigan we need hats for skiing, headbands for hiking, hats we wear outdoors to cover our ears, and hats we wear indoors just to be stylish. So naturally, a trip to Traverse City in the winter should include hat shopping at Diversions. Check out the Michigan-made Stormy Kromer for a fashionable yet functional hat, or the Yooper Chook to cover everything but your eyeballs in polar fleece!


  11. Get Some Homework or Detention
    There’s a one-room schoolhouse on Old Mission Peninsula that made homework and detention tasteful. In fact, these wines by Peninsula Cellars are downright delicious. Stop by the century-old schoolhouse on M-37 for wine and cider tasting. You’ll find playful blends like Pop Quiz and Exchange Student, as well as estate varietals like Riesling and Pinot Noir. Take your guests to school and bring home a little class.


  12. Take the Toddlers for a Bounce
    When your guests have kids it’s nice to know there’s a place to go where it’s safe to run around and burn off some energy. The Busy Bodies Bounce Town in the Cherryland Center will pull the kids away from the screen time for some physical fun. Wristband entry means you can come and go all day, and parents play for free. Just remember to bring your socks.


  13. Eat Giant S’mores Indoors
    The Filling Station Microbrewery has something for everyone in the family, including the kids. Try the s’mores pizza for a sweet and gooey unexpected treat. Chocolate, marshmallow and a crispy crust are baked in their wood-fired oven. You’ll also find savory flatbreads, tasty salads and of course, the Filling Station’s own craft beers brewed on-site. Enjoy a meal, a drink or dessert on their new enclosed outdoor patio for a fun winter activity in Traverse City.


  14. Play Old School Arcade Games
    Who’s ready to take on the pinball king? The Coin Slot in downtown Traverse City is home to dozens of ‘80s and ‘90s classic arcade games just waiting for a new high score. From Donkey Kong and Galaga to Frogger and Centipede, there’s a blast from the past on every wall. Think arcades are just for kids? Well there’s beer in here, so don’t count on it. Pinball still takes quarters, or you can buy a package by the hour.


  15. Try to Escape at Incredible Mo’s
    Looking for things to do with teens? How about an activity that challenges their minds. At Escapology, you have one hour to try and solve the puzzles and free your team from one of three escape rooms. Book the room for two to eight players, ages 12 and up. When you’re done grab a meal at Sauce or break out the bowling shoes. Incredible Mo’s has you covered for a whole day of fun.


  16. Experience Inuit Art at The Dennos
    The Dennos Museum on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College has one of the largest collections of Inuit Art in the Nation. Exhibitions change throughout the year in the other gallery spaces in this beautiful museum. Kids of all ages will enjoy the hands-on exhibits in the Discovery Gallery where they can play a musical sound wall and laser harp, and interact with the light wall. Admission is just $6/Adults $4/children.


  17. Tour a Distillery and Warm  Up from the Inside Out
    Sip a custom cocktail from one of a dozen spirits made on-site at the Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville near Crystal Mountain. Sign up for a tour to learn how they make small-batch craft spirits like vodka, bourbon, and gin from the grains grown on this century-old farm. Then grab a seat at the bar for a Salted Maple Old Fashioned or a Manistee Mule. Tours $12/person, includes tasting for 21+.


  18. Take a Snowy Sleigh Ride
    For an up north experience your out-of-town guests will remember, take a sleigh ride through the snowy hillside. At Black Horse Farm in Empire, you’ll hear those sleigh bells jingling as a team of Percheron horses pulls the 12-person sleigh through the Leelanau woods. Visit a warming station overlooking Glen Lake for some hot cocoa and an unforgettable Michigan memory.


  19. Shop an Indoor Farmers Market
    What do Michigan farmers do when the cold wind blows the farm stand closed? They bring the harvest indoors. Every Saturday throughout the winter you can shop the indoor farmers market in the halls of The Village Mercado. Merchants set up booths with winter greens, eggs, honey, mushrooms, homemade treats, fish, milk, meats and more. Open 10am–2pm on Saturdays November–April.


