Wash Away the Norm at Zehnder’s New and Improved Splash Village Waterpark

Today, Christie Bierlein from Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us how to make a splash with a Frankenmuth family getaway designed for all ages.

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Anyone who has had teenagers could likely agree that they can be difficult travelers to please.  What is “cool” to teenagers?  Everything is “boring”.  One would think that they themselves would have the perfect answer to a cool getaway since they often think they have all the answers…and in today’s world they just might since in their lifetime there’s never been a question they couldn’t just Google to find the answer.  So before you go through the exhausted list of “been there, done that” for your next family vacation, consider something that was built with them in mind!

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Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark just opened a new expanded atrium waterpark in Frankenmuth, which is the only waterpark in Michigan to offer two distinctly different family waterparks.  While Splash Village continues to be a destination for families of all ages, the new waterpark expansion offers two six-story rides for the more adventurous traveler; perfect for those teenagers.

In just 6.9 seconds, you will drop 40 feet and travel down the 273’ long Super Loop, complete with a 360 degree loop! Or gather your friends and family to take on the 4 person family raft ride called the Tantrum Twist! The expansion also features a 20 person hot tub, Action River and the best part, private Cabanas for up to 10 people; they all have mini refrigerators, safes, flat screen TV’s and personalized food and beverage service. Now we are talking vacation!

Photo courtesy of Zehnder's

Photo courtesy of Zehnder’s

Did we mention that the over 50,000 square feet of aquatic adventure is also highlighted by Michigan’s only waterpark with a retractable roof?  That’s right.  If it’s raining they close the roof. If it’s sunny and warm, the roof may be open.  The addition includes 32 new guest rooms, 22 of which offer panoramic views of the waterpark.

For those that have enjoyed the original waterpark that opened in 2005 and geared towards that younger age group still features a lazy river, whirlpool, hot tub, 400-gallon dumping bucket, water geysers and sprayers, a four-story tube slide and the Elf Hollow Café.  The expansion also doubled the number of locker rooms, expanded the arcade and concession options.  Waterpark-only day passes are available by making advanced reservations. Zehnder’s Chairman and CEO Al Zehnder says, “Our overall goal is to offer a four-season family vacation destination – from our waterparks to our 1,500-seat Zehnder’s Restaurant, Z-Bakery and Gift Shop and the 18-hole Fortress golf course.”

Photo courtesy of Zehnder's

Photo courtesy of Zehnder’s

So now that you have the kids hooked (or maybe it’s you that can’t wait to try the Super Loop), don’t forget about all the other great reasons to enjoy Frankenmuth with your family.  It’s the perfect time of year for a stop at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland to get in the spirit of the season; and conveniently located right next to Splash Village.  And nothing brings a family together more than time around the table, so carve out some time to enjoy a meal together at one of the World Famous Chicken Dinner restaurants.

Remember, whatever it is you enjoy doing while you are in Frankenmuth, it is always better to do it while eating something sweet!  So, consider a visit to your old favorites or check out the Explore Frankenmuth App for new ideas.  Either way, get to Frankenmuth soon; it’s where memories are made and traditions begin!

So, which do you choose – Super Loop, Lazy River, World Famous Chicken Dinner? What’s your favorite part of a Frankenmuth getaway? 

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town: Unique Upper Peninsula Day Trips

Fresh air, fresh water and fresh memories are what Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is all about. If you’re a native Yooper, you know all of the beauty and uniqueness the U.P. has to offer. If you’ve ever been curious what north-of-the-mitten is all about, here’s a roundup of some in-state adventure every Michigander should have on their bucket list.

Are you hungry? Either way, you will be after hearing about - the food.

The U.P. boasts some of the best culinary hidden gems that Michigan has to offer, and we wanted to have a taste for ourselves. Here are just a few of the many unique eateries you can find in the Upper Peninsula:

The Ambassador
On January 1, 1965, the Ambassador Restaurant opened under new ownership. The new owners, the Rossi family, had transformed the space from a tap bar into a restaurant that specialized in pizza and sandwiches. In 1978, the Ambassador was expanded into the space next door, and the second dining room was added. To explain the history of the Ambassador and the unique murals that line the interior walls, the owners conducted research and wrote a poem detailing the story. The poem, entitled “Come Fill a Bumper,” has since been printed on the cover of the Ambassador menu.

