7 Reasons to be Thankful for Michigan

Today, guest blogger Joanna Dueweke of the Awesome Mitten brings us 7 reasons to be thankful for the state of Michigan.

With winter just around the corner, November is the perfect time to reflect on just what it is about Michigan that is so grand. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for what we have, and we have so much to be thankful for in this dynamic state.

Seasons – Depending on who you’re talking to (namely the staunch summer or winter lovers), the changing of the seasons is one of the most magical aspects of living in the Mitten. We have so much opportunity to diversify in hobbies, wardrobes, moods, and scenery with the passing of the each season. No one can deny that when the heat of an Indian Summer gives way to a crisp fall wind that there isn’t some sense of relief. Similarly, we all jump the gun to break out our flip flops and shorts on the first day the weather returns to the high 50s, knowing full well it could still snow the following week.

Seasons_Collage

Michigan’s four seasons, PC: Instagrammers dweidnerphoto, bechased1122, catchupandrelish & jfongtorres

Variety - Just like Goldilocks, Michiganders are privileged to be able to find a town that is just right for them. We have them in all sizes; from the booming large metropolises to those dainty and quaint villages, there’s a city for everyone in the Mitten. That variety lends itself to so many aspects of the state, right down to the diversity of people. We have a conglomeration of beliefs, backgrounds and passions that come together to create a community dedicated to taking care our home.

Water – You can’t drive for more than 20 minutes anywhere in the state without running into a body of fresh water, whether it be a great lake, regular lake, river, creek or pond. We are blessed to be positioned in harmony with so many fresh water resources. Whether you like to fish, kayak, swim, sail, you name it, we musn’t forget that, “Four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan.”

Betsie-Bay-Frankfort-Summer

The reflective Betsie Bay in Frankfort, PC: Instagrammer nsorensenphoto

LibationsBeer, wine, liquor – the folks in Michigan are doing it all and most likely just down the street from you with ingredients found in our collective backyards. The innovation and enthusiasm coming out of the state’s alcohol industry is nothing short of a marvel. We may be relatively young in our development in these industries, but we are making a name for ourselves with haste that tastes fantastic.

SportsLions and Tigers and Wings and Pistons, oh my! Our professional sports teams are a point of pride, not to mention the countless high performing college teams showing up every week giving us hope. Michigan is host to some of the most voracious fans which should not be taken lightly. Whether we steal the World Series or take home the Stanley Cup, we are out there (or behind the TV) watching, wishing, and winning.

Comerica-Park-Summer

Comerica Park during the warm summer months, PC: Michelle Forte

People – Michiganders are just plain great. We should be grateful for one another. Without that, we wouldn’t have a state that is coming back strong from a devastating economic downturn, or creative artists making a name for our state on a global scale, or musicians showing up on awards ceremony stages. No, the people pointing out where they’re from and where they’ve lived with an open palm are the reason this state is flourishing and making noise on a national scale.

Adventure – Finally, the Mitten is full of adventure. Whether you’re looking for an urban experience steeped in rich cultural heritage, or looking to escape it all and camp beneath the stars, Michigan is the place to be. Not only is there variety in what can be found in the state, but it is supported by quality folks making sure that adventure is not one to be forgotten.

Adventure-Collage

There’s much adventure to be found in Michigan, PC: Instagrammers katefaced & tara12891

The list could go on and on. Why are you thankful for the state of Michigan?

Joanna Dueweke writes for the Awesome Mitten and is the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Born and raised in Traverse City, she is enjoying new adventures in the Detroit area, but also values her roots in Northern Michigan. Exploring the outdoors, sailing, travel, and enjoying the Mitten’s beer industry consume her time when she is not pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.

10 Michigan Trails to Experience This Winter

Crisp winter air and the sound of crushing snow beneath your feet on a Michigan trail are cravings snowshoe enthusiasts and cross country skiers can’t wait to satisfy.

With thousands of miles of trails throughout the state, Michigan offers a winter wonderland of picturesque scenery and distinct features that can feed this need.  These are trail systems that vary in terrain and level of difficulty – from wide, groomed pathways to more natural, narrow lanes – allowing everyone to get in on the fun.

So if you’re already thinking about where you want to go this winter, you might want to consider adding these to your list.

Heritage Trail
Drummond Island

The Heritage Trail is a 3-mile nature and snowshoe trail offering picturesque landscapes of Drummond Island Township Park.

Visitors can experience beautiful forest scenery and the Potagannissing Bay shoreline on its lower levels, while the upper levels wind along limestone ledges and shallow caves. There is also a 50-foot drop in elevation along the trail.

The majority of Heritage Trail can be snowshoed easily by beginners, although the upper level does have some uneven terrain.

Visitors may also see a wide array of wildlife inhabiting the area, from forest birds to whitetail deer.