  20. Test Your Golf Skills
    The greens may be under a blanket of snow, but you can still hit the virtual links at X-Golf Traverse City. Rent a simulator by the hour for up to 6 people per bay. Practice and get feedback on your skills or play a simulated round. Plan on one hour per person to play 18-holes. Simulators can be reserved for up to four hours. So when your competitive relatives come for a visit, why not challenge them to a round of golf. Plan on $35-$55/hour.


  21. Learn to Curl
    There’s a restaurant in Maple City where you can eat, drink and learn to curl. That’s right, Broomstack Kitchen & Taphouse is also home to the Leelanau Curling Club. They have a designated curling rink on-site. Bring your out-of-town guests and learn to toss the rock and sweep your way to victory. It’s a fun winter activity for kids and adults of all ages. Learn to curl classes include 45 minutes of instruction and one hour playtime. $25/person


  22. Go Snow Tubing
    With Mt Holiday on the east and Timberlee Hills to the west, we have your snow tubing winter activities covered in Traverse City. Both resorts offer warming stations, tube rental and towing to get you up the hill, so you can enjoy the ride down. Timberlee Hills is open Fri–Sun, tickets $14/hr. Mt Holiday is open Tues–Sun, tickets $11-$13/hr.


  23. Make a Kid-Friendly Tasting Tour
    Plan a day trip around town and introduce your guests to the flavors of Traverse City with your very own tasting tour. Many shops encourage you to try before you buy. Sample cherries at Cherry Republic, taste olive oils and flavored vinegars at Fustinis, try gelato flavors at Espresso Bay, and you can even sip the seven soups made fresh daily at The Soup Cup.


  24. Take a Musical Walk Through Time
    Located just north of Traverse City in Acme, the Music House Museum is filled with treasures of another era. Docent-led tours will guide you through the museum. From simple music boxes and early radios to the grand 1922 Mortier dance hall organ, you’ll see and hear our musical past come to life. The Music House is open weekends November and December, and by reservation for groups of 10+ in January–March. Tickets $15/adults, $5/kids. Special pricing available for families, veterans, AAA. Active military are FREE.


  25. Eat and Drink a Massive Mary
    The Massive Mary is an attraction all its own. This giant Bloody Mary from Boone’s Prime Time Pub in Suttons Bay is a meal in a glass. And it’s definitely Instagram-worthy. With a Buffalo chicken slider, a burger slider, onion rings, pickle chips, green olives, celery, lemon, lime and a snit of beer… your friends won’t believe you ate and drank the entire thing.


winter skier graphic

25 things to do, and one app to find them all

There you have it: 25 ways to keep your out-of-town guests busy with winter activities in Traverse City. And just to make life a little easier we put them all in one place. You’ll find all of these locations on the Traverse Traveler app, your handy guide to the Traverse Area. Be sure to share that tip with your guests too! Now get out there and enjoy the winter.

Celebrating 18 Years of Little Cards

We love sharing business stories. Since the Traverse Traveler story began eighteen years ago today I thought it would be fun to share some of the history behind this little card business and take a look at what has changed from 2001 to today.

Brandy Mealtickets little cards at Bayshore ResortBrandy the little card lady at Traverse Traveler office

How it All Began

In the wake of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 I lost my job as a graphic designer for a small ad firm in Traverse City. Getting a new one didn’t seem too likely as the market was struggling to recover. So why not start a business?

Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas was born on November 1, 2001 from a desire to help visitors see northern Michigan the way I do. It began with only six advertisers and 30 little card displays.

I set-up a corner office in my basement where I designed the little cards, managed the website and made sales calls. On the other side of the basement, with the washer/dryer behind me and towers of card boxes all around, I filled displays. When I wasn’t working from home I was delivering displays to hotels, motels and resorts across Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau county.

Little card by little card the business grew. The hotels I worked with loved the little card displays because they fit on the front desk. Their guests liked how the cards fit in their pocket or purse. And I loved working with each advertiser to design a card that captured their business on a piece of paper no larger than a bookmark.

For over 13 years you’d find a dozen displays in the trunk of my car, a semi-permanent groove on my hip where I carried them, and a well worn path from my garage to my basement where I stored and filled over 70 displays each month.

