Explore Spring Food & Drink in Northern Michigan

CherryBasketFarm

Photo courtesy of Tec Petaja

The Sara Hardy Farmers Market, along the Boardman River in downtown Traverse City, is my absolute favorite way to experience the spring food scene in Northern Michigan!  I love to browse around all the stalls to see what’s being brought to market from our neighboring farms. But there are plenty of other opportunities to find, sample and buy the season’s freshest foods. Here are some other upcoming events, ranging from small educational gatherings to big community festivals.

They all have one thing in common, though – they all celebrate this glorious time to eat in Northern Michigan!

Ongoing: Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City

This bustling farmers market between Cass and Union Streets is the best way to see all that is happening in the fields and forests of Northern Michigan. The market is open on Saturdays in May and Wednesdays and Saturdays in June. A do-not miss!

Ongoing: A Walk Through the Farmers Market Cooking Classes

Reservations required.Led by award winning Chef/Owners Jen Blakeslee and Eric Patterson of The Cooks’ House, these Saturday morning classes are an educational and delicious way to experience the region’s food scene. Each class starts at 9 a.m. at the Cooks’ House in Traverse City.

Ongoing: Farm Dinners at Cherry Basket Farm

Table

Photo courtesy of Brian Confer

New for 2015, private dinners will be held on the award-winning and historic grounds of Cherry Basket Farm in Omena, with a local menu created by Chef Andy Schudlich of Epicure Catering. Contact them to book your own dinner!

Reservations required.

Ongoing: Hillside Homestead Historic Dinners

During this unique local food experience, proprietress Susan Odom will prepare a traditional menu from 1910 at her historic farmhouse in Suttons Bay. Contact her to book your own traditional farm dinner. Reservations required.

May 13: Morel Dinner at Black Star Farms

Jon Dayton is one of my favorite chefs in the region. His inspired farmstead cuisine is as beautiful as it is delicious. Check Jon’s schedule for other special dinners all through the season at The Inn at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay.

Reservations required.

Mainstream events (any size group) Be Spontaneous!

May 15- 17: Empire Asparagus Festival

This is a quintessential small town festival celebrating the asparagus harvest. It’s also a local favorite! There’s a pig roast, an asparagus cook-off and a big tent filled with asparagus eats. (Including asparagus beer!)

May 16: Wineries of Old Mission Blossom Day

Spend the day sipping the new releases and noshing on spring-inspired food pairings among the cherry blossoms in the Old Mission Peninsula wine country.

Food Truck

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

May 24: Little Fleet Kickoff Party

The Little Fleet is Traverse City’s only food truck hub, featuring eight tasty truck options. The season opener to Little Fleet’s Lot 448 event series, this lively party celebrates the region’s eight best summer beers with live music and delicious food truck fare.

June 6: Rare Bird Brewery Nest Fest

A celebration of the one-year anniversary of Traverse City’s newest microbrewery. Live music, food from the Rare Bird kitchen and tasty brews are sure to make this a fantastic event!

LeelandWineFest

Photo courtesy of Meggen Watt

June 13: Leland Wine & Food Festival

In its 30th year (it’s the longest-running food festival in Michigan) this is an anchor event for the local food and wine community and a welcome summer opener.

June 20: Traverse City Wine & Art Festival

Held on the beautiful lawn of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, this big festival features 200 local wines, food from eight regional restaurants, and lots of music and art.

Taste the difference and see why Traverse City is a Condé Nast Traveler Up-and-Coming Food City as well as one of America’s five top foodie towns (Bon Apetit Magazine).

Cammie

Photo courtesy of WeberPhoto

Cammie Buehler is the managing partner/co-owner of a local-foods catering company and historic farm event venue, Epicure Catering & Cherry Basket Farm. With co-owner and Chef Andy Schudlich, she works to bring contemporary local cuisine to events in and around Northern Michigan. 

  

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?