Author: Becca

NCAA tournament-style bracket creates Michigan fall color tour competition

woman canoeing looking at fall colors

First, it was the iconic Upper Peninsula pasties squaring off against each other in a no-holds-barred, if-only-for-fun, competition that went down to the wire.

Now, the battle really gets colorful as scenic drives, hikes and overlooks take centerstage in a take-no-prisoners contest to determine where visitors (and residents) of the Keweenaw Peninsula can find the best explosion of red, orange and yellow in Michigan’s Copper Country.

The Keweenaw Fall Colors Challenge launched on Aug. 25 and continues through the week of Sept. 29, featuring head-to-head, popular-vote matchups that dwindle aerial photo of Keweenaw Peninsula from the pre-selected Sweet 16 to the championship round.

“There’s no wrong answer, but there’s no right answer because everybody has their favorite spot to check out what nature has in store for us,” said Brad Barnett, executive director of the Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau. “People are passionate about fall colors, and it’s a great way to engage with friends, family and the larger color tour community.

“You can get involved while visiting or just being a part of the campaign for the place you remember seeing something amazing.”

The schedule features sleepers and the time-honored favorites, Barnett said. Here’s how to get involved and a look at the opening round:

  • August 25: Match 1: Brockway Mountain vs Gratiot Lake Overlook
  • August 27: Match 2: Mount Baldy vs Covered Road (Freda Area)
  • August 30: Match 3: Isle Royale National Park vs Pilgrim Community Forest
  • September 1: Match 4: Mount Bohemia vs Estivant Pines
  • September 3: Match 5: Bare Bluff vs McLain State Park
  • September 6: Match 6: South Shore Drive vs Mont Ripley
  • September 8: Match 7: Covered Drive (US 41) vs Hungarian Falls
  • September 10: Match 8: M-26 Scenic Drive vs Churning Rapids

aerial view of trees turning fall colors in Keweenaw Peninsula Recent weeks have paired warm days with cooler overnight temperatures – along with some rain – that create a perfect environment for northern hardwoods to make dramatic turns right on schedule. Peak colors generally hit the Copper Country at the back half of September and the first two weeks of October.

The geography of the region, which is generally the hardest hit by winter snowfall, also makes for prime and long-lasting color. The Lake Superior micro-climate of Copper Harbor delays the burst to extend the sight-seeing timeline as areas to the south and west change first and then the tip of Michigan follows.

Discover more: Plan a trip with these 36 sites to get outdoors

Where to stay: Keweenaw lodging features downtown lodging and shoreline views

In addition to the contest, the County Road Association of Michigan has highlighted drives that will make the trip memorable with a series of “don’t miss” roads that reflect the views of experts.

car drives on road through fall leaves“Driving the county roads is an ideal way to view fall colors,” said Denise Donohue, executive director for the County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan. “Fall is a special time of year to discover new drives that showcase Michigan’s natural beauty.”

Here’s what the agency recommends:

Keweenaw County

  • Brockway Mountain Drive
  • Lac La Belle Road
  • Gratiot Lake Road
  • Mohawk-Gay Road
  • Eagle Harbor Road
  • Cliff Drive
  • Five Mile Point Road

Houghton County

  • Covered Drive Road
  • Freda Road
  • Calumet Waterworks Road

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Why do the colors change?

Here’s a quick color season primer for those who have forgotten, or just want to look like the smartest person in the car when the question pops up.

The spring and summer sun foster the production of Chlorophyll, which turns budding leaves green and allows them to stay that way until fall, when the shorter days and cooler temperatures change the equation.

Orange hues comes from Beta-Carotene, one of the most common carotenoids present in most leaves. Strongly absorbing blue and green light, it reflects yellow and red light from the sun, giving leaves their orange appearance.

Red tones come from Anthocyanin production that increases dramatically in the fall months and protects the leaf.

Yellows are the result of Flavonols, a protein that is always present in leaves but not seen until the production of Chlorophyll begins to slow.

After scenic drives and hikes, but before calling it a night and restarting again the next day, here are some popular dining spots in and around Keweenaw.

