Nick Behling spends an entire weekend exploring the U.P. at the beginning of fall, from Presque Isle, ending at the Fall Beer Festival (Marquette) sampling some of the fall flavors from New Holland Brewing Co.
Nick Behling spends an entire weekend exploring the U.P. at the beginning of fall, from Presque Isle, ending at the Fall Beer Festival (Marquette) sampling some of the fall flavors from New Holland Brewing Co.
In the distance are towering dunes, both to your left and to your right. At your feet is a wide plateau of sand that appears to fall off the face of the earth as it plunges some 450 feet nearly straight down into the water.
Straight ahead, meeting your eye, is a vast expanse of blue stretching to the horizon and sparkling in the sun.
To describe the view from the Lake Michigan Overlook along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive near Traverse City is one thing. It’s quite another to describe the feeling.
Stunning. Awe-inspiring. Heavenly. Words – even pictures – just don’t do it justice.
Simply put, visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore might be the most sublime experience you’ll ever have. And fall is a fantastic time to soak in all the natural splendor of the “Most Beautiful Place in America.”
Not only is Sleeping Bear Dunes one of the most picturesque places on the planet, it’s also one of the Top 10 National Parks for Families and has the country’s Best Beach. But it’s far from the only reason to spend some time in northern Michigan as summer transitions to winter.
With Fab Fall packages offering discounts at participating resorts and hotels, along with exclusive savings on shopping, dining, spa services and entertainment, now is a great opportunity to experience everything Traverse City has to offer – from stunning vistas high above one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes to intimate dinner tables in what Bon Appetit called one of America’s top five foodie towns.
Speaking of lists and rankings, start planning your trip with this Top 10 things to do this fall in the Traverse City area. Here are some of the highlights:
Refine your palate – Blessed with the unique geography of being located exactly halfway between the North Pole and the equator and insulated by the waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, the Traverse City area has just the right climate for more than 40 thriving wineries. This time of year, they’re all preparing for their annual harvest. You can check out the wine trails along the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas and find a new favorite this fall.
Plus, not only is Traverse City one of the Top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs, it’s also one of the Top 7 Beer Destinations in North America – not to mention an emerging hub for hard cider and distilleries. Be sure to mark your calendar for Traverse City Beer Week in November. Pair your favorite drink with the fact that Traverse City is the No. 1 Foodie Destination in the Midwest and your taste buds are in for some real joy!
Experience the season – There may still be a hint of summer in the air, but winter will be here soon enough. Don’t miss your window to fall in love with fall. Traverse City just happens to be one of America’s Top 10 Fall Foliage Destinations. The whole area is also dotted with farm markets where you can savor the flavor of fresh Michigan produce, pumpkin patches you can peruse for the perfect jack-o-lantern and oodles of scenic settings where you can spread out a blanket, have a picnic and breathe in the autumn air.
Go on a hike – With about 100 miles of trails, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is an outdoor paradise. If you’re ambitious, you can tackle the park’s famous Dune Climb and keep going all the way to Lake Michigan and back. For a less strenuous adventure with more of the same incredible scenic beauty, hike up to Pyramid Point for the best mainland view of the Manitou Islands, or make your way out to Empire Bluffs on one of the Best 10 Walks in America.
Put yourself to the test – Maybe this fall it’s time for you to complete your first 5k. Or, if you’re a race regular, maybe this fall is time for your first 5k Zombie Run! Fall brings a variety of unique events to Traverse City, and each one gets you outdoors experiencing fall in northern Michigan. There’s the Ice Man Cometh, a 29-mile mountain bike race in Kalkaska, the Great Beerd Run during Traverse City Beer Week and the Paddle Antrim Festival that gets you out on the water. Traverse City also is home to incredible fishing opportunities, the VASA Pathway, which is one of the best running trails in the country, and the Sleeping Bear Marathon.
Be together – After immersing yourself in the wonder of the Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or taking in the sights of the idyllic Old Mission Peninsula, find a cozy place to gaze into each other’s eyes and reconnect after a busy summer. Indeed, a trip to Traverse City is of the 5 Most Romantic Getaways in Michigan, and it’s in the Top 10 of America’s Most Romantic Towns.
