Take a Staycation, Explore Culinary Hidden Gems in Northern Michigan

You won’t find salt water beaches, palm trees, or coral reefs in northern Michigan – and that’s just the way we like it. Traverse City and its surrounding areas are some of the most scenic and beautiful destinations in the world, and they just might be in the comfort of your own back yard. If you’re a northern Michigander, here’s a roundup of some of the off-the-beaten-path food and culture gems to check out when you want to get away without going far.

First things first- the beer.

Traverse City is home to many breweries, taprooms, and pubs that you can only find when visiting.  You can’t truly call yourself a craft beer connoisseur until you try some of the many, many delicious brews that have made the breweries famous.  Some of the most popular destinations to grab a cold one:

  • Brewery Terra Firma fall-color-tour
    • Brewery Terra Firma is unique in its approach as a brewery and as an agricultural destination. Through the integration of sustainable production methods, environmentally conscious waste management and innovative water recycling/reclamation techniques, they hope to become a model for breweries and agricultural destinations throughout the nation.
  • The Workshop Brewing Company
    • The Workshop Brewing Company exists to preserve Northern Michigan’s spectacular natural environment, to reinforce Traverse City’s warm and vital community, and to honor traditional craft. They do not consider their business to be a success unless they are demonstrably and sustainably doing all three. They express this commitment by using the Trifidelity symbol, which stands for their motto: Nature. Community. Craft.
  • The Filling Station Microbrewery ???????????????????????????????
    • Established in the spring of 2012, The Filling Station Microbrewery is a family owned and operated business, dedicated to providing friendly and knowledgeable service and the highest quality of hand crafted brews and edibles.  Located just off the TART Trail in the historic railroad district, the Filling Station Microbrewery features a rotating list of at least 10 craft beers, which pair perfectly with our wood-fired flatbreads and fresh salads.  Whether on your own, meeting friends or with your family, patrons of all ages feel welcomed in our casual pub-style setting.   You’ll enjoy views of Boardman Lake from inside the pub or out on the patio, live music and the occasional train passing by.
  • Right Brain Brewery
    • Right Brain Brewing is committed to using the best available local ingredients in every small batch of  craft brew. Featuring a rotating right brained beer menu & artwork!
  • Short’s Brewing Company
    • Today Short’s Brewing Company continues its efforts to make the best beer on earth in Northern Michigan. Although Shorts has quickly grown to be one of Michigan’s largest breweries, they still take pride in their hands-on, mom-and-pop approach and the energy they put into the quality of our beer, food, staff, customers and facilities.
  • Stafford’s Noggin Room Pub
    • The Noggin Room Pub’s casual and comfortable atmosphere provides a great place to break from shopping the near-by Gaslight District, meet with friends and enjoy our award winning selection of domestic and imported beers. With personal service from the “Best Staff in Northern Michigan” (as voted by Northern Express), we’re sure you’ll feel right at home.

For those looking to enjoy their favorite node of Traverse City wine, check out these taste rooms and vineyards:

  • Left Foot Charley LeftFootCharly
    • The winery has since grown to around 6000 cases and is located in the former Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Traverse City, Michigan. The urban environment has served to bring the terroir to the people. LFC is a Michigan version of an Austrian Heuriger – a place where aromatic and flavorful wine is an everyday event. Locals and visitors alike have come to realize that the non-traditional setting pairs perfectly with the atypical fruit sourcing and old style winemaking that defines LFC. Left Foot has a committed a focus on white wine varietals, hard cider, and sparkling wine.
  • Blustone Vineyards
    • Bluestone’s story started 20 years ago visiting Leland as a family for the first time. The simplicity and beauty of the “tucked away” secret that is Leelanau has always been what we treasure most about the area. There is a connection to the land found only here amongst the lakes, dunes, hills, and sunlit fields and our dream to start Blustone was born out of that.

If you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll ask for a glass of milk. If you give a tourist a beer, they’ll ask for something to eat.  

