Home/Traverse City

Two Northern Michigan Tourism Bureaus Unite for a Regional Approach to Marketing

Traverse City Tourism, northern Michigan’s largest destination marketing organization has formed a merger with the Benzie County Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Traverse Traveler has worked closely with both communities since our inception. So we’d like to give you some perspective on how this regional approach to marketing affects the hospitality industry in northern Michigan. We’ll talk about how the merger impacts hotels and travelers. And we’ll share some perspective from the local business members of both organizations.

Tourism Bureaus Unite

Let’s Start with a Regional Approach to Marketing

When we first went into business with our little card displays in 2001 one thing was certain. We knew our marketing was going to represent businesses all around Traverse City, including those in Benzie and Leelanau county. While Traverse City had the most hotels—an important factor since our distribution is based in the hotel lobby—some of the best restaurants and attractions to visit lie off the beaten path, in the small towns that surround the city. So we took a regional approach to marketing. We have displays in all three counties and promote businesses all across the area. I think we had the right idea.

Since 2001 we have worked with hotels, restaurants, and attractions across Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, and Antrim county. We’ve learned that travelers who stay in one community are here to enjoy and experience northern Michigan. That itinerary doesn’t stop at the county line. Guests that stay in one town are more than willing to drive 40 minutes to enjoy a fabulous meal, explore our parks and beaches, shop for souvenirs and wander through our historic towns. But when it comes to our destination marketing organizations (DMOs), whose job it is to market this region nationwide as a vacation destination, lines had to be drawn in the sand. Until now.

When 2 + 1 = 2

As of March 1, 2020 two of our region’s DMOs will become one. The Benzie County Area Convention and Visitors Bureau announced they will be merging with Traverse City Tourism. This merger not only impacts the Benzie CVB members but the Benzie Chamber as well. The Benzie Chamber and Benzie CVB shared staff, offices and a Visitor Center at the corner of M-115 and US-31 in Benzonia. This merger will bring two organizations together and leave one to stand alone.

In the fall of 2019 Mary Carroll, the Executive Director of the Benzie CVB and Benzie Chamber president announced she was leaving. This left the boards with big decisions to make about the future of their organizations. The Benzie Chamber selected Rick Coates to lead their organization starting in January 2020. In a letter to Benzie Chamber members announcing the merger, he shared their perspective,

“Tourism, along with agriculture are the largest economic drivers in Benzie County. Many of our businesses in Benzie are directly impacted by the tourism economy. This transition will serve as a great opportunity to strengthen our tourism industry which is vitally important to the economic health of Benzie County.”

At this time the Visitors Center in Beulah will remain open at the Chamber office in Benzonia. The Chamber will refocus its efforts on the economic development of Benzie county businesses. Lodging members of the Benzie CVB, who voted by referendum to support this union, will see some changes.

The room assessment percentage in Benzie county, a fee which is levied to lodging properties to fund the marketing organization, will increase from the current 2% to 5% to match that of Traverse City Tourism. All assessments and the responsibility for marketing the Benzie CVB members will shift to Traverse City Tourism in March.

In a press release from Traverse City Tourism, director Trevor Tkach shared some insight into the new marketing efforts.

“Collaborating with Benzie County allows us to tell bigger stories about our area’s greatest attractions, like skiing, fishing, golf, trails, watersports, and more.”

Affect on Local Business

We spoke with several of our Benzie County partners in hospitality to get their perspective on this regional approach to marketing and found overwhelming support for the merger.

Steve Campbell, owner of Harbor Lights Resort in Frankfort, is also a board member for the Benzie CVB. 

“As a lodging property in Benzie County, we are very excited about this partnership with Traverse City Tourism.  It allows our county to leverage the power and reach of TCT to help tell the story of Northwest Michigan not just on a state level, but more regionally, nationally and internationally.  This is now more important than ever given the uncertainly of Pure Michigan funding.  I am confident that the entire area will benefit from the increased exposure, not only from a tourism standpoint, but the potential long term impact on the economy.  Job creation in the tourism industry is one aspect, but long term, the more people that are exposed to this region, the greater the potential to attract more home buyers, entrepreneurs to start or move businesses here, etc.  I think this is all very positive.”

There are more than just the lodging properties who will be impacted by creating a larger regional CVB. Restaurants, retailers and attractions also stand to benefit from the increase in marketing that comes with greater resources. Riverside Canoes is located on the Platte River in Benzie county, inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Owner Kyle Orr sees the upside potential for Benzie county businesses.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for Benzie county businesses to scale our marketing. By partnering with TCT we gain a larger audience. And the additional dollars collected by the room tax should benefit the Benzie economy greatly, just as the Pure Michigan dollars do for all businesses. We know first hand how many people come from Traverse City to visit us for day trips. This is a win-win for all local economies.”

Impact on the Traveler

Travelers staying in Benzie county will notice the fee assessment increase this season, rising to 5%. That’s the cost of a large ice cream cone on a typical room rate, but for weekly vacation rentals, the hike will be more noticeable. The benefits to both travelers and businesses in the region comes in the form of access to information. Traverse City Tourism will be a broader resource for lodging choices and attraction information. And member properties will have a much larger marketing machine in their corner selling the benefits of Benzie county to travelers from across the globe.

How Can We Help

Traverse Traveler has a variety of marketing opportunities for local businesses to reach travelers staying in hotels. Since Traverse City Tourism will have more buying power to bring visitors to the region, we’re here to make sure they can find out about all this region has to offer.

  • Restaurants, wineries and breweries can feature their menu in our Dining Guide.
  • Our little card displays located in the hotel lobby are the first choice for guests wanting grab-and-go inspiration. And maps. They love the maps.
  • Our visitor channel that plays in-room engages guests through storytelling videos that entertain and inform.
  • The Traverse Traveler app includes all you need to know to navigate the region. It’s all-inclusive so every business has a chance to be seen.

As we mentioned at the start, Traverse Traveler has always had a regional approach to marketing. We represent businesses across Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau and Antrim county on ALL of our marketing platforms. We look forward to working with more Benzie county businesses who would like to reach travelers staying in Traverse City. And vice versa, we will continue to expand our distribution of content in Benzie county. We want to ensure their guests can learn about the amazing businesses that make up our little tip of the Mitten state.

 

By |2020-02-06T15:10:45-05:00February 5th, 2020|Benzie, News, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

7 Places to Dine Out and Eat Healthy

Healthy Dining Options in Traverse City

It can be hard to stay on a healthy eating plan when you know you’ll be dining out. If you’re like me you walk in the door with the intention of ordering a salad only to be tempted by the creamy pasta, fried fish or cheesy pizza. Lucky for us Traverse city is bursting with restaurants whose primary focus is on providing healthy food options. We put together a list of 7 local places where you can eat out and still eat healthy. Whether you’re looking for a wholesome place to dine-in or nutritious options to carry-out, you’ll feel good about your choices here.

Third Coast Bakery

If your day begins with a trip to the coffee shop, try stopping at Third Coast Bakery. They offer a wide selection of coffee, tea, and other specialty blends that pair perfectly with their baked goods. As a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and vegan bakery these bakers have the talent of making something taste as good as it looks while still being healthy. Look for their tasty treats in the bakery section of local stores like Oleson’s as well.

Grand Traverse Salad Company

Need to grab lunch on the run? Grand Traverse Salad Company who just opened this past June in a perfect grab-and-go location at the corner of Cass and South Airport. Don’t let the name fool you, they have more than just salads. With over 40 salad toppings or sandwich stuffings, soups, smoothies, and more, they have something green for everyone in between. 

Press on Juice

Juices are a convenient and popular way to get the nutrition we need. Press on Juice is known for just that. Here they have juice, juice, and more juice. But it may surprise you to learn they also have tacos, burgers, and other raw foods that are both delicious and nutritious. 

