Four Characteristics of a Pure Michigan Fall

Today, guest blogger Shannon Saksewski from The Awesome Mitten shares a few key ingredients of fall in Pure Michigan.

15reasonstolovefall1Seasons.  A stark difference between four distinct seasons.  This is one of the several reasons why, despite opportunities, I haven’t felt truly compelled to move to another state.  It’s always been difficult for me to imagine living in a place where I couldn’t, in a broad sense, measure time by looking at the leaves.

Fall’s my favorite.  Fall is a favorite for a lot of people.  You’ve likely noticed by now that large retailers agree, especially if you’ve ever walked through their aisles in August—and sometimes July—when they start offering Halloween goodies and autumn decor.  Let’s set the retail goods aside for now, though, and focus on what makes Michigan truly special in the fall.

Colors
Oh, the glorious colors!  People from around the country flock to the Mitten in the fall to witness the flaming reds, oranges, yellows, and even burgundies.  Peak color varies throughout the state, but generally falls between mid-September through the end of October.  As a general rule, the farther north one travels, the earlier colors will peak.

Color tours are a popular fall activity for many Michigan residents and visitors.  Residents need not travel far in order to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Michigan’s technicolor forests.  Over half of the state is forested—that’s over 19 million acres—and most of that consists of northern hardwoods (the color-changers, like maples).  Want to get on the road to see what all the fuss is about?  Here’s a list of color driving tours.  Prefer to get out of the car and see the sights up close?  Try these hiking and biking tours.

Bangor apple festApples
With 9.2 million apple trees, Michigan is the second-largest apple producing state in the US—and we have serious love for our orchards!  It seems like almost everyone, especially people who grew up here, has a favorite orchard.  My personal favorite is Wasem’s in Milan, very near where I grew up.  I love that place for its crisp Michigan apples, sure.  If you talk to someone about their favorite orchard long enough, though, you’ll likely realize that they’re not in it for the apples alone.  Orchards offer a range of goods and experiences.  For example, I contend that Wasem’s has the best donuts, cider, and apple butter in the universe.  (That’s a strong statement, and I’d love to debate the point—and taste-test—with any of you!)

Orchards offer much more than edible goods.  In addition, they are often home to Halloween-themed activities like haunted houses, haunted hay rides, and nighttime corn mazes.  For those less inclined to be purposefully terrified, check out the decorative goods, historical surrounds, demonstrations, and much more.  A visit to the orchard could be a brief stop, or an all-day affair.  Check out an old favorite, or search for a future favorite.  Regardless, enjoy!

FordfieldFestivals
Clearly, there’s a lot to celebrate about fall in Michigan.  Colors! Apples! Pumpkins! Alpacas!  Oh, and beer.  Check out this calendar of Michigan’s fall festivals.  At least a few of these are on my must-see list.  Which will you visit?

Football
We tend to take football pretty seriously in Michigan—to the point where some of us use “fall” and “football season” interchangeably.  Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Michigan’s own Detroit Lions or a  particular university, or are just in it for tailgating fun (or both), it’s possible that you closely associate football and fall.  Not too interested in football?  That’s OK.  There are plenty of orchards to visit instead of tailgating, cramming into a stadium, and/or yelling at the television.

What do you think?  What other festivals, places, or traditions are characteristic of fall in Michigan?

shannon-293x300Shannon Saksewski is a life-long resident of Michigan. Professionally, she is a healthcare strategist focusing on consumer experience and marketing.  She was trained, and has experience in, psychology, social work, and business at the University of Michigan.  Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, traveling, writing, and experimenting with local beer and craft cocktails.  Connect with Shannon on Twitter (@ssaksews), or LinkedIn.

Seven Spots in Michigan to Sip and Savor Mother Nature

Today, guest blogger Joanna Dueweke from The Awesome Mitten shares some of her favorite places around the state to drink Pure Michigan wine or craft beer and enjoy her scenic surroundings. 

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey - MichiganByTheBottle.com

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey – MichiganByTheBottle.com

Increasingly, Michigan is home to more and more brilliant breweries and vibrant vineyards with views of rolling hills, gentle waves, and urban streets. The libations are as varied as the locations; not only do you have ample opportunity to explore the tasty treats being concocted at each locale, but each has something different to offer up as far as gazing is concerned. One of the things we celebrate most as Michiganders is how absolutely beautiful our surroundings are (even when it means glistening snow resting on pine tree branches) all year round. To really celebrate this grandeur, a glass of riesling or a succulent saison helps to take in the views at these establishments around the state with a smile:

Jamesport Brewing Company – Ludington, West Michigan

Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, this Ludington gem is a great way to take in views of the harbor while satiating the need for delicious food paired with a craft beer. People rave about the food and the relaxed atmosphere as much as they talk about this lesser known brewery’s beer. Who can complain about a breeze off Lake Michigan with the West Michigan sun on a lazy afternoon with a beer in hand?

Hawthorne Vineyards – Traverse City, Northwest Michigan (East and West Bay)

Northwest Michigan is often praised for its many wineries (and increasing number of breweries) and their views of the Grand Traverse Bays, Lake Leelanau, and Lake Michigan. When you take a seat at Hawthorne Vineyards, you’re surrounded by all the majesty that is the rolling hills of vineyards and views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay. Since we can’t have those “perfectly warm with a touch of a cool breeze” summer nights all the time in Northern Michigan, their porch comes suited with a fieldstone fireplace to warm the mood.

Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids, West Michigan

Although water is beautiful and it is one of the biggest allures of living in Michigan, the urban areas around the state have just as much to offer. Brewery Vivant is the first LEED Certified brewery in the United States and is located inside an old church; sitting in their tasting room is truly a religious experience for folks that are fans of Belgian-style beers. When you venture outside, Cherry Street in Grand Rapids offers people watching and excitement that only a city street can offer.

