3 Things to Know about Ann Arbor and the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

Are you heading to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor on New Year’s Day? Laura Berarducci from Visit Ann Arbor brings us a few know-before-you-go tips for enjoying the event.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is no stranger to thousands of sports fans converging at the corner of Stadium and Main Street to cheer as their team battles within The Big House.  However, New Year’s Day will bring a host of different fans — and a sea of red and white will be welcome in Wolverine territory as the Detroit Red Wings face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®.

Many are anticipating that the game will set a new world record for attendance at a hockey game. The previous record was set in 2010 between University of Michigan and Michigan State University at Michigan Stadium. There are also hopes of breaking the Big House attendance record of 115,109 set this year during the night game against Notre Dame.

For those coming to town, here are three key things you may want to know about Ann Arbor and the event to help make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

#1: More than Just Hockey

Coming to town early or staying an extra night? Perhaps you are accompanying a hockey fan to town but aren’t going to the game. Regardless, Ann Arbor has plenty to do leading up to, during, and after the game. A number of businesses are extending their hours and remaining open on New Year’s Day. Check back often as the list is updated weekly. Go to VisitAnnArbor.org for more information about the vibrant, walkable downtown area and a full listing of dining, shopping, and attractions.

#2: New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

The NHL is working closely with the City of Detroit and The Detroit Red Wings to offer an array of events in Detroit to help commemorate the occasion. However, those not heading east for New Year’s Eve should join the “The Puck Drops Here” street party taking place along Main Street in Downtown Ann Arbor from 8 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Headlining the event is Michelle Chamuel, runner-up on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ last season. The grand finale will be the midnight countdown as we lower a 10-foot puck lit with 6,000 LED lights designed and fabricated by local artists. More information is available at VisitAnnArbor.org.

#3: Game Day Specifics

109,901 fans in a city with a population around 114,000? Even with a majority of the University of Michigan students heading home for the holidays, knowing how to get in and around the city is going to make the experience much smoother. Complete details including an area map, road closures, and fan guide are available at nhl.com/winterclassic.

  • Photo courtesy of the NHL

    Buses and Shuttles: The NHL is coordinating a school bus shuttle system from designated areas to the stadium from 9am-noon and then again after the game. On game day, Winter Classic Shuttle wristbands can be purchased at participating hotels and from attendants at designated parking lots. Click here for a complete list of routes and more information.

  • Parking: Check the Shuttle Routes to take advantage of the Park & Ride lots that will be operating on New Year’s Day. You may also park in any of the Downtown Ann Arbor parking garages for the set special event price of $5. Pioneer High School will be open for anyone tailgating before the game, but the golf courses will be closed. More parking details are available here.
  • The Big House: In order to ensure you make it into the game you must observe the strict no bag policy. This includes all bags, backpacks, purses, camera and binocular cases, etc. Click here for a complete list of prohibited items.

Laura Berarducci is the Director of Marketing for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and has been an Ann Arbor resident for more than 30 years. She attended both record-setting games mentioned above and plans to keep her own record intact by cheering on the Detroit Red Wings at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. It will be the only time she wears red in the Big House. For more information about Ann Arbor and the New Year’s Events, check out www.VisitAnnArbor.org

Exploring Michigan Wineries in Southeast Michigan

Michigan is home to sprawling acres of beautiful wine country. Today’s guest blogger Philip Rudy gives us the inside scoop on a new wine trail coming to Southeast Michigan. 

There is no official date yet, but a new wine trail is coming to Southeast Michigan. There really isn’t an official wine trail in the area as of yet, even though it has been considered a great destination for wine-tasting for quite some time.

Photo courtesy of Charles Ruthruff, Sandy Shores Winery

There are 16 wineries participating in the new wine trail. Among the wineries participating are Westview Orchards and Winery in Washington, Sandy Shores Winery in Jeddo, Blue Water Winery in Lexington, Dizzy Daisy Winery in Bad Axe, S & G Winery in Lapeer, Village Winery in Romeo and coming soon 3 North Vines in Croswell. Also included are Superior Lakes Winery in Harrison Township, Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township, Fieldstone Winery in Rochester Hills, Blake’s Cider House and Winery in Armada, Sage Creek Winery in Memphis, The Green Barn Winery in Smith’s Creek and the Washington Street Wine House in New Baltimore.

