Eight Awesome Spring Activities to Enjoy this Season

Today, guest blogger Jennifer Hamilton of The Awesome Mitten gives us the run down on some great spring activities to enjoy in Pure Michigan this season.

When thinking about what activities I will be participating in this spring, ideas such as flood-proofing my home and shopping for heavy-duty rain boots came to mind. However, I dug a little deeper into my brain and with the help of others, came up with some great spring activities that we can all delight in.

Spring Building

Spring BuildingI once visited the Upper Peninsula  and was shocked to find my friend building a bonfire in the driveway. If you want to have a bonfire and do not have a fire pit, no fear, there is an excellent Plan B. It is as simple as using a steel wheelbarrow, placing kindling and logs inside, and making fire! It is great fun and a unique way to hold a bonfire almost anywhere.

Other fantastic springtime building projects are birdhouses and bird baths. Birdhouses and baths are always useful, and they are a great project for families to create together.

Spring Eats

During the winter, there are certain comfort foods we consume on a regular basis; soup, slow cooker delights, and various heavy pasta dishes. Spring food is so much more exciting! Most importantly, we can all get our grills out again. There is nothing more delightful than recognizing that grill smell for the first time after a long winter. Additionally, seasonal foods are about to make a great change. Locally grown watermelon, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers will soon be at our disposal. As we all know, nothing tastes as good as local produce.

Motorcycle/Bicycle Rides

A great way to delight in the smells, sights, and sounds of spring is to get out there on your favorite two-wheeled contraption. Whether you prefer pedaling a bicycle or gliding along on a motorcycle, just go enjoy the fresh air. A fellow Awesome Mitten writer mentioned that he loves going for motorcycle rides to Michigan’s best ice cream spots. And of course, our beloved potholes become a fun obstacle to weave around.

Garden Planning

Though the ground may be taking ages to thaw, it is never too early to decide what you want to grow this year. Some of these items may even be started indoors in pots and transferred outside when the time is right. Michigan’s garden centers are filling up with people buying soil, indoor planters, and seed packets. Items such as tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage are great produce goods to start growing indoors, then transfer to an outdoor garden.

Disc Golf

Once the snow is melted enough, spring is a great time to explore some of Michigan’s disc golf courses. The sport has exploded over the last ten years, and many parks have taken notice and constructed courses as a result. Many courses wind through the woods, near water, and over beautiful areas of land. Disc golf does not require much physical effort, either, so people of almost any fitness level can participate and enjoy.

Spring Races

Disc GolfSpring is when fairweather runners make a comeback. Jump into a 5K to kickstart this running season! The best part about spring races is that many of them are themed; Easter Races, 5Ks with pets, and costume races start their season in March and continue on through the rest of the year. The best kind of race is the kind that allows you to get a little creative while running, then celebrating with some great food and beverages from race sponsors afterward! RunMichigan.com is jam-packed with races that take place literally every weekend; take a peak and pick one out.

 

 

Fishing

To go along with the great activity of grilling, one needs to catch some fish. Opening day of trout season is the last Saturday of April, so get those fishing licenses ready. Creeks, streams, rivers, bays, and lakes are all full of great tasting fish that want to come home with you. On one occasion, I even had the pleasure of purchasing live worms that had been injected with a fluorescent green dye, making the worms glow in the dark. So get those green worms ready, folks, it’s fishing season!

Morel Mushroom Picking

RelaxingThis is an activity for those with patience. It can be very tedious, but it is a spectacular way to get deep into the woods and spend quality time with your face near the ground of mother nature. Many people cook and eat these mushrooms, and quite a few also sell these morels at a fairly decent price. I do advise going in areas you are familiar with, or at least taking your phone with a GPS because it is alarmingly easy to lose track of oneself out there.

In short, spring is messy, but it is the loveliest kind of messy. Spring is for mud puddles, open windows, and new life. We Michiganders survived one crazy winter; now it is time to rejoice with a fine patio cocktail.

What are your favorite spring activities? 

1236752_10104693579790294_533864666_nJennifer Hamilton is a graduate student and outdoor enthusiast living in Traverse City. Jennifer splits her time between working in the substance abuse field, writing for the Awesome Mitten, and chasing after her three dogs.

Pure Michigan May 2013 Fan Photos

Happy June! As we move into warmer months in Pure Michigan, we wanted to take a look back at some of our favorite photos from May. Below is a gallery of just some of the stunning photos that our Pure Michigan Facebook community shared with us last month. See more on the Pure Michigan Flickr page.



Which photo from May is your favorite? If you have a photo to share with us, visit the Pure Michigan Facebook page and post it there.

Eight Ways to Spend a Long Weekend in Michigan

Memorial Day weekend starts tomorrow! If you’re still looking for ways to spend it, check out the ideas below from Erin Bernhard of The Awesome Mitten.

Grand Traverse Bay. Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten.

