Tag: Featured

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.

 

Son succeeds father as CEO of nation’s largest state retail association

Bill Hallan, James P. Hallan, Gov. James Blanchard, Janet Blanchard

Already two decades ago, Bill Hallan was helping merchants all across Michigan. He spent a summer in college going from store to store, installing or reprogramming standalone credit card terminals that would dial out over a telephone line.

The job often would take about a half hour, and Hallan would pass the time talking to shop owners about the values of the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and thanking them for being members.

“It really gave me the opportunity to see the business from the ground up,” he said. “It was great to see the members in their shops and provide a valuable service to them.”

Turns out that was good preparation because Hallan, now 37, is helping Michigan retailers with credit card processing and much more now that he has taken over as the MRA’s new president and CEO.

But his training for the role actually began even earlier, as a child. After all, the longtime MRA executive that he’s succeeding is James P. Hallan, his father.

James Hallan had been CEO of the MRA since 2008, and his recent retirement concluded his tenure that dates back to 1985 when Bill was just a toddler. As a result, Bill Hallan literally grew up around retailers. He met MRA board members and staff during his childhood and, as he got older, started picking his dad’s brain about things happening at work.

After going to school at Denison University in Ohio and graduating magna cum laude from the University of Toledo College of Law, Bill Hallan worked as a litigator. Then, he joined the MRA in 2011 as vice president and general counsel and has worked alongside his dad since then.

“I’ve basically grown up with Michigan Retailers in my life, for my entire life, so I hold it close to my heart,” Bill Hallan said. “My dad’s been a role model to me, and to watch him handle his role here as CEO with such integrity, and to grow the association to new heights through his vision, has been a great learning experience for me.

“It’s an incredible honor to follow his lead.”

RELATED: Jim Hallan: MRA’s President and CEO reflects on his 34-year career

MRA Mascot

Keep an eye out for the Buy Nearby Guy when you’re out shopping at local Michigan retailers. ‘The local retailers are the ones who support the community pancake breakfast, the spaghetti dinner, the local sports team. They give jobs to our neighbors,’ Bill Hallan said. ‘It’s good for all of us to buy nearby because we all want that vibrant downtown, that sense of community.”

The MRA was organized in 1940, long before either Bill or James Hallan became leaders. It was created to be an advocate and trusted resource for the retail industry in Michigan, and that mission continues today as the MRA has grown into the largest state retail association in the entire country with more than 5,000 members representing over 15,000 stores and Web sites.

Of course, the ways the MRA supports Michigan retailers has changed through the years. For example, the MRA in 1969 became the first non-bank Independent Sales Organization (ISO) to offer credit card services. Today, the MRA processes about $1.4 billion in credit card transactions each year in all 50 states.

The MRA also provides members with insurance options including health, dental and workers’ compensation. Its staff runs educational seminars and workshops, and does legislative advocacy on issues such as Main Street Fairness.

Plus, the MRA promotes shopping local through its Buy Nearby campaign that includes an annual statewide celebration of Michigan retailing. This year’s Buy Nearby Weekend is Oct. 4-6.

Basically, the MRA is a “one-stop shop” for Michigan retailers to find support that keeps the industry – and the communities in our state – strong.

“As a small retailer you’re out there by yourself, so being part of a larger group gives you a huge voice to speak from,” said Rick Melahn, a longtime MRA member who owned a store in downtown Saugatuck and now is retail manager at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, which features a large toy store.

“When you’re out there as a consumer you do have a lot of options today. But I think the bottom line is that the MRA helps to support that idea of keeping your dollars in the Keep your money in the mitten info boxcommunity, and that’s what Buy Nearby is all about. You’re helping support the shop owners to stay in that community and be a vital part of that community.”

The retail industry changed significantly on James Hallan’s watch, with the emergence of big-box stores and the rise of online retailing. Then there was the Great Recession through the end of the last decade that hit Michigan particularly hard.

As James Hallan would often say, “the only constant is change.” In response, the MRA has been nimble through the years and proactively met the needs of members by helping retailers all over Michigan adapt to changing trends, new technology, digital marketing and more.

