How to Plan a Fall Color Wine Tour in Traverse City

Fall Color Wine Tour Traverse City image

Planning a fall color wine tour in Northern Michigan this year? We’ve gathered a few tips to make the most out of your next wine tasting trip from Traverse City to Leelanau or Old Mission Peninsula.

 

wine tour with Traverse Traveler app imageWhat to Bring

• Camera. The wineries are beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall during harvest season. You’ll want a few pics to remember your trip.

 

• Money. Many of the wineries now have tasting fees. Bring cash to cover fees where you might not purchase a bottle of wine. Each winery’s policy is different.

 

• Bottled water. Here’s a tip from the Kathy at Bel Lago, "For a successful wine tour, drink as much water as you do in wine. And be sure to eat."

 

• Snacks. Cheese spreads, breads, crackers and fruit all pair well with wine and won’t spoil your palette for the wines you’ve yet to taste.

 

• Smartphone. The Traverse Traveler app was designed with the wine tourist in mind. This handy mobile guide will help you research, plan and navigate a wine tour in northern Michigan. And best of all, it’s a free download for iPhone and Android users.

 

 

Wine Tour imagesWhat to Leave at Home

"Don’t wear lipstick." This tip is from Caryn at 2 Lads Winery. It’s not just the marks on the glass that are left behind. Lipstick imparts flavors like petroleum and other chemicals when wine passes over your lips.

 

• No perfume. It ruins your tasting experience, and everyone elses. The scent of one person’s perfume can contaminate the air in a tasting room for hours.

 

• Cigarettes. Your sense of smell is a large part of the wine tasting experience. And smoke is a very stong scent. Like perfume it affects those around you. So please leave the smokes in your car.

 

• Gum. You can’t taste past it, especially mint. So stow the Altoids and TicTacs too.

 

• Dogs & Kids. A wine tour is meant for the 21+ crowd. While you may see a few wine dogs throughout your travels, several of the tasting rooms offer food pairings, which means it’s against their health code to have dogs in the winery. So as a general rule, take the kids and pets to the beach or the park, but not on a wine tour.

 

 

Wine Tour Planning imagePlanning Your Wine Tour

With nearly three dozen wineries in our tip of the mitten it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips on planning a wine tasting route from Traverse City.

 

• You can’t see them all. Make a list of favorites, or recommended wineries you want to be sure to visit, and squeeze in others as time allows.

 

• Stick to one peninsula. There are two distinct AVAs in our region: Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission. Stick to one or the other for a one-day trip. The wineries are scattered throughout each peninsula making it difficult to jump back and forth.

 

• There’s an app for that! Use the Wineries category on the Traverse Traveler app to choose which stops you want to make. The maps are great for navigating between wineries via backroads for a more scenic tour, or finding the fastest route.

 

• Map it. Pick up the large map from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. If you’re not a smartphone user this will be a hands-on resource for finding your way around both peninsulas.

 

• Beware of high traffic times. If you’re wine tasting during peak fall season your best days are mid week. If you must come on a weekend be prepared for crowds. Most of our wineries have small tasting rooms with even smaller tasting bars. On a busy weekend you may have to wait to get a turn at the bar.

 

• Go off the beaten path. Most tasting rooms in Leelanau and Old Mission are lucky to be located near the vineyard. But that vineyard isn’t necessarily on a major highway. Part of the fun is exploring and discovering new locations. Start at the top of the peninsula and work your way south. Or make a plan to stay inland and visit some of the smaller boutique wineries.

 

 

Wine Tour Groups imageGroup Travel

There are some special considerations to planning a wine tour when you’re traveling with a group. Here are some tips to maximize the fun and minimize the hassle when planning a group wine tour.

 

• Size matters. Wine tasting with friends can be a wonderful experience. But if your group is too large it can cause problems which detract from your enjoyment. In our experience a group of 10 or less is the ideal size. Larger groups will have additional limitations on where you can go, how quickly you will move from place to place, and tasting room fees.

 

• Carpool. Part of the fun of a group wine tasting is comparing notes about each winery with your companions as your travel. Pile into one person’s vehicle, rent a van, or book a wine tour. And if at all possible, assign a designated driver. Listen to Ellie at Traverse City Tours who warns, "Don’t come on vacation and leave on probation."

 

• Large groups call ahead. For wine tours larger than 10 you should call ahead to each winery. Some tasting rooms are so small they do not allow buses or tours at all, and others have per person tasting fees for the entire party. These are not things you want to discover after you’ve driven across the peninsula to visit.

 

• Label wine purchases. Hopefully your group will discover many wines they like and purchasing bottles at each location. Pick up a box from the first stop. Using a Sharpie marker label each wine purchased with your initials, or used color coded garage sale stickers. Add additional boxes as needed. When the tour is complete it will be easy to determine which wine was purchased by whom.

 

• Pack a picnic. It’s important to eat and drink water throughout your wine tour. For a fun experience pack a cooler with cheese, fruit, crackers and bite-sized appetizers or sandwiches. Many of the wineries have picnic tables or areas outside where you can stop and enjoy your snack along the route. There are also markets and farm stands scattered throughout the peninsulas to pick-up snacks along the way.

 

• Be patient. "Be respectful of other tasters and wait patiently if there’s a crowd," says Chaning at Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery. When you’re traveling as a group this is especially important since you may have to break into smaller groups, or taste in shifts.

 

We’ve been on several group wine trips and completely agree with Kyle from Riverside Canoes who says, "My best wine tasting tip is to go tasting with your closest friends. The wine always tastes better!."

 

 

Wine Tour Tips imagesSip Tips from the Pros

Winemakers and tasting room staff are incredibly knowledgeable about their products and their craft. Here are a few of their tips for making the most of a northern Michigan wine tasting experience.

 

• It’s OK to spit. Ask Bel Lago winemaker Cristin Hosmer and she’ll tell you, "Spitting is OK. In fact it’s encouraged." It cuts down on your consumption of alcohol. So remember, "The dump bucket is your friend."

 

• Chew your sparkles. When tasting a sparkling wine, "You don’t want to drink bubbly like you kiss your grandmother." If you’ve been pursing your lips when you sip sparkling wine from a glass you’ve got it all wrong. Instead,"Chew, hold and slowly swallow," instructs Don at L. Mawby. By chewing the wine the bubbles explode in your mouth allowing the flavors to disperse. Try it. It’s a whole new experience.

 

• Eat mild not wild. "Don’t eat strong flavored foods  — onion, garlic and spicy dishes — before or during a wine tour," warns Coryn of Black Star Farms. While a bottle of wine may pair well with some of these dishes, the pungent flavors will linger throughout your wine tour affecting the rest of the wines you taste.

 

• Not a free drunk. Wine tasting is not a free ticket to inebriation. "Don’t treat a wine tour like happy hour at a bar," reminds Tom at Peninsula Cellars. Guests in a tasting room are there to learn about wine, and are offered tastes (sometimes free) to determine which wines they might like best. If you’re more interested in hanging out at a bar and chatting with your girlfriends, you’ve got the wrong kind of bar. Just be respectful of the staff’s time, and the product that they’re freely sharing so that you’ll discover something you’d like to buy.

 

 

A wine tour is a great way to explore Traverse City and the countryside in Northern Michigan. With these handy tips you’ll be sure to make the most of the adventure. For more fabulous day trips in northern Michigan this fall check out our post: 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip.

By |2012-10-04T19:33:00-04:00October 4th, 2012|Day Trips, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Video | Fall Canoeing on the Platte River

Looking for a way to enjoy this beautiful fall weather? I highly recommend a canoe trip on the lower Platte River.

 Riverside Canoes on the Platte

Canoeing the Platte is one of my 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip, and a must-do for our family each fall. This past weekend we teamed up with the staff and friends of Riverside Canoes for an end-of-season paddle down the lower Platte River to enjoy the fall colors, watch the salmon swim upstream and pick up any trash we could find along the way.

