Author: Becca

How to spend a Michigan’s Best Day in Ludington

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.

So far, we’ve visited Grand HavenJacksonDearbornOwossoBay CityGrand Rapids Westside, and Petoskey.

Our Michigan’s Best team of Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez, along with the MLive video team, are excited to introduce you to all that Ludington has to offer.

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
(231) 845-7434

 

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: PinesCedar 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

(231) 843-2423

Other beaches in the area:

Sterns Park Beach | North Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan 49431
(231) 845-6237

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
(231) 843-5355

Tour Rates:

  • Adults: $12.00
  • Children ages 2 to 12: $8.00
  • Seniors: $10
  • Children under age 2: Free.
  • Group rates available. Please inquire.

 

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.

You can see a complete listing of charter boats here.

 

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
(231) 843-3337

 

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
(231) 843-4033

Old Hamlin | 122 W Ludington Ave., Ludington, Michigan 49431-2022
(231) 843-4251

Stix Bar | 1963 N Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan 49431-9383
(231) 845-8181

Jamesport Brewing Company | 410 S James St., Ludington, Michigan 49431
(231) 845-2522

 

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
(231) 843-4808

 

Hours

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

Seniors: $11.50

Adults: $12.50

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!

Senior: $18.50

Adult: $20.00

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
(231) 845-9100

 

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

(231) 845-5785

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
(231) 843-7616

 

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.

Some of the most popular spots to catch the sunset are  Ludington’s North Breakwater Light Pier, or from the beach at Stearns Park or Ludington State Park.

Get sunset times here.

 

We hope that you enjoy your Michigan’s Best Day in Ludington.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Want to know what’s happening behind the scenes? We are always posting videos, photos and more on our Social Media channels.

Here’s how to find us:

@mlivemibest on Twitter

@mlivemibest on Instagram

Also, be sure to follow our new MI Best Facebook Page, which you can check out here.

We use the hashtags #mibest. If you’ve tried a Michigan’s Best pick, let us know at #ItriedMiBest

In addition:

Amy Sherman is on Twitter @amyonthetrail, as well as Facebook and Instagram @amyonthetrail.

John Gonzalez is on Twitter @michigangonzo, as well as Facebook and Instagram @MichiganGonzo.

Michigan Post-Acute Rehab Centers Transform Perception with Resort-Like Amenities

Wellbridge Rehab Center_dessert

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.”

Visit WellBridge’s website today to learn more about Michigan’s best rehabilitation centers.

Don’t be a wedding procrastinator: What men should wear for every dress code

Libins MI Best Wedding

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:

Black-tie weddings

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.

Semi-formal weddings

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 wedding

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:

  • Don’t wait to find the right clothes.
  • Dress better than you think is necessary.
  • Seek help if you need it.

 

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.

A great day at Silver Lake begins on the dunes

Renting a Jeep Wrangler from Parrot’s Landing is the easiest way to explore the largest sand dunes east of the Mississippi River.

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.

Great Lake-To-Lake Trail Inaugural Ride

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