Category: Sponsor Content

Warm up this winter with Traverse City Restaurant Week

Traverse City restaurant week

It happened to be Restaurant Week when Forrest and Nicole Moline vacationed in Traverse City several years ago. They dined together at Trattoria Stella, Michigan’s Best Italian restaurant, sharing a table in one of the hidden alcoves inside historic Grand Traverse Commons. The beautiful encounter is one of the reasons the couple decided to move to Traverse City.

Now this winter the Molines are taking part in Restaurant Week for the first time as restaurant owners, hoping to give their guests the same kind of memorable dining experience. Forrest: A Food Studio is one of about three dozen restaurants offering three-course meals for $25 to $35 from Feb. 23-29.

Forrest: A Food Studio

‘It’s super exciting for us to be a part of (Restaurant Week),’ said Forrest Moline, who opened Forrest: A Food Studio last fall in Traverse City. ‘The goal for the Food Studio is to resemble an Art Studio, but instead of the craft being woodwork, painting or ceramics, the medium is for the culinary arts.’ (J.Zevalkink Photo)

“There are restaurants all over (the Traverse City area) and every town has a different look and feel,” said Forrest Moline, who has worked in Cleveland and Detroit with renowned chef Michael Symon and in Birmingham with charcuterie expert Brian Polcyn.

“It’s so fun to visit each little town, dine at the restaurants and meet the locals and hear their story. That’s what drew us up here, the warm feel you get from the locals.”

Warm might not be the first word that comes to mind when describing Michigan in January and February. After all, the Mitten state is a winter wonderland where you can go skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, ice fishing, winter hiking and fat tire biking. But winter in Michigan also is a great time of year to warm up indoors and try new restaurants, discover new wines or sample craft spirits.

You can do it all in Traverse City and enjoy the best of Michigan’s winter, both inside and out. Not only is Traverse City the Best Winter Getaway in Michigan, but it’s also

Red snapper

Feast your eyes – and your tastebuds! – on some of the best dishes in Michigan during Traverse City Restaurant Week. ‘We built our small 1,200-square-foot space to feel more like a home kitchen and dining room than a typical restaurant,’ owner Forrest Moline said. ‘Everyone has a seat at the chef’s table.’ (J.Zevalkink Photo)

one of America’s best beer towns, one of the country’s leading wine regions and the No. 1 Foodie Destination in the Midwest.

Traverse City hosts many unique winter events that will whet your appetite for the area’s celebrated food and beverage scene. You can plan your trip around a Vine to Wine Snowshoe Tour, the annual Ice Wine Festival or one of several wine trail events such as Taste the Passion, Romancing the Riesling or the Winter Warm Up.

Michigan’s headline winter event for foodies is Traverse City Restaurant Week, scheduled this year Feb. 23-29. About three dozen restaurants in one of America’s most underrated food towns will offer three-course meals for $25 or $35 all week long.

Restaurants typically offer a few options to choose from for each of the three courses. You can find participating restaurants and menus here. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

“We’re going into our 10th year for Restaurant Week,” said Colleen Paveglio, marketing and communications director for Downtown TC. “The intent is to highlight the restaurants here in Traverse City. A lot of them are local-food focused. Long before it was trendy we were on that path just due to this being an agricultural community.

“It’s grown throughout the years and now we have people that travel to Traverse City for the event.”

While in town for Restaurant Week, you can pair delicious dinners with a tour of the Traverse Wine Coast – either self-guided or led by one of the area’s many wine-savvy tour operators. You’ll find award-winning wines at dozens of wineries nestled in Traverse City Restaurant Week - winebeautiful nooks and crannies all over the region, including the famed Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. Both peninsulas have been recognized as Top Wine Regions through USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

Traverse City also is home to more than a dozen microbreweries, and a growing number of craft distilleries that take the fruits of Michigan’s bountiful agricultural harvest and turn it into small-batch vodkas, whiskeys and gins for your pleasure.

When you’re not sipping spirits or sampling fine wines, you can make time to experience Traverse City’s historic movie theatres or to browse downtown shops for unique items you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Exploring Traverse CityAnd, of course, you can enjoy outdoor recreation in Traverse City all winter long, whether by cross-country skiing the rolling hills above Grand Traverse Bay, tubing down one of the area’s thrilling runs or exploring the incredible Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

RELATED: 5 Traverse City Restaurants Sourcing Local Foods Year-Round

Whenever – and for whatever reason – you come to Traverse City this winter, you can take advantage of Traverse City Escape Packages. The seasonal special combines discounted rates on lodging with an assortment of coupons on everything from dining, movies and spa services to wine purchases and entertainment. Escape Packages are available all winter.

