Category: Travel and Adventure

Celebrate Beer Week in Michigan’s No. 1 region for craft brewing

Most of the beer brewed in the Traverse City area isn’t available in stores, so you have to go there to check it out. But that’s half the fun of finding a new favorite, right?

With rolling hills traversing the 45th parallel between the insulating waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, the pinkie finger of Michigan is a natural site for thriving vineyards that dot the countryside.

But wine isn’t the only libation specialty in the Traverse City area. It’s also home to a growing collection of craft breweries, from the Leelanau Peninsula Traverse City Beer Weeksouth along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and inland to the heart of Traverse City itself.

Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse counties all rank among the top five in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula for number of breweries per capita. Plus, neighboring Antrim County, home of Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, produces the most beer per capita of any county in Michigan.

While you can find great craft brews all over the state, the Traverse City area has emerged as a must-visit destination for beer lovers. And fall is a great time to experience the flavors of northern Michigan craft beer, especially during Traverse City Beer Week, Nov. 8-15.

“Beer Week is a really cool time of year where it’s transitioning from fall to winter and you get to be outside still and really experience an Up North feel, and the breweries just enhance that,” said Troy Daily, a beer entrepreneur who partners with the area’s burgeoning beer scene to run events and services including Paddle for Pints, TC Brew Bus, TC Cycle Pub, TC Ale Trail and the Kayak, Bike & Brew.

“It creates a winning combination.”

RELATED: Top 10 things to do this fall in northern Michigan

The Traverse City area is home to 20 microbreweries including Short’s Brewing, which is the largest microbrewer in Michigan. (Only Bell’s Brewing in Kalamazoo and Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids produce more beer, so much that they no longer qualify as microbrewers.)

The region also features Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City and Stormcloud Brewing in Frankfort, both among the 50 largest microbrewers in the state. There’s also Mitten Brewing in Northport, Hop Lot Brewing in Suttons Bay, Lake Ann Brewing in Lake Ann and North Peak Brewing, Monkey Fist Brewing and Mackinaw Brewing in Traverse City. The list goes on.

You can try to visit them all this fall or check a few off your list during an upcoming weekend. Traverse City Beer Week offers a great opportunity to get a broad sampling.

“Beer Week really showcases that Traverse City is a beer destination with a lot of good breweries, not just one,” Daily said. “A lot of the breweries up here aren’t in distribution, so you have to come here in order to get their beer.”

Traverse City Beer Week features several events. Here’s the full schedule, with several highlights:

  • 6th Annual TC Ale Trail IPA Challenge – Who brews the best IPA in Traverse City? This blind taste test from 5:30-10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at The Little Fleet will decide. The competition will be judged by 200 beer lovers, and you could be one of them!
  • TCBW Kick Off Pub Crawl – Get Traverse City Beer Week off to a fast start from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, by visiting a bunch of breweries right off the bat in downtown Traverse City. Walk your way from one brewery to the next and earn an official Pub Crawl t-shirt by visiting at
    Traverse City Beerd Run

    Photo courtesy of The Great Beerd Run

    least six of the participating locations.

  • 6th Annual Great Beerd Run 5K – Grow a beard (or tie one on) and enjoy on-course beer tastings during an untimed fun run 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. After the race there will be live music and a Best Beard Costume.
  • 2019 Flapjack & Flannel Festival – Wear your flannels and enjoy more than 30 beers from a dozen Traverse City breweries paired with live music, games and, of course, pancakes! Each ticket is good for a couple drinks, one pancake and live music from local bands from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at The Little Fleet.

 

When you go visit any of the Traverse City area’s breweries, go ahead and make a weekend out of it. Or sneak away in the middle of the week to enjoy the beauty of a northern Michigan fall before winter comes.

From scenic drives and roadside markets to incredible trails for hiking and biking, the Traverse City area has tons to do this time of year. Several places to stay are offering special Beer Week lodging packages with discounted rates, and they include a Traverse City logoed fanny pack stuffed with coupons, a Brew Tour Guide and package of pretzels to go with your beer.

Come taste for yourself why the Traverse City area is Michigan’s No. 1 region for craft brewing!

