Category: Sponsor Content

ORV novice? No problem. Come play in Michigan’s biggest sand box

Parrot's Landing

Sure, you could let some air out of the tires, install a safety flag and drive your own vehicle around the largest sand dunes east of the Mississippi River. Or, you could skip the hassle and rent a four-door Jeep Wrangler for an hourlong guided tour of the 500-acre ORV Area at Silver Lake Sand Dunes – one of Michigan’s most incredible natural attractions.

Not everybody knows how to go off-roading, especially in the sand. But thanks to an 18-year tradition of jeep rentals and tours at Parrot’s Landing, everybody can safely enjoy the exhilarating experience of driving through Michigan’s biggest sand box.

After a guided tour, you’ll know how to drive on the dunes safely – and you’ll be eager to get back up there on your own, riding high above the breathtaking shore of Lake Michigan all the way down to the water’s edge and back.

Come get the keys to your new summer playground…

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





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 feed your sense of wonder, soothe your soul and fulfill a chase for outdoor adventure.

We welcome you to 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.

Hit the water for a tour under the summer sun, venture down hiking trails during a fall color explosion, hop on a snowmobile to search dense forests and spot majestic wildlife, or find out how the spring snowmelt provides wow-worthy moments.

It’s all in front of you in Munising.

Here is a season-by-season guide on how to road trip the right way in your first – or your next – visit to Munising.


There’s nothing like being on the water in the summer, and Munising delivers with 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.


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.

Our visitors can’t get enough of hitting the saddle of a mountain bike and heading out another natural encounter. Trails of varying length terrain and skill levels have made Munising a destination for dedicated riders who want to roll over fast-paced flow tracks and take on man-made and natural obstacles. Grand Island two-tracks are passable by hybrid, mountain, gravel and fat bikes on daily rides that most can conquer in 2 to 4 hours.

The Hiawatha National Forest, nearly 900,000 acres of wilderness, provides a playground for ATV operators who trek over old train paths used during the Upper Peninsula’s iron ore and lumbering booms. The trail network can lead to days of riding and exploring.


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 are in-filled and widened before the season for added safety and benefits of smooth-riding in a season that can begin in November and last into May. Annual snowfall averages 230 inches per season, making Munising a rider’s dream.

But we’re not a one-trick pony. If you seek a slower speed through nature, more than 20 miles of cross-country ski trails wind through Pictured Rocks’ majestic landscape, are waiting for you to glide through the scenery.

And Munising is an ideal launching spot to see the mesmerizing Eben Ice Caves that form through the walls of the Rock River Gorge as water seeps through cracks in the rock. The vertical walls are different every year, making each visit a new one. Walk or snowshoe through the caves and then stare in amazement as ice climbers, an emerging adventure sport, scale the heights.


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.

At the epicenter of 300 waterfalls in Michigan is Munising, where 17 falls are located. Sites range from roadside stops to challenging hikes and from small, stream-like drops to cascading falls.

In the spring, water volumes are at a peak with the snow melt, and observers will feel like they’ve stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come summer, lush green growth of trees and other plants present a colorful and vibrant scene. Fall is mesmerizing from the contrasting colors of the changing leaves. Winter offers a chance to see water seemingly frozen in midair.

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

Download the MI Best U.P. Road Trip Guide 

‘Hidden gem’ ski resort now open to public after nearly 80 years a private property

Excuse Michelle Norton for gushing about downhill skiing in the middle of golf season, but that’s what happens when she reads Google reviews for the Otsego Resort like these:

  • “Best downhill skiing and snowboarding in the Gaylord area! The once private ski club is now open to the public. Great dining, bars and lodging available. Public Skiing…Private Feeling!”
  • “Hidden Gem! The ski club was apparently private up until very recently. There was a fantastic base of manufactured snow under another generous helping of natural snow. The entire ski area was beautifully groomed every morning we went out.”

The public praise for the resort’s 29 runs and three terrain parks, which are served by 5 lifts and a tow rope, are relatively new.

The ski resort was a private club for the first 78 years of its life. New owners have breathed new life into the resort, which is located about 1 mile off I-75 and downtown Gaylord.