FYT

Dining out is always fun, but what about quick and easy pick-up or hand-delivered meal prep? FYT or Fuel Your Tomorrow, located in The Village at Grand Traverse is a meal prep service and a grab-and-go retailer. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert options that taste good to you and are good for you. After just a few bites I fell in love with their summer rolls with peanut sauce. A perfect package to bring back to the office for lunch.

Oryana

In Traverse City we are spoiled with 2 in 1’s–a market and deli all in one. Oryana is one of those magical places. Here you can shop for local, bright, and organic groceries or consume them off the ‘menu of the day’ in their cafe. Help yourself to the hot bar, with rotating dishes where you pay by the weight. Choose from a variety of soups or have a sandwich made to order.

Edson Farms

Edson Farms is another local stop-and-shop or sit-and-sip. Thanks to their expansion there’s plenty of room to place your order in the deli and enjoy a meal on-site. Try a wrap or pressed sandwich, and bring your appetite; they’re huge! Their smoothies and juices are made to order. From bulk foods to vitamins Edson Farms provides a variety of products that cater to customers with special dietary needs. And I can’t leave the store without a bag of fresh popcorn for $0.25. 

Lucky’s Market

Last but not least, Traverse City is home to a Lucky’s Market. Here you can grab groceries to make a meal or look for their prepared foods section to pick-up something to go. Build a salad, select some sushi, or grab a meal for two right out of the case. 

There you have it: 7 healthy eating spots for 7 days of the week, or for whenever you are in the mood for good food. Cheers to all the healthy options so near, and to the farms that grow right here. 

By |2020-01-09T09:04:04-05:00January 7th, 2020|Foodie, Restaurants, Traverse City|0 Comments

19 Moments to Remember from 2019

Before we roll up our sleeves and tackle 2020 we’re taking a look back at 19 moments that filled our year in 2019. Watch the video for 19 highlights in the adventures of Traverse Traveler.

  1. Expanded Traverse Traveler Distribution. In 2019 we began distributing the Dining Guide in the Benzie Chamber and CVB, and we added our Visitor Channel to the Cambria Suites, Best Western and Comfort Inn in Traverse City.
  2. Produced our We Speak Traveler Video. With a little help from our friends at Mike Kent Communications and Jacqueline Southby Photography, we finally put together a video about us. Thanks to George at Peegeo’s and Todd at The Filling Station for their testimonials.
  3. Attended the Derby Party at Iron Fish Distillery. All work and no play? No way. We love to get out and enjoy Northern Michigan together. Big hats, custom cocktails and a beautiful day for a horse race, made for a memorable moment with friends.
  4. Welcomed New Customers to Traverse Traveler. We are proud to be able to introduce travelers to Crepes & Co, the Mayfair Tavern, Goodboy Provisions, Mission Table, Blue Tractor, Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak Brewing Co., Cracker Barrel, State Street Market and Stormcloud Brewing Company.
  5. Shot the Cover of the Dining Guide. Many thanks to Jacqueline Southby for the beautiful photography, Apache Trout Grill for the amazing food and setting, and to our cover models Joe & Sara. Congratulations to the happy couple who got engaged over the Christmas holiday!
  6. Filmed Videos for the Omelette Shoppe & Flap Jack Shack. We put a lot of planning into our shoots to ensure a fun and productive day on set. Thanks to the management team at both restaurants, and the Habadank family for providing our on-camera talent at the Flap Jack Shack.
  7. Sponsored & Judged the Frankfort 48 Film Contest. Traverse Traveler is a presenting sponsor for this 48-hour film contest. Once again we joined the judging team to award the Traverse Traveler Choice Award to Miranda Felty for her short film, Love Letters to Summer. We can’t wait to work with the talented Miranda in 2020.
  8. Introduced the New Dining Guide. The long hours that go into design and production for the Dining Guide are rewarded when we get to see it on press, share it with our featured cover location, and deliver them to the hotels.
  9. Hunted for Rocks. Summer means beach days, and beach days mean hunting for Petoskey and Leland Blue stones. This summer we took to the boat to get to those off-the-beaten-path locations. Brandy loves the hunt, but Jay and his wife Julie turn them into beautiful jewelry. 
  10. Refreshed the Footage for Pirate’s Cove. It’s great to have happy customers who have been on the visitor channel with us for years. With many changes at Pirate’s Cove it was time to update their ad with some new footage to reflect the on-site updates. Look for their new ad in the spring.
  11. Went Fishin’. From salmon fishing out of Frankfort to Cobia catching in Florida, we fit in some fun times on the water this year. All this fishing meant some great meals too.
  12. Took a Ghost Tour with Haunted Traverse. It was high time we explored the haunted side of downtown Traverse City on a walking tour. The stories were great, our guide was knowledgeable and we definitely discovered some things you can’t explain on 6th street. A fun day for the team.
  13. Visited Boutique Hotels for Awesome Mitten. Brandy toured the rooms, explored the amenities and shared it all for the Awesome Mitten Instagram followers, all 89,000 of them. Thanks to the Hotel Indigo, Brio Beach, Baywatch Resort, Wellington Inn and the Cherry Tree Inn & Suites for the tours and insights.
  14. Enjoyed the Grand Opening for Apogee. It’s not every day that one of your clients opens a new business. Congratulations to Karen Hilt and her crew at My Secret Stash on the opening of their new downtown sister store, Apogee.
  15. Found Fall Fun on the Wine Trail. From fall photography and video clips for the Awesome Mitten to a birthday wine tour for Brandy, this fall we found ourselves in wineries we knew, and some that we’ve never visited. Be a Traveler is our motto, and we try to live up to it.
  16. Celebrated 18 Years of Little Cards. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? 18 years certainly flew by for this little card lady. We’re still going, still growing, and still filling those little card displays.
  17. Hosted a Village Tour and Hospitality Event. We love to be connectors. Each year we host private events to bring our hotel partners and clients together for a fun, learning experience. Thanks to The Village, Kirkbride Hall, Left Foot Charley and our History Tour guides for a memorable evening.
  18. Attended a Jewelry Show for Becky Thatcher. It was an honor to be invited to Becky Thatcher’s launch event for her new jewelry collection; Impressions of the Forest Floor. We can’t wait to see how this collection grows, and where she goes next.
  19. Savored the Moments. 2019 was full of moments to remember, with a great team of co-workers, clients, family and friends.

Thanks for looking back with us as we savor the sunset of another year, and prepare for the bright beginnings in 2020. 

By |2020-01-09T09:07:13-05:00January 7th, 2020|Traverse City, Traverse Traveler, Videos|0 Comments

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.

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

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 |2019-12-19T09:45:21-05:00March 15th, 2018|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler, 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 |2019-12-19T09:51:43-05:00April 24th, 2015|Arts & Culture, Design, Events, Traverse City|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 |2019-12-19T09:31:40-05:00April 20th, 2015|Events, Family Fun, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 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.

59 Ways to Love Summer in Traverse City

Summer, Traverse City, Cherry

An Up North summer begins and ends on a holiday. That’s 59 days to soak up the sun. So I put together a list of 59 ways to squeeze in every last drop of Pure Michigan fun. This year, let’s all Be a Traveler in Traverse City. On your mark… get set… go!