Traverse City Kayaking

Fall is full of opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Traverse City area. Mix in the region’s growing craft beer scene and you have the ingredients for ‘a winning combination’ you don’t want to miss.

Michigan’s beautiful fall: 6 ways to make the most of it in Ludington

fall in ludington, mi

Any time of year, the stretch of Lakeshore Drive north of downtown Ludington that winds along the shore of Hamlin Lake is a gorgeous drive. This time of year, it’s absolutely striking.

In fact, it’s one of the most scenic driving routes in the state for fall color, according to the County Road Association of Michigan.

Yet, it might not even be one of the top three fall color routes in Ludington.

fall cycling in ludington, mi

That’s because just a few minutes away in Ludington State Park are 20 miles of hiking trails through a forest ablaze with leaves of red, yellow and orange. At the Hamlin Lake Beach area of the state park, a four-mile canoe trail flows through lily pads along the tree-lined shore. And just a few minutes back toward town, in Cartier Park, there’s a single-track mountain bike trail that courses through the woods with views of Lincoln Lake.

Each of those routes offers a truly unique way to experience the bounty and beauty of Michigan’s fall color. And each one is better than the last.

The extraordinary mix of fall color and outdoor adventure is a big reason Michigan is one of the country’s Top 5 States to Visit in the Fall. And in no place is that combination more accessible than in Ludington, where you can take in fall colors by car, kayak, bike or hike – and still have time for dinner in town and a walk on the beach to soak in what makes perhaps the season’s best fall colors, a Lake Michigan sunset.

“Ludington offers a quintessential ‘Up North’ experience that is magical in the fall, whether enjoying it from your car on a color drive, your bicycle on a trail or your canoe on a river,” said Brandy Miller, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Ludington and Mason County deliver the perfect combination of unspoiled natural resources and unrivaled outdoor recreation with quaint, small-town charm.”

Come see for yourself what makes Ludington so special in the fall. Here are six ways to experience the season like never before:

off road cycling in ludington, mi

Lost Lake-Island Trail Loop – Of the 20 miles of hiking trails in Ludington State Park, the two-mile Lost Lake-Island Trail Loop that follows the western shore of Hamlin Lake and traverses a scenic boardwalk is a sure bet for a feast of fall color. It’s a favorite of Ludington-based photographers Todd and Brad Reed, who always make time for this trail in October to scope out the perfect fall photo op.

Cartier Park Mountain Bike Trail – There are picturesque bike paths and trails in Ludington State Park, including a gravel road out to the iconic black-and-white-striped Big Sable Point lighthouse right on Lake Michigan. But the four-mile single-track dirt mountain biking trail in the city’s Cartier Park on Lincoln Lake may be the best place to go on two wheels. It’s safe for beginners and intermediate bikers, yet offers the option of a more challenging stretch for experienced riders. The trail in Cartier Park also connects through brief street rides and Memorial Tree Park Trail to the Ludington School Forest, making for about 10 miles of urban single-track in all.fishing in ludington, mi

Hamlin Lake Canoe Trail – Hamlin Lake is one of the larger inland lakes in Michigan, yet the four-mile canoe trail along the west shore of the lake feels more like a river as you paddle through lily pads and reeds on a trip that can last one to three hours, depending on the wind. Ludington also is home to the magnificent Pere Marquette River, with many opportunities to put in a kayak or canoe for a water-level perspective on the stunning fall colors – and many chances to see wildlife.

Steelhead fishing – Speaking of the Pere Marquette River, there’s no better place to be this time of year for fishing. Not only is Ludington the top salmon port on Lake Michigan, but it’s also home to 40 inland lakes and 2,000 miles of trout streams. The Pere Marquette is a designated national scenic river that flows for 66 miles with legendary steelhead runs each fall. Come on over in your own boat or hire a charter captain to show you the ropes.

Mason County Agricultural TrailIf you don’t fancy fish, then how about fruit?

apple picking ludington, mi

Christofferson Farms is one of several U-pick orchards and farms in the Ludington area where you can spend a couple hours taking part in the bounty of Michigan’s annual harvest. If you’re more into maple syrup, then check out Kistlercrest Farms. And if you like jam, be sure to visit the Jam Farm and try some of the 30-plus varieties of homemade fruit spreads from Ludington’s own “Jam Lady.” Those are just a few of the stops you can make along Ludington’s Agricultural Trail this fall.