 

Discover Michigan’s award-winning, 330-mile snowmobile trail system

Munising snowmobiling

When Cori-Ann Cearly assesses the outlook for the Upper Peninsula snowmobiling season, there’s zero worry about what it will produce: “There’s never really a problem or a question if we’ll have enough snow,” she says with a laugh.

Alger County averages 230 inches of snow each winter and while the season has started slowly in the southern reaches of Michigan, the U.P. is ahead of schedule having gotten hit by heavy accumulation in November.

Munising, where Cearly is the president of the visitors bureau, is branded the Snowmobile Capital of the Midwest and is the place to be for sled riders looking for a complete trail system that allows travel between towns, through magical woods and to majestic ice caves and ice structures that daring climbers scale daily.

The Munising region is home to more than 300 miles of groomed terrain – more about that later – that can match any snowmobiler’s taste for adventure or an easy day on the packed surfaces to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Miner’s Castle. There are also opportunities for off-trail excursions for a more rugged ride.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore snowmobilingTrail reports show an average snow depth and base of 40 inches already, and the snowiest months of the winter are still ahead of the area. Here are four reasons to visit and stay in Munising in January and beyond:

Crowds are smaller: Now, to be fair, with 300 miles of trails and countless off-trail spots to ride, there’s rarely snowmobile gridlock. History, however, shows that February is the busiest time of the year for people to visit and stay in Munising while snowmobiling. By beating the masses going to the Michigan Ice Fest or the UP 200, Midnight Run & Jack Pine 30 sled dog races, you’ll have more room to roam – and slide easier into area bars and restaurants to warm up and enjoy a refreshing beverage or a tasty meal. All that said, February is fun, too!

Groomed trails: Members of the Snowmobile & O.R.V. Association of Alger County have been preparing the 300-mile trail network for months, and once the snow accumulates the group goes out every night with heavy machinery to perfect the trail. Cearly said the ride is so smooth “it’s like a highway in the woods.” The bump-free surface is easier on the rider and on the sled.

Better rates: Lodging rates fluctuate with demand, and as noted earlier, February is the high-traffic season. That means there are even better deals to be found at area hotels. If you don’t have your own machine, you can potentially find rental sleds available at a lower cost as well. It’s the perfect time for a quick winter weekend up north.

Shake off the holiday stress: The holiday haze is real as we spend much of November and December rushing around shopping and going to gatherings only to hunker down with the turn of the new year. Break out of the cabin fever doldrums and see natural beauty that will relieve all the pent-up pressure.

Learn more about all Munising has to offer here.

5 really cool things to do in Gaylord this winter

winter rafting in Gaylord, MI

So winter is here and your normal outdoor routine is shelved. It is cold and there is snow and you’re just not crazy about it.

There are many of us crazy folks that LOVE winter. It is quiet, it is pretty and with the Gaylord, MI skiingproper gear, you can stay warm and cozy! Don’t have a snowmobile? No problem. You skied once as a kid and had a bad experience? Not to worry. You can’t afford expensive gear right now? Gotcha covered!

Here are five really fun and, excuse the pun, cool things to do in Gaylord this winter:

Snowshoeing

Let me just say that snowshoeing is a blast. You never need a groomed trail. You can go with six inches of snow on the ground or 60 inches of snow on the ground – snowshoes work the same. All you need are some public or private trails, a pair of boots, a hat, gloves and snowshoes. Poles are optional.

I have a pair of snowshoes that are 20 years old and work just as well now as they did then. Snowshoes don’t go out of style, except for maybe bindings, but the technology is the same. You walk on the snow. You get a great workout and you can literally go anywhere. Once you start moving, you warm right up. Most novices actually overdress. With no leaves on the trees, you see vistas, valleys and streams that you would never see other times of the year, which is just cool.  

Take a Downhill Ski Lesson

Most non-skiers have tried downhill skiing and had a bad experience or just gotten out of Gaylord, MI ski lessonsit. Well, take a lesson. Both Otsego Resort and Treetops Resort have rental equipment and experienced, fun ski instructors.

