3 Destinations to Chase the Northern Lights in Pure Michigan

Michigan is home to nearly 200 waterfalls, over 200 miles of trails and 11,000 miles inland lakes, but did you know it’s also one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights?

Without getting too technical, the Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights, are caused by the sun reflecting on particles in the atmosphere. We’re here to share three destinations within the Great Lakes state that give you a perfect glimpse of these celestial sky dances.

1. The Headlands International Dark Sky ParkMackinaw City

In 2011, the Headlands became the sixth International Dark Sky Park in the United States and the ninth in the world. This 600-acre parcel of old-growth forest sits on more than two miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline in Emmet County. Here you will find the darkest of skies, undiluted by light pollution and preserved in perpetuity by Emmet County. Monthly, free Dark Sky Park programs and special events are held at the Beach House and on the shoreline. Signs in the park direct visitors to designated Dark Sky Viewing areas. No camping is allowed, but the park is open 24/7 year ’round, with five miles of trails throughout the property. The park provides dazzling night sky for photographers, astronomers and dark-sky enthusiasts alike!

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Jowett in Port Austin

2. Port Crescent State ParkPort Austin

Nestled in the Blue Water Area, on the tip of the Lower Peninsula’s thumb in Port Austin, is Port Crescent State Park. The park has a designated area where no electric light exists for miles, giving star-gazers an unobstructed view of the night sky. The dark sky preserve is located in the day-use area where there’s a charge for parking, but no overnight reservations are needed.  Consider a day filled with kayaking to Turnip Rock, and then sitting back and enjoying the wonders of the universe in the evening.

Photo Courtesy of Shawn Malone, Lake Superior Photo in Marquette

3. Remote spots on Lake Superior – Upper Peninsula

As photographer Shawn Malone explained  in a previous northern lights blog, Michigan has many positive factors when it comes to viewing the northern lights, the most important being:

1). Latitude

2). Relatively low light pollution

The Upper Peninsula is blessed with hundreds of miles of shoreline along the south shore of Lake Superior, which provides some of the best northern lights viewing in the lower 48 due to the very dark night skies.  When looking north over Lake Superior, one can see right down to the horizon and take in a 180 degree unobstructed view of the night sky.  Having a dark night sky with little light pollution is necessary when looking for the northern lights, as the light of the aurora is equal to the brightness of starlight.

Inspired to begin your Aurora hunting? You’re in luck! March is one of the best months to see the northern lights because of its long, dark nights. There are even rumors that the beginning of spring brings greater solar activity as temperature begins to warm. Good luck, and be sure to share your northern lights photos on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels!

Where have you seen the Northern Lights in Pure Michigan? Share with us by commenting below!

Decorate Your Home With These 9 Michigan-Themed Items

For those who live in or come from Michigan, the Great Lakes state is a source of pride. We love to show where we live on our hands, brag about the Great Lakes and root for our home sports teams. Why not show off this pride in our homes? Here are a few home-décor items that could be a daily reminder of why you love Michigan.

Tiger's TilePewabic Pottery Detroit Tigers Tile
Pewabic Pottery is a Detroit gem and national historical landmark. The unique art form of these products was created in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton and continues to be made today right here in Michigan. Pewabic pottery makes a great home décor item that will last for years to come. There are several styles and themes to choose from; such as Detroit sports, Michigan-themed or just decorative styles that will fit in with any interior design.

wall clock

Lake Art Clock
Lake Art is a family-owned business located in Harbor Springs. They offer customizable products that focus on the beauty of the lakes, oceans and rivers that surround us. This wall clock has a unique design element where the water is stained blue and is actually recessed below the rest of the wood. Every piece is made from scratch using Made in America materials.oven mitt

 

Salt Labs Mitt-chigan Oven Mitt
Salt Labs is a design studio in Farmington Hills that creates textiles and paper products for the home. They also make pillows, wall art and maps with cool designs. These oven mitts would make a great addition to the kitchen, especially if you’re cooking a pie made from Michigan berries!

Michigan Mapleworks Cutting Boardcutting board
Michigan Mapleworks is a company based in Gaylord that uses northern Michigan maple or cherry wood to create accessories primarily for the kitchen. Each piece is hand sanded and dipped in mineral oil. This cutting board is a very functional, but stylish piece that would go very well with your new Michigan oven mitts!

vaseThe Henry Ford Museum Carousel Vase
The Henry Ford Museum is a must-visit locale in Dearborn. Both the Greenfield Village and Museum have a staggering amount of history and knowledge about American life and Henry Ford’s legacy, but did you know they also have a huge selection of decorative items?  They sell several home décor items like this Carousel Vase that are created by their glass blowing artisans. Check out all of the other beautiful glasswork on their online shop!

 Heart of Michigan Mackinac Island Pillowpillow
Heart of Michigan is based in Howell and sells a huge variety of products. They can range from beer and wine to jewelry and accessories. This Mackinac Island pillow, made in Harbor Springs, is a practical product that can decorate your home, cabin or cottage! There are several other lake options, so you can get your favorite lake decorated on a pillow.

coasters

Pure Michigan Michigan Map Coasters
These Pure Michigan coasters are the perfect way to show off your Michigan pride in your home. When put together, this practical product creates a map of our beautiful state and doubles as a piece of art. Check out the website for more Michigan pride items.

wood flush

Iconic Detroit Detroit River Rocks Wood Flush
Iconic Detroit is based in Royal Oak and has a ton of art and design products. Showcase your Detroit pride with this black and white wood flush mount. This ornamental piece would make a wonderful addition to any room in your living space. There are several other decorative options related to Michigan, like Faygo, Comerica Park, Eastern Market, Buddy’s Pizza and more.

candlePure Detroit Soy Woodwick Candle
Pure Detroit has three locations: the Guardian Building, the Fisher Building, and the RenCen. They are a lifestyle brand that has come to represent Detroit with their Detroit-focused products. They sell many different goods from seatbelt belts and bags to gear for your dog. This Woodwick candle is made with frosted glass and has a subtle toasted marshmallow scent. The glass around the candle is safe to use after the candle is finished so it will still make for a long-lasting product for your home.