Here’s a quick video of from our trip. Check out the amazing scene at the Platte River weir where salmon are counted, passed for spawning or harvested by the DNR.

 

 

A canoe trip on the lower Platte River begins at Riverside Canoes on M-22 and ends at the mouth where the Platte River empties into Lake Michigan. This is the southern end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, recently voted America’s Most Beautiful Place. It is indeed one of our favorite spots.

 

If you’re thinking about checking out the scenery this year you have one more week to rent a canoe or kayak from Riverside Canoes before they close for the season. Riverside is located on M-22 south of Empire and north of Crystal Lake. Call 231.325.5622 or visit their website at www.canoemichigan.com for more details.

 

By |2011-10-10T06:49:49-04:00October 10th, 2011|Benzie, Day Trips|0 Comments

How to Enjoy a Spring Break Staycation Up North

hometown highlights spring break graphic

No travel plans for Spring Break this year? Chin up. We’ve got some great suggestions to help you enjoy a staycation in Traverse City. Here’s our 7 Ways for 7 Days: How to Enjoy Your Spring Break Staycation.

 

1. Spring Skiing

Spend a day on the slopes this spring break, it’s an unusual treat to have conditions this sweet. Our ‘six more weeks of winter’ should have been up by now, Mr. Goundhog. But for skiers the news couldn’t be better. A spring storm brought over 8 inches of fresh snow to the area, which is great news around Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville. Thanks to a cold winter their base is in great condition, and the fresh powder is icing on the cake. If you’re interested in cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing the TART trails are a great in town option.

 

2. Explore an Exhibit

When is the last time you took a trip to a local musuem? This is the last weekend to enjoy the Jim Hay exhibit and video art by Lee Nam Lee at the Dennos Museum Center. Museums are a great place to introduce your children to other cultures, so don’t be afraid to take them along. But if they really need to burn off some steam, The Great Lakes Children’s Museum is a perfect option. Or check out the Vintage Toys and Miniatures Show at The History Center (formerly Grand Traverse Heritage Center) in Traverse City.

 

3. Take a Foodie Tour

Wander the streets of Downtown Traverse City and create your own Tasting Tour. Discover imported meats and cheeses at Folgarelli’s, salsas, snacks and all things cherry at The Cherry Stop, and delicious sweets at Morsels. One of my favorite stops is Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars where you an create your own flavor combinations from their huge selection of balsamic vinegars and flavor infused olive oils. Who knew a peach balsamic and garlic oil would make a great match? Our area is rich with locally made products. Find a new favorite and spread the word. As for me, I’m dying to try Simply Cupcakes. Their flavors sound soooo good.

 

4. Hunt for Antique Treasures

I grew up spending weekends at auctions and wandering flea markets with my parents. No matter where we went there was always a unique treasure to be discovered. While "antiquing" may not be as popular as it was in the ’70s and early ’80s, shabby chic and bargain hunting never goes out of style. You could spend an afternoon browsing through the Cherryland Antique Mall on Garfield Road in Traverse City. Or if you’re in Benzonia, stop by the Emporium on M-115.

 

5. Wine Not Try Something New

Spring break shouldn’t just be for kids. Parents need a little time out too. With more than 20 wineries in the area there’s always a new taste waiting for you on our lovely peninsulas. Newer tasting rooms include Silver Leaf Vineyard & Winery on Leelanau Peninsula, and Northern Natural Wine Tasting in Benzonia. This time of year is a great time to catch the winemaker’s on site. They’re in between the harvest season, and the growing season, so they’re often available to chat or provide a tour. Also look for unusual specials and events at the wineries. Left Foot Charley is offering specials for Teachers and School Workers during spring break. Or how about checking out the upcoming Sushi School at 2 Lads Winery. So much fun, so little time.

 

6. Be Entertained

With half of the region’s population headed to warmer parts of the country you might think there’s nothing going on in Traverse City during spring break. But you’d be wrong. Old Town Playhouse has weekend showings of Fiddler on the Roof and Good On Paper for example. And don’t forget about Interlochen Center for the Arts. A handy bookmark to have on your desktop is this one for TREATickets.com. They are a local non-profit online ticketing resource specializing in arts and entertainment venues.

 

 7. Start a Spring Project

We’ve got a week home with the kids, why not start early on some of those spring projects. Here’s a few starters from my to-do list:

  • Clear out the clutter in the basement and donate items to Goodwill or the Women’s Resource Center. You don’t want to know how many old cell phones I have that could be put back in service for someone in need.
  • Brighten the living room with a fresh coat of paint. I found some inspiring Northern Michigan themed paint colors at Northwoods Hardware in Glen Arbor that would perk up any room.
  • Put away the last of the winter decorations (yes, I still have white lights and pine boughs on my porch from Christmas) and haul out the spring branches and Easter decorations.
  • Start sowing seeds for a summer herb garden. I get great ideas from the folks at Garden Goods in Traverse City. And this time of year you’ll have the first pick of the hottest new pots and tools.

 

Well there you have it. My 7 Ways for 7 Days. Now get out there and enjoy the beauty in our own backyard on your spring break staycation. And if you’ve got some great staycation ideas to share, let us know.

 

Post your suggestions on our Facebook page. Or send us a tweet at @TraverseTravelr.

 

By |2011-03-24T11:07:44-04:00March 24th, 2011|Day Trips, Hometown Highlights, Traverse City|0 Comments

Weekender Tips for Ice Fishing Michigan's Inland Lakes

hometown highlights ice fishing

ice fishing for pikeIn northwestern Michigan, January means more than New Years resolutions, slippery roads, bitter winds, and high heating bills. It’s also the long awaited onset of ice fishing season for thousands of Great Lakes anglers left twiddling their thumbs since the salmon swam upstream last fall.

But ice fishing isn’t just a sport for the seasoned veteran. Visitors come from miles around to catch their limit on the 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 a few new 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 $21 ($9 for resident seniors).
  • Fish for free on one of Michigan’s free fishing weekends. Mark you calendars for February 19-20, 2011 for this winter’s free weekend.

ice fishing equipmentEquipment

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.

ice fishing tip-upSafety 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.

fisherman with pike

Contributing author James Wheeler is an experienced northern Michigan angler, currently waiting anxiously for first ice, and the opportunity to catch another 33" pike from one of Michigan’s frozen lakes.

By |2011-01-01T21:45:55-04:00January 1st, 2011|Day Trips, Hometown Highlights|0 Comments

Fee-Free Dates at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park climbEnjoy the Dunes Fee-Free on National Trails Day

 

Did you know there are several fee-free dates each year at over 100 National Parks? It just so happens this weekend is one of them. So there’s no better time to get out and explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

2010 Fee Free Days

  • April 17-25, 2010 (National Park Week)
  • June 5 & 6, 2010 (National Trails Day)
  • August 14 & 15, 2010 
  • September 25, 2010 (National Public Lands Day) 
  • November 11, 2010 (Veterans Day) 

Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tour, concession, and fees collected by thrid parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

 

My son’s class took a field trip last week to see a beaver lodge located inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, near Otter Creek. We first stopped at the visitor’s center to learn about the Park and explore the exhibits. If you haven’t been to the Sleeping Bear Dunes visitor’s center in Empire I’d highly recommend it, whether you’re a first time park visitor or a regular. They have wonderful books for sale about northern Michigan wildlife, wildflowers and even tips on hunting morels. And their exhibits include examples of the trees, flowers and animals that call Sleeping Bear home. Take the time to watch their movie presentation if you have a chance. It’s full of stunning photography of this beautiful landscape in every season.

 

I hope you’ll take advantage of a fee-free day this year and explore the beauty in our backyard.

