Author: Becca

Diverse black-owned Michigan restaurants worth celebrating during Black History Month, all year long

A decorated outdoor wall, with faces painted on it

MLive Michigan’s Best’s John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman shine a spotlight on a few of the local, black-owned restaurants around the state. Gonzo and Amy highlight each restaurant’s foundation story while enjoying delicious meals in unique locations. From an ‘igloo picnic’ to a Thursday rib night, to low-and-slow southern BBQ and Afro-Caribbean eats – these restaurants are your next MI Best ‘must try’!

East Eats – Kwaku Osei-Bonsu and Lloyd M. Talley, Ph.D., started East Eats in order to bring something special to this neighborhood and community. Intentionally choosing a location ‘off the beaten path’ and a unique dining experience of domes/igloo picnics. East Eats diners can travel around the globe from their dome with the sights, smells and tastes of a rotating seasonal menu of Eastern hemisphere foods.

Geno’s Sports Bar and Grill – after 28 years working in Detroit Geno Allen returned to Thompsonville and purchased the local bar. Quickly becoming a favorite for locals and tourists. With $1 pints of PBR, lots of TVs to catch all your favorite sports and plenty of great food including everyone’s favorite, Thursday night rib nights.

Daddy Pete’s BBQ – Cory and Tarra Davis, had a gift for BBQ and entertaining so they started Daddy Pete’s BBQ. Offering low and slow Southern style BBQ from both a food truck and dine-in location. They are committed to family, food and their customers.

Yum Village – with the motto, African raised, Detroit made, Chef Godwin Ihentuge is bringing Afro-Caribbean food to Michigan. With food as diverse as jerked ox tail and curried chickpeas and events such as group drumming lessons, this restaurant is not only a must-try foodie destination but also a community gathering spot.

5 things to see and do in Michigan before the snow melts

woman gazes out at a wintery lake

Who knew that the huge cinnamon rolls at Hilltop Restaurant in L’Anse weigh more than a pound? Or that there’s a statue just up the road along U.S. 41 called “Spider Jesus?”

That a nearby waterfall pierces the icy landscape of the “Grand Canyon of the U.P.” and that the parking lot of Irene’s Pizza in Baraga is a splendid place to watch the sunset over Keweenaw Bay?

“Every small town has something unique about it,” said Tieka Knight, a travel blogger who recently spent a gorgeous winter day exploring the distinctive character of the L’Anse-Baraga area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “I like to find all those gems.”

Tieka Knight is a graphic designer who also blogs about travel at selectivepotential.com.

Tieka Knight is a graphic designer who also blogs about travel at selectivepotential.com.

Knight discovered snow-covered gems such as Canyon Falls and the Bishop Baraga Shrine on her day trip, and there are many more winter treasures to encounter in places all over Michigan. Whether you follow in her footsteps or blaze a trail of your own, the recipe for a winter day trip is the same: Just find something interesting on the map to visit – maybe a lighthouse or a scenic turnout – search out a few local shops and restaurants, then hit the open road for a day you’ll never forget. With a spirit of adventure, any Michigan town becomes a destination.

A winter day trip is one of many ways to enjoy the season while our state is glistening with snow.

And here are five more things to see and do this winter in Michigan before the snow melts:

Strap on some snowshoes – Snowshoeing is a different experience than speeding down a ski slope or pedaling a fat tire bike through the snow. But that’s not to say it’s not a workout! It might actually be the perfect way to get exercise out in the beauty of a Pure Michigan winter. And most anywhere you go in the state, you can find a place to rent snowshoes. Knight suggests renting from the Escanaba Civic Center and snowshoeing around the Peninsula Point Lighthouse or through Fayette Historic State Park.

Lace up some ice skates – From frozen ponds to outdoor rinks all across the state, there’s plenty of opportunity to get out on the ice and fancy yourself an Olympic champion – or just spend time hand in hand with your special someone. Knight suggests checking out the outdoor ice rink at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. You can rent skates right there and enjoy an extraordinary setting amidst all the tall buildings. It feels like you’re in a real-life snow globe! Plus, there are lots of places just a short walk away for hot cocoa or dinner. And through February, Grand Rapids is hosting the World of Winter Festival with large-scale art exhibits and ice sculptures.

