Category: Travel and Adventure

Top 10 things to do this fall in northern Michigan

Traverse City fall pumpkin patch

In the distance are towering dunes, both to your left and to your right. At your feet is a wide plateau of sand that appears to fall off the face of the earth as it plunges some 450 feet nearly straight down into the water.

Traverse City dunes

It’s a steep slope down to Lake Michigan from the No. 9 overlook along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. From 450 feet above the water, the view alone is worth the trip to Traverse City this fall.

Straight ahead, meeting your eye, is a vast expanse of blue stretching to the horizon and sparkling in the sun.

To describe the view from the Lake Michigan Overlook along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive near Traverse City is one thing. It’s quite another to describe the feeling.

Stunning. Awe-inspiring. Heavenly. Words – even pictures – just don’t do it justice.

Simply put, visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore might be the most sublime experience you’ll ever have. And fall is a fantastic time to soak in all the natural splendor of the “Most Beautiful Place in America.”

Traverse City couple dancing

Not only is Sleeping Bear Dunes one of the most picturesque places on the planet, it’s also one of the Top 10 National Parks for Families and has the country’s Best Beach. But it’s far from the only reason to spend some time in northern Michigan as summer transitions to winter.

For example, Traverse City is also home to America’s Best Scenic Autumn Drive, one of the country’s best wine trails, and one of the Most Beautiful Main Streets in America.

With Fab Fall packages offering discounts at participating resorts and hotels, along with exclusive savings on shopping, dining, spa services and entertainment, now is a great opportunity to experience everything Traverse City has to offer – from stunning vistas high above one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes to intimate dinner tables in what Bon Appetit called one of America’s top five foodie towns.

Speaking of lists and rankings, start planning your trip with this Top 10 things to do this fall in the Traverse City area. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Traverse City couple toasting each other

Refine your palate – Blessed with the unique geography of being located exactly halfway between the North Pole and the equator and insulated by the waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay, the Traverse City area has just the right climate for more than 40 thriving wineries. This time of year, they’re all preparing for their annual harvest. You can check out the wine trails along the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas and find a new favorite this fall.

Plus, not only is Traverse City one of the Top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs, it’s also one of the Top 7 Beer Destinations in North America – not to mention an emerging hub for hard cider and distilleries. Be sure to mark your calendar for Traverse City Beer Week in November. Pair your favorite drink with the fact that Traverse City is the No. 1 Foodie Destination in the Midwest and your taste buds are in for some real joy!

 

Traverse City mom-kid apple picking

Experience the season – There may still be a hint of summer in the air, but winter will be here soon enough. Don’t miss your window to fall in love with fall. Traverse City just happens to be one of America’s Top 10 Fall Foliage Destinations. The whole area is also dotted with farm markets where you can savor the flavor of fresh Michigan produce, pumpkin patches you can peruse for the perfect jack-o-lantern and oodles of scenic settings where you can spread out a blanket, have a picnic and breathe in the autumn air.

 

Traverse City runner

Go on a hike – With about 100 miles of trails, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is an outdoor paradise. If you’re ambitious, you can tackle the park’s famous Dune Climb and keep going all the way to Lake Michigan and back. For a less strenuous adventure with more of the same incredible scenic beauty, hike up to Pyramid Point for the best mainland view of the Manitou Islands, or make your way out to Empire Bluffs on one of the Best 10 Walks in America.

 

Traverse City cyclists

Put yourself to the test – Maybe this fall it’s time for you to complete your first 5k. Or, if you’re a race regular, maybe this fall is time for your first 5k Zombie Run! Fall brings a variety of unique events to Traverse City, and each one gets you outdoors experiencing fall in northern Michigan. There’s the Ice Man Cometh, a 29-mile mountain bike race in Kalkaska, the Great Beerd Run during Traverse City Beer Week and the Paddle Antrim Festival that gets you out on the water. Traverse City also is home to incredible fishing opportunities, the VASA Pathway, which is one of the best running trails in the country, and the Sleeping Bear Marathon.