This is a great activity to do with a friend or two or your children. Usually, within a few hours, the instructor will have you stopping comfortably, making gentle turns and safely getting on and off the chairlift.

As a long-time skier, knowing the basics is worth the price of a lesson in enjoyment. Equipment has come a long way since I was a kid back in the 1970s. It is more comfortable, warmer and carved skis literally turn themselves.

Winter Rafting

No, I am not daft and I did not make this up. Gaylord has two outfitters in the area that will take you and up to five of your friends or family members winter rafting down the Sturgeon River! The Sturgeon is the fastest river in the Lower Peninsula and does not usually freeze over.

This is not tubing or kayaking and you get into a raft big enough not to tip. You actually sit on the sides and everyone helps paddle. Winter rafting comes with an experienced guide who makes sure you have an outstanding experience. Excursions last an hour or two and you dress like you would for any outdoor winter activity.

Gaylord MI winter funYou will see parts of Northern Michigan not seen in summer, as there are no leaves on the trees.  There are numerous wildlife viewings as they come to the river for water (other lakes are frozen over, so this is where they go!). Winter rafting is great for a group of friends or families with kids 12 or older. It is something memorable you can all experience together.

Skiable or “Snowshoeable” Feast

There is nothing like taking frequent breaks while you are out enjoying winter, right? I can’t think of a more perfect stop than gourmet food and beverage stations along the way.

A few years ago, Treetops Resort started regular events called Skiable Feast. It is a point-to-point relaxing cross-country or snowshoe course, complete with five gourmet food stations. Food stations allow you to take a break and enjoy delectable foods from the culinary team at Treetops. You can warm up with a blazing fire and visit with new friends.

If you don’t have gear, Treetops has rental equipment for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Experienced guides ensure you don’t get lost and make it to each food station.

Tubing Gaylord MI tubing

This is nothing like the days of sledding down the local hill when you were a kid. Going “down the hill” has taken on a whole new meaning! The tubes are provided, the course is smooth, and a lift attachment pulls you and the tube back up the hill! Pretty great, huh?

20 minutes to anything: Here is the center of Detroit

Greektown Casino-Hotel Casino

Maybe it’s a home game for the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Red Wings or Pistons.

Or perhaps a night on the town with friends?

How about a concert or Broadway show at the historic Fox Theatre and its next-door neighbor the Fillmore Detroit?

And let’s not forget live jazz clubs, comedy performances or other late-night entertainment.

Whatever brings you to Detroit, you’ll find the Greektown Casino-Hotel at the center of any stay-and-play visit.

Guests at the 400-room, 30-floor hotel have prime access to its exciting 100,000-square-foot gaming floor, a destination in and of itself, in addition to being less than a mile and a 20-minute walk – shorter with a cab or ride-sharing service – to many of Michigan’s best and biggest attractions.

Here’s a primer on what’s nearby:

  • Little Caesars Arena
  • Ford Field
  • Comerica Park
  • The historic Greektown neighborhood
  • Fox Theatre
  • The Fillmore Detroit
  • Campus Martius Park
  • Hart Plaza

Before heading out to an event, Greektown offers its own incredible entertainment and dining options. There are more than 2,500 slots and 60 table games over two floors of gaming activity. The playing floor, machines and dealers are routinely identified as the best in Detroit.

Sam Arabo, an executive casino host, recommends guests visit the hotel-casino’s restaurants during their stay. There is a wide diversity at Monroe Market, a 24-hour curated collection of culinary experiences in a setting similar to a street market. The market has six restaurants that serve everything from burgers and pizza to BBQ and southern-style fried chicken.

Meanwhile, Arabo said a visit to Prism, the property’s signature steakhouse, seafood and pasta fine-dining, is a must-stop.

“We’ve won several awards for our food selection, our wine selection,” Arabo said. “Everybody enjoys it.”

Greektown staff members excel at attending to guests needs and making them comfortable during their stay.

“Customer service is our biggest thing,” Arabo said. “If a guest is happy, my job is easy.”

Why Greektown is the center of NFL gameday in Detroit

Tailgating at the Lion's game, brought to you by Greektown Casin-Hotel

Step outside Greektown Casino-Hotel on a Sunday morning in the fall or winter, and there’s no doubt when it’s a National Football League gameday for the Detroit Lions.

