No Camouflage Required! Three Ways to Spend Deer Widow’s Weekend 2014

It’s that time of year again! The hunters stuff their bags with layers to keep warm in the woods, pull on orange apparel to be seen by fellow game-pursuers and keep their minds set on nabbing that coveted 12-point buck. But, while the hunters are away, those back at home will play!

As opening day of firearm season approaches, we’ve compiled a list of things for girlfriends, wives – and maybe a few househusbands – to do during Deer Widow’s Weekend while the hunters are gathered at deer camp. From spa packages to wine tasting, there’s camouflage required for these relaxing getaways perfect for a weekend alone or with friends.

The Spas

Facial2Planning a spa weekend might be the best way to unwind alone, or with friends. Check out these spa packages to find your Zen (and maybe save a few bucks, too!)

The Relaxation Package, Troy
Spend a weekend at the Troy Marriott, where exceptional service provides you with effortless travel. The weekend spa relaxation package features a deluxe guest room, breakfast buffet for two in 200 west bistro, and your choice of a 60-minute customized spa service at Schenden’s Spa in Troy (located directly across the street from the hotel) with complimentary hotel shuttle service to and from your appointment.

Girlfriend Getaway, Gladwin
Get the girls together and escape to Riverwalk Place! One night stay in a luxury suite or hotel room, one spa treatment (facial, pedicure or 60-minute massage), one signature gift, boutique shopping discounts, $20 at Riverwalk Grill and $10 for Oasis Salon & Spa retail, and pool access at a sister property, Rivertown Inn, located just one mile away.

Melt Your Stress Away, Saugatuck
Upon arrival, you’ll find a beautiful wine and cheese basket with a bouquet of fresh flowers. During your visit, you’ll  experience a soothing massage in a style suited just for you and a $30 voucher good toward dinner at a fine restaurant. Upon your departure (which you’ll want to delay as long as possible before returning to the real world), a gift from us: a compact disc of relaxing music and an illustrated guide to massage

Learn more about indulging in a Pure Michigan spa experience in the video.

The Shopping

If there’s ever been a time to put the saying “shop till you drop” to the test, it’s Widow’s Weekend! Discover some Pure Michigan shopping havens from around the state that will make you never want to leave.

BirchRunBirch Run Premium Outlets, Birch Run
Go shopping in Michigan and visit the Midwest’s largest outlet shopping center with 145 factory direct stores including Coach Factory and Michigan’s only Pottery Barn Outlet!

Ultimate Shopping Package at the Somerset Collection, Troy
Discover a shopping getaway at the Somerset Collection with a $25 gift card, complimentary shuttle & more! Conquer all of your shopping at the Somerset Collection & spend a weekend at the Troy Marriott in metro Detroit. Stores include: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, & many more. The Ultimate Shopping Package includes overnight accommodations, $25 Troy Somerset Collection gift card, complimentary shuttle to and from Troy Somerset Collection, breakfast buffet for two in 200 west, complimentary appetizer from the Small Bites menu, and Somerset Collection Platinum Pass, which includes complimentary coffee from Starbucks, gift wrapping, bottle of water, and coat and package check.

Great Lakes Shopping Package. Auburn Hills
Who doesn’t love the thrill of the hunt? A stay that’s all about your favorite sport–Shopping. Ready. Set. Enjoy! The Great Lakes Crossing Shopping package includes overnight accommodations, $25 gift card to Great Lakes Crossing, complimentary Wi-Fi, and complimentary on-site parking.

Tanger Outlets Shop and Stay, Howell
Book the Tanger Outlet Shop and Stay Package at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Howell, Michigan, and you will not only enjoy your overnight stay in our beautiful hotel, you will receive a $20 Tanger Outlet gift card, a voucher for a Tanger Outlet coupon book, a Tanger Outlet shopping bag, and two bottles of water. Please use the below booking link or contact the hotel directly to make your reservation.

Ladies Nights and Women Weekends

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Who doesn’t love a good ladies night? A time to get the girls together and hit the town, no guys allowed! We’ve put together a list of some ladies nights and weekend getaways that can are sure to become an annual trip!

Ladies Night Out, Marquette 
Eighteenth annual Ladies Night is set for Thursday, November 13 from 4pm – 8pm in Downtown Marquette. Enjoy a night of shopping, delicacies, entertainment and fun. Checker Bus provides free limousine rides to stops throughout the district. A complimentary photo booth with props will be located at the Masonic Center.

