Category: Sponsor Content

Founders focuses on lifting Michigan brewing community’s connections, culture

Founders Brewing Co.

At Founders Brewing, our story has lots of twists and turns.

From Mike, our CEO, taking a second mortgage on his home while growing his family, to the bank almost putting a lock on Founders’ doors, getting to where we are today took a lot of hard work, risks, experimentation, and ultimately a community who believed in what we were trying to do.

Founders Brewing Co. logoWe know that an exciting new beer release, or simply enjoying a beer that has been around for years, means nothing if it doesn’t bring people together.

And that’s part of what being an artist is about: Experimenting, refining, and sharing ones craft with the community around them, bringing people together to enjoy and celebrate their craftsmanship.

What we learned at the beginning, back in 1997, is as true today as it was then – brewing is about being part of a supportive culture where people are challenged and encouraged to do their best. Where people can come together and enjoy the art of beer.

Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez at Railtown Brewing

That’s why when the pandemic hit, we knew that the best thing we could do was to highlight the artisans in the creative community around us, a glimmer of positive hope in an otherwise uncertain time. Our founders have felt the deep fear of almost having to close our doors, but it was when we were able to innovate and make a beer that this community loved, and when this community continued to support us, that we were able to make it out and to where we are today. So it’s our turn to give back to this community, and highlight other crafters – artists, musicians, printers, bakers, potters, jewelers and more – all in an effort to raise awareness and bring people together through art and inspiration.

Now, we’re turning the attention to our craft – beer – and highlighting Michigan brewers, some established and some new; some who distribute and some who don’t; some that might face situations similar to our past. For the love of our craft, we cheers them for contributing to the craft culture of Michigan.

Visit and follow us on social media – @foundersbrewing – to read more #CraftedinMI stories and help support local however you can. Whether it’s liking an artist’s page, sharing a feature about a small craft brewery, or purchasing a gift from your favorite store, you can help empower others in our community, even from a safe distance.

Mackinaw area traditions, outdoor activities carry on amid COVID-19

Kids playing in a Mackinaw area park

As Deb Spence and her team began planning for the first weekend of the annual Premier Arts & Craft Show – one of the region’s most popular summer events – it was a bit of a question mark on how it would go with COVID-19 social distancing changes.

“All I heard from the vendors and from people attending the show is that it was better than ever,” said Spence, the executive director of the Mackinaw City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There were a ton of people in town and they walked through the show, shopped, talked and had a great time.”

Couple biking at sunset

Visitors will have that chance again on Aug. 29-30 to discover artists from around the country as they display their incredible work on hand-crafted jewelry, custom-designed clothes, woodworkings and paintings in beautiful Conkling Heritage Park, on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac that bridges Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The show is set for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The show has changed to comply with social distancing restrictions by reducing the number of artisans and changing the layout to line the sidewalks in the park instead of being set up in the middle of the grassy areas.

“It worked out really well,” Spence said. “Everyone was spaced out and the set up made the traffic flow easy.

“I think the second weekend should be just as successful.”

It’s been an interesting year for the Mackinaw area, which witnessed a sharp reduction in visitors and business during the spring and in June because of the pandemic. There have been only 9 confirmed cases of the virus, and each businesses and residents are doing their part to stay safe by following the recommended safety guidelines.

Mill Creek Discovery Park in Mackinaw area

Restaurants in the city are open, as are outdoor attractions and activities, all serving visitors while being vigilant about sanitization and other precautions.

That has allowed the area to press on with many of its annual traditions, including Independence Day activities and the upcoming 7th annual Ford Mustang car show that is set for July 18 at the Straits State Harbor Park, next to Conkling Park.

The ultimate classic muscle car and the sleek late-model rides are a sight to see, and organizers expect roughly 100 vehicles to be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature the annual car parade over the Mackinac Bridge.

Outdoor movies in a historic setting

The iconic bridge will also be the site of weekly “Movies by the Bridge” at the Michilimackinac State Park, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary. For themed weekends as well more information on movie times and locations, visit the Mackinac State Historic Park’s calendar page. The family-friendly movies begin at dusk and attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket, chair, or snacks. The movies began on July 3 and run through the summer. The schedules is as follows:

  • July 11: Mary Poppins Returns
  • July 18: A League of Their Own
  • July 25: Wreck-It Ralph
  • August 1: Space Jam
  • August 8: Finding Nemo
  • August 15: The Mighty Ducks
  • August 22: Moana
  • August 29: The Lego Movie
  • September 5: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Treat yourself to a Dark Sky experience

Take your stargazing outing to a whole new level at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, which was one of the first 10 such land areas in the world when it earned the prestigious designation in 2011. The park, which is open during the day for natural excursions that often lead to sightings of wildlife including bald eagles, osprey, coyotes and even black bear, also is free to enter.

