5 Pure Michigan Locations Perfect for a Postcard

Do you love to capture that picture perfect moment? Every day, our fans share incredible photos from around the state, showing just a small piece of all of the natural beauty Pure Michigan has to offer. As we continue to celebrate spring, guest blogger Shalee Blackmer from The Awesome Mitten shares her five favorite places to photograph in Pure Michigan. 

My favorite adventure is one with great photo opportunities. Lucky for us, Michigan is filled with natural wonders, killer sunsets and beautiful lighthouses creating endless opportunities for photo-ops. The start of Michigan’s most photogenic season is upon us, which means it’s time to break out the phones, cameras and GoPros to capture another amazing summer of memories. There are many postcard-worthy photo spots around the state—but here are just a few to start your summer list.

image1. Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington

Located about five miles north of downtown is one of my favorite places in Michigan, Ludington State Park. After a hike of about 1.8 miles, you will come upon the massive lighthouse that is delicately nestled into sand dunes. With no cars, light crowds, calm waves, and pure beauty, this one place sums up why Michigan is the best place in the world.

Photo tip: Getting far away from the building and up on a sand dune is the best way to capture the moment. Hike north of the beach about 500 feet and take a landscape shot with the lighthouse sitting in the far left of the frame. You will also never regret going for a sunset.

2. Porcupine Mountains, Upper Peninsula

I’m a mountain and hiking girl at heart, which means the Porcupine Mountains are my Michigan heaven. Although it can be quite the journey for much of the state, the Porkies are beyond worth the trek. Fall is absolutely stunning and it reminds me how lucky I am to live in such an enchanting state. We sure have the lakes, but the mountains are just as wondrous.

Photo tip: Summer and fall are the best times for the photo journey. Find cliff lookouts and mountain peaks to take clean shots without other objects interfering. Think of unique subjects for the photos; hiking shoes, wildlife, a tent etc. Tell a story with the photo to bring others along on the journey.

image (2)3. Turnip Rock, Port Austin

At the tip of “The Thumb” is a rocky shoreline and natural landmark known around the world as Turnip Rock. It requires a three-mile kayak journey from downtown Port Austin and is best to do on a calm day. Saying the trip was a blast is a complete understatement. The area is absolutely unbelievable.

Photo tip: Jump out of the kayak and wade in knee-deep water to capture the perfect shot. Shooting from a low point will capture the rock and the trees on top in one frame. Try your best to make sure nothing else is in the shot or background (even other people).

4. A Michigan beach sunset, Everywhere

image (1)Sunsets are a Michigan selling point and my all-time favorite thing to watch. My best locations for shooting are Caseville, Manistee, Beaver Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes. I think we all can agree when I say a Michigan sunset is the best medicine from reality.

Photo tip: It is important to know that clouds are good. A sunset with clear skies will have no uniqueness. Clouds will give the photo character and the best colors usually come after the sun has set, so don’t give up too early. Shoot from creative angles with creative subjects. A footprint in the sand or your sunglasses on the beach can create a story rather than a photo.

5. Tulip Time Festival, Holland

image (3)Hollands Tulip Time Festival is an annual tradition that takes place every spring. Thousands of tulips bloom and make the fields dance with colors, life and beauty. A windmill placed amongst the tulips makes visitors feel as if they have been transported to a fairytale from the Renaissance era.

Photo tip: Get low. A picture from close to the ground will capture the entire windmill and numerous shades of tulips. Make sure the windmill is not in the center and instead place it on either side of the frame. When editing, don’t over-saturate and make the colors overwhelm the picture.

A fancy camera is not needed to capture some of the best moments. At the end, you can create a calendar to reminisce about all the fun you had down the road. Most importantly, have a blast. Create a road trip or getaway with family or friends.

Gear up! Summer is on its way and there is a lot of exploring to do!

image (4) (2)Shalee Blackmer is a 21 year old college student who grew up in the small town of Mecosta. She currently attends Michigan State University as an Advertising student and spends her time exploring the outdoors. Her hobbies include running her own travel blog, which aims to inspire college-age students to see explore on a budget and taking photos to share her story. She enjoys camping, road trips, hiking and cliff jumping and enjoying Pure Michigan beauty.

