9 Rites of Passage for Michigan Travel

Whether you’re a life-long Michigander or are looking to visit the Great Lakes state for the very first time, there are some things, and destinations, that you just can’t miss. From big cities to remote islands, there’s much to be explored.

Call yourself a seasoned Michigan traveler? Prove it! Find out how many of these nine rites of passages you’ve completed below

1. Cross the Mackinac Bridge

Did you know that nearly 20 percent of Michigan residents have never crossed the Mighty Mac? Between the powerful Upper Tahquamenon Falls, rich mining history, rugged shores of Lake Superior, and much more, a trip to the U.P. is a must for visitors and Michiganders alike.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @masphotomi

2. Eat a coney dog in Detroit

To whom do you pledge your allegiance? Are you a diehard American Coney Island fan, or do your loyalties lay with Lafayette? Another spot besides the two? A trip to the Motor City can be full of adventures, including a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts or the Michigan Science Center, but grabbing a ‘dog while in MoTown should be high on your list.

3. Snap a photo at Inspiration Point

Michigan has a mind-boggling amount of scenic photo spots across the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, but there are a few that really stand out. One of these iconic locations (write this down!) is Inspiration Point in Arcadia. Inspiration Point is the highest point on the west shore of Lake Michigan and includes a beautiful park and lookout area. A new deck with telescopes has recently been added to the lookout for even greater visibility. While you’re there, experience one of the best golf courses in the state at Arcadia Bluffs.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @jmac248

4. Enjoy a brew in Beer City, USA

In addition to the agriculture scene, the brewing industry makes Michigan famous in itself. This year, Grand Rapids defended its title as ‘Beer City, USA’ by a USA TODAY 10Best online poll, and we couldn’t agree more. When visiting GR, be sure to experience a guided beer tour with stops at Founders and the original HopCat. If you’re a sports fan, catch a hockey game at Van Andel Arena or a ballgame at Fifth Third Field.

5. Venture to Turnip Rock

Another incredible photo spot is ‘Turnip Rock in Port Austin. This iconic landmark sits on the coast of Lake Huron and is available to kayakers in the spring, summer and fall and snowshoe-ers and hikers in the winter.  Located near the tip of the ‘thumb’ of the Lower Peninsula, Port Austin is a short drive from Caseville, home to the infamous Cheeseburger festival. If you plan your timing right, check them both out in one trip!

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @jonasqphotography

6. Marvel over inspiring architecture at the University of Michigan’s law quad

Not far from the nation’s largest college football stadium stands striking gothic-style buildings that form the William W. Cook Law Quadrangle on U of M’s Ann Arbor campus. The location of residential and academic buildings within the quad fosters the integration of activities for both students and faculty, and holds a place in the university’s rich academic history.

7. Explore Isle Royale National Park

Did you know Isle Royale National Park is the least visited national park in the United States, with fewer visitors per year than Yellowstone National Park has in one day? Isle Royale is a remote island on Lake Superior that requires a boat or float plane to gain access. Wolves and moose, the wild North Woods forest, ever-changing weather and a cool climate characterize Isle Royale. As luck would have it, the National Parks Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, so there isn’t a better time to visit and #FindYourPark.

 

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @kaden_staley

8. Say hello to Sparty at Michigan State University

Just 60 miles away from Ann Arbor is East Lansing, home to Michigan State University. Walking the banks of the Red Cedar undoubtedly gives you beautiful views, but a popular statue of a green Spartan warrior, found at the entrance of MSU’s athletic establishment, is what you’ll want to see. “The Spartan” was designed and produced by Leonard D. Jungwirth of the art department, and dedicated in June of 1945. It stands ten feet-six inches tall, not including the base.

9. Take in a NASCAR weekend at Michigan International Speedway

Michigan International Speedway (MIS), located in Brooklyn, is nestled on more than 1,400 acres in the Irish Hills area. With more than 9,000 reserved campsites available, MIS camping has become a signature attraction at the speedway, offering a getaway opportunity in one of the speedway’s ten premier campgrounds. Since being re-paved in 2012, MIS is the fastest track on the NASCAR circuit, meaning you can enjoy thrilling races all summer long.

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How many of these Michigan destinations have you visited? Share with us by commenting below!

Preparing Grand Hotel for its Grand Opening

Grand Hotel is open six months of the year, but retaining its exceptional style and beauty is an all-year process. Much is done during the winter months to prepare America’s Summer Place for opening so it’s ready for guests at the start of every season. Read more on just some of what it takes to get this iconic Pure Michigan destination ready for another year of visitors.

Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Hammer, paint and polish — oh my!

Maintenance and construction takes place all winter. This year, approximately 1,000 pieces of furniture from 200 guest rooms were restored and repainted, and 16 bathrooms renovated. The west end of the iconic Front Porch has been redone for the first time in 50 years. This extensive project will take two years to complete, with the east end to be done next year. Security checks were completed on each one of 535 fire extinguishers that are throughout the properties.

Housekeeping starts its preparations about six weeks before the hotel opens. They clean every area of the hotel including guest rooms, public spaces and hallways. This includes all lights, chandeliers, drapes, valances, canopies and flooring.