Snowshoeing through the snow

Snowshoeing, Photo Courtesy of D. Kenyon

Big M Cross Country Ski Area
Manistee

With a 37.9-mile trail system, the Big M Cross Country Ski and Mountain Bike Trail is located off of M-55 between Cadillac and Wellston.

The trail includes 18-miles that are groomed specifically for skiers, taking them up and down hills and through a snow-covered forest of hardwoods. While the best skiing taking place during January and February, snowfall can average about 130 inches from December to March.

Corsair Cross Country Skiing Trail
Oscoda

From gently rolling to slightly more challenging, the 28.3-mile, one-way Corsair Cross Country Ski and Hiking Trail offers a splendid way to take in Michigan’s winter beauty.

The blue diamond-shaped confidence markers and the Silver Valley Trailhead offers a gentler and less hilly experience for skiers, while the Wrights Lake Trailhead is more challenging with longer loops and steeper hills.

Keweenaw Trails
Calumet

The Keweenaw Peninsula is always a great choice for anyone looking to experience beautiful trails under a canopy of Michigan forests.

The cross country ski season can run from Thanksgiving to mid-April with the region boasting 250 inches of annual snowfall, making it a great way to satisfy your hunger for winter sports. The area also has a wide variety of trails, from the wide and groomed daily to the more narrow striding-only wooded trails.

Keweenaw Trails include four trail systems – the Chassell, Michigan Tech, Swedetown and Maasto Hiihto/Churning Rapids – where visitors can get a combined annual pass or get a day rate for an individual trail.

Winter on the Keweenaw Peninsula

Keweenaw Peninsula, Photo Courtesy of Suzanne M.

Muncie Lake Pathway
Traverse City

Groomed and marked for novice skiers, the 11.5-mile Muncie Lake Pathway is one of the most popular trail systems in Grand Traverse County.

The trail is about 13 miles south of Traverse City and takes visitors through fantastic views of Muncie Lake. While there are numerous hills, there are no sharp grades or sudden changes of directions.  The back loop of the trail system does include three long downhills for more experienced skiers.

Loud Creek Cross Country Ski and Hiking Trail
Mio

With its seven interconnecting loops that go from 1.36 miles to 4.34 miles, Loud Creek Cross Country Ski and Hiking Trail is a great experience for people of all skill levels.

The complete trail features signage that indicates difficulty information and blue diamond confidence markers.

Visitors will experience the peaceful solitude of northern hardwoods and large pine, as well as bridge crossings, beaver ponds and rolling hills on the groomed trail.

Ogemaw Hills Pathway
West Branch

Experience the scenic beauty of the Au Sable State Forest by hitting the 13.6 miles of groomed trail known as the Ogemaw Hills Pathway.

Located at the corner of Clear Lake and Fairview roads, the trail is perfect for the beginner, as well as intermediate and more experienced cross country skiing enthusiast.

With its distinct features formed thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers, the opening to the Ogemaw Hills Pathway is actually what is left of abandoned pioneer farms that are being reclaimed by the forest. The location and elevation of the trail also means it will get between six to 10 inches more snowfall than surrounding areas.

Cross Country skiing

Pine Baron Pathway
Gaylord

Loved by locals and built specifically for cross country skiing, the Pine Baron Pathway has four interconnected loops that range from 2 to 2.5 miles.

While much of the trail is flat with some minor changes in elevation, the 2-mile Whoopsy Loop does feature some descents and climbs, but isn’t too challenging for beginners. And since area averages about 180 inches of snow every winter, the Pine Baron Pathway makes for a quick and pleasurable experience for anyone who loves cross country skiing.

Valley Spur Trail System
Munising

Known for getting up to 200 inches of snow during the winter, the Valley Spur Trail is located in the snow-belt of southern Lake Superior.

The trails reside in heavy forest cover, sometimes following old logging roads, in a 27-mile stretch that is groomed daily from December to March. Beginners, as well as more intermediate and expert skiers, can enjoy the mixture pine and hardwoods that populate the forest as they traverse through the winter snow.

Wolverine Nordic Ski Trails
Ironwood

Another great trail on Lake Superior’s southern shore is Wolverine Nordic Trails, where the average winter starts early and lasts longer than other parts of the Midwest.

The trail has five different loops for a combined 10 miles on a natural rolling terrain that is suitable for striders and skaters. The system’s four snowshoe trails are marked with red or blue diamonds and ribbons too indicate difficulty. The hardest of these is the Hospital Loop Trail, which is marked with blue. The easiest, the Snowflake Loop Trail, is marked with red.

Which winter trails do you love to visit during the season? Let us know in the comments below. 

End the Year with These Michigan Events in December

December is nearly here! Holiday season is in full swing with New Year’s and Christmas events all month long, including some fun shopping opportunities! Get into the spirit with the below events.

Visit our events page to see everything going on all month long.