Along with famous craft beers, Traverse City is known state and nation wide as a hub for unique and tasty meals from your not-so-typical mom and pop type restaurants.  Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast, fresh caught walleye, or a mouth watering burgers, Traverse City boasts it all.  At the risk of leaving out some hidden gems, here is a few of some nibble nooks you won’t want to miss:

  • Bay Bread Co.
    • Specialties: Breakfast and lunch sandwiches and some of the best baked goods you can find!
  • Cherry Republic

    • Celebrating the beauty and spirit of northern Michigan in everything we make and do, Cherry Republic has grown from a t-shirt sold out of the trunk of a car to the world’s largest exclusive retailer of cherry food creations. Along the way, we have turned one man’s vision into a nation of citizens embracing his creed of life, liberty, beaches, and pie.
  • Pepe Nero Kabob
    • PepeNero is a cozy and intimate restaurant snuggled inside the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Owners Giorgio and Monica Lo Greco are experienced professionals who know how to amaze your palate by preparing simple, genuine Italian food utilizing the gift of fresh seasonal ingredients from local markets and the high quality of imported Italian products.
  • Quay Restaurant and Bar
    • Quay Restaurant + Terrace Bar, pronounced kwā, is located in the beautiful town of Charlevoix, Michigan.  Come enjoy our three story restaurant and bar offering a New American menu along with a comprehensive wine and beer list.
  • Terry’s of Charlevoix
    • With over 35 years in the business since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Terry Left, the proprietor, and Paul Bradley, the executive chef, have brought their years of experience to bear in developing exquisite recipes complemented by just the right sauces. Terry’s offers excellent full course dinners in a warm, casual dining atmosphere. Given the close proximity to the Great Lakes, their fish entrées are a fresh and ever-popular selection.
  • City Park Grill
    • In 1997 Bob & Mary Keedy, Dick & Laura Dinon, Chef John Norman, and Patrick Faylor purchased the Park Garden Café and changed the name to City Park Grill. The menu was changed as well to reflect their scratch kitchen and daily/seasonal specials. Since then, the restaurant has been restored to the glory days of the past, serving a wide array of guests from around the world.
  • Twisted Olive Quattro beef_1920x1200
    • A true Northern Michigan gem, Twisted Olive Quattro offers some of the most unique and decadent samplers, entrees, and drinks of anywhere in the mitten.
  • Cafe Sante
    • A casual, European-style bistro serving The Classics—simply and with flair. Featuring wood-fired pizzas, mussels and frites, pastas, Panini, unique breakfasts and casual cuisine from other fine European traditions.

Now that’ you’re good and full, you’re probably wondering what is there to do?

From the Sleeping Bear Dunes, scenic Lake Michigan beaches, and countless trails to explore, there truly isn’t enough time in one day to see it all.  If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, we encourage you to check out a guided tour or make a stop at one of the local museums.  You can’t go wrong with what you pick to do in TC, but here’s a few of our favorite things to get you started:

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes tour outdoors_naturepark_dunes
    • You will find a wide variety of activities for every age available to you at the Lakeshore. Climb the Dunes, swim at one of the many beaches, or take a hike through the Maple/Beech forest to some beautiful overlooks. Maybe you will want to spend some time in the museums or tour Port Oneida to learn about the rich history and culture of the area.
  • Music House Museum Tour
    • Recognized by Forbes.com as one of the ten reasons to visit Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, the Music House Museum offers a unique collection of instruments that provide guests with a walk through the history, the artistry and the engineering of automated music.
  • Earl Young House Tour
    • This tour will take you around the triangular block bounded by Park Avenue, Grant Street, and Clinton Street.  Here you can see some of the most famous, and most beloved, work of long-time Charlevoix resident, Earl Young, homes he built or remodeled beginning in the late 1930s, and culminating in the construction of the “mushroom house” in the 1950s.
  • Castle Farms Garden Tour kings_grand
    • Northern Michigan’s very own fairy tale castle! With cobblestone courtyards, soaring stone towers, and magnificent sweeping gardens, Castle Farms has earned a reputation as one of Michigan’s premiere historic attractions, as well as a celebrated wedding venue. Whether you’re on a travel adventure, or searching for the perfect site in which to exchange marriage vows, this French Renaissance style castle offers the perfect blend of old-world charm and modern-day elegance for visitors seeking family fun and bridal couples-to-be.
  • Little Traverse History Museum
    • The Little Traverse Historical Socity was established in 1905 and, 1969, it was incorporated as a non- profit organization, “To preserve, advance and disseminate knowledge of the history of the Little Traverse Bay Area.” To this end, and with the support of members and winter and summer residents, they acquired and restored the abandoned Chicago and West Michigan Railroad depot. Originally built in 1892 to accommodate the large influx of summer resorters, the depot now serves the area as The Little Traverse History Museum.  The museum houses the historical society’s archives, long term displays, and an annual new summer display.  It is also the site of ongoing programs.  Currently, the museum is only open during the summer season (Memorial Day – mid October).
  • Cooking demonstration at Fustini’s
    • The company was founded by Jim and Lane Milligan, who lived in Minneapolis/St. Paul and took frequent family vacations to the beautiful resort town of Traverse City, Michigan. Like many others before them, the Milligans fell in love with northern Michigan and hoped to “someday” settle down there.  Flash-forward to today and Fustini’s is a Northern Michigan staple!