  1. Hunt for petoskey stones. Point Betsie is a good stony beach with miles of shoreline for walking. Not sure what you’re looking for? Pick up a rock hunting guide from Korner Gem. Kevin’s an expert!
  2. Watch a movie under the stars. Get a bucket of popcorn with real butter and experience a time warp at the Cherry Bowl Drive-in in Honor. Or check out the Bike-in TC movies in F&M park, and the week-long Traverse City Film Festival with free flicks at the Open Space in August.
  3. Sip a cold drink under the warm sun. I love to look out over the marina from the deck at Harbor 22, or better yet… cocktails on a boat, in the harbor will do just fine.
  4. Read a paperback on the beach. Ok, so this one makes my list every summer for nothing more than pure selfish relaxation. I’m usually giggling at Stephanie Plum in the latest Janet Evanovich book, but if you’re looking for a new read I’d suggest a stop by Brilliant Books in Traverse City.
  5. Buy a flight at a local brewery. Our little town is one of the beeriest cities in the U.S. You’ll find a dozen craft breweries in Traverse City and new ones popping up in small towns, like Stormcloud in Frankfort. So grab a flight and drink local.
  6. Bike the T.A.R.T. trail or Benzie trail. Follow this stretch of the T.A.R.T. that runs along Boardman Lake behind the Traverse Area District Library and look for the planetary signs. It’s great fun for the kids.
  7. Celebrate our independence with fireworks. We park and walk for miles to Lake Michigan beach in Frankfort with a bag of licorice, glow necklaces and dig our pit in the sand to watch a spectacular show every July 4th.
  8. Reel in a king salmon. Forget the worm, up North, the early bird gets the fish! The best bite is at dawn and dusk, but the thrill of the catch is worth it. On a good day you’ll bring home dinner. On a bad day it was a still a nice boat ride that followed the colors of the sun.
  9. Fill a basket with fresh picked fruit straight from the orchard. Stop at a U-Pick farm for a hands-on experience or pull up to a roadside stand and select from nature’s best.
  10. Count satellites and ponder the stars. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore holds ‘Star Parties’ several times each summer where you can explore the night sky through powerful telescopes. Or kick back next to a campfire and watch for meteors.
  11. Try a new restaurant. Our region is blessed with fantastic local eateries. Try one that’s new —or at least new to you— this summer. On my list: The Franklin on Front and Cass in downtown Traverse City and Tucker’s in Northport.
  12. Walk barefoot along our freshwater coast. Take some time to feel the sand between your toes on a beach walk. You’ll find busy beaches along the shores of West Bay, Frankfort and Empire, or seek solitude at the end of a quiet road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  13. People watch at a festival. From the National Cherry Festival to the Northwestern Michigan Fair to the Traverse City Film Festival there’s entertainment to be found in the crowd. You may catch a glimpse of celebrity locals including Michael Moore, Carter Oosterhouse and Mario Batali.
  14. Buy art from a local artist. Local art makes a unique souvenir from your trip up north. Check out Michigan Artists Gallery in Suttons Bay, Gallery 50 at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, and Art and Soul in downtown TC.
  15. Drink the fruits of our land. The wineries are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Grand Traverse region. But as a local, I’m proud to say I love them too. Take a trip on Old Mission or Leelanau county and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Before you go, check out my tips for wine-tasting in Northern Michigan.
  16. Jump off a dock. Swing from a rope, dive in a pool, take flight over a body of water and land with a splash. That’s summer lovin’ at its watery best.
  17. Marvel at a Museum. From unexpected treasures at the Music House Museum, to fine art at the Dennos to hands-on fun at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, there’s indoor fun to be had in Traverse City too.
  18. Run down the dunes. The Sleeping Bear Dunes is a must-visit every summer. From the dune climb that overlooks Big and Little Glen, to the quieter spots in the National Park, find your spot to run with the wind in your hair and legs out of control.
  19. Eat dessert from a cone. Is there a more perfect summer food than ice cream? We make regular trips to Moomer’s for homemade deliciousness complete with farm views. But if you want to feel like a local order the Cosmo cone from the Dairy Lodge.
  20. Roast s’mores over an open flame. My secret for a perfect s’more:  buy the giant marshmellos, roast until gooey, remove skewer and slip two squares of chocolate inside the marshmello. Squeeze between two grahams and enjoy. This will be the most delicious mess you eat all summer.
  21. Float down the Platte. Whether you like to bob on a tube, cruise in a kayak or navigate with a canoe, a trip down the Platte from Riverside Canoes is the best way to enjoy the river. Plan to spend some time at the mouth swimming in the warm current as it empties into Lake Michigan.
  22. Dinner at the Manitou. After spending my high school and college years as a waitress here I can’t let a summer go by without a trip to the Manitou Restaurant on M-22 near Crystal Lake. No skimping either. Start with the skinny dippers and finish with blueberry raspberry pie.
  23. Climb a lighthouse tower. Nothing beats the view from the top of a lighthouse in Michigan. We’re lucky to have several you can climb including the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. Did you know you can see four islands from their tower?
  24. Ride the new Heritage Trail. Bikers will want to check out the brand new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that runs from the Dune Climb south to Empire. It’s a beautiful new addition to the park.
  25. Dine al fresco. I do a lot of grab-n-go dining as I’m on the road. But in the summer I try to slow down for a meal al fresco. Check out the seating at Morsels along the Boardman River for a coffee or snack. Or grab a bite from the food trucks that park at The Little Fleet.
  26. Buy fresh fruit from a roadside stand. Cruise up M-37 on Old Mission Peninsula and you’ll find lovely roadside stands all summer selling cherries, peaches, apricots and flowers. Some are washed and ready to eat.
  27. Play golf. This region is surrounded by world class golf courses so grab a tee time. My favorite course has waterfalls, pirates and a zipline that traverses over the go-carts. Yep, I’ll be working on my hole-in-one at Pirates Cove.
  28. Take the boat to South Manitou Island. If you want to experience true north, the way it was before settlements took hold, then take the Manitou Transit from Leland and visit South Manitou Island. Climb the lighthouse, walk the beach and look for shipwrecks off the coast.
  29. Shop around M-22. Some of my favorite summer shops are scattered among coastal towns along M-22. I always sneek up to Suttons Bay to visit The Happy Woman, and At Home, Haystacks has my favorite skirts, and check Wildflowers in Glen Arbor for great garden gifts and fun jewelry.
  30. Photograph a sunset at Point Betsie Lighthouse. The most photographed lighthouse in the state, Point Betsie is an iconic subject for so many reasons. Catch the light at sunset, with waves crashing along the sandy shore… it’s a moment worth capturing on film.
  31. Pick blueberries. It could be strawberries, or cherries, but every year I say I’m going to pick blueberries from one of the farms on Old Mission or in Benzie County but I never make it! This is going to be the year.
  32. Visit the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Along Grace Rd between Benzonia and Frankfort you’ll find the Crystal Lake Alpaca farm. Bring the kids to pet the animals, and bring your wallet to buy some of the amazing clothing and gifts they make on-site.
  33. Drink from Mineral Springs. I don’t know if this makes you a tourist or a traveler. But every year my family drinks from the Mineral Springs in downtown Frankfort. Drink for tradition, drink for good health, but hold your nose. I still don’t like the smell.
  34. Learn about our legends and lore. Our native American heritage fills this region with legends, artifacts and traditions. Spend a day at the History Center, or Eyaawing museum near Suttons Bay to learn about our native cultures, and the people who built these communities.
  35. Find a secluded beach. Most days I’m happy if I can squeeze my towel in between beach goers from all different states, and watch families enjoying the shoreline. But somedays I seek a quiet place to walk and think. Find a happy stretch along the shore and relax.
  36. Set sail on Grand Traverse Bay. Kids will love to help hoist the sails aboard the Traverse Tall Ship Manitou that cruises daily on the bay. Looking for dancing and cocktails? Check out the Nauti-cat. And if a romantic sunset is what you seek, set sail aboard Scout.
  37. Take a behind-the-scenes tour. Whether you’re a foodie, a history lover or wine geek there’s a tour to be had if you ask. Sign-up online for a tour at the Grand Traverse Distillery or take an historic tour of the old state hospital grounds at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
  38. Listen to a concert at Interlochen Center for the Arts. We are so blessed to have a world renowned school for the arts in our woodland backyard. Once you’ve listened to an Interlochen concert at Kresge with the summer breeze on your shoulders and music in the air, you’ll make sure this is on your list every year.
  39. Catch up with old friends. From backyard BBQs to campfires to a night on the town summertime is my favorite time to schedule time with old friends. Each year I meet my college roommates for at least one weekend of out-of-town fun.
  40. Make new friends. When you sit down at the bar for a cup of coffee, or are waiting in line at a popular restaurant, strike up a conversation with the person next you. More often than not I’m amazed by our connections and what a small world this really is.
  41. Tour a local art fair. From craft fairs to fine art juried shows, there’s an artfair somewhere nearly every weekend in the summer. I never miss the Frankfort art fair in August, but not just for the art. I’m in love with the chicken dinners they cook in the park. Best Chicken EVER!
  42. Boat party at the sandbar. The party crowd heads to Torch Lake where the sandbar is legendary. But the locals? We hang at Power Island when the beaches get crowded. Don’t have a boat? No problem. Hitch a ride from Bowers Harbor over to Power Island on the new transit and you’ll find pop-up parties all summer long.
  43. Get soaked to the skin in the warm summer rain. Surprise your kids, and perhaps yourself, when you throw logic and reason out the window and dance in the rain. No umbrella, no shoes, just pure spontaneous fun. I promise this will bring a smile to your face on a rainy day.
  44. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers. Baby’s Breath, Queen Anne’s Lace, wild Thistle, there are dozens of lovely wildflowers growing along the roadside. Pick up a field guide to help identify flowers, rocks and animals found in northern Michigan. Just be sure you don’t pick anything protected.
  45. Watch a ball game. Traverse City has the Beach Bums to quench our thirst for America’s pastime. Their beautiful stadium just outside downtown Traverse City is fun for the whole family. And every game finishes with fireworks.
  46. Visit Fishtown. Browse the quaint shops that line the century-old fishing wharf, pick up some smoked whitefish from Carlson’s, have a Chubby Mary overlooking the falls or grab a pretzel bread sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty. A day in Leland’s fishtown is a summer must-do.
  47. Tell stories around a campfire. Beach bonfires, campground fires surrounded by tents, patio hearths with potbelly stoves, pick your poison and enjoy one of summer’s iconic experiences. I like mine on the shores of a lake telling stories of summers past.
  48. Shop the farmers market. We are blessed to live in an agricultural paradise. And that’s never more apparent than on a trip to the farmer’s market. Every town has them.
  49. Eat cherries everyday! Well, maybe not that often. But when you live in cherry country why not enjoy it? Benjamin Twiggs has everything Cherry so you can shop to your heart’s content. And if you just want a sweet cherry treat: stop by Reflect Bistro inside the Cambria Suites for a cherry bread pudding that’s to die for!
  50. Party in the street. Wrap up the week with an evening at Friday Night Live in downtown Traverse City. Buy a balloon, enjoy live music, have your face painted. A perfect place to be a kid again…or bring one.
  51. Savor a simple homebaked snack. The smell of warm bread or cookies coming out of the oven is delicious any time of year. If I walk into Pleasanton Bakery I’m walking out with their Parmesan Olive bread and one of the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever tasted. So much yum!
  52. Get out on the water. Hop on a boat or a jet ski and ride out to where the deep water lives, clear and blue green as far as the eyes can see…and dive in! That is pure Michigan bliss.
  53. Eat your fill of fresh sweet corn. Nobody beats Hall’s farm on North Long Lake Road in Traverse City. For a fabulous summer salad try this corn and blueberry salad. It’s great served like a salsa with tortilla chips too. My secret potluck party weapon.
  54. Photograph the everyday moments. It’s not the parties and holidays that spark nostalgia but the details of summer memories past. Capture the special places, people and things in your life. You’ll thank me later.
  55. Play a sport on the lawn. Badmitten, croquet, bocce or new favorites like ring toss and bean bag games make fun family competitions a must-do for summer. For an entertaining contest try shooting ping-pong balls off of golf tees with rubber bands.
  56. Spend a hot day at a cool pool. My kids love the outdoor pool at Waters Edge at Crystal Mountain and can’t wait to try their new ropes course that lies above. Or you could stay and play at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, an indoor waterpark resort.
  57. Explore The Village. Wander the old state hospital grounds inside the Grand Traverse Commons, also known as The Village. Sip wine or cider at Left Foot Charley, pick up some Michigan gear at High Five Threads, or walk the trails that wind all around Traverse City’s version of Central Park.
  58. Watch a movie at an historic theater. Our community is lucky to have several renovated theaters back in action. The State Theatre in Traverse City,  The Garden in Frankfort and the Bijou by the Bay (formerly the Con Foster Museum). Restored classic theatres where the movies are great, and so are the prices.
  59. Eat, drink and shop local. Summer is the absolute best time to enjoy the bounty of northern Michigan and support the businesses that thrive on the extra traffic. So eat at a local hotspot, drink our wines and beers, and buy something that will forever remind you of this summer. The summer you spent enjoying EVERY DAY in this beautiful land of ours.
I’m Brandy from Traverse Traveler, and this is my list. I hope you’ll find something on it to add yours. If you have a favorite that I’ve forgotten, please add it in the comments. I love to discover new ways to enjoy this community. Happy Summer everyone!