“We have 80 years of rich history behind us, and now, with skiing being open to the public, we have a bright future ahead of us as we introduce our property to a whole new generation of skiers,” said Norton, the Gaylord resort’s Director of Sales and Marketing.

Gary and Kathie Vollmar took ownership of the sprawling property, which includes the renowned public golf courses The Tribute and The Classic, in the fall of 2018. After guiding it through their first winter, the resort leadership is ready to show it off for more families’ winter ski vacations. Last winter, the resort also offered Disco Tubing.

“There’s nothing like this ski resort in Michigan, and for years, it’s been this secret because it was private,” Norton said. “People had no knowledge of how pristine the skiing is here. When you drive into the property it has a typical resort layout. However, when you enter the lodge and walk to the full wall of floor to ceiling windows you are amazed to be looking out on a 27-mile vista view of the Sturgeon River Valley.

“The view of the valley is absolutely jaw-dropping and a breath-taking scene. It never gets old to watch the guests facial expressions as they are mesmerized by the pure beauty that is before them.  This is the reason we call ourselves Michigan’s “Hidden Gem of the North.”

Norton explains that the Otsego Resort’s ski hills are formed by a natural bowl shape of the land. The lodge sits above the runs instead of the usual layout where guests stare up at a mountain from the bottom of the slopes.

The topography creates an ability to keep natural snow longer into the season while also giving the staff exceptional snowmaking abilities to ramp up Northern Michigan snow in the pre-season of November.

But it’s not just the skiing that draws people to the four-season resort. The golfing opportunities carry equally stunning Sturgeon Valley views as the Classic course has been winding through the woods, water and wildlife since the 1950s. The Tribute, meanwhile, opened in 2001 and immediately earned a reputation as one of Michigan’s top-10 public courses.

The player-friendly designs are challenging, but wide fairways are as forgiving as the tree-lined courses are beautiful. William H. Diddel designed the Classic, which became the founding course of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, while Rick Robbins lent his skills to the Tribute’s design.

“The courses really showcase the valley and all of its beauty,” Norton said.

The Vollmars’ investment in the Northern Michigan golfing mainstay include adding a new fleet of Yamaha gas-powered golf carts that pair with a smartphone app to tell players more about the holes they’re playing and giving them the power to order food at the turn.  They are also adding a full service half way house on the Tribute this season.


“It’s just one of the many signs of the commitment that the owners have for this property,” Norton said. “They’re extremely passionate about building the resort up and taking it to the next level.  There is a lot of history at our property; we just want to showcase the beauty of this charming Bavarian resort.”


The staff shares the dedication to making the Otsego Resort a four-season resort for travelers and the local community. The grounds are available for corporate outings, weddings and other celebratory events as well as meeting space that can accommodate intimate crowds of eight to large-scale gatherings of up to 320. The resort has 80 rooms in its lodges and its Hilltop Lodge has eight richly appointed executive-style rooms with the building having a great room featuring a floor-to-ceiling see-through fireplace. There is also an open floor plan with a living room and large custom dining table.

There is also exceptional dining at the Duck Blind Grille and Bar while The Logmark provides a great place for friends to meet on the weekends for a cocktail or local craft beer. Groups can be surrounded by nature at the River Cabin that is available for summer organized functions.  There are many nightly promotions that are available to guests year-round.  Norton suggests that you follow them on Facebook to see the plethora of events to enjoy at the resort.

“Our goal is to make your visit, your vacation or your meeting an exceptional experience and one you’ll always remember,” Norton said, “and with our Northern Michigan hospitality and our commitment to providing exemplary customer service we believe we will do just that once you experience the new Otsego Resort.”

Visit the Otsego Resort’s website to plan your summer or winter getaway now.

Summer weekends in Michigan: Enjoy 48 hours of Pure Ludington

6 things to do, sights to see in popular Lake Michigan beach town | You have 48 hours this weekend. Come explore Ludington

There are beautiful beaches all over Michigan, but only one is ranked No. 1 in the state. There are boats all over the Great Lakes, but there’s only one Badger. There are more than 100 state parks in Michigan, but only one has over 5,000 acres to explore and is home to the Mitten’s tallest lighthouse.

