7 Reasons to be Thankful for Michigan

Today, guest blogger Joanna Dueweke of the Awesome Mitten brings us 7 reasons to be thankful for the state of Michigan.

With winter just around the corner, November is the perfect time to reflect on just what it is about Michigan that is so grand. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for what we have, and we have so much to be thankful for in this dynamic state.

Seasons – Depending on who you’re talking to (namely the staunch summer or winter lovers), the changing of the seasons is one of the most magical aspects of living in the Mitten. We have so much opportunity to diversify in hobbies, wardrobes, moods, and scenery with the passing of the each season. No one can deny that when the heat of an Indian Summer gives way to a crisp fall wind that there isn’t some sense of relief. Similarly, we all jump the gun to break out our flip flops and shorts on the first day the weather returns to the high 50s, knowing full well it could still snow the following week.

Seasons_Collage

Michigan’s four seasons, PC: Instagrammers dweidnerphoto, bechased1122, catchupandrelish & jfongtorres

Variety - Just like Goldilocks, Michiganders are privileged to be able to find a town that is just right for them. We have them in all sizes; from the booming large metropolises to those dainty and quaint villages, there’s a city for everyone in the Mitten. That variety lends itself to so many aspects of the state, right down to the diversity of people. We have a conglomeration of beliefs, backgrounds and passions that come together to create a community dedicated to taking care our home.

Water – You can’t drive for more than 20 minutes anywhere in the state without running into a body of fresh water, whether it be a great lake, regular lake, river, creek or pond. We are blessed to be positioned in harmony with so many fresh water resources. Whether you like to fish, kayak, swim, sail, you name it, we musn’t forget that, “Four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan.”

Betsie-Bay-Frankfort-Summer

The reflective Betsie Bay in Frankfort, PC: Instagrammer nsorensenphoto

LibationsBeer, wine, liquor – the folks in Michigan are doing it all and most likely just down the street from you with ingredients found in our collective backyards. The innovation and enthusiasm coming out of the state’s alcohol industry is nothing short of a marvel. We may be relatively young in our development in these industries, but we are making a name for ourselves with haste that tastes fantastic.

SportsLions and Tigers and Wings and Pistons, oh my! Our professional sports teams are a point of pride, not to mention the countless high performing college teams showing up every week giving us hope. Michigan is host to some of the most voracious fans which should not be taken lightly. Whether we steal the World Series or take home the Stanley Cup, we are out there (or behind the TV) watching, wishing, and winning.

Comerica-Park-Summer

Comerica Park during the warm summer months, PC: Michelle Forte

People – Michiganders are just plain great. We should be grateful for one another. Without that, we wouldn’t have a state that is coming back strong from a devastating economic downturn, or creative artists making a name for our state on a global scale, or musicians showing up on awards ceremony stages. No, the people pointing out where they’re from and where they’ve lived with an open palm are the reason this state is flourishing and making noise on a national scale.

Adventure – Finally, the Mitten is full of adventure. Whether you’re looking for an urban experience steeped in rich cultural heritage, or looking to escape it all and camp beneath the stars, Michigan is the place to be. Not only is there variety in what can be found in the state, but it is supported by quality folks making sure that adventure is not one to be forgotten.

Adventure-Collage

There’s much adventure to be found in Michigan, PC: Instagrammers katefaced & tara12891

The list could go on and on. Why are you thankful for the state of Michigan?

Joanna 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.

Think Warm Thoughts With These 10 Photos From The 2015 Spring/Summer Travel Guide

While our Pure Michigan winter wonderland is still in full swing, think warm thoughts by planning your summer vacation with the newly released 2015 Official State Travel Guide. This free guide, printed in Midland, highlights a variety of attractions and activities to enjoy across the state throughout this spring and summer.

The full color publication will also be offered in a digital edition, which will allows you to access the guide right from your computer, tablet or smartphone. The digital version offers interactive features, including videos, slideshows and a real-time feed of travel stories from our blog.

Feature stories in this year’s spring/summer guide include National Treasures, featuring Michigan’s five national parks, 10 Ways to Love Lake Huron, My Kind of Beach to help visitors find their perfect Michigan beach and Golf Style highlighting golf courses throughout the state. Other stories in the guide highlight Detroit, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, paddling the Au Sable River and pet friendly destinations.

You can request a copy of the 2015 Official State Travel Guide on michigan.org or by calling toll-free at (888) 784-7328. The guide will also be available at the 14 Michigan Welcome Centers across the state. 

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the beautiful photographs featured in the guide to get us thinking spring in Pure Michigan!