The Library Restaurant and Brew Pub 
Library and Brew PubThe Library is not your ordinary restaurant. They don’t worship the frozen or torture it in frying oil until it’s crispy. They cherish fresh ingredients and never take them for granted. The Library’s goal is simply for you to “Taste Something Great” in every entrée, every salad, every appetizer. This U.P. experience mixes traditional foods with unique flair and twists. The award-winning microbrew is the favorite of many, and premier drinks, wines and beverages bring it all together with a smile.

Kaleva Café
In 1891, Daniel T. Pearce opened a small saloon. The latest offered a warm retreat for hard working miners to gather over a welcomed spot of ale and to exchange tales. Eventually the business exchanged hands, becoming known as John’s Saloon. The new owner proudly promised his guest the “best brands of wine and liquor always on hand”. In 1918, Henry Moilanen took over at 234 Quincy with the idea of opening a restaurant. However, he needed a name. A contest was held and the name “Kaleva” was chosen, a direct take-off from the “Kalevala” national Finnish epic poem. In May 2006, Frank and Sandra Beauchamp reopened the Kaleva Cafe after an extensive renovation. They strive to carry on the Kaleva tradition of good home-cooked food in a friendly atmosphere.

Jampot Bakery
The Jampot bakery is a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite, under the jurisdiction of The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago, and belonging to the Ukrainian Metropoly in the United States of America, which is in union with the Pope of Rome, supreme pastor of the universal Church. They embrace traditions of the Christian East while making delicious confections, cakes and preserves year round. In our skete at Jacob’s Falls, on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, we devote ourselves to a common life of prayer and work for the praise, love, and service of God and for the upbuilding of His Kingdom through the Arts.

The Mariner North
MarinerThe Mariner North holds a very large place as the hospitality center in the history of Copper Harbor. First established in the1920′s, it was called the Pontiac and was a thriving Inn / Restaurant / Bar as Copper Harbor launched its tourism era into a summer resort community with the shuttle service on the Copper Queen to Isle Royale National Park and the establishment of Fort Wilkins State Park. Over 40 years later, it changed hands and became known as the Keweenaw Inn North. The fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and the draw of Lake Superior made Copper Harbor a natural escape from the city confines. In 1977 The Keweenaw Inn again changed hands and renamed it “The Mariner North”. The early days of The Mariner involved the development of the snowmobile program to assist Copper Harbor in its goal as a year round tourism destination area.

Harbor Haus Restaurant
Without a doubt, the most frequently asked question at the Harbor Haus is “Can we have a table with a view?” Fortunately, that’s an easy request to fill as it’s situated right on the shore of Lake Superior. Through the large picture windows, each guest has a beautiful harbor view expanding onto the big lake. While dining, it’s not uncommon to see ore freighters in transit or small marine traffic and kayakers taking in the beautiful surroundings. All of this is framed by a patio adorned with flowers and trees, providing a German/Austrian flavor. The Harbor Haus offers a vast dining menu featuring fresh local fish, seafood, steaks and many more items, as well as Ahi flown in from Hawaii the day after it was “swimming.” Local berries and vegetables are utilized in the dishes when available.

Jamesen’s Fish Market
At Jamsen’s Fish Market and Bakery, freshly baked goods are highlighted through the use of local ingredients when possible.  The market offers fresh and smoked Lake Superior Trout and Whitefish.  Stop in for a great cup of coffee, as well!

Laurium Manor Inn
Laurium Manor Inn has been restored into an historic mansion hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1989. This mansion has 10 guestroom with private baths in its 13,000 square feet on four floors. A parlor, library, den, dining room, and third floor ballroom are all open for our guests to use and enjoy. Victorian Hall was purchased and restored into a bead & breakfast in 1993. Within its 7,000 square feet is eight guestrooms, each with its own private bathroom. The first floor library, music parlor and dining room are always open for visiting guests.