With everything there is to eat, drink and do in Northern Michigan, there’s no reason not to plan your staycation!  These are just a few of our own suggestions, however.  For more information on how to plan your own staycation in Northern Michigan or any other #PureMichigan destination, visit michigan.org

Celebrate American History on Mackinac Island with Patriotic Events at Fort Mackinac

Mackinac Island is getting ready to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island. Today, Mackinac State Historic Parks provides a look at some special patriotic events happening on the island to commemorate the occasion.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lilienthal at Fort Mackinac

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lilienthal at Fort Mackinac

On July 17, 1812, war descended upon Mackinac Island as a combined force of British, Canadian, and Native American soldiers captured Fort Mackinac from a small, unsuspecting American garrison. The fall of Mackinac, one of the first engagements of the War of 1812, set off over two years of combat between the United States and Great Britain for control of Michigan and the Great Lakes.

In the summer of 1814, the United States dispatched seven warships and nearly 1,000 men on a two-month expedition to recapture the island. British and American troops actually met in battle on Mackinac Island on August 4 at what is today Wawashkamo Golf Club, but at the time was Michael Dousman’s farm. The ensuing battle resulted in American defeat. Only the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, restored peace to Mackinac. American soldiers took possession of Fort Mackinac from the British garrison on July 18, 1815, three years and one day after the post had been captured.

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

This August, Mackinac State Historic Parks continues to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Special 1812 demonstrations and tours take place every day at Fort Mackinac. New exhibits in the East Blockhouse present the compelling story of the American attempts to recapture the fort in 1814. A series of special events between August 2 and August 4 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island. Just some of the exciting features of these special events include a large scale battle reenactment where the actions of the British and American forces are displayed in the very footsteps as they were two centuries ago.

Additionally, the U.S. Brig Niagara, a reproduction of one of the ships present for the battle, will be available for dockside tours. Concerts of patriotic music, and special bicycle tours around the island, highlighting points of interest pertaining to the War of 1812 round out the programming for the weekend.

For more information on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island weekend events visit, the website.

Have you ever visited Fort Mackinac? Tell us about your visit!

Pure Michigan August 2014 Events Roundup

August is quickly approaching and there’s still plenty of summertime left to get out and enjoy an outdoor adventure or fun summer festival. From racing events like the Pure Michigan 400 to star-studded concerts and the Michigan state fair, there’s something for everyone happening this month. 

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in August. Visit michigan.org for a complete listing of Michigan events.

Week of July 28th – August 3rd

wizard-of-oz-puppetsThe Wizard of Oz
August 1-2, Coldwater
Lions and Tigers and Puppets, oh my! Adapted for marionettes by Martin Stevens and Dan Raynor, children of all ages will watch with bated breath as a Kansas cyclone whisks Dorothy off to Oz. This classic heart-warming tale captures the imagination with its many beloved characters. 10 a.m. Tickets: $7 includes popcorn and juice at intermission.

Buy Michigan Now Festival
August 1-3, Northville
The Buy Michigan Now Festival is a weekend celebration of Michigan businesses and products made within the state. This family-friendly event includes tasty treats, street vendors, live music, and children’ activities, all highlighting Michigan-based businesses. Adults may also partake in local beers and wines in the Michigan Beer Garden. Admission and parking are free. For the sixth straight year, this event is set in charming downtown Northville.

Bayside Music Festival
August 2, St. Ignace
Get ready to listen or dance in downtown St. Ignace from 4pm till who-knows-when, when a series of bands dazzle the crowds and keep the light-a-foot busy. Family games, a beer, wine and soft drink tent, food concessions and more are available as the live music plays. It’s all happening in the city marina parking lot, with fireworks on display at dusk! Admission: $5 per person, and FREE for children five years of age and younger!