  • Fitzgerald’s: Awesome waterfront dining on Lake Superior in Eagle River. Great beer selection and really delicious BBQ.
  • Harbor Haus: Located in Copper Harbor, and inspired by Austrian/German cuisine, amazing seafood entrees and incredible Lake Superior views.
  • Keweenaw Mountain Lodge: Historic property just outside Copper Harbor. Great cocktails and selection. Access to golf course and mountain biking trails for those looking for fall entertainment
  • Parkview Grill: Located near Twin Lakes State Park, this restaurant is right off the MDNR ATV/Multi-Use Trail. Great Americana food, hearty portions, and friendly service.
  • Mohawk Superette – This unassuming convenience store in Mohawk is known for fantastic pasties! Winner of the 2020 Keweenaw Pasty Challenge, you can grab a few for the road on your way up to Copper Harbor.
  • Four Suns Fish & Chips – Located across the street from the historic Quincy Mine and with plenty of outdoor seating, locally caught whitefish and perch meals are highlights of a visit. Customers can bring their own beer and wine while taking in the mine’s great scenic backdrop.

Use the Keweenaw Adventure Guide to plan your fall visit to Copper Country.

Munising: Where your four-season U.P. adventure begins

Kayaking at Pictured Rocks National Park

Explore.

Unwind.

Recharge.

Reconnect.

The picture perfect U.P. vacation allows visitors to experience the world exactly at the pace they desire.

And we think you’ll discover everything you’re looking for and more in Munising, a four-season wonderland that will soothe your soul and fulfill a chase for outdoor adventure.

Marvel at the dramatic views of the multi-colored sandstone cliffs – dazzling displays of red, orange, green and blue – at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or to find inspiration while gazing out at the expanse of a churning Lake Superior.

Here is a season-by-season guide on how to road trip the right way:

Fall

Temperatures that cool during the color-tour season create the perfect setting for trail hikes, mountain biking excursions and ATV rides that put the natural beauty at the heart of your trip. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers 100 miles of trails and 42 miles of Lake Superior’s shore. It’s one amazing step after another.

Winter

There’s a reason Munising is called the Snowmobile Capital of the Midwest. There is no other spot that can send you out on 330 miles of groomed trails that have been in-filled and widened for safety and smooth-riding. The trails usually open in November and the snow lasts into May. With an annual snowfall of 230 inches, Munising is a rider’s dream. There are also more than 20 miles of cross-country ski trails and we’re an ideal launching point for a visit to the mesmerizing Eben Ice Caves

Spring

The geological evolution that created Pictured Rocks also formed a lesser known, if not equally as stunning, physical phenomenon many don’t realize exist in Michigan: Waterfalls. Munising’s 17 falls range from roadside stops to challenging hikes. There are small, stream-like drops to cascading falls. Spring water volumes are at a peak with the snow melt.

Summer

Munising delivers lake activities that range from the serene and passive to the adrenaline-pumping. See Lake Michigan shipwrecks in the Alger Underwater Preserve from a glass-bottomed boat. Take a cruise that shows off the brilliance of the cliffs, sea caves and beaches that line the lakefront. Chill in a kayak as you paddle the park. Or get your thrills in a decommissioned Navy Seal jetboat that rips through the water at high-speeds, blasts into sharp turns and even pulls 360-degree spins to the delight of howling riders.

Learn more at Munising.org and then come see us for a great Michigan vacation.

Petoskey Area boasts 5 of the state’s best fall color routes

A road through a tunnel of trees in Petoskey, MI

Both high school and college football may be cancelled and many students are learning remotely from home instead of in a classroom, but no matter how much will be different this fall due to COVID-19 some things will certainly be the same.

One thing you can count on, pandemic or not, is that the leaves will change colors soon in northern Michigan.

How soon, of course, is always up for debate among meteorologists, who think the Great Lakes peak could come a bit later than usual this year. But whether the leaves a road through a tunnel of trees in Petoskey, MIburst into color a few days earlier or a few days later than normal, you can plan your fall color tour knowing that the Tunnel of Trees will be a sight to behold.

The 20-mile stretch of M-119 north of Petoskey is regarded as Michigan’s top fall color tour route. Yet, some people will argue that for fall color, there are even better routes in the Petoskey Area!

