Cross These Seven Traverse City Activities Off Your Snow Day Bucket List

Winter is on its way, and Traverse City is ready for snow! Today, guest blogger Mike Norton from Traverse City Tourism shares some suggestions for your next Traverse City snow day. 

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

I know there are people who aren’t big fans of winter. But personally, I can’t wait to see those first fat flakes of snow come spiraling out of the sky.

Maybe it’s because I live in a place where there’s so much to do in the wintertime – especially in the Great Outdoors. I like to be outside as much as possible, and Traverse City is full of opportunities for outdoor winter fun. Each winter, this region’s gently sculpted landscape (carved 15,000 years ago by the last retreating glaciers of the Ice Age) becomes a playground for skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoe hikers. Like me, they consider it one of the country’s most beautiful winter destinations.

Skiing, Snowboarding and “Silent Snow Sports”

For skiers and snowboarders, our premiere winter destination is undoubtedly Shanty Creek Resorts, a 4,500-acre recreational complex in the beautiful Chain of Lakes region, about 30 miles northeast of town. Shanty’s two ski areas, Schuss Mountain and Summit Mountain, provide 53 downhill slopes, six terrain parks, 30km of cross country Nordic trails, and a multi-lane alpine tubing park. (Ski Magazine rated it the Midwest’s number-one destination in value, dining, lodging, weather and après ski activities.)

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

But lots of other skiers and snowboarders have discovered the fun of staying closer to town, taking advantage of low lodging rates and a broad choice of shopping, dining and entertainment options while skiing at TC’s two day ski areas, Mt. Holiday and Hickory Hills.

Still, for me (and for many others) this area is loved mostly for the quality of its winter “silent sports” — snowshoeing and cross-country skiing — thanks to its vast acreage of forest and parkland. Just one example – and one of my favorites: the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has eight marked trails, some leading up to panoramic overlooks high above Lake Michigan.

And there are so many other marked trail systems that you couldn’t explore them all if you stayed here all winter. There’s the Lost Lake Pathway near Interlochen and the Vasa Pathway, one of the finest cross-country ski trails in the nation. Within the city, the 300-acre Grand Traverse Commons features superb snowshoeing among century-old, castle-style buildings and stands of old-growth pines.

Snowmobiling

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Snowmobilers tend to head south and east of town to more than 200 miles of the country’s finest and most diverse snowmobiling. The Boardman Valley Trail, just minutes from downtown, is an 81-mile trail system in the Pere Marquette State Forest, where sightings of turkeys, eagles, deer and other wildlife are commonplace. The Jordan Valley Trail, about a half-hour to the northeast, is a network featuring over 130 miles of spectacular trails not far from Shanty Creek and the picturesque village of Bellaire.

Snow Biking and Snow Tubing

Traverse City is also becoming a hub for one of the newest winter sports: fat biking. Fat bikes are specially-adapted mountain bikes with large tires that can actually allow you to ride over the snow, and over the past two years they’ve become part of the local winter landscape. We’ve always been a favorite year-round destination for all kinds of outdoor sports enthusiasts; given the opportunity to add cycling to their repertoire of winter sports, they’ve wasted no time embracing the Fat Bike phenomenon.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy winter recreation in Traverse City. Lots of us have discovered that there are plenty of thrills to be had in snow-tubing. Tubing has all the thrilling speed of a toboggan or sled – but you get to sit in the middle of a big soft inner tube and ride down a groomed hill where there are people keeping an eye on you. And when you get to the bottom, there’s a towline waiting to take you back to the top so you can do it all over again.

As it happens, the largest tubing hill in Michigan is at TimberLee Hills, a former ski resort in the hills just northwest of town. (On clear days, it has breathtaking views of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Leelanau.) Lots of local ski resorts also have tubing hills; Shanty Creek Resorts, for instance, has a sophisticated tubing park just above their Cedar River lodge. Mt. Holiday Ski Area also has a dedicated tubing park. All three have mechanical lifts, which helps you make the most of your allotted time. These things are popular, especially on weekends and school snow days, so they can get busy!