Overlooking Tahquamenon Falls

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Per Breiehagen

Lovers Leap.  Kayaking along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

‘ Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Jason Lindsey

Tall Ships at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven

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Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Johnny Quirin

Aerial view of Keweenaw National Historic Park

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Bob Stefko

Silver Lake Sand Dunes ORV Park

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Jason Lindsey

Bayview Mackinac Yacht Race off Mackinac Island

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Jason Lindsey

Windmill Island Gardens in Holland, MI

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Johnny Quirin

Castle Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Jason Lindsey

Turnip Rock near Port Austin

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Johnny Quirin

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Johnny Quirin

Enjoying the day at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Tony Demin

Where in Pure Michigan are you planning to visit this spring or summer? 

Inside Information: Helpful Hints for Planning Your 2015 Summer Vacation

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @john_a_gessner

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @john_a_gessner

Before we know it, the snow and ice will begin to melt and we’ll be looking forward to warm sunshine and long days. The only thing better than a Pure Michigan summer, is a Pure Michigan summer well planned. With that thought in mind, and summer dreams dancing in your head, check out this inside guide on the best times to book a warm weather Michigan getaway. Plus, see what’s new around the state in 2015 to help you plan your travels. 

When to book your stay

A stay at a Michigan resort is the perfect way to spend a summer getaway, and travelers from all over the country know it. The busiest times for these hometown hotspots are during the summer peak months of June, July and August. Typically, space sells out well before the busy season.

When planning a trip to a popular Michigan resort, it’s best to book a reservation months ahead of time to assure vacancy and lower prices. The Grand Hotel staff on Mackinac Island recommends booking summer trips as soon as registration opens in November, as rooms typically are sold out by August and sometimes even July!

Consider planning and booking your trip months ahead to avoid the headache of overbooked resorts.

When to go on a summer vacation

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @oni_one

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @oni_one

Once you’ve decided where you want to stay, it’s time to pull out the calendar and pick when you want to go.

A great way to avoid the sunscreen-covered masses it to plan your trip during the slower times of the season, which are right before or after the peak summer months. For example, resorts like The Homestead in Glen Arbor are popular during both the summer and winter seasons due to the complex being a golf and ski resort.

Expert travelers might advise that a trip in May or September could mean a Pure Michigan paradise nearly all to yourself. Besides not having to fight to find a beach chair, many resorts will offer lower prices for stays outside of the busy seasons!

When to buy your tickets

If you’re looking for some summer fun closer to home, summer events and concerts are always happening around the state. Similar to resorts, buying tickets to a concert, show  or festival early could potentially save you hundreds. Tickets to a popular concert only increase closer to the event date, and can be harder to come by when looking last minute. An added bonus of buying tickets early is the assurance of being able to sell your tickets if you can’t make it through services like StubHub.

Now that you know when to book, you can plan the most important part of your Pure Michigan summer getaway – the attractions!  In 2015, travelers will discover a diverse offering of new and improved things to do, places to stay, food to eat and activities to explore. Here’s a just a sampling of them. See a full list here. 

New Attractions

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit opens at the Detroit Institute of Arts March 15 and runs through July 12, 2015. The exhibit explores the couples’ careers and their impact on Detroit with nearly 70 works of art.

Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE

Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE

- The Sea Life Michigan Aquarium opens at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills at the end of January. Measuring 35,000 square feet the aquarium features more than 5,000 aquatic creatures, including an exhibit highlighting the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Zoo will open a new, $21 million Penguinarium in late 2015. The 24,000 square foot center will be the largest center in the nation dedicated to penguins.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Gardens at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids will have its grand opening June 12, 2015. The garden will have an authentic Japanese teahouse, waterfalls, and zen-style gardens.

- The Discovery of King Tut Exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum opens May 16, 2015 featuring more than 1,000 reproductions of items from the tomb of Tutankhamun.

- The exhibit Roadside America: From the Lens of John Margolies will be on display at The Henry Ford Museum May 9-April 7, 2015 and the revamped Ford Rouge Factory Tour opens February 2015 with full production at The Henry Ford.

- Grand Traverse Commons now features a botanic gardens on the grounds of Historic Barns Park. The 25-acre garden incorporates existing meadows, hillsides and a pair of massive 19th century barns.

- Two new exhibits have opened at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. The Lincoln Motor Heritage Museum was patterned after a historic Lincoln dealership and celebrates the Lincoln with more than 20 vehicles. The Cadillac-LaSalle Club Museum is a premier attraction for enthusiasts.

- The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson is now offering tours of Cell Block 7 – the only prison exhibit within the walls of an operating penitentiary.

- Owosso’s rebuilt, LEED certified Lebowsky Center has re-opened featuring live shows from the Owosso Players.

The Thumb Quilt Trail showcases barns and agricultural traditions in Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola Counties.

- Ludington will be offering smartphone tours of both the Mason County Barn Quilt Trail and the Mason County Agricultural Trail.

