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!

Pure Michigan May 2013 Events Roundup

May is almost here, and that means the peak of spring in Pure Michigan is on the horizon! The temperatures are rising, the flowers are blooming across the state and festival season is upon us.

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in May. Please visit michigan.org for a complete listing of things to do across the state.

Week of April 28

Blossomtime Festival
April 28-May 4, 2013, Saint Joseph
The Blossomtime Festival takes place April 28 – May 4. This annual festival, which began in 1906 celebrates the agricultural industry in southwest Michigan. It is a multi-community event including 25 communities in southwest Michigan. The Grand Floral Parade lasts two hours and has over 100 units including floats with community queens and their courts, bands, clowns, costumed characters and antique cars. More than 250,000 spectators come from across the Midwest to enjoy this colorful parade which travels from St. Joseph across the river into Benton Harbor. Click here or phone for more details (269) 982-8016.

Jackson Storyfest
May 2-4, 2013, Jackson
Held the first weekend of May each year, storytellers from all over the United States bring their special stories to Jackson, Michigan; where audiences of all ages share in the laughter, the tears, and the memories. Make plans to head to Jackson on May 2, 3 and 4, for the Storyfest, to celebrate 26 Years of “Stories to Tickle, Tug and Touch You.”  Please visit the website link for more information or call Jackson Storyfest at (517) 499-2290.

Victorian Days
May 4-5, 2013, Grand Ledge
Grand Ledge celebrates Michigan artists, local culture and rich Victorian heritage by inviting visitors to historical demonstrations and themed activities in beautiful downtown Grand Ledge, overlooking the river and picturesque ledges. For more information contact (517) 627-5170.

Tulip Time Festival 2013
May 4-11, 2013, Holland
Celebrating over 80 years of culture, heritage and beauty, the Tulip Time Festival is a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture. This multi-generational event that has a little bit of something for everyone including; three amazing parades, multiple Dutch Dance performances, concerts, theatre, Dutch attractions, Dutch food, children’s events, trolley tours and so much more! For more information on this event, visit the link or call (800) 822-2770 or (616) 396-4221.

Week of May 5

Guts & Glory – An Evening with Anthony Bourdain
May 7, 2013, East Lansing
Chef, author and raconteur Anthony Bourdain is best known for traveling the globe on his stomach, daringly consuming some of the world’s most exotic dishes on his hit TV shows Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. Somewhat notoriously, he has established himself as a professional gadfly, bête noir, advocate, social critic and pork enthusiast, recognized for his caustic sense of humor worldwide. He is as unsparing of those things he hates, as he is evangelical about his passions. The event will take place at the Cobb Great Hall at 7:30pm. Content may not be suitable for children. Tickets starting at $38. To purchase tickets click here.

Flower Fair
May 10-11, 2013, Lake Orion
In its 13th year, downtown Lake Orion’s annual Flower Fair event will be held on Friday, May 10, 2013, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 11, 2013, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. This event, which takes place in the streets of downtown Lake Orion, kicks off the summer season and provides patrons the opportunity to purchase flower and garden related products as well as art and craft items. Patrons will also be able to speak with home improvement and backyard goods and service providers and visit our business showcase. The activities will be fresh and fun, many will tie into Mother’s Day. For more information about the event, please contact the Lake Orion DDA at (248) 693-9742 or visit the website.

Mesick Mushroom Festival
May 10-12, 2013, Mesick
Mesick, the “morel mushroom capitol,” pulls out all the stops for the celebration including a grand parade, carnival, largest mushroom contest and more from May 10 – 12, 2013. For more details on the event, visit the website  link or call (231) 885-2679.

Morel Mushroom Festival & Craft Show
May 11, 2013, Lewiston
The Lewiston Chamber of Commerce puts on our Annual Mushroom Festival and craft fair at the Lewiston Elementary school. Among the events include a mushroom tasting with a variety of dishes from area residents and restaurants, guided mushroom hunts with a professional mushroom guide and sales, specials and more from local businesses participate, click here for more information!

