Hit the Water in Michigan with These Extreme Sports

Summertime in Michigan means many things, but typically the most popular and memorable activities happen on the water. Between swimming, boating and fishing, there are countless ways to relax while taking in the Great Lakes state.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, however, check out these five thrilling sports that can serve as the highlight of the season.

1. Shipwreck Diving

Since Michigan is surrounded by large bodies of water, it is one of the best places to explore shipwrecks. Experience history firsthand by visiting one of the many sites where you can visit ships now resting on the lake floor. Even if you aren’t a diver, there are options for charter tours with glass bottoms perfect for making memories while staying dry.

Explore shipwrecks resting at the bottom of the Great Lakes

Suggested locations: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Alpena), Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve (Traverse City) and the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve (Port Sanilac).

 2. Kiteboarding

Want to try something new and exhilarating? Look no further than kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing and paragliding, among others, into one extreme sport. This sport is made possible through a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard.

Kiteboarding lets you harness the water and the air in one great sport

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @thawanderer88

Suggested locations: St. Clair Shores, Traverse City and East Tawas.

 3. Sea (Lake) Kayaking

A “silent sport,” kayaking speaks to our souls. Explore sea caves, channels and coves or travel pristine rivers, enjoying the serenity of a peaceful paddle or the thrill of riding heart-stopping rapids. Kayaking is also your best chance to experience the spectacular seasonal scenery and abundant wildlife of the water’s edge. Sea kayaking is more rigorous than regular kayaking, so expect a healthy arm workout when heading out onto one of the Great Lakes.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P. is an ideal sea kayaking adventure

Photo Courtesy of Courtney Kotewa

Suggested locations: Port Austin and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising).

4. Parasailing

This high-flying experience is the thrill of a lifetime. Take in the sights of your surroundings as a giant parachute sends you soaring hundreds of feet above the water. Through parasailing, you’re able to see many unique Michigan destinations from an aerial perspective while being refreshed by the splashing freshwater below.

See the Mackinac Bridge from above through a parasailing adventure

Photo Courtesy of Mackinaw Parasailing

Suggested locations: Mackinaw City and Harbor Springs.

5. Great Lakes surfing

Surf’s up! Though it is believed that Great Lakes breakers were first surfed nearly a century ago, and possibly much earlier by native peoples, the first significant wave of participants arrived in the 1960s. The west coast surf craze was leaking into Middle America, and small surfing communities sprouted across the Great Lakes. Michigan was at the forefront and today, surfing on the ‘Third Coast’ is more popular than ever. The waves are typically small in the summer, which makes it the perfect time to learn to surf. The big waves and prime surfing time is during the fall, winter and spring.

St. Joseph offers great surfing for both beginners and veterans depending on the season

Photo Courtesy of Josh Nowicki

Suggested locations: New Buffalo and St. Joseph.

Which of these extreme water sports have you tried? Share with us by commenting below!

5 Ways to Add Water To Your Blue Water Area Vacation

There’s something about water and vacation that just goes together.  Maybe it’s the sense of renewal that water brings to the human soul, or maybe it’s that water gives us a free pass to get silly, to splash, jump and throw rocks.  Whatever the reason, the Blue Water Area welcomes you to the eastern shores of Michigan where water and great vaca to-dos go hand-in-hand.  Guest blogger, Danielle Kreger of the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, shares these five ways (amongst the many) to add water to your vacation in the Blue!    