What’s New to Do 

Adventure and Recreation

- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center on the Detroit riverfront will provide guests with exhibits, displays, and hands-on simulators to showcase the natural and cultural resources in Michigan.

Zehnder's - Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

Zehnder’s – Photo courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB

-Zehnder’s Splash Village of Frankenmuth has opened its new 29,000 square foot atrium waterpark. The retractable roof is the only of its kind in the Midwest.

Trestle Park in Denton Township provides recreation opportunities in Roscommon County including campsites and swimming at Sullivan Beach.

Thumbs Up Wine Trail is a 275 mile trail spanning from Bad Axe to Clinton Township. The trail consist of vineyards, wineries, a meadery and a cider house.

- The 42-mile Fred Meijer Clinton Ionia Shiawassee State Trail is now open. The trail connects the communities of Ionia, Muir, Pewamo, Fowler, St. Johns, Ovid and Owosso, utilizing a former railroad corridor.

- Michigan’s new statewide trail running from Belle Isle Park to Ironwood is now open offering two distinct routes (one for hiking, one for biking) and serving as a link between many existing trails.

Michigan Activity Pass (MAP) has combined with Michigan state parks, the Michigan Historical Center and Michigan libraries to offer free passes to more than 120 historic and cultural destinations around the state.

Hanson Hills Recreation Area, in Grayling, has a new six mile Fat Bike trail.

- Au Train’s new trailhead was completed this fall. The trailhead includes a universally accessible kayak launch and fishing pier, railroad depot pavilion, log cabin interpretive center, picnic tables, restrooms, and trail head for multi-uses.

- A 9-hole footgolf course is coming to the Riverwood Resort in Mt. Pleasant and Hawk Hallow in Lansing is also now offering a footgolf course.

- Holland has created a new walking guide/map allowing people to take advantage of the snow-melted streets and sidewalks as well as enjoy the natural beauty of the town all year long. New walking and driving guides of historic and art sites in the Holland region is also now available.

River Town Adventures has opened in Lansing offering kayak, canoes or paddle boards available to rent and explore the Grand and Red Cedar Rivers. Taxi tours are now also available from the Lansing City Market, Old Town or REO Town.

- Traverse City’s Mt. Holiday now has a ten station zipline available with advanced reservations.
-Running Rivers in Douglas now offers a three hour kayak and stand up paddle board float trips on the Kalamazoo River.

Sports and Events  

- A new, reversible Tom Doak designed golf course will be built at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon.

- Bassmaster returns to Michigan with an Elite Series tournament at Lake St. Clair August 27-30, 2015.

- Kalamazoo hosts the U.S. Curling National Championships February 14- 21, 2015 as well as the PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships July 18-25, 2015.

- ATV Riders will be able to travel across the Mackinac Bridge for the first time ever as part of the inaugural Trek the Mighty Mac event October 3, 2015.

DisArt Festival – a 15-day multi-faceted celebration of arts – is launching in downtown Grand Rapids April 10-15, 2015.

What’s New to Eat or Drink

10298784_10152849038958289_2327881022500686165_nWineries – New wineries opened or opening in Michigan include:

Walloon Lake Winery (Walloon Lake)

Petoskey Farms Vineyard (Petoskey)

3 North Vines (Croswell)

J-Tree Cellars Winery (Tecumseh)

Love Wines (Ludington)

Aurora Cellars (Lake Leelanau)

The Villa Mari Vineyard and Bonobo Vineyards (Traverse City)
Seasons of the North (Indian River)

WaterFire Vineyards (Torch Lake)

Breweries – Michigan’s craft beer scene continues to grow with the opening of the following breweries:

Thumb Coast Brewing Company (Port Huron)

Thumb Brewery (Caseville)

Cognition Brewing Company (Ishpeming)

Elk Street Brewery (Sandusky)

One Well BrewingBrite Eyes Brewing CompanyTexas Corners Brewing Company (Kalamazoo)

Photo courtesy of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Tecumseh Brewing Company (Tecumseh)

Territorial Brewing Company (Battle Creek)
Tripel Root Brewery (Zeeland)

Hop Lot Brewing Company (Suttons Bay)

Brewery Becker (Brighton)

Constantine Brewing Company (Constantine)

Elk Brewing (Grand Rapids)

Eternity Brewing (Howell)

Fetch Brewing Company (Whitehall)

Northport Brewing (Northport)

Railtown Brewing Company (Caledonia)

River’s Edge Brewing Company (Milford)

Upper Hand Brewery (Escanaba)

Other Spirits  

Grey Skies DistilleryLong Road DistillersFlatlanders Barstillery (Grand Rapids)

Detroit City Distillery (Detroit)

Ready to plan your trip? Visit michigan.org to see everything there is to do in the summer, and all year long.