 

Traverse City couple at a bar

Be together – After immersing yourself in the wonder of the Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or taking in the sights of the idyllic Old Mission Peninsula, find a cozy place to gaze into each other’s eyes and reconnect after a busy summer. Indeed, a trip to Traverse City is of the 5 Most Romantic Getaways in Michigan, and it’s in the Top 10 of America’s Most Romantic Towns.

 

Come and have a ball this fall in Traverse City. Fab Fall packages are available through Dec. 13.

 

Traverse City: Home base for the ultimate M-22 road trip

Traverse City

You’ve seen it on vehicles all over Michigan: The M-22 sticker. The image itself is just like road signs on M-routes all across the state. But the combination of that letter and those two numbers communicates something truly special and unique.

M-22 represents natural beauty. It is an emblem of adventure, a symbol of a slower pace M22that affords you the time to meander and explore. It is magical.

You’ve seen the bumper stickers. Now, it’s time to see scenic M-22 for yourself.

It’s time for you to experience the awe-inspiring, waterfront route that winds around the Leelanau Peninsula along the shores of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. The route that USA Today readers voted the best scenic autumn drive in the country.

When you do buckle up and hit the road, we welcome you to make your base in Traverse City. Whatever season you visit, TC offers the best of Michigan – a snowy wonderland of outdoor activity in the winter, brilliant cherry blossoms in the spring and sparkling blue waters in the summer, not to mention a vibrant downtown with extraordinary dining and exciting events throughout the year.

In the fall, with stunning vistas of colorful forests, both M-22 and Traverse City are especially incredible. Here are 8 reasons why:

Color Tours – Not only do USA Today readers rave about M-22, but TripAdvisor has ranked Traverse City one of America’s top 10 foliage destinations and Readers Digest called a trek from Traverse City along M-22 one of the country’s best fall road trips.

People in carAlong M-22 you not only see breathtaking colors, but roadside fruit stands offering a slice


Wine Tasting
– The Traverse City area is home to more than 50 wineries, each with a unique personality and all within less than an hour’s drive of each other. You can make your way along M-22 from one winery on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail to the next, with safe, relaxing transportation from one of the area’s many tour companies.of life that nourishes your soul, a wealth of wineries with new flavors to discover andquaint small towns with charming galleries and restaurants.

Fall is an ideal time to take a vineyard tour and see grapes pressed into wine, or to grab a seat in a tasting room and discover a new favorite.

Microbrews – In addition to all the wineries, the Traverse City area has one of the country’s highest numbers of breweries per capita. You can explore them on a beer bus tour or get outside in the crisp fall air and go from one brewery to the next on a paddling or cycling tour.

apples traverse cityWe also celebrate the region’s craft brews each fall during Traverse City Beer Week. This year’s festivities Nov. 8-15 include lots of food and beer (such as a Flapjack & Flannel Festival that pairs beer with pancakes!) and a 5k Great Beerd Run that combines running, beer drinking and, of course, beards.

 

Farm Markets – Fall is time for farmers to bring in the harvest, and time for us all to get back in touch with where our food comes from. On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll celebrate Michigan’s bounty of agricultural goodness. Until then, you can head out to the farm and have a blast picking apples, navigating corn mazes and taking hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Along M-22 there are lots of farmer’s markets and U-pick farms to experience the season.

Sleeping Bear Dunes – Every summer visitors flock to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was voted the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” But here’s a secret: Many views are even more impressive in the fall.

Throughout the park along M-22 are hiking trails. Iconic sites include Pyramid Point, which is perched high above Lake Michigan and offers an incredible view of the Manitou Islands that are part of the legend that gave Sleeping Bear its name.

Beaches and Lakes – So much of the picturesque beauty of M-22 comes from the waterfront it hugs. It’s important to remember that the beaches along the way don’t close after Labor Day!

traverse city beachesWith blue lakes and golden sand mixing with the changing colors ofleaves, fall presents an incredible setting for romantic picnics on the beach and long walks by the water.

