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 burger, Traverse City boasts it all.  At the risk of leaving out some hidden gems, here’s a few 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

Five Items to Cross Off Your Ludington Beach Day Checklist

The beaches of Ludington are no stranger to summer fun! Today, guest blogger Brandy Henderson reminds us to cross these five items off your beach day checklist to make your Pure Ludington getaway complete. 

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

1. Find the perfect beach for the occasion

With 28 miles of sandy shoreline, you are sure to find the perfect place to drop your beach towel in Pure Ludington. Known for beautiful, sugar-sand beaches along Lake Michigan, Ludington is home to award winning beaches with lots of amenities, dog friendly beaches where your furry friends can take a dip and secluded natural shoreline for a more private setting. Ludington’s beaches have something for everyone.

Most notably, the public beach at Stearns Park has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years. Recently, USA Today named Stearns Park Beach one of the Top 51 Great American Beaches, representing the #1 beach in Michigan. With well-maintained facilities, groomed sugar-sands, beautiful views of the North Breakwater Lighthouse overlooking Lake Michigan and close proximity to the quaint downtown, this is truly a beach to be experienced.

2. Watch or ride the SS Badger

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

Stearns Park Beach is also a great place to catch the historic carferry, SS Badger, setting sail across Lake Michigan. This historic ship is the last coal-powered steam ship operating in North America. The 4 hour trip across Lake Michigan aboard the SS Badger can be filled by enjoying the movie theater, enjoying a drink on the bow, watching the kids play in the arcade or just relaxing in the lounge playing games. The Badger operates between Ludington and Manitowoc, WI daily between May and October. Reconnect and relax on the SS Badger!

3. Enjoy A Michigan Craft Brew

Jamesport Brewing Company and The Mitten Bar in downtown Ludington both serve up some great craft beers, as well as some great food. Jamesport Brewing Company is a micro-brewery and at any time you can try any one of their dozen brews. Jamesport is also a great place to catch the sunset or SS Badger making its way home on their outdoor deck.

The Mitten Bar is quickly becoming a “must stop” destination for Michigan beer lovers. The Mitten Bar has created a destination and culture that celebrates craft beer as well as artisan wine and fine spirits from all around Michigan, right here in downtown Ludington. This quaint little bar serves up 13 taps of Michigan craft beer in addition to Michigan-made wine and liquor.

4. Cool off with an ice cream cone at House of Flavors

Photo by Todd Reed

Photo by Todd Reed

It isn’t a stop to Ludington, without a stop at House of Flavors. This 50’s style diner serves up breakfast all day long and have more than 30 flavors of ice cream to fit your fancy. A popular tradition for locals and visitors is to grab an ice cream cone from House of Flavors and walk to the beach or Waterfront Sculpture Park to enjoy one of Ludington’s breathtaking sunsets.

5. Reconnect with Nature at the Ludington State Park

One of Michigan’s most popular state parks, the Ludington State Park, is comprised of nearly 5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, marshlands and forests.  This beautiful retreat is one of the best places to camp. It is situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan with several miles of shoreline and beaches on both bodies of water. In addition to several miles of hiking and biking trails you can enjoy, visitors can also take a short hike to the Big Sable Lighthouse. Your stay at the Ludintgton State Park will be filled with lots of adventures!

IMG_0057Brandy Henderson is the Executive Director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is a lifelong resident of Ludington and a Michigan enthusiast. 

Life’s A Beach: Announcing Pure Michigan’s 10-Day Instagram #BeachChallenge

Photo by Instagram user @jmwuokko

Photo by Instagram user @jmwuokko

UPDATE: Congratulations to Gina Ferwerda, winner of our Pure Michigan Instagram #BeachChallenge! Read about Gina’s winning entry and see 14 other photos that will get you dreaming of a perfect Pure Michigan beach day here.

From sparkling blue waters to the chance to reconnect with friends and family, Michigan’s beaches are as as diverse as they are beautiful!

As the summer beach season kicks into high gear, we, along with our partners at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), are excited to announce the launch of our 10-day Instagram #BeachChallenge!

We’re challenging our fans to share photos of their favorite Michigan beaches on Instagram to showcase the great variety of activities that travelers and residents can enjoy during a day at the beach in Pure Michigan. For each day of the 10-day challenge, fans will be asked to share photos that represent that day’s challenge topic.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow @PureMichigan on Instagram. If you don’t have an Instagram account, get started here.
  2. Take a photo of your favorite Michigan beach. Share your photo with us @PureMichigan using hashtags #PureMichigan #BeachChallege. Post your photo using Instagram, Twitter or our Pure Michigan Beaches gallery, and tell us the location of your photo in the caption! (On Instagram, be sure to include the hashtags in the photo description and not the comments section).
  3. Follow the link provided in the auto response.
  4. Complete the entry form and view your photo in the gallery.
  5. Check the challenge topic schedule below and get ready to share your next #PureMichigan #BeachChallenge photo.
  • June 20 – Favorite Beach to Catch a Sunrise or Sunset
  • June 21 – Favorite Dog-Friendly Beach
  • June 22 – Favorite State Park Beach
  • June 23 – Favorite Beach to Fly a Kite
  • June 24 – Favorite Beach for Watersports
  • June 25 – Favorite Beach for Fishing from a Shore or Dock
  • June 26 – Favorite Beach to Experience Clear Waters
  • June 27 – Favorite Beach to Take a Long Walk
  • June 28 – Favorite Beach to Hang Out with Family and Friends
  • June 29 – Favorite Beach to Watch Fireworks
Photo by Facebook Fan John McCormick

Photo by Facebook Fan John McCormick

All entries tagged with #puremichigan and #beachchallenge will be populated into the gallery on michigan.org. For each challenge topic, we’ll choose one daily winner to be featured on our Pure Michigan Instagram page and receive a Personal Sun Care Kit from the Pure Michigan Store.

At the end of the challenge, we’ll choose one grand prize photo from all entries received. The grand prize winner will have their photo featured across Pure Michigan social channels and receive an “Ultimate Pure Michigan Beach Day” prize package that includes a 24 oz Pure Michigan Water Bottle Beach Towel Tote BagFire Pit Tackle BoxFishing Lure Kit,  Ice Berg Cooler Fun Bucket with Shovel and Personal Sun Care Kit.

The grand prize winner will be announced during the week of July 1, 2014.

View the official contest rules here.

Happy Instagramming! We’re so excited to see our fans’ spectacular photo submissions!

Where is your favorite Pure Michigan beach?