Winter Ziplining

Mt. Holiday has yet another winter activity available for winter fun: a new zipline system that lets you soar through the air above the ski slopes. Its “Green Zipper” is a two-station zipline (the first leg is 288 feet and then second is 306 feet) and its new 10-station zipline has a total of over 4,000 feet of cable. You have to make advance reservations for both of them, and you need to be part of a group of at least four people.

Sound like fun? Of course it does!

Mike on SbnowshoesMike Norton spent 25 years as newspaper writer and columnist before starting a second career as media relations manager at Traverse City Tourism. An avid cyclist, kayaker and snowshoer, he lives in the village of Old Mission.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of Traverse City’s New Music Video “Take Me There”

Today, guest blogger Mary Winowiecki, Marketing Manager for Traverse City Tourism, takes us behind the scenes of the making of Traverse City’s new music video, “Take Me There.” Plus, check out what’s on deck for fall in the Traverse City area. 

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism captured while filming "Take Me There"

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism captured while filming “Take Me There”

It started out like so many great ideas, with an innocent, late-afternoon brainstorming session:

“I know! We should have a Traverse City theme song!”

“Yeah! And we could make it into a contest! Of course the winner would have to be from the Traverse City area …”

“… and we could unveil it during the Cherry Festival! The winning band could play it during the Cherry Royale Parade right down Front Street! How cool would that be?”

“Oh, and we could turn it into a music video! Much better than a traditional destination video!”

And thus the Traverse City Song Search idea was born. There was only one problem with this seemingly flawless plan. Well, OK, there actually numerous challenges, but let’s stick with the main one: Time. Or, to be specific, the lack thereof. The now-infamous brainstorming session of the Traverse City Tourism marketing team took place the last week in March, and if this thing was going to be show-ready by early July’s Cherry Fest, the song entries would need to be received by mid-May … just 6 weeks away.

Photo courtesy of Traverse CIty Tourism - Filming "Take  Me There" in TC

Photo courtesy of Traverse CIty Tourism – Filming “Take Me There” in TC

No problem, said the Marketing team. Traverse City has more musical talent in its pinky finger (no pun intended) than most cities three-times its size! No doubt we would find a fresh sound that exactly captured the almost indescribable feeling that Northern Michigan imparts.

Miraculously, that is exactly what happened. And we have a Traverse City senior with a keen eye for breaking news to thank for it.

“We actually didn’t know anything about the contest until my grandpa sent me the newspaper clipping about it at school,” explains Marc Kanitz, lead singer of the contest-winning Hacky Turtles and a senior at Michigan State University. A self-described “funk/reggae fusion band with strong folk roots,” the Hacky Turtles include four Traverse City natives: Kanitz on vocals, Austin Spencer on guitar and banjo, Alex Rushlow on guitar and Erik Krueger on drums. They were among 18 musical groups who entered the contest, three of whom were chosen as finalists to appear before a local celebrity panel of judges.

While all of the entries covered the myriad of things to do and see in the Traverse City area (Beaches! Wineries! Shopping! Biking! Festivals! Sleeping Bear Dunes!), the judges agreed that the Hacky Turtles best conveyed the emotion of the region:

Sunrise paints these cherry-colored clouds

Wakes the earth, shining rays out on the ground

Brings to life our town below the bays

Great food, better people, everyone’s a friend

All are welcome where the compass ends

So raise a toast to one more day

I feel it calling me, it’s drawing me in …

Take me there, take me where it’s pushing, pulling me along

Days move slow, my heart is full, everything to right from wrong

Smiles, dancing, sun or snow, nothing ever looked so pretty

Oh my, my No. MI, take me there to Traverse City

–The Hacky Turtles

So now we had the winning song, but where to record it? Enter Grant Floering, former TC native and musician extraordinaire who happily agreed to drive up from Grand Rapids to help us out. (We love our small town!) Grant nailed it.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism - The Hacky Turtles on set of the new video!

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism – The Hacky Turtles on set of the new video!

But what about the parade? Could we pull it off? How would the masses of tourists and locals on Front and Union streets react? Let’s just say at one point the Marketing team had tears in its collective eyes … That’s how good it was!