Paul’s Superior View Restaurant
Paul’s Superior View is committed to providing the best dining experience around. Paul’s menu features an eclectic mix of traditional favorites that is sure to satisfy any craving. Stop in & check out their nightly features, including: Friday Fish Fry & Saturday Angus Prime Rib. Pair your dinner with one of the daily drink specials in Porky’s Pub.

Joey’s Seafood & Grill
Joey’s is famous throughout the Copper Country and the Midwest, as well as the rest of the world, for their seafood… but the spectacular seafood is just the beginning! The menu includes steaks, chicken, Baby Back ribs, steak burgers, pasta, tacos and quesadillas. Joey’s is a must for all seafood lovers visiting the U.P.

Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant
The Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant has become a Houghton staple. The famous Finnish French Toast is known throughout the state and Midwest as a taste explosion for the mouth. Get it with fresh fruit and you’ll melt in your chair. Enjoy Suomi’s small town ambiance and see for yourself why Suomi has been doing breakfast successfully for many, many years.

Roy’s Pasties & Bakery
RoysRoy’s moved to their current location on Houghton’s waterfront in October of 2013 and never looked back.  They’d love for youto stop by, have a cup of coffee and a Danish, maybe some soup or a sandwich, enjoy the free Wi-Fi and be their guest!

Of course, filling your stomach isn’t the only thing to do in the U.P. When you’re looking to have an adventure in Michigan’s north, consider these thrilling and unique trips and tours.

Quincy Mine Tour
rideintomineThe Quincy Mine Tour offers three unique tours for all visitors: Surface Tour only, Surface Tour with Tram Ride, and Full Tour.All tours include a visit to our museum, a video-tour of the No. 2 Shaft-Rock House and a guided tour of the enormous and complex Nordberg steam-powered hoist engine and the building it is in. On the Full Tour, you will take a ride on the cog-rail tram car down the hill to the mine entrance and then ride by tractor-pulled wagon into the mine, seven levels underground. For a family friendly adventure, check out the Quincy Mine.

Adventure Mining Company Copper Mine Tour
While visiting the Copper Country, you’re invited to experience the best in underground mine tours: a tour through the historic Adventure Copper Mine. Walk through part or all of the tunnels on the first level or try your hand at rappelling with a rope and harness to the second level of the mine…the choice is yours! Whatever your vacation plans in the U.P. may be, be sure they include a stop by the Adventure Mining Company to boldly go where no underground mine tour has gone before!

Sea Kayaking  and Mountain Biking with the Keweenaw Adventure Company
Originally founded in 1843 during the great copper boom of the 1800’s, Copper Harbor has long held a maritime significance as the largest natural harbor in the northern Keweenaw Peninsula where ships have taken refuge from Lake Superior’s furious storms. Today the same crystal clear waters allow paddlers to see to depths of nearly 20 feet below, including sights of rocky shoals, reefs and even the remnants of several shipwrecks.  The Keweenaw is home to some of the oldest exposed rock in the world and was originally formed by ancient volcanoes.

KeweenawCoInitially receiving an IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) “Epic Ride” recognition in 2009, the Copper Harbor Mountain Bike Trails were designated as an IMBA  ( “Bronze Level” Ride Center in October of 2011.  This designation was trumped in 2012 with that of an IMBA “Silver Level” Ride Center, which currently ranks these trails among the top five in the world!   Points were scored on a variety and quality of gateway, cross-country, flow and gravity trails, in addition to being considered as a mountain bike friendly community, complete with a bike shop and a brew pub!

Copper Harbor Lighthouse Boat Tour
Whether traveler or Keweenaw resident, don’t miss a tour of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse.  This single tour encompasses a total lighthouse experience, including a ride in a boat similar to an early 20th century lighthouse launch.  Because lighthouses are built in treacherous waters, it took a versatile boat to ferry supplies to lightkeepers and their families.  The time-proven “double-ender” hull design and dimensions of the launch are identical to the early wooden boats of the United States Lighthouse Service which tended to the needs of the lightkeepers of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  You will arrive at Hayes Point just as the lightkeepers did over 150 years before you.

Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds
Surrounded by the silhouettes of the ancient Porcupine Mountains, the Lake of the Clouds is a blue gem amid the thick forests. The Lake of the Clouds is perhaps the most photographed feature in the Porcupine Mountains region. No matter what the season, it is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. The Lake of the Clouds Scenic Area is located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum 
MineralsLet’s be crystal-clear: the Seaman Mineral Museum is handsome, classy, and suitable—a fortune that houses a fortune. A hundred people gathered on a hot afternoon, across from the ATDC, and attested to a milestone more than a century in the making: a permanent home for the official Mineral Museum of Michigan. Appropriately, for a museum noted for its copper collection, the structure sits on an old mine shaft and the parking lot sits over a stope.

Do you know of any other unique eats or attractions in the Upper Peninsula? Tell us!

Two New Ways Boyne Mountain Offers Big Summer Adventure

Snow-capped hills have turned to lush hiking and biking trails, scenic golf views and more at Boyne Mountain Resort! Today, guest blogger Erin Ernst tells us about a few new ways to experience Boyne Mountain Resort this season.

Kayak Adventures on the Boyne River

Kayak Adventures on the Boyne River

Summertime in northern Michigan is all about the allure of natural surroundings and if you like a bit of adventure with your time in the great outdoors, then Boyne Mountain Resort is the place for you!  In addition to plentiful activities like golfing, fishing, horseback trail rides, Zipline Adventures, beach fun, chairlift rides, disc golf, hiking, and paintball, you’ll also discover two new summer excursions – Kayak Adventures and guided mountain biking trips.

The resort recently partnered with Boyne River Adventures to offer guests convenient access to the Boyne River, located just a mile from the resort.  Roundtrip transportation and kayak rental with paddles and flotation jackets make this trip as easy as the breeze on the water.  Departures are offered daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Boyne Mountain’s Adventure Center.  Kayakers are first given an overview of the river’s landscape, and then launched for an enjoyable five-mile float on the prized river.

Guided Mountain Biking at Boyne Mountain Resort

Guided Mountain Biking at Boyne Mountain Resort

A moderate understanding of kayaking and paddling is best as some maneuvering (just enough to get your heart racing!) is necessary.  The river quickly rewards you for your efforts with a leisurely float for the second half of the trip before flowing into beautiful Lake Charlevoix.  The Boyne River is cherished for its high-quality fresh water that supports great biodiversity, and winds its way deep through the woods where the natural scenery is pristine.

At the end of the approximately two-hour trip, kayakers are picked up in Boyne City and transported back to Boyne Mountain Resort.  Each trip accommodates up to 10 guests.  Rates are $40 per person for a single kayak or $75 for a tandem kayak.

Summer visitors can now also explore Boyne Mountain Resort’s expansive network of mountain biking trails with a guide.  Based on your biking ability, a guide tours the most suitable trails during an hour and a half expedition with up to four guests.  Boyne Mountain boasts an impressive 32.5 miles of trails, including a paved loop with panoramic views of the Boyne Valley, or for more experienced riders, natural wide open two-tracks and technical single-tracks.  Bring your own bike, or rent a ride from Boyne Mountain.  Departures are available daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the cost is just $20 per person.

The Big Couloir at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

The Big Couloir at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

When you need some time away from the sun, adventure can also be found indoors at Avalanche Bay.  The mega indoor waterpark is the largest in Michigan, and its newest attraction has adventurists giddy with excitement.  Beginning in a launch capsule, The Big Couloir features a trap door that drops away and propels riders into an enclosed tunnel traveling at G-force speeds up to 38-feet per second round a 360-degree loop before finishing with a splash.  This ride is a pure adrenaline rush that will leave you wanting to ride it again and again!

So whichever adventure calls you, find it this summer at Boyne Mountain Resort.

For Kayak Adventure and guided mountain biking reservations, call 231.549.7256.  For more information on all of Boyne Mountain’s summertime fun, visit boynemountain.com.

Erin Ernst is the Director of Communications for BOYNE, owner and operator of Boyne Highlands Resort, Boyne Mountain Resort, The Inn at Bay Harbor – A Renaissance Golf Resort, Boyne Country Sports, and Boyne Realty.  She is a Michigan native who loves recreation and the outdoors, and has worked in the resort and tourism industry for over ten years.  She is also a board member with the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau and West Michigan Tourist Association.