Celebrate Autism with Free Events in Traverse City

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

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

April 4: Light up the Lanes at Lucky Jacks  |  4-7 pm

To kick-off Autism Awareness month we’re inviting families of children with autism to a special party at Lucky Jack’s on Garfield Ave where we will “Light it up Blue” in their honor. We’ve planned an evening of fun and games including free bowling, treats, and activities. The eight-lane, private 300 Club at Lucky Jack’s as well as the adjacent party room will be reserved for this special event.

April 14: Film and panel discussion at Bijou by the Bay  |  6 pm

All community members are invited to a free screening of the 2009 documentary, The Horse Boy at the Bijou by the Bay theater. This hit on the film festival circuit chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel to Mongolia hoping to find a nomadic shaman to heal their five-year-old son’s autism. A moderated panel discussion will follow the movie, offering the community a place to ask questions, dispel myths and learn about how autism affects people in the Grand Traverse area.

April 16: ARN monthly speaker  |  6:30 pm

Karin Chandler, founder of Life Solutions for Autism, will speak on developing a childs skills to enable independence at the regular ARN monthly parent support group meeting. Advocating for and Empowering Children with Autism will be presented at Munson Medical Center room 11 (lower level).

April 27: Sensory-friendly film at The State  |  10 am

Sound and light levels will be moderated for this free showing of one of Thomas the Tank Engines feature-length adventures. Children of all ages will enjoy Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue, while parents relax knowing that if they get a little loud, or need to get up and move, it’s OK.

Donating to iPads for Autism

Traverse Traveler remains committed to our mission of raising funds to help children with autism in our local schools. In the last two years we have raised over $25,000 and purchased 47 iPads for TCAPS students with autism as a partner in education. This year we will continue to raise money for ipads through voluntary donations collected at all events.

Walgreens

In addition, we’re thrilled to announce all four Traverse City area Walgreens stores will collect donations for iPads for autism throughout the month of April.

By |2019-12-19T12:54:13-05:00March 28th, 2014|Events, Family Fun, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Ring in the New Year in Traverse City

New Years Eve Traverse City photo

What will you do on New Year’s Eve?

If you’re like me New Year’s Eve sneaks up on you after a long holiday of feasts, friends and family. Sometimes we have a plan, and sometimes we’re making it up as we go along. So for all you last minute planners out there here are a few ways to enjoy New Year’s Eve up north.