Anywhere you go in Michigan there are amazing beach towns and summery spots.

But there’s only one Ludington.

Why not check it out this weekend? You won’t be able to experience everything Ludington has to offer in just 48 hours, but you can get your feet wet. (Literally!)

To help plan your visit, here’s how to get there. And here are several things to do while you’re in town:

 Stearns Park Beach – In addition to a half-mile of sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, Stearns Park Beach also features mini-golf, a skate park, volleyball and shuffleboard courts, a playground, grassy areas in the shade for picnics and a lighthouse at the end of a long pier that’s great for fishing, watching sunsets or waving to the S.S. Badger. No wonder USA Today named it one of 51 Great American Beaches. By the way, the North Breakwater Light at the end of the pier was named by The Weather Channel as one of the country’s Top 10 lighthouses to see.

House of Flavors – There are many places to get ice cream. But only one place is home to the House of Flavors. The Ludington dairy produces 25 million gallons of delicious homemade ice cream per year and has a restaurant right downtown that hosted a successful Guinness World Record attempt for Longest Ice Cream Dessert. The final numbers: more than 2,970 feet of ice cream, 944 pounds of chocolate syrup, 600 cans of whipped topping, 102 pounds of maraschino cherries and a total weight of more than 3 tons.

Ludington State Park – Not only does Ludington State Park have shoreline and beach along Lake Michigan, but also the all-sports Hamlin Lake. In between are 5,300 acres of scenic sand dunes, ponds, marshlands and forests that make for one of Michigan’s most popular places for camping and outdoor recreation. In Ludington State Park you can float your way down the Big Sable River in a tube from the Hamlin Lake Dam straight into the big lake, hike through the woods or bike through miles of trails. The park also is home to the tallest lighthouse in the Lower Peninsula, the 112-foot high Big Sable Point.

Big Sable Point – Speaking of lighthouses, the historic black-and-white-striped Big Sable Point Lighthouse dates to 1867. It’s 112 feet high and open for tours from May through October. You can climb the tower for an unparalleled view or explore the original Keeper’s Quarters that have been converted into a gift shop. You can reach Big Sable Point on a beautiful two-mile trail that winds through sand dunes and along the Lake Michigan shore through Ludington State Park.

Outdoor recreation – Kayak down the Pere Marquette River. Take a jet ski for a spin around Hamlin Lake. Laze away the day floating down Big Sable River in a tube. When it comes to enjoying a Michigan summer, what’s your jam? Whatever it is, the Ludington area has a unique way to experience it. Charter a boat for some Great Lakes fishing. Go sailing in a yacht. Play golf on one of the Top Ten Best New Affordable Courses in America. Hike or bike through the wilderness of the Manistee National Forest. Come explore and enjoy!

Downtown shopping – Ludington is a beach town. It also has a great downtown, with lots of cute shops and unique restaurants. In addition to the famous House of Flavors, you’ll find art galleries, antiques, music retailers, boutique clothing stores, brew pubs that showcase Ludington’s growing craft beer scene and the Sandcastles Children’s Museum. Plus, there are scenic parks right along the waterfront. Downtown also is home to a farmers’ market and family-friendly summer street parties on the last two Fridays in July and the first two Fridays in August.

Spending more than 48 hours in Ludington? Check out these attractions, too:

Amber Elk Ranch – Ever seen an elk up close? Here’s your chance. Take a wagon ride through this beautiful 130-acre farm to see huge bull elk. There’s also a petting zoo where kids can meet and feed interesting animals that aren’t quite so big as the bull elk.

S.S. Badger – Like clockwork, the 410-foot-long, seven-story-tall steamship goes back and forth across Lake Michigan between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. carrying up to 620 passengers and 120 automobiles on the four-hour, 60-mile journey. Even if you’re not on board, it’s a thrill to stand on the pier at Stearns Park Beach and watch the Badger come and go. In addition to lake crossings, the Badger runs special shoreline cruises at times during the summer.

Country Dairy – Go to Moo School at this working family farm and dairy processor. You can take a 90-minute tour and see milk get bottled, meet cows and sample delicious chocolate milk. If you dare, try some “moochies” while you’re there. (You’ll just have to visit to see what those are!)