Couple in chairs on the beach

There are trails that guide hikers and cyclists through nearly 600 acres of woodlands that are adjacent to two miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline. The land, which is protected and can never be developed, offers an exceptional view of starry skies because of the lack of ambient light from nearby homes or businesses. The location is ideal for photographers in all seasons.

Get outside

A trip Up North always calls for outdoor activities, and the Mackinaw area offers outstanding adventures from hiking and biking to parasailing, golf and fishing. The pristine beaches and blue waters of the Great Lakes are a perfect spot to get away from the rush and stresses life presents daily.

Walking along a beach in Mackinaw area

Mackinaw City also provides an easy centralized hub for day trips to Mackinac Island, the Soo Locks, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

“Up here, it’s one day at a time,” Spence said. “Pick what you want to do, head out and just relax. There are a ton of things for families to do and there are great places to visit. There’s always something new to do.”

To learn more about everything available in Mackinaw City, check out the visitors bureau here or give the friendly and helpful staff a call at 800-666-0160.

Looking for places to dine alfresco? Traverse City has over 200 beautiful options

Lots of restaurants offer outdoor dining. But in the Traverse City area, dining al fresco is kind of a way of life.

In fact, two blocks in the heart of downtown are closed to traffic this summer so diners can spill into the streets and enjoy one of America’s Most Under-the-Radar Food Towns while out in the fresh air of one of the 10 Best Social Distancing Travel Destinations in the country.

“Outdoor seating is popular everywhere you go, but there is a sense of connection to nature up here that is unique to Michigan, that is unique to the Midwest,” said Harry Burkholder, chief operating officer of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority. “We’re seeing more and more restaurants looking at ways to maximize outdoor space.”

Brew Pub in Traverse City, MI

Burkholder is one of the community leaders who teamed  up with restaurant owners and other downtown stakeholders to close part of Traverse City’s Front Street to motor vehicles through Labor Day. Instead of cars and trucks passing along Front between Union and Park streets, the pedestrian-only stretch now functions as additional café space for restaurants.

On the one hand, additional outdoor dining space is a low-risk way to increase capacity in restaurants where indoor seating now is limited during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also another way to indulge the public’s appetite for outdoor dining in a beautiful northern Michigan setting along Grand Traverse Bay.

Dining outside on a patio in Traverse City, MI

While outdoor dining is bigger than ever this summer in downtown Traverse City, there’s also no shortage of al fresco dining options elsewhere in the Traverse City area. This searchable directory of outdoor dining options includes more than 150 restaurants and over 60 wineries, breweries and distilleries across the region – from the picturesque vineyards and tasting rooms of the Leelanau Peninsula and laid-back taverns of Benzie County to the waterfront restaurants in Antrim County and the eclectic mix of eateries and taprooms downtown.

Whether you’re looking for your morning cup of coffee, your mid-day fuel or a long sit-down dinner, there are plenty of options in the Traverse City area to dine safely outdoors and enjoy the sensory delights of a northern Michigan summer.

“Finding an outdoor dining spot around the Traverse City area is as easy as finding cherries,” said Coryn Briggs, director of digital marketing for Traverse City Tourism. “It’s no surprise since the natural scenery and small-town architecture create the perfect settings for al fresco dining.”

RELATED: 10 of Our Favorite Al Fresco Dining Spots

Some people feel more comfortable dining outdoors during the pandemic. But aside from COVID-19, there are other health reasons to make a point of eating outside this summer. For example, just as the CDC advises that outdoor dining is a relatively low-risk summertime activity, it notes that spending time outside can stimulate your body’s production of Vitamin D, which strengthens bones and helps ward off illness and disease. There’s also medical evidence that being out in the fresh air increases energy, strengthens the immune system, helps you relax and improves overall physical and emotional health.

