Nick paddles under the Portage Lake Lift Bridge before finding a spot to watch the sunset.
Nick paddles under the Portage Lake Lift Bridge before finding a spot to watch the sunset.
As the race director for the Crim Festival of Races, Andy Younger witnesses the excitement of runners crossing the finish line and the incredible spirit of the community supporters, but every year there are moments that provide waves of satisfaction that have little to do with running.
“Without fail, every year, I hear people say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that Flint was this nice,’” Younger said. “And that’s what the Crim is really about. It’s not just a race, it’s a celebration that shows off the best of Flint and changes the way people look at our city.
“Flint is roaring back and people may not realize all of the positive things that are happening downtown. Restaurants are thriving and new ones are opening all the time. Businesses are succeeding, and we’re growing by leaps and bounds. It’s completely different from what people picture.”
The 43rd annual Crim races and surrounding community events are set to highlight Flint on Aug. 23-24. In addition to the 10-mile, 5-mile and 5K races on Saturday, Aug. 24, the city will host the Michigan Mile and a free “Rock the Block Crimstock,” concert on the evening of Aug. 23. The post-race celebration will feature more live music and a festive atmosphere.
Each year the Crim welcomes up to 15,000 runners and as many as 50,000 spectators. It is among the five largest 10-mile races in the U.S. and attracts many of the country’s top runners, including an appearance by Parker Stinson this year. Stinson holds the American record in the 25K, and it’s possible he’ll challenge the 1983 U.S. 10-mile record held by Michigan native Greg Meyer.
The 10-mile race began in August 1977 by Michigan House Speaker Bobby Crim, and the ensuing years have seen it develop into an institution in Michigan running circles. The Crim Fitness Foundation, which organizes race day, focuses its year-round efforts on improving the community’s health and quality of life.
“The entire weekend totally transforms downtown,” Younger said. “There are just people everywhere and you can feel the energy of the city and the shared experience that people are feeding off.”
The race courses wind through Flint’s downtown, with the signature 10-mile event taking runners through the scenic University of Michigan-Flint campus and toward Kettering University, one of the best engineering schools in the country. Each university is involved in the race and in a deep commitment to the community, Younger said.
Participants will then head through the Mott Park neighborhood, a region of the city marked by green space and public parks, before hitting the storied “Bradley Hills,” Flint’s version of the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill.
“The Bradley Hills are a nice feature that make the Crim challenging for runners of all abilities,” Younger said. “It’s kind of that midway point, and once you’re done, you know you’re on your way in to the finish.”
Next comes the city’s southwest side and a visit to the Woodcroft Estates subdivision, where historic homes feature a look at Flint’s past in the structures that date to the 1920s. The neighborhood, Younger said, generally hosts the greatest concentration of race support outside of downtown.
“It’s legendary what they do out there for the runners and there’s never a dull moment,” Younger said. “There are crowds of people and bands and ‘unofficial aid stations’ handing out all sorts of refreshments to keep people going. There are a lot of good distractions in Woodcroft, and the residents really get into it.”
The final mile of the Crim leads runners through the American Mile, where veterans, active military and their supporters cheer and distribute hand-held flags to participants. It’s a show of national pride and spirit, and a way for people to give back to each other, Younger said.
“It’s that final extra burst of energy, and it’s cool,” he said. “It gives runners a chance to show their appreciation to the armed forces, and it’s a fun thing for them to do for the community.”
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Our MLive video series “Michigan’s Best Day In” shows you how to eat and drink your way across some of Michigan’s coolest towns. Our newest video features the beautiful city of Ludington, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. A year-round destination, the city really shines during the summer, when the powder sand beaches are busy, the lake sparkles in the sun, and downtown is bustling.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Pure Ludington, for supporting this project.
Michigan’s Best Day in Ludington
Start your day in Ludington off right, by fueling up with a big breakfast. We headed to Brenda’s Harbor Cafe, a favorite of both locals and tourists, with traditional offerings all served up in a nautical-themed space.
The Eggs Benedict is one of the most popular breakfasts, and features toasted English muffins topped with savory, shaved ham and poached eggs blanketed with creamy, lemony hollandaise sauce.
We also enjoyed the thin and delicate Swedish pancakes that come topped with butter and a bright lingonberry jam.