In fact, the Tunnel of Trees is just one of five great fall color routes worth the drive:

 

RELATED: Check out the Petoskey Area Fall Color Guide

In addition to color tours, there’s a lot of other activities in the Petoskey Area communities of Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Alanson, Petoskey and Boyne Falls/Boyne City where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of fall. Here are just a few examples you may want to add to your itinerary:

  • Hiking through woods ablaze with fall color in the Bear River Valley Recreation Area or through wetlands out to the Lake Michigan beach at the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve in Harbor Springs are just two of many hiking trails in the Petoskey Area where you can step right into the thick of fall and be a part of the season.
  • While we’re on the topic of trails, don’t forget to bring your bike or to rent one from a Petoskey Area shop. Whether you prefer off-road mountain biking through the woods or paved trails that go past incredible, scenic overlooks, there’s no shortage of beautiful biking trails in the Petoskey Area.
  • Speaking of beauty, fall is an especially refreshing time to tee it up at any of Boyne’s 10 world-class golf courses including the glorious Bay Harbor, one of the best in the country, or at an old-school classic track such as Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix.
  • Follow in the footsteps of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway on a self-guided walking tour of Hemingway’s Michigan. Hemingway spent many summers in the Petoskey Area and there are several sites with plaques that detail his time spent here.
  • Pick a pumpkin or savor fresh produce at any of the Petoskey Area’s many farm markets including Pond Hill Farm. Thefamily-friendly destination north of Harbor Springs offers afarm-to-table café, winery, brewery, pumpkin patch, farm animals and more. Fall Fest weekends Sept. 26-Oct. 25 feature pumpkin smashing, hayrides and, of course, cider and doughnuts.
  • There’s lots to do in the Petoskey Area for adventure seekers, too, including Zipline Adventure Tours at Boyne where you go soaring down a mountain for some 3,000 feet on the longest zip line in Michigan. Less adventurous? Go for a scenic chairlift ride up the mountain instead. Both Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands offer complementary chairlift rides for resort guests, while day guests can buy tickets online.
  • Of course, the Petoskey Area is also the best place to hunt for Michigan’s state stone, the Petoskey stone! Come see if you can find a special treasure all on your own.
  • Fall is the perfect time to visit a Petoskey Area winery for a sample or two. Book a ride on a winery tour or find a new favorite bottle at your own pace. You’ll also come across craft breweries and distilleries, and when the weather’s nice there’s still lots of outdoor dining to enjoy all over the Petoskey Area.

Fall is a popular season in the Petoskey Area, so find a place to stay and start planning your visit now for Michigan’s ultimate color tour and a host of other autumnal activities. As of now, masks are still required indoors and social distancing is a must.

Try to travel midweek for the best deals and lightest crowds, and keep in mind that sometimes the temperatures drop before the leaves do so don’t wait too long to get your fall visit to the Petoskey Area on the calendar.

Michigan’s Little Bavaria turns 175, discover what makes the city unique

St. Lorenz construction, in Frankenmuth, MI

When Heidi Chapman, the Director of the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, was taking German classes in high school, she and her father had difficulty communicating in the language because of the different dialect she was learning and the one her father had spoken since he was a child.

While Chapman learned today’s traditional German, her dad and other multi-generational families in Frankenmuth spoke “Frankish,” an old-school version that has dwindled in popularity even in the country it was born.

“People from Germany come to visit, and they want to meet someone who speaks Frankish because it’s used here still,” said Chapman. “We’re a language island even to natives.”

Frankenmuth, MI early settlementIt’s an illustration of how deep the German roots are in the community that is widely known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Frankenmuth’s story begins with a group of 15 settlers who finally made it to the bay area roughly 15 miles southeast of Saginaw in 1845. The arrival came after a months-long journey that had the newcomers experience more grief than glory.

Here’s a snapshot of what they encountered along the way:

  • Departed from Nuernberg on April 5, 1845, and traveled by foot, wagons, and trains.
  • Boarded a ship and the drunken captain steered it into a sand bank of the Weser River.
  • Winds and storms later forced them to sail around Scotland instead of through the English Channel.
  • They had a second mishap in a collision with an English trawler.
  • More winds drove the ship north into icebergs and dense fog for three days.
  • Food spoilage in the ship that was damp and overcrowded.
  • A train ride – between steamship voyages – was interrupted by a collision with a coal train.

That left them with only a 12-mile hike to where they settled and they were joined by a group of 90 more Germans a year later. Waves of family members and friends came and aided in the city’s development.

“They had a tough go of it,” Chapman said, understating the hardships of the first group. “But they never stopped. That was their mentality, they were determined to stay true to their word.”