Outdoor dining at a winery in Traverse City, MI

Plus, outdoor dining offers a comprehensive menu of sensory delights where you not only can taste the delicious flavors and smell the soothing scents of your food, but you also get to feel the warm breeze, hear the sounds of summer and see the beautiful sights of the Traverse City area.

“There’s a unique and special element of eating outside, especially in the summer months,” Burkholder said. “We only have so many months of summer in Michigan, and people want to take advantage of it.”

Frankenmuth welcomes visitors with safety promise in place

Family walks through Frankenmuth, MI

Michigan’s Little Bavaria is welcoming visitors once again. There are noticeable changes, for the better, as local leaders and business owners further commit to cleanliness and guest safety.

“We understand these are confusing times and expectations are more diverse than ever,” reads the Frankenmuth Convention and Visitors Bureau website. “In Frankenmuth, we care. We always have and always will. We care about our employees and their families. We care about our guests, whether you visit once a year or once a week.”

The Frankenmuth community is always focused on cleanliness, whether that means maintaining sanitary streets or well-manicured flower beds and streetscapes. And now, business owners are even more diligent to ensure guest safety.

Numerous safety measures are in place throughout the city. Visitors can expect community-wide signage expressing common standards, hand sanitizing stations for public use, physical distance barriers where necessary, free masks and more.

Women look at items in a shop

Additionally, Frankenmuth is inviting visitors to wear a face mask, maintain six feet of distance, frequently wash hands and to plan ahead as some places may require reservations.

A full list of safety measures and up-to-date business information is available online.

Take it outside for unique dining

Couple have a picnic

Frankenmuth prides itself on friendly hospitality through its restaurants, where an experience is sterling start-to-finish. Many dining establishments are open for inside seating, however this new normal presents unique outdoor dining opportunities.

Take-out options remainavailable from many restaurants with the encouragement to call-in an order and picnic in one of Frankenmuth’s 18 green, grassy parks.

Visitors can enjoy food from their favorite restaurant on a picnic blanket at Cass River and watch the kayakers and ducks paddle on by. Additionally, Heritage Park features pavilions with picnic tables for rent. Grills are also available, so people can pick up authentic Frankenmuth brats from Kern’s Sausages or Willi’s Sausage and cook up their own German feast.

Other options include the Cass River Boat Launch and Memorial Park, which are both equipped with picnic tables. No matter where one decides to dine outside throughout Frankenmuth, the Bavarian architecture makes for a memorable dinner backdrop.

A list of restaurants offering to-go options is available via the Frankenmuth CVB website. Numerous restaurants also provide online ordering.

With expectations of this year being ever-changing, the Frankenmuth CVB is committed to sharing any updates, developing news and resources. Furthermore, the organization will work with media to prevent the spread of misinformation and help the public understand the pandemic’s adverse effects on the tourism industry.

People are encouraged to follow Frankenmuth on social media for regular messaging regarding the changing conditions.

“We have missed you on our streets, in our shops, and creating new memories with your loved ones,” reads the Frankenmuth CVB website. “The fun has not vanished from our town, state, or our phone number (800-FUN-TOWN), it has simply taken a vacation.”

The wait is over to experience Michigan’s Little Bavaria again – safely and responsibly.

For more information visit

Lansing’s public art display shines light on accessibility, local talent

ARTpath 2019 is here!

A 3.5-mile stretch of the Lansing River Trail, from Old Town to REO Town, will feature 19 unique art installations from Michigan-based makers this summer, marking the third year that the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center provides public access to the exhibition.

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

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

Watch the video ON THE LEFT, ABOVE OR WHEREVER IT IS to learn more.

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


‘Still here’ like it’s 1895: Mackinac State Historic Parks reopens for milestone anniversary

Colonial Michilimackinac

When news of two smallpox deaths on the nearby mainland reached Mackinac Island back in 1846, it was cause for alarm. After all, even when the contagious disease caused by a virus wasn’t fatal, it could cause blindness and disfigurement.

Mackinac State Historic Parks sites in Mackinaw CityImmediately, the post surgeon at Fort Mackinac vaccinated the entire garrison and gave instructions to the local Catholic priest to vaccinate civilians on Mackinac Island, too, according to an exhibit at Fort Mackinac.

The foresight of having a smallpox vaccine on hand and the doctor’s “diligent reaction protected the soldiers, their families and the civilians of Mackinac” by preventing an epidemic on the island, the exhibit states.