Fans dressed head-to-toe in Honolulu blue and silver stream by. Greektown restaurants and bars are packed. Tailgaters fill nearby parking lots with tents, grills, spaceheaters, generators and fully customized RVs to support their team and enjoy themselves before kickoff.

It’s a community event with statewide draw, allowing perfect strangers to become fast friends over a game of sack toss or throwing a football around, a cold beverage and a bite to eat – and Greektown Casino-Hotel is at the center of it all.

After staying at the neighborhood’s premier hotel and gaming floor, but before hitting the stands, guests can hang out in the entertainment center’s incredible dining areas.

Check out Bistro 555 for the breakfast buffet that will fill you for the day’s adventures. Pop into Monroe Market, a 24-hour curated collection of culinary experiences that line 11,000 square feet in a setting similar to a street market. The market has six restaurants that serve everything from burgers and pizza to BBQ and southern-style fried chicken.

Or guests can also choose to head out to Greektown favorites like the Old Shillelagh, Astoria Bakery, Red Smoke Barbecue or Fishbones.

From there, it’s a short 10-minute walk to Ford Field, but one ripe with opportunity for the full Lions experience.

The franchise’s official pre-game party tailgate is at Prize Plaza on Brush Street, and it has free admission. The close-to-the-stadium spaces opens at 10 a.m. and features beer tents, music, food trucks and interactive fan games. There are also large-screen televisions for watching and listening to pre-game commentary.

But for the more colorful tailgating visit, continue on to the parking lots at Eastern Market. This is the hub of pregame activity and where you’ll find thousands of diehards who arrive early and stay late. They pack for the apocalypse and leave unwanted. Burgers, brats, ribs, side dishes, you name it, and it’s being prepared.

Groups who have celebrated pre-games together for years – and gone to great lengths to put on a heck of a party – are welcoming of fellow Lions fans and willing to give tours of specialized Lions-themed vehicles.

Take the “Since 1957” tailgate leaders, who bought an RV and decked-out the vehicle in Lions memorabilia of all sorts. They’ve been together since 2005 and have designated themselves as “Since 1957” because that’s the last time the team won a championship.

They make sure to put on a spread and “keep everyone hydrated” before kickoff.

Once the game is over and Lions fans are ready to wind down or keep the party going, it’s a quick jaunt back to the Greektown Casino-Hotel for the night.

‘You know the good they do,’ co-workers say about this West Michigan charity

SCG volunteer

It had been their tradition for more than two decades. Several co-workers from Spectrum Health Hospice would get together for dinner once a month on Tuesday nights, and for the holidays they’d exchange Christmas ornaments.

But 25 years’ worth of ornaments adds up. Some of the women started saying they have so many that they don’t know what to do with them all. Others said they no longer put up a Christmas tree and don’t need any more ornaments.

So, they started a new tradition. A couple years ago, the Tuesday Night Steel Magnolias decided to take the money they’d been spending on ornaments and give it to charity instead.

Santa Claus Girls presents

Their chosen beneficiary? The Santa Claus Girls.

“You know the good they do,” said Judy Carlon, a Kentwood woman who’s one of eight members of the group that took its name from their Tuesday night dinners and their mutual love of the “Steel Magnolias” movie.

“You can watch the money given out. You see them buying the gifts, wrapping them and delivering them. Everybody seems to know the Santa Claus Girls.”

For more than 110 years, the Santa Claus Girls have been a community tradition. Our community provides the volunteers who run the charity and the donors who fund it. The end result is that thousands of Kent County kids experience the childlike joy and wonder of the Christmas season by receiving a gift.

If you’re familiar with the Santa Claus Girls, you know about the impact that The Press-sponsored charity has on the community each and every Christmas. You know that the Santa Claus Girls has been a beacon of hope in West Michigan for generations. Maybe you even received gifts from the Santa Claus Girls when you were a child.

But in case you don’t know much about the Santa Claus Girls, here’s why it’s so important for you to be a part of this community mission that’s a West Michigan legacy:

  • The Santa Claus Girls started buying, wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts to Kent County children in need way back in 1908. Then, same as now, the goal was to provide Christmas gifts to boys and girls who otherwise wouldn’t receive any. Learn more about the charity’s history here.
  • Any child age 6 months to 12 years from families in need in Kent County can register to receive gifts from the Santa Claus Girls. Each delivery includes five items: an age-appropriate toy, book, warm hat, gloves or mittens, a sweatshirt or pajamas, and candy.
  • Santa Claus Girls presents for Kent County kidsEach year, hundreds of volunteers take phone calls to register gift recipients, buy items, wrap presents and deliver the packages. This year’s workspace on 36th Street SE is donated by Knoll, Inc.
  • Because the Santa Claus Girls is 100-percent run by volunteers, more than 98 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to sharing the Christmas spirit by providing gifts for children. The charity has a long-term, proven track record of using the community’s donations efficiently and effectively.