Historic White Pine Village – Go back in time and relive Michigan’s pioneer days with a tour of more than 30 historic buildings including the original 1849 Mason County Courthouse. There’s also a working sawmill and first-person interpreters who re-enact life as it was over 100 years ago.

Lewis Farms Petting Zoo – Farms grow food. This one also has acres of fun for the whole family. There’s a petting zoo with strange animals, tons of unique games like Redneck Tic Tac Toe and play spaces to keep kids busy including a Crawley Spider Web, Jumping Pillow, Pedal Carts and a Carousel. There’s also a farm market and a bakery that’ll take your breath away.

Port of Ludington Maritime Museum – Shipwrecked schooners along the Ludington shore attest to the area’s long nautical history, and it’s all chronicled through artifacts, photographs and interactive exhibits in this former U.S. Coast Guard Station overlooking Lake Michigan. There’s even a simulation where you can pilot the famed Pere Marquette 22 car ferry around Ludington’s harbor with guidance from a hologram of Capt. Andy Van Dyke.


Visit Pure Ludington to plan your Ludington trip.

Animals, Autos and Altruism – Suburban Collection Sponsors Pet Adoption Day

Why community connections are a priority for Suburban Collection dealerships

Jenna and Zachary Kanfer woke up early to score the first spot in line at the annual “Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo” pet adoption event that has helped more than 25,000 dogs, cats and rabbits find new homes in the last 26 years.

At the ages of 10 and 12, respectively, the children of Rachel and Darin Kanfer have been anxious to add a new pet to their Royal Oak household for months. The Detroit Zoo’s adoption drive – one of the largest off-site adoption events in the country – served as ideal location for the Kanfers to find an animal to love.

“They really want a puppy, and adoption is very important to us,” Rachel Kanfer said as she stood in a line of about 100 people awaiting the opening of the zoo’s grounds. “We believe in rescuing animals because there are so many that need a warm and caring home.

“That’s why this is such a great event and a great option for people who are looking to make a connection with animals.”

The Suburban Collection is among a host of backers who underwrite and help pull the event together every year, bringing dozens of Southeast Michigan animal welfare organizations together. In addition to its sponsorship, Suburban Collection President & COO David Fischer Jr., presented Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan Humane Society leaders with a $37,511 donation raised during Subaru’s Share the Love sales drive.

“Part of our core DNA is helping solve problems,” Fischer said. “We want to make the communities where we do business better for the people who are our neighbors, and that’s why we support more than 100 local charities every year.”

Fischer said Suburban places a primary focus on education, children’s welfare, cancer research and providing for families’ basic needs.

“We are very passionate about this as a Michigan company made up of people who care,” Fischer said.

The Suburban Collection has a long history in Metro Detroit, dating to 1948 when Richard “Dick” Fischer opened Suburban Motors in Birmingham. It has since grown, continually Michigan-based and under family ownership, to employ more than 3,000 people under 35 auto brands and 53 locations, including collision centers and auto parts stores.

Detroit Zoo CEO Ron Kagan said the Suburban Collection’s support of the adoption event is emblematic of its commitment to help Michigan move forward.

“We are very appreciative of what Suburban does for the zoo, but I’ve seen what they do around the community and it goes well beyond one organization,” Kagan said. “They’re really a model corporate supporter that looks to make life better for people in Michigan.

“(The Detroit Zoo and I) have been lucky to have a long relationship with the Fischer family. They are awesome people, and I hope what they do inspires all of our corporate citizens to action to be the best they can be.”

Visit the Suburban Collection website to learn more about the company’s 70-year history of serving Michigan residents.

World-famous muralist and 5 more “can’t miss” highlights at the 2019 Lakeshore Art Festival

In April, muralist Kelsey Montague collaborated with Taylor Swift to launch the pop sensation’s newest single. 

Come July, Montague, who has built an international following with large scale winged mural pieces, will drive excitement around the Lakeshore Art Festival, centered in Downtown Muskegon on July 5-6, by creating a must-see piece for visitors to enjoy. 