December 1-4

America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree
December 1-3, Muskegon

The Mona Shores High School Choir’s Singing Christmas Tree got a new look last season with an entirely new tree structure, complete with more versatile LED lighting, gaining international attention compliments of the Associated Press, who took great interest in their holiday spectacle.

With its 25,000 colored lights that coordinate to the beautiful singing, 15 tiers that reach 67 feet up into the majestic Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, over 260 singers and accompanied by the 50 piece Mona Shores High School Orchestra, the Singing Christmas Tree must be seen to be believed.

This year’s Singing Christmas Tree is being held at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, on Dec. 1, 2 and 3 at 7:00 p.m. each night with a 3:00 p.m. matinee Saturday as well.

Gateway to the StarsGate-Way-To-The-Stars
December 2, Bay City

Come and see the stars! This is a live and interactive show that demonstrates how to explore the sky using binoculars and telescopes. Planetarium Manager Mike Murray teaches you observing techniques that can maximize the stargazing experience. The show runs on the first Friday of every month.

Danú: A Christmas Gathering
December 2, Midland

Hailing from historic County Waterford, Danu is one of the leading traditional Irish ensembles of today. Their concerts throughout Ireland feature high-energy performances and a glorious mix of ancient Irish music and new repertoire. The acclaimed Irish ensemble will celebrate Christmas with Feile na Nollag’ (A Christmas Gathering). Christmas in Ireland is one of the most important holidays for families and friends, as many Irish people living abroad come home to gather in celebration. Music and dance gatherings, in communities both urban and rural, have often combined for generations to offer a great variety of songs, music, and stories for the holidays.

Santa’s Arrival, Tree Lighting & Holiday Open HouseSanta's-Arrival-Tree-Lighting-and-Holiday-Open-House
December 2, Traverse City

Join Traverse City downtown for the holiday season kick-off featuring a night of fun, music and activities!

34th Annual Lexington Christmas Tree Lighting
December 3, Lexington

Experience small town charm during the 34th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the Village of Lexington. Join in the Christmas Sing A Long with the Cros-Lex Pep Band, and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa from the fire station. Santa arrives at 7:30 p.m. with treats for all the boys and girls. Adults can enjoy the Merchants Walk and taste fresh roasted chestnuts, listen to the Salvation Army Band and enjoy wagon rides to view the decorated homes.

December 5-11

Santa Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting
December 7, Algonac

Saint Nick give his reindeer a night off and arrives on the back of a decorated in lights antique tractor for Algonac’s Santa Parade! Come for this very unique and fun event.

Wine & SteinWine-Stein-Lansing
December 7, Lansing

You love wining and steining in the summer! Now, celebrate the wintery season with a WINTER casual after hours bash at the zoo! Enjoy tastings of beer and wine and sample fabulous hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants as you listen to holiday tunes and meander through the zoo, featuring our holiday favorite Wonderland of Lights.

Treetops Crafts & Drafts
December 8, Gaylord

Crafts & Drafts is a unique paint & sip where a wine bottle is your canvas! Throwing out the traditional paint & sip ways for Crafts & Drafts with Mary B. You’re not limited to paint, use multiple mediums to create a unique craft that you can keep for yourself or give as a gift this holiday season.

Guests can enjoy beer and pizza while creating this fun craft.

Farm By Lantern LightFarm-By-Lantern-Light
December 9-10, Grayling

Wellington Farm, USA, a 60-acre living history farm is now accepting reservations for their annual “Farm By Lantern Light” event. Due to the limited seating per showing, reservations are an absolute must.

This most unique event is presented each year during the Holiday Season. It has been said to be, by many who have attended previous years’ productions, the most unique and memorable Christmas Season experience in the Midwest. The full evening’s experience consists of a tour through the historic farm by lantern light. The interior of all major buildings and the geographic landscape is breathtakingly illuminated by over 100 kerosene lanterns.

DIYpsi Holiday Market
December 10-11, Ypsilanti

Head to DIYpsi (dip-see) a handmade art fair that takes place in Ypsilanti’s business districts once each summer and winter. For two weekends each year, the city hosts the best indie artists our city and region have to offer for a one of a kind shopping experience that will take care of everyone on your list.

There will be incredible hand-crafted food and drink when you get here! (and occasionally an eclectic mix of live music)

On top of finding unique hand crafted gifts, doing your shopping at DIYpsi means you’re contributing to a larger cause- keeping thousands of dollars invested in our local economy and supporting the arts.

December 12-18

Wizards of Winter
December 15, Kalamazoo

Head to Kalamazoo State Theatre for a performance by The Wizards of Winter! Featuring former members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and some of the mid-Atlantic’s finest rock and progressive musicians, The Wizards of Winter will be performing a holiday rock opera in Kalamazoo! This 12 member ensemble boasts soaring vocal harmonies, precision string instrumentation, powerful percussion and stunning keyboard work, layered around a rich storyboard that evokes December’s past!

