Ten Great Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Michigan

Love is in the air in Pure Michigan! Michigan’s snow-covered shores, glowing sunsets, and twinkling city lights help set the mood for a romantic getaway or special night out this February. Whether you cuddle-up at home or head out on the town, here are ten romantic ways to spend time with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day in Pure Michigan. For more ideas on things to do in Pure Michigan on Valentine’s Day, visit michigan.org.

1. Take Advantage of Ski and Snowboard Specials

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @daniellec319

For snow-loving couples, a number of Michigan ski resorts will offer special events and packages around Valentine’s Day. Have some fun on Cupid’s Couple Obstacle Course at Swiss Valley Ski Area or take advantage of two-for-one Valentine’s Day skiing at Shanty Creek, Crystal Mountain will also offer special Romance Packages. Check out other ski and snowboard specials and events near you here.

2. Take a Midnight Stroll 

A leisurely hand-in-hand stroll is a relaxing way to spend quality time. Why not put a new spin on a classic activity with some cross-country skis or snowshoes?

Hartwick Pines State Park will offer a special evening event  on February 22nd where skiers will have a chance to enjoy one of the park’s groomed ski trails by lantern light.  Over 75 lanterns will be lit along the 1.25 mile, groomed cross-country ski trail. Stick around afterwards for hot beverages and snacks!

If you’d rather trek through Michigan’s terrain on foot, Hartwick Pines State Park will also offer a Full Moon guided snowshoe hike on Saturday, February 15, 2014, at 7pm. Trapper’s Cabin trail in Roscommon will also be lit with torches on February 15th, creating a truly unique and memorable nighttime experience.

3. Go Ice Skating

What could be more picturesque than ice skating in the park after a romantic dinner? Many cities in Michigan have skating ponds in the winter months. In Grand Rapids, visitors can go ice skating in Rosa Parks Circle. Located in the heart of the city, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy a candlelit dinner with your significant other before heading over to glide across the ice. In Detroit, Campus Martius Park is home to a skating rink January through March. Also located right downtown, there is a variety of dining options to choose from!

4. Check out a Beer or Wine Tasting

Michigan’s craft beer scene is booming. Why not try some unique Michigan craft brews at the brewery nearest you?

If sipping a glass of Michigan wine suits your fancy, many Michigan wineries are offering special tasting events for couples around Valentine’s Day. Check out Chateau Chantal’s Valentine’s Day Wine Education Dinner Traverse City or head to Roscommon’s Winter Wine Tasting on February 16th.

5. Spend the Night at a Michigan Bed & Breakfast

If a quick getaway is what you’re looking for, Michigan Bed and Breakfast’s have last-minute Valentine’s Day Specials avaialable. Spend a charming day and night exploring a new location, dining on local fare, and enjoying your time away together.

6. Spend Some Time with the Animals

Love animals? Spend Valentine’s Day at the Detroit Zoo for Love Gone Wild.  For a more action-packed outing, head to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and meet the sled dog teams participating in this year’s UP200 and Midnight Run.

7. Have a Few Laughs

Strengthen your bond over a few good jokes at your local comedy club. The Ramsdell Theatre and Cultural Center will host a special Valentine’s Day Comedy Concert. The show starts at 8pm, tickets are just $12 in advance, $15 at the door. A dinner/show package is also available for $75 per couple. Talented comedians will also take the stage at The Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival in downtown Traverse City. Be sure to ride the winter Ferris wheel outside after the show!

8. Catch a Flick

Catching a movie is a great way to spend the evening, and there are many movie theaters around Michigan to choose from. If you’d like to make you’re movie-going experience a little special, Michigan is home to several classic movie houses that aren’t your normal cinema. The State Theatre in Traverse City was originally built in 1918 and rebuilt in 1923 after a fire. It showed the first talking movie seen in Northern Michigan in 1929 when it was known as the Lyric Theatre. Now it is home to the Traverse City Film Festival and is open year round showing art house films. The Redford Theatre is Detroit was opened in 1928 and shows “classic movies the way they were meant to be seen,” accompanied by organ and all.

9. Satisfy your Sweet Tooth

It’s not Valentine’s Day without some sweet treats! Check out one of Michigan’s many delicious bakeries or attend an eventcentered wholly around chocolate!