Since averting that 19th-century smallpox threat, the visitor attractions that make up Mackinac State Historic Parks have endured world wars, an economic depression, countless Great Lakes storms and outbreaks of other diseases including Spanish flu. They are surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, too.

Although the start of Mackinac State Historic Parks’ 125th anniversary season had been delayed several weeks during Michigan’s stay-at-home order, the historic attractions on Mackinac Island and in Mackinaw City are reopening this month with additional safety measures to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

“We’re still here like we have been for the past 125 years, and we’re excited to open up and welcome visitors for this anniversary year,” said Dominick Miller, Mackinac State Historic Parks marketing manager. “We’ve taken the necessary precautions to ensure a safe visit while providing all the fun and educational experiences that you’ve come to expect over the years.”

Mackinac State Historic Parks features attractions both on Mackinac Island and on the mainland in Mackinaw City. Each site is scheduled to open in the next few weeks.

To protect the safety of all guests and staff, visitors at each Mackinac State Historic Parks site will be required to wear a facemask when inside buildings and to maintain proper social distancing of at least six feet. Social distancing also will be encouraged at outdoor sites, although masks will not be required outside.

Additional safety precautions include increased frequency of cleaning, including bathrooms and high-touch areas. Plus, visitor capacities in parks buildings and for certain demonstrations will be limited.

For example, there will be limited capacity on the cannon platform at Fort Mackinac to watch daily cannon firings. However, the fort will provide multiple demonstrations each day to give everybody a chance to see it.

“It’s definitely going to be different than we anticipated, but it’s still our 125th anniversary and we’re still really excited to celebrate it this year,” Miller said. “There’s expected to be more in-state travel (during the pandemic) and we’re hoping that people rediscover Mackinac State Historic Parks.

“All of our sites are so much an outdoors experience, a way to get back to your roots a little bit and get away from the hustle and bustle of life. There’s so much history to take in, all in a natural setting.”

Many free anniversary events and activities are planned to thank the public for 125 years of support. Events include a War of 1812 Battlefield Bike Ride, stargazing at Fort Holmes and a vintage baseball game featuring the Fort Mackinac Never Sweats. Special movie nights with family-friendly films including “Frozen 2” and “The Incredibles” also are planned weekly starting June 20 on the grounds of both Fort Mackinac and Colonial Michilimackinac.

Check out the full schedule here to start planning your visit.


Giant lemonade stand, massive picnic lawn await Mackinac Island visitors at Mission Point Resort

Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island

With state parkland, forested trails and scenic lookouts making up more than 80 percent of Mackinac Island, there’s plenty of natural opportunities to socially distance and enjoy the unique beauty of Michigan’s most popular summertime destination.

Adirondack chair at Mission Point ResortBut it’s actually part of the island in private ownership that’s the perfect place during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the southeast corner of Mackinac Island at Mission Point Resort, there’s an expansive lawn with lots of room to spread out a picnic blanket or relax in Adirondack chairs along the Straits of Mackinac.

“We know that everyone wants to be outside so we’re encouraging people to come down to Mission Point, provision for a picnic at Bistro on the Greens, Round Island Bar & Grill or Boxwood Coffeeshop & Café where we have carryout available, and have a picnic to take advantage of this great lawn that we have,” said Liz Ware, vice president of sales and marketing for the resort that occupies 18 spacious acres.

“Mission Point Resort is the epitome of being outside, being on a lake and being in wide open spaces.”

Mission Point Picnic Society logoThe Mission Point Picnic Society is just one example of how the resort on the sunrise side of Mackinac Island is adapting to life during a pandemic and offering visitors opportunities for socially distanced recreation this summer. Here are four other ways Mission Point Resort is encouraging a healthy, safe vacation to Mackinac Island:

  • The resort spent $2 million over the winter building a new event space for weddings, concerts and more. With many of those activities cancelled or delayed during the pandemic, Mission Point is temporarily converting the beautiful promenade deck into the largest lemonade stand on Mackinac Island with non-alcoholic and adult lemonade beverages available. It’s one more opportunity to enjoy refreshing outdoor seating on the grounds of Mission Point Resort. “It is going to be spectacular sitting there having a lemonade and watching the freighters go by,” Ware said.