Boats on the Boardwalk
August 2, Traverse City
Featuring 50 boats, circa 1900 through current wooden classics. Boats on display usually include high-powered mahogany runabouts, hydroplanes, outboards, vintage engines, powered launches, wooden canoes, and rowboats. Live musical entertainment and lunch available. Event held along the Boardman River boardwalk in Traverse City. Admission is free.

Copperman Triathlon
August 2, Copper Harbor
1900 through current wooden classics. Boats on display usually include high-powered mahogany runabouts, hydroplanes, outboards, vintage engines, powered launches, wooden canoes, and rowboats. Live musical entertainment and lunch available and admission is free!Get ready for a half-mile swim in the brisk waters of Lake Fanny Hooe, a 23-mile bike ride along the shore of Lake Superior, and a five-mile run past the end of US Highway 41. Race starts at the boat ramp of Fort Wilkins State Park, just east of Copper Harbor, Michigan. An $11 Recreation Passport is required for entering State Parks, Recreation Areas, State Forest Campgrounds, Non-motorized Trail Head Parking and Boat Launches. Recreation Passports can be purchased when renewing your State of Michigan license plate tabs or at state parks and recreation areas.

Week of August 4th – 10th

Michigan Pirate Festival
August 4-10, Grand Haven
Join in celebrating the Michigan Pirate Festival’s eighth year in western Michigan this August 4-10, 2014, in Grand Haven, Michigan, at Loutit District Library and at Harbor Island. This year’s event will include pirate hunters, re-enactors, literary and fantasy characters, encampments, and pirates from more eras than ever before. Come out and see for yourself what the excitement is all about!

Kalamazoo Ribfest
August 7-9, Kalamazoo
Features national and local rib vendors that sell ribs and chicken in outstanding barbeque sauces. To complement the rib vendors, additional food vendors will be offering side items and sweet treats to top off the food experience at Ribfest. Music from national rock and country artists will be on scene, along with local bands and plenty of fun activities. Tickets for Ribfest are now available online so you can avoid waiting in long lines!

Sparta Celtic Festival
August 9, Sparta
The Sparta Celtic Festival is a free, family friendly event focused on the expression of Celtic heritage. The festival offers music, food, and merchants with a Celtic focus while featuring two stages filled with music and dancing. The children’s area offers activities for kids of all ages. This year, the festival is celebrating a 5th anniversary, and will be launching new attractions, including the Celtic Tens Rugby Tournament, High Tea House and more!

Cheeseburger in Caseville
August 8, Caseville
Head to Caseville for some serious summer family fun! Cardboard boat races, hat making, music and cheeseburgers are just a few of the many things going on this year. Musical entertainment will be in the park and the parade of tropical fools will be happening on Wednesday, August 13  at 6 p.m.

 Week of August 11th-17th

Upper Peninsula State Fair
August 11-17, Escanaba
Head north for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula State fair! Held in Escanaba at the Fair Grounds, make sure you come enjoy all the great events, entertainment and racing! This Upper Peninsula fair is something that you won’t want to miss, so put it on your calendar today!

BlueberryPieWild Blueberry Festival
August 15-17, Paradise
Each year during the third weekend in August, Paradise celebrates a part of its local heritage—wild blueberries. An art fair, entertainment, kid’s craft tent, and wonderful local food showcase the festivities. The celebration also includes informative programs of music, nature, and local history lore. There is an activity and delight for everyone in the family!

BBQ Dinner Sail
August 15, Bay City
Set sail on this family friendly voyage aboard the Appledore IV for a fun and relaxing evening of cruising along the Saginaw River and Bay. While on board, guests will enjoy a delicious andcasual barbecue meal catered by one of Saginaw’s local restaurants. All sails are rain or shine. Sails every Friday, August 15 to September 26, 2014, 6-9 p.m. Departs from downtown Bay City, Wenonah Park.

Woodward Dream Cruise
August 16, Metro Detroit
With more than 50,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles on display, the Motor City definitely shifts into cruise mode for the Woodward Dream Cruise, an all-star display of car culture. Taking place along a 16-mile stretch of legendary Woodward Avenue on August 16, 2014, the event guides muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles through eight host communities including Berkley, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Pontiac and Royal Oak, in Southeast Michigan.