By |2010-06-02T14:16:46-04:00June 2nd, 2010|Day Trips, Events, Leelanau|0 Comments

Downtown TC Holiday Events

Celebrate the Holidays in Downtown Traverse City

Downtown has lots of fun in store for Holiday shoppers this Christmas season. The events begin tonight, with Ladies Night, followed by the Downtown Open House, the ever popular Men’s Shopping Night and a special Shop and Win special. Here’s all the details:

 

Ladies’ Night
Thursday, December 10

Downtown Traverse City will be hosting Ladies Night, Thursday, December 10 from 5 to 9 pm.   Visit participating stores for specials, refreshments, prize drawings, free gift wrapping and more! Caroling throughout the evening. 


Downtown Open House

Friday, December 11

Share the spirit of the season with family and friends while merchants throughout the Downtown district host open houses and in-store specials Friday, December 11.  Participating stores will be open until 10 pm offering store specials, free gift wrapping, food, refreshments and more!  Bringing a little bit of the islands to winter in Downtown Traverse City, a student Steel Drum Band will be performing at the corner of Cass and E. Front from 6 – 8 pm. Horse & Carriage Rides from Abraham Carriage Service will be available at an affordable price from 6-9 pm. Caroling will take place throughout the evening with the Sweet Adelines and students from TC West High School while Santa will be in his house visiting with little ones.
 

Men’s Night Downtown
Thursday, December 17
Gentlemen, the evening is yours, finally!  Celebrate and shop with friends during Men’s Night Downtown on Thursday, December 17.  The gents can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and specials at many restaurants and merchants will be offering in-store specials, gift wrapping and drawings.
 


Shop Downtown and Win!

Spend $200 in Downtown Traverse City between December 1-10, 2009 and enter to win a $250 Downtown Shopping Spree. It’s easy to enter. Visit the Downtown Office no later than December 11, 2009, show your receipts totaling $200 in purchases between December 1-10, 2009 and enter to win. The drawing will take place on Monday, December 14, 2009.  And don’t forget to keep your dollars local this holiday shopping season, Downtown Gift Certificates Make the Perfect Gift!


Santa’s Hours

Santa will be visiting with little ones in his house at the corner of Cass and E. Front throughout the holiday season.
Santa’s Arrival: 11/27
            6 – 8 pm
Saturdays: 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
            11 am – 4 pm
Sundays: 11/29, 12/6, 12/13, 12/20
            1 – 4 pm
Fridays: 12/4, 12/18
            5 – 8 pm
Fridays: 12/11
            5-9 pm
Extended hours:  December 21, 22 & 23
            3 – 7 pm
Christmas Eve: 12/24
            Noon – 3 pm

 
Parking  – Free and Easy!
The price is right for downtown parking this holiday season. Two-hour free parking will be offered at the Larry C. Hardy Parking Deck.  And, remember, parking at the two hour meters is always free for the first 30-minutes, so enjoy Downtown! Downtown parking in the Hardy Deck is also free after 5 pm and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Downtown Holidays are hosted by the over 150 merchants, restaurants and businesses who are members of the Downtown Traverse City Association. Please contact the Downtown Traverse City Association at 922-2050 or e-mail colleen@downtowntc.com for further information or visit their website at www.downtowntc.com

By |2009-12-10T08:32:37-04:00December 10th, 2009|Attractions, Check This Out, Day Trips, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Benzie Fall Festival Celebrates the Season

Fall maple treeJump into Fall this Weekend with the Benzie Fall Festival

For the next two weekends Benzie County will celebrate the fall harvest with fun for all ages. There’s so much to enjoy we’ve ranked it #4 on our 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip. Events scattered across Beulah, Frankfort and the surrounding area begin on Saturday October 3rd. From fall soup contests, pumpkin decorating to pumpkin chuckin’ there’s much fun in store in beautiful Benzie county.

 

October 3rd & 4th

Gather in Beulah park, along the east end of Crystal Lake, and participate in the Fall Soup Contest. The kids can enter the Sidewalk Art Contest or try their skills in the Free Throw competition. Take a tour of Point Betsie Lighthouse before the end of the season rolls in with the cold winds of fall.  Crystal Mountian is offering scenic chairlift rides as well. It’s a great way to get a view of the amazing fall colors.

 

October 10th & 11th

Crowds gather in Frankfort alongside the Betsie Bay for the traditional Pumpkin Chuckin’ contest. This one you’ve got to see to believe. Homemade trebuchets launch giant pumpkins far into the air landing with a splash in Betsie Bay. And one oversized gourd is hoisted and dropped atop a carefully chosen clunker for the grand finale. Renouned pumpkin carver Ed Moody will be nearby exhibiting his amazing skills and preparing for his annual carve-a-thon which ends on Halloween.

 

There’s so much to do, and see, at the Benzie Fall Festival we barely scratched the surface. Check out their online brochure here for all the details. And make a point to venture over to Benzie for a part of the action. If we’re lucky the leaves will be turning in time to enjoy the view as well.

By |2009-10-01T13:54:37-04:00October 1st, 2009|Benzie, Check This Out, Day Trips|0 Comments

22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip

M-22 highway fall color tourTake a Roadtrip this Fall along the M-22 Scenic Drive

 

Living in the heart of the M-22 corridor I’ve seen it through all seasons. Each has something amazing to offer, but none more varied and beautiful than autumn in Northern Michigan.

In case you’ve never planned an M-22 Roadtrip I’ve put together a list of some of the fun, food and activities to experience along the scenic drive. Named one of the top five greatest driving tours in America by Rand McNally, M-22 has something to offer everyone. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Here’s my list of 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip.

 

platte river weir image1. Canoe the Platte. Fall is one of the best times to take a canoe or kayak down the Platte River. The calm cool waters reflect mother nature’s painted canvas, but they also reveal a seasonal secret. The salmon run upstream in autumn to spawn and the Platte River is the perfect place to witness this natural wonder. The weir is closed this time of year which means you’ll portage around it. But on the other side the water boils with jumping fish. You couldn’t get a better view anywhere else. Riverside Canoes is located on M-22 and open until the second weekend in October for canoe and kayak rental, or fishing tackle if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

Ed Moody's pumpkin carving2. Check out the giant pumpkins by master carver Ed Moody. On a small city street in Frankfort you’ll find giant pumpkins that miraculously change overnight into fantastic jack-o-lanterns. Only here the miracle is performed by Ed Moody. They do change overnight though since it’s the only time he can work. During the day you’ll find him greeting the guests who come to visit his creations that line the sidewalk in front of his home. To catch a demonstration check out the Fall Festival mid-October in Frankfort.

 

3. Hike Old Indian Trail. Just on the outskirts of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on M-22 between Crystal Lake and the Platte River there’s a wilderness trail known as Old Indian Trail. There are 2 loops available, both about a 2.5 mile hike through evergreens and colorful hardwoods. But if you make it to the end you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, expanses of sandy beaches and dunes. It’s a great trip to take with your four-legged friends.

 

4. Benzie Fall Festival. There is so much to do at the fall festival we couldn’t list it all here. But you won’t want to miss the pumpkin chucking contest. Here you’ll see trebuchets, similar to a catapult, built by local high school students challenged to see whose construction will go the distance. Once loaded the trebuchets launch giant pumpkins into the air over Betsie Bay in Frankfort. Cheers and bragging rights go to the winning team.

 

5. Dinner at The Manitou. Nestled among the changing leaves along M-22 a few miles north of Crystal Lake, The Manitou Restaurant is a great place to stop and enjoy a fall meal. If you hear someone ask about Skinny Dippers they’re not suggesting a cold jump in the lake. They’re actually ordering a crispy appetizer basket of potato skins. All the soups and pies are made-from-scratch so save some room for their famous blueberry raspberry pie a la mode.

 

Kilcherman's Christmas Cove6. Visit Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove. Do you like apples? Then you’re going to love these apples. Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove grows over 280 varieties of antique apples. Great for eating and baking, some dating back to the time of Christ. This is not your typical orchard. And if that’s not reason enough to make the drive, how about the worlds largest bottle collection? Over 10,000 different glass bottles line the walls of their barn, more than the Guinness World Record!