Mealtickets website homepage 2003Traverse Traveler website screenshot

Little Cards with a Big Name

The DBA I registered when I started the business was Traverse Area Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas. Yep. That’s a mouthful. It was my dad’s idea actually. He was my entrepreneurial mentor, and he had some aspirations to take this idea “national” someday in the form of a franchise. Mealtickets was in the name to represent the restaurants, because every visitor wants to know where to eat. But how do you sum up all the amazing and unique attractions, retail shops, and other destinations we that wanted to represent? Unusual Ideas. So that’s the genesis of the name that debuted on the little card displays.

Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas is a name that is not easy to remember. And yet, those first customers I sold and hotel relationships I built, still refer to the cards as Mealtickets, brought to you by the little card lady.

In 2010 when I decided to create an app to grow our platform I knew it was time for a re-brand. That’s when Traverse Traveler was born. The logo has seen a few updates and Traverse Traveler is now the brand name for all of our traveler marketing products.

Mealtickets home officeTraverse Traveler office

Outgrowing the Basement

My corner office in the basement was home to the little card empire until we sold our house in Lake Ann. We were building a new home closer to Traverse City and this time I was moving on up. A first-floor office with a view was a top priority. And that’s when I met my partner Jay Gorter.

Jay launched Visitors Media with digital signage in the hotel lobbies, and an in-room visitor channel playing all original content. We started out testing one anothers products: I designed a card for his channel ExploreTC, and he put me on camera to produce a Wine Tasting Tips video which helped promote the Traverse Traveler app.

In 2015 after a year of collaboration and working out of the Visitors Media office while my house was being built, we decided to merge our companies. The little cards had a new home at Visitors Media.

Mealtickets card shipmentTraverse Traveler card inventory

Some Things Never Change

I’ve changed the business name. I’ve moved office locations. I’ve changed printers and processes for inventory. But so many things remain the same. I still design the cards (over 150 different designs in these 18 years). We still load up our car with displays and deliver them to hotels in three counties every month, year round. And in case you didn’t notice, purple is still my signature color.

After 18 years I’m proud to say these little cards still do a great job at educating travelers on restaurants and attractions to visit. And I’m still proud to be known as the little card lady.

By |2019-11-01T15:38:53-04:00November 1st, 2019|Mealtickets News, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Garth Trek Video Shares a Dog’s Perspective on Frankfort

The film Garth Trek | A Lost Dog’s Adventure in Frankfort is the story of what happens when a dog gets lost in Frankfort and spends the day searching for his owner. This is the revised rendition of the film that took home our Traverse Traveler Choice Award at the 2018 Frankfort48 Film Contest.

We thought you might enjoy the story of how a dog named Garth wandered his way onto the Traverse Traveler visitor channel.

The Frankfort48 Film Contest

Each year the Garden Theater hosts a contest for young filmmakers. They have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and submit a 3-5 minute film, with a few surprise elements chosen by organizers. Since we love working with young talent–and we love Frankfort–this seemed like the perfect project to support.

We were honored to join the judging committee and select a winner for the Traverse Traveler Choice Award. Along with a prize package, our winner was offered the opportunity to create and edit a commercial promoting the Frankfort48 Film Contest. The commercial will air on the Traverse Traveler Visitor Channel to promote the 2019 Frankfort48 Film Contest.

Garth Trek turned out to be a crowd favorite, judging by the applause. We loved the concept of the video, and who wouldn’t love Garth. So we gave T.J. the chance to direct a revised version, and put Garth in spotlight again. Check out the original film on YouTube.

Revising Garth Trek for the Traverse Traveler Audience

The Traverse Traveler visitor channel plays in over 3,000 hotel rooms throughout the Traverse City region. Our programming is designed to educate and entertain hotel guests, as well as provide guidance to area businesses and attractions. We recently added properties in Benzie County to our network, and thought this would be a great way to introduce viewers to Frankfort.

To tell this story for our network we had three challenges for the filmmaker:

  1. Retain the original storyline
  2. Showcase businesses and locations that would attract travelers to Frankfort
  3. Shorten the length to under 3 minutes

To retain the original storyline T.J. kept key shots from the original Garth Trek that we fell in love with. Then we added many new locations and adventures to local hotspots. Finally, we gave Garth a voice. The narration helps travelers watching on our in-room visitor channel follow along with his journey.