The CherryT Ball Drop

If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to be a part of huge crowds chanting a countdown to ring in the new year, then this option is for you (in a much smaller scale of course). Downtown Traverse City is bustling on New Year’s Eve during the CherryT Ball Drop. No that’s not a spelling error. The CherryT stands for Chartity ball, as the event is a fundraiser by design. The entrance fee is a $3 cash donation or 3 canned goods, with proceeds benefiting the Goodwill Food Pantry.

For all the details about this year’s CherryT Ball Drop visit their website.

Family Fun

Looking for a family-friendly way to count down to 2014? How about glow bowling, music, pizza and enough arcade games to keep the kids busy for hours. You’ll find it all at Lucky Jacks from 5:30pm – 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve. If whipping your friends at laser tag or on the pool table sounds better than freezing outside, why let the kids have all the fun? Show up later for the adult party. It lasts from 9pm – 1am.

Hoping to celebrate outdoors, but not interested in the big ball drop crowds? How about donning your skis for a torchlit parade followed by fireworks? That’s what’s in store at Crystal Mountain Resort this year. There’s an ultimate family pirate party the kids will enjoy, or join the Slopeside party for dinner and dancing along with a champagne toast. Party cover varies. Lift ticket or season pass required to participate in the torchlit parade.

Nightclubs

Shimmers on the Bay inside the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort has two times the fun this year. They’ve got two bands: Soul Celebration & Twice Shy, along with DJ Shawny D as the host. Rock in the New Year with party favors, an old-fashioned balloon drop, champagne toast and lots of dancing fun. $15 cover

If you’re a fan of Billy Strings & Don Julin you’ll want to be at InsideOut Gallery for the Swingin’ Stringin’ New Year’s Eve. For a $10 admission you can enjoy the sounds of the True Falsettos and legendary aforementioned duo who will take you clappin’ and toe tappin’ into 2014. There’s a full bar available at the Outre Lounge, or step out for a craft beer and a bite next door at the Workshop Brewing Company.

Michigan Sparking Wine photo

Have a bubbly New Year!

Bring on the Bubbly

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve if there weren’t some corks a poppin’. As always our glasses will be be full of Michigan selections. So we thought we’d share a few local recommendations.

You can’t go wrong with L. Mawby this time of year. They specialize in sparkling wines from dry to sweet. My picks shy away from brut, which is why I opt for Detroit or Wet.

One of my personal favorites is only available seasonally from Black Star Farms. The Bubbly Nouveau tends toward the sweet and pink, which makes it a great choice when going to a party. If you’re lucky to find any left on the shelves by New Year’s Eve pick up a bottle or two. Otherwise log that idea away for next year.

Left Foot Charley is bringing out something special for the holiday. Stop by on New Year’s Eve for a glass of their 2010 Gitali, a brut bubbly. Available by the glass (for a limited time) or by the bottle.

Celebrate by Chateau Chantal is another great sparkling wine option from the Old Mission peninsula. It also makes a nice hostess gift if you’re attending a New Year’s party with friends.

 

New Years appetizer photoTasty Treats

My favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve is at a house party with friends. But you can’t show up empty handed. So I’m going to share a handy holiday recipe that’s sure to please.

Cranberry Brie Bites

You’ll need:

Washed whole fresh cranberries
maple syrup
granulated sugar
cherry preserves (I like Old Mission Traders or Benjamin Twiggs)
brie, rind removed and sliced in 1/4″ thick slices
water table crackers
fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions: Soak the cranberries in maple syrup overnight. Drain and roll cranberries in granulated sugar. Assemble the crackers with a slice of brie, top with small amount of cherry preserves and 2 or 3 sugared cranberries. Add a mint leaf as an edible garnish.

They’re beautiful, and they taste great!

You’ve got your bubbly, a great appetizer, and lots of options for how to spend your New Year’s Eve. So get out there and party like it’s 1999. It may not the be the turn of the century, but I’m looking forward to the turn of the calendar page just the same.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wellington Inn at Christmastime

Antiquities Wellington Inn

Discover the beauty of the Wellington Inn at Christmastime

If you’ve ever wandered down historic 6th Street and Washington in Traverse City and wondered what it would be like to live in those huge Victorian homes then this is for you. The Wellington Inn is opening their doors to the community for the 11th season in a celebration of old fashioned Christmas spirit. I stopped by the Inn this week for a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s to come this weekend and next during their annual Inn at Christmastime extravaganza.

(more…)

By |2019-12-19T13:23:21-05:00December 4th, 2013|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

6 Tips to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Itch

Summer has returned to Northern Michigan. The geese are swimming, the beaches are full, and unfortunately, Swimmer’s itch is popping up on some of our favorite lakes.

We had our first dose of the pesky malady a few years ago, so now I’m prepared when it shows up. But for those who are new the area, Swimmer’s Itch can send you running for dry ground. Before you give up on swimming in our salt-free waters I thought I’d share some handy tips on how to prevent and treat Swimmer’s Itch.

What is Swimmer’s Itch?

If you’re squeamish you may want to gloss over this section as it’s not too pleasant to visualize the source of these scratchy bumps. Swimmer’s Itch is caused by a flatworm parasite. The larvae of the cercaria parasite travel between their water snail host and their intended waterfowl host. When they come in contact with human skin they burrow in and immediately die as we are not hospitable. The raised itchy bump is an immune reaction to each site where a parasite has entered the epidermis. These parasites are not harmful to humans beyond the discomfort of the bumps.

So what can you do to keep from ruining your vacation in northern Michigan with a case of the itch?

6 Tips to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Itch

1. Avoid Busy Beaches – Swimmer’s Itch is most common in highly populated beaches where ducks, especially the merganser duck, and snails are commonly found. Avoiding these swimming areas will decrease your chances of coming in contact with the parasite in the first place. Deeper water and moving water, such as rivers, are also less likely to carry the larvae in search of hosts.

2. Towel Off – Kids are most susceptible to swimmers itch as they tend to spend long amounts of time in shallow water and air dry. Try to towel off aggressively after each swim.

3. Protect Your Skin – Creating a waterproof barrier seems to help prevent the parasites from burrowing into the skin. One way to do that is with Baby Oil. But you’re going to want sunblock to go under that. And kids are squirmy enough putting on one protective layer, much less two. We’ve discovered two brands of sunblock that do the job. Bullfrog gel sunblock works pretty well and is readily available in most stores. But we’ve had the best luck with a Wisconsin product called Swimmer’s Itch Guard. It’s made from natural ingredients, smells and feels a lot like vapor rub, but it works like a dream. This is the best prevention we’ve found. You can find it in a few Traverse City stores, and order it online. It’s pricy, but if your kids plan to spend much time in the water it’s well worth it.

4. Don’t Panic – If you get the dreaded itch don’t panic and swear off swimming for the rest of the season. The bumps will itch for a day or two then they’ll just be red and ugly but not painful. The more sensitive your skin is the more susceptible you are to the parasites. I’ve swam with my kids and never got it when they’ve been covered. So it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Unfortunately, if you’ve had it once, you’re more likely to get it again.

5. Treatment – Applying an antihistamine creme on the spots to help with the itch, or swallowing a dose of Benadryl if it’s really bad, has always helped my family. The bumps will go away in about a week. (The worst part is the fearful look you get from strangers who think you have a raging case of measles.)

6. Don’t Feed the Ducks! – Waterfowl like merganser ducks, Canada geese, swans, and mallards are the hosts of these parasites. The eggs are returned to the water in the duck feces thereby repeating the life cycle. When the ducks are fed at beaches they congregate there thus making those sites especially susceptible to Swimmer’s Itch. On lakes where swimmer’s itch is common, you can expect every common merganser duck is infected and capable of spreading the parasite.

Swimmer’s Itch is a pain, and unfortunately, it seems to be growing in prevalence in Northern Michigan lakes, instead of receding. But I hate to hear mothers swearing to keep their kids out of the lake for the summer because of an early case of the itch. Follow these steps and hopefully, your summer will be filled with splashing and fun instead of itching and scratching.

