7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Blue Water Area

Are you looking for a new area to explore in Pure Michigan? The Blue Water Area is a getaway to be discovered along the eastern shores of the Great Lakes state. Guest blogger, Danielle Kreger from the Blue Water Convention & Visitors Bureau shares seven things you didn’t know about the Blue and its 140 miles of shoreline.

1) The Blue has six lighthouses to visit; some locations offer a guided tour and tower climb while others simply pose for great photo opportunities.  The nautical stories and current duties of each light station are different, however they have all stood their ground, placed for the purpose of guiding ships and their crew through rough waters.

Harbor Beach Lighthouse Tour, Blue Water Area CVB

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

2) The Blue has a nationally recognized water trail. The Island Loop Route National Water Trail, is a 10.2-mile looping water trail and is well suited to recreational paddlers, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. It is the first nationally recognized water trail in Michigan and one of only 14 in the nation. The trail navigates through rivers, canals and lake and passes the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse amongst other favored locales.

3) The Blue has a dark sky preserve.  Port Crescent State Park, in Port Austin, 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.  Sit back and enjoy the wonders of the universe right in the Blue.

4) The Blue hosts an incredible amount of festivals, free waterfront concerts and summertime events to enjoy like when 300 or more sailboats gather in the marinas of Port Huron to compete in the Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  On race day, it is a continuous flow of sailboats as they pilot into Lake Huron in a race to Mackinac Island.

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

5) The Blue has a 54-mile paved pedestrian/bike path that runs along the water’s edge as well as a bit inland, winding around parks and neighborhoods.  The Bridge to Bay Trail begins north of the Blue Water Bridge and extends to Anchor Bay in Algonac.  Where some of the trail links are still being developed, helpful signage will lead you to the next path.

6) The Blue has seven ADA accessible kayak launches.  These launches provide an easier and safer way for people with physical disabilities to launch a kayak.  They are located along waterways throughout the Blue.

St. Clair River, Blue Water Area CVB, credit Harry  Burkholder, Liaa

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

7) The Blue is the terminus of U.S. Bicycle Route 20, which is a cross-country bike trail that runs along M-29 into downtown Marine City. From there, riders have the ability to take the car/pedestrian ferry to Canada for a cross-continental journey.

Discover these things about the Blue Water Area and let them lead you on an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.  For more details and info about the Blue, visit the website and Facebook page.

Danielle Kreger lives and works in the Blue Water Area.  Though it is her home, she still sees the Blue as her getaway spot, loving the true-blue water and quaint hometown ambiance of each shoreline community.  She gets her kicks photographing her family as they make their own ventures every day.

Have you ever visited the Blue Water area? Comment with your experience below!

18 Things You Didn’t Know About Bronner’s – The World’s Largest Christmas Store

‘Tis the season all year long at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the World’s Largest Christmas Store® in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Open 361 days of the year, Bronner’s brings the warmth and wonder of the Christmas season to guests year round. Wayne Bronner, president and CEO of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland lists 18 things you may not have known about the World’s Largest Christmas Store. 

1. More than 350 decorated Christmas trees are beautifully displayed in Bronner’s salesroom.

2. Decorations and gifts from 70 nations can be found at Bronner’s.

3.  Bronner’s carries over 150 styles of nutcrackers.

4.  Bronner’s artists personalize over 100,000 ornaments annually. One of Bronner’s ornament artists has personally handpainted nearly ½-million ornaments during her 25 years at Bronner’s. Approximately 50% of the glass ornaments sold are Bronner’s own designs.

5. If all the light sets sold in one year at Bronner’s were stretched out in a continuous line, they would span approximately 530 miles.

6. Movie star John “the Duke” Wayne ordered a Santa suit from Bronner’s by telephone on December 15, 1976.

7. Sports figures who have visited Bronner’s include former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, Detroit Tigers’ owner Tom Monaghan (who arrived at Bronner’s in his Domino’s Pizza helicopter!), former Tiger pitcher Milt Wilcox, former Tiger catcher Lance Parrish, former Tiger outfielder Willie Horton, race car driver Al Unser, Jr., “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, and Detroit Redwing Sergei Fedorov.