  • Mission Point also updated its conference center and meeting space over the winter. But with many business meetings, family reunions and wedding parties on hold during the pandemic, the resort is making the space available to guests who might like some different scenery as they work remotely. “We’re giving you the opportunity to work remotely with a magnificent view” Ware said. “You’ve been at home with your family under tight quarters and you’re working from home. Now you can come up here and still work, and your family can be out riding bikes and enjoying beautiful Mackinac Island.”


  • a bike on a trail near Mission Point ResortBecause many people come to Mackinac Island for the day rather than spending the night, Mission Point Resort has created a new Daycation Package so those visitors can enjoy many of the same benefits as overnight guests. The package includes a round-trip ferry ticket, half-day bike rental, round of golf on the Greens of Mackinac putting course and a $25 food and beverage voucher for dine-in or carryout at any Mission Point Resort restaurant – all for only $80 per person.

RELATED: Mission Point Cares: Trusted family resort makes commitment to clean, safe environment

Not only is Mackinac Island a natural destination for visitors to get away from home and enjoy wide open spaces on the waterfront and in the wilderness, but the island’s restaurants, shops and attractions all are committing to operate as safely as possible during the pandemic by encouraging visitors to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

Mission Point Cares sealOwnership, management and staff at Mission Point Resort also are making a commitment to create safe environments for visitors by wearing masks and upgrading the frequency and intensity of cleaning procedures in public spaces and private rooms. Certain high-touch items such as printed guest directories have been removed from the rooms and hand sanitizer dispensers are located around the resort.

Mission Point’s restaurants and recreational areas will operate with capacity limits to ensure social distancing, too.

family suite at Mission Point Resort“This is being taken very seriously island-wide and particularly at Mission Point,” Ware said. “You will see our teams with masks on. There’s a deep personal commitment to get this right.”

One of the restaurants at Mission Point Resort, Bistro on the Greens, and the Greens of Mackinac putting course already have opened to the public. The rest of the resort including the hotel, spa, shops and other restaurants are scheduled to open Thursday, June 25, and reservations are being taken now.

Why social distancing is so natural on the beaches of Traverse City

Kids with swim noodles at the beach

At the end of a gravel road west of Traverse City, at the bottom of a wooden staircase that goes down to the edge of Lake Michigan, is a sandy beach so secluded that it doesn’t even have a name. Despite the pristine beauty of the shoreline, this “No Name Beach” attracts few visitors even on the busiest weekends of a typical summer.

couple sitting on the beachThere are beaches like that all over the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They are uncrowded and unsullied, and it’s almost unbelievable that each and every one is both open to the public and yet can feel like a private paradise.

“What’s really nice about Sleeping Bear is there’s over 60 miles of shoreline,” park ranger Merrith Baughman said. “There’s a lot of park to enjoy.

“Even at the height of a normal year there are always beaches you can find that aren’t crowded.”

Although Michigan’s stay-at-home order has been lifted, the coronavirus is still out there. Fortunately, some travel activities offer an especially safe opportunity for summer recreation. Going to the beach, swimming in a lake and strolling along the shore are low-risk relative to many other popular summer activities, according to an NPR survey of health experts.

dogs playing on the beachAnd it’s important to note that not all beaches are created equal. Less crowded beaches that have room for social distancing are the safest option, Michigan health experts say.

That’s true for many outdoor activities in Traverse City, in fact. Hiking through Sleeping Bear Dunes, biking along the TART Trails or kayaking in one of the area’s many beautiful rivers and lakes are all safe because there’s adequate ventilation to disperse the coronavirus and significantly reduce the chance of transmission.

“That’s one of the great things about Traverse City is there’s lots of recreational space, so social distancing is not difficult when you have as much shoreline and acreage as we do,” said Derek Melville, Traverse City parks superintendent.

“When people are going to the beach I think they kind of naturally distance themselves a little bit from other groups. Just the ability to do that is one of the most positive things.”

Sleeping Bear DunesWhile many traditional summertime events and activities have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, beaches and other outdoor amenities such as hiking and biking trails are open in the Traverse City area.

Some Sleeping Bear trails that closed briefly this spring are now open along with boat ramps, picnic areas and the iconic Dune Climb. Beaches have stayed open throughout the pandemic, and you can find them listed on the new Sleeping Bear mobile app.