TRACKING THE TIMELINE: Learn key dates in Frankenmuth’s history

The promise was to settle the land as an exclusive German-Lutheran community that was loyal to Germany, but it was those same roots, however, that came with suspicion during the world wars, Chapman said. Americans looked askance at the German village in the early and mid 1900s, but by then the community’s foundation was a commitment to each other and their new country.

The Frankenmuth Woolen Mill, during World War I, made socks that were sent to American troops overseas. During World War II, Universal Engineering and its employees pledged enough money to build the “Spirit of Universal” fighter plane, part of an effort that historian Carl Hansen wrote was “necessary to the war effort and the Frankenmuth residents independently needed to prove to a nation they imagined hostile to themselves, that they were indeed loyal Americans.”

A piece of the fighter, whose pilots shot down eight Japanese planes before it was rendered unserviceable because of enemy fire, is on display in the historical museum.

Frankenmuth, now recognized by many for the year-round Christmas store Bronner’s, the Bavarian Inn and famous chicken dinners at Zehnder’s, was built by craftsman who brought their entrepreneurial spirt and work ethic to agriculture and producing beer, cheese and sausage.

DISCOVER MORE: Read stories that provide in-depth detail on Frankenmuth’s history

Frankenmuth, MI 1996“It’s 175 years of heritage that’s on show in just about everything that we do,” said Christie Bierlein, the Marketing Director of the Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s the architecture, it’s the reason behind the festivals and how we embrace community, it’s German language church services and so much more.

“We didn’t just wake up and decide to brand ourselves this way. It’s in our blood.”

The celebration of the town’s anniversary, officially Aug. 18, will be more muted than originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the recognition of the historic achievement is being noted with special promotional offers, tours of the historic St. Lorenz church, and in community groups.

Chapman said while Frankenmuth has held on to its traditions, it’s also diversified into a welcoming bedroom community that engages with new residents and visitors, a pleasant step back in time in a trying time.

“Frankenmuth is a friendly place,” she said. “People wave to strangers, say ‘hi’ on the street and take comfort in being a city people love to visit. Relationships matter here.”

Here are tips to plan your first, or your next, visit to Frankenmuth.

5 incredible recipes using Michigan-made, barrel-aged food products

Foods made with Blis Gourmet barrel-aged food products

Steve Stallard has lived by the mantra “Because Life is Short” since he was a teenager, but the creation and impact of one of the most popular Michigan-made line of food products is anything but fleeting.

Stallard, who was trained at the legendary Culinary Institute of America and later worked at gourmet restaurants including Taillevent Restaurant of Paris, The Greenbrier Club, Dow and The Amway Grand Plaza, created Grand Rapids-based BLiS Gourmet in 2004.

He pioneered using barrel-aged items with the launch of domestic roes and maple syrup, following up with one-of-a-kind products such as barrel-aged vinegar, hot sauce, soy sauce, steak sauce, and fish sauce, as well as salt and spices. The ingredients were all chef-driven and developed as the finishing touches to dishes.

Stallard began dabbling in barrel aging while working professionally and using maple syrup and bourbon as his “house” cure. He wondered: “What would happen if I put syrup in a barrel?” The discovery, through trial and error, was a revelation.

He began a quest to source the best barrels and perfected the craft syrup. The barrels that hold syrup for 6 months to 1 year then get another use as roughly a gallon of the syrup is absorbed into the wood, providing an environment that boosts flavors of other ingredients used in food prepration.

“Essentially, what we’re doing is we’re adding products that would benefit from that (syrup),” Stallard said, noting the items are used in professional kitchens around the world but are equally friendly and adaptable in home kitchens by cooks of all skill levels.

DISCOVER THE STORE: The complete BLiS product line is available here

The recognition of BLiS products is long, including awards as best in show at the Bissel Maple Farm Craft Maple Syrup festival the past two years and a SOFI award from the Specialty Food Association for the best dessert topping.

The sauces, syrups, rubs and oils have also earned praise in nationally renowned magazines and food sites such as Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits and Bon Appetit as well as cooking show and media celebrities like Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey.

On the horizon, BLiS teases, is a limited-edition Jamaican rum that will launch at Mammoth Distilling tasting rooms Labor Day weekend.