Homestretch time … we needed to turn this gem into a music video — and fast! The clock was ticking since we had announced the video would be released in early September. Keeping with the Traverse City local theme (hey, it had worked well so far!) we turned to Traverse City photographer/videographer Andy Wakeman. Andy started with a sunset shoot and bonfire with the band at Lake Michigan in late July, on what might just have been the most beautiful night of the summer. Over the rest of the summer he captured teens, families, couples, and seniors enjoying all that’s great about Northern Michigan. Well, everything that he could fit into a two-and-a-half minute video.

And so now here we are, just past Labor Day Weekend and heading into yet another spectacular season Up North … fall. While in many ways it seems like the summer raced by with deadlines and to-do lists having to do with the Traverse City Song Search, we can’t say we’re sorry we came up with that overly ambitions idea last spring. Along the way we got to know four awesome young musicians who love their hometown and were able to translate that into something that makes the rest of us smile every time we hear it. We also met real people enjoying what our little slice of heaven has to offer to so many.

Let’s raise a toast to one more day!

Fall in Traverse City

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

The days might be getting shorter, but Northern Michigan is definitely not short on fun during the fall. Smaller crowds and discounted pricing makes this the perfect time of year to head north and enjoy take a color tour, go wine tasting, enjoy a round of fall golf, bike along the Sleeping Bear Dunes trails, or stroll along Traverse City’s tree-lined downtown. Visit our website for special Fab Fall savings from now through December 19. Here’s a look at what’s happening around Traverse City this fall.

 

Fall Happenings

Leelanau Peninsula Wineries
Discover breathtaking views and sample award-winning wines along the largest and oldest wine trail in Michigan.  The peninsula is home to 25 wineries located within diverse microclimates uniquely suited for a variety of wine grapes. There are three mini-trails for easy touring: the Sleeping Bear Loop, the Northern Loop and the Grand Traverse Bay Loop. Visit for a day or make it a weekend and taste the quality of Traverse City wines.

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Eight distinct wineries are sprinkled along the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula. Relish in the sights and flavors while touring this wine trail featuring dynamic tasting rooms and award-winning wines. Be sure to stop at one of the scenic overlooks for a stunning display of fall colors and magnificent views of Grand Traverse Bay.

Jacob’s Corn Maze
This world class 10 acre Corn Maze is unlike any other in Northern Michigan. Jacob’s Secret Agent Adventure is an exciting and fully interactive farm experience that will captivate and entertain your family for hours with its twists and turns. Visit the website for hours and information.

Hoxsie’s Farm Market
Autumn splendor at its best at this local favorite market and farm.  Stock up on apples, pumpkins, squash, and delicious baked goods. Take a wagon ride to pick the perfect pumpkin, find your way through the corn maze, and finish off the adventure with playtime and snacks in the big red barn.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Hiking and Biking
Immerse yourself in shades of orange, yellow, and red while exploring one of the area’s many scenic trails. There’s miles of woodland forests rich in color and perfect for spending an afternoon of outdoor recreation.

Driving Color Tours
Choose a route and enjoy the fall season! Take a look at our suggested areas and be sure to bring along a map of the area to help find your way.

Fall Festivals & Events

Sept. 27 – Acme Fall Festival
Sept. 27 – Harvest Festival & Scarecrow Extravaganza
Oct. 4 – Happy Apple Days
Oct. 25 – Zombie Run
Oct. 31 – Downtown Halloween Walk
Nov. 1 – Iceman Cometh Challenge
Nov. 7 – 14 – Traverse City Beer Week
Nov. 1 & 2 and 8 & 9 – Toast the Season 

 What do you think of Traverse City’s new music video?

Pure Michigan September 2014 Events Roundup

September will soon be upon us, and with it, the sights, sounds and smells of fall. From great events like Grand Rapid’s ArtPrize to the ever popular Grand Haven Salmon Festival, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the month of September. 