Kelsey Montague created a one-of-a-kind mural representing Muskegon County, located on the Frauenthal Center in Downtown Muskegon.
Pose in front of the butterfly, snap a photo and hashtag #ThisIsMuskegon and #WhatLiftsYou!

“We are thrilled and elated that she is going to be here and become a permanent part of our community,” said Carla Flanders, the art festival’s director. “We’ve been so impressed with her work and how intentional and interactive it is. Her pieces are inspirational, inclusive and uplifting. It’s a great message and a great fit for the Lakeshore Art Festival and for Muskegon.”

The colorful mural and its intricate design will dominate the East side of the Frauenthal Center, becoming an attraction that continues Muskegon’s metamorphosis and its thriving downtown, Flanders said.  

Montague’s artwork will join only 77 other works around the world, including one in Ann Arbor and another in Detroit. The pieces appeal to people looking for bright art images and are a favorite of social media users. 

It’s really exciting to have Kelsey be a part of the Lakeshore Art Festival. Her butterfly-wing mural is not only breathtaking, but it is symbolic for the many changes our community has gone through and the beautiful downtown it is today Flanders said. “This new permanent piece, coupled with the hundreds of artists at the Lakeshore Art Festival, sets the stage for another stellar year of artful engagement!” 

The art festival is a summer tradition, drawing artists and visitors from around the country, leading to it earning honors as the best contemporary and classic art show in Michigan and the 11th best in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine. The weekend also serves as an economic engine for the Lakeshore community, with research showing the festival has had a $5.6 million impact since 2013. Annual attendance reaches 60,000 people, Flanders said. 

“People are drawn here by the quality of art and the hospitality of the community,” said Flanders. “It’s an honor when people are excited to come back and spread the word about how incredible this festival is to attend.” 

Here are five more must-see highlights for 2019: 

Shopper’s Paradise 

The festival’s jury committee creates a marketplace for unique fine art and handcrafted goods by jurying more than 450 artists who apply for entry. The team then invites the art entrepreneurs to share their talents and one-of-a-kind wares in Hackley Park and throughout the vibrant downtown surrounding streets.  

“You can find something for everyone here,” said Flanders. “It’s truly an artisan’s market with pieces you won’t find anywhere else. We have a beautiful setting with handcrafted art that is truly remarkable.” 

There are more than 380 booths, with roughly 120 fine art exhibitors creating art with distinctive styles and various mediums including handblown glass, paintings, sculptures, photography, fibers and more. 

Wine and Beer Garden 

If shopping isn’t your top choice among things to do – or you just need to drop off a partner where they’ll be entertained – the festival hosts a wine and beer garden in Hackley Park and it is the perfect place to unwind. Visitors can grab a glass of wine or a craft brew and stroll through the fine art in the park or take a break from patrolling the booths and enjoy the stage entertainment. 

“It was a natural fit and a great way to enhance the festival experience,” Flanders said. “It’s such a beautiful setting that you can sit back, relax and enjoy everything that is going on around you.” 

Children’s Lane 

The Lakeshore Arts Festival opens the door for children to experience beauty through different visions and presents an opportunity to expose them as budding artists through interactive activities.

Kids can watch a stage performance, make personalized paintings and participate in theatrical games, all captivating, enriching and educational by nature. This year’s theme, the butterfly, is right in line with not only the new Kelsey Montague mural, but also the butterfly scavenger hunt, butterfly educational booth and butterfly interactive dance.    

“It’s everything artful and engaging and getting kids to think outside of the box,” Flanders said. “Each area has something new and interesting for children to do.” 

The Food 

Come for the art, and then let your taste buds take over during a culinary timeout from your shopping adventures. The streets are lined with vendors who offer everything from classic fair foods to tasty sandwiches, BBQ, sirloin beef tips, desserts and much more 

“There’s African-style food,  Mediterranean cuisine, and of course festival food favorites like soft pretzels, elephant ears and fresh squeezed lemonade. Really, there is something for every foodie to enjoy,” Flanders said. 

Flanders doesn’t like to play favorites – and suggests that visitors follow their own cravings – but at least once every year she’ll make her way to the Ice Box Brand Ice Cream Bars truck for a locally-made treat from the Whitehall-based business. 

“They’re heavenly,” she said. 