Visit a waterfall – People usually flock to see the incredible waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the summer. But each falls has its own special character in the winter, when the landscape is as beautiful as ever. You’ll feel a bit like an explorer discovering something for the first time! Some parking areas near waterfalls are closed during the winter and some falls can be difficult to reach in the snow. But many falls are easily accessible with parking right on the road. Knight recommends Bond Falls off U.S. 45 near Paulding.

person walks across a snow covered wooden bridge in the woodsDine in an igloo – Even now that indoor dining is available again in Michigan, outdoor dining remains a popular winter activity. As a resident of both Marquette and Grand Rapids, Knight has recommendations for both areas: the heated igloos at historic Mt. Shasta Restaurant in Michigamme, the heated “deck rooms” on the deck at Elizabeth’s Chop House in Marquette and the heated igloos at Royals and other restaurants in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids. “It’s a fun way to experience the outdoors without being cold,” Knight said. “You don’t need a coat or anything.” Whether in an igloo, shanty or some other kind of enclosure, there are .

Take a lighthouse tour – There are so many summer photos of Michigan lighthouses. But these maritime relics remain standing throughout the winter, too. What better place to see them in all their wintry glory than in the Traverse City area? From Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfurt to Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula to Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, the Traverse City area is home to some of Knight’s favorites. “A lot of the colors, especially the red ones, really pop in the white snow,” Knight said. Take a look at these incredible photos of frozen Michigan lighthouses.

There are so many great ways to spend a winter day in Michigan that it’s hard to whittle the list down to just five. The ideas above don’t even include cross-country skiing on the Noquemanon Trail, popularly known as the “Noque,” in Marquette; hiking through woods full of towering, snow-covered evergreens at Hartwick Pines State Park near Cadillac; having the surreal experience of visiting the Eben Ice Caves near Munising; winter rafting on the Sturgeon River near Gaylord; snowmobiling around Grand Marais; or walking the trails at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore west of Traverse City.

Explore all there is to do this winter in Michigan and plan an excursion while the snow’s still on the ground. Note that reservations may be needed for some activities due to pandemic-related capacity limits.

Winter is at its peak! Enjoy the snow and look forward to what’s next

person downhill skiing in Michigan

We’ve gotten a lot of snow all across Michigan in the past couple weeks and our state is as beautiful as ever. It is an ideal time to get out and enjoy the winter activities that make this time of year where we live so special.

It’s also time to start looking ahead to the next season of fun and book your spring and summer adventures in the Mitten State. Fortunately, many Michigan destinations are offering money-saving offers right now both for winter excursions and warmer-weather recreation.

In our Pure Michigan Featured Deals for February you’ll find a luxury getaway to Mackinac Island’s historic Grand Hotel, which has an April opening that will be here soon! If you book the hotel’s Simply Grand Package now, you’ll get a bonus resort credit to use at Grand Hotel restaurants and shops or on resort activities. And since we’re in the “month of love,” you can make a Simply Grand Package the perfect gift for your valentine by topping it off with a Touch of Romance basket that’s filled with a bottle of wine, flowers, world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and a card.

RELATED: Explore Local: A magical, local Valentine’s Day adventure

Of course, there’s still time for a winter getaway, too, either just the two of you or an entire family. But Mother Nature won’t keep sending snow for long. The groundhog says we only have a few more weeks of winter left!

skier shushing through fresh snow in MichiganIf you haven’t yet hit the ski slopes or taken the kids tubing, then make a plan today to do that before the snow’s gone. You can tube and go downhill or cross-country skiing – and save money too! – with lodging rates as low as $119 a night with the “Bellaire Means Fresh Air” deal at Shanty Creek Resort. At Trout Creek Condominium Resort in Harbor Springs near the Nubs Nob and Boyne ski areas, you can get a third night for free and warm up by the fireplace after each day of outdoor winter recreation.

