Michigan’s Seven Best Paddling Trips

Guest blogger Jennifer Hamilton of the Awesome Mitten shares seven of the best destinations for paddling in Michigan. Read from her below and find more places to visit on michigan.org.

Summer may be rapidly coming to a close, but there is still plenty of time for a kayak trip in one of Michigan’s famous bodies of water. Whether you are seeking lakes or rivers, I have had the pleasure of polling fellow Awesome Mitten writers and compiling a list of Michigan’s favorite waterways.

1) Onekama to Arcadia via Lake Michigan – This is probably one of the most peaceful waterway treks in our Great Lakes State. Travelers have the opportunity to view Arcadia Bluffs from the water as they paddle by and scope out potential golfing opportunities. Since this area is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, there are great dune adventures to have at almost every point along the way if you want to stop and picnic.

2) The Backwaters at Tippy Dam – The Backwaters at Tippy Dam are for the adventurous hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife. Great fishing is available here if you are seeking walleye or small-mouthed bass. Experienced fishermen say that the panfish are abundant as well. Due to the wooded surroundings, there is a good chance that visitors will spot at least one eagle during their adventure. The peacefulness of these Backwaters is great for an escape from civilization and to truly get a Northern Michigan experience.

3) Canals of Detroit – While Detroit may not be the first place you think of to enjoy a water-filled experience; one particular Awesome Mitten-er offers a unique perspective on its waterways. Ms. Joanna Dueweke swears by touring Detroit’s canals via kayak or stand-up paddleboard. It’s a great way to enjoy the historical buildings and homes from a completely different point of view than the general public. Some of the best and most convenient places to launch are at Alter Road, St. Jean, or Belle Isle.

Turnip Rock, photographed by Lars Jensen

4) Turnip Rock Port Austin – If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing Turnip Rock via Lake Huron, I insist that you head there immediately. This enormous rock received its turnip connotation from thousands of years of erosion from storm waves. Now, it is an island with a few trees and little other vegetation. The land nearby is all privately owned, so the only way to view it is by waterway or trekking across a frozen Lake Huron in the winter. It is quite the comedic, awe-inspiring landmark, located at the tip of Michigan’s thumb.

5) The Platte River – The Platte River is a personal favorite and though it may not be a secret, it is worth a mention to remind you to traverse its calm, strangely warm waters. The Platte is a great place to take families as it is easy to navigate and always warm enough to tube if kayaks are not readily available. As part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, it is no surprise that the Platte River is absolutely stunning. Its ending pours out into Lake Michigan with a mini peninsula jutting out between the two, dividing the playful river and the wild waves.

6) Huron River near Ann Arbor – This is the only state-designated Country Scenic Natural River in Southeast Michigan. It is a huge river that covers five counties, with each portion being strikingly worthwhile. During various portions of the river, floaters can expect to come across an abundance of dams; there are 96 total, to be exact. Many of these dams were built for mill or hydroelectric power, making them fairly large. Due to the size of these dams, many new lakes have formed along the Huron River, making for exciting sites to see almost every portion of the way.

7) Two Hearted River, Eastern Upper Peninsula – Any river that has a beer named after it clearly needs to be traversed. It is a fairly short river that empties into Lake Superior, and it does a great job of capturing the Upper Peninsula’s natural beauty. At the mouth of the river, travelers can see a Michigan Historic Marker; formally known as the Two-Hearted Life Saving Station, which then became part of the United States Coast Guard in 1915. The Two-Hearted River is exceptionally famous for a great place to leisurely fish, probably while enjoying a nice Two-Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery.

Jennifer Hamilton is a feature writer for The Awesome Mitten. Jennifer lives in Traverse City where she works for Addiction Treatment Services and is earning her Master of Social Work and Master of Arts in Alcohol and Drug Addiction.

Do you have a favorite Michigan paddling trip that’s not on the list? Share with us below!

Explore Sun, Water and Fun in Benzie County This Summer

They say water is life and we couldn’t agree more!  With over 57 inland lakes, over 20 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 200 miles of rivers, Benzie County Michigan is a water wonderland.

Benzie County is located in the heart of Northwest Michigan’s Lower Peninsula along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, gateway to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and home to some of the most beautiful lakes and rivers in the state.  The sapphire waters of Crystal Lake offer recreation of all types from fishing to water skiing.  The Betsie and Platte Rivers are among the best kayaking, canoeing and tubing, or maybe a smaller lake is more to your liking, if so, we have over 50 others to choose from.

Explore Lake Michigan fishing in Benzie County

Photo Courtesy of Drew Smith Photography and the Benzie County CVB

The Sleeping Bear Dunes, which begins in Benzie County and continues into Leelanau County, was named The Most Beautiful Place in America by the viewers of Good Morning America in 2011. The Dune climb or the Pierce Stocking scenic drive should be on everyone’s bucket list.  The park also offers many other beach and trail options along with a variety of educational programs throughout the year.

Benzie County is also known as “the Best Place in Michigan for Outdoor Sports & Recreation.” Outdoor activities cater to a wide variety of sports and recreational interests including biking, hiking, running, golf, fishing, kite boarding, surfing and more. Championship level to intermediate and beginning golfers have plenty choices at area courses which boast natural beauty and magnificent scenic views.  There are locations for renting golf clubs, bikes, kayaks and other recreational equipment, as well.

An aerial shot of the Benzie County coast

Photo Courtesy of Drew Smith Photography and the Benzie County CVB

So after a day on the water or exploring a trail, Benzie County has great shopping and dining choices.  Many of the local dining establishments offer farm-to-table options on their menus.  If a winery, brewery or distillery is more to your liking, we have those too!  Our option of overnight lodging has something for everyone.  From our world class resort, Crystal Mountain to small mom & pop resorts, motels, cabins and homes that fit every need, you will find a great place to lay your head at the end of the day.