8. Celebrities who have visited Bronner’s recently include former Michigan Governor John Engler and First Lady Michelle with triplet daughters; former Michigan Governor James Blanchard; Olympic Gold Medalist Dorothy Hamill; vocalists Little Jimmie Dickins, Jim Nabors, Pat Boone, Marie Osmond, Anita Bryant, Andy Williams, the Lennon Sisters, the Lettermen, Ted Nugent, the Ink Spots, Faith Hill, Twila Paris and sister Starla, and Ana Cani; television’s Dave Coulier of “Full House“; First Lady Laura Bush; and actresses Polly Bergen and Cindy Williams.

9. Bronner’s was the first recipient of the worldwide Golden Santa Claus Award in February, 1986, at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair in Germany. The annual award is presented for “creativity and new ideas in the Christmas business as well as for set-up and presentation of Christmas articles.”

10. Bronner’s electric bill averages $1,250.00 per day.

11. Beamer the Bronner Star was born in 1999, becoming Bronner’s mascot.

12. Bronner’s online store offers appoximately 3,000 items for purchase.

13. The overall size of Bronner’s building is 320,000 sq. ft. (approx. 7.35 acres or 5.5 football fields of space) with 96,000 sq. ft. (2.2 acres 1.7 football fields of space) devoted to the salesroom.

14. Approximately 100,000 outdoor Christmas lights illuminate Bronner’s grounds every evening throughout the year.

15. Christmas Lane, Bronner’s own thoroughfare, is 1/2-mile long.

16. Bronner’s giant outdoor Santa towers 17 feet and the giant snowman is 15 feet tall.

17. The weekend after Thanksgiving is Bronner’s busiest of the year with as many as 50,000 guests.

18. Over two million guests come to Bronner’s annually.

Have you visited Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth? Tell us about your experience! 

Read more Bronner’s fun facts here

Wayne Bronner is the president and CEO of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, located in Frankenmuth, Michigan. He has overseen the day-to-day operations of the World’s Largest Christmas Store since 1998. Bronner’s is a multifaceted business that includes a brick-and-mortar business, online sales, commercial accounts, catalog sales, and resale and custom ornament accounts. 

A Mid-Mitten Adventure in Midland

Lauren Dennis is a Michigan native who’s always up for an adventure. Today she tells us about a recent day trip she took with her mom and sister to Midland, Michigan.

Do you have a favorite day trip destination in Pure Michigan? Share with us in the comments section below or visit michigan.org for inspiration!

Michigan summers make me want to hit the road – just get in the car and go somewhere!  In the mood for a day trip recently, I chose Midland. Roughly two hours from Detroit, the city boasts numerous “must-see” places and is somewhere I haven’t been.  After recruiting my mom and sister as co-pilots, we fueled up on coffee and headed north with three items on our list: the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, the Dow Gardens, and the Tridge. We were interested in seeing the Dow Home and Gardens, and frankly, just overly curious about this thing called the “Tridge.”

Our first stop was the Dow Home and Studio.  Tucked at the end of residential Post Street, the structure is approximately 20,000 square feet of amazing architecture.  Through a two-hour walking tour of the estate, we learned of Mr. Dow’s innate talent for design, his studies under Frank Lloyd Wright, and a good portion of the Dow family history and its contributions to the city of Midland.

After a brief misread of the map, we arrived at the Dow Gardens just in time to enjoy the grounds under the late afternoon sun. The three of us were greeted warmly by the staff, given a map, and strongly encouraged to enjoy our surroundings, which we did! The walking paths led us through beautifully tended flower gardens and along peaceful streams that offered ample time for reflection as well as numerous photo opportunities.  We all agreed we could spend hours there, but we had one more stop on the agenda!

Finally, we made our way to the downtown area for dinner and the most intriguing stop of the trip!  Downtown Midland offers a variety of restaurant options, and after some deliberation, we chose Pizza Sam’s on Main Street.  We were seated following a brief wait, ordered drinks, and then a pizza of our own design – choosing bacon, pineapple, and onions. It was delicious and reasonably priced! Plus, our server was very friendly and knowledgeable … and cute!

After dinner, we walked to the infamous Tridge! The three-way pedestrian bridge, according to the Midland Online website, was built in 1981 over the spot where the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers meet. The structure itself is pretty amazing and offers beautiful views of both the waterways and downtown. We also got lucky and were able to enjoy a few minutes of the concert playing in the park before hitting the road for home.

Although we only scratched the surface of Midland on our visit, the beautiful scenery and the warm welcome we received were Pure Michigan.  Can’t wait to go back!

Lauren is a Michigan native who enjoys travel, yoga, good wine, and great adventures! If you’re looking to plan a Pure Michigan adventure like Lauren’s, visit michigan.org for ideas.