RELATED: Restaurants: Use this $10 coupon to support West Michigan holiday tradition

The $200,000 it takes to make the miracles happen may sound like a daunting amount. But with individual and business donors throughout West Michigan, a community effort makes it all possible.

Last year, a wide variety of individuals, businesses and social groups contributed to the  Santa Claus Girls hats for Kent county kids Santa Claus Girls in amounts that ranged from $2.18 to $50,000. In addition to donations from a wide range of West Michigan businesses, money came in from the Tuesday Night Steel Magnolias, the Golden K Kiwanis Club of Grand Rapids, Sons of American Legion Squadron No. 305, the Union High School Class of 1961 Peppermill Breakfast Club and scores of other groups and clubs.

Last year, for the first time, online donations to the Santa Claus Girls accounted for 10 percent of the charity’s $200,000 fundraising goal. The average amount given online was $136, but gifts of any amount helped the Santa Claus Girls deliver presents to more than 13,000 children from over 5,000 families.

You can help the Santa Claus Girls deliver gifts to another 13,000-plus children this Christmas whether you donate $136, $13.60 or $1.36. Every bit helps, no matter how big or small. In fact, if every household in Kent County donated just $1, that would be enough to hit the Santa Claus Girls goal.

No stamps in the house? No problem. Envelopes not necessary, either. These days, it’s easier than ever to support the Santa Claus Girls. Just click here and make a contribution via PayPal.

Two years ago, when the Tuesday Night Steel Magnolias started giving their ornament  money to charity, Carlon mailed in their donation to the Santa Claus Girls. Last year, she submitted the donation online through the charity’s Web site.

SCG volunteer wrapping gifts“I think I was in a hurry last year and I couldn’t find the address, so it was easier to go online,” Carlon said.

See how easy it is for you to join the tradition of helping the Santa Claus Girls make Christmas wishes come true. Let’s continue West Michigan’s heritage of providing a gift to every child at Christmas!

Why this independent sporting goods store cares about more than selling gear

Livingston County, MI

Why this independent sporting goods store cares about more than selling gear

Skip Lee, the owner of Portage-based Lee’s Adventure Sports, has a business plan that flies in the face of many retailers.

“We don’t exist just to sell you an item,” said Lee, the second-generation owner of the outdoor sporting goods store at 311 W. Kilgore Road in Portage. “We’re here to give you access to the gear you need to have an experience, to get outside and enjoy yourself.

“We’re going to make sure that you have the equipment that fits what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. You can see, feel and touch what you’re buying. You’re not guessing if it will fit or if it’s what you really need.

“You can’t get that many places these days.”

Lee’s is an all-season shop that outfits adventure seekers of all pursuits, from downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding in the winter to kayaking, paddleboarding and backpacking in the spring, summer and fall.

Lee’s is the rare remaining independent sporting goods store in a world that has become dominated by massive big boxes and the pages of internet giants. The shop carries the same name-brand items of Patagonia, The North Face, Marmot, Kavu and more that can outfit shoppers from head-to-toe in technical and casual wear.

What many don’t know, Lee says, is that the pricing is no different than what customers will find elsewhere. And it comes with an added benefit the others can’t offer.

“People want to come in and talk about what they are going to buy, and we can be that valuable resource and knowledge to recommend items that fit their lifestyle,” Lee said. “Our staff is passionate about being outdoors and doing exactly what our customers are going out to do.

“And if you’re someone who is just starting out on something, we can be the voice of experience.”

Lee’s has been dishing out that information since 1954, when his parents, Bill and Evelyn Lee, started their business as a general toy and hobby shop. It evolved over the years to focus on outdoor sports and adventure as the family identified it as a market in need and it fit with their desire to be in nature.

Lee said he and his staff thrive on interacting with first-time customers and visiting with returning shoppers. Several years ago, Lee recalls, a father and son came in while Christmas shopping, and when they came back, they cited the service they received as the reason behind another trip.