Boyne City will be full of fun and chocolate this Valentine’s Day weekend during Chocolate-Covered Boyne celebrating chocolate and romance at more than 30 businesses.

Lemon Creek Winery in Grand Haven will also host “A Chocolate Affair” every Saturday in February from 2pm-5pm. Local Chocolatiers will share samples of their own unique handcrafted chocolates, truffles, bonbons, and other delectables. Chocolate pairings will also be featured with Lemon Creek’s wines for an even more tempting tasting experience.

10. Plan a Romantic Spring Getaway

If you’d rather curl up at home with a fire and some hot cocoa, take the time to plan a romantic getaway this spring. These great packages are sure to get you looking forward to exciting times ahead!

These are just a few of the many Valentine’s Day events happening around the state. For more ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Pure Michigan visit, michigan.org.

How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day in Pure Michigan this year? 

Exploring Michigan Wineries in Southeast Michigan

Michigan is home to sprawling acres of beautiful wine country. Today’s guest blogger Philip Rudy gives us the inside scoop on a new wine trail coming to Southeast Michigan. 

There is no official date yet, but a new wine trail is coming to Southeast Michigan. There really isn’t an official wine trail in the area as of yet, even though it has been considered a great destination for wine-tasting for quite some time.

Photo courtesy of Charles Ruthruff, Sandy Shores Winery

There are 16 wineries participating in the new wine trail. Among the wineries participating are Westview Orchards and Winery in Washington, Sandy Shores Winery in Jeddo, Blue Water Winery in Lexington, Dizzy Daisy Winery in Bad Axe, S & G Winery in Lapeer, Village Winery in Romeo and coming soon 3 North Vines in Croswell. Also included are Superior Lakes Winery in Harrison Township, Filipo Marc Winery in Clinton Township, Fieldstone Winery in Rochester Hills, Blake’s Cider House and Winery in Armada, Sage Creek Winery in Memphis, The Green Barn Winery in Smith’s Creek and the Washington Street Wine House in New Baltimore.

To learn more about the new wine trail going up in Southeast Michigan, I got a hold of Tom Gray, a businessman and community booster that is helping to organize the new wine trail and asked him a few questions:

What are some of the main attractions of this wine trail?

This depends on whether you “Discover the Green” or “Discover the Blue.”

The attractions are very diverse. If you “Discover the Blue” you will visit tasting rooms near beaches on Lake St. Clair,  St. Clair River, Lake Huron, Clinton River and the Black River. Some of the main attractions are the drawbridge in Port Huron or several lighthouses on Lake Huron.

If you “Discover the Green” you will enjoy tasting rooms at orchards, vineyards, and downtowns (both large and small). We even have a tasting room at a horse ranch that offers a saddle for a stool at the bar. You will find a tasting room in the loft of a barn at a 200 year old farm. This loop also features a new winery at an orchard that is nothing short of spectacular complete with a Fieldstone fireplace and incredible woodwork.

Where do these wineries get their grapes/wine from?

About 40% of the wineries use Michigan based fruits and juices. The balance comes from California and some other regions for now. One tasting room makes award winning wine from a Honey base.

What makes this wine trail different than other wine trails?

While still too early to tell, I anticipate the primary difference of this trail compared to others could end up being our visitors from Canada. The trail is nestled between 4 current border crossing and 3 international airports. Train transportation is also available from Chicago to Toronto. The trail is also home to the second and third largest counties in the state – Oakland and Macomb. For those wine enthusiasts that can’t make the 3 to 5 hour drive to other established trails in MI, this maybe a convenient alternative.

When will the season be open?

From chatting with most of the winery owners the goal is be a year round destination.

How many miles does it stretch from point to point?

At present the trail stretches 83 miles point to point. The perimeter is 216 miles. For the best experience on the trail you should consider spending the night at one of our affiliated Hotels or B&B. We will have 5 or 6 suggested loops available to choose from along with dining, lodging and recommended points of interest. We plan to make this easy safe and fun.

One fun fact about the wine trail?

Watching people tell their friends where exactly in Michigan it is located -Just open your hand and point to the Thumb!