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

Week of September 1-7

Arts, Beats & Eats
August 29-September 1, Royal OakArtsBeatsandEats
Oakland County’s premier entertainment festival which draws nearly 400,000 people to experience more than 200 juried art exhibitors, 50 restaurants and 200 performances on 10 stages downtown Royal Oak. 5K/10K and Zumbathon events on the morning of August 30 presented by Priority Health.  Admission fee for festival and events..

Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk
September 1, Saint Ignace
Join thousands of walkers and make the 5-mile trek across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge! Walkers can begin walking at 7am and can start up until 11am. The annual trek across the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge occurs on Labor Day, the only day of the year pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. Walkers begin in St. Ignace at the north end of the Bridge and walk south. The walk is one-way, and bus transportation is available to return you to St. Ignace until 2:30pm. You can also park your vehicle in the parking lot of the Little Bear East Arena and be shuttled to and from the start line for the bridge walk. For additional information, visit the website link.

Hispanic Festival
September 5-6, Grand Rapids
Join the celebration of the Hispanic cultures with continuous entertainment for all ages, delicious food from many regions, beverage tent, a mercado featuring traditional and artisan wares, a 3v3 Futsal tournament (Saturday), and children’s crafts and activities.

The Super Run
September 6, Ann Arbor
The Super Run is a super hero themed family friendly fun run coming to Ann Arbor! There will be activities, giveaways, and lots of fun! Each participant receives Super Hero Swag with their registration including a Super Run cape, Super Run silicone bracelet and temporary tattoo.

Selfridge Air Show
September 6-7, Harrison Township Blue Angels
The highest-flying free show in the Motor City returns to the skies of Macomb County this September. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, led by Clinton Township native Commander Tom Frosch, will headline the 2014 Selfridge open house and Air Show at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7. The show will feature a wide assortment of military aircraft and equipment displays, along with a number of civilian acrobatic aerial performances. Admission to the show on the military base is free and the parking is free.

Week of September 8-14

Motown Summer Cruise
September 10, Detroit
Savor the sweet sounds of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, here in the city where it all happened! Dance the night away while enjoying classic cuisine and cocktails as we cruise between the Detroit and Windsor skylines. Join our crew this summer for an absolutely unique Detroit experience. Event will be featuring the KGB Motown Review.

Beerfest at the Ballpark
September 12, Lansing
The fall festival will be held on Jackson Field at Thomas M Cooley Law School Stadium under the stadium lights. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste more than 250 craft beers, ciders, and meads from over 50 Michigan breweries all while enjoying the ballpark’s atmosphere. The festival will feature live music. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door and include entry, a logoed tasting glass, and 10 tasting tickets. Special VIP Tickets may be purchased for $40 in advance and include early entry to the festival at 5pm, a logoed tasting glass, and 15 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the event. A $10 designated driver ticket may also be purchased.

Grand Haven Salmon Festivalsalmonfestival
September 12-14, Grand Haven
The 11th Annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival features live jazz music; Michigan tasting pavilion (ID required for wine/beer tasting) featuring Michigan’s top wineries and grape stomping; gourmet salmon cook-off contest; fall harvest beer & entertainment pavilion; downtown merchant market; fine art fair on the waterfront; Big King Salmon fishing contest with weigh-in/awards ceremony; mouth-watering food and beverage treats at the Fresh Catch Fish Boil; Grand Haven historic displays through the Tri-Cities Museum; hands-on children’s nature-themed arts & crafts activities; and educational, environment-focused exhibits, displays, workshops—and more!

Dirty Dash
September 13, Mount Morris
The Dirty dash is a mud-run obstacle course where a military boot-camp meets your inner five-year-old’s fantasy and subsequently converts boy to man and then man to swine. You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud, and a smile to show through at the end! Go solo or with some of your dirtiest, filthiest, and uncouth friends.

Harbor Springs Fall Cycling Classic
September 13, Harbor Springs
For over 20 years this ride has been a favorite of cyclists from all over the state. The semiannual tour, held in spring and fall, has three distance routes to choose from (20 miles, 44 miles, or 60 miles), great refreshment stops, and a great lunch at the finish. Registration and admission fee required. Weekend lodging packages are available.