With pandemic restrictions on indoor dining now relaxed, you can add nice sit-down dinners to your trip. Explore the incredible diversity of dining options in Ann Arbor while escaping for a night or two at any of 40-plus hotels offering rates starting at $89 a night. Or book a Traverse City Escape Package and get discounted lodging plus coupons for attractions, shopping, dining and drinks at some of Michigan’s best wineries and craft breweries.

For a more intimate dining experience, look at this amazing Dine-In deal at The Townsend Hotel in the walkable upscale community of Birmingham, where a night’s skis, snowshoes, and walking polesstay comes with a $75 room service credit and valet parking. And if you’re looking to escape from the world for a while to enjoy a unique nature-centric retreat, how about a winter cottage getaway to southwest Michigan’s picturesque Bay Pointe on Gun Lake?

Winter only comes once a year. Fortunately, there’s still time to make this winter extra special! And as you plan ahead for spring and summer, be sure to explore the wide variety of ways to shop, eat and stay local right here in our Pure Michigan.

RELATED: How to make the most of our Pure Michigan winter

5 uniquely Michigan winter adventures

Eric with sled dogs in winter

In this episode, Eric Hultgren talks with Tom Daldin and Jim Edelman from the Emmy award-winning Under the Radar about 5 winter adventures that are unique to Michigan. From ice caves to dog sledding there are tons of fun things to do in this winter weather here in Michigan. Stay safe while getting a view outside your own four walls.

Save money (and your sanity) with this Spring Break road trip

Kid exploring a store in Traverse City, MI

It’s cold outside now but take a minute to imagine yourself on Spring Break. Lounging by the pool. Sipping your favorite beverage. Taking a dip in the warm water.

Too bad you can’t get pool weather on Spring Break unless you travel all the way to a place like West Bay on Grand Cayman. Or West Bay, Texas. Or West Bay Beach in Traverse City.

Wait, Traverse City? In Michigan?

Yes! The West Bay Beach Resort on Grand Traverse Bay features dining igloos and an outdoor pool heated to 95 degrees! It’s one of several ways right here in Michigan to have a hot Spring Break without flying south or booking a cruise in the midst of a pandemic.

“It’s like swimming in a hot tub,” said Michael Scandariato, hotel general manager. “Weekends have been very busy with families (at the resort) and the igloos have also remained very busy.”

swimming pool and view of outdoor dining igloos in Traverse City, MIEven as COVID-19 vaccines get slowly distributed, there remains an elevated risk in traveling across the country or overseas. That’s making road trips more popular than ever for Spring Break.

By taking a road trip within Michigan, you can save a few bucks and experience things that only the Mitten State can offer. And you can still enjoy some time poolside, too!

The Traverse City area offers lots of unique things to do for Spring Break, with options for both indoor and outdoor recreation. By taking advantage of a Traverse City Escape Package, you can even get special lodging rates combined with discounts on dining, shopping, outdoor activities and more.

Here are some ideas to help you start planning:

  • The outdoor heated pool and igloos at West Bay Beach Resort provide the perfect illustration of the indoor/outdoor fun you can have in the Traverse City area on Spring Break. You can relax inside a poolside igloo with dinner or drinks, then step outside and hop into the 95-degree pool for a swim. The heated pool is open to resort guests and to visitors who reserve a dining igloo.
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is most popular in the summer, but it’s a four-season attraction that features some special character in the spring. While some trails remain open all winter, many more are ready for visitors come March and April.  person running down a sand dune at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Traverse City, MIPlus, they’re uncrowded! Many families enjoy crawling up the park’s iconic Dune Climb, which rewards you with a stunning view of Glen Lake from the top. And if you’re really adventurous, you can keep heading west from the top of the Dune Climb all the way to Lake Michigan and back.
  • Springtime weather in the Traverse City area can vary a lot, from sunny days warm enough to spend at the beach to cool afternoons where you may need a raincoat. That’s why the variety of things to do both indoors and outdoors is such a blessing. The Great Lakes Children’s Museum is open by reservation during the pandemic and offers lots of hands-on activities for children age 8 and under.
  • For a cultural experience that’s entirely outdoors, the Michigan Legacy Art Park is a fantastic Spring Break attraction. The park showcases more than 50 sculptures along walking trails that run through a 30-acre forest preserve. Spring temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold make for a comfortable stroll through the woods to see contemporary art the whole family will get a kick out of.

