Five Reasons to Stay Out After Dark in Northern Michigan

Landscape photographer, Aubrieta V. Hope, invites us to venture north this summer and enjoy the magic of a Pure Michigan night sky.

Very few places on earth are as beautiful and melodic as Northern Michigan after sunset.  The night sky beckons us with a million, twinkling reasons to stay up late.  And, the wild creatures call us as well.  Coyotes cry out from distant hilltops, their voices joined by cicadas, frogs, and songbirds.  Unlike many parts of the U.S., where city lights outshine the stars and traffic noises drown out the sounds of wildlife, the night is naturally dark and alive in Northern Michigan.

For the most vivid night skies, visit a park or rural area near one of the Great Lakes, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, or Headlands International Dark Sky Park.  Spritz on some bug spray, pack a blanket and snacks, pop a headlamp on your head (the kind with a red-light setting), and try these ideas for experiencing the night sky.

1.  Stay and Enjoy the Twilight Glow 

Many people watch the sunset and leave, missing the beauty and peace of twilight.  Stay for the encore!  That’s when the sky catches fire, glowing red, orange, and pink, the embers burning to charcoal, and deepening to blue until the stars emerge and night falls.  Listen for the music of the night, the chorus of wildlife, and the whisper of wind and water.

MI15-0705-9944 Red Barn at Twilight by Aubrieta V Hope Michigan Scenery

Red Barn at Twilight by Aubrieta V Hope

2.  Take a Walk in the Moonlight  

The sight of a full moon rising, casting a silver path across the water is mesmerizing. In open areas, such as beaches or dunes, even a waning moon shines quite brightly.  Wander at will, but bring along your red-light headlamp to preserve your night vision in case you need extra light.

MI14-0561-1792 Full Moon over Glen Lake by Aubrieta V Hope

Full Moon over Glen Lake by Aubrieta V Hope

3.  Catch the Northern Lights

What can be more memorable than seeing the northern lights sweep across the sky?  To increase your chances of catching them, spend time in a dark, open area with a clear view to the north.  If you notice the northern horizon brightening just after nightfall, stick around!  It just might be the northern lights. Many websites and phone apps provide northern lights forecasts.  I use www.softservenews.com and www.swpc.noaa.gov.

MI15-0701-9649 Northern Lights Lime Lake by Aubrieta Hope Michigan Scenery

Northern Lights Lime Lake by Aubrieta V Hope

MI14-0579-7751 Northern Lights at Miners Beach by Aubrieta V Hope Michigan Scenery

Northern Lights at Miners Beach by Aubrieta V Hope

4.  Look for Ghosts in a Ghost Town

Michigan has a surprising number of ghost towns that are spooky-fun to stroll at night (unless prohibited). The past always seems much closer after dark!  My favorite ghost towns are at Glen Haven and South Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  I’ve not met any ghosts there (yet).  But, I have seen beautiful night skies above each.  (Glen Haven is a great place to watch the northern lights.)

MI13-0526-1083 Starry Night at Glen Haven Historic Village by Aubrieta V Hope

Starry Night at Glen Haven Historic Village by Aubrieta V Hope

5.  Make a Wish Upon a Shooting Star

You won’t need a telescope on a clear, moonless night in Northern Michigan to see the stars.  But you will need lots of wishes: shooting stars happen all the time!  Sometimes, as in this scene, shooting stars and the Milky Way appear simultaneously.  This year, the best nights for wishing will be August 9-13 (during the Perseid Meteor Showers).

MI15-0701-9765 Shooting Stars at D H Day Barn by Aubrieta V Hope Michigan Scenery

Shooting Stars at D.H. Day Barn” by Aubrieta V Hope

MI14-0606-0758 Aubrieta Hope for Pure Michigan BlogAubrieta V. Hope is a scenic photographer and writer with a special interest in Northern and Upper Michigan.  Her images are available as prints, digital downloads, and Michigan souvenirs.  Visit her website, www.michiganscenery.com, check out her Michigan Scenery Facebook Page, or stop by Petoskey Pete’s in Glen Arbor.

Join Pure Michigan and Under the Radar for a virtual trip around Mackinac Island

There are many scenic destinations in Pure Michigan, including the iconic shores of Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island is a place where you can enjoy the simple life. Take a horse-drawn carriage or bike around the island, where cars have been prohibited for more than 100 years, sample the world-famous fudge from confectioners who have perfected their recipes or take in the views on the world’s longest porch at Grand Hotel. There is so much to experience when visiting this Great Lakes gem.