Have you visited any of the great Michigan wineries along the new wine trail? Tell us about your experience! 

 Philip Rudy is an “all-things Michigan enthusiast” and owner of Michigan Wine Trail as well as part-time webmaster and blogger at Spartan Hall of Fame.

10 Traverse City Sights to Explore

Thousands of visitors will flock to Traverse City from June 29 to July 6 for the National Cherry Festival. There’s no end of things to do at the festival – but you should still take a little time to get out and see the rest of this beautiful town. Mike Norton of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau shares a few suggestions.

Hey, I LOVE the Cherry Festival! From the first window-rattling roar of the jets at the air show to the last float in the Cherry Royale Parade, I’m a big fan. But there are lots of must-see and must-do things in the Traverse City area, and you shouldn’t leave without checking out at least a few of these:

1. The Sleeping Bear Dunes
I never get tired of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a breathtaking 64-mile curve of beaches, coves, islands and dunes – some perched as high as 400 feet above the water. Its grandeur can be viewed from overlooks along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. But it’s even better to walk its beaches, hike its trails or even take a ferryboat ride to the unspoiled Manitou Islands.

2. The Grand Traverse Commons
Traverse City’s most distinctive architectural treasure is the sprawling Grand Traverse Commons, our former mental asylum, whose castle-like buildings are slowly being converted into a complex of apartments, shops, galleries, offices and restaurants. Great shopping, and the 480-acre wooded campus is a beautiful place for people to walk, run and bicycle.

3. Wine Country Touring
Traverse City may be the “Cherry Capital of the World,” but the same water-cradled slopes that make this a perfect place for fruit orchards are now producing some of the best wines in the country. The Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas are dotted with vineyards and wineries — many in awe-inspiring hilltop settings that make them attractions in their own right.

4. The Interlochen Center for the Arts
In a secluded forest setting (about 20 minutes from downtown Traverse City) Interlochen is a magnet for lovers of music, drama and dance. Over 200,000 people visit each year. Come for a show, or simply for a stroll around the campus.

5. Beaches
You can’t go to TC without spending some time at the beach! On West Grand Traverse Bay, try Clinch Park, West End, and Bryant Park (a particularly good spot to catch the 4th of July fireworks). The entire southern shore of East Bay is one long beach of fine sugar sand, and it’s shallow enough for little ones. Check out the Traverse City State Park near Three Mile Road.

6. Slabtown
In the 19th century, Bohemian immigrants came to work in Traverse City’s waterfront sawmills. They built their homes with slabs of scrap lumber from the mills, so their neighborhood came to be known as Slabtown. Many of their cottages are still standing – and so are two great bars: Sleder’s Family Tavern, and the Little Bohemia Pub & Grill. Both places still preserve the feel of an earlier, more authentic Traverse City.

7. Tall Ship Sailing
Traverse City’s has more of these stately sailing vessels than any other port on the Great Lakes. Taste the exhilaration of the Days of Sail is to take a two-hour cruise aboard the 114-foot Tall Ship Manitou, a replica of a 19th-century schooner, or on the Nauti-Cat, the largest commercial sailing catamaran on the Great Lakes.

8. Lighthouses
At the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum near Northport, visitors can see how lighthouse keepers and their families lived in the early 1920s. One of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes, it has been in service for over 150 years. The smaller Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula, is another scenic treasure.

9. Shopping
Traverse City is a shopper’s paradise. I love our shady, pedestrian-friendly downtown, with its scores of fascinating boutiques, restaurants and galleries, and lots of places to sit and relax. Nearby are picturesque lakeport towns like Leland, Glen Arbor, Elk Rapids and Northport — filled with hidden byways, cozy cottages, quaint shops and stunning galleries.

10. Fresh Food
This time of year, fresh fruits and vegetables – including cherries! – can be found almost everywhere around Traverse City. The community has lots of farmers markets, roadside stands, and U-pick orchards where you can enjoy picking your own fruit. It tastes so much better that way!

What would you add to the list? Visit michigan.org to learn about more things to do and see in the Traverse City area.

Mike Norton spent 25 years as newspaper writer and columnist before starting a second career as media relations director at the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. He lives in the village of Old Mission.