From axe throwing, boutique bowling and other indoor fun at The Den at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa to biking, hiking and other outdoor recreation on the TART Trails, there’s plenty  couple playing a virtual game at The Den at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa of opportunity to experience a memorable Spring Break right here in Michigan by visiting the Traverse City area. You could even go ice skating where the Detroit Red Wings train!

And you can do it all safely, thanks to COVID precautions being taken by Traverse City-area hotels, restaurants, shops and other attractions.

Just because we’re all leery of planes and crowded cruise ships doesn’t mean you have to cancel Spring Break. You don’t even have to endure a never-ending car ride. There’s a close-to-home option for a Spring Break excursion in the Traverse City area.

Check out Traverse City Escape packages to find a place to stay and start looking forward to Spring Break 2021!

First-ever Ann Arbor Area Hotel Week to debut with deals, Restaurant Week tie-ins

Ann Arbor hotel and restaurant weeks graphic

Michael Weber hears it from friends, he hears it from fellow members of the Washtenaw County Hotel Association, and he hears it from guests who have stayed at his Weber’s Boutique Hotel in Ann Arbor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are saying they’re getting a bit stir-crazy,” Weber said. “They’re ready for a break and a release to get them out of their houses. They just want to do something that lets them focus on having fun and relaxing.”

Destination Ann Arbor and the hotel association are providing a solution with the first-ever Ann Arbor Area Hotel Week, an innovative promotion that offers incredible room deals, upgrades and dining packages to coincide with the region’s restaurant week that runs Feb. 21 to Feb. 26.

“There’s a lot of energy with restaurant week, and this adds to the excitement and the ability to do something that is a change of pace,” said Weber, the president of the hotel group. “It’s a great opportunity for a staycation or for people to come and see what Ann Arbor has to offer.”

Find your Hotel Week deal: A complete list of all discounts and packages

The annual restaurant week celebrates the dining scene as chefs and staffs show off creative menus at affordable prices. Nearly 20 eateries are participating in the event with dine-in and to-go meals, including family-sized options. Menus offer a variety of meals, including vegetarian and vegan options as well as two and three-course selections.

New this year are online demonstrations from Vinology’s James Beard Award winner Alex Young, who will teach viewers how to make his famous fried chicken, and Zingerman’s Deli Chef Rodger Bowser showing how to make its legendary Chicken Pot Pie.

“Restaurants are putting their best foot forward to highlight what they do best and to make something new for their guests,” said Sandra Andrade, the executive director of Main Street Ann Arbor, which organizes the week. “This is about connecting with the community and keeping this great dining culture thriving.”

Marriott hotel room in Ann Arbor, MIAndrade said the synergy and partnership between Hotel Week and Restaurant Week comes at a critical time for the hospitality industry. While the plight of restaurants has been well publicized, the impact of the pandemic has also battered hotels with minimal business and leisure travel and no convention or event traffic.

“The whole hospitality sector has taken such a big hit this year and that makes this even more important to get out there and support your favorite places or try something new,” she said. “It’s really exciting to have these events work together and support each other.”

The exclusive, limited time offers at area hotels can be found here, and while some are only available during the promotion week, others will allow and encourage guests to book packages now and stay later in the year.

Jamie Vecchioni, the director of sales and marketing at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, said hotels are committed to making the week enjoyable for guests.

“This is such a cool idea because there are so many great restaurants and so many great hotel properties in our area for people to experience,” Vecchioni said. “This is a perfect time to pair a delicious meal with a night out in a comfortable room.”