Ladies Night Out in Flint, Flint
Ladies, gather your friends and get a jump on the holidays when the Village opens for a fun-filled night just for you! Vendors will offer everything from homemade soaps and fresh wreaths to folk art and beautiful jewelry. The shops will be stocked with gifts for everyone on your list. Enjoy an old-fashioned wagon ride with your girlfriends to see gorgeous, glittering lights. Laugh out loud as you take a free spin on a  100 year old carousel. You and your girlfriends can even get your picture taken for free with Handsome Harry or Chilly the Snowman.

Women’s Only Weekend, South Haven
Sorry guys, the gals are taking over South Haven! It’s Women’s Only Weekend November 13th-16th, 2014. Steer clear as droves of women hit the shops, restaurants, and local attractions in downtown South Haven to enjoy each other’s company and be entertained! Ticketed event.

Girlfriend’s Weekend, Lexington
Girls just want to have fun, and there is no better way to do that than with your closest gal pals! Head to Lexington for dining, games, prizes, spa treatments shopping, and fun.

How are you planning on spending Deer Widow’s Weekend? Tell us your plans below!

Cross These Seven Traverse City Activities Off Your Snow Day Bucket List

Winter is on its way, and Traverse City is ready for snow! Today, guest blogger Mike Norton from Traverse City Tourism shares some suggestions for your next Traverse City snow day. 

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

I know there are people who aren’t big fans of winter. But personally, I can’t wait to see those first fat flakes of snow come spiraling out of the sky.

Maybe it’s because I live in a place where there’s so much to do in the wintertime – especially in the Great Outdoors. I like to be outside as much as possible, and Traverse City is full of opportunities for outdoor winter fun. Each winter, this region’s gently sculpted landscape (carved 15,000 years ago by the last retreating glaciers of the Ice Age) becomes a playground for skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoe hikers. Like me, they consider it one of the country’s most beautiful winter destinations.

Skiing, Snowboarding and “Silent Snow Sports”

For skiers and snowboarders, our premiere winter destination is undoubtedly Shanty Creek Resorts, a 4,500-acre recreational complex in the beautiful Chain of Lakes region, about 30 miles northeast of town. Shanty’s two ski areas, Schuss Mountain and Summit Mountain, provide 53 downhill slopes, six terrain parks, 30km of cross country Nordic trails, and a multi-lane alpine tubing park. (Ski Magazine rated it the Midwest’s number-one destination in value, dining, lodging, weather and après ski activities.)

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

But lots of other skiers and snowboarders have discovered the fun of staying closer to town, taking advantage of low lodging rates and a broad choice of shopping, dining and entertainment options while skiing at TC’s two day ski areas, Mt. Holiday and Hickory Hills.

Still, for me (and for many others) this area is loved mostly for the quality of its winter “silent sports” — snowshoeing and cross-country skiing — thanks to its vast acreage of forest and parkland. Just one example – and one of my favorites: the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has eight marked trails, some leading up to panoramic overlooks high above Lake Michigan.

And there are so many other marked trail systems that you couldn’t explore them all if you stayed here all winter. There’s the Lost Lake Pathway near Interlochen and the Vasa Pathway, one of the finest cross-country ski trails in the nation. Within the city, the 300-acre Grand Traverse Commons features superb snowshoeing among century-old, castle-style buildings and stands of old-growth pines.

Snowmobiling

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Snowmobilers tend to head south and east of town to more than 200 miles of the country’s finest and most diverse snowmobiling. The Boardman Valley Trail, just minutes from downtown, is an 81-mile trail system in the Pere Marquette State Forest, where sightings of turkeys, eagles, deer and other wildlife are commonplace. The Jordan Valley Trail, about a half-hour to the northeast, is a network featuring over 130 miles of spectacular trails not far from Shanty Creek and the picturesque village of Bellaire.

Snow Biking and Snow Tubing

Traverse City is also becoming a hub for one of the newest winter sports: fat biking. Fat bikes are specially-adapted mountain bikes with large tires that can actually allow you to ride over the snow, and over the past two years they’ve become part of the local winter landscape. We’ve always been a favorite year-round destination for all kinds of outdoor sports enthusiasts; given the opportunity to add cycling to their repertoire of winter sports, they’ve wasted no time embracing the Fat Bike phenomenon.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy winter recreation in Traverse City. Lots of us have discovered that there are plenty of thrills to be had in snow-tubing. Tubing has all the thrilling speed of a toboggan or sled – but you get to sit in the middle of a big soft inner tube and ride down a groomed hill where there are people keeping an eye on you. And when you get to the bottom, there’s a towline waiting to take you back to the top so you can do it all over again.