Filling our cupboards

Beginning in late March, the season’s supplies begin to arrive. It takes about three weeks for coolers, freezers and dry storage to be filled. This includes all of the hotel shops’ inventories, room amenities and the initial food orders for the employee cafeteria, where up to 300 meals will be made per day for staff and contractors beginning April 1. All the supplies first arrive via ferry and then are transported to the hotel by horse-drawn dray, often filling the receiving dock several times a day. During the season, a kitchen staff of more than 100 prepares as many as 4,000 meals for our guests.

Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Making it all happen: our staff

With more than 150,000 overnight guests each season, Grand Hotel’s staff is invaluable. Our human resources department is very busy during the winter months, finding and hiring the right candidates to fill positions throughout the hotel before we open our doors in May.

In the weeks prior to the hotel’s opening, as employees arrive they are brought up to speed on their roles working at Grand Hotel, including new-hire paperwork, orientation, uniforms and being assigned housing. We also help them adjust to island living by assisting them with essentials such as opening bank accounts, and locating the post office, medical center and grocery store.

Grand Hotel has 15 shops with a staff of 48 who come from all over the world. Working with more than 500 vendors, it takes eight to 10 people three weeks to unpack, price and display all the merchandise before the season begins.

Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Make room for more blooms

The beautiful gardens at Grand Hotel are carefully planned. Springtime splendor begins with flower bulbs ordered the previous year and planted in October — lots of flower bulbs. This past year, more than 21,000 tulips were planted to announce the spring. You’ can enjoy them welcoming the sun and warmth in the triangle beds on the hotel’s east side, along the rose walk, outside Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor and along the steps by the tennis courts. In addition, 3,300 daffodils were spread out to the ground’s natural areas and golf course, and in some of our formal gardens.

Over the winter, the approximate 260 porch flower boxes are painted and prepped to house Grand Hotel’s roughly 2,500 geraniums. The 25-member grounds crew takes an entire day to place the boxes, fill them with our own compost mix of plant materials and hotel-used coffee grounds, and plant the geraniums. These flowers for which Grand Hotel is known bloom almost the entire season and their cheerful beauty is worth every detail.

Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Then our horses, of course

Preparing Grand Stables for the season starts with opening the barn and turning on the water. Maintaining the various vehicles, many manufactured over a hundred years ago, actually starts in the fall so replacement parts can be ordered or made in-house. Each horse’s harness is taken apart, cleaned and oiled in the fall so that worn parts can be replaced or repaired, then re-oiled and reassembled again in spring. The summer feed supply arrives and the stables are ready for the horses’ return to the island about a week before opening. Finally, haircuts, baths and individual harness fittings take place and new horses are given time to acclimate to the island’s sights and sounds.

The grand finale

Before the first guest arrives, Grand Hotel President Dan Musser III and his sister Mimi Cunningham do a walk-through of every room. The red carpet is replaced on the front steps to the Front Porch, the doorman podium is reinstated, the parlor furniture set and the famous white rocking chairs positioned on the porch.

Only then is this third-generation, family-owned Historic Hotel ready to open for another grand season.

Be sure to check out Grand Hotel’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!

Test Your Luck With These 7 Michigan Facts

Aye! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all you lads and lasses. Celebrations around the world, and right ‘ere in Pure Michigan, involve public parades and festivals, the wearing of green attire and of course, celebrating the idea of luck!

We’ve gathered the list below that’s sure to test even the most-knowledgeable Michigan enthusiast. Try your luck at correctly guessing these Great Lakes state facts and let us know how many you got right!

1. We’ll start you off with an easy one. This university’s colors are green and white, and its mascot has origins are not far from Ireland itself! On the banks of the Red Cedar, you might be lucky enough to find yourself a four leaf clover.

Photo Courtesy of Thomas Gennara Photography

2. Bottoms up! This delicious brand of Michigan pop was made famous in Detroit after being introduced in 1866. Its cans and bottles are green, and the original mascot was a bearded gnome named Woody.  Drinking this pop is said to settle an upset stomach, so have some on hand if you’ll be drinking green beer!

3. This ‘painted’ creature is Michigan’s state reptile! With a green head, arms, legs and tail, these little fellows are probably celebrating St. Patrick’s Day relaxing on a log. Best leave them be in the wild, o’course.

4. These little green fruits, which can also sometimes be yellow, green or even light pink, are grown on rows of vines in northern Michigan. They are then crafted into delicious nodes wines and stored until the perfect time. Cheers!

5. If you’re looking for a healthier fare on St. Patrick’s Day, these vegetables, which Michigan is the nation’s number one producer for pickling, are a great option! Add them to your salad or dip them into a hummus spread. You can even pickle them in brine or vinegar if that’s your fancy!

6. Break out the ornaments! Michigan supplies three million of these fantastic timbers annually to the national market. We’re guessing you don’t have these shrubs in mind just yet, but the growers pay close attention all year long.

7. If you’re traveling to this particular destination in Royal Oak, you can find green-colored friends such as ball pythons, anacondas and toads! While you’re there, be sure to check out North America’s largest polar bear exhibit and have a picnic on the lush green grass in the summer.

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How many of these did you get right? Let us know by commenting below!

Answers: 1. Michigan State University; 2. Painted turtle; 3. Vernors Ginger Ale; 4. Green grapes; 5.Cucumbers; 6. Christmas Trees; 7Detroit Zoo;