Halloween Fun – Although it’s called the Haunted Village, the family-friendly trick-or-treating event at Historic White Pine Village isn’t really spooky. But there is a lot of costumes and candy! Ditto for the Haunted Hayride at Cartier Park Campground, which features apple cider, wagon rides and a scary movie. The October calendar of events in Ludington also includes the Spooky Slow Roll bike ride, downtown trick-or-treating and a West Shore Community College Theater presentation of “Frankenstein.” Plan your weekend around one or more of these unique events.

However you choose to experience fall in Ludington, be sure to take advantage of seasonal lodging specials. Many places to stay including hotels and B&Bs are offering half-off a second night’s stay Sunday through Thursday in October.

 

Get out and explore: Discover color tours, fall traditions and more in Mt. Pleasant

Mt. Pleasant Autumn

Gone are summer days at the beach, baseball games and camping trips.

Those seasonal traditions are traded for fall color tours, trips to apple orchards and pumpkin patches and fall football.

There’s no better place to experience the switch of the seasons than in Mt. Pleasant, the home of Central Michigan University and a city of 26,000 people that balances a small-town feel with a larger than imagined opportunity to continue or start new traditions.

Whether by foot, car, water or hayride, there’s something for everyone in the mid-Michigan region that finds a way to cater to families, college students and weekend travelers with a diverse recreation, dining, cocktail and adventure scene.

During the 100 days of fall, the possibilities open up to explore apple orchards, pumpkin patches and area parks that are ideal for daytime outings to spot all the hues of red, yellow and orange that unfold and provide a relaxing backdrop to an on-the-run lifestyle.

Here are some ideas and top tips for finding your next getaway:

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch: Papa’s is a longtime favorite of those in and around Isabella Papa's Pumpkin Patch donutsCounty. At any age, the patch can be the place to pick out your carving pumpkin, hop on a hayride around the farm and snap those fall pictures that will create memories for years to come. The owners have kept the prices low and structured affordable packages for groups of 10 or more, providing the full experience of a crisp day outdoors.

“This is a wonderful place to go,” said Stephanie Cortes in a review of the patch.

“Always amazing, we go every year,” Rene Peterson weighed in after her visit.

“Shepherd Cheer Team had a GREAT time at the patch! The staff was so accommodating and full of hospitality. We will definitely be back! Thank you!”

Did we mention the donuts?

CMU Football Stadium

Central Michigan Football: The return of the Chippewas to Kelly/Shorts Stadium offers a chance to spend a Pure Michigan classic day in Mt. Pleasant. Start tailgating, transition to  cheering CMU touchdowns and then hit the road for a color tour or find a bite to eat. Plan your outing around the final four home games of the season on Oct. 5, Oct. 12, Nov. 2 or Nov. 29.

Dayhikes and paddling: Mt. Pleasant visitors and residents alike want to pack as much of the fall outdoor fun as they can in daylight hours. The opportunities to hike area parks, including the county’s highest point in Bundy Hill, or take one last leisurely float on the Chippewa River. Use the GKB Riverwalk Trail/Access Adventure Trail or Deerfield Park as other hiking launching points.

Culinary Delights: The fall harvest also gives local restaurants the chance to change menus to feature the flavors of the season. Locally owned shops use the freshest of ingredients on breakfast fare like specialty waffles and that continues into the nightlife with farm-raised beef and produce. For ideas and more information, read: Mt. Pleasant Area Fall Flavor (plus Fun!) Tour.

Make the Top 10: Get those cameras and phones ready for the annual Feels like fall photo contest run by the Mt. Pleasant Convention and Visitors Bureau. The agency kicks off the Instagram competition on Oct. 2 using the @MtPleasantCVB and #FeelsLikeFall tags to show off the best Mt. Pleasant has to offer. Take a look at the images that made the summer Top 10.

Visit meetmtp.com to learn more about Mt. Pleasant and plan your next trip.