 

7. Take in Breathtaking Views. The scenic drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is an absolute must on any visit to Northern Michigan. The park has over a dozen picture perfect Scenic Overlooks which explain why so many of us come back year after year. No matter the season this drive is worthwhile, but the colors of autumn bring out the beauty of this hardwood forest in shining contrast to the crystal blue waters and miles of sand dunes.

 

Point Betsie lighthouse8. Explore a 150 year old Lighthouse. Point Betsie Lighthouse celebrated it’s sesquicentennial in 2008. It’s the second most photographed lighthouse in the nation. In the fall don’t be surprised to find windsurfers and kiteboarders donning their wetsuits to catch huge air off the crashing waves along the sandy shore. It’s one of the best spots to surf, Yes surf, in Northern Michigan. The lighthouse is open on the weekends through mid October for tours.

 

9. Visit Fishtown, the historic fishing village in Leland. Wooden shanties line the boardwalk of this century-old fisherman’s haven. Today charter fishing boats bring in fresh salmon to be smoked at Carlsons, and the Manitou Transit waits to take visitors on the short journey to the Manitou Islands. From unusual cheeses to locally-made clothing, these rustic shanties hold a vast array of treasures.

 

10. Tour Art Galleries. For the art lover there are dozens of unique galleries all along the M-22 corridor. Stop in Glen Arbor to discover the distinct style of Sticks painted furniture at the Ruth Conklin Gallery. Becky Thacher’s exquisite jewelry is a must-see along the road to the beach. And on the other side of the peninsula you don’t want to miss Michigan Artist’s Gallery in Sutton’s Bay, where art can be fun, fresh, stylish and affordable.

 

pinot noir grapes on the vine11. Hop on the Wine Trail. The Leelanau peninsula is home to more than 18 wineries. Many of them are off-the-beaten-path, but well worth the diversion. Taking a wine tour has become one of the most popular activities for Northern Michigan visitors. From the tiny tasting room of Chateau Fontaine in Lake Leelanau to the large and impressive Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, the wineries are as diverse and interesting as the wines they produce.

 

12. Dine along the water’s edge. When the warm summer’s breeze becomes a brisk autumn wind, find a room with a view and enjoy the scenery from the cozy warmth of the restaurant. Check out The Bluebird in Leland, where tables line the windows along the Leland River. Or visit Knot Just A Bar in Omena where you gaze over Grand Traverse Bay or sneak next door for a sip of wine from Leelanau Cellars tasting room.

 

Platte River State Fish Hatchery13. One Fish, Two Fish, They Fish or You Fish. All along the Platte and Betsie Rivers you’ll find fishermen casting their lines for salmon and trout as they head up stream. If you like to fish, bring your wadders as the water’s getting colder. For a learning adventure take a quick detour over to the Platte River State Fish Hatchery on US31 and 669 just past Honor. This is Michigan’s primary salmon hatchery, where eggs are harvested for coho and Chinook salmon to be raised and restocked in Michigan’s lakes.

 

14. Feeling Lucky? Visit the Casino. The Leelanau Peninsula is home to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and their original Northern Michigan casino, Leelanau Sands. From gaming, to dining to fantastic shows, they’re a little bit of Vegas in the tiny town of Peshawbestown just north of Suttons Bay. The tribe also opened a cultural museum, Eyaawing perched along grand traverse bay on M-22 near the Casino.

 

Betsie Valley Trail15. Bike or Hike the Betsie Valley Trail. One of the newest rail-to-trail programs, the Betsie Valley Trail is a 22 mile pathway from Frankfort, through Elberta and Beulah on to Thompsonville. Much of the trail is non-motorized and perfect for bikes and pedestrians. The entire trail is stunning this time of year. So pack your bikes, rollerblades and walking shoes for a great excursion through the land surrounding M-22.

 

16. Take a Beach Walk. The waters of fall are often too cold for swimming, but the beaches are still a great place to enjoy nature’s gift to Northern Michigan. Follow M-22 from Frankfort to Empire and explore some of the roads that lead to small beaches. Peterson Beach, Otter Creek and North Bar Lake are great places to hike the dunes, comb the shores for fossils and capture the picturesque views of Lake Michigan. Or join the park rangers for an evening beach patrol along Sleeping Bear Point in Glen Haven.

 

17. Shop ‘Til You Drop. The M-22 scenic drive takes you through a half dozen quaint towns defined by their unique locations and the collection of small businesses that make up these communities. Take time to browse through their stores, sample their homemade edibles and bring home something to remember your journey. Perhaps some M-22 logowear would be appropriate. The brand was created by local kiteboarders to symbolize the amazing experiences found on M-22.

 

Murdicks Fudge Shoppe mixing fudge18. Endulge Your Inner Foodie. From an agricultural perspective this region has become well known for cherries and grapes, but there’s much more to be discovered. Farms and orchards line the M-22 roadside. And the corridor is home to many amazing food producers. Grocer’s Daughter chocolates in Empire makes my favorite sweet; chocolate covered candied ginger. Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor started as a small t-shirt company and now produces cherry BBQ sauce, bottled sodas and so much more. You can watch fudge made on a marble slab at Murdick’s Fudge Shoppe in Suttons Bay. Or create a real memorable experience from Learn Great Foods fabulous culinary tours. Foodies beware, you’ll be in heaven here.

 

sleeping bear dunes boat cruise image19. Cruise the Dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of this area’s most well-known features. It’s so large it can be seen from outer space! And now visitors can experience the lakeshore from a new perspective. Sleeping Bear Dunes Boat Cruise operates a boat tour of the National Lakeshore from Frankfort harbor. Their narrated tour entertains you and the breathtaking views are unforgetable. If you’ve never seen the lakeshore from the water, you can’t beat this trip. Sailing twice daily until mid-October.

 

45th parallel Suttons Bay image20. Stand on the 45th Parallel. M-22 wraps around the Leelanau Peninsula on both coasts and has the unique claim of crossing the 45th parallel, not once, but twice! So go ahead, get out of your car and take that photo next to the big green marker. You’ll find one alongside Lake Leelanau on your way north to Leland, and then cross it again just north of M-204 and Suttons Bay near the Vineyard Inn. Looking for other ways to experience the 45th? Check out Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery near Lake Leelanau and 45th Parallel Cafe in downtown Suttons Bay.

 

A&W rootbeer image21. Drive back in Time at A & W. Feeling nostalgic? What better treat than enjoying an A & W rootbeer float, coney dog and fries served carside! At the corner of M-22 and M-115 in Frankfort this family-owned A & W restaurant is a great stop, especially if you’re traveling with kids. With a free jukebox, affordable all-american fare and the best rootbeer around, you just can’t beat it.

 

22. Stop, Look and Listen. The change of seasons brings much to enjoy if we take a moment to do so. Listen for the honk of Canadian geese overhead as they migrate in their tell-tale V-formation. Examine the forest floor and you’ll discover mosses and fungi of all sorts thriving on the moist soil. Bite into a honeycrisp apple and enjoy the syrup-sweet taste of Michigan’s fruitful harvest. Soak it up and savor this season.

 

Autumn in Northern Michigan has so much to offer. So to all you leaf-peepers, welcome! I hope you’ll enjoy these stops as much as I do. While you travel along M-22 through Benzie and Leelanau counties don’t hesitate to take a few detours of your own along the way. And whatever you do, don’t forget your cameras!

My Up-North Summer To-Do List

Every year summer seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. In an effort make sure I enjoy it I’ve learned a helpful trick. Start out the season with a summer "Must-Do" list. Mine is usually a combination of favorite activities and things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t made time for. There’s something to be said for writng things down that makes you more apt to do it.