Check out the video below to learn more about Blis Gourmet products:

 

Here are five of the favorite recipes from the BLiS creative team:

Blis Gourmet vegetarian 'BLT'

Vegetarian “BLT” (sans bacon)

Ingredients:

  • Good whole grain bread
  • The best heirloom tomatoes available
  • 2 tbsp Duke’s or homemade mayo
  • 1 tsp BLiS rye aged apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tbsp BLiS hardwood smoked soy sauce (per 3 slices of tomato)
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Organic leaf lettuce (Bibb, Boston, Red Leaf, etc.)
  • Cracked black pepper

Method:

  • Marinate 3 thick tomato slices in BLiS hardwood smoked soy sauce and olive oil for 45 minutes
  • Blend mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar, and apply liberally to toasted bread
  • Layer with marinated tomatoes, lettuce, and top the tomatoes with cracked black pepper

Blis Gourmet chicken wings

Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds meaty chicken wings
  • Frying oil (we recommend peanut oil)
  • 5 cups BLiS “Blast” hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup BLiS bourbon barrel aged maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Method:

  • Fry wings until crisp and done
  • Combine hot sauce and maple syrup, and then whip in the melted butter until emulsified
  • Toss wings in sauce and enjoy

Blis Gourmet Elote (Mexican street corn)

Elote (Mexican street corn)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ears fresh corn
  • 1/3 cup Duke’s or high-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp BLiS Santa Fe spice rub
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • Mexican crumbling cheese (we recommend Cotija)
  • Cilantro

Method:

  • Grill corn in husks until tender
  • Peel back husks and liberally spread the mayonnaise on the corn
  • Sprinkle with BLiS Santa Fe seasoning
  • Top with cheese, cilantro, and lime zest

 

Blis Gourmet Green Chile Bison Burgers

Green Chile Bison Burgers

Ingredients: (makes 2 burgers)

  • 1 pound ground bison meat
  • 5 tbsp BLiS smoked soy sauce
  • ½ tsp BLiS Elixir
  • Sliced Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 1 large onion sliced thin
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cups roasted, diced, and peeled hatch peppers or green chiles
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Adobo spice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano

Method:

  • Mix ground meat and 1.5 tbsp smoked soy thoroughly, let rest
  • Caramelize the large sliced onion, adding the maple syrup and elixir at the end to make an onion jam
  • Sauté the diced onions and garlic in olive oil until clear, add the chilies, spices and 1.5 tbsp smoked soy and cook for 15 minutes on low heat
  • Cook burger to medium rare, lightly grill the bun
  • Add heaping tablespoon of chili sauce, then sliced Monterrey cheese and melt the cheese. Add the onion jam on top of the cheese, and one more scoop of the green chilies.

 

Blis Gourmet lime glazed salmon

Lime Glazed Salmon

Ingredients:

  • Four 5-6oz Salmon fillets – skin on – scaled (cross score the skin with a razor blade or very sharp knife)
  • Olive oil or 
Grape Seed oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2T BLiS Blast Barrel-Aged Hot Sauce

  • 2T BLiS Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 small clove of minced garlic

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Prepare glaze by whisking Blast hot sauce, maple syrup, lime zest, lime juice, and garlic together in a small bowl.
  • Set aside.
  • Rub salmon with olive oil and season with salt
  • Heat a liberal amount of grape seed oil in a large oven-safe nonstick pan over high heat until very hot
  • Place salmon in the pan skin side down (making sure there is plenty of oil beneath the salmon to prevent sticking)
  • Sauté for a few minutes until a crust begins to form
  • Remove from heat, spoon/brush some of the maple syrup/Blast glaze over the salmon (reserving about half the glaze)
  • Slide the pan into the oven and continue to cook the salmon until just cooked through
  • Remove from the oven and baste with the pan sauce
  • Plate salmon and spoon the remaining lime glaze over the salmon

Crystal Mountain is your northern Michigan home base for a summer ‘staycation’

Michigan's only Alpine slide at Crystal Mountain resort

Imagine 1,500 acres of fresh air where you can bike and hike, swim, golf or ride a chairlift to the top of a mountain. Are you thinking of some place out West? Down south? Along the coast?

There are amazing travel destinations all over the country, but you don’t have to drive 1,000 miles or catch a flight to have a great vacation. One of the best places to visit is Crystal Mountain, right here in Michigan.

Crystal Mountain logoWhile the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many people to change vacation plans, surveys show that Americans are still taking trips. It’s just that they’re going shorter distances and traveling by car to places with relatively few cases of the coronavirus.

In fact, 84% of people feel “extremely or moderately comfortable” about traveling by car right now, according to a VacationRenter survey, and they typically are going no more than 385 miles from home.