Authors’ Tent and Interactive Art 

Find Michigan’s next great writer among 20 Mitten-centric authors who will be at the show in the Emerging Author’s tent. The authors are available for one-on-one discussions and to provide signed copies of their books that will likely be next on your summer reading list. 

“This is a great chance for some exposure and to get the word out about their writings,” Flanders said. “We want to support creative expression of all kinds at our show.” 

The festival even gives visitors the chance to participate in creating their own art with Chalk The Walk and the Community Interactive Art ProjectOn July 5 from 4-6pm chalk will be set out for guests to take sidewalk art to the streets of Western Avenue. If chalk isn’t your style, then the Community Interactive Art Project will allow you to create a masterpiece of art with paint on canvas! Each year thousands of people bring new excitement and their own touch of creativity to the event. 

“It’s always really cool to see what people come up with,” Flanders said. “Everyone from kids and their parents, to art students and grandparents, get out there and get creative.” 

Visit the Lakeshore Art Festival’s website to discover more about the exciting weekend in Muskegon. 



Bringing art to the community: The Lansing River Trail becomes a cultural attraction

ARTpath 2019 is here!

Dark highway underpasses have been transformed with bright murals.

An outdoor basketball court that became an asphalt canvas.

Sculptures placed intermittently along the Lansing River Trail boardwalk.

Those are just three examples of how Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center is bringing the 2019 Art Path to the community for the second consecutive year, doubling the size and interactivity of the inaugural event last summer.

Katrina Daniels, the gallery’s exhibitions and sales director, said the 20 pieces will dot a 3.5-mile stretch of the Lansing River Trail, from Old Town to REO Town. Each of the public pieces of art comes from a Michigan resident. The installments started being placed early in June and a formal kickoff was held at the Turner Dodge House on June 7.

“We know that cultural institutions can be intimidating, so we are bringing the art to the people where they are in the community,” Daniels said. “They’ll have an opportunity to interact with the pieces on their terms and at a time of their choosing.

“By using the Lansing River Trail, the Art Path creates awareness, and people have the ability to engage during a walk, a bike ride or kayaking between locations. The trail is one of Lansing’s outstanding recreational opportunities, and now it’s being used as a cultural attraction as well.”

Organizers expect 50,000 visitors will enjoy the public art exhibition this year. Daniels said excitement built during the 2018 phase and drew people from around the state to the trail. She anticipates people will return as word of mouth about the exhibition spreads.

“We’ve been strategic in every setting, making sure to pair the right piece of art in the right place.”

The gallery partnered with the City of Lansing’s Parks and Recreation Department and donors to create Art Path.

“The community and our supporters have really shown love in being a part of this, and we could not be any more appreciative of how everyone has come together for a great event,” Daniels said. “It’s going to be an incredible summer in Lansing.”

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

10 Northern Michigan Adventures for Your Summer Bucket List

You may know Michigan is one of the top wine-producing states. But when you think of wineries, you might not think of the Petoskey Area.

Have you ever tasted a Frontenac blanc? An Itasca? A La Crescent? Cold-resistant grapes in the Petoskey Wine Region produce a crisp, balanced flavor that you just won’t find other places in the state.

After all, winters are just too darn cold up there, right?

Too cold for chardonnay grapes, maybe. But vineyards in the Petoskey Wine Region plant hybrid grapes that can withstand temperatures as cold as 30 or 40 degrees below zero.

“We’re making wines that are very crisp and have higher acidity, which makes them different than grapes grown in other regions,” said Tracie Roush, an owner of Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery.

“The acidity balances the sugar in the fruit so you get a really nice balanced wine, and what we find is that both dry wine drinkers and sweet wine drinkers are enjoying the wine because of the balance.”

Just a few years ago there weren’t many wineries in the Petoskey Area. Now there are 12 and wine tasting has become one of the most popular things to do in the area.

It makes our list of 10 northern Michigan adventures for your summer bucket list:

Launch a squash rocketPond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs makes wine. It also brews craft beer and features a farm market full of fresh produce and unique canned items. Speaking of unique, have you ever fired a squash rocket? There’s tons of family fun at pet-friendly Pond Hill including farm animals and fish that you can feed, hiking trails, a scavenger hunt for gnomes and a giant squash rocket that sends fruits and veggies zinging out into the fields. During weekend afternoons in the summer, you can go on a hayride around the farm.