So I’ll share with you a few from my 2009 Summer Must-Do checklist:

 

 

Five Needles at Michigan Legacy Art Park1. Enjoy a Day at the Park – I’ve never been on a walk through the Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain Resort, so this is the year. I can’t wait to see the larger than life-size sculptures, like Five Fingers, scattered throughout the park.

 

 

2. Learn a New Trick – It’s important to keep learning. So this summer I thought I might take a watercolor class. There are great day classes or seminars at the Crystal Lake Arts Center. Or maybe I’ll try to improve my photography skills with the digital photography workshop at Interlochen. There’s something out there for everyone if you know where to look.

 

 

fresh michigan cherries3. Pick Fresh Fruit – When I was a kid we picked cherries, strawberries and raspberries to eat, freeze and make jam. I think my kids are ready to continue the tradition. My favorite was always picking cherries. But since that usually requires a ladder, perhaps we’ll go for blueberries this year. With all the U-pick farms in the area it shouldn’t be hard to decide.

 

 

4. A Quiet Day at the Beach – Sometimes the best activity is inactivity. Toes in the sand, book in hand, and all by myself. That sounds like a perfectly relaxing way to enjoy a sunny afternoon.

 

 

Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre popcorn5. Eat a Barrel of Popcorn – …on a lawn chair, in front of the car, at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In. I’ll try to share, but I’m not promising. With real melted butter poured on top of the fresh kernels, it’s hard to resist this movie-lover’s treat.

 

 

6. Sip and Savor – I’ve been looking forward to an evening sipping a glass of Riesling and one of the small plate appetizers at Left Foot Charley in The Village. Sitting outside watching visitors come and go – ahhh, this is the life.

 

 

dinner at LuLu's in Bellaire7. Try a New Restaurant – Summer is a great time to try new things. And since I love food, one of my favorite adventures is to discover a new restaurant. Whether it’s new to the area, or just new to me, it’s always a treat. Last summer we enjoyed Blu in Glen Arbor, and this winter LuLu’s in Bellaire. Who knows where this summer will lead.

 

 

8. Shop the Farmers Market – Almost every town in Northern Michigan has a farmer’s market. From the Sara Hardy market in Downtown Traverse City, to The Village, you can’t beat the fresh foods, handmade products and beautiful plants available each week.

 

 

Point Betsie Lighthouse image9. Climb the Lighthouse – I’ve been to the beach at Point Betsie Lighthouse dozens of times, but I’ve never been inside. This summer I want to climb to the top of the light and check out the view. It’s amazing that after 150 years, boats still depend on the light to guide them safely through the Manitou passage.

 

 

10. Experience a Silent Movie – I’ve seen movies at the drive-in, the State Theatre and even at the City Opera House, but I’ve yet to experience an authentic silent film at the Music House Museum. Watching Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin with live accompaniment on the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ is a truly unique opportunity.

 

Now that I’ve shared some of my Up North Michigan summer must-do list, what about you? Take a few minutes and compile your own list of new places to visit, favorite activiites to share, and adventures to experience. Already have a list? Join our discussion on Facebook and share your summer ideas! Let’s make this season a memorable one.

18 Ways to Enjoy the M-22 Fall Color Tour

 colorful fall maple treeFall Foliage isn’t the only reason to plan a trip to Northern Michigan in autumn.

 

We’ve put together a list of some of the fun, food and activities to experience along the M-22 scenic highway. Recently named one of the top five greatest driving tours in America by Rand McNally, M-22 has something to offer everyone. But don’t take our word for it. Check it out for yourself. In case you need a little help getting started we’ve complied a list of 18 Ways to Enjoy the M-22 Fall Color Tour. So grab your camera, hop in the car, and hit the highway.

 

1. Canoe the Platte. Fall is one of the best times to take a canoe or kayak down the Platte River. The calm cool waters reflect mother nature’s painted canvas, but they also reveal a seasonal secret. The salmon run upstream this time of year and the Platte River is the perfect place to witness this natural wonder. The weir is closed this time of year which means you’ll portage around it. But on the other side the water boils with jumping fish. You couldn’t get a better view anywhere else. Riverside Canoes is located on M-22 and open until the second weekend in October for canoe and kayak rental, or fishing tackle if you’re feeling adventurous.

 

Ed Moody's pumpkin carving2. Check out the giant pumpkins by master carver Ed Moody. On a small city street in Frankfort you’ll find giant pumpkins that miraculously change overnight into fantastic jack-o-lanterns. Only here the miracle is performed by Ed Moody. They do change overnight though since it’s the only time he can work. During the day you’ll find him greeting the guests who come to visit his creations that line the sidewalk in front of his home. To catch a demonstration check out the Fall Festival in Frankfort.

 

3. Hike Old Indian Trail. Just on the outskirts of the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore on M-22 between Crystal Lake and the Platte River there’s a wilderness trail known as Old Indian Trail. There are 2 loops available, both about a 2.5 mile hike through evergreens and colorful hardwoods. But if you make it to the end you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Michigan, expanses of sandy beaches and dunes. It’s a great trip to take with your four-legged friends.

 

4. Benzie Fall Festival. There is so much to do at the fall festival we couldn’t list it all here. But you won’t want to miss the pumpkin chucking contest. Here you’ll see trebuchets, similar to a catapult, built by local high school students challenged to see whose construction will go the distance. Once loaded the trebuchets launch giant pumpkins into the air over Betsie Bay in Frankfort. Cheers and bragging rights go to the winning team.

 

5. Dinner at The Manitou. Nestled among the changing leaves along M-22, The Manitou Restaurant is a great place to stop and enjoy a fall meal. If you hear someone ask about Skinny Dippers they’re not suggesting a cold jump in the lake. They’re actually ordering a crispy appetizer basket of potato skins. All the soups and pies are made-from-scratch so save some room for their famous blueberry raspberry pie a la mode.

 

Kilcherman's Christmas Cove6. Visit Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove. Do you like apples? Then you’re going to love these apples. Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove grows over 280 varieties of antique apples. Great for eating and baking, some dating back to the time of Christ. This is not your typical orchard. And if that’s not reason enough to make the drive, how about the worlds largest bottle collection? Over 10,000 different glass bottles line the walls of their barn, more than the Guinness World Record!

 

7. Take in Breathtaking Views. The scenic drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is an absolute must on any visit to Northern Michigan. The park has over a dozen picture perfect Scenic Overlooks which explain why so many of us come back year after year. No matter the season this drive is worthwhile, but the colors of autumn bring out the beauty of this hardwood forest in shining contrast to the crystal blue waters and miles of sand dunes.

 

Point Betsie lighthouse8. Explore a 150 year old Lighthouse. Point Betsie Lighthouse celebrates it’s sesquicentennial this year. It’s the second most photographed lighthouse in the nation. And in the fall don’t be surprised to find windsurfers and kiteboarders donning their wetsuits to catch huge air off the crashing waves along the sandy shore. It’s one of the best spots to surf, Yes surf, in Northern Michigan. The lighthouse is open on the weekends through mid October for tours.

 

9. Visit Fishtown, the historic fishing village in Leland. Wooden shanties line the boardwalk of this century-old fisherman’s haven. Today charter fishing boats bring in fresh caught salmon to be smoked at Carlsons, and the Manitou Transit waits to take visitors on the short journey to the Manitou Islands. From unusual cheeses to locally-made clothing, these rustic shanties hold a vast array of treasures.

 

10. Tour Art Galleries. For the art lover there are dozens of unique galleries all along the M-22 corridor. Stop in Glen Arbor to discover the distinct style of Sticks painted furniture at the Ruth Conklin Gallery. Becky Thacher’s exquisite jewelry is a must-see along the road to the beach. And on the other side of the peninsula you don’t want to miss Michigan Artist’s Gallery in Sutton’s Bay, where art can be fun, fresh, stylish and affordable. Check out the Fall for Art in Leelanau on Columbus weekend for a county wide art tour.

