Be A Tourist in Your Own Town with Fun Events in Lansing and Port Huron

If you’re near Lansing or Port Huron in the upcoming weeks, be sure to plan some time to take a “staycation!” These two Michigan cities will host “Be A Tourist in Your Own Town” events that will showcase all the great things to see and do in their respective areas when you want to get away without going far.  We asked Lori Lanspeary from Greater Lansing CVB and Judi Stewart from Blue Water Area CVB to give us the inside scoop on what to expect.

Lansing

Child_CapitolThis year, Lansing will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its ‘Be A Tourist in Your Own Town’ event! What started out as a great way to promote the tourism assets of Lansing during National Tourism Week with a mere 12 attractions open in the downtown area twenty years ago, has now grown to a region-wide celebration of over 70 cool things to see and do in the Lansing region.

The event is set for Saturday, May 31st from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Lansing residents and visitors are encouraged to purchase a ‘passport’ for one dollar and gain entry to all the participating attractions for free that day.

PotterPark04Of course the most popular and well-attended attractions include most of the originals such as Potter Park Zoo, Impression 5 Science Center, Michigan Historical Museum and the State Capitol – but this year, some great new spots have been added to the itinerary such as a tour of Red Cedar Spirits, home to the MSU artisan distillery program. Or how about taking a free sailboat ride courtesy of the Lansing Sailing Club on Lake Lansing? Or a free pedal boat rental at Holt’s Burchfield Park? Wine tastings? Yep, Lansing’s got you covered at Burgdorf’s Winery. Or head to the campus of Michigan State University to handle some real live bugs, fly through the solar system at Abrams Planetarium or stand in the shadow of a dinosaur at the MSU Museum.

Buses are continuously circling four routes that will get you to the majority of the attractions. Pay 50 cents and ride the BATYOT designated busses all day.

Of course it wouldn’t be a passport without collecting stamps. Collect 10 or more stamps from participating attractions on the back of your passport and you can enter to win fun prizes. In celebration of the 20th year of Be A Tourist, 20 golden tickets have been randomly included in 20 of the passports sold prior to the event that are redeemable for a $20 Visa gift card.

This event is not just for residents of the area. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the plethora of things to see and do and get inspired to make plans to return!

For everything you need to know about the 20th Be A Tourist In Your Own Town check out the website.

Port Huron

IMG_7199Port Huron’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” event is happening June 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a chance for visitors and area residents to discover and rediscover the attractions and history that make Port Huron the Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes.

The event will feature many signature attractions of Port Huron. Drive or board the free trolleys and buses that will run continuously between points of interest, get on and off as you wish. Explore the River Walk, tour Michigan’s oldest working lighthouse, see how a Sea Cadet training ship operates, and learn the history of ice harvesting. Visit the original depot Thomas Edison worked in as a young inventor and dig for fossil at the science museum. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Port Huron has a variety of downtown restaurants and a new collection of outdoor art sculptures located throughout the city. Most attractions are free or discounted for the day!

Tour Stops Include:

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.01.59 AMBlue Water Trolley and Bus Transfer – Chamber of Commerce-north / McMorran Place-south.  Downtown a place to explore shop and dine many new and unique restaurants
YMCA of the Blue Water Area – Austin Martiny Water Safety Class
Blue Water River Walk – Grand Opening Celebration 10 am -2pm, Official Ceremony 11 am
Vantage Point / Great Lakes Maritime Center - Flower Market and Entertainment, Great Lakes Nautical Society – ship models, Antique Outboard Motor Club – display, River Day- Kids free fishing clinic
Studio 1219 - Art Exhibits, pottery demonstration, make a tile
Carnegie Center – Historical and Maritime Museum
Huron Lady II  – The Huron Lady II will have 6 special one-hour cruises at 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Gray Fox Sea Cadet Training Ship – Docked on the Black River next to Zebra Bar on Quay St.  See how a training ship operates.
Knowlton Ice MuseumLearn about the natural ice industry, at one time one of the ten largest U.S. industries, short film, Twin Pines Farm Dairy display, kids crafts
McMorran Tower – Climb 188 steps for a bird’s eye view of the City
SC4 Natural Science Museum – “The Making of a Fossil: A Michigan Legacy” exhibit, fossil dig and other kid’s science activities
Huron Lightship Museum – Only remaining Lightship on the Great Lakes served as a floating lighthouse.  For 36 years it guided mariners into the narrow channel of lower Lake Huron.
Pine Groove – Electronic music festival located in Pine Grove Park, 3 music stages, exhibits, food & beverage, vendors, kids’ activities
Thomas Edison Depot Museum Edison conducted his first electrical and scientific experiments in Port Huron. View a film of young Tom Edison’s boyhood.
Fort Gratiot Light Station Grounds – Lighthouse climb and tour, Tourist Trot – 5K run for adults and youth, plus a shorter 2K Fun Walk (www.phmuseum.org)

