Eat Your Way Through Eastern Michigan: 21 Stops on a Foodie Adventure

March is Michigan Food and Agriculture Month! Many travelers are trekking across the state for what they call “Foodie Adventures.” They’re vacations that revolve around great food finds. From classic comfort foods to fresh Michigan produce, your taste buds won’t be disappointed with the culinary delights of Pure Michigan. We put together this list of just a few fantastic places to eat when you’re on the road on the east side of the state. Enjoy! 

Shores of Eastern Michigan

The air is fragrant with fresh breezes and scents of coffee houses, bakeries and award-winning restaurants, all tempting to a passerby.

shores of eastern mi

  1. The shores of Eastern Michigan have delectable food you just have to try for yourself. Start your journey with fresh fish and seafood at(1)Marine City Fish Company Smoke House & Eatery or (2)River Crab.
  2. Go grab some drinks and sample multiple Michigan craft beers at the (3)ThumbCoast Brewing Company.
  3. No day is complete without dessert, make sure to stop at (4)The Atrium Cafe & Ice Cream Parlour, which has been described by its guests as the most elegant and whimsical restaurant they have experienced.
  4. If you don’t have time to sit down, spend some time browsing a unique gift shop, (5)Weekends, with delectable gourmet foods.
  5. Have a mid-day brunch at (6)The Raven Café to enjoy the food and drinks in a unique café atmosphere.
  6. (7)Vintage Tavern, a treasure discovered, with a decor of fine wood, brick and tin ceilings, located in downtown Port Huron, the hot spot to dine or just enjoy your surroundings with a flight of wines.
  7. Cider mills are an exclusive Michigan attraction that everyone should experience, stop at the (8)McCallum Orchard.
  8. Don’t forget to venture to the Lexington Fire Hall to experience the “Think Globally, Drive Locally” movement at the (9)Lexington Brewing Company & Wine House.
  9. Port Sanilac and surrounding areas can expect nothing but a new and wonderful dining experience in a beautiful waterfront setting; (10)Uri’s Landing has to offer.
  10. (11)The Farm Restaurant’s love for cooking, and a great atmosphere for dining makes this restaurant a truly enjoyable destination to gather with your family and your food-loving friends.
  11. Lastly, check out the (12)Port Austin Farmer’s Market with over 150 vendors.

East Central Michigan & Through the Thumb

Driving through east central and the thumb of Michigan, you will stumble upon many hidden culinary destinations that the locals find to be great treasures. The scenery will captivate you as much as the amazing food.

Thumb

  1. Sample wine made from 16 acres of premium wine grapes at (1)Blue Water Winery & Vineyard.
  2. Delight your taste buds with so many bakery items you won’t know where to start at (2)Bake Krazy Bake Shop.
  3. If you want the freshest food, (5)Main Street Café & Bakery creates their food from scratch daily.
  4. Do you love blueberries? If so, (6)Russell’s Blueberry Farm & Nursery have ten different varieties of blueberries you have to try.
  5. Everyone has heard of (7)Zehnder’s Restaurant in Frankenmuth and for good reason.
  6. Or pick out your own food to create a delicious home cooked meal at (8)Montrose Orchards and (9)Flint Farmers’ Market.

 Eastern Upper Peninsula

It is time to take your taste buds on an adventure through the Upper Peninsula. You will find fresh fish from the Great Lakes, meals that fill your belly, wine and beer unique to the north, cranberry farms and local farmers markets.

UP

  1. Start your experience at (1)The Driftwood Restaurant & Sports Bar, one look at the menu and you won’t know where to start. With a delicious variety of Whitefish to their homemade soups, you have to have a taste of everything.
  2. If you want to pair your dinner with a unique drink try Threefold Vine Winery or (4)Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub.
  3. We all love a home cooked meal and some comfort food. (2)Galley Restaurant & Bar or (6)Sydney’s Family Restaurant are both a must stop to get some of your favorites.
  4. If you want to experience some of the freshest, local food grown in the Upper Peninsula, (3)Sault Ste. Marie Farmers Market and (5)Centennial Cranberry Farm are worth the detour.

Michigan has so much for your taste-buds to discover. For more ideas, check out what Detroit and Northeast Michigan have to offer. You don’t want to miss Pinconning Cheese Company, Stoney Acres Winery in Alpena, Rock River Grille in Indian River or Mt. Pleasant Brewing CompanyYour stomach will thank you later!

Which foods and restaurants are must-haves when you’re traveling in Pure Michigan?

Video Tour: Explore Traverse City from Three New Perspectives

Traverse City is a classic Northern Michigan destination loved by many.  See what Traverse City has to offer in a whole new light as guest blogger Coryn Briggs from Traverse City Tourism takes us on a video tour of the “Cherry Capital of the World!”

Photo by Michigan Nut Photography

Photo by Michigan Nut Photography

Of course, we all love those Pure Michigan videos – that goes without saying! They have the perfect combination of stunning imagery and information. They engage us and connect us to experiences – whether we’ve already had them or are planning to have them. The memories and emotions captured and shared in the videos consistently remind us of that unique “sense of place” found all over Michigan and especially in Traverse City!

Maybe the term “sense of place” is overused, but to me there is really no better way to define the emotional and physical connection you feel for an area you love. In Traverse City, this sense of place is defined, strong, and shared by locals and tourists alike.