Fall is also a great time for fishing, when salmon make their annual run upriver from Lake Michigan, and for getting out on the water in a kayak to take in the gorgeous show of color from a fresh perspective.

Golf “Up North” golf reaches its peak in the fall, when the courses are still green, the water remains a beautiful blue and the trees come ablaze with colors of scarlet, orange and gold. It almost makes you want to hit your ball into the woods!

Some of Michigan’s best golf courses live along M-22. And after the round you can settle your bets – or double-down on your winnings – at Leelanau Sands Casino on M-22 near Suttons Bay.

Events – You can anchor your M-22 fall experience around one or more of the many events in the Traverse City area. There’s something happening every day this fall including Walking Ghost Tours, the Harvest Stompede, Sleeping Bear Marathon, Fall Color Sail, Downtown Traverse City Art Walk, M-22 Art2Art Tour, Traverse City Beer Week and more.

Maybe you should celebrate Halloween this year with a Zombie Run. Or run your first marathon. Or go on the wine trail’s Hunt for the Reds of October.

However you choose to experience the majesty of M-22, you can make Traverse City your home base. Fab Fall packages including lodging, dining, shopping and spa discounts are available now.

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

Download the MI Best M-22 Road Trip Guide

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Why the last ethnic neighborhood in Detroit is more vibrant than ever

Greektown Heritage Fest

Ask Christos Moisides about what the Greektown neighborhood means to Detroit, and he’s quick to respond:

“It’s been one of the heartbeats of Detroit for many, many decades,” said Moisides, whose family has owned businesses in the district on the city’s near Northeast side for years. “It means a lot to continue the tradition of what Greektown was and then be a part of transition it into what Greektown will continue to be.”

That’s the same assessment offered up by Tasso Teftsis, the owner of the legendary Astoria Bakery.

“(Greektown) is special to Detroit because it’s the last ethnic neighborhood that is still living and vibrant,” he said. “It’s special to Greeks around here, they feel ownership of Greektown, and we have a responsibility to keep it going.”

Greektown was established in the 1880s as a residential district where immigrants could hold on to their culture as they adapted to a new way of life. It morphed to a commercial streetscape led by family-owned businesses and marked by historic properties and Victorian era architecture.

The area’s cultural legacy was on full display this summer during the second annual Greektown Heritage Festival, which drew thousands of people to explore Monroe Avenue between Brush and St. Antoine streets on July 27.

 

 

The event served as a reminder of the Hellenic influence in the neighborhood, but it was also an introduction to one of the city’s prime entertainment district and diverse shopping experiences.

Residents and visitors strolled through the neighborhood watching lamb being traditionally roasted on a spit over open flames, Greek entertainers singing and dancing and a children’s area with balloon artists and inflatable playhouses.

The day-long festival is led by the Greektown Preservation Society with sponsorship by the Greektown Casino-Hotel, which opened in 2007 and has helped the area evolve while staying true to its roots.

“Greektown Casino-Hotel are awesome neighbors,” Teftsis said. “They are a big part of the festival, but they’re also a big part of the community, a part of our Greektown neighborhood partnership…it’s really an exciting time for Greektown.”

While Greektown’s history is evident in its name, the district has also served as a melting pot of cultures, one of which is shown through mutual support to and from The Old Shillelagh, an iconic Irish bar at the corner of Brush and Monroe streets. Owner Shellie Lewis said the festival is a chance to learn more about neighbors who share the goals of keeping Greektown strong.

“There’s a lot of new businesses coming in, and it is making this an even better place to be,” Lewis said. “If it wasn’t for Greektown Casino and Hotel, we wouldn’t be able to pull off the event. They are pillars of the community.”

Moisides, meanwhile, said as other areas of Detroit attract attention for their rebirth, it’s important to remember that Greektown never went away. It’s part of the pulse of Detroit, Moisides said.

“For the longest time, Greektown was everything,” Moisides said. “It’s still such a vital part of the community, where you have vibrant businesses and a great pulse of the area. It’s a place where everyone’s coming to see what’s happening and (wants to be) a part of the community.

