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.

Five Extraordinary Instagram Photos from Our Fans in August 2014

Our Instagram fans have not wasted a second of our Pure Michigan summer! From sunrises and sunsets to days at the beach or the ballgame, we saw it all on Instagram this month. Here are just a few stand-out Instagram fan photos from August.

For more fan photos, check out our May, June  and July roundups and follow us on Instagram

A picturesque pastel sunrise over the Au Train River and Lake Superior captured perfectly by @neilweaverphoto.

@nealweaverphoto

This bright sunny view of Fishtown in Leland, MI never gets old. Photo by @kathryncpage.

@kathryncpage

Cool photo captured in Detroit’s Hart Plaza! Photo by @feenyphotography via @indulgedetroit.

10598627_806062649437926_1154914897_n

We love this photo of Turnip Rock from @jonasqphotography. Have you seen Turnip Rock in person?

@Jonasqphotography

What a wonderful capture from Lavender Hill Farms in Boyne City, MI! Photo by @tototoophoto.

@totoophoto

 If you’re on Instagram, follow us @PureMichigan! If you’d like us to share your photos from across the state, please tag them with #PureMichigan to give us permission to “re-gram.”

Beat The Heat in the Mitten State with These Summer Activities

After our record-breaking winter, we’re not complaining about warmer temperatures! But when the long mid-summer days get muggy and humid, here are five ways to beat the heat in the Mitten State courtesy of The Awesome Mitten.

Ray's ice Cream - Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Ray’s ice Cream – Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Michigan summers are many things. Predictable, however, does not make the list. One day may be a beautiful 75 and sunny, and the next a sweltering 95 and muggy. Though the former is obviously preferable, there are plenty of awesome activities in Michigan to get you through the latter. Here are a few of my favorite ways to beat the heat in the mitten:

In light of the fact that it’s National Ice Cream Month, and since (inarguably) one of the best ways to beat the heat is with a cold, tasty treat, first on the list is ice cream.

Without a doubt, my first choice for ice cream in Michigan is the MSU Dairy Store. Though I worked at Coldstone Creamery for more than a year while living in East Lansing, I still made near weekly stops at the Dairy Store for a cone or a shake. If you haven’t been, make your way to East Lansing and stop in for a scoop of Michigan State Sesquicentennial Swirl post-haste. (Though I’m actually a fan of the more traditional Mint Chocolate Chip, myself.)

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Now that I’ve left East Lansing for metro-Detroit, I’ve had to find new locales to get my ice cream fix. Luckily, a short one mile walk from my apartment in Royal Oak is the delicious Ray’s Ice Cream. A staple in the area for more than 50 years, Ray’s consistently tops lists of best ice cream parlors in metro-Detroit. Before I wrap up the ice cream shout out’s, I also have to mention Treat Dreams in Ferndale, whose unique and creative flavors I first had and became enamored of at BRU Fest 2013 and have been enjoying ever since.

Possibly the most popular way to beat the heat in Michigan is to head to any number of the gorgeous lakes in the mitten state. Oft-overlooked, however, is the Detroit waterfront. Beautiful Belle Isle Beach is always a great option for just laying out and working on your tan, but you can also take a ride down the waterslide, walk the trails, or (if the weather takes a turn for the worse) check out the wildlife at the Belle Isle Aquarium.

And Belle Isle Beach isn’t the only place to enjoy Detroit’s riverside; Chene Park Amphitheater is another great way to experience the waterfront in the Motor City. With the ever-popular Jazz Series, as well as many other awesome summer performances, Chene Park is a great way to enjoy some tunes while basking in the breeze from the river.

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Speaking of the river, Riverside Kayak Connection has events such as the Detroit Eastside Canal Tour that offer a unique and adventurous way to explore the Motor City. (Don’t worry, novice kayakers, Riverside Kayak Connection has classes and events for all skill levels!)

And when the weather is just too unbearably scorching to enjoy the great outdoors, my personal favorite way to beat the heat indoors is with a few delicious Michigan craft beers. Obviously, everyone clamors for Oberon long before summer (“Oberon Day” was way back in March this year), but there are plenty of other delicious brews that have my mouth watering come summer. On my list are Atwater Brewery’s Dirty Blonde, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co’s Simcoe Silly, and Short’s Brewing Company’s Soft Parade (admittedly a year-round favorite of mine).

Since this list obviously doesn’t cover all of the ways to get through the hot days of a Michigan summer (and, as you may have noticed, it is somewhat biased to the metro-Detroit area), I would love to know: what are some of your favorite ways to beat the heat in Michigan?

HS PhotoHayley Serr writes for The Awesome Mitten and works for Vectorform, a Royal Oak-based interactive design company. Born and raised in metro-Detroit, this Spartan alumna relishes any opportunity to share all of the wonderful things there are to do in Michigan. Hayley loves spending time with her family, cooking, and, of course, any opportunity to explore all the fun there is to be had in the mitten!