The diner also serves lunch, and is open until 2 p.m. daily. Owners Brenda and Mark Cole bought the business in 2008.
Brenda’s Harbor Cafe | 316 S. James St., Ludington, Michigan 49431
Probably the number-one reason why you need to visit Ludington? It has some of the best beaches in the state, if not the country.
Nestled on the shores of gorgeous Lake Michigan, the city has plenty of powder sand beaches to choose from, with over 28 miles of shoreline to explore.
Ludington State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan, and once you visit, you’ll understand why. With 5,300 acres of dunes, trails, beaches, forests and marshes to enjoy, the park is one of Michigan’s best. Lake Michigan beckons on one side, and Hamlin Lake on the other. The park has over 360 modern campsites to rent at three different locations: Pines, Cedar and Beechwood campgrounds.
You can take a short, 1.5 mile hike to check out Big Sable Point Lighthouse, which is open for tours from May to October.
Kayak or canoe, hike or bike, swim or lounge. Ludington State Park has it all.
Ludington State Park | 8800 W. M-116, Ludington MI, 49431
Other beaches in the area:
Sterns Park Beach | North Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan 49431
Summit Park Beach | 5528 S. Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, MI 49431
One of the coolest things to do in the area is to visit the Amber Elk Ranch. Located just minutes from downtown, it’s one of the coolest things to do anywhere.
Owner Bob Northrup took his passion for elk up to a whole different level when he opened up the ranch. He has 130 acres where he raises elk for breeding stock, antlers, meat and community education.
When you arrive, head over to the cabin to purchase tickets for the wagon ride. Then hop on in, and get ready for an up close and personal elk experience. The tractor chugs you out onto the ranch, with one of the ranch hands hopping out every so often to unlock and then lock the various gates you’ll travel through. Your driver will share all sorts of interesting elk facts as you head out to the large “pens” where the elk reside, separated by age and gender.
Once in the pens, there are buckets of grain to feed the elk. And this is where it gets really good. You don’t just throw some grain out on the ground, you hold your hand out flat and low from the wagon and the elk come and EAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR HAND. It is incredible to have a giant (and some of the bull elks are huge) animal that close. I screamed in both fear and delight as the first elk came up and kind of swallowed my hand with its rough tongue licking up all the grain. The elk also like it when you scratch their heads, right between the antlers, and they’ll gaze up at you with big brown eyes. Gently touch the velvet on their sensitive antlers. It’s pretty much the softest thing you’ll ever feel.
The female elk are a little more aggressive with the food, so be sure to keep the buckets in the center of the wagon, and keep your hand flat when feeding them. The baby elk are shy, and usually won’t come up to the wagon, but they are adorable at a distance.
The trip typically takes about an hour. Afterward, you can check out all the antlers piled up around the ranch, and visit the small petting zoo on the property.
Amber Elk Ranch | 2688 W Conrad Road, Ludington, Michigan 49431
When you are this close to all this water, you really better try some fresh fish. In Ludington, you can head on out on one of the many charter boats that provide incredible fishing experiences on Lake Michigan, and catch your meal yourself.
Ludington is considered the number-one salmon fishing port in Michigan, with record-class catches of salmon and trout. There are over 45 professional fishing charter captains in the area to choose from.
Not into fishing? No big deal, you can enjoy some fresh fish at a variety of restaurants around town.
For something unique and completely delicious, head to Bortell’s Fisheries, just south of downtown. The Bortell family has been serving up their fresh, fried and smoked fish for over 120 years. They still use the original recipes and techniques that have been passed down through six generations. The fish here is ultra-fresh, and if fried, gets a nice thin, crispy coating. This is a no-frills place. You place your order, and then grab and go. There are picnic tables outside where you can eat. Cash only.
Bortell’s Fisheries | 5510 S Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan 49431
Prefer to a sit down place? Here are a few other spots with great fish.
Scotty’s | 5910 W U.S. 10, Ludington, Michigan 49431
Old Hamlin | 122 W Ludington Ave., Ludington, Michigan 49431-2022
Stix Bar | 1963 N Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan 49431-9383
Jamesport Brewing Company | 410 S James St., Ludington, Michigan 49431
The Port of Ludington Maritime Museum is chock full of history, artifacts, photos and some amazing interactive exhibits all focused on the region’s maritime history. It’s the perfect stop for a little education, and for a break from all the sun (or rain, if that’s the case).