To learn more about the new wine trail going up in Southeast Michigan, I got a hold of Tom Gray, a businessman and community booster that is helping to organize the new wine trail and asked him a few questions:

What are some of the main attractions of this wine trail?

This depends on whether you “Discover the Green” or “Discover the Blue.”

The attractions are very diverse. If you “Discover the Blue” you will visit tasting rooms near beaches on Lake St. Clair,  St. Clair River, Lake Huron, Clinton River and the Black River. Some of the main attractions are the drawbridge in Port Huron or several lighthouses on Lake Huron.

If you “Discover the Green” you will enjoy tasting rooms at orchards, vineyards, and downtowns (both large and small). We even have a tasting room at a horse ranch that offers a saddle for a stool at the bar. You will find a tasting room in the loft of a barn at a 200 year old farm. This loop also features a new winery at an orchard that is nothing short of spectacular complete with a Fieldstone fireplace and incredible woodwork.

Where do these wineries get their grapes/wine from?

About 40% of the wineries use Michigan based fruits and juices. The balance comes from California and some other regions for now. One tasting room makes award winning wine from a Honey base.

What makes this wine trail different than other wine trails?

While still too early to tell, I anticipate the primary difference of this trail compared to others could end up being our visitors from Canada. The trail is nestled between 4 current border crossing and 3 international airports. Train transportation is also available from Chicago to Toronto. The trail is also home to the second and third largest counties in the state – Oakland and Macomb. For those wine enthusiasts that can’t make the 3 to 5 hour drive to other established trails in MI, this maybe a convenient alternative.

When will the season be open?

From chatting with most of the winery owners the goal is be a year round destination.

How many miles does it stretch from point to point?

At present the trail stretches 83 miles point to point. The perimeter is 216 miles. For the best experience on the trail you should consider spending the night at one of our affiliated Hotels or B&B. We will have 5 or 6 suggested loops available to choose from along with dining, lodging and recommended points of interest. We plan to make this easy safe and fun.

One fun fact about the wine trail?

Watching people tell their friends where exactly in Michigan it is located -Just open your hand and point to the Thumb!

Have you visited any of the great Michigan wineries along the new wine trail? Tell us about your experience! 

 Philip Rudy is an “all-things Michigan enthusiast” and owner of Michigan Wine Trail as well as part-time webmaster and blogger at Spartan Hall of Fame.

10 Fun Facts About Michigan International Speedway

The Pure Michigan 400 is just around the corner! Next weekend thousands will be heading to Michigan International Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers as they race around NASCAR’s fastest track on August 18.

To ramp up the excitement we rounded some lesser known facts about Michigan International Speedway. Test your knowledge about MIS below.

  • The 40 trams used at MIS that bring fans from the parking lots to the track were the same trams used at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has never won at MIS, but he’s the honorary president of the MIS Kids Club. He even holds special events at the track.
  • There are 9,000 campsites at MIS – making it the largest registered campground in the State of Michigan.
  • Marcos Ambrose broke the 200 MPH barrier in qualifying in 2012. Marcus was recorded at 203.241 mph.
  • Bill Elliot is the active driver who has led the most laps at MIS. In his 37 year racing career Elliot has been in the lead at MIS for 1004 laps.
  • Parking is always free at MIS! Guests can also bring in their own food and beverages, and parking lots open two hours before the grandstand so there is plenty of time for tailgating.
  • MIS is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack! MIS is superfast due to the repave in 2012 and long straightaways on the track that let drivers reach their highest speeds.
  • People have gotten married at the track before, but did you know that Roger Curtis presided over the wedding? It’s true! Roger Curtis, the president of MIS is an ordained minister and married a happy couple in Gatorade Victory Lane on June 17, 2012.
  • David Pearson has won the most Cup poles at MIS with 10. Who will take the pole this year?
  • MIS is the only racetrack where a fan awards a special trophy to the winning driver and team. It’s part of MIS’s Fan Appreciation Program.

To learn more or to purchase tickets for the Pure Michigan 400 on August 18, visit MIS’s website here.

Let us know if we’ll see you at the Pure Michigan 400!