Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a Paczki in Pure Michigan

To celebrate Paczki Day (Fat Tuesday) in Pure Michigan, Joanna Dueweke of The Awesome Mitten gives us some history behind the holiday along with a roundup of sweet ways to indulge next Tuesday! 

Paczki-in-HamtramckIt’s that time of year again! March 4th is Fat Tuesday, or as it is lovingly called in many areas in Michigan, Paczki Day. Pronounced POONCH-KEE, paczki are deep-fried pieces of dough stuffed with sweet fillers of numerous variations. Fat Tuesday is the day before the Christian holiday of Lent where folks traditionally refrain from indulgent treats, but Michiganders (and much of the US) have adopted the Polish tradition of indulging in these treats and adding festivities to the mix. In Hamtramck, a city near Detroit which has been heralded as Michigan’s ‘Poletown’ since Polish immigrants started flooded the area in 1914, celebrations start at 7am and consumers line up around the block from their favorite bakeries to get their hands on paczki.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Acosta

Photo courtesy of Carrie Acosta

Traditionally, paczki were made to use up the remaining lard, sugar, eggs and fruit that were in households before Lent began; Catholic customs forbid those indulgences during the Lenten holiday. Polish immigrants brought those traditions with them to the United States, so places with strong Polish roots hold on to those important celebrations. No one is really complaining; Fat Tuesday is a day full of fun and delicious treats!

We know that not everyone can travel to Hamtramck or devote a day to revelry. With that in mind, we’ve discovered several spots throughout Michigan that are rumored to have especially delicious paczki. It is often advised to get to these spots early or order in advance because they’re a hot commodity!

Suggestions in no particular order:

Photo courtesy of Tour de Troit

Photo courtesy of Tour de Troit

Feel guilty about indulging in such decadence? No worries, Hamtramck has you covered there as well. Join them for the Paczki Run on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. You will run through some great urban terrain and end with a much deserve paczki and a beer!

Will you be having a paczki on Fat Tuesday? Let us know where you get one from!

Joanna DuewekeJoanna Dueweke writes for the Awesome Mitten and is the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Born and raised in Traverse City, she is enjoying new adventures in the Detroit area, but also values her roots in Northern Michigan. Exploring the outdoors, sailing, travel, and enjoying the Mitten’s beer industry consume her time when she is not pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.

5 Ways to Celebrate Michigan’s 177th Birthday

The state of Michigan turns 177 on Sunday! To help kick off Michigan’s birthday weekend, we asked Alex Beaton of The Awesome Mitten to share her recommendations on ways to celebrate.

Do you plan to celebrate Michigan’s birthday? Share with us in the comments section below!

Host a Michigan Birthday Party!

What better way to celebrate Michigan’s 177th Birthday than with a birthday party? Invite over some fellow Michiganders, drink Michigan beer, enjoy a plethora of MIchigan foods, play some Euchre – and our extra awesome “Michigan Bingo” that we’ve created just for the occasion! Not going to be in Michigan to celebrate the momentous event? Create a Google hangout with some other displaced Michiganders and enjoy all those activities virtually! We hosted our own and here’s the story about it.

Drink a Michigan beverage.

Michigan is home to several amazing drinks. Faygo and Vernors are some classic favorites, but in honor of Michigan’s 177th, branch out and try one of the newer Michigan pops; feel free to make your drink a little more adult with some local gin or whiskey. With Michigan’s craft beer industry booming, you also have the option to go to your favorite local specialty drink shop and create your own six pack of Michigan beers you haven’t tried before. And last but certainly not least, you can drink some of Michigan’s delicious wine! There are over 50 wineries in both Southwest and Northwest Michigan, so it’s easy to find something you’ll like that’s local too!

Enjoy some Michigan fudge or a pasty!

If there’s something Michigan does right, it’s food. For those with a sweet tooth, Michigan fudge is a must-have–grab some from Murdick’s in Traverse City or any Kilwin’s location across the state. If you’re looking for something a little more robust, try a pasty and argue with your friends about the pronunciation of this delicacy along with whether to top yours with ketchup or gravy.

Get outside!

We’re lucky in Michigan to have so many outdoor activities just outside our door! Even if you usually grumble about the snow and cold, take time on Michigan’s Birthday to be thankful for it: get outside and go ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, or just take a walk and revel in Michigan’s natural beauty. There are plenty of ski runs and hiking trails around the state–we’re certain there’s at least one near you.

Plan your next weekend getaway.

Thinking about staying home this spring break to save some money? Why not plan a long weekend somewhere in Michigan? Enjoy the wine trails in Traverse City, plan a craft beer weekend in Beer City USA (Grand Rapids), or head over the bridge and enjoy all the Upper Peninsula has to offer!

How will you be celebrating Michigan’s 177th Birthday? Comment below, or share on Instagram & Twitter using the hashtag #177YearsofAwesome!

