5 Things You Can’t Miss On a Pictured Rocks Road Trip

The untouched natural beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is unlike anywhere else in the world, especially near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This stretch of coast from Munising to Paradise is worth a visit for some of the most unbelievably beautiful adventures in the state. This is a great place for a family summer vacation, with a cool to moderate climate and unlimited things to discover. Come along as Jennifer from The Awesome Mitten shares five things that make this gorgeous area Pure Michigan.

The Upper Peninsula seems like it was made for adventures with incredible experiences available in both the summer and winter months. It’s easy to fall in love with the beauty of this area. With eighty four percent of the Upper Peninsula covered by forests and 917 miles of shoreline along the deepest of the Great Lakes – Lake Superior – this is the perfect place to get away from it all and have an unforgettable vacation. Don’t miss these unique experiences during your next trip to the Upper Peninsula.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

1. The Food

Brown Fisheries Fish House

With fresh fish caught within hours of hitting your plate, Brown Fisheries Fish House boasts the tastiest fish near Paradise. Served with either two or three pieces of fish, their ultimate meal is the Lake Superior Whitefish Baskets. It is the most delicious, flaky, perfectly flavorful fish you could imagine and all for an affordable price. This family owned and run business is very low key, so we’re letting you in on the secret of this amazing hidden gem.

Bear Trap Inn

When in the Upper Peninsula you must get a pasty, and you better know how to pronounce it! If you’re looking for a pasty near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, look no further than Bear Trap Inn. Served by some of the friendliest folks, their food is hot, tasty and filling. The unique interior is unforgettable as well, with rooms filled with taxidermy animals exclusive to the area and a bar with hundreds of numbered mugs for all of the locals.

2. Lighthouses on Every Route

Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Jutting out into Lakes Superior, Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest operating light on this Great Lake. All vessels entering and leaving this treacherous shoreline of Lake Superior must pass this light. This light looks out to the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” where more shipwrecks have occurred than any other area of the lake so it’s full of remarkable and mysterious history.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

Au Sable Light Station

This active lighthouse along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is in the middle of astonishingly beautiful shoreline. Just west of Grand Marais, it is right around the corner from Log Slide lookout and in the opposite direction Twelve Mile Beach. The 1-1/2 mile walk along the historic U.S. coast guard road is worth the trek. With scenic overlooks of Lake Superior and areas that lead out onto Twelve Mile Beach, the beauty only increases the closer you get to Au Sable Light Station. With over 180 degree views, this landmark is a place not to be forgotten.

3. Small Town Adventures

Munising

The name Munising comes from the Ojibwe word for “island at.” This is the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore since it is the largest and closest city to the area. This city boasts small town charm and great local businesses that are exclusive to the city. You can even see the stars from this city, whether it’s on billboards advertising Kid Rock’s “Born Free” music video that was filmed in the area of the Northern Lights.

Log Slide Lookout

Located about seven miles west of Grand Marais is Log Slide lookout. This incredible place is breathtaking, with views of where loggers used to slide logs down this steep slope and into Lake Superior, where they were then hauled away and turned into products. This is also a good place to glimpse the Au Sable Light Station.

Oswald’s Bear Ranch

With 29 bears, Oswald’s Bear Ranch is the largest Bear Ranch in the entire United States. Just north of Newberry, one man, Dean Oswald, created this preserve for abandoned and orphaned bear cubs from Michigan and other states. This unique experience allows you to see these incredible animals up close and personal while giving a loving home to these bears who weren’t able to live a healthy and normal life until they came to Oswald’s. As a proud associate member of the Zoological Association of America, Oswald’s Bear Ranch is an exciting place for visitors to take part in giving these bears a sanctuary for a better life.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

4. Waterfalls All Around

Munising Falls

The majority of waterfalls in this area are the result of water running over a shelf or cliffs of hard limey sandstone called the Munising Formation. This formation extends from Tahquamenon Falls to Laughing Whitefish Falls. There are quite literally waterfalls all around you when you enter this area, especially near Munising which even has its own waterfall named after the city.  Located within the city limits of Munising, a short paved trail leads you up the cool sandstone canyon along Munising Creek to two viewing platforms at the base of the falls.