Participating restaurants and hotels have been practicing and adhering to strict safety and sanitation guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing signs and safety partitions are installed throughout properties and mask use is mandatory in common areas.

“The protocols are really important to us as an industry because we’re all in this together,” she said. “We encourage people to come now if they’re ready or to join us later in the year if they want to wait. We are excited to greet you.”

Explore Local: A a magical, local Valentine’s Day adventure

Explore Local: Valentine's Day video screenshot

Eric shows you how to put together a beautiful, local Valentine’s day extravaganza for your loved one – by shopping local you build relationships with local businesses (which means you get the inside scoop), you help to build a vibrant neighborhood and state, and your get unique products that represent our great state.

Shopping local means that your money has more impact; $73 of every $100 spent locally, stays local. It means you are a name, not a number; vibrant, thriving communities; 52% of Michigan jobs are provided by local companies; and MI continues to move forward.

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So, as you shop, please try first to find local Michigan options for the items on your list. A helpful way to get started is by checking out this Pure Michigan Shop, Eat & Stay Local page.

You can also subscribe to Pure Michigan’s Featured Deals eNewsletter and get a look at money-saving Michigan offers. Each month will highlight a selection of packages and specials available throughout the state.

5 ways to make this Michigan winter the best ever!

snowboarding on Mt. Brighton

Michigan’s Winter Wonderland is back! But it will melt away soon enough, so now is the time to get out there and make the most of it.

Fortunately, there are countless ways to get outside and have fun this winter right here in our own state – from skiing and snowboarding to snowmobiling and ice fishing to sledding, fat tire biking and more. There are even things to do that maybe you’ve never thought of!

RELATED: 10 Michigan trails to experience this winter

In fact, here are just five of the many intriguing ways you could make this Michigan winter the best winter ever:

  • Go snowmobiling – The state’s No. 1 place for snowmobiling is Drummond Island, with nearly 80 miles of groomed trails to ride. Right now, you can enjoy the trails and then stay in a rustic lodge room at Drummond Island Resort for just $99 a night. In addition to snowmobile trails, Michigan’s winter wonder-island is a great place for sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating and more. You can even try your luck at skeet and clay shooting or go off-roading on more than 500 acres of trails carved right out of the island’s natural limestone. After all your outdoor fun, experience an authentic Up North winter pastime by relaxing in a Scandinavian sauna. MEDC-Pure Michigan combo logo
  • Plan a romantic waterfront escape – Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean all the amazing cottages on Michigan’s thousands of inland lakes are off limits. In fact, that’s all the more reason to warm up by the fire at a place such as Bay Pointe Inn on Gun Lake south of Grand Rapids. The resort features suites with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs and is now offering a Pure Michigan deal with great pricing on a cottage getaway in January. For an added touch, you can have fresh rose petals scattered in your room with a chilled bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries ready for you on arrival.
  • Pick a Michigan downtown to explore – Our state is full of unique city centers, each with its own vibe for you to experience. Ann Arbor, for example, features a walkable downtown with one-of-a-kind shops, a world-renowned arts scene and restaurants serving dishes inspired by cultures from around the globe. This winter you can plan a family adventure or a getaway for just the two of you and take advantage of Ann Arbor lodging specials starting at $89 per night.
  • Discover the Sleeping Bear Dunes – America’s Most Beautiful Place is Michigan’s most popular national park. Yet, you can visit in the winter and feel all alone amid the glorious wonders of the 64-mile stretch of lakeshore west of Traverse City. Even if you’ve been there before, you can experience the park anew in the winter through hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding the iconic Dune Climb. When you book a Traverse City Escape Package, you can complement your Sleeping Bear adventure with discounted rates on lodging and coupons for dining, wine and beer tasting, shopping and other outdoor activities.
  • Ski! – Okay, maybe you have thought of this one. But how can you make skiing special this winter? Well, you could take advantage of amazing ski packages all over the state
    • Get some fresh air in Bellaire on the 5,000 acres of rolling countryside at Shanty Creek Resort, which is offering deals on lodging so you can enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing and Alpine tubing.
    • Make Crystal Mountain your winter playground with special ski packages this winter. Kids 17 and under sleep and ski free on certain dates through March.
    • Spend a week at a luxurious home away from home and save money with discounted rates through February at Trout Creek Condominiums in Harbor Springs, near Nubs Nob and Boyne Highlands ski areas.

