Thumbs Up for Huron County – A Guide to Pure Michigan’s East Side

Looking to visit Pure Michigan’s east side? From Harbor Beach to Port Huron, and everywhere in between, there are endless opportunities to lose yourself in nature and explore one of the state’s hidden gems. Guest blogger Barbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, shares just some of the amazing things Michigan’s thumb has to offer! 

I was raised in Mid-Michigan, only a few miles from I-75; our beachfront home in Bay City was a pit stop for friends and family on their way “up north.” While there are numerous points of interest up north in the Upper Peninsula, and throughout our great mitten state, my roots are in the Thumb, and I think has a lot to offer!

I’ve often joked, because Huron County is its own peninsula, nobody travels through it by mistake. If you are in Huron County, you mean to be there. Sadly, Huron County is easily and often missed. However, there are many wonderful reasons to live, visit, and play in Huron County.

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Photo Courtesy of Karen Murphy.

Let’s start with the geographical fact that Huron County offers you a sunrise to sunset opportunity. Start your lakeshore tour of Huron County by spending the night in my city, Harbor Beach. Stay at a motel, a bed and breakfast, a cabin rental, or a county or city campground. The sunrise view of the Harbor Beach Lighthouse and pier are incredible; enjoy them while walking or jogging along our newly appointed Harbor View Trail.  Our Maritime Festival has been rocking for over 10 years now, and is our biggest event of the summer. Take a tour of the lighthouse, and dine at the beach or at one of our many restaurants before embarking on the rest of your journey.

Travel north on M-25, through Port Hope, but don’t forget to stop for a huge hand-dipped ice cream cone at Grindstone General Store. Enjoy it there, or take it to go. Then, continue on your way to Port Austin. If you enjoy shopping at farmer’s markets, then you are in luck! Port Austin boasts one of the biggest and most successful farmer’s markets in the state! I love picking up fresh vegetables at the market, especially for my Pico de Gallo recipe. I serve it with tortilla chips for a light party dish or afternoon snack, or use it to top off a cheeseburger or scrambled eggs. Of course it is delish in quesadillas, fajitas, or nachos too! Yum! Port Austin is also home to an impressive marina, many restaurants, and a spectacular Fourth of July show. You might even wish to take in a play or musical at the Port Austin Community Players.

Photo Courtesy of Farm Barbie.

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Ann Siemen.

As you travel to the west side of the county, now going south on M-25, be sure to stop at Port Crescent State Park to see the beautiful beach and a favorite state campground.  You will travel through Bay Port, on your way to the quaint cottage town of Caseville, home to the infamous Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival. Caseville also hosts several other festivals and events throughout the year. Caseville is diverse in its accommodations, too, with choices ranging from campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, motels, to weekly cottage rentals. Grab a beer and a bite to eat at the new Thumb Brewery, before heading out on a fishing adventure with Team Gunsmoke.

After you limit out for the day, cuddle up on the beach at Caseville County Park and watch the sunset to complete your journey. You’ve accomplished a lot in Huron County! Congratulations! Now is a good time for you to begin planning your next trip back to HuCo! There are a lot more neat towns and points of interest in Huron County, I just can’t name them all! You” just have to come back soon.

FB Profile picBarbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, is a city girl turned country chick, thanks to falling in love with a farmer. She’s a stay at home mom and professional farmer’s wife. She’s also an amateur photographer, chef, and fashionista and an aspiring children’s book author. Check out her blog.

 

Seven Self-Guided Tours You’ll Want to Take in Manistee County

Spring well under way in Pure Michigan, offering endless opportunities to explore the growing and lush outdoors soon to be in full bloom.  To celebrate warm weather and longer days, we put together a list of self-guided tours to experience in Manistee County. If you’re looking to get lost and go off the grid, or maybe just want to have an enriching afternoon, look no further than Manistee County.

hikingManistee County trails: Manistee County is home to 15 trails that allow for biking, cross country skiing and hiking. You can experience picturesque views of Lake Michigan shoreline and surrounding countryside through open fields and forests. The beautiful scenery also can provide solitude to hikers and the chance to spot wildlife.

Beach Life: Manistee County has more than 35 miles of fresh sand and warm water as beach property. From Lake Michigan, to its numerous inland lakes, you’ll find great locations for fun swimming, boating or just lounging under the sun.  The beaches range from the more secluded experiences to those packed with amenities and people.  There is also great paddling or floating experiences with the Little Manistee River, Big Manistee River and Pine River.