What are your favorite home décor goods that show off your Michigan pride? Share with us below!

17 Ways To Use The Year’s First Vacation Days On A Pure Michigan Snow Day

New year, new you, right? Except it still feels the same. More Mondays, more meetings, more gazing out the window thinking, “I wish I was out there skiing right now. Have we even taken the kids sledding this season? Maybe they’ll cancel work tomorrow, like a snow day …”  Ha! Work is never cancelled (ever). 

But, psst! You’ve got vacation time, and you’ve worked hard to earn it! Don’t waste it waiting around.  Get out there and make those memories before the fluffy stuff is gone! Now’s the time to make your own #PureMichiganSnowDay happen when you Go Great Lakes Bay!

You + Yours

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

“Honey, let’s get away together, just you and me.”

Say these magical words to your significant other, and watch how fast this #PureMichiganSnowDay can snowball! Live it up and cozy up, too – opportunities for snow day smiles and snuggles are just around the corner:

Let Nature Soothe You: The soft crunch of snow underfoot will put you and yours in sync on a free, guided snowshoe hike at Midland’s Chippewa Nature Center.

Feel Exhilarated: Ski or snowboard down the The Ski Slopes At Apple Mountain Resort together in Freeland, and yell it out together: “B’bye work meetings, hello snow day!”  Afterward, cozy up for a cup of hot cocoa and a bite to eat at Kathleen’s Apple Mountain, while you watch other skiiers hit the slopes!

Enjoy the Warmth: Stare into each other’s eyes while wine tasting at Frankenmuth’s St. Julian Winery, share good times during a free tour at Frankenmuth Brewery, or lounge in overstuffed leather chairs and play footsie by the roaring fire at Whine in Midland. You and yours will be rested and ready … for another #PureMichiganSnowDay!

Family Q Time 

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

“School, work, dinner, baths, bed, repeat. There’s got to be more to family life than this!”

Oh, there’s more-so much more! Break the routine, and declare a #PureMichiganSnowDay! Then grab your phone to forever capture the look on the kids’ faces when you say: We’re going to …

Splash Village! Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark is 50,000 square-feet of “we needed this”! With a six-story, family raft ride and super loop, lazy river, indoor arcade, two spacious hot tubs (and, ahem, memorable Bloody Marys for the oh-so-deserving parents), and much more, the whole family is sure to have the BEST SNOW DAY EVER!

Toboggan together! Sled until little hearts are content at City Forest in Midland, rent a toboggan ($6/hour) for a whole new experience, or maybe even cross-country ski the .6 mile groomed trail. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa, and simply enjoy!

Aftershock! When you go to Midland’s new indoor trampoline extravaganza, please let us know one thing: Who had more fun, the kids or the adults?! (Psst! Aftershock runs daily specials, including Dollar Jump Night on the first Tuesday of each month.)

Go mini-golfing! The Family Fun Center at Bavarian Inn Lodge has an indoor, 18-hole miniature golf course, four indoor pools, two waterslides, and a 15-foot waterfall to play in! Family fun center, indeed!

See the stars! Winter stargazing sounds cool … like burr! But you can beat the winter chill at Delta College Planetarium and still discover astronomical fun on your snow day! Check out “Led Zeppelin”, January 23 – April 30, for rock sounds and laser lights.

Adventure Bound

Photo Courtesy of Go Great Lakes Bay

“The walls are closing in! Must. Get. Outside.”

Feeling suffocated, adventure enthusiasts? Outdoor-induced adrenaline and blood-pumping experiences await – just take a #PureMichiganSnowDay, and they’re all yours!

Hit The Trails: The rail trails, that is! Plans are in action to eventually connect the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, Midland County Pere Marquette Rail Trail and Bay County Riverwalk and Rail Trail into The Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, but each are currently multi-use meccas for walking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and even fat tire biking! (Want to know more about fat tire winter biking? Go to the gurus at Jack’s Bicycle Shop in Bay City, and ask about their guided bike tours!)

Drop a Line: In the Saginaw Bay, of course! Local ice fisherman know that our freshwaters are full of hot spots for good eats of the walleye, perch, bass and catfish-kind! (Need gear? Little Forks Outfitters in Midland; staff might even have hints about lucky spots …) Before you get here, brush up on our recent Saginaw Bay Icefishing post from local guest blogger Tom Bennett for even more insider tips on uncovering those high-yield icefishing honeyholes.

Shred it Up: Strap on a set of skis or a snowboard, and hit The Ski Slopes at Apple Mountain! Check for their Cool Deals before you go!

Now that you’re well-versed in all the ways to sled, ski, snowshoe (and, yes, even swim!) your way past the winter blues with the perfect Pure Michigan Snow Day, be sure to share your adventures out into the fluffy white beyond using #PureMichiganSnowDay and #GoGreatLakesBay on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!  You can even enter Pure Michigan’s Show Us Your Snow Day Dance contest on Instagram using #MISnowDayDance!

Guest Blogger - Wainwright O'Deay

Guest Blogger: Jen Wainwright O’Deay

Jen is a freelance writer in Bridgeport, Mich. She specializes in creating effective connection through marketing communications copy, feature articles and content/blog posts. You can find her camping with her family or reading Thoreau.