Never skied before? No problem. The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association is teaming with McDonald’s and 23 ski areas across the state on the Discover Michigan Skiing program. Get a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard equipment rental and lift ticket for just $35 so you too can discover the awesomeness of Michigan skiing!

Check out all of Pure Michigan’s featured deals and packages available this month, then get out there and make this winter the best ever!

3 things to do this winter right here in Pure Michigan

person carrying skis looks across a snowy landscape

Far fewer people are flying to Florida and other warm-weather destinations this winter. That means there’s even more opportunity than normal for Michiganders to get out and enjoy their own state’s snowy paradise.

Are you ready to travel local and give Alpine tubing a try? How about a wintry zipline adventure tour or some fat tire snow biking? Maybe a cross-country ski trek or a casual hike through snow-covered woods is more your pace.

“You don’t have to do the black diamond runs at Mount Bohemia Adventure Resort to enjoy winter,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan. “We have it all here whether you’re into downhill skiing, ice fishing, fat tire biking, whatever it is.

“You just need to get out there. We’ve had to be in our houses way too much this past year.”

RELATED: Find rental equipment for skiing, cross country, fat tire biking, snowshoeing and other winter activities

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines being distributed, there’s hope that life will return to normal at some point in 2021. Until then, Michigan’s tourism industry is working hard to make travel as normal as possible.

For example, the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association came together to create uniform standards of operation to help ensure that people can enjoy Michigan’s winter wonderland safely. When you visit one of the state’s many ski areas, you can know that there’s advance lift ticket purchasing available online and touch-free rental equipment pickup. There’s reduced capacity on the hills to promote safe social distancing and chairlifts limited to the people in your own party. Facemasks are being required, but then when you’re flying down the hill you’d be wearing one anyway!

With those precautions – and Mother Nature doing its part by sending fresh, white snow to supplement the solid base already in place – the stage is set for a typical ski season.

“It’s perfect right now with tons of snow,” Lorenz said. “It seems like normal except for a few little changes.

“You just print out your pass (at home) or there’s a kiosk at the resort where you print out your pass and, there you go, you put it on your gear and get going. It’s so easy.”

In addition to all of Michigan’s ski areas, the winter playground of the Midwest also is home to more than 11,000 lakes for ice fishing, or just skipping stones over the frozen surface. There are endless miles of trails for high-octane snowmobiling, or just walking through the serene beauty of a landscape coated with snow.

person standing on top of a snowy hill looking into a forested valleyIf you’re up for an extreme winter activity, try ice climbing frozen waterfalls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. For a unique adventure the whole family can enjoy, go winter rafting on the Sturgeon River in Gaylord. Or, for a more leisurely pursuit, how about snowshoeing through Ludington State Park?

Whichever winter activity fits your style, be sure to give it a try! And when you get hungry, you can experience some new ways of socially distanced dining that are popping up all over Michigan. For example, Treetops Resort in Gaylord is offering igloo dining for up to six people at a time.

You can find igloos elsewhere around the state, too, as well as special patio heaters, tents to block the wind and even greenhouses and shanty towns for unique and relatively warm outdoor dining. Of course, you can also order room service at many ski resorts and other places to stay around Michigan.

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Speaking of room service, lodging operators across the state have signed the Pure Michigan Pledge to help keep guests healthy and safe during their visit. Whether you need a home base for a few days of downhill skiing or just a place to rest your head following an afternoon of hiking, you can know that many of Michigan’s places to stay, restaurants, attractions and outdoor spaces have committed to disinfection and social distancing protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Pure Michigan Pledge logo“We need to vacation to break away from our everyday stress and struggles,” Lorenz said. “We need to travel. And when you are ready to travel, you can travel safely in Michigan.