By |2020-06-23T11:12:19-04:00July 2nd, 2013|Travel Tips, Traverse City|4 Comments

Sony Glasses Provide Access for All at TC’s State Theatre

StateTC-Tom-in-glassesThis week I attended a special demonstration at the Traverse City State Theatre to learn about the Sony Entertainment Access Glasses. These devices provide closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, as well as audio assistive technology for the visually impaired. The State Theatre is considering a purchase and sought input from the public.

Nearly 50 people turned out to test the devices. Annie Campbell from theDisability Network helped organized the event which drew members of the community with a wide range of accessibility challenges, including a large group from the TC West ASL class along with a sign language instructor. (more…)

By |2020-06-23T09:32:11-04:00June 14th, 2013|Adventure, Entertainment, Traverse City|1 Comment

Sony Glasses Provide Access for All at TC's State Theatre

Sony Entertainment Glasses State Theatre TC

Traverse City’s State Theatre seeks to improve the movie-going experience for the visually and hearing impaired

 

This week I attended a special demonstration at the Traverse City State Theatre to learn about the Sony Entertainment Access Glasses. These devices provide closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, as well as audio assistive technology for the visually impaired. The State Theatre is considering a purchase and sought input from the public.

Nearly 50 people turned out to test the devices. Annie Campbell from the Disability Network helped organized the event which drew members of the community with a wide range of accessibility challenges, including a large group from the TC West ASL class along with a sign language instructor.

A representative from Sony brought a few devices for members of the audience to test. The glasses project captions 10 feet in front of the lenses, but are only visible to the wearer. The text can be adjusted for brightness and distance from the lens, and can be worn over other types of eyewear. Since the captions are projected on the lens instead of appearing on the screen, they fill follow when you move your head, and are not a distraction to other audience members.

"This is as close to open captions as you can get," explained Tyler, the Sony representative who came from California to demonstrate the devices.

An audio assistive part of the device is included in the glasses. The headsets aid the visually and hearing impaired with a description of what’s happening on screen in between the dialog. Imagine a narrator reading scene descriptions from a screenplan.

Sony Entertainment Glasses State Theatre Sony Entertainment Glasses State Theatre

Deb Lake from the State Theatre was in the house to get feedback from attendees. "We really want the theater to be accessible to everyone," she said. In fact some assisitive technology is already in place. An induction loop system is available to feed sound directly into cochlear implants in the form of a headset. The theatre previous pursued the MOPIX system and decided not to dedicate their fundraising dollars there after discovering they were somewhat cumbersome and distracting to other theater patrons. The good news nearly $7000 was raised to purchase MOPIX, which could be reallocated to the Sony glasses.

Based on feedback from the attendees the Sony glasses are a good solution. The State Theatre plans to negotiate a price with Sony, who previously had only sold these systems to major multiplexes in larger cities. Just another example of why our little community theatre deserves recogintion as the Best Theatre in America!

 

 

 

By |2013-06-07T08:29:48-04:00June 7th, 2013|Traverse City|0 Comments

Pirate’s Cove Raises Money for Wounded Soldiers

“Putting for Patriots” Event at Pirates Cove Adventure Park in Traverse City

 

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, in Traverse City, Michigan will host the 7th Annual “Putting for Patriots” fundraiser over Memorial Day weekend. This national event will occur simultaneously at 33 Pirate’s Cove, Pirate’s Island and Jungle Golf miniature golf courses throughout the United States.

 

Fundraising efforts began earlier in May and will culminate on Memorial Day weekend to support three charities, which serve our wounded, their families and survivors of the fallen.  These organizations include: “Hope For The Warriors”, “Homes for Our Troops” and “TAPS—Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.”  Pirate’s Cove, Jungle Golf and Pirate’s Island will donate a percentage of their total sales on Saturday May 25th & Sunday, May 26th.  Since its inception, this event has raised over $128,000.

“Memorial Day was specifically founded to remember those who died serving our nation,”
notes Brad Graft, Pirate’s Cove Partner and Regional Director.  “The Pirate’s Cove / Pirate’s Island family thought it appropriate to establish an annual event to serve charities that assist our living veterans and the survivors of fallen military members. These are men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

Pirate’s Cove and Pirate’s Island operate 33 miniature golf courses throughout the United States.  For more information, visit their Web sites at www.piratescove.com, www.piratesislandgolf.com, and www.junglegolfminigolf.com. Additional information on the above charities can be found by accessing their Web sites:  www.hopeforthewarriors.org, www.homesforourtroops.org and www.taps.org.

"Light it up Blue" for Autism Awareness April 2 in Downtown Traverse City

 

Join us as we “Light It Up Blue” a World Autism Awareness Day, family-friendly event in downtown Traverse City on Tuesday, April 2.

Light It Up Blue begins at 6 p.m. April 2 at ECCO, 121 E. Front St., with food and fun activities with a blue theme. Glowing luminaries will be available for purchase for $5, with proceeds to benefit the Traverse City Area Public Schools iPads for Autism program.

Downtown merchants are encouraged to decorate their storefronts in blue in honor of the event. At 7:30 p.m. participants will carry the luminaries along Front Street to the Open Space. At the Open Space, participants will place the blue glowing lanterns in the shape of a puzzle piece, another symbol of autism. The event will be captured on video and an overhead photo with the community will be taken to show Traverse City’s participation in “Light it up Blue.”

Blue luminaries are available for purchase in advance at Old Mission Traders, 215 E. Front St.

If you live in the Traverse City area we encourage you to come down for this fun event. But even if you can’t we encourage everyone to Light it up Blue whereever you are. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wear blue clothing, nail polish even hair paint
  • Turn your porch light blue with a bulb from Home Depot. Special bulbs are for sale with proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks
  • Decorate your door, your yard or your desk in blue or with puzzle pieces, the symbol of Autism

 

World Autism Awareness Day logoLight It Up Blue is a worldwide event in which participants seek to light prominent landmarks blue to help raise awareness of autism, a developmental disorder now estimated to affect one in 50 children. In Michigan, the Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue on April 2. Other prominent buildings have included the Empire State Building in New York City and the CN Tower in Canada.

In Traverse City, Light It Up Blue is organized by the Scavenger Hunt for Autism, a fundraising event set for April 13 that will also benefit TCAPS’ iPads for Autism Program.

“We’re excited to add this prelude event this year to further increase autism awareness,” Scavenger Hunt founder Brandy Wheeler said. “Kids, parents, grandparents and community members of all ages in between are invited to help make the Open Space as blue as the bay.”

For more information on Light it up Blue or the Scavenger Hunt for Autism on April 13 visit www.traversetraveler.com/autism or find us on Facebook.

By |2019-12-19T13:49:09-05:00March 28th, 2013|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Cherry Stop Re-Opens as Old Mission Traders

Old Mission Traders Traverse Traveler cardAfter a month long transition, and a move next-door, the owners of the Cherry Stop have re-opened their business as Old Mission Traders.

The Cherry Stop first moved downtown in 2002 and operated as the only cherry-centric store in Downtown Traverse City. Owners Nick & Jamie Roster purchased the business in 2005 and began updating, remodling and adding new features. They expanded their product lines to include a large selection of local Michigan wines, which prompted the addition of UnCorked, an all-Michigan wine bar.

Over the last few years the Rosters brought much of the production in-house and began to produce homemade fudge, bakery items and experiment with new lines for The Cherry Stop. They added barbeque sauce, mustards and developed natural low-sugar versions of their popular jam. But they were always limited to Cherries.

Traverse City has grown as a foodie town. The Rosters realized there were so many companies they already carried that offered wonderful products beyond cherries. From nut butters to viniagrettes they wanted to do more. And the concept for Old Mission Traders was born.

