Pure Michigan Fourth of July 2014 Activities Roundup

 Fourth of July fireworks, festivals and more have already started happening across Michigan, and many will be out and about celebrating the Fourth of July both before and after the big day! With so many festive events and plenty of Michigan campground space available, there’s still time to plan a great Independence Day adventure. Below is just a sampling of celebrations and quick weekend getaways you can still book!

For a complete listing of events in Michigan visit www.michigan.org

Fireworks4th of July Celebration | St. Ignace
Combining the nostalgic sentiment of a small-town celebration with the picturesque backdrop of Lake Huron and Mackinac Island makes the 4th of July in St. Ignace something special. Watch the parade at 1pm, enjoy Kiwanis Kid’s Games and a community picnic at 2pm, and watch the fireworks over Moran Bay at dusk. Let us show you patriotism, St. Ignace style!

Fourth of July Parade & Fireworks | Port Austin
One of the Thumb’s largest parades is hosted annually in beautiful Port Austin. Entertainment at Veteran’s Waterfront Park, and fireworks at dusk over the harbor will encompass a wonderful evening of red, white and blue fun on Independence Day.

4th of July Fireworks | Grand Haven
Grand Haven’s annual 4th of July Fireworks display lights up the night sky after the evening’s showing of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.  Come see the sights and sounds of summer as you kick back and enjoy an exciting fireworks display.

Independence Day Concert | Saint Joseph
Join this joyous celebration of America’s birthday!  Complete with traditional patriotic songs, Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture and, of course, a spectacular fireworks show! This free concert will be at the Shadowland Pavilion at Silver Beach beginning at 9pm.

July 4th Fireworks Cruise | Muskegon
See the spectacular fireworks from the water with the best view in town on this fun cruise for the whole family! This unique cruise will take you on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan and includes an all American picnic buffet. $55 adults, $45 kids under 12. Service fee added. Call-ahead reservations required.

Star Spangled Fourth | Mackinac Island
Celebrate America’s Independence on Mackinac Island. Patriotic fun in oh so many ways … visit Fort Mackinac for the 38 Gun Salute, Soldier demonstrations, dancing, canon firing and more from one of the only two remaining all original Revolutionary War Forts in America. Then feast at the All American Picnic at Fort Mackinac catered by Grand Hotel. Mackinac Island’s Fire Department is the host to the Fun & Games at Windermere Point. There are excellent fireworks to be watched on the water or from the shoreline on the west end of Main Street to Grand Hotel. They start at dusk, which is usually between 9:30pm-10pm. Most bring blankets to stretch out on the shoreline, others bring folding chairs to watch from the school yard and guests of Grand Hotel may watch from the longest summer porch in the world.

4th of July Fireworks | Traverse City
Enjoy a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display beginning at dark with great viewing from anywhere along the West Bay shoreline in beautiful Traverse City.  The fireworks will be from 10 p.m. – 11 p.m. so make sure you show up early to get a good spot!

Light Up the Lake Fireworks | South Haven
Watch a spectacular fireworks display and listen to the Light Up The Lake soundtrack live on SuperHits 103.7 COSY-FM! The fireworks shoot off synchronized to the music and are set off from the pier at dusk. Find a cozy viewing location along the South Haven Lake Michigan shoreline on the beaches, the riverfront park located near the South Side Marina along the Black River, Kid’s Corner on Monroe Boulevard, or in a boat! Parade will be held on July 4 through downtown.

4th of July | Les Cheneaux
Enjoy the spectacular view of fireworks over Cedarville Bay from the Cedarville’s downtown waterfront park or the lawn of the Great Lakes Boat Building School on July 4. Earlier that day, a parade, kids games, hot dogs and burgers, Up in Smoke BBQ, races and contests, and more wind down into early evening with music on the bay by Dance Commander DJ and a Jersey Mud eating contest.

Appldore_IV MIORGBBQ Dinner Sail | Bay City
Set sail this Independence Day! Make sure you have your ticket and hop aboard the family friendly Appledore IV for a fun and relaxing evening of cruising along the Saginaw River and sailing in the Saginaw Bay. While on board, guests will enjoy a delicious and casual barbecue meal catered by a local restaurant.  The voyage departs from downtown Bay City, Wenonah Park and sails rain or shine.  Tickets are non-refundable.

Friday Night at the Museums | St. Ignace
From 7-9pm, these fun-filled evenings in July and August will have something for everyone! As you stroll along the streets in downtown St. Ignace on a Friday night you will see a variety of activities to watch and/or participate in. The Museum of Ojibwa Culture will have Native American drumming and singing and you can also enjoy music and storytelling at Fort de Buade Museum. Friday nights is in July and August.