“We all have a role to play to allow us to travel safely, and if we do these things we can still have a rewarding time.”

‘Dog winery’ one of many pet-friendly destinations in Traverse City

dogs playing with a stick on a sand dune

Otis was a yellow Labrador retriever who used to greet visitors in the tasting room at Bowers Harbor Vineyards with a friendly wag of his tail, while Cooper and Brix were Bernese Mountain dogs who added some special personality to the Traverse City winery. Though all three dogs have passed away, their spirits endure through bottles of wine labeled with their portraits.

After all, dogs are a part of life at Bowers Harbor.

“We are pretty much known as the dog winery,” said Bethany Heinrich, tasting room manager.

Bowers Harbor is just one example of the many pet-friendly wineries, restaurants, hotels and more in the Traverse City area. When you plan an escape to Traverse City this winter, you don’t have to worry about who’s going to watch the dog while you’re away. Your furry friend can come along for the fun!

Until Michigan’s indoor dining restrictions get lifted, you can bring your dog to Bowers Harbor and enjoy wine and cider by the glass, or by the flight, along with snacks and dips in an outdoor area with tables, heaters and fire pits. The menu includes the “Otis,” a semi-dry white, the “Cooper,” a sweet white, and the “Brix,” a sparkling wine that’s bubbly just like its namesake canine.

dog standing in the stone at a vineyard

Lucy, a Golden Doodle, is the new wine dog at Bowers Harbor Vineyards in Traverse City. The winery is one of many pet-friendly destinations in the Traverse City area. In addition to wine with dogs on the labels, Bowers Harbor sells dog wine stoppers, dog cork cages, dog treats and stuffed dogs.

Guests love to see dogs on the labels and they also get a kick out of meeting Winston, an English Cream Retriever who is the winery’s current vineyard dog, and Lucy, a Golden Doodle who is the new tasting room greeter. There’s even a snow dog at the vineyard this winter, too.

Lucy is too new to Bowers Harbor to have a wine named after her, yet. But when you order a glass of the “Winston” –  a half-Cabernet-Sauvignon-half-Merlot – part of your purchase will be donated to the Cherryland Humane Society to support dogs and cats awaiting adoption.

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While some Traverse City-area restaurants have remained open for pet-friendly outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants across Michigan are expected to reopen for indoor dining Feb. 1. That’s great news for people eager to get back out and explore the state after an unusual year during which many of us – humans and dogs, alike – spent much more time than normal at home.

The Traverse City area makes a great winter destination for you and your dog because of pet-friendly establishments such as Bowers Harbor, and because there’s so much outdoor recreation to enjoy. At Bowers Harbor, for example, you can “snow-cial” distance right on site by wandering the expansive vineyards with your dog on foot or snowshoe.

dog playing on the beachThe Traverse City area also is home to beaches and trails that are delightful for dogs. To whet your appetite for the bounty of pet-friendly attractions, check out the Vasa Pathway in Williamsburg where there are groomed trail loops of 3 to 25 kilometers, the paved Leelanau Trails that runs 17 miles along picturesque forests, farms, vineyards, lakes and ponds between Traverse City and Suttons Bay, or the 80-acre Holiday Woodlands Preserve on the east side of town.

Pets also allowed in many areas of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“As a whole, Traverse City is very pet-friendly,” said Heinrich, who has three dogs of her own including a Catahoula, black Lab and a shepherd mix. “The hiking trails are some of the best options and quite a few beaches are dog-friendly, too. And it seems like every year a new dog park pops up.

“Traverse City is very active, so anything we can get out and do with every member of the family is definitely a selling point. Our pets are a large part of our family.”

RELATED: Meet Lucy and other dogs waiting to greet you at attractions in the Traverse City area

When you and Fido need a rest at the tail end of a day of exploring, there are many pet-friendly places to stay in the Traverse City area. Right now, you can get discounted lodging with a Traverse City Escape Package that includes coupons for dining, shopping, wine and more.