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!

 

 

Four Important Pieces of a Long Weekend in Michigan

The Memorial Day fun kicks off this weekend! With boating, beaches and cookouts galore, there are endless opportunities to unwind in Pure Michigan. Today, our guest blogger from The Awesome Mitten shares his four most important pieces of a long weekend in Michigan!

Being the Car State, Michigan is true to its name beyond being the home of the Big Three. Our state is huge! It takes two more hours to drive from Detroit to Ironwood than from Detroit to New York City. I know you might be asking, “Who wants to drive to Ironwood?” (I do!) Perhaps you just want a casual weekend getaway north, or maybe you’re driving to your parents’ house for the weekend–it’s still probably three to six hours. Those holiday weekends that add an extra day of vacation time sure come in handy; to prepare yourself for such a weekend, we’ve come up with a list of necessities that you shouldn’t leave home without!

Grand Traverse Bay - Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Grand Traverse Bay – Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

1) Layers of clothes for persistent changes in weather. You’re likely to be sweating, shivering, and almost-but-not-quite comfortable throughout the whole weekend. I like to head to Moosejaw in Detroit and find gear that prepares me for all the climates; a few years back, I learned this lesson when it was thirty-five degrees in Traverse City in the morning and I left for my day adventure all bundled up. I went to Sleeping Bear Dunes for the climb, but failed to wear removable layers. Halfway to Lake Michigan, I looked like a wrestler preparing for the Big Fight in my sweatshirt; sweating and tired, I gave up. Now I leave for my many Michigan adventures with rain gear, sun gear, swim gear, and anything-can-happen gear!

2) A beach towel because you’ll inevitably end up with wet, sandy feet. Since you’re never more than six miles from water in Michigan (according to my fourth grade teacher in Ludington), you should always have a towel with you. Buy one from your hometown! It’s a fun way to show hometown pride–you’ll probably find that the folks in the cabin next door actually live ten miles from you. I use my mom’s towel from high school and receive a lot of shout-outs when people see “Mona Shores Sailors”–they’re mostly about the championship hockey team, but I love being able to make a connection and share a story with other Michigan adventurers.

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Photo courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

3) A very large cooler (and perhaps a companion picnic basket) that can fit Michigan craft beer and wine, the makings for sandwiches, and fruits and veggies from the many roadside stands that dot the state. This way you can picnic among the state’s many natural gems. Make a point to drive down unfamiliar roads and find some of the lesser known treasures we’re lucky to have in our state. Being from Ludington, I know there are a ton on any road. But I can’t tell you where they are–local’s honor. A must-stop is Forty-Five North Winery on Leelanau Peninsula, which is just off of CR-204 smack in the middle of the peninsula. Adventures abound from I-94 to US-2!

4) Tunes! Whether planning to drive all over or lounge on the beach from 11:00am to 11:00pm, you need music. Greetings from Michigan by Sufjan Stevens is perfect for when the windows are down, the sun is shining through prongs of white pines, and the roads curve around lakes and hills. Take time before you head out to make a Michigan-centric playlist–you may, and should, find music you didn’t know was about Michigan. “America” by Simon and Garfunkel is a good place to start your Michigan musical journey.

JonathonArntson.Spring.HeadshotJonathon Arntson grew up in Ludington where he spent most of his summers at the beach or napping afterward to the lingering rhythm of the waves. He moved to Detroit in September of 2013 to join the Urban Studies program at Wayne State University. He is an adventurer with an affinity for the streets of Detroit Some of his favorite things about the Mitten are Jeffrey Eugenides, Tigers baseball, Michigan brews, UpNorth, and, of course, the beaches of the Great Lakes.

Five Ways to Celebrate Michigan Craft Beer

To keep the momentum from National Beer Day going (or in case you weren’t able to enjoy a Michigan craft brew yesterday), here are five ways to celebrate Michigan craft beer from The Awesome Mitten.

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

1. Visit a brewery: Ever wonder how the magical process of brewing works? Give your local brewery a call to see if they offer tours of their facilities so you can take in all the glory that is Michigan craft beer. As you wander the rows of huge fermenters, mash tuns and other crazy contraptions, your guide will educate you on how each part works to put beer into your glass. They’ll show you the process of combining water, barley, malts, hops, and yeast into that euphoric substance that makes every happy hour truly amazing.

2. Take it to the beach: One staple for every Michigander’s summer is Bell’s Oberon, enjoyed on a sandy beach someplace along the Great Lakes State’s coast. Nothing compliments the soft sand between your toes like a couple of Oberons, some golden rays, and a cool breeze. Across the state, at any liquor store you decide to poke your head in, you’ll find a six-pack of this summer nectar gazing back at you, kooky sun and all. With the addition of Bell’s providing Oberon in a 16-ounce can for the first time, you can ditch the solo cup and sport your craft beer pride this summer. While others across the country will flock to crowded, salty waters, us Michiganders are lucky to cherish our secluded, freshwater beaches with Oberon in hand.

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

Photo courtesy of Chaz Parks

3. Attend a Michigan Brewers Guild beer festival: While all beer festivals are a wonderful thing, there’s nothing like the festivals put on by the Michigan Brewers Guild. Ranging in location from Detroit to Marquette to Grand Rapids and bringing over 60 breweries from all across the state, the Guild festivals tend to make grown adults act like children in candy stores. Upon entry, you’ll be handed a golden cup to beerdom, the holy grail of Michigan craft beer lists, and a map. As you meander around beer heaven, sampling beers that are brewed only once, this is also an amazing opportunity to discover those indie-breweries looking to make a name for themselves. Some define day-drinking by overindulging themselves with a light-tasteless substance but, in Michigan, we day-drink ample amounts of craft beer while wearing pretzels around our necks.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Michael

Photo courtesy of Lauren Michael

4. Get to Comerica: What’s a more American combination than beer and baseball? Maybe apple pie with American cheese melted on top, but I think a Founders sounds way better. This summer, when you’re walking through the gates of Comerica Park in downtown Detroit, make your way to right field where you can find Michigan craft beer bliss. What could be more satisfying then watching Miggy crank home runs your way with a Two Hearted in hand? What about lasting nine innings with an All-Day IPA clinched between your fingers, as Verlander throws another no-hitter? Sounds like the perfect outing in the Motor City.

5. Attend a Beer Pairing: Brewers are masters of their craft, spending diligent hours perfecting the science that is brewing. Chefs work endlessly to provide dish after dish to anxiously-awaiting costumers. When these two gurus combine forces, it’s a night to remember. A three-course meal that combines food and craft beer in perfect harmony is a perfect night to spend with a friend or significant other. As you take your tastebuds on this foodie quest, note the little things, like how your spicy curry dish was paired with an IPA to give your mouth some relief or how that brown ale helped you savor the smokiness of that tenderloin. This will make you a hero at barbeques this season; pairing up pale ales with burgers and ribs will get you invited to everyone’s summer grillout.

Did you celebrate National Beer Day yesterday? What did you do? 

Bio PicA dexterous Detroiter. Born again Yooper. All around Michigander. Chaz is a Libra that enjoys nature hikes, dancing to techno, Michigan Craft Beer, digging through vinyl, pizza, tattoos, urban exploration, long walks on the beach, bike rides and blue eyes. You can reach Chaz on Twitter and Instagram at @BrewChaz.