Beat The Heat in the Mitten State with These Summer Activities

After our record-breaking winter, we’re not complaining about warmer temperatures! But when the long mid-summer days get muggy and humid, here are five ways to beat the heat in the Mitten State courtesy of The Awesome Mitten.

Ray's ice Cream - Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Ray’s ice Cream – Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Michigan summers are many things. Predictable, however, does not make the list. One day may be a beautiful 75 and sunny, and the next a sweltering 95 and muggy. Though the former is obviously preferable, there are plenty of awesome activities in Michigan to get you through the latter. Here are a few of my favorite ways to beat the heat in the mitten:

In light of the fact that it’s National Ice Cream Month, and since (inarguably) one of the best ways to beat the heat is with a cold, tasty treat, first on the list is ice cream.

Without a doubt, my first choice for ice cream in Michigan is the MSU Dairy Store. Though I worked at Coldstone Creamery for more than a year while living in East Lansing, I still made near weekly stops at the Dairy Store for a cone or a shake. If you haven’t been, make your way to East Lansing and stop in for a scoop of Michigan State Sesquicentennial Swirl post-haste. (Though I’m actually a fan of the more traditional Mint Chocolate Chip, myself.)

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Now that I’ve left East Lansing for metro-Detroit, I’ve had to find new locales to get my ice cream fix. Luckily, a short one mile walk from my apartment in Royal Oak is the delicious Ray’s Ice Cream. A staple in the area for more than 50 years, Ray’s consistently tops lists of best ice cream parlors in metro-Detroit. Before I wrap up the ice cream shout out’s, I also have to mention Treat Dreams in Ferndale, whose unique and creative flavors I first had and became enamored of at BRU Fest 2013 and have been enjoying ever since.

Possibly the most popular way to beat the heat in Michigan is to head to any number of the gorgeous lakes in the mitten state. Oft-overlooked, however, is the Detroit waterfront. Beautiful Belle Isle Beach is always a great option for just laying out and working on your tan, but you can also take a ride down the waterslide, walk the trails, or (if the weather takes a turn for the worse) check out the wildlife at the Belle Isle Aquarium.

And Belle Isle Beach isn’t the only place to enjoy Detroit’s riverside; Chene Park Amphitheater is another great way to experience the waterfront in the Motor City. With the ever-popular Jazz Series, as well as many other awesome summer performances, Chene Park is a great way to enjoy some tunes while basking in the breeze from the river.

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Speaking of the river, Riverside Kayak Connection has events such as the Detroit Eastside Canal Tour that offer a unique and adventurous way to explore the Motor City. (Don’t worry, novice kayakers, Riverside Kayak Connection has classes and events for all skill levels!)

And when the weather is just too unbearably scorching to enjoy the great outdoors, my personal favorite way to beat the heat indoors is with a few delicious Michigan craft beers. Obviously, everyone clamors for Oberon long before summer (“Oberon Day” was way back in March this year), but there are plenty of other delicious brews that have my mouth watering come summer. On my list are Atwater Brewery’s Dirty Blonde, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co’s Simcoe Silly, and Short’s Brewing Company’s Soft Parade (admittedly a year-round favorite of mine).

Since this list obviously doesn’t cover all of the ways to get through the hot days of a Michigan summer (and, as you may have noticed, it is somewhat biased to the metro-Detroit area), I would love to know: what are some of your favorite ways to beat the heat in Michigan?

HS PhotoHayley Serr writes for The Awesome Mitten and works for Vectorform, a Royal Oak-based interactive design company. Born and raised in metro-Detroit, this Spartan alumna relishes any opportunity to share all of the wonderful things there are to do in Michigan. Hayley loves spending time with her family, cooking, and, of course, any opportunity to explore all the fun there is to be had in the mitten!

 

 

Seven Tips for Capturing a Perfect Pure Michigan Sunset

We consider ourselves quite lucky to have the opportunity experience breathtaking, colorful sunsets all year round in Pure Michigan! Today, nature photographer Joshua Nowicki shares some of his best tips for capturing the memory of a perfect Pure Michigan sunset forever. 