 

pinot noir grapes on the vine11. Hop on the Wine Trail. The Leelanau peninsula is home to 16 wineries and counting! Many of them are off-the-beaten-path, but well worth the diversion. Taking a wine tour has become one of the most popular activities for Northern Michigan visitors. From the tiny tasting room of Chateau Fontaine in Lake Leelanau to the large and impressive Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, the wineries are as diverse and interesting as the wines they produce. 

 

12. Dine along the water’s edge. When the warm summer’s breeze becomes a brisk autumn wind, find a room with a view and enjoy the scenery from the cozy warmth of the restaurant. Check out The Bluebird in Leland, where tables line the windows along the Leland River. Or visit Knot Just A Bar in Omena where you gaze over Grand Traverse Bay or sneak next door for a sip of wine from Leelanau Cellars tasting room.

 

Platte River State Fish Hatchery13. One Fish, Two Fish, They Fish or You Fish. All along the Platte and Betsie Rivers you’ll find fishermen casting their lines for salmon and trout as they head up stream. If you like to fish, bring your wadders as the water’s getting colder. For a learning adventure drive over to the Platte River State Fish Hatchery on US31 and 669 just past Honor. This is Michigan’s primary salmon hatchery, where eggs are harvested for coho and Chinook salmon to be raised and restocked in Michigan’s lakes.

 

14. Take a Haunted Hayride. Looking for a fright this fall, then head over to Empire for their annual haunted hayride, Field of Screams. A fundraiser for the Empire Eagles to support needy families through the holiday season. Take a spooky ride through an eerie wood filed with ghouls. Cider and donuts await those who make the trip. Held the last two weekends before Halloween, on M-72 near 669.

 

Betsie Valley Trail15. Bike or Hike the Betsie Valley Trail. One of the newest rail-to-trail programs, the Betsie Valley Trail is a 22 mile pathway from Frankfort, through Elberta and Beulah on to Thompsonville. Much of the trail is non-motorized and perfect for bikes and pedestrians. The entire trail is stunning this time of year.

 

16. Take a Beach Walk. The waters of fall are often too cold for swimming, but the beaches are still a great place to enjoy nature’s gift to Northern Michigan. Follow M-22 from Frankfort to Empire and explore some of the roads that lead to small beaches. Peterson Beach, Otter Creek and North Bar Lake are great places to hike the dunes, comb the shores for fossils and capture the picturesque views of Lake Michigan. Or join the park rangers for an evening beach patrol along Sleeping Bear Point in Glen Haven.

 

17. Shop ‘Til You Drop. The M-22 scenic drive takes you through a half dozen quaint towns defined by their unique locations and the collection of small businesses that make up these communities. Take time to browse through their stores, sample their homemade edibles and bring home something to remember your journey. Perhaps some M-22 logowear would be appropriate.

 

fall forest mushroom18. Stop, Look and Listen. The change of seasons brings much to enjoy if we take a moment to do so. Listen for the honk of Canadian geese overhead as they migrate in their tell-tale V-formation. Examine the forest floor and you’ll discover mosses and fungi of all sorts thriving on the moist soil. Bite into a honeycrisp apple and enjoy the syrup-sweet taste of Michigan’s fruitful harvest. Soak it up and savor this season.

 

Autumn in Northern Michigan has so much to offer. So to all you leaf-peepers, welcome! As you travel along M-22 through Benzie and Leelanau counties don’t hesitate to take a few detours along the way. And don’t forget your cameras!

Top 5 Ways to Spend a Rainy Day in Traverse City

 A Little Rain Won’t Dampen Your Fun in Traverse City

I know the last thing you want to see on vacation is rain. But before you reach for the TV remote take a few moments to consider the great opportunities waiting indoors at some of Traverse City’s best destinations. Here’s a guide to some of my favorite rain or shine day trips.

Lightpaintings exhibit at Dennos Museum Center1. Visit Local Museums

Traverse City has a thriving culture of artists, musicians, and the patrons who support them. Whether you’ve always wanted to know more about Inuit Art, or have wondered what ever happened the original "model city", our local museums can show you.

The Dennos Museum Center on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College invites you to "Come Alive Inside!" They have several gallery exhibitions featuring fine art, science and the performing arts. Kids will love the Discovery Gallery with it’s hands-on exhibits. You’ll also find one of the largest and most historically complete collections of Inuit art.

For the lovers of history and music, you must check out one of Traverse City’s most unique museums. The Music House Museum, located just outside Traverse City on US 31 North in Acme, is a one-of-a-kind collection of music making machines from 1870 – 1930. To see an antique Nickelodeon or a phonograph is a treat, but to experience the music of these historical pieces is a memorable visit indeed. On the one-hour musical tour you’ll see the 1924 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, rescued from the Cinderella Theater in Detroit, and the impressive 1922 Mortier Dance Organ from Belgium.

If you have young children to entertain I’d recommend the Great Lake Children’s Musuem. Their new location across from West Bay on M-22 has wonderful interactive exhibits for the young and curious. The museum teaches children about the Great Lakes through hands-on activities and water-themed play areas. Their giftshop is also a great place to pick-up learning based toys and books.

 

2. Tour the Wineries

Black Star Farms winery on Old Mission peninsulaTraverse City, and the peninsulas which surround it, are making a name for themselves in the wine industry. We share the same latitude as several famous wine-making regions in Europe. The bays that surround us help cultivate some of the best grape growing regions in our country. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself how wonderful Traverse City wines can be.

The Old Mission peninsula is home to seven distinct wineries and counting. From small tasting rooms to expansive estates, there are many tasty stops along the wine trail. The first of which is Black Star Farms Old Mission tasting room. Some of you may know of their expansive agriculinary destination near Suttons Bay, but Black Star Farms is making fabulous wines from Old Mission vineyards as well. Their tasting room, on McKinley Rd, is the only place you’ll be able to taste some of their vintages, including 2007 Arcturos Pinot Noir Rose as it can only be sold on Old Mission Peninsula.

Just up the road you’ll find Peninsula Cellars in the little red schoolhouse along M-37. This tiny tasting room has refined big flavors into some award-winning wines including the region’s only white cherry wine. Peninsula Cellars is owned and operated by the Kroupa family, who also grow much of the fruit used in their production.

There are several other wineries on Old Mission peninsula well worth your attention including our well known Chateau Grand Traverse, and the estates of Chateau Chantal. However I’d be remiss if I didn’t send you back into the heart of the city to Left Foot Charley. Located in The Village, Traverse City’s own Central Park. The former Northern Michigan Asylum is home to a bevy of food artisans, shops and businesses including the area’s only urban winery. If you’re lucky you might catch wine-maker Brian Ulbrich behind the bar where he’s likely to serve a little wit along with his latest vintage.

 

3.  Play Ball!

golf simulator at the Traverse City Golf CenterIf you’re stuck in with a rain delay at the Traverse City Beach Bums baseball game don’t despair. I have some great ideas for the sports fans too. Whether you’re a bowler, a golfer, or prefer your sports with a comfy seat and a refreshing beverage, you can satisfy your athletic nature in Traverse City no matter the weather.

Just a few miles from the Beach Bums stadium, on the other side of Chums Corners you’ll find one of the the area’s newest and most entertaining venues. Wilderness Crossings sits back from the road just off US-31. This is family entertainment at it’s finest. The kids will love the arcade games, laser tag and cosmic golf course. Mom and dad, you can kick back in the sports bar or enjoy a meal in the Wild Pony Saloon. When you’re all back together don’t forget to slip on some bowling shoes for a game or two. And the best part is, the entire 34,000 sq. ft. facility is smoke free.