Michigan All State Bonsai Show
May 11-12, 2013, Grand Rapids
Ryan Neil, one of the most sought-after bonsai artists in the country, will headline this year’s show. Ryan studied in Japan for six years and has taught workshops and given demonstrations at bonsai conferences throughout the world. Twice he has been featured in Bonsai Focus magazine. The Bonsai Show will also include vendors from across the country, offering handmade bonsai pots, large specimen trees, affordable trees with “bonsai potential” and a complete assortment of bonsai supplies. This free event runs from 11 a.m. -5 p.m. For more information, call (616) 957-1580 or visit the website here.

Week of May 12

Berkley Days
May 16-19, 2013, Berkley
Featuring carnival rides and games for families to enjoy, a craft show with unique crafts and gift ideas,   a pooch pageant and punt, pass and kick competition this event if fun for the whole family. The kids can also enjoy a petting zoo on Sunday.

Morel Mushroom Festival 2013
May 16-19, 2013, Boyne City
This fun-filled festival is the ultimate signal that spring is here…featuring a carnival, mushroom hunting, cooking demonstrations and lots of morels! Come share in the fun and bring your appetite. Call the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce for details at (231) 582-6222 or visit the website here.

World Expo of Beer 2013
May 17-18, 2013, Frankenmuth
On May 17-18 Frankenmuth is home to a beer tasting event including music, souvenirs and 50 breweries from 5 continents brought to you by Jaycees Frankenmuth Chapter. The fun takes place May 17 from 5-10 p.m. and May 18 from 3-10 p.m. For more detailed information and to purchase online tickets, visit the link or call (888) 805-1504.

East Lansing Art Festival
May 18-19, 2013, East Lansing
The Fine Art Festival in downtown East Lansing features an art exhibition and marketplace – ranked 55th in the nation’s top 100 fine art festivals! This art exhibition and marketplace will feature original works by more than 200 invited fine artists and traditional craft artisans from across North America. The event is free to the public with live music and children’s arts activities going on all weekend long. For more information, visit the website link or call (517) 319-6804.

Empire Asparagus Festival
May 18-19, 2013, Empire
The lakeshore village of Empire greets the arrival of asparagus season with good food, wine & beer. Dancing & an annual oral poetry contest for the best “Ode to Asparagus.” For more information click on the website link or call (231) 326-6081.

Week of May 19

Eastern Market Flower Day
May 19, 2013, Detroit
Flower Day at the Eastern Market is one of the largest flower shows in the country. Members of the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association (MDFGA), and hundreds of flower growers from Michigan, Canada and neighboring states will fill the market with their colorful array offerings. Over 15-acres of the highest quality annuals, perennials, foliage, shrubbery, trees, exotics, tropical plants, flats, hanging baskets and more will be available for purchase. Click here for more information.

Rock the Coast 2013
May 24-25, 2013, Muskegon
Rock the Coast is back for 2013 and is bigger and better than ever! This year the event includes two full days with TWO nights of concerts at Michigan’s Adventure, including the Wild Water Adventure on Saturday. RTC 2013 will truly be the kickoff to summer. To purchase tickets visit www.miadventure.com or stop by the Michigan’s Adventure park office.

Ride the Keweenaw Weekend
May 24-27, 2013, Copper Harbor
The weekend celebrates the designation of the Copper Harbor mountain bike trails as an “Epic Ride” and provides two days of guided tours on four single track trail systems between Houghton and Copper Harbor. The event includes bike demos, downhill shuttle runs, a vendor expo and live music. For more information, call (906) 289-4788.

Movement: Electronic Music Festival
May 25-27, 2013, Detroit
The Movement Electronic Music Festival features five technologically-rich outdoor stages; more than 100 artists; free Wi-Fi access on the grounds; a posh VIP setting located up and behind the main stage; dozens of official after parties around the city; an interactive technology center featuring the hottest gear in the industry; and several art displays to stimulate the senses. Click here for more information.

May’d in Michigan
May 25-27, 2013, Augusta
May’d in Michigan, a place for everything Michigan. The event features local artisans and entertainment. May’d in Michigan will be held May 25th, 26th and 27th, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Event held at 13215 M-89; Augusta, MI 49012. For more information, call (810) 834-4294 or visit the website.

Week of May 26

Cadillac Memorial Day Celebration
May 27, 2013, Cadillac
The Cadillac Memorial Day Celebration is a full day of patriotic ceremonies and a celebration of our freedom to express ourselves. There will be races, a parade, honor guard ceremony, Veteran’s Memorial Service and a patriotic flag burning ceremony. For a full schedule, visit the website link or call (800) 225-2537 or (231) 775-0657.