Come and have a ball this fall in Traverse City. Fab Fall packages are available through Dec. 13.
Nick heads to Sleeping Bear Dunes to battle the wind, hunt for an alligator and get as many great photos as he can.
You’ve seen it on vehicles all over Michigan: The M-22 sticker. The image itself is just like road signs on M-routes all across the state. But the combination of that letter and those two numbers communicates something truly special and unique.
M-22 represents natural beauty. It is an emblem of adventure, a symbol of a slower pace that affords you the time to meander and explore. It is magical.
You’ve seen the bumper stickers. Now, it’s time to see scenic M-22 for yourself.
It’s time for you to experience the awe-inspiring, waterfront route that winds around the Leelanau Peninsula along the shores of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. The route that USA Today readers voted the best scenic autumn drive in the country.
When you do buckle up and hit the road, we welcome you to make your base in Traverse City. Whatever season you visit, TC offers the best of Michigan – a snowy wonderland of outdoor activity in the winter, brilliant cherry blossoms in the spring and sparkling blue waters in the summer, not to mention a vibrant downtown with extraordinary dining and exciting events throughout the year.
In the fall, with stunning vistas of colorful forests, both M-22 and Traverse City are especially incredible. Here are 8 reasons why:
Color Tours – Not only do USA Today readers rave about M-22, but TripAdvisor has ranked Traverse City one of America’s top 10 foliage destinations and Readers Digest called a trek from Traverse City along M-22 one of the country’s best fall road trips.
Along M-22 you not only see breathtaking colors, but roadside fruit stands offering a slice
Wine Tasting – The Traverse City area is home to more than 50 wineries, each with a unique personality and all within less than an hour’s drive of each other. You can make your way along M-22 from one winery on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail to the next, with safe, relaxing transportation from one of the area’s many tour companies.of life that nourishes your soul, a wealth of wineries with new flavors to discover andquaint small towns with charming galleries and restaurants.
Fall is an ideal time to take a vineyard tour and see grapes pressed into wine, or to grab a seat in a tasting room and discover a new favorite.
Microbrews – In addition to all the wineries, the Traverse City area has one of the country’s highest numbers of breweries per capita. You can explore them on a beer bus tour or get outside in the crisp fall air and go from one brewery to the next on a paddling or cycling tour.
We also celebrate the region’s craft brews each fall during Traverse City Beer Week. This year’s festivities Nov. 8-15 include lots of food and beer (such as a Flapjack & Flannel Festival that pairs beer with pancakes!) and a 5k Great Beerd Run that combines running, beer drinking and, of course, beards.
Farm Markets – Fall is time for farmers to bring in the harvest, and time for us all to get back in touch with where our food comes from. On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll celebrate Michigan’s bounty of agricultural goodness. Until then, you can head out to the farm and have a blast picking apples, navigating corn mazes and taking hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Along M-22 there are lots of farmer’s markets and U-pick farms to experience the season.
Sleeping Bear Dunes – Every summer visitors flock to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was voted the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” But here’s a secret: Many views are even more impressive in the fall.
Throughout the park along M-22 are hiking trails. Iconic sites include Pyramid Point, which is perched high above Lake Michigan and offers an incredible view of the Manitou Islands that are part of the legend that gave Sleeping Bear its name.
Beaches and Lakes – So much of the picturesque beauty of M-22 comes from the waterfront it hugs. It’s important to remember that the beaches along the way don’t close after Labor Day!
With blue lakes and golden sand mixing with the changing colors ofleaves, fall presents an incredible setting for romantic picnics on the beach and long walks by the water.
Fall is also a great time for fishing, when salmon make their annual run upriver from Lake Michigan, and for getting out on the water in a kayak to take in the gorgeous show of color from a fresh perspective.
Golf – “Up North” golf reaches its peak in the fall, when the courses are still green, the water remains a beautiful blue and the trees come ablaze with colors of scarlet, orange and gold. It almost makes you want to hit your ball into the woods!
Some of Michigan’s best golf courses live along M-22. And after the round you can settle your bets – or double-down on your winnings – at Leelanau Sands Casino on M-22 near Suttons Bay.