Crystal Mountain is an ideal destination within a four-hour drive of pretty much everywhere in Michigan.

“Even if you’re from a neighboring community, it’s good to be able to get away,” said Sammie Lukaskiewicz, public relations director for Crystal Mountain.

“This is a good time to get back to nature, uncrowded spaces and fresh air. With all of the different outdoor activities that we offer here, it’s perfect for people to reconnect with themselves and their families in a meaningful, fun way.”

Golfers know Crystal Mountain as a summertime destination with two championship golf courses, and skiers know Crystal Mountain as a wintertime hot spot with nearly 60 downhill ski runs, three terrain parks for snowboarding and the No. 1 cross-country trail network in Michigan.

Crystal Mountain resort in MichiganBut Crystal Mountain is a true four-season resort with outdoor activities for the whole family including an outdoor pool, disc golf, tennis and pickleball courts, outdoor laser tag, archery range, climbing wall, zipline and adventure course. Plus, Crystal Mountain is home to Michigan’s only Alpine slide where you can cruise down a 1,700-foot curved track in a specially designed sled.

Chairlift rides to the top of Crystal Mountain are a visual treat any time of year with panoramic views of northern Michigan, and the Michigan Legacy Art Park invites you to hike past 50 sculptures in a wooded, 30-acre preserve right on the Crystal Mountain property.

And, of course, the renowned Crystal Spa takes reservations any time of year for massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and more.

Crystal Mountain is the perfect home base for a Michigan staycation yet this summer, this fall or this upcoming winter.

“We’re just down the road from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, from Iron Fish Distillery, and we’re just a short drive from the 45th parallel which has fantastic wineries,” Lukaskiewicz said. “We’ll help you schedule a trip down the Platte River or the Betsie River to tube or kayak, and the salmon are getting ready to run so there’s great opportunities for salmon fishing, too.”

Crystal Mountain cottages at water's edge Crystal Mountain has a wide variety of lodging accommodations for individuals, families and larger groups, from hotel rooms to cottages, condos and homes that can sleep up to 18 people and in most cases are pet friendly.

Resort capacity is being limited during the pandemic to ensure safe social distancing and additional cleaning and housekeeping precautions are being taken. For example, there’s now a 24-hour window between stays for extra cleaning and disinfection of hotel rooms, including the use of electrostatic foggers to sanitize hard-to-reach areas after checkout.

“We were already a clean resort, but we’ve stepped up all of our sanitation and disinfection measures through our Crystal Clean initiative,” Lukaskiewicz said. “You can rest assured that your room is clean.”

What is the backbone of one of the state’s best burgers? Fresh ingredients

Halo burger meal

Fresh beef that is never frozen.

Lettuce, onion and tomato that is cut as burgers are made.

It’s a recipe that has been serving Halo Burgers well since it was founded in 1923 and then later led by Bill Thomas and his family.

And it’s those practices, as well as locally made toasted buns, that Halo Country LLC has restored to the iconic Michigan restaurants in and around Flint.

“The freshness is what makes us a cut above everybody else,” Megan Ahejew, Halo’s community relations manager, told MLive.com’s John Gonzales recently. “It’s just like you’d make it at home for yourself. We make everything fresh as you order it.”

Halo Burger fans share their thoughts frequently with Terry Thomas, who took over from his dad and now serves as an ambassador for Halo Country.

“People come along and say, ‘Terry, these are still the greatest hamburgs.’ I say thank you and I feel the same way.”

Watch as the Halo Burger process is described by those who know it best.

 

The U.P’s ‘big gun’ attraction and 4 more great social distancing outings

Take the edge off COVID-19 stress by visiting these 5 U.P. natural treasures

The incredible natural wonders and extensive outdoor adventure opportunities of Munising and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are legendary, with the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore often serving as the focal point of travelers’ visits.

But there’s so much more to see and do while staying in and around Munising while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.

From majestic waterfalls to crystal clear waters that reveal a scuba diver’s shipwreck paradise, Cori-Ann Cearley, president of Munising’s Visitors Bureau, says the region is more than a one trick pony destination.

“We call Pictured Rocks our ‘big gun’ attraction, and rightfully so,” Cearley said, “but one of the moments we love to see is when our guests come and discover all of the other beautiful and amazing parts of our area that they weren’t aware of.

“They find there’s beautiful scenery to explore while hiking, biking, kayaking or on a boat cruise.”