Alex Beaton is the Founder of The Awesome Mitten. A Michigan native, she grew up in Traverse City, went to college in East Lansing, and now calls Grand Rapids home. A foodie and lover of Michigan craft beer, she enjoys going on weekend adventures throughout Michigan, which can be followed on the Awesome Mitten’s social media accounts:  FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Six Scenic Drives for Pure Michigan Summer Road Trips

As school and work schedules slow down and temperatures heat up, summer is the perfect time for a road trip in Pure Michigan! Nick Nerbonne of The Awesome Mitten has rounded up a list of some great road trips around the state.

Summer is meant for road trips with the windows down, music up, and good times on the horizon. Fortunately for Michiganders, and for those who visit us here in the Mitten, there are plenty of options for beautiful drives that showcase the beauty of the Great Lakes State.

I’ve had the pleasure of exploring quite a bit of Michigan’s pleasant peninsulas, and when I hop in the car and hit the road from my home in Traverse City, I often find myself heading toward the miles of Great Lakes coastline that are always just a  short drive away, no matter where you are in the state. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph

Head north from New Buffalo on Red Arrow Highway along Lake Michigan to explore the quaint coastal villages of Union Pier, Lakeside and Harbert on your way to St. Joseph. Known for its art galleries and antiques, this popular summer cruise also features numerous Lake Michigan beaches.

The region’s climate is heavily influenced by Lake Michigan, and orchards and vineyards checker the landscape. Sample wines at tasting rooms for over a dozen wineries along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, and bring a few bottles home to open while sharing the memories.

Don’t miss: Weko Beach

Follow the signs from Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman to this beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan beach. Day passes are available, or reserve a campsite and catch one of Weko Beach’s famous sunsets.

2. M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort

M-22 receives much of its well-deserved notoriety for the many scenic destinations along its northern reaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While these are among my favorite day trips in Michigan, I often look further south along this scenic coastal highway, beginning in the village of Arcadia.

On a hot summer day, the beach at Arcadia is the perfect place for a refreshing swim along the sandy shore. After cooling off in the “Big Lake,” head north along M-22 for scenic vistas from the tops of the wooded hills to the Lake Michigan port city of Frankfort. Grab a Michigan craft beer at newly-opened Stormcloud Brewing Company and stroll along Frankfort’s pier to the very photogenic lighthouse.

Don’t miss: Lake Michigan overlook just north of Arcadia

Head north along M-22 from Arcadia and stop at the scenic turnout just outside of town. Climb the steps for a spectacular view from atop the bluff.

3. M-23 from Tawas City to Alpena

Often overlooked by travelers heading north, Michigan’s “Sunrise Coast” offers a Great Lakes setting with a beauty all its own. From M-55 in Tawas City, M-23 skirts the Lake Huron shoreline through the coastal villages of Oscoda and Harrisville on its way north to Alpena. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery at Alpena’s waterfront park adjacent to the marina on the shores of Thunder Bay.

Harrisville State Park offers campsites directly on Lake Huron. Make your reservation early to get the best view of the beach.

Don’t miss: Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Constructed in 1870, this classic Lake Huron beacon is a must-stop when traveling along M-23.

4. River Road Scenic Byway

The River Road Scenic Byway leads visitors west along the AuSable River from Oscoda. The drive lives up to its name, with several viewpoints high above the AuSable Valley along the way, but also provides a glimpse into the area’s past as a major hub in Michigan’s timber industry. Hiking trails and elaborate staircases provide access to the water’s edge, so bring your hiking shoes.

Don’t Miss: Lumberman’s Monument

Dedicated in 1932, Lumberman’s Monument recognizes the hard-working lumbermen of Michigan’s early logging industry. Follow the trail northeast from the

Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the AuSable River and surrounding area.

5. US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique

A trip across the “Mighty Mac” always involves breathtaking scenery, and the drive west from St. Ignace on U.S. 2 doesn’t disappoint. After passing the famed Mystery Spot just outside of town, the highway re-joins the Lake Michigan shoreline for several miles. Locals and visitors alike stop along the way for picnics among the dunes and swimming in the Lake Michigan surf.

Any visit to “The Yoop” would not be complete without an authentic Upper Peninsula pasty. Hiawatha Pasties in Naubinway, about 45 minutes west of St. Ignace, is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Don’t miss: Cut River Bridge Overlook

Park at the scenic turnout about 25 miles west of St. Ignace for a view of Lake Michigan and the Cut River 150 feet below; a trail and staircase lead to the valley floor for those looking for a mid-drive adventure.

6. M-134 from Hessel to Drummond Island

Head east on M-134 from I-75 north of St. Ignace for views of Lake Huron and the Les Cheneaux Islands that go undiscovered by many. The classic boathouses of the early-1900s cottages and rocky shorelines of Les Cheneaux’s 36 islands are seen by many as reminiscent of east-coast hideaways found along the coast of Maine. If you’re lucky enough to make the drive early in the morning, keep your camera ready for a photo of a sailboat moored among the morning mist in one of the many natural harbors.

Don’t miss: Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel

Held each August in the Les Cheneaux Islands, the Antique Wooden Boat show is one of the largest gatherings in the country of classic vessels dating back to the early 1900s.

Nick Nerbonne is an online marketing specialist, outdoor adventurer, craft beer drinker, wine enthusiast, and aspiring photographer from Traverse City.