Located right on the water in a former U.S. Coast Guard Station, overlooking the North Pier Light and the S.S. Badger car ferry, the museum has three floors to explore.
On the main floor, learn about the history of the area, with scale models of boats and nautical artifacts telling the stories of the steamers and ferries that have plied the waters through the years. There is a mini lighthouse to climb, and an exhibit on how the lighthouses of yore worked. Head upstairs for a super sweet interactive exhibit where you get to captain a ferry into Ludington port, complete with a welcoming whistle pull. More photos showing the history of Ludington are on the third floor.
Port of Ludington Maritime Museum | 217 S. Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan 49431
10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Last ticket sales at 4:30 pm
Open Tuesday – Saturday, April 16th – May 25th
Closed Memorial Day
Open Sunday – Saturday, May 26th – September 1st
Open Tuesday – Saturday September 2nd – October 19th
Open Saturdays, October 26th, November 2nd and 9th
General Admission Cost
Children: $10.00 (6 – 17 years of age)
Under 5: Free
Visit both The Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and Historic White Pine Village with dual ticketing: Two Museums for one great price!
Child (6-17): $14.50
Under 5: Free
Downtown Ludington is full of shops to explore, from art galleries to surf shops. Gordy’s is a T-shirt and skate shop located right downtown, and is a great place to pick up some custom apparel to let the world know you visited Ludington.
The store has a heat press on site. Pick out your T-shirt or sweatshirt, then select from a variety of logos and designs on the wall. The helpful (and fast!) staff will then press your shirt right before your eyes. It’s a cool spot to create a unique memento of your trip.
Gordy’s | 104 W Ludington Ave., Ludington, Michigan 49431
A hot summer day in Ludington calls for an ice cream, and there is no better place to go than the very popular, very busy, and very delicious House of Flavors.
The Neal family has been making ice cream for almost 80 years in Ludington, and with their production facility next door, churn up almost 25 million gallons of ice cream every year. They are the largest producer of ice cream in Michigan.
At the restaurant, you can stroll on in and select from a rotating list of about 30 flavors every day. Have it stacked up in a homemade waffle cone, or get it whipped into a shake or a malt. If you are really hungry for ice cream, get one of their “Pig Dinners” that come in various sizes and are served in a trough. Finish one and you’ll get a collectable Pig Pin.
Don’t let the long line deter you. The scoopers here are fast, and it moves quickly. Plus, part of the fun is trying to decide what flavor to get.
House of Flavors is a summer tradition for many Ludington visitors, with families returning year after year to this fun, retro spot, for good old-fashioned fun.
House of Flavors | 402 W Ludington Ave., Ludington, MI 49431
We also would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fabulous rotisserie turkey they roast every single day at House of Flavors. Moist and succulent, the turkey gets served up as Thanksgiving dinner, and hot sandwiches drenched in homemade gravy and nuzzled up next to homemade mashed potatoes.
It’s fantastic, and somewhat unexpected. Pro tip: the hot turkey sandwich can be ordered for breakfast.
A great spot to stop for a drink is The Mitten Bar, located right downtown. The bar, opened by husband and wife team of Brian and Megan Josefowicz in 2011, features all (and only) Michigan-made goods. The couple wanted to create a community gathering place for both locals and tourists alike. It’s a super-friendly place, and the staff will make you feel welcome right away. Many nights, there is live music performed on the small stage in the back.
Craft beer, wine and spirits from Michigan are featured, along with 12 draft lines. The only pop available is Faygo, and it’s really all you need.
The Mitten Bar | 109 W Ludington Ave., Ludington, Michigan 49431
The best way to end the day is to head to the beach for the sunset. You won’t be the only one. It’s kind of the greatest show in town, every single night. There really isn’t a bad spot to watch from, and you can even head on out onto the pier.
We hope that you enjoy your Michigan’s Best Day in Ludington.
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Nick spends the day exploring the White Lake area (between Whitehall and Montague) – ‘finding’ hidden shipwrecks, BBQ pork sandwiches and limboing under a bridge.
After undergoing a back surgery, Kris Tangeman needed post-acute care for several weeks, leading to the Howell woman’s discovery that once she experienced rehabilitation at a WellBridge center, there’s no going back.
