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.

Warm Up to These Michigan Fireside Beers

The winter season is upon us and with that comes hand-crafted beers made right here in Michigan. Whether you’re warming up after a day in the snow, enjoying a hearty meal or relaxing by the fire, these seasonal brews make the perfect selection to warm you up from the inside out! So, ward off the winter blues with these brews from The Michigan Brewers Guild.

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51 NORTH BREWING 
Snowbank Ale (8% ABV | 22 IBUs). Thick, dark and rich, this chocolate rye winter warmer will pull you out of the snowbank. Roasty, chocolaty malt flavors and spicy rye team up with an alcohol warmth.

ATWATER BREWING 
Winter Bock (7.4 % ABV | 25 IBUs). Historically traced to the 14th century and the Northern German town of Eisbeck, the popularity of these lagers spread via the commercial and defensive confederations of the region. Bocks range from the deep gold of Mai Bocks to the more traditional copper and brown. The aromas and flavors tend to be malty and lightly roasty, with only enough hop character to clear the finish. Brewed with respect to the season, Winter Bock boasts the body and deep malt flavors matched with a warming, but well blended hint of alcohol. Extended aging reduces the sharpness and acidity typically apparent in strong ales. 

Bells-Winter_White-AleBELL’S BREWERY 
Winter White (5% ABV | 21 IBUs). Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Winter White offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Winter White is a beer for embracing winter.

CHEBOYGAN BREWING 
Winter Marzen (7.0% ABV |14.6 IBUs). Brewed with 100% German Malt and Noble German Hops, this Lager is smooth and creamy with a pronounced malt character, similar to Oktoberfest Marzen, yet stronger to help fend off the bitter cold of winter.

FORT STREET BREWING 
Snowplowed (5.75 % ABV | 13 IBUs). A loose interpretation of a Finnish Sahti-style, this unique ale is crafted with oats, rye and juniper berries delivering a complex, toasty malt character, with a refreshing tang. It’s as refreshing to adults as the words “snow day” are to a kid! Available in early January. 

GRIZZLY PEAK 
Edwyn’s Warm-up Ale (7.5% ABV). An American strong ale, perfect for winter. Brilliant dark amber in color, the aromas of peanut brittle and raisin rye toast, with a dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tangy, honeyed citrus and peppery finish. The name Grizzly Peak alone just exudes rustic Michigan, and this beer is waiting be enjoyed as you warm up beside a fieldstone fireplace with a good book or a good friend.

new-holland-cabin-fever-6KUHNHENN BREWING 
Metry’s Winter Lager (7.2% ABV). This strong, European-style lager originally began as a guest brew-on-premise batch that has since become a favorite of the winter lineup. The light, sweet grainy aroma is balanced nicely by spicy Noble hops. These characters follow through into the flavor, with great balance and a clean finish. A hint of alcohol heat reminds you of the beer’s strength.

NEW HOLLAND BREWING 
Cabin Fever Brown Ale (6.5 ABV | 25 IBUs). A toasty, smooth drinking brown ale and a hearty companion for long, mind-bending winters.  Its rye, roast and raisin notes play off a subtle caramel sweetness and culminate in a dry finish.

NORTH PEAK BEER CO 
Burly Belgo IPA (6.5% ABV | 65 IBUs). Inhabiting the furthest reaches of the snow-covered hills and forests of the Northern Michigan backwoods is a burly beast that stands nearly as tall as the giant hardwood trees among which it lives. Known as the third-yeti or Abominable Snowman, the human-like creature is believed to be a descendent pf Sasquatch, otherwise known as Bigfoot. This strong hoppy IPA is brewed in honor of this mythical creature.

Furry Black IPA (7.2% ABV | 72 IBUs). The hoppy character of this winter beer is sure to warm you up on even the coldest Michigan nights. Furry gets its smooth flavor by using roasted wheat instead of barley, along with locally-grown hops from Old Mission Peninsula. Furry gets its name from the legend of the fur-bearing trout which are said survive in the extreme cold northern waters throughout the winter months.

RIGHT BRAIN BREWERY 
Fire Starter Chipotle Porter (5.9% ABV | 23 IBUs). Chocolaty and smoky with a spicy kick to keep you warm through the winter months. Brewed with real chipotle peppers.