Independence Fest | Clarkston
This is an all-day event from 11am-11pm filled with fun activities for the whole family. Activities include visiting a mermaid, an extreme zip line, kid’s games, inflatables, a craft show, live entertainment, and much more! After a great day of entertainment you can kick back, relax and watch the fireworks show starting at 10 p.m. Parking and shuttle fees.

Volkslaufe / The People’s Race 2014 | Frankenmuth
Head to Frankenmuth for a variety of races on Independence Day!  Race location is Heritage Park on Weiss

Thunder Bay Maritime Festival | Alpena
A spaghetti dinner, music and fireworks show will be on July 3rd. Bring the whole family to this free annual community event hosted by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Tour tall ships, research vessels and fishing boats docked along the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail. Enjoy live music on the main stage, kids games and crafts, see the small boat workshop, taste some local whitefish, explore the shipwreck century exhibits and more! Festivities start eachyear at 500 W. Fletcher Street following the 4th of July parade in downtown Alpena.

4th of July in Boyne City
Boyne City’s 4th of July Festival is always held on July 4th, regardless of the day of the week!  All events are held at Veterans Memorial Park on Lake Street unless otherwise noted. Make your way up to Boyne City for the annual parade and fireworks show!

As June comes to a close, so does National Camping Month. But don’t put away that tent just yet! Check out these great campgrounds that still have space for the Fourth of July weekend and beyond. 

Brighton-BishopLakeBeachPathBrighton Recreation Area
Consisting of nearly 5,000 acres of rolling woods and meadows interspersed with lakes, streams and marshes. There are several campgrounds, beaches and hiking and mountain bike trails. The majority of the area is open to hunting, fishing and most winter activities including snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Bishop Lake beach offers an ADA accessible path which will allow all of our visitor’s access to the lake for swimming and several of our new picnic areas. We have added a sand volleyball court and horse shoe pits. The park also offers canoe,kayak and paddle boat rentals. Bishop Lake boat launch now offers an ADA accessible EZ Dock launch. The park also features complete equestrian facilities, including a riding stable with rental horses, campground, staging area and 18 miles of bridle trails. Metal detecting area.

Palms Book State Park
Palms Book is a rewarding side trip for the vacationer touring the Upper Peninsula, for here can be seen one of Michigan’s alluring natural attractions — Kitch-iti-kipi, The Big Spring. Two hundred feet across, the 40-foot deep Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. Over 10,000 gallons a minute gush from fissures in the underlying limestone. The flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree Fahrenheit. By means of a self-operated observation raft, visitors are guided to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features and fantasies. Ancient tree trunks, lime-encrusted branches and fat trout appear suspended in nothingness as they slip through crystal waters far below. Clouds of sand kept in constant motion by gushing waters create ever-changing shapes and forms, a challenge to the imagination of young and old alike.

Fayette Historic State Park
Fayette townsite is a restored iron smelting company town (1867-1891). Once a bustling industrial community, Fayette offers visitors the unmatched serenity of a Lake Michigan harbor, white cliffs and verdant forests. This well-preserved museum village recalls another time when it was a noisy, dirty company town with an immigrant population that shared daily hardships, joys and sorrows. Three miles of shoreline on Big Bay De Noc. Park amenities include: sixty-one semi-modern campsites, boat camping, fully furnished, cottage that sleeps up to ten people, picnicking, beach, playground, fishing, and boat launch. Five miles of hiking trails overlooking town from limestone cliffs. Groomed for cross country skiing, perfect for the beginner.

Hog Island Point

Photo courtesy of Chris Blake Photography

Muskallonge Lake State Park
159 site campground located between Muskallonge Lake and Lake Superior. Activities include swimming, boating, picnicking, agate & rock hunting on Lake Superior shoreline, camping, hunting and fishing. You can also do some wild berry picking while at the state park.

Newaygo State Park
Newaygo State Park is a 99-site rustic campground and day use area sitting atop 20-foot embankments overlooking the Hardy Dam Pond, a six-mile flooding of the Muskegon River. The campground noted for its large, private sites and scenic beauty with a 20-30 foot forested buffer between sites.

Ionia Recreation Area
Ionia Recreation Area offers you 149 campsites (100 modern and 49 rustic), 4,500 acres that offer a swimming beach, good fishing in Sessions Lake, camping, hunting, 3.5 miles of hiking trails looped within the park, nine miles designated for mountain bike trails, 15 miles of horse trails and a boat launch. We also have three designated trail loops for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling when there is four inches or more of snow. Additional amenities include a dog trail area and metal detecting area.

