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.

A Blast of Fun at the 2013 Motown Winter Blast

The Motown Winter Blast is happening in Detroit February 8 – 10, 2013! Dan Fuoco of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau fills us in on what to expect at this fun celebration.

The city known for cars will be taken over by foot traffic for three days of winter bliss during the 2013 Motown Winter Blast. Detroit’s focal point, Campus Martius Park, plays host to family friendly activities, comfort food and winter-related games Feb. 8-10. Enjoy free ice skating on the Campus Martius rink, snow-shoeing, carnival games and other fun wintery activities. Music-lovers will hear melodies from two stages with a lineup of more than 50 bands and entertainment acts performing to an expected crowd of 75,000.

­­Hockey is back in Detroit, and for the first time, the Detroit Red Wings will have a pair of interactive hockey games, including Hockey Shot. Throughout the weekend, attendees will have a chance to shoot and score cool prizes including a grand prize which features two tickets to an upcoming Red Wings home game, a weekend in Detroit package, courtesy of the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and a choice of a free set of braces or a premium dental care kit from GEDC (door prizes for each participant, too).

All of that hockey action is sure to make you hungry, so check out the Taste of Detroit for samples from local eateries and satisfy your sweet tooth at the marshmallow roasting station or with cookies from Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. For a full sit-down meal, try nearby Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub for burgers, fish and chips, and other pub classics, or stop in at the Hard Rock Café on Monroe Street — right in the middle of Winter Blast activities. Santorini offers Greek flare with an open, sea shore dining experience while Detroit Seafood Market offers fresh fish and pristine seafood.

Kids (and kids at-heart) can stop by the Kids Zone, which features performances by magicians, jugglers, puppeteers and more. Children can bring stuffed animals or toys for a check-up by the Disney Radio “Doc McStuffins” inspired area to monitor their toys’ height, reflexes and heartbeat. Additionally, kids and families are invited to play games such as “Bandage Me Up!,” “Name That Doc McStuffins Character” and more, all thanks to Detroit Medical Center.

For the over-21 crowd, an after party on Friday night and the annual Saturday night Bar Blast are a must. The Bar Blast will be hosted at multiple venues around downtown Detroit, and wristbands can be purchased at any participating location.

Once you’ve reached the point of exhaustion, it would be wise to retreat to nearby hotels like the Westin Book Cadillac or Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites – Detroit Downtown which are both within walking distance of Winter Blast.

Visit the Motown Winter Blast website to check performance schedules and activity details as they’re updated.

Learn more at michigan.org and let us know if you’ll be checking out the Motown Winter Blast this year!

Dan Fuoco is the Interactive Marketing Manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (VisitDetroit) and is responsible for building and engaging with VisitDetroit’s social media and blog communities.  You can find him geeking out over: social media infographics, muscle cars and Detroit. Follow him on Twitter (@DanFuoco), Facebook, Google+ and periodically on Pinterest.