Seven Michigan Destinations That Earned Travel Bragging Rights in 2014

There’s no doubt that Pure Michigan is home to a number of diverse, unique and remarkably beautiful locations. In 2014, a number of Michigan cities were recognized as must-visit destinations. If you’re making plans to travel in 2015, keep these seven locales on your radar. 

Michigan Theater with Couple2

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor
Last year, Ann Arbor ranked second on Livability’s  list of top 10 college towns. The ranking was determined by factors including high quality of life, cost of living and walkability. Livability gave Ann Arbor the nod for its bustling tree-lined streets, independent restaurants and bookstores, numerous bars, parks and museums, and of course the University of Michigan’s distinct presence.

Detroit
With die-hard Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons fans, it’s hard to ignore the fact that sports are serious business in the Motor City. So much so that USA Today Travel named Detroit as #1 in its 10 Best Cities for Sports. Game day in Detroit is an experience like no other. Check out these suggestions for game day excitement around the city.

Photo by Instagram user @loosecanonphotography.

Photo by Instagram user @loosecanonphotography.

Grand Rapids and Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast
Early last year, the West Michigan city earned the #1 spot on Lonely Planet’s List of Top U.S. Destinations to Visit in 2014. Grand Rapids’ art scene including the international art competition ArtPrize, award-winning craft breweries, attractions like Frederick Meijer Gardens and stunning beaches along Lake Michigan’s 300 mile Gold coast, the west-side city has something to offer a great variety of tastes and interests. Here are a few more reasons why Grand Rapids earned their bragging rights from Lonely Planet.

Holland
Impulcity shows that small town America is alive and well with their list of 19 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America, and Holland, MI proudly claimed the number two spot. Holland boasts breathtaking sights rarely seen, such as swinging windmills and fields of tulips in full bloom. After a stroll down Lake Michigan’s summertime shore, a stop at Holland’s historic lighthouse and a visit to New Holland Brewing Company, it’s easy to see why Holland is a popular place to stop and smell the tulips.

Houghton
Small, but mighty with an estimated population of 7,700 residents, Houghton, MI in the Keweenaw Peninsula was named among the Best Places to Live in the U.S. by Outside Magazine. Factors like number of outfitters, miles of trails, and number of bike shops, plus considerations like unemployment rates and median incomes helped determine Houghton’s place on this list for outdoor enthusiasts.

Photo by Instagram user @theoriginaljwin overlooking Houghton.

Photo by Instagram user @theoriginaljwin overlooking Houghton.

Located about as far north as you can get in the Upper Peninsula, there’s plenty of adventure to be had all year long.There are more than 28 miles of world-class cross country ski trails along the outskirts of town, while nearby Mount Bohemia claims the best ungroomed powder east of the Rocky Mountains, with an annual average of 273 inches and 900 feet of vertical. In the summertime, residents and visitors enjoy boating,  fishing, surfing, and kiting on Lake Superior, as well as mountain-biking on the trails at Copper Harbor. Don’t forget to try the Upper Peninsula’s delicacy at Roy’s Pasties in downtown Houghton!

Saugatuck 
One of Lake Michigan’s prime beach towns, Saugatuck earned the title of Best Summer Weekend Escape by USA Today and the number 3 spot on Coastal Living’s 2014 list of American’s Happiest Seaside Towns. Less than four hours from Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee, the town’s laid-back vibe attracts visitors looking for a place to unplug, relax and enjoy the simple things. Stroll the boardwalk, admire 200-foot sand dunes or enjoy an old-fashioned soda at  the Saugatuck Drug Store. Throw in opportunities for a great round of golf, fishing or winery tours, and you have one unforgettable lakeside getaway.

Traverse City
It was a big year for Traverse City! The northern Michigan city took home accolades from at least six travel publications. Most recently, TC was listed as one of TripAdvisor’s 10 Choice Destinations on the Rise for 2015. If that’s not reason enough to plan a visit, Michigan’s cherry capital also earned bragging rights from Travel + Leisure (America’s Most Scenic Waterside Drives – Leelanau Peninsula, America’s 20 Most Romantic Towns), Family Fun Magazine (Top 10 National Parks for Families – Sleeping Bear Dunes) and The Weather Channel (World’s 50 Clearest Waters – Torch Lake).

There are so many other Michigan cities that have received accolades of their own. For more information on popular Pure Michigan destinations visit, michigan.org/hotspots.

Fun and Friendship at South Haven’s Women’s Only Weekend

The gals are taking over South Haven! November 8th-10th is Women’s Only Weekend. Groups of gal pals will hit the shops, restaurants, and local attractions in downtown South Haven to enjoy each others company and be entertained. Guest blogger Lisa Shanley gives us the scoop on this fun-filled ladies-only getaway. 

If November 15th is opening day of firearm deer hunting season in Michigan and all of the Michigan men supposedly head to the woods, then it stands to reason that the women of Michigan should lay claim to an opening day in their own right. Well, they have!

Head to South Haven, Michigan on November 8th and see for yourself why over 300 women have converged here!  Believe me, the excitement of opening day at  South Haven’s Women’s Only Weekend is better than “bagging your first buck!” With over 50 activities packed into three days, it’s important to establish your “base camp” early. Translation – book your room! Just like antlers, they come in all shapes and sizes. Choose from historic B&B’s, family resorts, waterfront inns, or a vacation rental that will sleep all of your gal pals.

Next, you’ll want to buy your “license to hunt” – also known as your Women’s Only Weekend Ticket. These can be purchased online for just $60 per person. Aside from lodging and meals, this is all you’ll need to get into most weekend events.

Now, comes the best part – staking out your territory! With so much going on, you and your group of gals will want to zero in on your targets early. Check the schedule on the home page of the visitors’ bureau website. Whether it’s shopping downtown, tasting wine, taking in classic chick flicks or just kicking back in your room with a glass of wine and a novel,  this weekend is all yours so do what you want at your own pace!

With so much shopping, entertainment and fun; the “Sisterhood is Powerful” Brunch sponsored by Midwest Living Magazine is a top draw on Sunday, and is also included with the price of your ticket this year!

In the world of “Buck Pole Contests” – you know the ones where all the men proudly display their hunt side by side to see who shot the largest buck – well, we can top that too! At the end the weekend, the women with the most shopping bags will be entered into the WOW Shopping “Hall of Fame!” It might not be a Boone and Crocket big game record buck, but when you open the next credit card bill, let’s compare who had the most fun. WOW, I guess we win!

Where do you like to go for a fun-filled Pure Michigan getaway with your friends? 

Lisa Shanley is the executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County CVB, past president of the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, and marketing chair for the Michigan Beachtowns Association. Lisa and her all-star team at the CVB have been promoters, partners, volunteers, and participants of South Haven’s Women’s Only Weekend for the past three years!