Miners Falls

Just a short hike off of Miners Castle Road is the impressively powerful Miners Falls. The gravel path is a beautiful stroll through the northwoods wilderness that ends with two incredible overlooks of the falls. Make sure to bring bug spray, because you won’t want to miss this astounding waterfall.

Tahquamenon Falls

Well known for its sheer size, the Tahquamenon Falls State Park is one of the most popular attractions in the Upper Peninsula. With 46,179 acres, it is the second largest state park in Michigan. Tahquamenon Falls’ Upper Falls has a magnificent 50 foot drop, while the Lower Falls include cascades and rapids. Bordering along Lake Superior, the majority of this state park is located in Whitefish Township.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

5. Not Your Average Tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Stretching for about 15 miles along Lake Superior, these incredibly bold and colorful cliffs range from 50 to 200 feet and jut out directly from the lake. There are numerous ways to see these beautiful cliffs including Miners Castle which provides a wonderful vista of Pictured Rocks. However, the best way to experience these cliffs is by water. There’s a variety of different tours to choose from, but the only vessel that will allow you to get within arm’s reach from these massive cliffs is by kayak.

One of the most popular companies is Uncle Ducky’s Paddling Michigan tours. They feature a variety of unique experiences, but the most incredible Pictured Rocks tour is probably their six hour Sunset Paddle. With the sun at a lower angle, the cliff walls are illuminated in beautiful hues of orange and reddish copper. Gliding along the crystal clear waters and feeling the waves crash into the astonishing cliffs that rise up to 200 feet above you is a humbling experience that is breathtaking and mind boggling full of natural beauty. The journey features many landmarks including Miners Castle, Bridalveil Falls, Caves of the Bloody Chiefs, Mosquito river, and circling beneath the iconic Lovers Leap Arch. Whether you’re a novice or expert kayaker this adventure is built for every skillset.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Polasek

The beauty of this region is almost indescribable; you just have to go live the adventure for yourself. These were the most unforgettable places I experienced along my last road trip in the Upper Peninsula that I’d recommend over and over again. It’s incredible to live in such a diverse state that offers unlimited adventures. And Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is unlike any other part of Michigan because of the unique experiences that await around every curve.

What’s your favorite landmark near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore?

AM1Jennifer Polasek is currently a student at Grand Valley State University earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing. Jennifer splits her time working as a public relation and marketing intern for The Awesome Mitten and Opera Grand Rapids. She’s an avid adventurer and loves exploring the hidden gems within Michigan! She currently resides in Grand Rapids, but loves escaping to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula during the summertime. She loves promoting Michigan because of its endless adventures and diversity. Follow her Mitten adventures on Twitter and Instagram

4 Southwest Michigan Golf Courses to Explore this Summer

Warm weather has finally arrived in Michigan, and with it, another inviting season of golf. If you’re looking to knock the dust off your favorite clubs, or are just looking to hit the links for the first time, here are four Southwest Michigan courses to try this summer:

1. Island Hills Golf Club – Centreville, MI

Island Hills is a gorgeous 18-hole course located on one of the largest lakes in Michigan, Lake Templene. Each hole is very different with some being in hardwood forests and others being in meadow prairies with a lake view. Want to “Play and Stay?” Island Hills has beautiful onsite villas for you to rest your head after playing the links.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

2. Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort – Augusta, MI

Gull Lake View is made up of 5 courses: Gull Lake View East, Gull Lake View West, Bedford Valley, Stonehedge South, and Stonehedge North. All are 18-hole championship golf courses and are ranked 4.5 stars or higher by Golf Digest. Each course has its unique set of challenges like hills, bunkers, water holes (East has 10), huge greens and forested holes. At Gull Lake View you can also “Play and Stay” in their onsite villas.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

 3. Binder Park Golf Club – Battle Creek, MI

Binder Park Golf Club is made up of 27-holes with 3 distinctive 9-hole tracks. The course is right next to Binder Park Zoo and you can even see parts of the zoo while you golf on certain holes. It is a great, user-friendly course for beginners and a challenging one for experience golfers.  Close to downtown Battle Creek and FireKeeper’s Casino, there is a lot to do when you are done golfing.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

4. The Medalist Golf Club – Marshall, MI

Golfing at the Medalist is like playing on a course in Northern Michigan. This premier championship golf course has hosted multiple statewide championships and U.S. Amateur qualifiers. It is close to FireKeepers Casino and Hotel so you can golf during the day and get your Vegas on at night.