“They valued that in-depth conversation about what finding what they were looking for,” Lee said, noting that the lag time between shopping stops is because the clothes and gear Lee’s sells stand the test of time.

“You’re buying equipment, jackets and other products that have value and will last for years. It’s a different and better buying experience than what you’ll find somewhere else.”

Lee’s turns over its inventory seasonally, but can assist in any sport’s off-season. The shop is also at the forefront of emerging technology and new gears.

“Things are always getting better and because we’re out there and working with the best brands, we’ll have that new and improved piece of equipment,” Lee said. “We’re here to help you get what you need.”

One of the best of Grand Rapids: Find your next drinking and dining destination here

Rockwell Republic Drinks

Brunch in a beverage? You can get that at Rockwell Republic on the weekend.

Or guests can roll in for mid-day and end-of-the-night happy hours, an expansive food menu available late into the night and an around-the-clock imaginative lineup of local beer and craft cocktails.

It’s that sort of creativity and desire to cater to customers that has built a dedicated following for the side-by-side bar and restaurant in the Heartside neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The appreciation for the dining and drinking spots, which expanded and then became a centerpiece of the city’s downtown growth for a decade, is obvious.

“The food is Asian American deliciousness,” online reviewer Montana Krukowski wrote.

“If you have friends who can’t agree on what type of cuisine to eat, this is the place to go. Their menu has so much to choose from,” Namchi Do said. Rockwell Republic food

Katie Barcelona wrote: “Great happy hour deals, food and drinks are great and so is the atmosphere. This is one of my go-to places.”

Those responses to guests’ experience are what Jesse Tackett, Rockwell Republic’s general manager for three years, and his staff want to hear.

“We want to be the place that you’re interested in going to every time you go out because you can always do or try something new,” Tackett said. “Our variety is unmatched, from sushi to tacos to a perfectly cooked filet, you’ll find it here.”

Rockwell Republic’s setting is often discussed because of the distinct atmospheres each offers at 45 S. Division Ave. Rockwell’s feel is a lively Chicago-like gastropub, a spot to grab an after-work beer from the 30 tap handles, a handcrafted cocktail or a taste of one of the more than 200 bourbons that are available.

On the building’s other side, Republic’s scene is a wine bar/dinner house vibe where people can relax with a significant other, family and friends or business partners looking to unwind. The extensive wine list adds a something-for-everyone option.

Rockwell Republic sushi roll surf & turfThe restaurants share exposed-brick walls, high ceilings, dark mahogany wood and eclectic lighting that fit either a casual night out or a hit-the-town outing. Rockwell Republic also benefit from the shared second story bar, and a roof-top deck to soak in the urban setting during the warmer months.

Tackett describes Rockwell Republic menu as Pacific Rim inspired with sushi, seafood and share plate choices, but the restaurants achieve a balance with a mouthwatering array of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. Daily features turnover weekly, and the fare changes seasonally as the chef creates new dishes.

“The idea is to keep the mainstays, but at the same time evolve with something new,” Tackett said. “We keep it fresh.”Rockwell Republic sushi

Now, back to that brunch in a beverage. Rockwell Republic’s “Massive Mary” has reached its legendary status as the best in Grand Rapids by stacking a quartered bacon cheeseburger beside a beer cheese dip filled pretzel bun and a stack of beer-battered onion petals. Positioned in a 32-ounce mason jar with a perfectly prepared Bloody Mary, the drink is the definition of a Saturday or Sunday started right.

“If you haven’t tried it, you need to,” Tackett said. “And once you have had it, you’re going to come back for it.”

Weekends also feature a Bloody Mary bar that guests can create the drink they desire, and the offering is one of the daily specials that draws people to Rockwell Republic.

Other specials include:

  • Daily drink happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Daily sushi roll and share plates happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Monday: Wine 40% off from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. and live jazz.
  • Tuesday: $6 Rockwell and Republic Original craft cocktails from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Wednesday: $13 pitchers of sangria 3pm-close and 25% off classic cocktails 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Thursday: $1 off all whiskeys and all draft beers 5 p.m. to close and 50% off martinis 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Visit Rockwell Republic online to plan your first or next visit to the best of Grand Rapids has to offer.