As Labor Day approaches and the fall colors set to explode – and crowds tend to dwindle with school back in session – now is an ideal time to head north to Munising to enjoy social distancing outdoors. Local businesses and organizations support wearing masks when in public to keep others safe, Cearley said.

“We’re all still in this together, and we need to stay vigilant for the health and safety of each other,” Cearley said. “As a region with so much to offer, Munising is a place where people can kind of hit pause and relax. It’s a great time to get away from it all and find comfort in your surroundings.

“The outdoors – going on a hike or seeing things that bring you joy – are great stress-relievers. I think we’re all ready for something to take off that edge of what’s been going on in the world.”

Check out these four Munising vacation ideas:

Shipwrecks at the Alger Underwater Preserve

Hugging the lakeshore between Munising and Grand Island, the eight shipwrecks of the Alger Underwater Preserve are a throwback to another era of transportation and shipping. Whether diving or viewing from a glass-bottomed boat tour, the wrecks, some of which have been preserved for more than a century, are visible through clear blue and green waters that are breathtaking in their own right. The area was a shipping sanctuary with the natural protection of Grand Island, but big seas sometimes proved too strong. Wooden schooners, steam barges and steel freight ships dot the coast.

Waterfalls

a waterfall in Munising, MI At its core, a waterfall is a simple concept – gravity pulls liquid from a higher point until it finds an outlet, but the release and flow of water is something that captures the attention of nature lovers and photographers. The tranquil sights abound in the Munising area, where 17 waterfalls are found throughout Alger County. The waterfalls are accessible to all and active year-round, an ice-flow waterfall in the winter is a sight to behold on its own. The waterfalls can be found on Grand Island, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and elsewhere. The Munising Visitors Bureau can help you find all the waterfalls in the area.

Lighthouses

Navigational advances may have diminished the need for the prime function of lighthouses, but the uniquely built structures remain a beacon for people interested in history and beauty on the shores of the Great Lakes. Munising is the home of eight lighthouses, including the Au Sable Point light that can be toured and climbed from mid-June through Labor Day. Other lights have been renovated and can be seen up close while serving as the center for memorable vacation photos. Some lighthouses have been converted to dream-like private residences.

Grand Island

Hop aboard a narrated bus tour and learn about the 3,000-year history of Grand Island, a 13,000-acre bit of paradise in the Hiawatha National Forest that sits only a half-mile from Munising. The southernmost island in Lake Superior, this natural phenomenon is ideal for hiking and biking to white-sand beaches, stunning elevated vistas and an “I’m all alone in the woods” secluded sites that offer silence from the rush of daily life. Visitors can get to the island via personal boat or ferry. The wilderness area offers unmatched scenery where travelers can see black bear and white-tail deer. Be sure to check out Echo Lake and bring your fishing pole.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Practice your “oohs” and “wow!” before visiting this national treasure that features 40 miles of sandstone cliffs, rock formations, sea caves and sea arches that are equally stunning from the ground and the water. The dramatic colors are breathtaking and the sheer size of the protected lakeshore allows you a freedom that doesn’t generally exist where up to 700,000 people visit annually. Hike 100 miles of trails or jump on a guided boat tour to take in beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls and hardwood forests that will leave an impression for a lifetime – or at least until you come back to experience it again.

 

Public art exhibition is “a gift” to viewers and artists

ARTpath 2019 is here!

Maddie Jackson doesn’t mince words when she talks about her experience painting a massive mural as part of the third annual ARTpath River Trail Exhibition along a 3.5-mile stretch of the path from Old Town to REO Town in Lansing

“It’s important that art is openly available to the public,” said Jackson, of Muskegon. “Working on this project has, honestly, just been a gift. It’s allowed me to get a piece that’s really personal to me out to the public and hopefully brighten someone’s day.”

The public art exhibition, sponsored by the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, features 19 unique art installations from Michigan-based makers and brings visual arts to accessible spaces.

The gallery partnered with donors, the City of Lansing and its Parks and Recreation Department to create the display. The path, accessible on foot, bike or hopping in and out of a kayak from the Grand River, features sculptures, paintings, large scale murals and mixed media.

The pieces, which can be found on this map, are designed to be interactive and engaging with park visitors. Last summer over 62,000 visitors enjoyed the River Trail during the duration of the project.

Watch the video below to learn more.

Visit Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center’s website to discover more about ARTpath.