Week of September 15-21

Frankenmuth Oktoberfest 2014
September 18-21, Frankenmuth
Head to Frankenmuth for the annual Oktoberfest celebration! A fun and memorable German festival with a large wooden dance floor for dancing and demonstrations. Great food, drinks, and souvenirs. Located in the Harvey Kern Pavilion in Heritage Park.

Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship
September 18-21, Escanaba
The culmination of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, this tournament will determine the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year. Surrounded by a full slate of fan activities, from daily takeoffs and weigh-ins to Bassmaster Elite Series Expo.

Old Town BluesFest
September 19-20, Lansing
The Old Town BluesFest is a two-day free music festival that brings national, regional, and local acts to an audience of roughly 7,000 people from across Michigan and nearby states. The Old Town BluesFest takes place in the streets of Old Town Lansing, at the intersection of Turner St. and E. Grand River Avenue. Lansing Metro Marinas will be giving half-hour tours of the Grand River on Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Porcupine Mountains Trail Run – Half Marathon & 5K
September 20, Silver City
The Porcupine Mountains are one of the largest tracts of wilderness east of the Mississippi River. The Porcupine Mountains overlook Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake on Earth. The coastline is remote and rugged. The marathon course includes some of the most remarkable single track in the idwest and takes runners past tranquil and remote Mirror Lake and along the classic Escarpment Trail where you can almost reach out and touch soaring hawks as you overlook Lake of the Clouds. This event completes a trio of deeply inspiring trail marathon hosted by Great Lakes Endurance (Waugoshance, Grand Island, and Porcupine Mountains) offering runners the best of what Michigan and the Upper Great Lakes have to offer.

Civil War Muster
September 20-21, Holland
Make your way to Holland to remember the Civil War through a weekend re-enactment including professional re-enactors making camp and recreating battles.  This year’s all-new free admission event features two days worth of music, impressions of historical figures, performances, medical scenarios, period-style vendors, and (of course) battle. Event held at Van Raalte Farm.

Week of September 22-28

ArtPrize 2014
September 24-October 12, Grand RapidsArtPrize4
ArtPrize is the world’s largest international art competition open to any artist and decided by public vote. Take 11 days to explore over 4500 artists at 515 venues in Grand Rapids and vote for the entries you think should win.

DlectriCITY
September 26-27, Detroit
Detroit’s newest nighttime festival of art + light, returns this fall to present 35 local, national and international artists whose cutting edge works of art, lighting design and performance will illuminate the historic architecture of Midtown. For two electrifying evenings, Midtown Detroit will be enveloped in a sea of light as a number of artists converge on Detroit to “light up” buildings and city spaces in Midtown using various mediums that meld sci-fi technology with Victorian spectacle on a grand scale.

South Lyon Area Pumpkinfest
Pumpkinfest
September 26-28, South Lyon 
This year South Lyon’s much anticipated community event celebrates its 30th anniversary. Over the years, the event grew from a craft and antique show to a weekend-long celebration of crafts, music, community, and of course, everyone’s favorite fall product; the pumpkin.

Color Vibe 5K
September 27, Mount Morris
Get ready Flint for the most colorful fun-filled day of your life! You’ll have more color on you than your happy levels can handle! So get your friends and family stretched for this amazing color blast event where you’ll get blasted with color while you run the Color Vibe 5K. Color Vibe is here, and you’re about to get tagged! You’ll be blasted at every color station throughout this awesome 5k run.

Mighty Mac Bridge Race
September 27, Saint Ignace
The Mighty Mac Bridge Race is a certified 11 kilometer course that begins in Mackinaw City, crosses the Mackinac Bridge, winds through downtown St. Ignace, and ends at the Star Line Railroad Dock parking lot. Free busing from Star Line Railroad Dock to race start in Mackinaw City. The $40 entry fee includes Samuel Adams party and SWAG noon until 6pm, medals and division trophies, “Time to the Top” photo on bridge, free busing and local shuttle, long sleeve running shirt, Kewadin Casino package, and chipped bib timing.

Which events do you plan to check out in September?