Beaches in downtown Traverse City also have stayed open during the pandemic for the public to get outside and enjoy the city’s 1.5 miles of shoreline. The city is encouraging social distancing on beaches and trails, reminding the public to wash hands often and is increasing the frequency of restroom cleaning.

In some cases, beaches are smaller due to high water levels. For example, the beach at the popular Clinch Park, which has about 1,500 feet of waterfront, is not as deep as it has been in past years. But as you spread out and go west there’s a lot of greenspace for people to relax near the water, Melville said.

“People might have to find a new favorite space,” he said.


Top 5 Beaches for Families

10 Tips for a Perfect NoMi Beach Day

Fun in the Sun: Family-Friendly Beach Activities

To help you find a new happy place this summer, here are some of the Traverse City area’s most popular (and most secluded) beaches where you can pack a picnic and stay for the sunset:


Discover golf and property upgrades at historic Northern Michigan resort

Otsego Resort golf course

When Gary and Kathie Vollmar purchased the Otsego Resort late in 2018, they envisioned taking a local institution that was near and dear to residents and expanding its appeal to a quaint, medium-sized all-season resort that would benefit the community.

“(We want) a summer golf, hiking and biking destination that then transitions to a go-to wintertime family-friendly ski, snowshoe and cross-country skiing resort,” the Vollmars said. “Along with those activities and outdoor adventure, we are a year-round event and conference center that incorporates the spectacular view of the Sturgeon River Valley.”

Resort improvements and enhancements made in fewer than two years show that the Vollmars are well on the way to achieve that goal. Perhaps the biggest move made by the Vollmars to-date is opening resort’s 32 slopes – three of which are new – three terrain parks and 5 chairlifts to the public after they had been part of a private club for the first 78 years.

Here is just a sampling other upgrades that visitors will discover when visiting the resort, which is about 1 mile off I-75 and downtown Gaylord.


  • 2 new putting greens, located at the driving range, are growing in, extending the practice and warmup areas.
  • A new fleet of Yamaha golf carts that are equipped with USB ports to charge phones and range finders during play.
  • New golf maintenance equipment, part of a focus on better and more frequent on-course maintenance.
  • Planning for and building a halfway house on the Tribute course for the 2021 golf season.


  • Installation of new LED night lighting on 6 ski runs in 2019.
  • In 2020, the Otsego Resort will double its LED lighting.
  • Work is underway designing 4 new ski runs.
  • There are now 3 tubing lanes.
  • For the Nordic skiers, there are now 6.2 miles of marked cross country ski trails.


  • Numerous grounds and building improvement projects have been completed or are planned in the future, including roofs, ponds, heating and air conditioners.
  • Upping the social media presence to keep everyone informed on upcoming events and promotions.

“It is important to Kathie and myself that the resort provides a memorable experience to all of our guests,” Gary Vollmar said. “We are proud to be part of Otsego Resort and like to share it with others.”

This summer provides a perfect opportunity for guests to reacquaint or introduce themselves to the resort with golfing opportunities on the two 18-hole courses, the Classic and the Tribute. The courses feature equally stunning Sturgeon Valley views, with the Classic course winding through the woods, water and wildlife since the 1950s.

The Tribute, meanwhile, opened in 2002 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 resort is offering three pre-planned stay and play packages, but staff members are happy to help custom build vacations, said MaKenna Mead, who leads marketing and social media efforts. Discover rates and learn more here.

Package 1

2 nights’ stay featuring 18 holes at the Tribute, 18 holes at the Classic and 18 holes and the nearby Natural at Beaver Creek. Lunch and range balls are provided at the Natural and there’s a hot dog or brat lunch at the Classic. There are also two breakfasts provided at the resort’s Duck Blind Grille.

Package 2

2 nights’ stay with 18 holes at the Tribute and play 18 at Gaylord Golf Mecca courses of Black Lake and Michaywe’-Pines. Lunch is provided at the latter two courses and there is also breakfast at the Duck Blind Grille.

Package 3

2 nights’ stay with 36 holes at the Tribute and play 18 at the Classic. Lunch is served at the Classic, dinner and breakfast at the Duck Blind Grille.

After a day on the course, the resort has a pool to cool off in and multiple spots to grab a bite to eat, snacks or a cool drink. Staff are eager to meet visitors and help them relax on their getaway, Mead said.