The Point Betsie Lighthouse stands tall

Photo Courtesy of Drew Smith Photography and the Benzie County CVB

Explore the Benzie Treasure Trove package this summer

Photo Courtesy of the Benzie County CVB

Looking to add some value to your vacation to Benzie County?  Our 2016 Benzie Treasure Trove promotion is an excellent way to put some real bang in your vacation bucks.  Come stay two or more consecutive nights at one of our 24 participating lodging properties and we’ll load you up with “booty” valued to nearly $300 from over 20 local businesses!  The package includes freebies, two-for-ones, discounts and a prize from the Benzie County Visitors Bureau by pulling a jewel from our Treasure Chest.  Just a few of the items included are a free slice of cherry pie from the Cherry Hut, a free root beer float from the A&W, two-for-one golf at Betsie Valley Golf Courses, a free dessert with your dinner purchase at Cold Creek Inn and so much more. Details and requirements for this promotion can be found on the Benzie County Visitor Bureau’s website, www.visitbenzie.com .

For more information on visiting Benzie County, Northern Michigan Preserved®, you can call our office at 800-882-5801 or explore our website, www.visitbenzie.com and be sure to like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/benziecounty.cvb

Mary Carroll is the President of the Benzie County Visitors Bureau and Benzie County Chamber of Commerce overseeing both organizations for the past eight years.  A born and bred Michigander, Mary love her state and appreciates the fact that she gets to work in and promote one of the best area in Michigan.  


8 Steps to the Perfect Summer Day in Grand Haven

Grand Haven is a quintessential, all American beach town located on the shores of Lake Michigan. While staying in the area, you’re always within minutes of walking along the sandy beaches and dipping your toes in the water. Though it is a year round destination, you can’t beat a warm, sunny summer day. Here are 8 Steps to a perfect day by the lake in Grand Haven!

1)      Wake Up & Fuel Up

You have a big day ahead of you so start it off right with coffee and breakfast at Morning Star Café. Whether you have a big appetite or are looking for healthy options, you will quickly discover how hard it is narrowing down your options. It all sounds so good – and it is! Menu favorites include the marble corn bread scramble, stuffed French toast, and vegetarian crepes. To top it all off, the restaurant is colorful yet cozy and the staff is top notch and super friendly.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

2)      Take a Hike

Now that you’ve fueled up and had your caffeine fix, you’re ready to burn off some calories. Mid-morning is the perfect time to head out to Rosy Mound Natural Area before the temp rises. Rosy Mound is a classic Great Lakes dune system including high wooded dunes, foredunes, beach and a dune blowout.  The winding trails, stairs and boardwalks offer quite the workout but the views are beyond worth it.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

3)      Hit The Beach

Let’s go to the beach! Lucky for you there are many public beaches to choose from in the Grand Haven area. The Grand Haven State Park is a popular choice since it’s located close to downtown, the boardwalk, and offers a stunning view of the pier and lighthouses. Kirk Park is the more laid back option and even offers an off-leash dog beach. Don’t forget the snacks and the sunscreen!

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

4)      Lunch Time

It’s already been a busy day but there’s still more to do -  so it’s time to refuel with a quick lunch break. On Harbor Drive you will find two iconic Grand Haven eateries: Pronto Pups and Butch’s Beach Burritos. Pronto Pups is a tiny, white and yellow stand that has served up their addicting Pups since 1947. Butch’s offers up classic burritos and tacos with freshly-made salsa along with specialty hot dogs. The Chiwawa Chili Dog is their famous dog topped with beef, beans, cheese, and salsa served in a bun and then wrapped in warm tortilla. Don’t knock it until you try it!

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

5)      Discover Downtown

Downtown Grand Haven is just down the boardwalk from Grand Haven State Park and is lined with picturesque, historic buildings who are home to a unique variety of shops and eateries. Favorite stops include Fortino’s, MacKite, Michigan Rag Company, and Calico Cat. Don’t miss stopping in at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum’s two locations including the restored 1870s railroad Depot. Not sure where to start? Jump on the open air trolley for a narrated tour of the city.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

6)      Rooftop Dinner & Drinks

The Kirby House started as a hotel in the late 1800s and has had many lives since. Today it offers three different dining options including K2 which serves up wood-fired pizzas and seasonal cocktails. The specialty pizza menu has something for everyone including the classics as well as the likes of the Spicy Thai, Lobster Carbonara, and Boursin Mushroom. Be sure to sit outside on the rooftop patio for views of the boardwalk, Grand River channel, and Lake Michigan.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

7)      Sail Into the Sunset

The Grand Haven pier and the beach are fantastic options for catching the nightly sunset over Lake Michigan. However, the best seat in town is aboard the Wind Dancer – a 63-foot double gaff-rigged schooner. During their nightly sunset sails, you are invited to help raise the sails, take the wheel or simply kick back and enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

8)      Lights, Water, Action!

At dusk the Grand Haven harbor is filled with music and lights thanks to the nightly Musical Fountain performance. For over 50 years, the Musical Fountain has delighted visitors of all ages with its synchronized water and light show accompanied with music from almost every genre.  On your way to see the fountain, be sure to grab an ice cream cone or sundae from Temptations to enjoy during the show. The perfect ending to the perfect day by the lake in Grand Haven!

Photo Courtesy of Visit Grand Haven

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

StephanieHerderAbout the Author: Born and raised in the Grand Haven area, Stefanie Herder has worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for over fifteen years where she has done everything from scooping ice cream to destination marketing. Now as the Marketing & Communications Manager for the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, she loves seeing the area through the eyes of a visitor and sharing it with the world. You can follow Visit Grand Haven on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to add ‘VisitGrandHaven’ as a friend on Snapchat, too!