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - St. Joseph

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – St. Joseph

I am out almost every night taking photos of the sunset.  Recently, I decided to look back on my photos from the last several years and I could see a noticeable change in the style and quality of the images that I have created.  This led me to think about the way I now approach sunset photography.  As a result, here are a few tips on creating beautiful photos of the sunsets in Pure Michigan.

Research your location: Do an image-search to get an idea of the popular features of a particular location.  Also, find out where the sun will set; there are a variety of apps and websites that will allow you to determine the position of the sun on the date and time that you will be in a particular location.  Knowing the position of the sun relative to the features of the landscape will allow you to better plan the composition of your photos.  For instance, there are several locations in Saint Joseph where I know that I can take a photo of the sun and the lighthouse at a distance, but this is only possible on a limited number of days during the year due to the changing position of the setting sun.

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - Ludington State Park

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – Ludington State Park

Get to your location early and observe others: When I arrive at a location, I first look at where other people are.  Sometimes it is a great spot, but often I move away from the group.  I do this because then I am not competing with others for space to take photos.  Also, I like to find a less common perspective, and I enjoy taking photos from a quiet spot in order to better enjoy the moment.

Look around: Because I arrive early, I usually have time before the sun is in the location that I want to photograph.  I use part of this time to enjoy taking photos during the ‘golden hour’ when the landscape is bathed in the soft warm light of the sun.  Further, this is a good opportunity to look for any objects that may unintentionally end up in your photos; power lines, cars, buoys etc. if not placed purposefully in the composition of your photo can be very distracting.

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - St. Joseph

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – St. Joseph

Try a different perspective: I like to crouch down low or even lay on the ground to take photos.  It makes waves look larger and lets you uniquely catch the light on the water or through grass.  It is a wonderful way to capture details that are often overlooked.

Be patient: Wait for the position of the sun, sailboat, lighthouse etc. to align as planned.  When I started taking photos, I often ran from place to place trying to get as many different angles as possible without thinking about exactly what I wanted to capture.  Now, I will choose a place and wait patiently; if necessary, I move location only slightly to get the photo composed as planned.  As a result, I take fewer photos, but I am happier with the ones that I take.

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography - After sunset in St. Joseph

Photo by Joshua Nowicki Photography – After sunset in St. Joseph

Stay late: It is amazing how quickly people leave after the sun sets. The color of the sky, especially if there are clouds, is amazing after sunset.

More than just the sunset: Photos of the sunset and water or clouds can be beautiful, but adding in an element that tells a story about the location is wonderful. Trees, lighthouses, animals, and buildings etc. add to the story that the photo tells and offer valuable data about the experience of being there.  A photo of the beach could be almost anywhere; but with a lighthouse in the background, the photo is instantly given a definable location.

With amazing sunsets almost every night, there are endless opportunities to take beautiful sunset photos in Pure Michigan.

For more photos of Pure Michigan sunsets, check out our Pure Michigan Flickr page or follow us on Instagram.

Joshua_NowickiJoshua Nowicki is a St. Joseph, Michigan based photographer specializing in landscape, nature, architecture, and food photography.   His photos can be viewed online on Facebook or his website.

Ten Can’t Miss Events at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

Grand Haven‘s Coast Guard Festival kicks off on July 25th! Today, guest blogger Stefanie Herder from Visit Grand Haven describes ten can’t miss events at the ten-day festival.

Coast Guard Ship - Photo Credit Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

The Coast Guard Festival unofficially began in 1924 as a Coast Guard personal-only picnic, which included rowing competitions for service members stationed in Grand Haven. Over the past 90 years, the festival has become a premier event in Michigan with an annual attendance of more than 350,000 people including the nation’s highest-ranking Coast Guard dignitaries from Washington D.C. Because of the city’s the long history with the Coast Guard, Grand Haven was named the official ‘Coast Guard City USA’ by the United States Congress on November 13, 1998. Needless to say, the Coast Guard Festival is a pretty big deal for us Grand Haven folks.