“Let me tell you, they were just superb,” said Tangeman, who praised the staff and the therapy department. “I’m in this industry, I’m an LPN (licensed practical nurse) and, I mean, they’re just excellent. I would absolutely recommend WellBridge.”
WellBridge has been setting the standard of care between hospital and home in Michigan since 2013. The centers are transforming the perception of what short-term rehabilitation and nursing care can be with resort-like amenities and a focus on a hospitality model of service.
“We are geared towards people,” said Julie Ryan, who is WellBridge’s Vice President of Business Development and Director of Managed Care. “Unlike institutional-style nursing homes, WellBridge guests receive more than just exceptional nursing care and rehabilitation. With chef-prepared meals, Tempur-Pedic mattresses, and massage therapy, some guests don’t want to leave. WellBridge is the future of post-hospital care.”
“As soon as you enter, you know it’s different. There is WB’s Bistro serving Starbucks, there’s a salon, and mostly private suites – so it’s more like a hotel experience and much more than what you’d expect to experience at a rehabilitation center.”
With eight centers in Southeast Michigan and 840 beds for those in need, WellBridge is outpacing the competition. The care centers offer short-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. WellBridge care centers are located in:
While WellBridge touts its one-of-a-kind guest experience, Ryan and others say the focus remains on care and recovery. WellBridge’s facilities are preferred providers of many hospital systems, earning referrals based on positive patient outcomes. The centers have around the clock care from registered nurses and nursing assistants.
The government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recognize the care WellBridge offers by issuing high ratings for each of the centers on a 5-star scale. WellBridge has an average score of 4.5 stars, which Ryan says is well above the rating for other post-acute care providers in Michigan.
A former guest who stayed at WellBridge after a knee replacement said she could not have chosen a better center for her recovery.
“They are fabulous, fantastic,” she said. “Wellbridge is a rehabilitation center, we know that, but it feels like a million-star hotel. I cannot praise it enough!”
WellBridge centers, all of which have been built since 2013, have state-of-the-art equipment including a NASA-inspired anti-gravity treadmill and other cutting-edge therapies that speed a return home, Ryan said. Each WellBridge location also offers several suites for people in need of long-term nursing care.
David Sires said he moved his mother, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, into WellBridge of Brighton after the condition progressed to the point that she needed more than assisted living. The full-time care at WellBridge was exceptional, he said.
“The people that work there, I call them God’s little angels because they have patience and understanding I’ve never even seen,” he said. “If your mother or father have a chronic illness and need care, I highly recommend WellBridge.”
As the summer and fall wedding seasons come in to full swing, it is time for guys to begin planning their clothing choices to match the nuptial’s dress attire.
A wedding, as a reminder to all procrastinators, is not the time to wing it and toss together an outfit with what’s hanging in the closet at the last second. Social norms are to follow the event’s dress code and sport a look to impress. You don’t want to be the person in the wedding photos that sticks out like a sore thumb and incites immediate frustration from the wedding party.
There’s a standard formula and correlation of what guests should be wearing once you know the couple’s expectation, the wedding venue and the time of the ceremony.
Here’s how it breaks down and what wedding guests should look for when shopping:
While it’s not every guy’s garment game, black-tie weddings are the easiest to dress for and offer no leeway with your fashion choices. These are the most elegant affairs and generally take place in late afternoon or evenings. The formal look demands a black tuxedo, a sharp white shirt and a black bow tie paired with a black vest and black leather shoes. Dress your best, and keep it simple yet sophisticated
Formal or black-tie optional weddings
These wedding dress codes can be a bit concerning as it is somewhat ambiguous on what to wear, but the best rule to follow is you don’t want to be underdressed. It’s better to go high-style and carry a crisp, modern look. Tuxedos or suits should be dark-hued and matched with a white, neutral or soft-colored dress shirt. Feel free to express some flair with a vest, tie or bow tie. There is a general guideline to go darker with your colors as the later the celebration starts. Shoes are wide open to individual preference as long they match the outfit.
Many summer weddings fall into this category as the seasonal vibe leans toward a more relaxed and comfortable clothing expectation. There tends to be a middle ground here where it’s safe to dress down a touch, while it remains a bad idea to go completely casual. Plan to look as good or better than those around you. A conservative or dark suit and a solid tie is a classic, safe style that will work if the wedding you’re attending is in a church or you’re enjoying an outdoor venue. Black or tan shoes are the best option to accessorize the suit of your choice.