“We want to provide amazing service to the public,” she said. “We want to stand out in the community and the industry for our customer service and ability to create a home away from home feeling. We can give people a place to look forward to visiting year-round.”

Visit the Otsego Resort website to begin planning your summer vacation.

Tasting room changes, wine in cans coming from Northern Michigan estate vineyard

Shady Lane Cellars' patio

For years, Rick DeBlasio has talked about slowing down and interacting with Shady Lane Cellars guests to provide them with a moment-in-time memory that they’ll treasure for years.

In an unusual twist, the COVID-19 pandemic might have set the stage to do just that.

“The safety protocols and social distancing will, of course, make a visit to the tasting room a different experience,” said DeBlasio, the general manager of the destination winery just outside of Traverse City on the Leelanau Peninsula.

“But it doesn’t mean that it will be less engaging. In fact, it will probably be more intentional because there will be more time to talk to people about our wines and the passion that our team puts into making them.”

Shady Lane has shifted to outdoor tableside ordering, allowing guests to sample from tasting flights as well as wine-by-the-glass or bottle service. The choose-as-you-go and ordering from the bar method traditionally featured had to be reassessed for safety procedures, DeBlasio said.

What remains the same, DeBlasio said, is the dedication to world-class wine that is complemented by sweeping panoramic views from a 32-foot covered patio that overlooks the estate’s rolling hills and its 52-acre vineyard.

The expansive outdoor space negates capacity issues that other wineries will experience due to safety measures. Shady Lane Cellars’ staff will be able to distance tables and open up the traffic patterns for guests. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are permitted. Groups are limited to six people per table, based on state safety guidelines.

“Everything we’ve done is with the health of our staff and our guests in mind,” DeBlasio said, noting staff will undergo health screening each day and they will wear masks. Hand sanitizers have been placed throughout the tasting room, plexiglass screens have been installed and signs are in place to establish smooth flow for guests.

“We’re all in this together and we’re working toward having a great summer we can all enjoy,” he said.

While the winery could have opened before Memorial Day, Shady Lane Cellars delayed its summer debut until June 1 to provide training for staff and to make sure they could provide an environment to experience the wine and learn from people who are closest to it.

The response from the first weeks has been tremendous, DeBlasio said.

“There’s an atmosphere that still promotes everything we desire, which is an encounter that is second-to-none and something that leaves you wanting to come back for more,” he said.

Cans and summer plans announcements

The spring season wasn’t all about COVID-19 reaction as Shady Lane Cellars staff was busy behind the scenes in anticipation of the exciting launch of the winery’s first line of wine in cans under the new “Brio by Shady Lane Cellars” label. The name springs from the Italian word that means to live life or to perform a task with vivacity.

The cans, which will be available only at the tasting room beginning June 15 and elsewhere as distribution plans are finalized, will feature a still rosé, the sparkling white “Vibes,” and a hard cider. Each can will be a vessel for 375mL, equal to 1/2 half bottle of wine.

“This is really exciting for us because we’ve wanted to do something fun and a little whimsical,” DeBlasio said. “Cans are really coming on, and we have known that people wanted an easier way to take us outdoors when they go camping, hiking, biking or on the water somewhere.”

The first hosted event

Shady Lanes Cellars has embraced social distancing on the patio, and will now make an event out of the new normal with its “Wine Social….Distancing” gathering from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at the tasting room.

The plan calls for a perfect weather as well as great local wine and food pairings. There will be socially distanced wine and food stations from local providers set up across the outdoor patio. Reservations are required and admission is $25. There will be $5 glass pours of non-reserve wines available. Call 231-947-8865 or email Tyler Parks at to guarantee access.

Annual shrimp boil planning continues

The tradition of organizing Shady Lane’s low country shrimp boil is also underway, with a 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 25 date on the calendar and live music from Holly Keller highlighting the event that is all about friends, family and fun. The reservation-only event is $30 for adults, $15 for minors and includes:

  • Hors d’oeurves served at 5:00pm
  • Dinner served at 6:30 pm; Shrimp boiled with fresh corn, onions, potatoes, and sausage
  • 1 complimentary glass of Shady Lane Cellars wine for guests over the age of 21

Call 231-947-8865 or email Tyler Parks at to secure your ticket today.

Visit Shady Lane Cellars website to learn more about Northern Michigan’s leading estate vineyard.