Lavender Hill FarmImmerse yourself in purple – For a completely different farm experience, visit Lavender Hill Farm in Boyne City. One of the largest commercial lavender farms in Michigan offers daily tours and, as you might guess, it looks beautiful. The lavender smells and tastes amazing, too! Lavender Hill also is home to The Series, a schedule of live music concerts on weekend summer nights.

Eat at a Michigan Historic Landmark Dining Destination – Many people drive through the Tunnel of Trees in the fall to envelop themselves in the stunning colors of the season. But the winding route along M-119 from Harbor Springs north to Cross Village also offers breathtaking views in the summer. The peaceful stretch hugs Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan as it passes through small towns with cute little shops and art galleries. At the northern end of the route is Legs Inn, an historic Polish restaurant with distinctive architecture and a beautiful garden overlooking the water.

Little Traverse WheelwayPedal your breath away – No matter how slow you ride, the scenic beauty of the Little Traverse Wheelway is breathtaking. The 26-mile paved trail runs along the waterfront between Harbor Springs and Charlevoix, going from one eye-popping vista to the next as it passes through historic Bay View and elegant Bay Harbor. You can rent a bike or rollerblades or bring your own. Try to keep your eyes on the path!

Play disc golf up a mountain – In the winter, Avalanche Mountain Preserve in Boyne City is “Michigan’s Best Sledding Hill.” In the summer, it’s a great place to go for a hike and get a heavenly perspective on northern Michigan scenery. It’s a 462-step climb to the top of one side of the mountain, where a thrilling view of Lake Charlevoix awaits. On the other side, you can play disc golf along your way up the mountain on one of Michigan’s top courses. There are several other trails, too, both for hiking and mountain biking, with a wide range of difficulty. The 300-plus-acre, city-run preserve also offers an archery range in the summer.

Become one with nature – For more hiking trails, download the LTC Explorer app and set off on a path of discovery in the Little Traverse Conservancy Nature Preserves. There are some 80 preserves, many within the Petoskey Area, where you can enjoy low-impact activities including hiking, birdwatching and, of course, fishing. Michigan is surrounded by the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes, and that affords many opportunities to get out on the water. That’s especially true in the Petoskey Area. Rent a kayak or paddleboard. Go boating. Make a splash and savor the most natural form of refreshment. Hunt for Petoskey stones or build sandcastles on the beach! Summer doesn’t last forever in Michigan, and that makes warm, sunny days that much sweeter.

Play the best and the beautiful – No list of outdoor recreation in northern Michigan is complete without golf. The Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed Heather at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs has been named the 2019 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, and Bay Harbor again has been named by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. Those are just two of 18 amazing golf courses within about 30 minutes of each other in the Petoskey Area.

Find extraordinary treasures – You can find treasured Petoskey stones on the beach, but there are one-of-a-kind finds all over the Petoskey Area in the region’s charming downtowns. For example, there’s Bay Harbor, the golf course, and then there’s Bay Harbor, the cute village with unique boutique shops to explore. When you’re done shopping in Bay Harbor, you can head over to Boyne City or Harbor Springs or Petoskey. You’ll find more of the same uncongested, easygoing pace, and yet it’s completely different because each downtown has a relaxing character all its own.

See a real gingerbread house – If you’re a lover of arts and culture, check out the new 500-seat Great Lakes Center for the Arts with a wide variety of national acts or the Crooked Tree Arts Center that holds events in a renovated church building that still features stained glass. If you’re an admirer of interesting architecture, tour the Bay View neighborhood with 450 historic buildings including authentic gingerbread houses that make it one of the Prettiest Painted Places in the country.


Plan a week of remarkable day trips – Whether you spend an afternoon on Mackinac Island, go for a climb up the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, watch the stars come out at Headlands International Dark Sky Park or go elk viewing in Gaylord – or all of the above! – you can find a home base in the Petoskey Area that’s perfectly suited for your adventures.

“Getting off the beaten path is so easy to do here,” said Diane Dakins, assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.