Events – You can anchor your M-22 fall experience around one or more of the many events in the Traverse City area. There’s something happening every day this fall including Walking Ghost Tours, the Harvest Stompede, Sleeping Bear Marathon, Fall Color Sail, Downtown Traverse City Art Walk, M-22 Art2Art Tour, Traverse City Beer Week and more.
Maybe you should celebrate Halloween this year with a Zombie Run. Or run your first marathon. Or go on the wine trail’s Hunt for the Reds of October.
However you choose to experience the majesty of M-22, you can make Traverse City your home base. Fab Fall packages including lodging, dining, shopping and spa discounts are available now.
Learn more at TraverseCity.com and come see us for a great Michigan vacation.
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 and check out these Northern Michigan gems:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nick and Eric tell you a fish story in two parts – spending a day on the Saginaw Bay competing to see who could reel in the most fish.
Nick enjoys a Dragon’s Milk White while enjoying Belle Isle and the skyline view from his paddle board on the Detroit River, before heading downtown to explore, find some food and another beer.
The best part of our job is showcasing all the wonderful destinations in our state. Sure, we get to eat and drink along the way, but it’s such a joy to meet the wonderful people behind the scenes who make it all happen.
Today we debut our latest “Michigan’s Best Day” video, which focuses on the Grand Traverse Bay region along U.S. 31 between Charlevoix and Elk Rapids.
On this episode we get a tour of some pretty unique homes, meet the owners of a popular art gallery and sample some incredible meat pies. And we get to go on a tour of one of the state’s most popular breweries.
We hope you enjoy it, as well as other destinations as part of our series.
We want to thank our MLive video team — Kyle Mattson, Lori Chapman, Jeremy Marble and Blake Neil — for all their hard work in producing this video.
This episode of Michigan’s Best Day is brought to you by the Michigan Retailers Association, which encourages Michiganders to support their communities by shopping at nearby retailers.
Here is our Michigan’s Best Day video!
Mushroom House Tours | www.mushroomhousetours.com/about-us
211 Bridge St., Charlevoix, MI 49720, 231-445-0770
*Meet at Elements Gallery
*Tours offered daily, and year round.
We met up with Edith Pair, who owns Mushroom House Tours to learn more about Earl Young, a self-taught builder who began his work in 1919 and continued building for 50 years. The tours can be self-guided, but for only $18 a person you go on a 50-minute tour in a GEM car – a 6-seater electric vehicle where a guide tells you more about these truly unique homes.
More about Earl Young:
230 Bridge St, Charlevoix, MI 49720, 231-437-3900
John Parsons established Harwood Farms in 1898 on Harwood Lake near Charlevoix. Originally it was a sawmill and thrashing company with milling services where son George Parsons was the first to tap a maple tree and make syrup he called “liquid gold.” The farm has been a family business for five generations, which today is owned by sisters Katie and Amber Parsons.
We met up with Amber at the Harwood Gold Cafe, which is located downtown in the former Murdick’s Fudge location where diners can sample a large number of maple syrup varieties, as well as those delicious meat pies.
It was a great stop for snacks after our Mushroom House tour before we hit the road.
Other tidbits about Harwood Farms:
World’s Largest Cherry Pie
We made a quick stop only two miles south of Charlevoix (on U.S. 31) to check out the World’s Largest Cherry Pie. In 1976, Charlevoix’s Dave Phillips “rallied local businesses to bake the World’s Largest Cherry Pie as part of the town’s annual cherry festival, “according to RoadsideAmerica.com. “The feat involved construction of a giant pan and an equally massive oven. Local farmers supplied the edible ingredients. The resulting cherry pie…was a world record. For a bit, until 1987.”
According to a plaque on site: The pie crust measured from 14 feet, 4 inches in diameter, 3 feet deep and weighing 7 tons. The fillings:
BIER ART GALLERY | biergallery.com
3500 US-31, Charlevoix, MI 49720, 231-547-2288
Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily; also by appointment
*6 miles south of Charlevoix
Ray and Tami Bier have conceived a gallery that features more than 100 national and regional artists that sell everything from jewelry, pottery, sculpture and more. Located not too far from Charlevoix and inside a turn of the century schoolhouse – the Hilton Schoolhouse — it’s a great stop for those looking to buy some great art or just be inspired.