The fishing: Manistee County is home to three fantastic harbors with charters available to take you out for an unforgettable day on the lake.  If you’re more hands-on, launch your own boat for a day of trolling around Lake Michigan’s beautiful  coastal waters.

Shop Manistee’s historic downtowns: Looking for a great made in Michigan item? Come check out the farmer’s markets for locally grown or made foods, or browse the numerous specialty and boutique shops of Manistee’s downtowns. Manistee also has spectacular dining experiences, from fine dining for a special occasion or just grabbing a beer with friends at a local pub.

Manistee_M22Experience M-22: A famous stretch of highway in the United States, M-22 starts in Manistee. Take an afternoon drive or get lost during the weekend by enjoying the beautiful scenery and Lake Michigan shoreline. The historic trunkline’s designation has also become a cultural symbol for the region.

The arts: Manistee County is where you’ll discover gallery shows and theatrical productions year round. Witness a production by the Manistee Civic Players at the historical Ramsdell Theatre or experience regional art that ranges from beautiful paintings to ornate and colorful pieces of pottery.

The history: Manistee County has historical sites and museums that are great for everyone. You can experience the historic Kaleva Train Depot for railroad artifacts and nostalgia, or visit the Manistee County Historical Museum, which contains one of the most extensive collections of Victorian antiques in the United States.

What are some things you are looking forward to doing in Mainstee?

Pure Michigan May 2015 Events Roundup

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As they say ‘April showers bring May flowers’ and the wet weather means the tulips and daffodils are coming! While you’re probably up to your neck in spring cleaning projects and to-do lists, take some time to enjoy the beauty of Pure Michigan all around you and maybe go for an outing, too.

Below is a roundup of some of the many events going on around the state in May. Please visit michigan.org for a complete listing of Michigan events.

May 1 – 9

Laup Fiesta
May 1 – 2
Fiesta features the low-rider car show, Latino entertainment, a carnival, various exhibitors, and everyone’s favorite: lots of food! Fiesta begins on Friday night with an outdoor concert and food booths lined up and down the Eighth Street Market Place. The festivities continue on Saturday. The afternoon brings a variety of musical acts, including mariachis, cultural dances, and more. Exhibitors provide a variety of information about their products and services throughout the day in the Civic Center. In the parking lot, you can find cars, trucks, low-riders, and custom bikes, along with a variety of related exhibits and entertainment.8722672937_e1b4010c8c_o

Tulip Festival 2015
May 2 – 9
Celebrate over 80 years of culture, heritage and beauty. The Tulip Time Festival is a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture, a multi-generational event that has a little bit of something for everyone including; three amazing parades, multiple Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, Dutch attractions, Dutch food, children’s events, trolley tours and so much more!

Fashion & Tea
May 9
Beginning promptly at 2 p.m. with a tour of the Streets of Old Grand Rapids, visitors will take a step back into time. Following the tour, visitors will experience up-close the authentic fashion starting from the Civil War Era to the early 20th Century. Coming from the education collection, each visitor will have the opportunity to inspect the workmanship of the seamstress who made them. Tea and sweets will be served as they enjoy this visual feast.

Michigan Wine and Beer Fest
May 9
The event will feature the tastes and toasts of Michigan wineries, breweries and eateries in a unique setting – a NASCAR racetrack. Guests may sample wines, beer, and food from Michigan vendors and buy favorite wines by the bottle or case. Live entertainment throughout the weekend will also be featured. This event is for guests 21 years and older.

Touch-A-Truck
May 9
Kids of all ages will have an opportunity to see and touch a large variety of unique vehicles and learn from those that build, protect and serve our community. Admission: $10 per family or adults $4, children $2. Hours: Siren Free Zone 10am-12pm, General admission 12pm-2pm.

 

May 10 – 16

Family Fishing Fair
May 16
Bring the entire family to Ramona Park to celebrate the onset of summer on this exciting day at the shoreline! Families of all ages and abilities can experience the joys and benefits associated with fishing, boating, and aquatic conservation. Enjoy engaging activities and instruction from local fishing guides and professional organizations who will share their expertise to help your family start a lifetime of fishing memories. Fishing equipment will be on hand for those hoping to reel in their first (or next) catch of the day! This is a free event.

BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass: A Taste of Michigan
May 16
From noon – 8 p.m., enjoy live music, local BBQ, craft beer and regional wines at Whirlpool Centennial Park (on Broad St), just below the bluff in St. Joseph. Your 2015 band lineup includes The Hillbenders, Coco Montoya, Slim Gypsy Baggage, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Buddy Guy. Event is rain or shine, so plan to hang out for the day no matter what the weather. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. No furry friends please.