Golfers, if a downpour on the course sent you back to the clubhouse, I’ve got just the place for you. The Traverse City Golf Center on Secor road, near Boones Long Lake Inn, has everything you need keep your head in the game. From their extensive indoor pro shop with PING fitting center, to the indoor chipping stations and putting green, there’s more here than meets the eye. Ever wanted to play with the pros at Pebble Beach? Well step up to their golf simulator and you’ll get the chance. If the weather improves, be sure to step outside to test your shot on the driving range or improve your skills in their sand trap.

 

A barrel of popcorn at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In4.  Celebrate Movie Magic

There’s been much ado about the movie industry coming to Traverse City, and rightfully so. We have so much to offer movie fans and movie makers alike. From art films in an historic theater to classic family entertainment, a movie is a great way to save a rainy day.

The renovation of downtown Traverse City’s State Theatre brought our community together in support a common goal. Michael Moore helped establish the area’s first Film Festival which put Traverse City on the map for cinephile’s everywhere. Become a Friend of the Festival and get a sneak peak at the upcoming films, as well as first shot at tickets. But you don’t have to wait for the Film Festival to enjoy a movie at the State. The marquee lights up every night with their feature presentation.

If casual family fun is more your style then you don’t want to miss stepping back in time at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre. Rain or shine dusk is the time. That’s their motto. I admit, it’s great fun to bring your chairs, pop the tailgate and enjoy the movie magic pouring from the original post-mounted speakers. But don’t let a little rain stop you. Tune your car stereo to their FM channel and enjoy the movie with windows closed, fresh barrel of popcorn in your lap and the big screen just outside. What better way to enjoy some classic americana.

 

The Radish restaurant in Olde Town Traverse City5.  Focus on Food

If you need an excuse to get out and sample the flavors of Traverse City I suppose a rainy day is as good an excuse as any. Personally I don’t need much encouragement. In all honesty I couldn’t possibly highlight all our great food options in one short list. Instead I hope to send you on a foodie excursion, where you just might pick up a few new favorites to share.

If you’re in Olde Town Traverse City there’s a new twist on fast food you’re going to enjoy. In fact, it’s fast food with no guilt, no grease, and no regrets. The Radish focuses on fresh ingredients with a 60+ item salad bar. No more, "hold the onion," or, "dressing on the side," you make just the way you like it. You can’t argue with that logic. 

Downtown Traverse City is a great destination it’s own rite, with countless restaurants, eateries, brew pubs to explore. But let’s not forget the retail outlets that offer fantastic edibles as well. A couple of my favorites include Fustini’s, where you taste and enjoy olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The Cherry Stop is the only place to go for anything cherry. And if time allows I have to endulge in some gelato at American Spoon Foods.

My tour du jour wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some off-the-beaten path restaurants that spring to mind when family and friends come to town. For a fabulous view of West Grand Traverse Bay you can’t beat Scott’s Harbor Grill. Even in the rain you can enjoy the boats in the harbor from a window-side table. Everyone loves a good italian restaurant and my family is taken with Chef Mickey Cannon at the Tuscan Bistro. But if your trip takes you along the Old Mission peninsula I’d recommend the Old Mission Tavern. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s a top-notch white-tablecloth restaurant with a beautiful gallery to browse while you wait.

 

So next time you find yourself pulling out the umbrella with a sigh, just remember Traverse City is full of great ways to keep the whole family happy on a rainy day, or anytime for that matter.

 

New Travelog Series

Hometown Highlights Northern Michigan travelogJoin me as I drive, shop, eat and explore my way across the Traverse Area on a mission to fill my displays. Together we’ll be tourists in my hometown.

 

M-22 Corridor from Empire to Leland

My first travelog begins on M-22, the scenic highway that traces the contours of Leelanau county and beyond. The state highway is 114.5 miles long and crosses four counties. I highly recommend the entire trip, but like a cheesecake I prefer to enjoy it one piece at a time. I have several card display locations along the route in Glen Arbor and Leland. Today my focus was on Leland. It’s less than 30 miles between Empire and Leland, but I like to enjoy trip when I have the time. Slip in some shopping, lunch or a beach diversion, and it’s easily a 3 hour tour.

Just before I head into Empire, and not long after crossing from Benzie into Leelanau county, I come across my first stop. Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate sits right on M-22 along the curve. It’s modest building and signage may slip past you, so pay attention because you won’t want to miss it. Mimi Wheeler left her job as a social worker to produce fine natural chocolates made from organic ingredients, including the herbs from her garden. I can’t drive through Empire without indulging my chocolate fix with some of Mimi’s Chingers; dark chocolate covered candied ginger.

You won’t see much of the village of Empire unless you venture off M-22 into town. There is a wonderful beach, although rather stony for those with tender feet. The Robert H. Manning memorial lighthouse is a fun photo-op. It’s not a working light, more like a monument, but it’s still classified as a lighthouse. There are a few shops in town and along M-22, as well as some restaurants. One of our favorites is The Village Inn, or The V.I. as the locals call it. Today, however, I was just passing through.

M-22 leaves Empire and winds it’s way toward Glen Arbor. This time of year I’m always looking for the little farm stands along the side of the road selling fruits and vegetables from small wooden displays. Hand-painted signs introduce blueberries, cherries and fresh sweet corn just ahead. Many stands are on-your-honor with small glass jars for collecting payment. 

One of my favorite stretches of highway is just past the narrows bridge which bisects the turquoise waters of Glen Lake. On the left stunning homes sit back from the road and gaze down their manicured lawns across the highway toward the crystal waters of Glen Lake. The road stretches forward and soon pulls away from the water as you head into Glen Arbor.

 

It was before lunchtime when I arrived in town so I pulled into Wildflowers to endulge my flower fancy. Whether you have a huge garden, a few window boxes, or just an appreciation for beautiful things, Wildflowers is a treat. Outside you can shop for perennials or wander through their shady gardens in the back. Inside their giftshop incorporates garden, gifts, jewelry, art and much more. 

As much as I wanted to leave with a new limelight hydrangea for my front yard it would have to wait for another trip when there was more room in the car. Today the displays were my focus, and my trip to Leland. So it was back on the road for me.

Glen Arbor is a destination of it’s own, to which I dedicate a future trip. In fact I have several display locations in Glen Arbor including The Glen Arbor Lakeshore Inn, Glen Craft Marina & Resort, Le Bear Resort, Leelanau Vacation Rentals and The Maple Lane Resort. So I’ll be back soon to check in on them.

 

M-22 leaves Glen Arbor as it crosses the Crystal River. The landscape all around is lush and green this time of year. The stretch from Glen Arbor to Leland wanders past fields of wildflowers, weathered barns, hidden lakes and trails that tempt you with their unknown destinations. Trees of maple, beech, ash and cherry create the landscape throughout the trip. These are only a few of the sights that make up the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the area’s largest park and greatest visitor attraction. 

Today I left the National Lakeshore, passed county road 667 which leads to Maple City and back home to Lake Ann, and followed the road along Good Harbor Bay. The homes and foliage prevent most of the views of Lake Michigan but you could still hear the waves on a windy day. I drove past M-204, where I often turn to cross the Leelanau peninsula and on into Suttons Bay. Soon Lake Leelanau came into view on the right and I knew I was getting close. Which is good, because I could feel the rumblings of hunger and Leland has some great sights, and bites, to take in.

 

In the summer the streets of Leland are filled with people enjoying the port town and all it has to offer. Today was no exception. I entered town along Main Street and turned left at the gas station onto Cedar St and around the bend to the right where I’d land behind the Falling Waters Lodge. They enjoy a spectacular view of fishtown, the fishing village for which Leland is most know. Check out my gallery for a great photo of their unique vantage point.

After filling the display at the lodge I took a few moment to stroll down to the beach. If you’re looking for a quiet scenic view of the Leland harbor there’s a great path to the waters edge that starts behind the Falling Waters Lodge. From here you can walk the shore to the right towards the harbor. The stone pier extends it’s protective barrier from the crashing waves throughout the seasons. Today the waters were all but still. A mother and her children balanced along the top of the pier and a few fishermen cast their lines into the water.