Mancelona Bass Festival
May 30-June 2, 2013, Mancelona
The annual festival is the place to be for parades, a carnival, flea market, craft show and so much more. The entire family will enjoy the barbecue, fishing tournament, kids games, fireworks and free on stage entertainment.

Grand Haven Offshore Challenge
May 31-June 2, 2013, Grand Haven
The Grand Haven Offshore Challenge is an annual fishing tournament with awards for all categories including kids, women, amateur and professional. Friday, May 31st – Women & Kids Tournament, June 1st & 2nd – Pro Am Tournament. For event details, visit the website or call (616) 638-1370.

Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
May 31-June 2, 2013, Detroit
Come and experience the fastest weekend of the summer at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, May 31-June, 2013. The event features world-class auto racing, family fun, live music, interactive games and displays and much more. There’s something at the Grand Prix for people of all ages. Belle Isle hosts three days of racing, music and family entertainment as the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix returns to the Motor City. Premiere racing action will be featured on the newly-reconfigured raceway at Belle Isle Park. The weekend features the IZOD IndyCar Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series. In 2013, Belle Isle will host the first IndyCar doubleheader race weekend with full championship races on both Saturday and Sunday in the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit. Even if you’re not a race fan, there’s plenty to experience and enjoy at the Grand Prix. Friday, May 31, is “Free Prix Day” as fans will have free admission to the track as well as the race paddock. Great weekend or single-day ticket packages are available and tickets start as low as $25. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit the website or call (866) 464-PRIX (7749).

Ya’ssoo Greek Festival
May 3-June 2, 2013, Ann Arbor
Ya’ssoo is an annual festival featuring live music and entertainment, Greek cuisine, homemade pastries, Kafenio and Taverna, Agora Marketplace and church tours. The event is held at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church; 3109 Scio Church Rd; Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103. Last year over 7,000 people attended. The event takes place Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 midnight and on Sunday from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Children 12 and under are free and admission is free for everyone on Sunday. Visit the festival’s website for more information.

These are just a few of the many events happening next month in Pure Michigan. Please visit michigan.org for a complete listing.

From Our Community: Spring in Pure Michigan

With the first day of spring upon us, we asked fans on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ “what does spring in Pure Michigan mean to you?”

From blooming flowers and longer days to countless rounds of golf, bike rides, leisurely walks and more, spring means something special to everyone. And while the cold weather might be sticking around for now, warm weather months are in sight.

Below is a roundup of just some of our favorite responses from fans. If yours is missing, tell us in the comments section below what spring in Michigan means to you!

“Opening my windows and letting old man Winter out. Cleaning off the patio furniture, planting some veggies and flowers. taking walks without freezing my toes off. Visiting my neighbors as they do the same. Can hardly wait……” –Hester Regan

Camping!!!” – Lisa Sara Andrus-Muehlenbeck

“It means only 3 months until summer in Pure Michigan! The best time of the year!” –Briana Read

“It’s still a bit of a wait, but it means #morel #mushroom season!” – Ben Glaser

“Spring brings the promise of new life, birds returning, and the hope of sunny days at Lake Michigan’s beaches to come!” – Taylor Downs Russell

“Many good festivals and great beaches” – Kele Hammons

“getting out and going biking and going up north to see family at the lake…” – Maurya Koppen Withrow

“Smell of lilacs… Many shades of green as trees bud, looking for wildflowers popping up on my woodland walk, warm breezes blowing in my face” – Susan Lane Rios-Doria

“It means the plethora of vibrant colors, the sweet scent of rain and sunshine, and the beginning of the best summer in Traverse City anywhere in the US undoubtedly” – Joe M Cruz

“The River Bank Run and the Tulip Time Festival!” – Rachel Kamper Rynbrandt

“Spring means no more winter (at least for now)! It’ll be nice to give my coat a rest.” –Jennifer Bowman

“Tigers opening day!!” –Catherine Patterson

“Spring in pure michigan? Memories. Sunshine. Camping. Late nights. Warm sun. Pretty flowers. Taking my babies to the parks” –Amista Johnson