NascarPure Michigan 400 NASCAR Spring Cup Series
August 17, Brooklyn
The 2014 racing season concludes with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400. The Sprint Cup Series stars always end the MIS season with an exciting finale, featuring many lead changes and exciting finishes. With great camping, affordable adult prices, special kids pricing, free parking and the ability to bring a bigger cooler with your favorite food and beverages, MIS is the perfect way to end your summer race season!

St. Ignace History Week
August 17-22, Saint Ignace
Join the town of Saint Ignace as they pay special tribute to their rich history during this 6-day event. Fort de Buade Indian Museum and the Museum of Ojibwa Culture will offer special presentations, community walking tours, and much, much more! Native American singing, geocaching and a variety of other events will all occur during this celebration.

Week of August 18th-24th 

Tecumseh’s Classic Car & Bike Show
August 21, Tecumseh
Get your motor running and head to Tecumseh to see over 200 cars and motorcycles on display in the United Bank & Trust Hickman Financial Center parking lot. This family friendly event is something car and bike lovers won’t want to miss!

Movies on the Beach
August 22, Muskegon
Come join us on the shores of Lake Michigan for “Finding Nemo” with pre-movie music beginning around 8pm and the film will begin around dusk (around 9:30pm). So bring your beach chairs and blankets and come on down to Pere Marquette Park for this free community event!

Eminem and Rihanna Concert
August 22-23, Detroit
Two of music’s biggest superstars, Eminem and Rihanna, will be joining forces this summer for a series of co-headlining stadium shows when they launch “The Monster Tour” including Detroit’s Comerica Park in August for two nights.

Traverse City Summer Microbrew and Music Festival
August 22-23, 2014
Lovers of craft beer, world music and local harvest won’t want to miss the annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival in the historic trees and on the front lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Ticket buyers must be 21 years of age or older.

fudge.festivalMackinac Island Fudge Festival
August 22-23, Mackinac Island
While fudge was not invented on Mackinac Island, Mackinac Island’s fudge has become the most popular fudge in America. This festival celebrate the creamy goodness with events such as Dining Under the Influence of Fudge, Fudge on the Rocks, Michigan Craft Brew Beer Tastings, Great Turtle Slow Ride, and the coveted “Daddy, I Want the Golden Ticket” vacation giveaway.

 

Week of August 25th – 31st

The Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinac Bicycle Tour
August 27-31, East Lansing
The Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw Bicycle Tour, which is a nationally known bicycle camping tour, was originated in 1971 by former State Representative Dick Allen of Ithaca. All routes will begin at the MSU Pavilion in East Lansing and follow country roads whenever possible to attempt to provide the safest, most scenic routes between campgrounds. DALMAC is open to individuals, families, and all capable, interested bicyclists. Riders under the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parent or responsible adult who must ride with them. DALMAC riders are given special permission to ride bicycles across the Mackinac Bridge.

Street Beats
August 28, Boyne City
Come to Street Beats in August to shake it up! Continuing on with a popular 30-year tradition–Dancing in the Streets (Street Beats) brings out nearly 400 people. You’ll have a ball as you shake and move at this popular Boyne City event!

Michigan Peach Festival
August 28-September 1, Romeo
The Michigan Peach Festival of Romeo includes parades, sports, carnival rides, craft show, food and fun for the whole family over five days around Labor Day weekend in downtown Romeo. The Romeo Peach Queen reigns over this popular annual celebration of summer with a wide variety of events from dawn to dusk each day. Festival begins Thursday before Labor Day and runs through Labor Day.

Arts, Beats, and Eats
August 29 – September 1, Royal Oak
Oakland County’s premier entertainment festival which draws nearly 400,000 people to experience more than 200 juried art exhibitors, 50 restaurants and 200 performances on 10 stages downtown Royal Oak. Admission fee.

Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair
August 29-September 1, Novi
This year’s State Fair will include an expanded Midway, live entertainment, the ever-popular racing pigs, livestock and home arts exhibits, the state of Michigan Butter Cow, special performances by the Detroit Shrine Circus, Made in Michigan Pavilion, tasty carnival treats, and much more!

Michigan Bison Bash
August 30, Levering
Grab the whole family and stampede your way up to Levering for the Michigan Bison Bash! This exciting and unusual event will feature a kid’s fun area, buffalo ranch tours, food, games, live music, beer tents, vendors and displays, and a live buffalo calf to pet! This is an event that will be unforgettable for the whole family!

Which events will you be at next month?