With warm sand between my toes I headed back to the car and off to my next stop. My stomach still echoed but I had a few more trips to make before lunch. At the top of the hill on Pearl Street sits The Leland Lodge. They were busy today in the office, so it was a quick trip in and out to fill their display and head back down into the heart of town. As I pulled out under the canopy in front of the lodge I caught a glimpse of guests dining outdoors on their patio overlooking the sloping lawn. One of these days I’m going to stop here for an iced tea and a side of fabulous view.

I park in town after some circling and find a spot across from my last stop, The Bluebird Restaurant. Skip and Lynn Telgard have carried on a family tradition in Leland as third generation owners of The Bluebird. If you haven’t stopped in for their famous whitefish or renowned Sunday brunch, add it to your must-do list. I personally can’t pass up their pea & peanut salad, a highlight on the fresh salad bar, or the sugary cinnamon rolls that arrive at the table wrapped in linen and warmth. Today I’m delivering more cards for them to use in the restaurant. The hostess eagerly accepted the delivery. "Our servers hand them out with the check and the guests love them," she said. I’m always happy to hear that.

 

So with my goals met for the afternoon I’m free to eat and enjoy some of Leland’s finest. My pick for lunch today is the Village Cheese Shanty. Located in the heart of fishtown on the docks is a tiny shack with amazing sandwiches. The line was nearly out the door, but they’re incredibly efficient. I chose the special of the day to make things easy and to try something new. I don’t think you can go wrong with their selections of fresh shaved meats and variety of cheeses, but you have to try the pretzel bread. The special of the day was capicola ham, lettuce, tomato, onion, fresh buffalo mozzarella and balsamic viniagrette dressing on pretzel bread. Yummy, and well worth the wait.

On my way back to the car I followed my nose to the sweet scents of Murdick’s Fudge Shoppe. It’s hard to resist their creamy blend that’s known across Northern Michigan as the best fudge around. So I selected a half slice of peanut butter to sample on the return trip.

Like Glen Arbor, there is much more to enjoy in Leland than I have time for on this trip. So I’ll be back soon. For now I’ll jump back on M-22 and continue the trip. I’ll introduce you to the rest of M-22 and the adventures to be found along the way in future travelog posts. Until then, check out Empire, Glen Arbor and Leland.

 

If you have a favorite spot along M-22 that you’d like to share, email me here and I’ll check it out. Thanks!

 

By |2008-08-11T11:53:08-04:00August 11th, 2008|Day Trips, Hometown Highlights, Leelanau|0 Comments

Kick-off the Wine Festival Season in Leland

 The 23rd Annual Leland Wine & Food Festival is this Saturday, June 14th

It wouldn’t be summer in Northern Michigan without the colorful, flavorful and entertaining festivals that fill our calendars and flood our senses with the nostalgia we relive all winter long. If there’s a season to celebrate, a fruit to hold above all others, or a heritage to proudly proclaim then there’s probably a festival in it’s name. With acres of grapes lining up across the Leelanau and Old Mission landscapes it’s no wonder the wine festivals are among our favorites.

 

The Leland Wine & Food Festival is a celebration of summer; good food, great friends, entertainment, art, and of course, the bounty of our local vintners. The tiny fishing village, otherwise known as Fishtown, will be bursting at its seams as hundreds of visitors and locals spill out of the tent and onto the town. 

If you haven’t made the trip up M-22 to Leland, it’s worth the drive. The festival is a great reason to hop in the car for a day trip. But if large crowds, live music, food and fun aren’t your thing…you might wait until next week.

 

The 2008 commemorative poster was created by artist Melanie Parke and is available for sale in Leland. The festival is Saturday June 14th from noon – 6pm, Fishtown in Leland. 

By |2008-06-13T21:36:43-04:00June 13th, 2008|Check This Out, Day Trips, Leelanau|0 Comments

Sail Away Aboard Tall Ship Manitou

Daily Cruises Begin Saturday June 7th

Last spring I was fortunate enough to be invited on the Tall Ship Manitou not once, but twice. And I can say with all honesty that one trip can be very different than the next…so you’ll need to go more than once!

 

My first trip was a publicity tour for local media and members of the tourism industry. I knew only a handful of the passengers, and the boat was close to capacity. We sailed on a clear but cool evening in June. Once aboard the ship you quickly become part of the crew. In fact, this new crew has one major responsibility: raising the sails. It took two teams on either side of the ship, some to Heave, and some to Ho. The large ropes quickly pile up on deck as you watch the sails slowly work their way up the giant wooden mast. The seasoned deck hands take care of the hard work, and it’s really a lot of fun to participate.

We sailed slowly around West Grand Traverse Bay on the calm waters that evening. It was perfect for an event like this. While I only knew a handful of the 60+ passengers, by the end of the sail I had met dozens more. This calm evening cruise was perfect for enjoying a glass of Leelanau Tall Ship Chardonnay, which happened to be on board along with a member of the winery staff! When it was time to head back to the dock we let the crew handle the sails. Captain Dave however, was happy to share the wheel with those interested in a photo op, or indulging their thirst for power on the not-so-high seas.

 

The second trip, not even a week later as it happened, was altogether different. A friend chose to spend her birthday aboard the Tall Ship, and invited several families to join her. Since this was an afternoon sail I took my oldest son with me, while my husband slaved away at work. There were twelve of us in the group, more than half were children under 6 years old, along with many other passengers on a hot and sticky afternoon. The breeze had started to pick up so we were counting on putting the sails to good use. We had no idea.

Raising the sails with so many kids on board was much harder than the last time, but even more entertaining. The captain explained we would have a box lunch and beverages were available, so just ask the crew. We were free to wander about the boat, which included below decks where the bed & breakfast guests are rocked to sleep at night. It wasn’t long however before the winds really picked up. One of the crew explained that a cold front was moving in and that meant big wind. And boy was it ever.

The rest of the trip was one fast ride. Luckily the captain allowed our group to venture into the galley to enjoy the homemade chocolate cake we brought on board for the occasion. On deck the wind whipped, the sails cracked as the boom swung across the deck with each tack, and we all held on for a true sailing experience on Grand Traverse Bay.

 

So whether your winds are fair or fierce, your company few or many, a trip aboard the Tall Ship Manitou is one you’ll remember and enjoy. 

Tall Ship Special Cruises include Moomers Mondays (3pm sail), and Wine Tasting Cruise Tuesdays (6:30pm sail)

For more information about the Traverse Tall Ship Co. check out their listing on our Attractions page, or to visit their website click here.

 

By |2008-06-06T21:50:28-04:00June 6th, 2008|Attractions, Day Trips, Traverse City|0 Comments

Beer & Brat Festival at Crystal Mountain Resort

Crystal Mountain will once again usher in the summer season with the finest Michigan brews, specialty brats and timeless rock ‘n roll classics from the band Egon during the 3rd Annual Michigan Beer & Brat Festival, May 24 (4-8pm).

 

The Michigan Beer & Brat Festival has quickly become Crystal’s signature Memorial Day weekend event. This year the Michigan Brewers Guild will partner with Crystal for the festival featuring a variety of over 40 Michigan microbrews from Bell’s, Short’s, Right Brain Brewery, New Holland, Founder’s, Arbor, Arcadia, Old Hat and more. A variety of specialty brats from area markets and giant Bavarian pretzels should perfectly compliment the featured libations.

 

 

Admission to the Michigan Beer & Brat Festival (4-8pm) is $20 and includes a commemorative mug, entertainment as well as beer & brat tickets. 

 

The band Egon will be the featured entertainment for this year’s festival putting their spin on timeless funk, rock, and R&B classics from the 60’s and 70’s. The five young musicians are making a name for themselves with routine performances in Traverse City. 

 

By |2008-05-21T14:07:25-04:00May 21st, 2008|Benzie, Check This Out, Day Trips|0 Comments