Camping in Michigan, An “In-tents” Adventure

June is National Camping Month! Today, our featured blogger from the Awesome Mitten shares her list of must-visit Michigan camping destinations to help you plan for an “in-tents” adventure.

photo3There’s no better way to explore Michigan than by camping. Whether you’re a seasoned backcountry backpacker or feel more comfortable in an RV, there are an endless amount of camping locations across the Great Lakes state. Every year my sister and I plan out our must-visit camping locations, and it’s a struggle to narrow our list down. While we like to camp year-round, there are a few places we can’t skip during the summer months. It was difficult, but I’ve rounded up my top three favorite camping spots in Michigan.

Disclaimer: southern Michigan is seriously underrepresented in my list. Do you have any suggestions for SMI camping locations?

1. Hiawatha National Forest – Grand Marais

photo1Hiking, kayaking, boating: oh MI! There are so many ways to explore the staggering cliffs, sandy beaches and turquoise shores of Lake Superior along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There are quite a few beautiful and rustic campgrounds in the Hiawatha National Forest that provide quick access to the lakeshore. Sites are first come, first serve, so make sure to get to the site early in the day. If rustic camping isn’t your thing, you can stay at one of the modern campgrounds in Grand Marais. Once you’ve set up your nylon home-away-from home, I recommend hiking the Chapel Falls trail to Chapel Rock and beach or taking a guided kayak tour along the shoreline.

2. D.H. Day Campground- Sleeping Bear

Tucked away from Glen Arbor but close to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, D.H. Day is the perfect place to camp when exploring the Northern Lower Peninsula. Some of the sites are a little close to each other, but this rustic campground is relatively quiet. The campground offers easy access to Lake Michigan and is close to Sleeping Bear Trails. After you’ve explored the trails and conquered the Dune Climb, swap your hiking shoes for a kayak and paddle down the Crystal River.

photo23. Exploring the Wild Wild West (UP) – The Porcupine Mountains

With 60,000 acres of wilderness area, the Porcupine Mountains are an awesome place to explore yearround. Visitors can hike into several campsites throughout the park (hike lengths vary), and some drive-up campsites are also available. Or, skip the tent altogether and reserve a cabin or YURT! All of my yurt-camping dreams came true a few winters ago, and I’m sure they are as equally cool in the summer. There are tons of different hiking and mountain biking trails to explore throughout the park, it’s hard to choose which area(s) to explore. Definitely visit Lake of the Clouds!

This summer I’ll be visiting (and camping in) Leland, South Manitou, and Ludington for the first time. I can’t wait to camp and explore each area. Do you have any activity recommendations for the areas?

What’s your favorite camping destination? What should I add to my list? Most importantly, what’s your favorite s’mores recipe?

photo1 (1)Jessica Holli is an associate editor for the Awesome Mitten. She has lived in, and loves, both parts of America’s High Five. This Michigan State University alumna is obsessed with the Great Lakes, the color red, and spending as much time as possible outside. When she is not working she’s exercising in Michigan’s natural playground or planning her next adventure.

Four Important Pieces of a Long Weekend in Michigan

The Memorial Day fun kicks off this weekend! With boating, beaches and cookouts galore, there are endless opportunities to unwind in Pure Michigan. Today, our guest blogger from The Awesome Mitten shares his four most important pieces of a long weekend in Michigan!

Being the Car State, Michigan is true to its name beyond being the home of the Big Three. Our state is huge! It takes two more hours to drive from Detroit to Ironwood than from Detroit to New York City. I know you might be asking, “Who wants to drive to Ironwood?” (I do!) Perhaps you just want a casual weekend getaway north, or maybe you’re driving to your parents’ house for the weekend–it’s still probably three to six hours. Those holiday weekends that add an extra day of vacation time sure come in handy; to prepare yourself for such a weekend, we’ve come up with a list of necessities that you shouldn’t leave home without!

Grand Traverse Bay - Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Grand Traverse Bay – Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

1) Layers of clothes for persistent changes in weather. You’re likely to be sweating, shivering, and almost-but-not-quite comfortable throughout the whole weekend. I like to head to Moosejaw in Detroit and find gear that prepares me for all the climates; a few years back, I learned this lesson when it was thirty-five degrees in Traverse City in the morning and I left for my day adventure all bundled up. I went to Sleeping Bear Dunes for the climb, but failed to wear removable layers. Halfway to Lake Michigan, I looked like a wrestler preparing for the Big Fight in my sweatshirt; sweating and tired, I gave up. Now I leave for my many Michigan adventures with rain gear, sun gear, swim gear, and anything-can-happen gear!

2) A beach towel because you’ll inevitably end up with wet, sandy feet. Since you’re never more than six miles from water in Michigan (according to my fourth grade teacher in Ludington), you should always have a towel with you. Buy one from your hometown! It’s a fun way to show hometown pride–you’ll probably find that the folks in the cabin next door actually live ten miles from you. I use my mom’s towel from high school and receive a lot of shout-outs when people see “Mona Shores Sailors”–they’re mostly about the championship hockey team, but I love being able to make a connection and share a story with other Michigan adventurers.