Now, as Bill Hallan takes charge, “his challenge will be the challenge that I faced: the changing retail and regulatory environment,” says his dad. Yet, the mission remains the same – to help Michigan’s retailers thrive, so that the communities in our state can prosper.

“If we’re always thinking local first, then we’re always benefitting Michigan before we’re benefitting out-of-state retailers that aren’t invested here,” Bill Hallan said.

“I love when my kids are playing on a sports team and I see on the back of their jersey all the sponsors from local shops. My family frequents those shops on a regular basis because I know they’re invested in our town, they’re invested in Michigan and they will be invested in our future.”

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.

How to look fresh for Michigan’s fall

Libins shirts sweaters

The turn of seasons marks a perfect time for men to turn over their closets from shorts and golf shirts to clothing that is more appropriate for the fall and winter months.

It’s also time to evaluate if what you’re wearing aligns with current styles, including fit trends which this year tend to skew toward more slim-fitting items.

Thankfully, Mother Nature has granted guys a couple extra weeks as warmer temperatures are expected to linger through September. Recent extended forecasts show high temperatures between 70 and 74 degrees for the southern half of Lower Michigan, and a few days in the 80s are still possible.

Here’s a quick refresher on clothing items that every man should have in his closet for a complete wardrobe, courtesy of Libins, the leading fine men’s clothing shop in the Kalamazoo area.

This fall, the experts at the store with a 60-year history of dressing Southwest Michigan men, say there are ways to beat the color tour chill with casual layers that are both comfortable and versatile for whatever the day may bring – from activities like football games and orchard outings to heading out to dinner with friends.

The clothing carried at Libins includes a wide array of fabrics that can help men gradually progress as the temperatures drop. Materials can vary from lighter weight fabrics in cotton, acrylic, wool and merino wool for the cooler days of fall. There are also multiple styling options for sweaters, such as quarter-zip, v- neck, crew neck and some full-zip options.

Here are some ideas that Libins shoppers have found appealing this year:

  • Long-sleeve sport shirts with stretch soft textures and great prints.
  • Quarter-zip sweaters to match back to the sport shirts.
  • Lightweight V-neck sweaters that are slim fit and match or complement the sport shirts.
  • Crew neck sweaters in ombre stripes.
  • Quarter-zip Sherpa pullovers.

If the occasion calls for an upscale appearance, Libins advisors recommend a sport coat or suit. Libins has styles and fits for all men.  These three have been popular:

  • Calvin Klein Extreme Fit: Tight fit in the coat in the shoulder sleeves and body of the coat. The pant fits below the waist and has a tighter fitting silhouette to the bottom of the leg.
  • Ralph Lauren Modern Fit: The shoulder is looser than the slim fit and a fuller cut sleeve still has a tapered look to the body of the coat. Pant fits slightly below waist and has a straight fit that is more open at the bottom.
  • Eisenberg Traditional Fit: This is the fullest cut suit that we stock. The coat has very little tapering to the body and sleeve. The shoulder is very roomy, and the pants are a classic fit, sitting at the waist and carrying a wide finish to the bottom of the leg.

Libins experts remind men not to overlook pant styling categories that will change the way clothes look. An incorrect fit will affect men’s overall appearance and turn an outfit from fab to drab. Here are the three primary fits:

  • Classic fit: Sits at the waist and has a full leg and wide at the bottom
  • Straight fit: Falls slightly below the waist and has a more tapered leg and is narrow at the bottom. Many brands for fall are making the straight fit and inch narrower at the bottom to give the pant a more slim look.
  • Slim fit: The most tapered of the options, this pant sits below waist and has a very tapered leg to the bottom of the leg.

And if men want to break out of the bland black dress socks that have been in their drawers for years, Libins now carries Happy Socks, a line of colorful and whimsical coverings that will shake up their wardrobe. There are also new prints from the Beatles, Andy Warhol and Rolling Stones to consider.

For more advice and ideas for fall and beyond, visit Libins website or take a moment to talk to one of the store’s fitting professional to create your best look.