“It’s still a safe family environment during the daytime and turns into a great entertaining, kind of nightlife hospitality enhanced area in the evenings.”

See Pictured Rocks and 4 more reasons to visit Munising in the fall

Munising autumn

The incredible natural wonders and extensive outdoor adventure opportunities of Munising and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are legendary, with the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore often serving as the focal point of travelers’ visits.

But there’s so much more to see and do while staying in and around Munising while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.

From majestic waterfalls to crystal clear waters that reveal a scuba diver’s shipwreck paradise, Cori-Ann Cearley, president of Munising’s Visitors Bureau, says the region is more than a one trick pony destination.

“We call Pictured Rocks our ‘big gun’ attraction, and rightfully so,” Cearley said, “but one of the moments we love to see is when our guests come and discover all of the other beautiful and amazing parts of our area that they weren’t aware of.

“They find there’s beautiful scenery to explore while hiking, biking, kayaking or on a boat cruise.”

As Labor Day approaches and the fall colors set to explode – and crowds tend to dwindle with school back in session – now is an ideal time to head north and check out these Northern Michigan gems:

Shipwrecks at the Alger Underwater Preserve

Hugging the lakeshore between Munising and Grand Island, the eight shipwrecks of the Alger Underwater Preserve are a throwback to another era of transportation and shipping. Whether diving or viewing from a glass-bottomed boat tour, the wrecks, some of which have been preserved for more than a century, are visible through clear blue and green waters that are breathtaking in their own right. The area was a shipping sanctuary with the natural protection of Grand Island, but big seas sometimes proved too strong. Wooden schooners, steam barges and steel freight ships dot the coast.

Waterfalls

Munising WaterfallAt its core, a waterfall is a simple concept – gravity pulls liquid from a higher point until it finds an outlet, but the release and flow of water is something that captures the attention of nature lovers and photographers. The tranquil sights abound in the Munising area, where 17 waterfalls are found throughout Alger County. The waterfalls are accessible to all and active year-round, an ice-flow waterfall in the winter is a sight to behold on its own. The waterfalls can be found on Grand Island, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and elsewhere. The Munising Visitors Bureau can help you find all the waterfalls in the area.

Lighthouses

Navigational advances may have diminished the need for the prime function of lighthouses, but the uniquely built structures remain a beacon for people interested in history and beauty on the shores of the Great Lakes. Munising is the home of eight lighthouses, including the Au Sable Point light that can be toured and climbed from mid-June through Labor Day. Other lights have been renovated and can be seen up close while serving as the center for memorable vacation photos. Some lighthouses have been converted to dream-like private residences.

Grand Island

Hop aboard a narrated bus tour and learn about the 3,000-year history of Grand Island, a 13,000-acre bit of paradise in the Hiawatha National Forest that sits only a half-mile from Munising. The southernmost island in Lake Superior, this natural phenomenon is ideal for hiking and biking to white-sand beaches, stunning elevated vistas and an “I’m all alone in the woods” secluded sites that offer silence from the rush of daily life. Visitors can get to the island via personal boat or ferry. The wilderness area offers unmatched scenery where travelers can see black bear and white-tail deer. Be sure to check out Echo Lake and bring your fishing pole.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Practice your “oohs” and “wow!” before visiting this national treasure that features 40 miles of sandstone cliffs, rock formations, sea caves and sea arches that are equally stunning from the ground and the water. The dramatic colors are breathtaking and the sheer size of the protected lakeshore allows you a freedom that doesn’t generally exist where up to 700,000 people visit annually. Hike 100 miles of trails or jump on a guided boat tour to take in beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls and hardwood forests that will leave an impression for a lifetime – or at least until you come back to experience it again.

Your first – or next visit – to Munising will bring natural joy and relaxation. You’ll find a wide selection of comfortable lodging that matches your desires and vacation plans.

Learn more at Munising.org

Exploring Detroit

Detroit River

Nick enjoys a Dragon’s Milk White while enjoying Belle Isle and the skyline view from his paddle board on the Detroit River, before heading downtown to explore, find some food and another beer.