Sandhill Crane Vineyards – Jackson, Mid Michigan

Cortney Casey Michigan by the bottle

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey – MichiganByTheBottle.com

With a bountiful wine menu using only fruits grown in Michigan, folks are hard pressed to find something to complain about at Sandhill Crane Vineyards. It often takes some convincing to explain what an amazing experience the Pioneer Wine Trail can be in and around Jackson. That’s fine because when you’re seated outside the winery on the wraparound porch that overlooks the countryside, you’re most likely hooked. You never know, maybe you’ll glimpse a crane out in the vineyards.

Frankenmuth Brewery – Frankenmuth, East Michigan

As one of Michigan’s oldest brewing operations, Frankenmuth Brewery offers a host of award-winning brews.  For those looking to linger a while, the brewery boasts expansive outdoor space, and walls of windows, from which folks can enjoy views of the calm Cass River, the river walk, and the town’s famous covered bridge in the distance.  As the proprietors say, “Come for the food, stay for the beer, and find out why Frankenmuth Brewery is a favorite Michigan tradition.”

Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery – Baroda, Southwest Michigan

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Calkins

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Calkins

Winery, distillery and brewery in a giant white, round barn? Of course! Round Barn is snuggled the middle of fields and forest in Southwest Michigan. The space is conducive to all sorts of revelry with vast porches and constant planned activities. Community is a real focus here and the folks at Round Barn try to make sure the people coming up that side of the state know what kind of hospitality to expect in the rest of Michigan.

Keweenaw Brewing Company – Houghton, Upper Peninsula

Everything about the Upper Peninsula screams beautiful views, but put a beer in your hand, and that screaming just won’t be silenced. Sitting at the Keweenaw Brewing Company with a Widow Maker in hand (that’s a beer, promise) is pure perfection with a look at the Portage Canal. In true UP fashion, the beer is affordable, the atmosphere is overwhelmingly comfortable, and the people are friendly.

This list is no where near exhaustive because there are breweries and wineries all over with amazing views of Michigan, but choices had to be made. Where are your favorite places around Michigan to sip something delightful and savor all the beauty Michigan has to offer?

JoDuewekeJoanna Dueweke writes for The Awesome Mitten and is the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Born and raised in Traverse City, she is enjoying new adventures in the Detroit area, but also values her roots in Northern Michigan. Exploring the outdoors, sailing, travel, and enjoying the Mitten’s beer industry consume her time when she is not pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.

Ten Things to Add To Your Ypsilanti Bucket List

Today, guest blogger Maureen Clemons from The Awesome Mitten tells us about ten of her favorite things to do in Ypsilanti! 

Photo courtesy of VisitYpsiNow.com

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Most Michiganders have heard of Ann Arbor, but not everyone is familiar with its “second city” and close neighbor: Ypsilanti (nicknamed Ypsi). Ypsi is right next to A2 and has a lot of its own quirky things to offer. From its historic buildings to a thriving art scene, we’ve compiled a list of things to do (in no particular order) in this fun town:

Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery – The “greenest brewery east of Colorado” is owned by an inspiring local couple, Rene and Matt Greff. After expanding their Ann Arbor brewery to their hometown, Ypsilanti, they decided to use solar power to run the place. A must try beer is the Bollywood Blonde.

Cafe Ollie – As you walk into this Depot Town coffee shop style eatery, you see brightly painted walls, chalk board menus, and local art for sale on all the walls. Then you notice the awesome menu serving everything from ice cream to alcohol. Full meal options are available as well, including vegan and vegetarian plates. The most highly recommended being the mac and cheese. If the food doesn’t bring you in, then maybe the local live music will!

Materials Unlimited – Upon entry you’ll be instantly overwhelmed by the vintage rooms filled with hard to find furniture, light fixtures, and more. Materials Unlimited was voted by Hour Magazine as the best shop in Metro Detroit for vintage antiques, fine antiques, and salvage furnishing! Stop in soon and celebrate their 40th year in business!

Photo courtesy of  Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Sidetrack Bar and Grill – This famous Ypsi restaurant resides right on the train tracks. In fact, in the 1920s the building was hit by a derailed train! You’ve got to have a burger and the strawberry shortcake.

Yankee Air Museum – Stop here to see everything aviation. They have permanent and rotating historical displays throughout the year, including rides on a flight simulator. They also offer the real thing: rides on real World War II bombers!

The Wurst Bar – For the best wurst experience, this is the place to eat. They’ve got it all: every type of sausage you can imagine, burgers, beer and an awesome atmosphere.

Michigan Brewery Guild Summer Beer Festival – In late July, you can celebrate summer in the best way, with craft beer and awesome food. The Michigan Brewers Guild brings attendees 80 different Michigan breweries and over 800 beers. Tickets are on sale now!

Rolling Hills County Park – You can ride the slides in the water park, take a hike on the trails, or get sporty with disc golf, softball and horseshoes. A perfect summer spot.

Photo courtesy of  Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Photo courtesy of Visit Ypsilanti (visitypsinow.com)

Color Run – Having this famous and bright run in a smaller city allows participants to see so much more and feel like a part of Ypsilanti. Plus, all the restaurants and stores have awesome deals. This year’s color run took place on June, 21st. Sign up for next year here!

Dreamland Theater – A hole in the wall theater that supports puppet shows, local musicians, and more!

These are just some of the best spots in Ypsilanti, are we missing any of your favorites?

Learn more about Ypsilanti in the video below.

658efac66ec1d17663aa9ded1aeef00bMaureen Clemons is your resident Royal Oak local (Royalocal), beer drinker, concert goer, road tripper, ice cream advocate, cat lover, MSU Spartan. Learn more on Twitter, @moreangrim.