This year’s Coast Guard Festival is July 25th – August 3rd and it’s sure to be the biggest and best yet! So in honor of the 10 day festival, here are the 10 Can’t Miss Events of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival:

Coast Guard Festival Run
There is no secret to why over a thousand runners choose to participate in the annual Coast Guard Run. The race route is challenging but picturesque complete with stunning views of Lake Michigan and the famous Grand Haven pier and lighthouse. It even convinced this very non-runner to put on some running sneakers and participate in the event for the past two years.  The view is a well-deserved reward after having to scale the notorious hills on Grand Avenue.

Kids Parade
Shortly after the completion of the Coast Guard Run, families start claiming their spots in anticipation of the annual Kids Parade. Families, children’s groups, marching bands, and more are invited to take part of this community event. My little tradition for the past couple years has been to run the Coast Guard Run, have my favorite breakfast dish at the Dee-Lite in downtown Grand Haven, and then watch the parade. The perfect way to start a Saturday if I do say so myself!

Coast Guard Festival Community Picnic
Just like the first Coast Guard Community Picnic in 1924, this is a time for the community and Coast Guard personnel to celebrate the USCG’s long history in the Grand Haven area. The public is welcome to enjoy food, games, and music at Coast Guard Park in Ferrysburg.

Ship Arrivals & Ship Tours
The USCGC Hollyhock, USCGC Bristol Bay, and USCGC Biscayne Bay are set to sail into Grand Haven’s port. Everyone in town lines the Grand Haven boardwalk and pier to welcome the ships to the festival. I love walking down from our office to watch the ships parade down the river channel and back before they dock at Escanaba Park.  After the ships arrival, the public is welcome to come aboard for free tours presented by the ship’s crew throughout the remainder of the week.

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Downtown Carnival
Downtown Grand Haven’s Washington Avenue transforms into a carnival midway complete with rides, games, and the sweet, sweet smells of elephant ears. In this unique setting visitors are entertained by carnival goers from street side patios of downtown eateries as the bright carnival rides light up the evening sky.

Street Dance
This event has long been a favorite to both locals and visitors during the annual festival. A block of Washington Street in downtown Grand Haven is closed for the evening so we can do as the event name promises – dance in the street! This year’s entertainment is provided by The Gents who will fill the street with your favorite rock and roll classics. With the carnival midway and historic downtown as your backdrop, get ready to dance the night away!

Craft Fair
The Coast Guard Craft Fair is one of the most popular craft fairs in Michigan with over 170 crafters from around the state and nation. During this two day show, Grand Haven’s Central Park is transformed in to an outdoor market filled with original, handcrafted goods. There’s always something new and unique to see at the Craft Fair.

National Memorial Service

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

At the heart of the Coast Guard Festival is the National Memorial Service held at Escanaba Park along Grand Haven’s waterfront. During this moving tribute the attention is focused on the brave members of the United States Coast Guard, particularly those who have “passed over the bar” in the past year.

Grand Parade
The Coast Guard Grand Parade is one of the largest and most popular parades in the state of Michigan. Nearly 100,000 people line the streets of downtown Grand Haven to show their appreciation for the men and women who serve in the United States Coast Guard as well as celebrate “Coast Guard City, USA”. In this 2-hour parade you’ll see marching bands, clowns, military units, Coast Guard dignitaries, local sports teams, colorful floats, and much more. I’m a HUGE parade lover and this one does not disappoint.

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Photo courtesy of Ed Post

Fireworks Extravaganza
The Coast Guard Festival Fireworks are a 74 year old community tradition and one of the hallmarks of the annual festival. This fireworks display is known as one of the best in the state of Michigan and continues to get bigger and better each year. The show takes place after the completion of a special Coast Guard Festival edition of the Musical Fountain along Grand Haven’s waterfront. Paired with the carnival lights, large crowd, and music – it’s a magical scene.

Check out Coast Guard Festival in action in the video below!

 

 

 

Have you been to Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Festival? Tell us about your experience! 

Stefanie Herder Bio Pic - Photo Credit Marci CisnerosStefanie Herder is the Customer Service Coordinator for the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She was born and raised in the Grand Haven area and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management in 2006. Stefanie and her husband, Josh, enjoy taking full advantage of the four seasons Michigan has to offer including fishing, hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, golfing, and snowboarding.