UHF111

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

3) A very large cooler (and perhaps a companion picnic basket) that can fit Michigan craft beer and wine, the makings for sandwiches, and fruits and veggies from the many roadside stands that dot the state. This way you can picnic among the state’s many natural gems. Make a point to drive down unfamiliar roads and find some of the lesser known treasures we’re lucky to have in our state. Being from Ludington, I know there are a ton on any road. But I can’t tell you where they are–local’s honor. A must-stop is Forty-Five North Winery on Leelanau Peninsula, which is just off of CR-204 smack in the middle of the peninsula. Adventures abound from I-94 to US-2!

4) Tunes! Whether planning to drive all over or lounge on the beach from 11:00am to 11:00pm, you need music. Greetings from Michigan by Sufjan Stevens is perfect for when the windows are down, the sun is shining through prongs of white pines, and the roads curve around lakes and hills. Take time before you head out to make a Michigan-centric playlist–you may, and should, find music you didn’t know was about Michigan. “America” by Simon and Garfunkel is a good place to start your Michigan musical journey.

JonathonArntson.Spring.HeadshotJonathon Arntson grew up in Ludington where he spent most of his summers at the beach or napping afterward to the lingering rhythm of the waves. He moved to Detroit in September of 2013 to join the Urban Studies program at Wayne State University. He is an adventurer with an affinity for the streets of Detroit Some of his favorite things about the Mitten are Jeffrey Eugenides, Tigers baseball, Michigan brews, UpNorth, and, of course, the beaches of the Great Lakes.

Five Ways to Celebrate Michigan Craft Beer

To keep the momentum from National Beer Day going (or in case you weren’t able to enjoy a Michigan craft brew yesterday), here are five ways to celebrate Michigan craft beer from The Awesome Mitten.

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

1. Visit a brewery: Ever wonder how the magical process of brewing works? Give your local brewery a call to see if they offer tours of their facilities so you can take in all the glory that is Michigan craft beer. As you wander the rows of huge fermenters, mash tuns and other crazy contraptions, your guide will educate you on how each part works to put beer into your glass. They’ll show you the process of combining water, barley, malts, hops, and yeast into that euphoric substance that makes every happy hour truly amazing.

2. Take it to the beach: One staple for every Michigander’s summer is Bell’s Oberon, enjoyed on a sandy beach someplace along the Great Lakes State’s coast. Nothing compliments the soft sand between your toes like a couple of Oberons, some golden rays, and a cool breeze. Across the state, at any liquor store you decide to poke your head in, you’ll find a six-pack of this summer nectar gazing back at you, kooky sun and all. With the addition of Bell’s providing Oberon in a 16-ounce can for the first time, you can ditch the solo cup and sport your craft beer pride this summer. While others across the country will flock to crowded, salty waters, us Michiganders are lucky to cherish our secluded, freshwater beaches with Oberon in hand.

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

3. Attend a Michigan Brewers Guild beer festival: While all beer festivals are a wonderful thing, there’s nothing like the festivals put on by the Michigan Brewers Guild. Ranging in location from Detroit to Marquette to Grand Rapids and bringing over 60 breweries from all across the state, the Guild festivals tend to make grown adults act like children in candy stores. Upon entry, you’ll be handed a golden cup to beerdom, the holy grail of Michigan craft beer lists, and a map. As you meander around beer heaven, sampling beers that are brewed only once, this is also an amazing opportunity to discover those indie-breweries looking to make a name for themselves. Some define day-drinking by overindulging themselves with a light-tasteless substance but, in Michigan, we day-drink ample amounts of craft beer while wearing pretzels around our necks.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Michael

Photo courtesy of Lauren Michael

4. Get to Comerica: What’s a more American combination than beer and baseball? Maybe apple pie with American cheese melted on top, but I think a Founders sounds way better. This summer, when you’re walking through the gates of Comerica Park in downtown Detroit, make your way to right field where you can find Michigan craft beer bliss. What could be more satisfying then watching Miggy crank home runs your way with a Two Hearted in hand? What about lasting nine innings with an All-Day IPA clinched between your fingers, as Verlander throws another no-hitter? Sounds like the perfect outing in the Motor City.

5. Attend a Beer Pairing: Brewers are masters of their craft, spending diligent hours perfecting the science that is brewing. Chefs work endlessly to provide dish after dish to anxiously-awaiting costumers. When these two gurus combine forces, it’s a night to remember. A three-course meal that combines food and craft beer in perfect harmony is a perfect night to spend with a friend or significant other. As you take your tastebuds on this foodie quest, note the little things, like how your spicy curry dish was paired with an IPA to give your mouth some relief or how that brown ale helped you savor the smokiness of that tenderloin. This will make you a hero at barbeques this season; pairing up pale ales with burgers and ribs will get you invited to everyone’s summer grillout.

Did you celebrate National Beer Day yesterday? What did you do? 

Bio PicA dexterous Detroiter. Born again Yooper. All around Michigander. Chaz is a Libra that enjoys nature hikes, dancing to techno, Michigan Craft Beer, digging through vinyl, pizza, tattoos, urban exploration, long walks on the beach, bike rides and blue eyes. You can reach Chaz on Twitter and Instagram at @BrewChaz.