 

Michigan’s Oldest Irish Pub and Other Ways To Embrace the Emerald Isle

It’s time once again to put on your favorite green attire, cook up some corned beef and cabbage and embrace your inner Irish spirit! Our friends at the Awesome Mitten gathered up some ways that Michiganders are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day across the state. 

Though Michigan may be thousands of miles away from Ireland, the Mitten State knows how to embrace the spirit of the Emerald Isle. From parades and pub crawls, to beer-filled 5K’s, to visiting what is speculated as “Michigan’s Oldest Irish Pub,” there is a way to celebrate this lucky day in every region of the Great Lakes State.

Irish Pubs and Eateries

The Murphy – St. Clair
It is nearly impossible to say which Irish Pub in Michigan is the very oldest, but The Murphy is a strong contender. It was originally built to be a boarding house in 1836, however, is now a quaint inn with a sneaky, wild Irish Pub downstairs. There are seven guest rooms with private baths available; the perfect place to rest your head if festivities get out of hand downstairs. If you are in Southeast Michigan for the holiday, stop by The Murphy for a traditional Irish beverage and a historical tour of the inn. Staff swear that the dwelling is haunted, so be sure to ask for their best stories.

Photo via The Daily Meal.

Photo via The Daily Meal.

Fenian’s – Conklin
Fenian’s is widely considered the one of the best Irish pubs in Michigan, and for good reason. In fact, it was named to The Daily Meal’s list of 18 Most Authentic Irish Pubs in America.  After the town’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, everyone ends up here (free of charge) for live Celtic music, food, and of course, plenty of drink.

Metro Detroit
Detroit may not have a green river, but there are countless ways to fuel up at one of Metro Detroit’s Irish pubs and eateries. Here are just a few to get you started.

Old Shillelagh, Detroit
- Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub, Detroit
- The Blarney Stone Pub, Berkley
- Dick O’Dows Irish Pub, Birmingham
- Rosie O’Grady’s, Ferndale
- Sean O’Callaghan’s, Plymouth
- O’Connor’s Public House, Rochester
- O’Tooles, Royal Oak

Parades and Parties

Photo courtesy of Katy Batdorff Photography

Photo courtesy of Katy Batdorff Photography

Many places got the party started this past weekend with parades, festivals and other gatherings. But the fun doesn’t end on March 17th! There are events planned throughout the entire month of March. Check out michigan.org to see how other Michigan cities celebrate the day.

Irish on Ionia – Grand Rapids
This  event is for the hearty and the rowdy. Festivities got going on Ionia Street as early as 7am on Saturday, March 14th and continued deep into the night. 2015 marked the 5th annual event of Irish on Ionia. DJs and live music entertained the crowds all day, while many participating restaurants served up their favorite Irish concoctions.  Check out this photo gallery from the event to get you geared up for the holiday tomorrow!

Leapin’ Leprechaun 5K and Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – Traverse City
Runners rose early on Saturday, March 14th and donned their greenest running attire. The Leapin’ Leprechaun 5K mixed a morning workout with free beer, live entertainment and a smashing post-race party at the Inside Out Gallery.  The State Street Grill welcomed parade-goers before and after the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade presented by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians.

St. Patrick’s Day Party – Bessemer
As Michiganders know, the snow we accumulate throughout the winter lingers far into March. St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to get some spring skiing in. Big Powderhorn Mountain in the Western Upper Peninsula is featuring a tremendous St. Patrick’s Day party at Caribou Lodge with live music being played all day. Leprechaun costumes are encouraged and the Irish beverages will be abundant.

Krazy Daze at Boyne Highlands

Krazy Daze at Boyne Highlands

Krazy Daze – Boyne Highlands
While Krazy Daze takes place after St. Patrick’s Day (March 20th-21st), it’s the perfect opportunity to keep the festivities going with green costumes and games galore. Whether you’re a face-painted kid taking a pass at the Silly Slalom, or a kid at heart warming up for the Ski Over the Pond competition at a tailgate party, you’ll find fun and laughter to keep you smiling all weekend long.