TJ and Garth meet Traverse Traveler

To showcase businesses and locations of interest to travelers we sent Garth to some of our favorite spots in Frankfort including:

  • The gateway arch
  • Frankfort lighthouse & pier
  • Lake Michigan beach
  • Downtown shopping
  • Garden Theater
  • Frankfort marina
  • Mineral Springs Park
  • A&W
  • Stormcloud Brewing Company
  • Highway M-22
  • Point Betsie lighthouse

We think our award-winning director T.J. Taylor, and his team, have earned another round of applause. And a special thanks to their canine star, Garth.

Pure Michigan Tourism Conference Summary

Pure Michigan Conference Dave Lorenz

Dave Lorenz presents at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Traverse City

The Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held in Traverse City last week. Representatives from convention and visitor bureaus and hospitality professionals from across Michigan gathered to learn about the state of our tourism state.

We had a legislative report from a panel of lobbyists in Lansing. Our keynote speaker addressed the State of the American Traveler. And Dave Lorenz provided an update from Travel Michigan including plans for this year’s Pure Michigan campaign.

Since I know many of our clients missed out on attending I thought I’d share a recap of the event. Here are some of the hot topics, statistics and strategic plans discussed at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism that caught my attention.

Pure Michigan Legislative Report

Panelists: Michael Krombeen, Partner, Midwest Strategy Group; Matt Sowash, lobbyist, Michigan Legislative Consultants; Justin Winslow, President & CEO, Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association; Evelyn Zois Sweeney, Legislative Consultant, Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates. The panelists discussed topics of legislative interest to the hospitality industry and weighed in on the current climate in Lansing.

Pure Michigan Funding

Governor Whitmer’s proposed budget includes cuts to funding for Pure Michigan. Panelists agreed this is too early in the budget talks to be certain of funding dollars for this year. Lobbyists from Michigan Legislative Consultants agreed they are going to educate and push for as much Pure Michigan funding as they can.

Post-Labor Day Start

This is not only an issue of economic importance, but a workforce issue as well. Currently over 165 districts have waivers for pre-Labor Day start. Legislative discussions are exploring alternative schedules. These include allowing Tues-Thurs classes in August, as well as options for year-round classes.

Snow Days

Legislation has been proposed to allow schools options to deal with the increasing number of snow days. Possibilities include tacking on additional hours to the school day, and snow day forgiveness for Governor-declared emergency days.

Short Term Rentals

Panelists discussed addressing short term rentals in terms of regulation. The primary goals are to ensure everyone is paying into the same taxes & assessments. They are also seeking some form of registration, possibly by directly licensing platforms  such as AirBnB.

Auto No Fault

This is becoming a hot button issue for the hospitality industry as employees struggle to afford insurance. Panelists discussed the likelihood of making significant changes this year, with mixed opinions.

State of the American Traveler

Keynote speaker; Erin Francis-Cummings, Destination Analysts

Erin’s presentation, “The State of the Global Traveler – Drawing Wanderlust to Michigan,” presented statistics and trends to watch in 2019 among travelers. Here research reflected the mindset of global travelers, indicated some key demographics to focus on, and gave insight into the changes we’re seeing. Here are few take-aways that illustrate the current state of the industry.

  • The bad news:  Leisure trips are down from 4.2 trips annually to 3.8 trips, and budgets are down 5.6%. Personal finances, work and the cost of travel are the primary reasons for the decrease.
  • The good news:  Travel is still listed as the second most important leisure activity, just under spending time with friends and family. For younger travelers, however, travel competes with a lot more activities.
  • 4 primary traveler types: Generation Z, the National Park Traveler, Family Travelers and Aspiring Michigan Travelers.

Generation Z

The youngest travelers are that of Generation Z—ages 15-24. To reach this audience you’ll need video. You can find them on Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Believe it or not they already make up 13.9% of the travel market.

National Park Travelers

This audience tends to be young and travels with their children. They use all types of planning resources. Primary interests include culture and food. They make up 31% of American travelers.

Family Travelers

Representing 47% of American travelers, this is clearly a popular target audience. This group is largely made up of women who frequently travel outside the U.S. This is a very social audience with 50% using Facebook to post both before and after their trips. They like AirBnB and are drawn to cultural and culinary experiences.