Casual weddings are the most laid-back and open to interpretation, leaving the challenge of what’s casual and what’s smart to wear. Here are a couple of things not to do: Jeans or shorts. Those go too far toward casual. However, guests should feel free to dress down with khakis and a button-up dress shirt. You can opt for a polo-style short-sleeve and add a blazer if you’d like. Your shoe selection can vary from standard dress shoes to loafers. Skip the urge to go in sandals or flip-flops.
The final word
Three bottom line moves when it comes to wedding wear:
For more advice and ideas, visit Libins website or take a moment to talk to one of the store’s fitting professional to create your best look.
On an unplanned road trip to Holland, MI Nick finds an epic sunset, an amazing park and a beer with friends at New Holland Brewery.
Nick takes his first trip to South Haven on his paddle board.
Like so many people around Michigan, Travis Parrott spent quality time with his family in the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area when he was a kid. Some of his favorite memories are from driving around the state park’s ORV area, the gigantic 450-acre sandbox between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan.
Everybody should be able to experience the largest sand dunes east of the Mississippi River, but not everybody has a dune buggy or a jeep that can power up the hills and tool around. So, Parrott started a business that offers vehicles for visitors to rent and have a great, safe time on the dunes the way he always did with his family.
Parrot’s Landing has been helping families have fun on the dunes for 18 years now.
“You reach the top of the hill and see the dunes, and you’re going to say ‘Where did all this come from?’ It’s like the Sahara Desert out there,” said Rob Obbink, Parrot’s Landing manager. “It’s fun. It’s exhilarating. It’s breathtaking. The views out there are beautiful.”
More than 850,000 people visit Silver Lake State Park each year, and many of them find their way onto the dunes thanks to Parrot’s Landing. The business located right in the heart of town offers user-friendly Jeep Wranglers that are perfect for families, with two seats in front and room for up to three people in the back seat.
You can also try the Polaris RZR 1000 4-seat utility vehicle or a Yamaha Kodiak 450 quad that’s perfect for one person.
Of course, not everybody is comfortable grabbing the keys to a Jeep and driving up a sand dune. That’s why Parrot’s Landing runs guided tours so visitors can get a feel for what it’s like before they go off on their own.
One of the most popular ways to experience the dunes is to pay for an hourlong tour, then get a discounted hour on your own.
“The tour guide gives you a description of the history of the dunes, how they were created, and then gives you a lot of insight into how to drive safely out there,” Obbink said. “Safety is our first concern.
“You’re going to have a really fun time because you’re in control. You’re not being driven by anybody else. You have your own vehicle. It’s a safe vehicle, and it also has plenty of power to get over any of the hills out there.”
The ORV area is a 450-acre section of Silver Lake State Park, which includes about 2,000 acres of sand dunes between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. One section of the sand dunes is limited to pedestrian use, while the ORV area is for off-road vehicles only.
To access the ORV area with your own vehicle, the state park requires you to have a Michigan ORV registration, state trail permit, parking lot voucher and vehicle-mounted safety flag. But when you rent from Parrot’s Landing, all of that is taken care of for you. And if you run into any trouble up there, the Parrot’s Landing dune patrol is right there to help.
After you’ve experienced the dunes, you can cool off on the all-sports Silver Lake right at the foot of the dunes. Parrot’s Landing rents 3-seat wave runners and 19-foot, open-bow Yamaha Jet Boats by the half-day or full day. You can even add tubes or skis for some seriously fun water sports action.
The dunes, the water, the thrill of adventure…it all makes the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area a destination spot for Michigan. To have a Michigan’s Best Day in Silver Lake, make Parrot’s Landing your first stop.
Eric Hultgren talks to Bob Wilson and Andrea LaFontaine from Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance, about the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail’s inaugural ride, September 13-18. From fresh coast to fresh coast, South Haven to Port Huron, over 17 trails and 275 miles – watch the video below to learn more about the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail.
Military veterans get $100 off the registration for this inaugural ride.
The Great Lake-to-Lake inaugural ride takes place September 13-18, sign up at Michigander.bike