For Michiganders, St. Patrick’s Day is another sign that spring is near. So bundle up, raise your glass, celebrate the end of the bitter cold, and salute the hearty Irish at one of the hundreds of events Michigan has to offer.

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? 

pmphotoJennifer Hamilton has lived in various cities around the great state of Michigan and presently resides in Traverse City. When not drinking, examining, and researching the great craft beers offered in this region, Jennifer can be found trying to balance her marathon training schedule, day job, MSW course load, and three rambunctious dogs

Four Pure Michigan Ways to Spoil Yourself For Singles Appreciation Day

Now’s your chance to spoil yourself! Our friends at The Awesome Mitten share four fun and delicious ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day’s counterpart –  Singles Appreciation Day.

Being single doesn’t mean you have to stay home on February 14th – Valentine’s Day can and should be celebrated by singles!

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick's Fudge

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick’s Fudge

Michigan provides many opportunities to enjoy single life. Of course, there are many Michigan winter outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or ice fishing to occupy your time. If that’s your thing gather up your group of girlfriends or buddies, bundle yourself up and spend your day in the brisk Michigan winter. I am not what you would call “outdoorsy,” but I still can get a mad case of cabin fever and mid-February is often when that reaches its peak.  If you prefer the indoors, Michigan provides just as many opportunities to treat yourself.

Spoil Yourself with Michigan Chocolates
If you are going to stay in, invite your friends over and treat yourselves to some classic Valentine’s Day Michigan chocolates. My personal favorite is Jackson’s Gilbert’s Chocolates  (mmm I could really go for some chocolate covered potato chips right now.)

The Chocolate Garden is another Michigan favorite that beckons travelers along I-94. With billboards featuring accolades from the likes of the Food Network, I had to stop. When I tasted those delicious truffles, I was amazed at the quality of this seemingly roadside attraction (They sell online too!)

Another popular Valentine activity is to drown our single sorrows in some Mackinaw Island Fudge Ice Cream.  Make it a true Michigan sundae with a little Sander’s Hot Fudge on your Hudsonville Ice Cream.

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Chocolate also pairs well with Michigan wine! Mindo Chocolate does wine pairing events including wine festivals which is where I first tasted these delicious dark specialties, including a few varieties with Michigan fruit. They do not have a storefront, but they are distributed in great little shops around Michigan. I know in my neighborhood they are available at Lone Oak Vineyard Estate.  Speaking of alcohol…

Go Out for a Drink…
Choose your favorite Michigan wine or beer, of course! A tour on a Michigan wine or beer trail is just what a group of single girls or guys needs to have a good time this Valentine’s Day.

I’ve taken several tours along the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail both with friends and with family. Pro Tip: pack some bread and cheese or stop at your local farmers market on the way and snack between stops. It’s a great way to soak up some alcohol and make your trip a little more delicious. Weaving your way from Adrian in the south to Haslett in the North is at least a two day activity in order to hit them all, but my personal favorites are Sandhill Crane Vineyards and J. Trees Cellars.

I just went on a mini beer tour in Grand Rapids a few weeks ago with a stop at Brewery Vivant and Arcadia. Of course, Founders is usually a requisite stop for me. Near my home, I’ve also made a mini tour right along I-94 with Dark Horse, Grand River and Chelsea Alehouse.

Sandhill Crane - Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Sandhill Crane – Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Eat Your Way through Michigan
Although restaurants maybe booked up for dinner, that doesn’t mean a nice singles awareness lunch tour couldn’t satisfy a friends’ trip. Most of my favorites are around my hometown of Jackson, including a few award winning Jackson restaurants  including Michigan’s Best Barbeque at West Texas BBQ.

Work Off the Food with a Dance Party
Since I’m not the outdoorsy type, I have to find some way to work off all of that chocolate, beer, wine and food. There are many great Michigan nightlife hotspots to choose from all over the state. If shaking your booty on the dance floor isn’t your thing, there is always an evening at the casinos or another of my personal favorites, karaoke!

Whether single or taken, we love our fans! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Headshot 1 originalRebecca Calkins is the Communications Director for Experience Jackson. She grew up in Jackson and returned after attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. When not working, Rebecca enjoys cooking and traveling, always looking for the next culinary or cultural adventure.