SnowDazedROCHESTER MILLS   
Snow Dazed (10.5% ABV | 58 IBUs). This is a rich, malty winter warmer that does just that, warms you from the inside out. Using nearly double the malt of Rochester Mills’ regular beers, and a mild dose of hops to balance the sweetness just a little, this seasonal beer is definitely one to savor.  It is a BIG beer, but it goes down smooth.  Be sure to get some before it’s gone until next Winter!

ROCKFORD BREWING 
Shanty Warmer (10% ABV | 65 IBUs). This is Russian Imperial Stout is an intensely rich stout with a big, bold flavor! Expect layers of deep malt complexity like molasses, bittersweet chocolate and dark caramel with hints of prune, licorice and raisin.

WALLDORFF BREWPUB & BISTRO 
Winter Kolsch (5.35% ABV | 30 IBUs). This very light German beer ferments at a cooler, lower temperature and takes about two weeks longer to make then standard ales. It offers high carbonation for a nice, crisp refreshing taste on cold winter nights.

MI Beer

Photo via Michigan Brewers Guild

Of course, there are countless other beers to be enjoyed during the winter season, beside the fire. The best is the one in your hand—and hopefully, that’s locally crafted here in Michigan!

The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its nearly 150 member breweries. Michigan ranks #5 in the nation for the number of craft breweries – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State”. 

See What’s on Tap for Kalamazoo Beer Week

Now in its fifth year, Kalamazoo Beer Week supports the craft beer experience in the Kalamazoo area through special tastings, dinners and interactive events. As we get ready for the event to kick off  Saturday, January 10th, take a look at what’s on tap and make your plans to attend. 

Boatyard Brewing Co.'s label artwork was on display during Art Hops at the Epic Center in downtown Kalamazoo.

Boatyard Brewing Co.’s label artwork was on display during Art Hops at the Epic Center.

Kalamazoo Beer Week, initiated and organized by Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage and tourism entity Discover Kalamazoo, will return for its fifth year tomorrow, January 10, and last until the 17th. Dubbed KBW by repeat participants, the weeklong series of events features more than 200 events and nearly 50 Michigan and out-of-state breweries, craft beer activities and educational events at bars, restaurants, and gourmet retail locations.

A couple of breweries will host beer dinner’s, and one of last year’s favorites, the Dark Horse “Anti-Beer Dinner” will be back again. The “Anti-Beer Dinner” is a spoof on the idea of a fancy beer dinner. For $15 a person, Dark Horse will serve a flight of Dark Horse Beer and a pint of Dark Horse beer, as well as food to pair with each beer. Don’t miss out on Hot Pockets, Ramen Noodles, Pop Tarts and this year, they’ve hinted at a Jello-O mold!

Arbor Brewing Co. offered a sour tasting with the brewer at Old Burdick's in downtown Kalamazoo.

Arbor Brewing Co. offered a sour tasting in downtown Kalamazoo.

A new event this year, Kalamazoo’s Boatyard Brewing and PEDAL (Bike Shop) are celebrating the relationship between craft beer and cycling with Fat Tire Bike Drag Racing!  Pedal will have fat bikes on hand for you to ride. Bring your helmet or your cheering voice as the races should be fun to watch.

A few other things new to KBW this year:

Rails to Ales
On Amtrak’s Wolverine or Blue lines, Kalamazoo Beer Week goers can travel between Chicago and Kalamazoo for 20% off.

The Kalamazoo Beer: A cross between a bear and deer…so you get a "beer!"

The Kalamazoo Beer: A cross between a bear and deer…so you get a “beer!”

Untappd Badge
If you are already a craft beer lover, you know about the great social media site “Untappd”.  Unlock your KBW Badge by checking into two or more KBW locations.

Hotel Packages 
Local hoteliers have put together packages for visitors.  Most include late check out, gift bags, or entries to events.

Stay up-to-date on KBW events throughout the week by following @KzooBeerWeek on Twitter! For a full list of events, visit the KBW website.

Have you attended Kalamazoo Beer Week in the past? What was your favorite event?