Be sure to check out lodging specials when you book your place to stay. Want to learn more? Visit or call 800.845.2828.


How West Michigan Bank Shows ‘Importance of Being Good Neighbor’

Ada Delgado doesn’t have blond hair. Nor does she wear wooden shoes. Yet, the Holland woman of Puerto Rican descent is serving as vice-chairwoman of the annual Tulip Time Festival.

Ada Delgado

Ada Delgado

Her primary role: Make sure the popular event rooted in the community’s Dutch heritage is “inclusive of what Holland is today” by involving a range of community groups.

“I’m a true testament that you don’t have to be Dutch to be part of Tulip Time,” said Delgado, who works as a retail operations consultant for Holland-based Macatawa Bank.

Striving to ensure the entire community gets to participate in Tulip Time is a fitting task for Delgado, given Macatawa Bank’s emphasis on community service. The bank has been recognized for the past eight consecutive years as one of “West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” due in part to this guiding principle: We believe our responsibility is to support our community with our time, talents and resources.

That principle enables Delgado and hundreds of other Macatawa Bank employees to participate in community events and causes that are important to them. For example, Delgado has been active with Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) as a translator, volunteer coordinator and youth mentor, in addition to her work with Tulip Time.

In both cases, Delgado’s community involvement has been nurtured by Macatawa Bank.

“During my 14 years with Macatawa Bank I have not only had the opportunity to serve, but I have received the encouragement and support to get involved and be a part of what I believe in,” Delgado said. “I feel at home working for an organization that truly believes in giving back to the community and in letting our employees volunteer their time and talents for local organizations that matter to them.”

Macatawa Bank employees are active across West Michigan where the bank has 26 locations in Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties. The bank also runs community events on its own, such as this spring’s annual Recycle Days.

Cars lined up at the bank’s Riley Street branch in Holland shortly after Tax Day when more than 20 bank employees wearing orange T-shirts helped unload boxes of confidential documents and securely destroy them in a Rapid Shred truck. Several other Macatawa Bank branches also made shredding trucks available to both customers and non-customers in April.

“Our annual Recycle Days event is something everyone looks forward to every year – employees and the community alike,” said Jodi Sevigny, chief marketing officer for Macatawa Bank. “Our employees love the chance to serve their community by taking in sensitive documents and shredding them right on site. Our community is so appreciative that we can help them keep their identity secure, while at the same time helping to care for our environment.

“The local leaders that founded Macatawa Bank had a vision of what a true community bank could be. Today, we still live that vision.”

Macatawa Bank’s foundation of community support translates into daily banking operations, too. A full suite of banking services has been built with the needs of customers at the forefront, and decisions are made right here in West Michigan where the bank’s customers live and work.

In fact, wanting to work for a community-based bank with closer ties to customers was a big reason Andy Schmidt came to Macatawa Bank six years ago after more than two decades working for large regional banks. With a local management team making decisions, Macatawa Bank empowers Schmidt to look beyond the numbers and develop more personal relationships with his customers.

Andrew Schmidt

Andrew Schmidt

As printed on the orange shirts worn by Macatawa Bank’s Recycle Days volunteers, “we’re not revolutionizing banking, we’re humanizing it.”

“When you work with smaller, family-owned businesses, you become a much more valuable resource to them,” said Schmidt, a commercial relationship manager. “You become part of their team that helps plan their business. You get to know their kids, their spouse. They think of you as one of their key advisors.

“It’s a much more fulfilling occupation when you know you’re helping someone achieve their goals.”

That opportunity to come alongside West Michigan businesses only comes along if the community itself is thriving and successful. So, it makes sense that Macatawa Bank goes out of its way to support the community through events such as Recycle Days and so many other ways that employees volunteer their time.

Another of Macatawa Bank’s guiding principles states that we believe West Michigan is the best place to live and work. Schmidt believes that, and he’s doing his part to make sure it rings true for as many people as possible.

“In West Michigan, we understand the importance of being a good neighbor,” said Schmidt, who also serves on the board of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. “We recognize that we’re all connected, and that the health of our businesses, our families and our community all depend on us caring for and helping each other.”