You might remember late last summer when we released “Take Me There” – the upbeat video by Traverse City natives The Hacky Turtles singing about their love for their hometown – this video, along with the following selection, demonstrates different perspectives and shows the deep-rooted connection to this magical place that I call home. And this is what makes me (and hopefully you) want to watch them.

Let’s start with Summer Sailing Adventures, by bloggers Mike and Megan Gilger, the incredibly talented and creative duo behind The Fresh Exchange and Wild Measure. This video, captured just north of Sutton’s Bay, draws you in right away – the music, the blue water (yes, it is really that blue!) and the ethereal imagery. It’s playful and fun with a peaceful tone that authentically captures a gorgeous day spent on Lake Michigan. Does it make you want to dive in?

This next video has a totally different feel to it but is equally fun and playful. Produced by Amanda from the blog titled A Dangerous Business, it is a whimsical journey around Traverse City in the fall.  Since autumn is one of my favorite seasons, I immediately connected with this video.  Hayrides, roadside farm stands, leaves changing color all amidst the amazing backdrop of Lake Michigan – it doesn’t get any more authentic than this!

The last video from the Leelanau Conservancy, produced in 2010, has a completely different tone and feeling, it is more serious and has a powerful message. There are so many aspects of this one that make it special to me — from personal reflections to professional reasons, this video really hits home! To begin with, the music is by one of my favorite Northern Michigan artists, Mae Erlewine. The song immediately connects you to that sense of place with an image that stands as a metaphor throughout the entire video, driving home the underlying message of conservation. The Leelanau Conservancy used photos submitted by their fans as the main visual content for this piece, which gives the messaging an authentic, home-town feeling.

What draws your attention to travel videos? Is it the images, the music, the scenery or everything combined? Whatever the reason(s) there’s always something that needs to connect with you and leave you feeling inspired or proud to have memories of that special place.

Want to see more? Take a look at Traverse City Tourism’s You Tube channel for a diverse selection of videos about recreational activities, restaurants, breweries, and wineries.

Coryn Briggs is the Digital Marketing & Design Specialist at Traverse City Tourism. A Detroit area native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a masters in Recreation and Tourism Management at Michigan State University. She has lived and worked in Traverse City since 2004 and enjoys baking, running, visiting Traverse City’s brewpubs, beaches, and recreational trails. 

The First-Timer’s Guide to Attending the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival

The internationally recognized Ann Arbor Film Festival kicks off March 24th. The six-day festival presents 40 programs with more than 180 films from over 20 countries of all lengths and genres. Guest blogger Ryan Levin shares some tips and tricks if you’re planning to attend for the first time. 

Michigan Theater

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

So you’ve never been to the Ann Arbor Film FestivalWell, this is a great year to attend your first. The 53rd AAFF is a six-day international showcase of experimental, avant garde, animation and documentary cinema at the historic Michigan Theater. And sure, stepping into the festival for the first time can be a daunting experience.

Where do you begin? What must you see? How do you pick between talks, presentations, screenings and performances? And what if you’ve never seen an experimental film before…?

Not to worry! Here are some survival tips if you should happen upon an experimental film in the dark.

1. Stay calm; it’s just a movie

Most of us are well accustomed to the popular cinema. These movies have a stake in being understood, using standardized story cues, recognizable characters, and familiar structures to help the viewer follow along. You filled the seat. Hollywood wants to meet you halfway. The avant garde does away with an easily recognizable format in order to free the medium for the full range of human expression.

So if you don’t get it (or don’t think you do), don’t worry. Some of these films are meant to be vague. Some evocative and strange. Some are meant to be experienced in the moment, and may not solidify into meaning until weeks later.

2. Read the title; skip the synopsis

Pick up a program guide and pay close attention to the slides between screenings. A film’s title is often the first clue to what the filmmaker is trying to convey. Re-read the title before viewing. But skip the synopsis! The AAFF’s movies are meant to first be experienced on the screen.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

3. Watch actively, question and categorize

Every movie is a collection of a thousand choices, careful selections and thoughtful omissions. Assume everything you see on screen is there for a reason, then figure out why. Why this color? Why that sound? By understanding the pieces you can better grasp what the work means as a whole.

4. Talk, brainstorm, guess and share

Don’t let bewilderment set in! In between movies, talk. Seriously. Use the pause between films to lean over to your neighbor and discuss with them what you’ve just seen. Sometimes the best way to parse a film’s meaning is by talking about it. You might just stumble upon the perfect interpretation as you’re trying to put it into words.

5. If all else fails…

Read the artist’s synopsis. Some movies are experiments in artistic form, some will have esoteric contexts that will require a summary to clarify. There will be that occasional film that’s so totally baffling only the filmmaker’s description can help you decode what it is you’ve just seen.

But you’ll only get to see it if you’re in Ann Arbor March 24 – 29. Check out VisitAnnArbor.org for more details and don’t forget the hotel package available at Weber’s Inn if you need a place to stay.

See you there!

Do you have any tried and true tips for attending a new festival for the first time? 

Ryan Levin is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Screen Arts and Cultures program and a guest blogger for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. A version of this blog originally appeared in the Ann Arbor News on March 25, 2012.