Learn more about Port Huron’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” here.

Have you ever taken a “staycation” in your hometown? What did you do?

Get in the Holiday Spirit at Lansing Silver Bells in the City

Holiday lighting celebrations are setting cities aglow all across the state. Guest blogger Lori Lanspeary of the Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us what to expect at Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City

What’s It All About?

Once a year, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, downtown Lansing pulls out all the stops and invites the residents of Michigan to kick off the holiday season in style with the state’s premier event, Silver Bells in the City. Join thousands of people on Friday, November 22nd and enjoy the crowd-pleasing Electric Light Parade followed by the lighting of Michigan’s official Christmas tree and a jaw-dropping fireworks display that lights up the sky behind the Capitol dome. Rounding out the evening, to the delight of tweeny boppers everywhere, find up-and-coming musical Radio Disney artists Macy Kate and the boy band IM5 performing live on the steps of the Capitol.

A Bit of Background…

What began as a luminary-lit community sing led by Lansing’s mayor back in 1984 has grown into an event with millions of lights, over 50 live performances throughout the city and dozens of activities at local arts and cultural institutions. A small Santa parade was introduced on the Saturday morning of Silver Bells weekend in 1995 which has now evolved into the Electric Light Parade in which each float in the parade is required to have at least 5,000 lights adorning it. This year there will be 62 float entries and 11 marching bands to dazzle the crowds.

The State of Michigan’s participation in Silver Bells in the City started in 1987 with the first tree being selected, harvested, and delivered to the State Capitol. This year’s 71 foot blue spruce tree was donated by John and Barbara Waara of Iron River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It travelled 460 miles from their backyard to the State Capitol and is the 19th state Christmas tree to be selected from the UP and the 28th tree overall. The other nine that have graced the Capitol lawn have come from the Lower Peninsula. The tree will be adorned with 4,500 to 5,000 LED lights and lit for the first time during Silver Bells. It traditionally stays in place until the New Year and is a favorite spot to take family photos throughout the holiday season.

Get There!

The electric light parade steps off from the corner of Hillsdale Avenue at 6 p.m. and heads north on Washington Avenue, turning west on Ottawa Street then heads south on Capitol Avenue, passing in front of the State Capitol Building.

Free parking is available the night of Silver Bells in the City in all City of Lansing owned parking ramps during the event beginning at 5:00 p.m.. Free parking is also available at 5:00 p.m. in the Lansing Community College parking ramp, State of Michigan locations including the State of Michigan Roosevelt ramp (corner of Ottawa and Seymour), State of Michigan parking lots behind the Hall of Justice off of Ottawa and Allegan, Lewis Cass Lot off of Kalamazoo Street and the lots South of the Michigan Historical Museum off of Kalamazoo St.

Lansing’s Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) also offers Silver Bells transportation. Ride for just 50 cents round trip fare when you board a Silver Bells bus route or use your CATA fixed-route pass. Children 42 inches and under ride for free.

Make a Weekend of It!

Many downtown businesses are offering extended hours to accommodate the crowds who would like dine, shop, and visit local attractions! Reservations are strongly encouraged for those looking to dine downtown as most locations fill up quickly!

Book an overnight stay and enjoy the weekend. For overnight accommodations, shopping ideas, dining options and other weekend events, visit www.lansing.org.

Will you be attending Silver Bells in the City this year? 

Lori Lanspeary, CTA is the leisure marketing manager at the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau and writes a weekly blog titled Lori in Lansing.  After living in multiple cities in Ontario, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, she is proud to call Michigan, and specifically Lansing her home.