Aspiring Michigan Travelers

This is an ethnically diverse audience, largely made up of millennials and Generation X. They like to research travel destinations through travel apps, social media and tourism bureaus. Online video is important and influential.

Only 16% of American travelers aspire to visit Michigan. So how can we compete with other states and attract more travelers to Michigan? (Can you believe we fall behind Ohio!) The number one reason a destination remains top of mind to visitors is because they’ve been there before. The influence of friends and family impacts 65% of travelers. To grow our Michigan brand we need to gain loyalty. We need our visitors to continue to share their love of this region with friends and family—especially if they’ll share it on their social channels.

Michigan Cares for Tourism

This 501c3 non-profit is made up of volunteers from the tourism industry who want to give back to projects across the state of Michigan. They tackle small projects throughout the year and host an annual multi-day volunteer event in a select location. This year’s project is in our own backyard.

Michigan Cares for Tourism is seeking volunteers for the 2019 event at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau State Park, September 16-17, 2019. There are enough projects for 325 volunteers! To register visit michigancaresfortourism.org. C’mon Traverse City, let’s send some volunteers to help our neighbors. It’s a good excuse to hang out in a park on a Monday and Tuesday in the fall.

To kick off the conference, MC4T held an event at Munson Manor where volunteers donated toiletries, cooked food and tackled painting projects. Check In Michigan, the organization behind the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, donated $10,000 to MC4T, with donations made on behalf of the conference speakers.

Pure Michigan Campaign Update

Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan made his annual trip to the stage to provide an update on the state of our tourism state. He delivered a report on the investment and returns on the 2018 Pure Michigan campaign. Next he shared a few highlights and top performing projects which earned significant results. And we wrapped up by hearing about some focus points for 2019. Here are a few of the take-aways.

Measurable Results from the $16.5 Million Advertising Investment in Pure Michigan in 2018

  • Influenced 6.4M person-trips
  • $2.5B in visitor spending
  • $153M generated in state taxes
  • $9.28 return on investment

Want to check out all the details? Here’s a link to the Pure Michigan Advertising Effectiveness Study. You can find more about what Travel Michigan is doing for you on Michigan.org. At the bottom of the page click Travel Industry and then look for Research.

Social Media Summary

Nick Nerbonne, MEDC Digital Media Director responsible for Pure Michigan social media accounts provided some additional insight during one of the social media sessions. Facebook engagement is down, however user base is still growing. Instagram engagement is up by 75%, due in part to the popularity and use of Instagram stories.

Pure Michigan has been exploring some longer-format feature videos to provide in-depth experiences. They include interviews that explore why people are passionate about these activities.

Two hugely popular social media campaigns were hashtag projects that drove user-generated content. The #FallFilter invited fans to share fall photos. Pure Michigan selected 5 photos each Friday and reposted. Another campaign debuted on billboards in Chicago seeking images at #LongLiveSummer. The digital billboard published user photos from that hashtag, sharing them on billboards for all to see.

Top social media post subjects in 2018 from Pure Michigan included images of the Mackinac Bridge, fall foliage, wildlife, ice waterfalls, Vernors lighthouse cans and blue ice on the Straits of Mackinac. Favorite fan subjects to share were sunsets, fall colors and Michigan lakes.

Pure Michigan Ad Campaigns and Projects

Pure Michigan partnered with influencers and publications last year to grow their brand awareness. Ginger Zee, meteorologist on Good Morning America and a Michigan native, was part of a social media promotion. They also teamed up with Outside Magazine for an engaging online experience that involved video creation, a landing page and interactive trail map.

Other notable projects included the Pure Michigan 18 – featuring 18 signature golf holes across the state in a season-long invitation to share your experience playing that hole. And an Urban DNA video series with Jason Hall was created to boost the state’s appeal for travelers seeking a world-class city experience.

We wrapped up with some sneak peeks into plans for 2019. Pure Michigan intends to focus more on digital platforms, targeting millennials, promoting the Upper Peninsula and highlighting our Dark Sky Parks.