Michigan History Museum – Panel: 21st-Century Michigan through Native Eyes
December 15, Lansing

Rock Your Mocs is a three-part series exploring 21st-century native perspectives in Michigan; it is presented in partnership with arts, academic and tribal organizations.

Join in the Learning Center for a moderated panel discussion touching on topics of native governance, traditions and environmental sustainability. Tribal members from across the state and from diverse backgrounds and affiliations dive deep into native perspectives and cultures. You can submit a question for possible inclusion in the panel discussion via Twitter or Facebook.

The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers
December 16, Detroit

The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers presents “WHIZ OF THE WIZ: Story Time with George Faison!” This will be a live, curated, multimedia storytelling event. Stories told and directed by Tony Award Winner, Dr. George Faison, internationally celebrated producer, director, choreographer, writer, composer and dancer. Show features excerpts from theatre, film and concerts Faison has choreographed. Including The Wiz, Josephine Baker Story, Cotton Club, Alvin Ailey and more with songs and dance performed live from The Wiz with orchestra.

Full Moon Night Skiing
December 16, Roscommon

Experience the magic of winter in a whole new light! Every full moon during the ski season, the Trapper’s Cabin trail is lit with torches, creating a truly unique and memorable nighttime experience. There will also be a bonfire and hot chocolate at Trapper’s Cabin. Skiers who need to rent skis must do so before 7 p.m. Join for an evening you’ll never forget!

Winter Solstice CelebrationWinter-Solstice-Celebration
December 17, Midland

The Winter Solstice is here! For centuries, people have gathered with family and friends to recognize the longest night of the year and to celebrate the return of longer days to come. Take part in earth-friendly traditions as you roll a beeswax candle and make an evergreen wreath and a small Yule log to take home. Also learn about evergreen trees and why the seasons change, and listen to solstice stories and music from across the globe. You can also shop for the holidays at the Nature Center Store.

December 19-25

Bronner Family Christmas Sing Along
December 22-23, Frankenmuth

Join the Bronner family as they lead everyone in singing a variety of Christmas carols. It take place on Dec. 22nd from 1:30-2:00 pm and Dec. 23rd from 1:30-2:00 pm.

Dablon Winery Features the Film ‘Mozart’s Sister’
December 21, Baroda

Mozart’s Sister is a re-imagined account of the early life of Maria Anna ‘Nannerl’ Mozart, five years older than Wolfgang and a musical prodigy in her own right. Once the featured performer, Nannerl has given way to Wolfgang as the main attraction, as their strict but loving father Leopold tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French Revolution Europe. Approaching marriageable age and now forbidden to play the violin or compose, Nannerl chafes at the limitations imposed on her gender. But a friendship with the son and daughter of Louis XV offers her ways to challenge the established sexual and social order.

Grand Rapids Symphony’s Cirque de Noël
December 22-23, Grand Rapids

Experience the magic of Christmas, the wonder of Cirque and the beauty of live orchestra all in one show! Running from December 22 to December 23, this ultimate family tradition feature performances by aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, and jugglers, choreographed to seasonal favorites as Cirque de la Symphonie artists share the stage with your Grand Rapids Pops.

Shen Yun 2017Shen-Yun-2017
December 22-27, Detroit

Consisting of about 20 pieces, a Shen Yun performance takes you to a magic journey through 5,000 years. Breathtaking animated backdrops, exquisite hand-made costumes, high flying leaps, thunderous drums, and mesmerizing live orchestra music will transport you to another world.

December 26-31

Dog SleddingDog-Sledding
December 29-31, Gaylord

Join Team Evergreen and Liza Dietzen and take an exhilarating ride through the trails on the Jones Masterpiece Golf Course behind a team of dogs that is training for the ultimate sled dog race, “The Iditarod.”

Torchlight Parade
December 31, Harbor Springs

There’s no ticket required to watch the New Year’s Eve fun at Nub’s Nob! This event at Nub’s Nob takes place at 6 p.m. so even the younger kids can get in on the fun as the Nub’s Nob Ski Patrol and the Winter Sports School Skiers make a couple of runs down Smokey creating a pretty light display.

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
December 31, Marquette

Every New Year’s Eve the intersection of Washington St and Front St in Downtown Marquette becomes the location where locals and visitors to the area come together in a large crowd to welcome in the New Year. On the 12th strike an illuminated ball is lowered from the historic Savings Bank Building.

Traverse City New Year’s Eve Cherry Ball DropTraverse-City-New-Year's-Eve-Cherry-Ball-Drop
December 31, Traverse City

This New Year’s street party features the lowering of a massive, illuminated cherry, accompanied with live music and entertainment!

What are you doing this December? Let us know in the comments!