1. Get Wet! 

Get your feet wet at any of the Blue’s sandy beaches.  The immensity of Lake Huron can be embraced whole-heartedly when there’s blue water as far as the eye can see and the waves rush in to lap at your ankles.  Beaches bring you right to the water’s edge and exist in most of the Blue’s waterfront towns.  Some beaches are tucked in along quiet coves and offer a lighter crowd, while others are busy with picnickers and activity.  For families looking for fun amenities, Lakeside Beach, in Port Huron has a newly installed splashpad.  The water sprinklers pay tribute to the area with water showering from a lighthouse, a Blue Water Bridge replica and other water infused structures.  Port Austin’s beaches offer a one-of-a-kind view because of their position at the tip of Michigan’s mitten thumb.  Being in this particular location, the sun rises in the east over Lake Huron and sets in the west over Lake Huron.  So, no matter if you’re enjoying the beach at daybreak or nightfall, you’ll still catch a fabulous show of glowing sunbeams at the horizon.

2. Dock and Dine 

One of the best parts of vacation is scouting new places to eat!  The Blue Water Area doesn’t make you travel too far from the water.  In fact, many waterfront locales have boat docks so boaters can pull right up and tie off.  Brown’s Bar of Harsens Island, has enough slips for a couple dozen boats and always welcomes a good time.  Tucked on the Middle Channel of Harsens Island, just north of Lake St. Clair, it has been a favored place amongst boaters (and ferry-goers) since 1946.  Patrons praise their come-as-you-are attitude and their signature Madison burger.  Other “dock and dine” locations in the Blue include downtown St. Clair for a quick walk to several bars and restaurants like Pepper Joe’s, the Voyageur or Murphy’s Inn, also the River Crab just north of St. Clair, Junction Buoy in Marysville, Thumbcoast Brewing Company, The H.A.C. and Zebra Lounge in Port Huron, The Windjammer in Lexington and Uri’s Landing in Port Sanilac.

Boats gather at Browns Bar on Harsens Island

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Water Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

3. Sightseeing from the Water 

Step aboard the Huron Lady II for a sightseeing tour and cruise past some of Port Huron’s landmarks and special attractions.  This narrated, two-level cruise boat takes passengers along the St. Clair River, beneath the Blue Water Bridges and into Lake Huron.  Along the way it will pass the Huron Lightship, Blue Water Convention Center, Thomas Edison Depot Museum, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and, if timing is right, alongside a churning Great Lakes Freighter.  Stand at the bow and feel the rush of the crisp lake breeze!  The upper level of the boat is open to the fresh air while the lower deck is enclosed with spacious windows.  The Captain and friendly staff are ready to show you the sites from a new perspective.

A Great Lakes freighter passes by on Lake Huron

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Water Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

4. Paddle Around 

Paddle the watery roads that nature has created.  Traveling by way of kayak, paddle board or canoe is a great way to experience the landscape and terrific water trails that weave through the Blue Water communities.  Discover a variety of routes ranging from tranquil inland rivers, and urban waterways to the dynamic challenge of the St. Clair River or the expanse of Lake Huron.  Missy Campau, resident paddler and owner of Missy’s Kayak Connection in Port Huron says, “Paddling, in and of itself, is a relatively easy task.  Anyone can paddle.”  She strongly suggests first-timers and novice paddlers head out with someone experienced and be familiar with the waterway and the challenges it can present.  She, along with PoHo Paddle Company rent paddle boards on weekends at Lakeside Beach in Port Huron so beginners can test-run in the shallow water just beyond shore.  Another waterway option is the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail that extends along the Lake Huron shoreline from Lexington to Port Austin.  There are many access points along the trail and paddlers will view earthy rock formations, caves and stacks.   For a fun and invigorating activity, add paddling to your vacation bucket list.

5. Walk Leisurely 

To stroll is to walk leisurely.  The Blue’s riverwalks invite you to stroll, ramble and wander along their paths to enjoy gorgeous waterfront views and shoreline activity.  Palmer Park in St. Clair boasts the longest freshwater wooden boardwalk in the world.  It’s a leisurely walk along the St. Clair River and its wide expanse of grass and shade trees provide excellent picnic and lounging space. Riverwalks also stretch along Marine City and Algonac waterfronts where the Great Lakes freighters pass so close they seem touchable.  Great efforts have been put in place to restore shorelines along riverwalk areas into healthy habitats for native plants and animals.  Marysville’s once eroding riverfront now has cobble and plants to restore aquatic habitats.  The Blue Water Riverwalk in Port Huron was formerly an industrial site and now thrives with a natural shoreline.  It features a former ferry dock that is now a lookout deck and many art sculptures depicting the area’s waterfront heritage.  Whether you stroll, sit or explore, be sure to enjoy!