As the first state in the United States to ever conduct a real-time virtual guided tour, Pure Michigan is offering you the opportunity to experience Mackinac Island – virtually! We’re partnering with Georama, a real-time vicarious travel platform, so you can virtually tour the island just by simply logging into michigan.org/live on Thursday, June 11 at 12 noon to 4 pm Eastern. Tom Daldin, host of PBS show Under the Radar, will serve as your travel guide and adventure lead in this digital exploration.

Photo courtesy of Instagrammer (at)Jacquelynn_Joy

Have a question about Mackinac Island you’ve always wanted answered? With the interactive live-stream, you can ask Tom questions on the spot – and get a response immediately – as we take you through the town on a sightseeing adventure.

Begin your journey by taking a ferry ride to Mackinac Island before getting an up-close and personal view of the island.

We’ll take you to downtown Mackinac, home to some of the most lovely shops and art galleries in the state, offering you a chance to peek inside as well as interact with people on the streets to get their thoughts on the island known as America’s fudge capital.

Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel

We’ll also tour Douds Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store for 131 years so you can see some of the store’s specialty items and get a history lesson on the market.

From there we’ll visit Fort Mackinac and round out our journey with a trip to the gloriously-designed Grand Hotel. We’ll give you a new perspective of this landmark and invite you to join us as we sip tea on the Grand’s famous front porch all while surrounded by 2,500 gorgeous geraniums.

We’re excited for you to join us on this Pure Michigan adventure! See you at michigan.org/live on Thursday, June 11 at 12 noon to 4pm.

Five Reasons That Will Inspire You To Visit Grand Hotel This Summer

Every year since 1887, Grand Hotel has welcomed countless guests to historic Mackinac Island, where cars are not allowed and bikes and horse-drawn carriages are the favored modes of transportation. Thanks to its picturesque location, beautiful accommodations and various activities and dining options, Grand Hotel has been named as one of the Travel+Leisure 500 “World’s Best Hotels”. Here are the top five reasons to visit America’s Summer Place this summer:

Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel

#1 Getting there is just part of the fun

Mackinac Island is located just a quick ferry ride away from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. When approaching the island by ferry, Grand Hotel’s famous 660-foot front porch is visible high on a bluff above town. After arriving to the island, luggage is transported directly to the hotel. Enjoy a scenic walk through downtown Mackinac or a horse-drawn carriage ride up Grand Hill to Grand Hotel.
Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel

Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel

#2 Grand family activities

Grand Hotel’s activities make it a perfect destination for families. Guests of all ages can enjoy swimming in the heated pool, bocci ball and croquet in the Tea Garden, delicious treats at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor and golf on The Jewel. The complimentary children’s programs entertain younger guests with butterfly conservatory visits and arts and crafts. Or tour the Grand Stables for an up-close visit with the Grand Hotel horses and over 20 antique carriages.

#3 Dining and dressing up

Dining has always been an exceptional feature of the Grand Hotel experience. Evening wear is required for dinner and in all areas of the hotel after 6:30 p.m. Most guest room rates include a full breakfast and five-course dinner daily. In addition to the legendary Main Dining Room overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, other casual options are located around the island, including The Gate House, Cawthorne’s Village Inn, Woods Restaurant and The Jockey Club at the Grandstand.

Grand Hotel has the longest porch in the world.

Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel

#4 Every room is different

At Grand Hotel, no two of the 390 guest rooms are alike. Each guest room has been tastefully decorated by renowned designer Carleton Varney and features its own special character and style. The new Cupola Suites offer more flexibility for families, with the option of creating one- or two-bedroom suites.

#5 Live music and nightly dancing

Live music and dancing are Grand Hotel traditions. The full-time musical staff includes skilled veterans who are some of the finest in the country. Every evening guests are treated to a jazz quartet during dinner, a harpist at demitasse and later, dancing to the Grand Hotel Orchestra as it plays classics and requests.

So come and enjoy the grand family experience for yourselves. Call 1-800-33GRAND or visit GrandHotel.com to learn more. What are some of your favorite memories from your trip to Grand Hotel?