A Pure Michigan Dream Vacation

Scott Endres of Louisville, Kentucky and his wife will soon experience Pure Michigan as the winners of the Pure Michigan Dream Vacation contest that was held on the Pure Michigan Facebook page. Thanks to Buick, Delta and the North American International Auto Show the Endres’ will enjoy free roundtrip airfare, lodging and rental car as they travel to Tawas, Oscoda, Alpena, Hillman and Mackinac Island. In case you’ve never been to Michigan’s Sunrise Coast and have been meaning to do so here are a few things you can check out at these Pure Michigan locales.

Tawas sits on Tawas Bay, which overlooks Lake Huron. It’s bordered by the Huron National Forest and AuSable River,  which offer a variety of outdoor activities year-round like fishing, boating, swimming and biking.  Also nearby is Tawas Point State Park. Among the several lodgings available is the Tawas Bay Beach Resort, situated near several golf courses and a marina. Like many cities in Michigan, Tawas features a quaint Downtown with restaurants and shops for any taste.

Oscoda is an outdoorsman’s dream. Located on the northern side of the AuSable River where it empties into Lake Huron. The city is also near the Huron National Forest, which offers outdoor recreational opportunities such as hunting, swimming, cross-country skiing and fishing. The forest contains 330 miles of hiking trails. If you’re an avid hiker, Oscoda may be perfect for your next hike.  It’s part of the Michigan Shore to Shore Riding & Hiking Trail, which runs from Empire to Oscoda. It’s a 500-mile interconnected system of trails. Oscoda is also home to the Melvin Motorcycle Museum, Michigan’s only motorcycle museum with an extensive collection of antique motorcycles and memorabilia.

Located on the scenic Thunder Bay, Alpena is home to Michigan’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The 448-square-mile sanctuary and underwater preserve protects an estimated 116 historically significant shipwrecks ranging from nineteenth century wooden side-wheelers to twentieth century steel-hulled steamers. In fact, you can even take a tour of many of the wrecks on the Thunder Bay Shipwreck Tour. Historic Downtown Alpena’s 200 businesses also provide old-fashioned service and quality. Blooming gardens, planters adorning lightposts, a farmers market, and music carried on the breeze from Bay View Park greet summer visitors.

Hillman is located on the northeastern border of Montmorency County and the Thunder Bay River, complete with dam and park on the pond. Thunder Bay Golf Resort is unique in offering an intimate look at wild elk. The resort has its own large herd on the property and has been ranching elk for years. While there, you can enjoy an elk viewing sleigh/carriage gourmet dinner ride.

Suspended in a forgotten, more innocent time, Mackinac Island is unlike any other place in Michigan. Relive the simple pleasures of life: A leisurely carriage ride on silent, uncrowded streets, slowly dancing face-to-face with your loved one on the romantic floors of the Grand Hotel, or sampling some world-famous Mackinac Island fudge while biking around the island. Visitors can also travel back in time and relive some of Michigan’s rich history at Fort Mackinac, which allows you to relive what military life was like in the 1880’s.

Check out a quick clip of Scott learning that he was selected as the winner of the Pure Michigan Dream Vacation. Thanks to all that entered!

Getaway from the Holidays

The Terrace Grille at the Bay Pointe Inn

Just 30 minutes from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, the Bay Pointe Inn on Gun Lake is Dianna Stampfler’s perfect getaway from the frenzy of the holidays.

Trying to cram work, holiday get-togethers and last-minute shopping into the already hectic life of a single mom creates undue stress around what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. By the time I settle into a lakeside deluxe suite, I am ready to relax. The soft nautical blues and greens of the room are peaceful and calming, which sets the tone for my night away. Equipped with a stack of magazines, I draw a bath in the oversized whirlpool tub, light the fireplace and settle in for an afternoon of me-time.

Tempura Asparagus at the Terrace Grille

As it turns out, lounging makes you hungry. Luckily, I don’t have to go far—the Terrace Grille is downstairs. A glass of Michigan Riesling kicks off an amazing meal. The sweet baked Brie and crispy tempura asparagus are delicious. The entree, The Original Bay Pointe Beef Wellington, is a tribute to the former landmark restaurant. The property has welcomed travelers as a resort, summer home, campground and restaurant since the 1880s. The beef Wellington is a delicate blend of flakey pastry crust and a filet so tender that I barely need a knife.

Because I’m on a mini vacation, I don’t feel guilty about ordering dessert. I take the ultimate indulgence—chocolate lava cake—to my suite to enjoy. It seems almost a shame to call it a night so early, but the plush king-size bed lures me under the covers. I am thankful for the solitude and banish all thoughts of work, household chores, parental responsibilities and, yes, even sugarplums.

The sun filters into the room, and I wake eager to start the day. Refreshed and recharged, I want to make the most of the morning. I snag a yogurt and banana from the Continental breakfast buffet and drive about 15 minutes to Yankee Springs State Recreation area for a hike through the forest. One of six hiking trails, the 2-mile Hall Lake trail winds through the woods. I don’t encounter anyone else on the hike—I am alone with my thoughts.

Facing the New Year doesn’t seem all that daunting, having recharged mind, body and spirit without overcharging my budget.

Dianna Stampfler loves Michigan so much that she’s made a career out of it! Her marketing consultant company, Promote Michigan, is just one of the many ways this fourth-generation Michigan resident shows her appreciation for the Great Lakes State.

Fall is a Grape Time for Pure Michigan Wine

With the crisp autumn air and rolling landscapes through the scenic countryside, fall is a great time to visit some of the more than 80 Michigan wineries across the state.

Whether it’s touring individual wineries, hitting one of the Michigan wine trails, checking out an upcoming tasting event or staying at one of the winery bed & breakfast inns in the Grand Traverse Region, there are plenty of activities to make every wine lover feel right at home in Pure Michigan.

Taste

  • Join Heather Dean, sommelier for Andiamo restaurants in the Detroit metropolitan area, as she introduces selections available for sampling at the Michigan Wine Tasting on October 27 at Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College in Clinton Township.
  • Try delicious appetizers and desserts from 13 local restaurants that complement Michigan wines and other international sips to be poured at A Taste for the Holidays, on November 2 at Bordine Nursery in Clarkston.
  • Sample food, wine, beer, and spirits and enjoy gastronomic workshops, seminars and cooking demos at the 4th annual Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festivalat DeVos Place on the Grand River, November 17-18.
  • Feast on a Fall Harvest Dinner of country ham, scalloped potatoes, applesauce streusel and wines of Wolcott Winery in Mt. Morris on October 29.
  • Savor the delicacies of two chefs who will create different 5-course menus served with appropriate wines for the November 5 and November 12 Fall Harvest Dinners at Fenn Valley Vineyards in Fennville.

Tour

  • Sip and tour the winery while sampling food and wine pairings at the Brys Estate Annual Harvest Tour, on October 29 on the Old Mission Peninsula.
  • Join the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association for the Toast the Season on the weekends of November 5-6 and November 12-13 and visit your choice of 8 of the 18 member wineries each day for a self-guided tour to sample wine and gourmet food pairings geared toward the holidays.

Stay

Extend your visit with an overnight stay at wineries that also offer Bed & Breakfast accommodations. Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay has an inn with 8 guest rooms. Overlooking Grand Traverse Bay is Chateau Grand Traverse with its 6 guest rooms, and the 11-room Chateau Chantal. While not a winery, The Grey Hare Inn Vineyard Bed & Breakfast grows grapes and is conveniently located to the wineries of Old Mission and the Grand Traverse region.