Photo Courtesy of the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau

Want to try these courses but do not know the next step? The program, Michigan Southern Swing, will book your tee times for you along with your lodging. Call 1-877-MI-SWING or go to www.misouthernswing.com to get your FREE quote.  

BeccaF

Becca Freybler is the Digital Media Marketing Manager for the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau, handling all of their digital platforms.  She has worked for the CVB since 2010. Becca is a Michigan State University graduate and a lifelong Battle Creek resident. Outside of work she enjoys sports, cooking, being outdoors, and owns a Collie named Simba. 

5 Reasons Golfing in Charlevoix is Above Par

Charlevoix is known for its picturesque views of Lake Michigan, Round Lake and Lake Charlevoix. Nestled between these lakes, Charlevoix boasts of five renowned area golf courses. This region of northern Michigan offers interesting course diversity and easy access to multiple courses. Read more on the incredible golf scene in Charlevoix and a few courses to explore when you visit the area.

Proximity to the courses

Charlevoix boasts of five renowned golf courses. Each of these five courses is located no farther than 20 minutes from downtown Charlevoix, making it easy to play multiple courses in one day.  If you are looking for panoramic views, consider golfing at Antrim Dells. This golf course has amazing views of Lake Michigan while offering a challenging course for every skill level.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

 History in the making

History comes alive at two of the oldest golf courses in the state of Michigan. The Belvedere Golf Club and the Charlevoix Golf Club were both founded by renowned Scottish architect William Watson over 100 years ago. Both of these courses exhibit classic beauty and are known for their attention to detail and preservation.  If you are looking to relive history, the Belvedere Golf Club hosts the annual Belvedere Hickory Open in June, drawing in golfers from around the United States for games dressed in historic apparel and using hickory shafted clubs.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

 Variety is the Spice of Life

Diversity of courses, amenities, and degree of difficulty are extremely important aspects to the sport of golf. Charlevoix offers a variety of courses meeting all needs and skill sets. Whether you are looking for a 9-hole course, a classic layout, or championship challenges, Charlevoix has it all. The Dunmaglas Golf Course provides a pure and unspoiled golfing experience while the Heatherwoods Golf Course at the Charlevoix Country Club offers bent grass fairways with 4 of the most challenging end holes in Northern Michigan. The Charlevoix Golf Club is a 9-hole course that offers gentle terrain that is good for beginners, families, or if you’re looking for a quick round of golf.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Charlevoix

Deals and Discounts

Everybody likes a deal, right? Each Charlevoix area golf course offers group packaging and specials. Check out each of these golf courses to see about special group discounts and outings. Insider tip: Plan to golf in Charlevoix during the off season (beginning of May or end of September through mid October) to enjoy greatly discounted rates as well usually good weather and gorgeous fall colors.

 Stay and Play

After spending a day (or two) on the golf course, take in the happenings of downtown Charlevoix. Enjoy one of the many great restaurants, take a stroll through unique stores, stop for an ice cream cone or fudge, and top the night off with Michigan craft beer. No matter what your group’s interest, there is something fun for everyone. Use this website to plan your trip to Charlevoix!

Katherine

Katherine Forrester is a graduate from Hope College with a degree in communication and works at the Charlevoix Convention and Visitors Bureau as the Sales & Marketing Coordinator. She is a native of Charlevoix, loves skiing, kayaking, going to Detroit Red Wings games, and craft Michigan beer. You can follow the Charlevoix Convention and Visitors Bureau on Facebook and Twitter.