After the closure of the Uncorked wine bar they had more elbow room than they needed. The opportunity to swap spaces with Momentum arose and it seemed like a perfect fit. Despite the proximity of the move, there was a lot of work to be done to make the new space suit their needs. Floors were refinished, displays were built, and a kitchen had to go in downstairs for all their homemade products.

 

Old Mission Traders Opening

Today Old Mission Traders officially opens their doors to the public, just in time for the Winter Comedy Arts Festival in downtown Traverse City. Inside you’ll find the same friendly staff, and all the products you knew and loved from The Cherry Stop. Soon there will be new products under the Old Mission Traders name including a maple viniagrette and a pear vanilla bean dessert sauce.

Old Mission Traders interiorOld Mission Traders interior

So while you’re laughing it up at the Comedy Fest this weekend stop in and say hi to our friends at Old Mission Traders at 215 E. Front Street, downtown Traverse City. You can also continue to shop online at TheCherryStop.com until the Old Mission Traders website is up and running.

Stay tuned for a grand opening soon when some of the Old Mission Traders products are bottled and ready to be unveiled.

By |2019-12-19T13:52:11-05:00February 15th, 2013|Attractions, Check This Out, Foodie, Traverse City|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Writing a Holiday Gift Guide has become a tradition. I realize scouring the stores in search of the perfect gift isn’t for everyone. So I try to help out this time of year and do a little hunting on your behalf. Secretly I’m also trying to show some support for our local retailers who work so hard to find unique items that rival that of chain stores and online giants. Why buy big box, when you can buy local and boost the economy in our own backyard.

This year I’ve divided my shopping list into the following categories. I hope you’ll find something that’s just right for a friend or loved one.

Goodies for Foodies

All Geeked Out

Girlfriend Gifts

Wine About It

Hostess with the Mostest

For the Kiddos

 

Goodies for Foodies

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Sleeping Bear Raw HoneySleeping Bear Farms Raw Honey | MI Farm Market $12.99
One of my absolute favorite food discoveries this year is this raw honey from Sleeping Bear Farms in Beulah, Michigan. This is natural, uncooked, unfiltered honey. It’s a little cloudy and granular but all the better for it. And it’s full of health benefits from the enzymes, pollen and floral essences the bees leave behind. One of my secret weapons against a cold is a teaspoon of this honey the moment I feel a sore throat coming on. Honey has antibacterial qualities. And who doesn’t love an excuse to eat a spoonful of goodness!

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Cranberry Cherry SauceCranberry Cherry Sauce | The Cherry Stop $7.00
We love our cherry products in Northern Michigan. But sometimes it’s hard to find something new for the cherry lover in the family. Here’s one I discovered on a recent trip to the Cherry Stop. Instead of the traditional cranberry sauce with your turkey this year why not liven it up with cranberry cherry sauce. No need for a recipe, the folks at The Cherry Stop have mixed up a batch with just the right blend.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Fustinis MinisCookbook Samplers | Fustini’s $49.00
Anyone who has seen my kitchen counter knows how much I love Fustini’s. And I’ve given their oil & vinegar combinations as gifts in the past. So what’s new this year? They have a brand new cookbook, “How Fustini’s Do Fustini’s,” a compilation of recipes from Fustini’s employees and customers. And for the holidays they’ve paired it with 4 mini bottles of oils & vinegars in flavor combos that work with the book. Choose from 4 sampler packages and try something new this season.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Gallery Fifty tongsHandmade Wooden Tongs | Gallery 50 $15.00 and $19.00
Why not have a little fine art in the kitchen? Stop by Gallery 50 in The Village Mercato and choose from a selection of handmade wooden tongs. Constructed from beautiful materials like zebrawood and rosewood, and available in large or small sizes, these handmade tongs are as stylish as they are functional. Great gift idea for men and women, for the chef or the casual cook.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Sleeping Bear Farms mustardSleeping Bear Farms Pepper Honey Mustard | MI Farm Market $4.99
Mustard is probably my favorite condiment, next to homemade salsa. So it’s nice to find a fun new alternative to the store bought standbys. This Pepper Honey Mustard has a great kick from real chili peppers. And of course it includes some Sleeping Bear Farms star thistle honey. Great for spreading on sandwiches, as a dip for pretzels or as a glaze on fish or meats headed for the grill.

 


All Geeked Out

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Rocker iPhone caseRocker iPhone Case | The Pod Drop $19.00
Cases for the iPhone 5 are somewhat hard to find since they’re still new on the market. But The Pod Drop has you covered. Stop by their location in Campus Plaza next to Jimmy Johns and check out the line of Rocker cases. The silicone skin pairs with a hard body case (sold separately), and comes in dozens of colors and patterns, which make these cases completely customizable. And at $8.99 for the skin, and $9.99 for the cover, they’re priced right for stocking stuffers too.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Nest knit glovesSmartphone Gloves | Nest $27.00
As you can imagine, I’m on my iPhone all the time, especially when I’m out and about town. Now that winter is here I’m constantly removing my gloves so I can answer a call, scroll through messages on Twitter or snap a photo on Instagram. I’ve tried other versions of smartphone gloves with little luck…and they weren’t very cute either. That’s why I love these knit gloves I found at Nest. Cute and functional.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 FRUITstand FRUITstand | CityMac $10.00
Here’s a cool local product for the tech geek. FRUITstand is a simple plastic-coated stand to hold a variety of eDevices, or iDevices if you prefer. It’s small, lightweight, and best of all it’s made by a Traverse City company, PDM Industries. I discovered the FRUITstand on a recent trip into CityMac. They’re available in a variety of fresh colors. Whether you’re looking for a landing spot for your Kindle, or a charging station for you iPhone or iPad, this little stand will do the trick. And at that price if you take it on vacation and forget it you won’t sweat the replacement cost. Now if you forget your device…that’s another story.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Paper RobotsPiperoid Paper Pipe Robots | Cool Stuff Express $15.95
For the kid, or the kid at heart, there’s a big trend in paper art and origami. These cool creations are made from printed and punched paper pipes that are folded into crazy robots. Does your cubicle need a little comic entertainment? If you thought origami was too girly, this might change your mind.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Q-Man magnetsMini Q-Man & Q-Ant Magnets | Cool Stuff Express $3.97 — $6.95
Trying to find something for that hard-to-buy-for teen in your family? Guys, gals and geeks will love these bendable, flexible, colorful magnet men and giant ants. The powerful magnets stick to each other or metal surfaces allowing for connectable, collectable fun. They’re also strong enough to support 14 sheets of paper! Hang ’em in a locker, file cabinet or on the fridge. Image courtesy of Cool Stuff Express

 


Girlfriend Gifts

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Becky Thatcher Designs necklaceStarry Night Necklace | Becky Thatcher Designs starting at $275.00
I love a classic necklace that can dress up an outfit, or be worn with a casual sweater and jeans. That’s what drew me to this beautiful jewelry from Becky Thatcher Designs in Traverse City. Made from black spinel and freshwater pearls in a variety of shades from white to gray this necklace would be a lovely addition to anyone’s jewelry collection. And the matching earrings start at $65. Perfect.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Return of Sexy eyeshadowReturn of Sexy Eyeshadow Collection | Venus $48.00
Ladies who love a little drama will be drawn to this wet/dry eyeshadow collection from Too Faced. There are three color collections, 15 shadows full of sparkle and dimension, a waterproof black liner and eyeshadow insurance (a primer for your eyelids). That’s bringin’ sexy back.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Book of the MonthSurprise Book of the Month | Brilliant Books $66.00 – $295.00
This is a brilliant idea from Brilliant Books. If you have a literary fan who is always searching for a new read, consider giving them a new title every month. Each subscription is unique because the book selections are based on the reader’s preferences in genre, author, likes and dislikes. You can give a year of hardcover books ($295) or paperback ($185) or choose 6-month or 4-month options for as little as $66. In the six years since they started the program they’ve only had three books come back for exchange — and two were because the recipient already read and loved the selection.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 felted hatsFelted Wool Hats by Hatty Matty | Lilies of the Alley $24.95 — $64.95
A handmade hat is a statement of style. And in northern Michigan it’s practically a necessity. I love these beautiful hats from Hatty Matty, aka Cindy Hardy the owner of Lilies of the Alley. These felted wool hats come in all sorts of styles and colors. And there are sizes for kids as well as adults with a range in prices for each. In case you’ve never been, Lilies of the Alley is tucked in the alley behind Brew and Brilliant Books in downtown Traverse City.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Butter lips and tipsLips & Tips | Venus $25.00
This cute combo comes from the folks at Butter, a London brand know for their fashion-forward colors. The nail polish and lip gloss from Butter is vegan-friendly, making this a great gift for the animal lover too. Venus carries a full line of Butter nail polish selections, but I especially loved some of their holiday line which is full of sparkle for the glam affect. Every girlfriend needs a little glitter, right?