 

Mmm! Rich, creamy Mackinac Island fudge. Order now for holiday delivery

Ryba's Fudge Shop

Fudge was being made on Mackinac Island long before Harry Ryba and Victor Callewaert opened their first shop there in 1960. In fact, it was the growing popularity of fudge at Michigan’s favorite summer destination that attracted the Detroit confectioners to the island.

Since Ryba and Callewaert arrived on Mackinac Island, the place has never been the same.

After all, there’s fudge. And then there’s Ryba’s Fudge.

Ryba’s Fudge Shops is where fudge making became a public spectacle that drew people to the front windows of Mackinac Island fudge shops. It’s where tasty new flavors of fudge Ryba's Fudge Shop storefrontwere invented, where fanning the sweet scent of fresh fudge out into the street was pioneered, and where Mackinac Island visitors are still lovingly referred to as “fudgies,” a phrase Harry Ryba coined himself.

No wonder Ryba became known as “Mackinac’s Fudge King.”

“Although Mackinac Island had a well-established reputation for producing quality fudge, it was Ryba who spurred the industry to new heights and created an indelible link between ‘Mackinac’ and ‘Fudge,’” writes Phil Porter, chief curator of Mackinac State Historic Parks, in his book on “Fudge: Mackinac’s Sweet Souvenir.”

Next summer will mark the 75th anniversary of Ryba’s Fudge, and 60 years since the family-owned business brought its Michigan-made treats to Mackinac Island.

Can’t wait until 2020 to get a taste? Go ahead and place an order for Ryba’s Fudge to get delivered from Mackinac Island to your home in time for the holidays.

Here are five ways to bring a taste of Mackinac home for the holidays:

 

If you can’t decide what to try, Ryba’s offers great deals on Holiday Gift Packages that include a little bit of everything. Check out all the options and order now for delivery in time for the holidays!

You can also give a gift card that can be used for Ryba’s Fudge or for shopping, dining, lodging, and merchandise at the family’s other Mackinac Island businesses including the 1852 Grill Room, Ice House BBQ & Bar, Island House Bike Shop, Island House Hotel, Mary’s Bistro Draught House, Pancake House & Grille, Pine Cottage Bed & Breakfast, Seabiscuit Cafe and Starbucks.

It was back in the 1940s that Harry Ryba, who owned a Karmel Korn Shop in Detroit, started making fudge. A few years later he met a teenager who sold newspapers outside his store and hired him to whip up the batches of fudge. Ryba's Fudge Shop, fudge slab being cutVictor Callewaert was planning to become a plumber, like his father, but he married Ryba’s daughter and ended up becoming partners in the fudge business.

Ryba and Callewaert sold fudge at their shop in Detroit and at events and festivals including the Detroit Auto Show. Then, in 1960, they opened their first store on Mackinac Island. Soon, Ryba’s Fudge became the island’s premier fudge.

While other fudge shops used white boxes, Ryba’s started selling fudge in pink boxes and bags that could be seen all over the island. Ryba’s also started giving customers “fudgie” pins with each purchase. Main Street passersby flocked to the front window of Ryba’s shop to watch the dramatic process of fudge making live.

“It’s liquid running all over the slab and it gets thicker and thicker, and all of a sudden you’ve got a loaf,” said Victor Callewaert, now 83, who still makes at least one batch of fudge each year. “It gets people’s attention. It stops them, especially when you’ve got that smell.

“Everybody makes it on the slab, but if you like it creamy ours is the best. All you have to do is taste it. There’s no match for it.”

Place an order and taste for yourself!

How Marquette warms up when winter adventures cool off

The start of the UP 200 Sled Dog Championship in downtown Marquette, Michigan.

Seattle – the land of Starbucks – may have met its match in Marquette.

The Upper Peninsula city is home to more independently owned coffee shops per capita than the Pacific Northwest area that is synonymous with java culture. The local roasters and craft coffee brewers are ideal for a morning wake-me-up, a mid-day break or an afternoon warm-up following a day outdoors.

Marquette MI coffee shop

And that’s important as winter snow and cold loom, a change of seasons that offers more opportunity to relax as the crowds get smaller while the fun never stops. This Lake Superior shoreline city is known for its summer outdoor adventure and its innovative food and beer scene, but it can be overlooked for winter getaways.

The region has an extensive network of trails that lend themselves to hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and fatbiking. Marquette is also recognized as the birthplace of North American organized skiing, and the hills remain incredible.

