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.

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!