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). The peak of the showers will be August 12.

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.

23 Things to Do in West Michigan Before the Summer Ends

West Michigan is home to some of the best kept secrets and awe-inspiring attractions in America. No matter where you go, there’s something new to try right around the corner. To help you get the most out of this summer, we’ve compiled a list of things you’ll want to make sure you do in West Michigan before the summer ends!

1. Climb to the top of one of Lake Michigan’s many lighthouses, or volunteer for one of the keeper programs offered at a handful of the lighthouse museums in northwest Michigan.

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McGulpin Lighthouse, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

2. Complete the tree scavenger hunt on the Nature Trail at Stokes Homestead Farm Market in Grand Junction and get rewarded with a free ice cream cone!

3. Kiss a turkey at Cornwell’s Turkeyville in Marshall.

4. Drive the Tunnel of Trees to the end, where you can enjoy an authentic Polish pierogi overlooking Lake Michigan at Legs Inn in Cross Village.

5. Embrace your inner pirate when you sail on the tall ship “Friends Good Will” in South Haven, and visit the Michigan Maritime Museum when you’re back on land for a look into the past.

6. Hand feed a giraffe at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek or Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto.

7. Hike, swim, and explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with 64 miles of beaches, coves, islands, and hills on the west coast of the Leelanau Peninsula.

8. Hunt for the state stone, the Petoskey Stone, along the shores of Lake Michigan. No license required to pick up the fossilized coral, but what a cool feeling when you find one!

9. Cycle down the paved Leelanau Trail and enjoy a picnic lunch while you visit up to seven wineries just off the trail with Grand Traverse Bike Tours.

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Grand Traverse Bike Tours, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

10. Learn to Fly Fish at the Red Moose Lodge on the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin with their full day trips out on the river & cozy accommodations at night.

11. One of Michigan’s most visited shrines, the 55 foot tall Cross in the Woods in Indian River is a must-see.

12. Peddle your way around town on the self-propelled Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, the first and only “Green Pub” in Michigan, located in Grand Rapids.

13. Ride the Fins of a Windmill on Harry’s Windmill ride at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, which combines a restored 1940 Eli Bridge #5, 45ft high Ferris Wheel matched with a reproduction of a Netherlands windmill.

14. See the Big Yellow Dinosaur on US 31 at Kampvilla RV Park (her name is Sunny!).

15. Stay overnight aboard the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, which is officially credited with sinking 23 major Japanese ships and is considered the U.S. Navy’s most successful surviving World War II submarine.

16. Take a “Paddle n’ Pints” trip with Rockford Brewing Company, where you’ll fill up plastic growlers at the brewery before spending two hours floating down the river and enjoying the outdoors.

17. Take an outdoor adventure with friends and a good book with Outdoor Book Club, which hosts meet-up in various West Michigan cities.

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Outdoor Book Club, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

18. Tour a Coast Guard Ship, dance in the streets of Grand Haven at the yearly street dance, and then settle in to enjoy the fireworks and musical fountain from the waterfront at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival each August.

19. Try your hand at the Sporting Clay course at Blendon Pines Gun Club in Zeeland and see how many clay pigeons you can hit with a shotgun over twelve different shooting stations.

20. View many of Michigan’s remote lighthouses aboard a multi-day boat cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star, based out of Charlevoix.

21. Visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids and marvel at the 24-foot-tall bronze horse statue.

22. Visit the Headlands and the Dark Sky Discovery Trail in Emmet County, which is one of just 13 prestigious International Dark Sky Parks in the United States.

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Emmet County International Dark Sky Park, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

23. Watch a sunset from the middle of Lake Michigan with nothing to obstruct your view on Beaver Island.

Courtney Sheffer considers herself a professional when it comes to exploring all West Michigan has to offer. As Marketing Director for the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA), Courtney is always on the lookout for new West Michigan experiences to share with visitors. Whether you live, work, or play in West Michigan, WMTA can help you discover something new that you’ll love!

Don’t Miss Two Awesome Days of the Idlewild Music Festival

Music festivals are one of the best ways to spend your summer in Pure Michigan. Between the sights, sounds and overall positive atmosphere, it’s easy to see why these events are an annual favorite in the Great Lakes state. Guest blogger Theresa Randleman gives details of two awesome days of live music and educational presentations at the Idlewild Music Festival, presented by T ROSE ENTERTAINMENT, from July 9-10.

Women’s Empowerment luncheon, Youth Mentoring luncheon, Girl Talk luncheon, a youth shoe distribution, kids hands-on activities and mentoring sessions, local/regional food and merchandise vendors, and much fun for the entire family.

The Idlewild Music Festival is held to commemorate and celebrate the history of well-known African-American entertainers and professionals who owned property and performed at the Historic Resort prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Known as the “Black Eden”, this location was one of the few resorts in the United States where African-Americans could vacation and purchase property.

This year, the festival is jam-packed with multi award-winning artists set to headline each day. On Saturday, The Zapp Band will play iconic hits well into the night following performances by local and national performing artists; as well as many youth talents. On Sunday, attendees can look forward to a Gospel Celebration from The Rance Allen Group in addition to more jazz, soul and headlining artist international jazz saxophonist Eric Darius.

Photo Courtesy of Foto Graphics by Sheryl E Thomas.

Photo Courtesy of Foto Graphics by Sheryl E Thomas.

Sarah-Stamp

The National Resource Team applauds the Idlewild community for holding on to the land; approximately 3,000 acres. It is historically, the largest land based African American resort ever assembled in the USA.  Idlewild is a rare and valuable national resource with physical and cultural significance.

We must continue to carry the legacy forward and enhance this historic landmark; therefore we will “Honor the Past, while Standing in the Present and Looking towards the Future”. With the theme of honoring the past, a special dedication and presentation of the Sarah Vaughan stamp will take place Saturday, by the U.S. Postal Service to Festival Producer, Theresa Randleman.

Saturday:

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Luncheons. Featured luncheons will include a womens’ empowerment luncheon with keynote speaker and financial phenomenon Gail Perry Mason , a ‘girl talk’ luncheon and a Boys to Men luncheon. Womens empowerment luncheon sponsored in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, Tim Hortons (Warren) and Express Employment Professionals.

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. -Youth talent showcase begins with various genres of live musical performances. The youth talent stage will feature six performances by youth from Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ludington, Ypsilanti, Flint and Detroit. Youth performances and luncheons presented by T ROSE FOUNDATIONS.

3 p.m. – 11 p.m.- Various genres of music to include, blues, soul, funk and jazz will take the stage.  Performing artists such as, Yancyy, Thornetta Davis (Queen of Blues), and headline artist The Zapp Band.

Photo Courtesy of Foto Graphics by Sheryl E Thomas.

Photo Courtesy of Foto Graphics by Sheryl E Thomas.

Sunday:

10:30 a.m. – Gospel celebration

1:30 p.m. – A shoe distribution for  pre-selected youth. Each will have their feet dipped in water and then provided new socks and shoes.  Symbolic to the baptizing that once took place of individuals in Idlewild.

2:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Live music to close out the weekend of events.

Headline Gospel artist: The Rance Allen Group

Headline Jazz artist: Eric Darius

Which performance are you most excited to see?

Theresa-Randleman

Theresa Randleman, CEO/Founder of T. ROSE, Inc. and Producer of Idlewild Music Festival 2016.  The Foundation’s mission is to support the enhancement of positive self-esteem and self-image in ways that will engage and empower young girls to become strong confident, successful future leaders. The Entertainment Division is an internationally recognized, Michigan-based entertainment management firm. Theresa is a proud mother of two and resides in Lansing.