Bier’s Inwood Brewery, 17959 Ferry Rd, Charlevoix, MI 49720
Located within walking distance of Bier Art Gallery is Bier’s Inwood Brewery. The head brewer is Tyler Bier, their son.
BARNES COUNTY PARK
When you travel along U.S. 31 any beach is a great stop to hunt for stones, including the prestigious Petoskey stones.
Barnes County Park hosts county Petoskey Stone festival to kick off summer. michiganrvandcampgrounds.org/event/petoskey-stone-festival
Things to know about Petoskey Stones, which are fossilized prehistoric coral only found in the Great Lakes:
After the beach, we stop at King Orchards for pie!
KING ORCHARDS | www.kingorchards.com
986 U.S. 31 S, Kewadin, MI 49648, 231-264-0715
4620 N M-88, Central Lake, MI 49622
*Both markets offer u-pick and we pick fruit, bakery items, and other farm goodies.
Love cherries? We encourage you to make a stop at King Orchards for:
Brothers John and Jim King, along with their wives Betsy and Rose and their children, have been growing fruit in Northern Michigan for more than 30 years. A first-generation farming family, it is located on the northern edge of Michigan’s famed cherry growing region and atop glacier-formed ridges and rolling hills near Torch Lake and Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. They grow on more than 140 acres of Montmorency tart cherries, in addition to Balaton cherries, black sweet cherries, apples, peaches, pears, apricots, plums and nectarines. The US 31 Market houses a bakery and is making fresh pies, cookies, muffins, jams and jellies daily throughout the harvest season for both markets.
The Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas to the west are a can’t miss wine-lover’s dream, but plenty of fun is fermenting on this side of the bay with new destinations for beer, cider, wine and cocktails. Let’s take a tour to see how the magic happens inside two Elk Rapids destinations right around the corner from each other.
First stop: Short’s Brewing Company’s production facility in Elk Rapids.
SHORT’S BREWING PRODUCTION FACILITY | Facebook
211 Industrial Park, Elk Rapids, MI 49629
The production facility features the Pull Barn, a location that offers Short’s beers on tap, retail and a food truck. It’s the perfect stop if you’re craving Short’s beers and you can’t make it to the main pub in Bellaire.
While you’re there, we encourage you take a tour to see the behind the scenes operation, including the canning and bottling lines.
Head Brewer Tony Hansen takes us on a tour of the production facility. The tours run each summer top of the hour on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 – 4:00 pm
ETHANOLOGY DISTILLERY | Facebook
127 Ames St, Elk Rapids, MI 49629, 231-498-2800
Hours: 1-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 12 noon-4 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday-Wednesday.
After our stop at Short’s Brewing Company’s production facility, we made our way to the area’s first distillery. Owners Geri and Nick LeFebre are making small batches of spirits. Geri is the head distiller at Ethanology.
A few tidbits:
At Ethanology we tried two cocktails:
The Gemisus, made with Mel, raw honey and smokey goodness of an Old Fashioned.
Prince, made with their vodka, elder, lotus and lavendar and blue butterfly flower tea.
Both were fantastic!
Some tidbit about downtown Elk Rapids:
Our next stop……
PEARL’S NEW ORLEANS KITCHEN | Facebook
617 Ames St, Elk Rapids, MI 49629, 231-264-0530
Some tidbits from Pearl’s:
SUNFLOWER FIELD -MAPLE BAY NATURAL AREA
It only lasts a few weeks each summer, but you can’t pass up the opportunity to take a selfie in the golden sunflower fields.
Sunflowers planted on both sides of the highway by local farmers on leased land.
Thanks again to our hard working crew:
Also, we want to thank Lori Chapman, our editor for video, and Tanda Gmiter, our editor for content.
Learn more about Elk Rapids at: www.elkrapidschamber.org
Thanks again to our sponsor, the Michigan Retailers Association, www.retailers.com
Nick gets ready for Fall Beer Fest, September 7, by exploring Marquette inside (Black Rocks Brewery, Ore Dock Brewery, barrel & beam, and Vierling Restaurant) and out (the black rocks, Ore dock, paddle boarding).