As it happens, the largest tubing hill in Michigan is at TimberLee Hills, a former ski resort in the hills just northwest of town. (On clear days, it has breathtaking views of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Leelanau.) Lots of local ski resorts also have tubing hills; Shanty Creek Resorts, for instance, has a sophisticated tubing park just above their Cedar River lodge. Mt. Holiday Ski Area also has a dedicated tubing park. All three have mechanical lifts, which helps you make the most of your allotted time. These things are popular, especially on weekends and school snow days, so they can get busy!

Winter Ziplining

Mt. Holiday has yet another winter activity available for winter fun: a new zipline system that lets you soar through the air above the ski slopes. Its “Green Zipper” is a two-station zipline (the first leg is 288 feet and then second is 306 feet) and its new 10-station zipline has a total of over 4,000 feet of cable. You have to make advance reservations for both of them, and you need to be part of a group of at least four people.

Sound like fun? Of course it does!

Mike on SbnowshoesMike Norton spent 25 years as newspaper writer and columnist before starting a second career as media relations manager at Traverse City Tourism. An avid cyclist, kayaker and snowshoer, he lives in the village of Old Mission.

Five Helpful Tips for a Late Season Ride on the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Today, guest blogger and off-road vehicle enthusiast Bryan Much shares his top tips for enjoying a late season motorcycle or ORV ride along the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail. 

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Winter may be somewhere up ahead, but there is still time to get in that last great motorcycle ride of the season.  Late fall riding allows us to be comfortable in our riding gear without the sweat, bugs, and discomfort of hot summer days.

As autumn colors fade and leaves begin to fall, the fields and forests offer another aspect of their beauty for us to appreciate.  We soon are able to enjoy the now unrestricted views that penetrate the forests. Features hidden in summer and early fall are now there for us to discover and enjoy. What better time than now to take that stroll to a hidden waterfall or a scenic overlook?

Wander off the Beaten Path
One of the best ways to enjoy scenery unique to late autumn, and to discover some of the remarkable history of the Upper Peninsula, is to tour the forests and towns by dual sport or adventure motorcycle.  Many know that road riding is great for traditional bikes, but riding dirt and gravel paths through the backcountry provides an experience not available to many.

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

The Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail (UPAT) is a GPS guided 1,250 mile loop of the UP.  The path is principally off-pavement often following twisty and rolling paths through the forest.  Points of interest that detail the location of historic and scenic places that are not to be missed are included in the GPS file.

Take Your Time
It takes 5-6 days to navigate the entire loop, but riders have the option of riding either the east or west loop over a long weekend. I’ve enjoyed some stimulating wildlife encounters including a wolf that lingered long enough for me to take a few photos.  I’ve also encountered bears, moose, and a variety of other wildlife along the way.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Points of interest on the trail offer riders the opportunity to explore the fascinating maritime, mining, and logging history of the UP.  A little advance reading provides a rich background that makes in-person visits to these sites a fascinating experience.

It’s Nearly Impossible to ‘Pick a Favorite’
I tried to sort out a few locations on this ride that I might consider favorites.  In the end, I had to admit that nearly every section had some element that propelled it to near the top of the list.  The technical riding, the scenery, the wildlife, the history, and so much more.  Touring the mining towns and camping at the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula certainly is near the top.  But so are the long rides through uninterrupted forest and visits to the now small towns that were once major logging and fishing centers.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 1.14.53 PM

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Customize Your Route
Some people might be wondering if this ride is within the capabilities of their motorcycle or their skills as a rider.  To help people explore the route and answer these questions as they plan a trip of their own, I’ve prepared a “ride report” that gives detailed information and photographs. View the report here or download the GPS file.

For those that don’t ride, but enjoy overland travel, there is a version of the path tailored specifically for standard four-wheel drive vehicles.

So what are you waiting for?  Get started on that late season motorcycle adventure.  See you in the UP!

Where is your favorite place in Michigan for a motorcycle or ORV tour

Bryan Much retired from the military after having advanced from Private to Colonel. He now spends much of his time advocating for off-highway motorcyclists and exploring and recording paths for them to ride and enjoy.  He serves on two councils relating to trails and is a member of many organizations related to this recreational interest.