What do you have planned for the 4th of July in Michigan? Tag your Michigan fireworks photos with #PureMichigan on Twitter and Instagram. 

Eight Cool Things to Do in the Eastern U.P. During the Summer

With hidden lakes, coursing waterfalls, fresh local fare and more, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a traveler’s ultimate escape. Today, featured blogger Jesse Land from Things to Do in the U.P. tells us about eight cool things he did in the Eastern U.P. last summer to inspire your visit. 

Photo by Louis Peeples.

Photo by Louis Peeples.

Many people forget just how big the U.P. is. For example, even though I live in Iron Mountain (roughly in the middle of the Upper Peninsula), it still takes me over four hours to get to DeTour, in the far eastern U.P. If I lived in Ironwood, it’d be more like a six hour drive!

And so it is that the far ends of the U.P. often don’t get as much attention as they should. Well, I decided to at least scratch the surface in the eastern U.P. last summer and am so glad I did. Let me just point out that this is not a “best of” list by any means. One could easily spend a few weeks over in the Eastern U.P. and not take it all in. These are just a few highlights from last summer and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this you’ll want to venture over there to check it out for yourself!

1. Kayak through the Les Cheneaux Islands

One of the highlights from last summer was definitely kayaking through a few of the Les Cheneaux Islands with Woods and Water Ecotours. Our guide Carla was a very experienced kayaker and had moved from out west to the Les Cheaneaux area to attend their famed wooden boat building school. Carla took my wife and I and two other travelers out around a few of the thirty six islands, over some really cool rock formations and even over a shallow water shipwreck.

The short paddle was just long enough for me to realize I need to plan a whole week or more in the Les Cheneaux area with my kayak. What an amazing place.

2. Have lunch at Brown’s Fish House in Paradise

Brown's Fish House. Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Brown’s Fish House. Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Ah, Brown’s. It almost seems to good to be true. For some reason I’m afraid that one of these times I’m going to go into Brown’s Fisheries Fish House for lunch and not have an amazing meal. Luckily, that’s never happened and I doubt it ever will. Last summer I had their lake trout basket for the first time and I think I might have found a new favorite. If you like fresh fish, put Brown’s at the top of your U.P. itinerary. (32638 West M28 Paradise, MI)

3. Visit Tahquamenon Falls (and have dinner at the brewery)

What’s a trip to to the eastern U.P. without a stop at Tahquamenon Falls? I had the chance to not only see the falls, but have a great chat with Lark Ludlow, the co-owner and brewer at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery.

Lark’s grandfather gifted much of the land that is now Tahquamenon Falls State Park to the state of Michigan so she told my friends and I about the history of the area, what used to be where the restaurant/brewery is now and how the brewery came to be. And we capped off the evening with an excellent dinner. Next time you visit Tahquamenon Falls, make sure to stop in the brewery! Even if you’re not a fan of craft beer, they’ve got great food.

4. Discover Malloney’s Irish Pub in Sault Sainte Marie

We’d planned to visit the locally famous Antlers for dinner in Sault Sainte Marie, but ended up walking into to Maloney’s Alley Irish Pub just to check it out and were very pleasantly surprised, so we stayed for dinner. Prior to that visit I hadn’t heard of Malloney’s, but they ended up having great food and a terrific Michigan craft beer selection! I’ll definitely be back. (227 W Portage Ave. Sault Sainte Marie, MI)

5. Have a picnic lunch at the Hessel marina

Hesel Marina - Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Hessel Marina – Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

Sometimes it’s the simple things you remember the most. My wife and I packed a cooler for a picnic lunch on our first visit to the eastern U.P. last summer but didn’t have any specific location in mind. Well, we ended up finding the perfect spot as soon as we pulled into Hessel, in the form of the Hessel marina.

We had lunch on a picnic table while gazing at antique wooden boats, water, a beach and the many islands as a few “islanders” came and went in their boats. Whether you have lunch here or not, it’s a great spot for a photo op.

6. Tour Drummond Island on ATV

Another highlight was touring Drummond Island on ATV with Beaver’s ATV Rentals. We were told that Bill Beaver knows Drummond Island as good as anyone, and he sure seemed to. Bill led my wife and I on an excellent several hour tour of various Drummond Island highlights via the island’s designated ORV trails. And once again, it was enough to make us realize we need to block off at least a few days to explore Drummond Island further. We can’t wait to get back.