East Lansing Art Festival
May 16 – 17
Fine artists from Michigan and beyond will line downtown East Lansing’s streets to exhibit and sell original works of fine art and fine crafts. Free live music, children’s hands-on arts activities and special events to celebrate the 52nd East Lansing Art Festival.

kitesGreat Lakes Kite Festival
May 16 – 17
This is the Midwest’s largest kite festival featuring giant kites, expert fliers, seminars, kite ballets and much more. A giant kids tent and test fields where you can learn to fly free. This festival is free to attend, though there is a charge to park inside the State Park. An $11 Recreation Passport is required for entering State Parks, Recreation Areas, State Forest Campgrounds, Non-motorized Trail Head parking and Boat Launches.

National Morel Mushroom Festival 2015
May 14 – 17
Always held the weekend after Mother’s Day, the festival features a competitive hunt, guided hunt, live music, a beer tent, a gourmet Taste of Morels, carnival rides, and much more, including the Wine and Dine gourmet dinner and wine tasting.

 May 17 – 23

Petoskey Stone Festival
May 23
The Petoskey Stone Festival celebrates one of Michigan’s finest natural resources – the unique Petoskey Stone, Michigan’s official state stone. The festival starts off at 9:30 a.m. with the Commissioner’s Stone Skipping. Enjoy music, games and great food.

Northport Cars in the Park
May 23
Take a scenic drive along M-22 north to Northport for the 18th annual Cars in the Park and find out why it is the longest running auto show in Leelanau County. The popular event attracts an eclectic mix of cars to the picturesque Haserot Park where the unique setting provides the perfect backdrop for the summer season’s first car show. Free admission lets spectators enjoy all kinds of cars–pre-war and modern, stock and modified, foreign and domestic–cars for all tastes!

BalloonsBalloons Over Bavarian Inn
May 22 – 25
Free family event! Enjoy viewing morning and afternoon flights over downtown Frankenmuth. An awesome “Balloon Glow” event is featured each evening at River Place Shops field! Visit with professional pilots and their crews. Over 30 USA pilots compete each year.

Alma Highland Festival & Games
May 23 – 24
Thousands of people from the US and Canada gather together in Alma, Scotland USA to enjoy a weekend of Scottish Heritage. US Pipe Band Competition, Highland Dance, athletics, Road Run, Clans, arts and crafts, and Scottish vendors and food. Live Entertainment. Event held on the campus of Alma College.

Lady’s Slipper Festival
May 23 – 25
Lady’s Slippers will be in full bloom. Enjoy food, fun, crafts, music and activities for all ages. Artists will be selling their work along the trail. Gift shop will be open in the Nature Center Building.

May 24 – 31

Legends of the Saginaw
boatMay 25
Learn the fascinating history of the Saginaw River as the Appledore sails from Downtown Bay City to the Saginaw Bay. Once out on the open water, help the crew set the sails or relax and enjoy the view. A light lunch of a sub sandwich, chips, cookie and soda/water is served onboard. The ride will be narrated by local historians.

Niles Family Carnival and Bluegrass Festival
May 28 – 31
Come join us for the Niles Family Carnival and Bluegrass Festival on the St. Joseph River in downtown Niles, Michigan. Enjoy the Carnival, Bluegrass and Americana musicians (national touring acts), quality arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, community tent, bingo and more.

Islandfest
May 29 – 31
Islandfest is a time to celebrate the beginning of summer and enjoy some small town fun. The week-end long event features arts & crafts, a fine arts show, children’s activities, a midway, live music, parade, car show, fireworks, historical tours, aircraft displays and rides, a variety of foods and beverages for all ages and so much more. Islandfest is a free, fun, family-oriented event where all are welcome. Come join the fun!

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
May 30
Explore a world of possibilities in Greater Lansing from 10am5pm. Purchase a $1 passport for free admission to over 60 attractions. Enjoy interactive activities and giveaways for the kids! CATA Be a Tourist bus routes provide transportation to most attractions for just 50. Collect ten stamps in the passport to win great prizes!

Harbor Springs Cycling Classic
May 30
Enjoy a leisurely bike ride along some of the most scenic roads of northern Michigan, on your choice of a 20-, 45-, or 60-mile route. Each route includes scenic M-119, locally known as Lake Shore Drive, better known as the “Tunnel of Trees. After your ride, join us for an awesome lunch in the courtyard, it’s all included! Ride only: Adults $30, children 6-12 $20, age 5 and under free. Fee includes route map, great refreshment stops, sag wagon service, and lunch.

Which events do you plan to attend this May?