Before learning more about winter outdoor recreation, it’s smart to game-plan for what you’ll do to enjoy the culinary and craft cocktail scene.

Here are five must-stop coffee shops to think about visiting.

Blackrocks Brewery Igloo Marquette MI

 

There are dozens of places to grab a great meal and a cold beer – craft brews know no season and visitors can even continue the outdoor theme in a heated igloo at Blackrocks.

 

 

Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing

The Noquemanon Trail Network offers unmatched outdoor experiences with 50K of maintained trails that can be used recreationally for point to point or looped outings. Trail experts recommend snowshoe users start on the singletrack at the Forestville Trailhead, and they ask that people steer clear of the trails groomed from classic and skate skiing. Rentals are available at Forestville, and as a bonus to dog owners, your furry friend is welcome to get outside with you.

The outdoor outfitter Down Wind Sports say the difficulty of snowshoeing is often overestimated.

“If you can walk you can snowshoe,” they remind users. “(It’s) one of the easiest ways to get outside in the winter and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has no shortage of places to explore.

Down Wind recommends hitting the Eben Ice Caves, Yellow Dog Falls and Hogsback Mountain as other potential outings.

Winter Hiking

If you’re still more comfortable in your own two boots, the trails up Sugarloaf Mountain and Blueberry Ridge remain popular in the down season. The majestic views of snow-covered terrain from atop Sugarloaf are just as mesmerizing as the other three seasons. The half-mile trail is well marked, and while it will be slower-going with snow, the terrain is manageable for people of all fitness and skill levels. The city’s 12-mile multi-use trail is another great option to get those steps in.

Seasonal Events

In a two-week window last winter, three separate snowstorms each dumped between 12 and 24 inches around Marquette. Add in an icestorm of “legendary proportions” and the dreaded below zero temperatures of the polar vortex, and it would have led most people to hunker down and stay inside.

Marquette threw a party and held a fatbike race.

Marquette Polar Roll Fatbike race

Todd Poquette, who runs the Polar Roll winter adventure race with 30-mile and 15-mile bike routes and a 10K snowshoe event, chuckles when recalling heading into the woods to clear choked off trails that were battered by fallen and hanging trees and a base buried by ice and powder.

“Miraculously, the show went on,” said Poquette. “I think it’s part of the culture. We don’t slow down just because the summer ends. We still have a lot of cool events that happen throughout the year, and people really enjoy getting out and getting together.

“Everyone understands that the conditions are part of the experience.”

For the Polar Roll, Poquette says there are roughly 450 race participants – they’ve had riders from nearly every state, including California and Arizona since its 2015 inception – and hundreds more who come for the festivities. The atmosphere is built around the collective experience.

On the course, there are areas with people grilling food, handing out drinks and the “Hugs and Bacon” aid station that has developed into a favorite. There’s a post-race party with live music.

“We make it a good time for everyone,” Poquette said.

Marquette also activates for these key winter events, but the area’s full scope of entertainment options can found here.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon Marquette MI

Scene from the start of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon Nordic cross country ski race from Ishpeming Michigan to Marquette Michigan.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon

Staged on the Noquemanon Trail Network, the “Noque” is a point-to-point cross country ski race that offers varying lengths of competition, including 50K individual, 50K relay, 24K and 10K events. There are also snowshoe and snowbike options that traverse rolling hills, frozen lakes and majestic woods. The 22nd annual event in 2020 will be held Jan. 24-26 and has become a fixture in the outdoor landscape of Michigan and its Midwestern neighbors. The scenic terrain promises a lifetime of warm memories. The race’s non-profit status is dedicated to furthering non-motorized trail development, preserving all-season outdoor recreation for future generations.

 

U.P. 200

This sled dog race, in its 30th year running from Marquette to Grand Marais and back, marks its territory as the third-longest event in the continental United States and provides a glimpse at what happens in the renowned Iditarod race. Mushers powered by 12-dog teams welcome crowd support from the start in downtown Marquette, along the way at checkpoints during the race and a raucous environment as they return to the finish line along Lower Harbor Park. The trail actually clocks in at 230 miles long despite the race name, and it’s a testament to the endurance and drive of the team. Head to Marquette to experience it for the first time from Feb. 13-17, 2020.

Visit Travel Marquette to learn more about the region and plan your visit.