It's easy to relax along the shores of Marine City

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Water Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Visit the Blue Water Area’s eastern shores of Michigan where splashing, jumping and lounging are encouraged!  For more details and info about the Blue, visit the website and Facebook page.

About the author:  Danielle Kreger lives and works in the Blue Water Area.  Though it is her home, she still sees the Blue as her getaway spot, loving the true-blue water and quaint hometown ambiance of each shoreline community.  She gets her kicks photographing her family as they make their own ventures every day.

Six Ways to Celebrate Spring in Ann Arbor

Spring has finally arrived in Pure Michigan! The days are getting longer, the weather warmer and exciting events are taking place around the state. That means it’s time to celebrate spring in the Ann Arbor area! Below are six ways to experience the season in AA.

Get your geek on.
Plan your next visit to coincide with Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 7 hosted by Vault of Midnight. A retail event like no other, hundreds of costumed fans of all ages will line up around the block to participate in what feels like a mini-comic con in the heart of Downtown Ann Arbor. While waiting in line may seem like a drag, Vault staff entertains everyone with games, prizes, and general shenanigans. Learn more about the event, including which other downtown Ann Arbor retailers will be participating in the event.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Score in Ann Arbor
AFC Ann Arbor kicks off its first season in the National Premier Soccer League this year, joining the ranks of some incredibly competitive teams throughout the Midwest Region. Specifically, the Mighty Oaks are looking forward to hosting Grand Rapids FC over Memorial Day Weekend and Detroit City FC over Independence Day Weekend. Check out the complete schedule and to incorporate a match into your weekend.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photograph an heirloom peony garden.
Nichols Arboretum, located on the University of Michigan campus, features a stunning spring display of historic peony varieties. When filled to capacity the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and up to 10,000 flowers at peak bloom! The best time to visit is usually Memorial Day – mid-June. Follow Visit Ann Arbor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for bloom updates.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Tackle the Argo Cascades.
Did you know that Ann Arbor features kayaking along the Huron River? Suitable for novices but enjoyable for those more experienced, the Argo Cascades is a series of nine small rapids, rock chutes and pools. Continue down the river to Gallup Park — about a 90-minute journey — for some of the most scenic views of the area! Equipment rentals are available starting at 10am in May and 9am starting Memorial Day Weekend.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Score at the LPGA Volvik Championship.
This Memorial Day Weekend marks the inaugural year for the LPGA Volvik Championship tournament at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor. The event will feature a full field of 144 players competing in a 72-hole showcase for a purse of $1.3 million. Join fans on Saturday for “Orange Out for ChadTough!” — a special $30 ticket package available until May 15 which includes a Saturday Grounds ticket, a t-shirt, and your choice of either a sleeve of orange golf balls, an orange Volvik baseball hat, or an orange tee-holder. $10 from each ticket package sale will go directly to The ChadTough Foundation.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!
June 1- June 5, join Zingerman’s in this epic tribute to cured pork. Camp Bacon® features a week’s worth of bacon-based events, from a film festival to The Main Event — a day filled with meaty speakers, lots of learning, and, of course, all the bacon you can eat! The festivities conclude on Sunday with the Camp Bacon Street Fair at Kerrytown. As always, this year’s Camp Bacon is a fundraiser for two amazing non-profit organizations: The Southern Foodways Alliance and the 4H Club of Washtenaw County.

Go to VisitAnnArbor.org for more information about all these events and more in the greater Ann Arbor area. You can also follow Visit Ann Arbor! on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See you soon!