Accessibility Takes Center Stage

One other significant take-away which made me very proud is our state’s focus on accessibility. If there was one buzz-word of this year’s conference that would be it. All three winners of the Stars of the Industry award for tourism innovations were programs and organizations supporting accessibility. Pure Michigan is embracing the opportunity to make our state more friendly to people with disabilities. And I for one couldn’t be happier to see it.

With three days of meetings, events and networking there was a lot to take in at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism. It was great to see the new conference center at the Park Place Hotel, and the remodeled Governors’ Hall at the Grand Traverse Resort & Casino. Traverse City Tourism played host to a bustling crowd of tourism professionals from across the state. And I even had a chance to meet a few people who mentioned they tuned in to our channel and saw me on TV!

Now it’s time for us all to return to the business we live everyday: celebrating the reasons we choose to call Pure Michigan our home.

By |2019-03-12T22:26:39-04:00March 12th, 2019|Check This Out, Events, Lodging, Traverse City|0 Comments

A Day at the Farmer’s Market

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.

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.

 

Farmers Market All Natural Soap

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.

Farmers Market Magic Kid

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

Empire Farmers Market | Downtown Traverse City | Sat 9-1pm

Fife Lake Downtown Farmer’s Market | Fife Lake | Sun 9-1pm

Frankfort Farmers Market | Frankort | Sat 9-1pm

Glen Arbor Farmers Market | Glen Arbor | Tues 9-1pm

Interlochen Farmers Market | Traverse City | Sun 9-2pm

Leland Farmers Market | Downtown Leland | Thus 9-1pm

Northport Farmers Market | Downtown Northport | Fri 9-1pm

Sara Hardy Farmers Market | Downtown Traverse City | Weds & Sat 7:30-12pm

Suttons Bay Farmers Market | Suttons Bay | Sat 9-1pm

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons | Traverse City | Mon 2-6pm

Farm Stands & Markets

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.

5 Michigan Lighthouses to Visit on National Lighthouse Day

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

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

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.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

Guiding ships safely through the Manitou Passage, the South Manitou Island Lighthouse is an important beacon in Lake Michigan. It’s part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with tours that take you to the top for an incredible panoramic view of National Lakeshore.

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

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

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.

See you on the beach!

 

7 Tips for Travelers to the Traverse City Film Festival

 

Film Festival Flow Chart graphic

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.

Standby line outcomes pie chart

Film Festival Tips for Travelers

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Speaking of lines, bring a little patience. Don’t be that tourist who thinks lines are for other people.
  5. As long as you’re here to binge watch, why not be a traveler and venture out to our surrounding communities and take in a movie at The Garden in Frankfort, the Bay Theatre in Suttons Bay or check out northern Michigan’s only drive-in movie theater at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor.
    Film Festival Movies pie chart
  6. 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
  7. 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!

By |2018-12-12T08:45:08-05:00July 31st, 2018|Arts & Culture, Events, Family Fun, Travel Tips|0 Comments

New Award Added to Frankfort48 Film Contest

Frankfort48 Film Contest logo

We are excited to 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 photo

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:

By |2019-03-01T08:37:10-05:00June 8th, 2018|Arts & Culture, Community Spotlight|0 Comments

Northern Michigan Winery Guide (Infographic)

Northern Michigan Winery Guide graphic

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

Northern Michigan Winery Guide infographic

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.

Cheers!

©Traverse Traveler and TraverseTraveler.com. Content and links may be shared provided that full credit is given to Traverse Traveler and TraverseTraveler.com with direction to the original content. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited.

By |2018-12-12T08:51:55-05:00May 16th, 2018|Travel Tips, Wineries|0 Comments

100 Things to Do in Traverse City : Book Review

100 Things to Do in Traverse City BookRecommended Reading for Traverse City Travelers

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.

April 7, 2018  | Brilliant Books  |  Traverse City

Launch party and book signing

May 12, 2018  |  Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate  |  Empire

Book signing and chocolate tasting

May 20, 2018  |  Chateau Chantal Winery  |  Traverse City

Book signing with TC Bingo after Blessing of the Blossoms

For More Things to Do in Traverse City

For details on events and info from the author follow 100 Things to do in Traverse City Before You Die on Facebook

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.