 



Wine About It

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Gallery 50 corkscrew2-in-1 Corkscrew & Bottle Stopper | Gallery 50 $35.00
Need a classy gift for your boss? Are you going to a holiday party and looking for something for the hostess who has everything? Choose from a selection of hand-turned wooden bottle stoppers. Twist the handle and you’ll revel the corkscrew hidden inside. I’m loving the green ones, made from box elder wood.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 wine stackerStack wine bottle storage | Cool Stuff Express $9.95
This clever little black silicone wine bottle is the secret to storing your wine in a stack on the counter just like you’re supposed to… horizontally. Simply separate the bottle into two halves and position on either side of your wine bottles along a shelf or counter. The silicone grips to smooth surfaces and acts like bookends for your wine. Image courtesy of Cool Stuff Express

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 cork purseCork Purses | Gallery 50 $45.00 – $78.00
I am crazy for corks. In fact, I’ve created a whole Pinterest board dedicated to cork crafts. But I have yet to see another cork craft like this. Artist Jean Ackerman from Kingsley, Michigan is creating cork purses, many of which are decorated with corks from Michigan wineries. If you’re looking for a unique gift for a Michigan wine lover I think we’ve got you covered.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 wine canteensSport Wine Canteen | Black Star Farms $26.50
Backpackers and beach goers will love this new canteen available in Rouge (red) and Blanc (green). If you’ve ever wanted to bring a bottle of wine to the park, on the boat or on a picnic, but worried about the glass bottle this is the perfect solution. These eco-friendly metal containers will fit a full bottle of wine! Take your vino to go, and no one will know. Comes in a variety of colors. Available at TASTES of Black Star Farms in The Village.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Forty-Five North RoseRosé of Cabernet Franc | Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery $26.00
With hundreds of Michigan wines to choose from, it’s tough to narrow it down to one. So this is one of many that make up my list of favorites. The Rosé of Cabernet Franc from Forty-Five North is a great choice for holiday gifting because it suits so many palattes. I drink mosty whites, and lean toward the sweet, but this wine I love. My husband loves a good red, and he too was drawn to this rosé. Notes from the winemaker alude to big aromas of cherry and raspberry, a creamy mouth feel and noticeable tannins. This wine is great to give as well as receive. Image courtesy of Forty-Five North

 



Hostess with the Mostest

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 soy votive candleSoy Votive Candles | Red Ostrich $6.95
Looking for the hot seller this season? Search no further than these little beauties from Red Ostrich. Forget the tequila, pick up a double shot of soy. Soy candles that is. They carry 25 scents including the popular orange vanilla, black pepper and holiday spice. These tiny 2 oz. candles are an eco-friendly gift that everyone can enjoy. They burn clean and smell wonderful and are Made in the USA. Image courtesy of Red Ostrich

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Paper Blanks journalsPaper Blanks | Premier Floral $17.00 – $29.00
It’s so much nicer to keep a journal when the process of holding and opening it are a pleasure. This collection of lined and unlined journals from Paper Blanks are really beautiful. I love the texture of the covers, and they have a lovely metal latch closure that harkens back to locked diaries and forbidden secrets. With traditional patterns these designs would also be suitable for man who loves to write or draw, or for use as a cottage guest book.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 turtle dove soapsTurtle Doves Soaps | Venus $32.00
Your friends will feel so special when presented with this pretty package dressed in silver moire. Open it up and discover two turtle doves made of silky soap scented with tulip and hyacinth, resting in a porcelain bowl. It’s elegant enough for your mother-in-law to put next to the towels in the guest bath or thoughtful enough for your dearest friend.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 dog pillowDog Pillows | Premier Floral $25.00
If your friend is a dog lover they’ll fall for these colorful and cozy pillows inspired by their four-legged friends. The moment I saw the Boston Tea Terrier I thought of my best friend who grew up with the bug-eyed little cuties. There are several designs to choose from including Eager Beagle and Black Lab Summer Cottages.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 twig pencilsTwig Pencils | Gallery 50 $7.50 or $9.50
If your host is a letter writer, or they love the lodge look, these pencils will be a handy addition to their desk. If not, they’ll look great in a cup next to the phone at the cottage. Either way, these fat twig pencils, available in traditional or colored varieties, make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer for the kids. Need to get to the point? Simply carve with a knife to sharpen the tip.

 



For the Kiddos

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 magnetic boardMagnetic Boards | Sweet Pea $14.95 / $22.95
Room decor is tough when the kids interests change every year. So why not keep it flexible and give them a magnetic board that looks great and can be decorated with the recipient in mind. These scalloped-edged metal squares are available in 12″ x 12″ or 18″ x 18″ sizes in several colors. This company sells a huge variety of magnet designs to completely customize the board. From alphabet letters to animals to holidays and more.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Gamago PhoneyGamaGo Phoney | Cool Stuff Express $4.95
The latest trend coming from Japan are these cute little animals to decorate your tween’s phone. They plug into the headphone jack, which means they’ll fit nearly any style smartphone, tablet or MP3 player. “A friend for your phone,” they say. Kids will love to collect these little plastic pets and customize their tech gadgets.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 kids booksChildren’s Books | Brilliant Books $15.99 – $16.99
I stopped in to Brilliant Books to get a few recommendations for new titles the kids might like. Extra Yarn, The Cloud Spinner and This is Not My Hat would be great books for children 4-9 years old. They have colorful illustrations and stories that help children appreciate the value of Things. For more recommendations visit Brilliant Books and ask for Heather or Jack.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 kids candyCrazy Candy | Cool Stuff Express prices vary
Kids always love what’s gooey, gross and flavored in unexpected ways. Cool Stuff Express on Union Street in Traverse City has a huge collection of all of the above. Some of this year’s most popular trends include anything with mustaches or bacon, tongue tattoos, flavored lipbalm and mints. And for the boys and girls who were less than cheery this holiday season: the classic gummy candy coal.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Elf on the ShelfElf on the Shelf | Toy Harbor $31.00
If you’re looking for a fun and engaging activity book to share with your children or grandchildren during the holiday season pick up an Elf on the Shelf. The book comes with an elf (boy or girl elf options now available) and a story book explaining how Santa sends scout elves out each Christmas to report on chilldren’s behavior. Once opened the children can name and register the elf at elfonashelf.com. Thanks to Christmas magic the elf travels each night to see Santa, and reappears in your home in a different location. My kids love finding out what our elf, Scuttle, has been up to while we were sleeping.

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my collection of Holiday shopping ideas. You can find all of these items in northern Michigan stores, and many are available on their respective websites as well. Please spend some of your time and money this season supporting our local economy. Your gifts will be more unique, and your money will stay in the community.

 

Happy Holidays from Traverse Traveler!