Memorial Day weekend often marks the beginning of summer in many Michigan towns. All over our great state, Michiganders spend the weekend putting in boats and docks, firing up grills, and finishing yard work. Memorial Day is also a patriotic holiday, commemorating lost soldiers and veterans who dedicated themselves to defending this country, so there are parades and American flags galore! We celebrate the end of a long, cold winter by breaking out shorts, sundresses and flip flops, crossing our fingers that it doesn’t snow in June (and knowing full well that it might). And the best part? Having an extra day off of work! Let us help you plan your long weekend with our top eight favorite ways to celebrate Memorial Day.

  1. Throw some shrimp on ‘the barbie.’ From Marquette to Milan, grill chefs will rejoice next weekend as they celebrate the beginning of barbeque season. Whether you’re of the charcoal or propane persuasion, you know that almost everything tastes better grilled. Hit your local farmer’s market and stock up on seasonal asparagus, rhubarb, and mixed greens to complement your choice of meat. Create a make-your-own burger bar with mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce and condiments OR throw together some shish kebobs with steak, chicken, bell peppers, pineapple, and cloves of garlic. Invite twenty of your closest friends to bring a dish or drinks to pass, pull your bocce ball and croquet sets out of the basement, and bam! You have yourself a party.
  2. Get outside. Generally, Michigan in late May is warm enough to go out and play. Whether you take a quick spin around the neighborhood on your freshly tuned bike or throw the kayaks on top of the car for a weekend-long adventure, make sure you enjoy the outdoors at some point this weekend. Pop over to the sunrise coast and hike somewhere off of historic US-23, or head up north to Keweenaw National Historical Park. There are plenty of outdoor treasures across the state; if you don’t feel like leaving home, you don’t have to look any further than your own backyard.
  3. Celebrate. Michigan has an incredible amount to offer and Memorial Day weekend is a great time to celebrate every little thing. In northwest Michigan, the cherry blossoms are blooming along M-22. Mackinac Island is preparing for the Lilac Festival that begins on June 7, and visiting over Memorial Day is a great way to beat the crowds. Recognize our military heritage by attending a parade in a new town or check out a festival that celebrates Michigan food, drink, nature, or history.
  4. Break out your orange and blue. This weekend, the Detroit Tigers face the Minnesota Twins at home in Comerica Park. Get tickets on Friday to check out the fireworks and Polish-American Heritage Night, or go on Sunday for Kids Day. If you’d rather be wearing red and white, the Red Wings face the Chicago Blackhawks in round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs during Memorial Day weekend; get tickets for Monday’s game three at Joe Louis Arena to watch Datsyuk and Zetterberg up close.
  5. Chill out, but not literally. But what good is a long weekend if you don’t get to relax? If you’ve already finished the yard work, sometimes there’s nothing better than a hammock or blanket in the sunshine, a glass of ginger-mint lemonade, and a copy of The Great Lakes Book Project or anything by Jim Harrison, either of which will make you yearn for the lakes and land that are much closer than you think.
    Fishtown. Courtesy of Ken Scott Photography (facebook.com/KenScottPhotos).

     

  6. Embrace the season. The last weekend in May is exciting for many reasons, but topping the list is the opening of seasonal shops and businesses and extension of hours for summertime. Because the sun sets later, restaurants and local shops are open longer to accommodate a higher level of patronage. You’ve waited all winter to walk to your corner ice cream shop at 8:30pm for a cone, and summer is the season for that. Small tourist towns like Leland’s Historic Fishtown and Saugatuck are open for business and ready to provide you with all the fudge, souvenirs, great food and drink, and goods you can handle.
  7. Raise a glass. Last week, Grand Rapids was named Beer City USA for the second year in a row. Michigan brewing is at a record high and Michiganders statewide are happy to help pick up the slack. Bell’s Oberon opening day, a state holiday, was March 25th but enjoying the ale has been somewhat lackluster this year, considering the influx of wintry weather over the last two months. Fear not! Memorial Day brings the promise of the type of wonderful weather that good summer ale will always compliment. So, crack open a cold one; cheers to craft brewing in Michigan.
  8. Predict the unpredictable. We all know the old adage: if you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait five minutes. For as much as we always hope for bright sunny days over Memorial Day weekend, all Michiganders know to prepare for rain. Not sure what to do if you can’t be outside? Watch a movie! Michigan has been featured in films for years, and there are plenty of made-in-Michigan films available for rental or purchase. Even if you can’t enjoy the great outdoors yourself, you can still get a glimpse through some wonderful films. 

This is only the beginning of ways to spend your long weekend. How do you do Memorial Day?

Erin Bernhard is the Managing Content Editor for The Awesome Mitten. She’s a northern Michigan twentysomething who loves good microbrews, great wine, summertime grillouts, and well-roasted coffee. She is also a dedicated yoga practitioner, social media and marketing enthusiast, reader and writer, local food junkie, and outdoors explorer–and she’s always adding to the list. She is located in Traverse City and loves helping to make her hometown shine. Follow her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/errnbrrn), connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/erin.bernhard) and feel free to email (erin@awesomemitten.com) her anytime!