By |2018-12-12T08:53:46-05:00April 3rd, 2018|Arts & Culture, Travel Tips|0 Comments

9 Things to do with Kids on a Spring Staycation in Traverse City


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.

By |2018-12-12T09:14:57-05:00March 21st, 2018|Adventure, Family Fun, Travel Tips, Videos|0 Comments

Left Foot Charley Hosts Riesling March Madness

Battle of the Rieslings

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.

Cheers!

By |2018-12-12T09:18:08-05:00March 15th, 2018|Events, Wineries|2 Comments

Chocolate and Pearls at Becky Thatcher Designs

Becky Thatcher Designs Pearls

Open House at Becky Thatcher Designs

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.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtableFor a truly unique learning experience ask about the upcoming gemstone roundtable event, where dealers present a collection of gems from around the world. Here’s a peek inside last year’s event.

Becky Thatcher Designs is located at 234 E. Front Street in downtown Traverse City, across from the State Theater.

By |2018-12-12T09:19:43-05:00April 24th, 2015|Arts & Culture, Events|0 Comments

Free Events in Traverse City to Celebrate Autism

Traverse Traveler is proud to announce several free events this week to celebrate autism, promote awareness, and raise money to purchase iPads for students with autism in the Traverse City community.

This year we have once again teamed up with the Northwest Michigan Autism Resource Network (ARN) to bring three free events to the Traverse City community.

April 21: Free Film at The State Theatre  |  6 pm

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 brandy@visitorsmedia.com.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:13-04:00April 20th, 2015|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

Weekender Tips for Ice Fishing in Northern Michigan

Ice Fishing Michigan

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.

Walleye fishing Michigan

Licensed to Catch

The first thing every angler needs is a license. And the MDNR offers several options.

  • You can now buy an e-license online anytime at mdnr-elicense.com.
  • 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.

Equipment

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.

  • Valid Michigan fishing license, see above. Children under 17 can fish for free;
  • 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.

Safety Tips

  • 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.

ice fishing for pikeFish Finder

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.

 

 

By |2018-12-12T09:21:39-05:00January 19th, 2015|Adventure, Family Fun, Travel Tips|1 Comment

Hotel Helps the Homeless, One Room at a Time

Choice Hotels Community Hero Recipient

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.

Service HeroChoice 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!

By |2018-12-12T09:25:49-05:00November 17th, 2014|Community Spotlight, Lodging|0 Comments

Book Signing at Center Ice with NHL Hall of Famer Mark Howe

Traverse City in September is the place to be if you’re a hockey fan!

Mark Howe BookThe 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.

Detroit Red Wings fans will have the opportunity to meet Hall of Fame legend Mark Howe. He will be signing copies of his new autobiography Gordie Howe’s Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey.

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.

 

Detroit Red Wings Training Camp

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.

For more information on these events visit CentreIce.org

Can’t make it up for all the action? Follow along on TheLeftWingLock.com as they report the play-by-play… so to speak.

By |2018-12-12T09:27:34-05:00September 9th, 2014|Attractions, Events|0 Comments

Buying Gemstones with Becky Thatcher

Becky Thatcher Designs Glen Arbor

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 | Traverse City store

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.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtable

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.

 

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtable

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.

 

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundable

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.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundable

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.

Becky Thatcher Designs | gemstone roundtable

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.

By |2018-12-12T09:31:14-05:00August 5th, 2014|Arts & Culture, Events, Made in Michigan|0 Comments

3 Ways to Enjoy a Rainy Day in Traverse City

Rainy Day in Traverse City

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!

Rainy Day v.3 from ExploreTC on Vimeo.

Family Fun at Lucky Jack’s

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.

By |2018-12-12T09:34:44-05:00July 27th, 2014|Family Fun, Travel Tips|3 Comments

In Season: Cherries, Michigan’s Power Fruit

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
  • The World Record for spitting a cherry pit is now 100 feet 4 inches, held by “young gun” Krauss, son of 10 time record holder “pellet gun” Krause
  • 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.

For a list of local U-Pick farms, check out LocalDifference.org

Buy Traverse City Cherries

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.
By |2018-09-12T13:20:14-04:00July 18th, 2014|Foodie|1 Comment