7. Visit Soo Brewing

While in the Soo we made it a point to stop into Soo Brewing and really enjoyed the place. It’s an open, unassuming space with plenty of board games on hand and lots of couch and table space where friends can relax for hours. And since it’s located right downtown, it’s easy to walk from the brewery to all the other bars, restaurants and things to do in the area.

8.  Visit the Crisp Point Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of Jesse Land - Things to Do in the U.P.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Land – Things to Do in the U.P.

The Crisp Point Lighthouse is one of those places I’ve always wanted to go but for one reason or another I just wasn’t able to make it work. Well, last summer I was determined to get out there and am definitely glad I did. It’s probably the U.P.’s most remote lighthouse (at least that I’ve been to) but wow, what a place. It has a wonderful history, is beautifully restored and the view from the top is amazing!

So, those are just eight of the cool things I did in the Eastern U.P. last summer. I can’t wait to get back there so I can add to this list for next year!

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Eastern U.P.?

JesseLand21111Jesse Land owns Land Family Media and publishes the Upper Peninsula Travel blog Things to do in the U.P.

An Annual Summer Getaway to Harbor Springs, More than a Family Tradition

Melanie Dawson currently lives in Minneapolis, but she’s been visiting Harbor Springs, Michigan for 15 summers now. Today, she shares with us what draws her family back to the area year after year.

Photo credit: Lou Peeples-Photography; www.pointephotography.net


I grew up in Phoenix, AZ, the desert landscape being infinitely different from northern Michigan. But I lucked into marrying a Midwestern man from Indiana, whose family comes to Harbor Springs every summer. I’ve been visiting Harbor Springs for 15 summers now, my husband for 39. His mother spent her summers there, as did his grandmother and her parents, making our daughter the fifth generation. It’s more than a family tradition, for them (and now for me) it’s a way of life. A summer not spent in Harbor Springs is a summer with something missing. Every year we look forward to revisiting old favorites and finding new gems.

Restaurants we love: Depot Club & Restaurant, serving gourmet food. Coat required indoors, more casual on the patio. New this year is Petoskey Brewing, housed in an old brewery from 1898. This family-friendly place serves delicious microbrews (try a flight of three or four 4 oz pours) and a solid pub menu and is located on the drive between Harbors Springs and Petoskey. We also thoroughly enjoy sitting outside at Dudley’s Deck, which provides covered dining on the patio or the open grass area across from the dock. On a gorgeous night it’s a pleasure to sip one of their famous Hummers and watch the sun go down. Don’t miss Turkeys Café & Pizzeria (serving pizza and sandwiches) and Gurneys Harbor Bottle Shop (a liquor store that makes amazing cold sandwiches to order at lunchtime). There’s nowhere to sit at Gurney’s so take your sandwiches down to the pier and watch the yachts come in and out.

For ice cream and treats, my daughter would tell you that Yummies is a must, serving her favorite flavor of ice cream: Superman. As a grown-up, I am loving the new Velvet, an ice cream shop with a more sophisticated interior and delicious flavors. Not a summer goes by where we don’t get a cookie from Tom’s Mom’s. Housed in the tiniest shop you may have ever seen, the cookies are fresh baked. If you love fudge, check out Kilwin’s and Howse’s.

Leaving the downtown area, Pond Hill Farm is a wonderful way to spend a few hours. The farm is home to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and geese. It features a café and winery with farm fresh ingredients.  There’s a trout pond to fish in, a squash rocket to experiment with, and a market that features pesticide and herbicide free produce hormone and antibiotic free organically raised beef, pork, and lamb, plus other organic products. My daughter’s grandparents enjoy taking the grandchildren to Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, featuring a boardwalk through dense woods and beach frontage and several stopping points with educational information on trees, flowers, animals, insects, and environmental topics. You can’t go wrong visiting the beach at Petoskey State Park where you can spend hours searching for the hard-to-find Petoskey Stone.

Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf in Petoskey is my daughter’s number one favorite activity to do when we visit Northern Michigan. With several locations around the country, it isn’t exclusive to Michigan, but it provides an hour or so of wicked fun. What kid (or kid at heart) doesn’t enjoy miniature golf with the family?

If you love being active on the water, visit The Outfitter. This comprehensive shop features all the gear you need (you can rent paddleboards and kayaks) plus a generous amount of activewear, shoes, and accessories for all of your active pursuits.

Melanie Dawson is an avid traveler who loves exploring the United States and abroad with her husband John and 8 year old daughter Reese. She lives in Minneapolis, MN where she pursues her passions of cooking, nutrition, and living an active lifestyle.

For more things to do and see in Harbor Springs, visit michigan.org.