Tag: Featured

Diverse black-owned Michigan restaurants worth celebrating during Black History Month, all year long

A decorated outdoor wall, with faces painted on it

MLive Michigan’s Best’s John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman shine a spotlight on a few of the local, black-owned restaurants around the state. Gonzo and Amy highlight each restaurant’s foundation story while enjoying delicious meals in unique locations. From an ‘igloo picnic’ to a Thursday rib night, to low-and-slow southern BBQ and Afro-Caribbean eats – these restaurants are your next MI Best ‘must try’!

East Eats – Kwaku Osei-Bonsu and Lloyd M. Talley, Ph.D., started East Eats in order to bring something special to this neighborhood and community. Intentionally choosing a location ‘off the beaten path’ and a unique dining experience of domes/igloo picnics. East Eats diners can travel around the globe from their dome with the sights, smells and tastes of a rotating seasonal menu of Eastern hemisphere foods.

Geno’s Sports Bar and Grill – after 28 years working in Detroit Geno Allen returned to Thompsonville and purchased the local bar. Quickly becoming a favorite for locals and tourists. With $1 pints of PBR, lots of TVs to catch all your favorite sports and plenty of great food including everyone’s favorite, Thursday night rib nights.

Daddy Pete’s BBQ – Cory and Tarra Davis, had a gift for BBQ and entertaining so they started Daddy Pete’s BBQ. Offering low and slow Southern style BBQ from both a food truck and dine-in location. They are committed to family, food and their customers.

Yum Village – with the motto, African raised, Detroit made, Chef Godwin Ihentuge is bringing Afro-Caribbean food to Michigan. With food as diverse as jerked ox tail and curried chickpeas and events such as group drumming lessons, this restaurant is not only a must-try foodie destination but also a community gathering spot.

5 things to see and do in Michigan before the snow melts

woman gazes out at a wintery lake

Who knew that the huge cinnamon rolls at Hilltop Restaurant in L’Anse weigh more than a pound? Or that there’s a statue just up the road along U.S. 41 called “Spider Jesus?”

That a nearby waterfall pierces the icy landscape of the “Grand Canyon of the U.P.” and that the parking lot of Irene’s Pizza in Baraga is a splendid place to watch the sunset over Keweenaw Bay?

“Every small town has something unique about it,” said Tieka Knight, a travel blogger who recently spent a gorgeous winter day exploring the distinctive character of the L’Anse-Baraga area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “I like to find all those gems.”

Tieka Knight is a graphic designer who also blogs about travel at selectivepotential.com.

Tieka Knight is a graphic designer who also blogs about travel at selectivepotential.com.

Knight discovered snow-covered gems such as Canyon Falls and the Bishop Baraga Shrine on her day trip, and there are many more winter treasures to encounter in places all over Michigan. Whether you follow in her footsteps or blaze a trail of your own, the recipe for a winter day trip is the same: Just find something interesting on the map to visit – maybe a lighthouse or a scenic turnout – search out a few local shops and restaurants, then hit the open road for a day you’ll never forget. With a spirit of adventure, any Michigan town becomes a destination.

A winter day trip is one of many ways to enjoy the season while our state is glistening with snow.

And here are five more things to see and do this winter in Michigan before the snow melts:

Strap on some snowshoes – Snowshoeing is a different experience than speeding down a ski slope or pedaling a fat tire bike through the snow. But that’s not to say it’s not a workout! It might actually be the perfect way to get exercise out in the beauty of a Pure Michigan winter. And most anywhere you go in the state, you can find a place to rent snowshoes. Knight suggests renting from the Escanaba Civic Center and snowshoeing around the Peninsula Point Lighthouse or through Fayette Historic State Park.

Lace up some ice skates – From frozen ponds to outdoor rinks all across the state, there’s plenty of opportunity to get out on the ice and fancy yourself an Olympic champion – or just spend time hand in hand with your special someone. Knight suggests checking out the outdoor ice rink at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. You can rent skates right there and enjoy an extraordinary setting amidst all the tall buildings. It feels like you’re in a real-life snow globe! Plus, there are lots of places just a short walk away for hot cocoa or dinner. And through February, Grand Rapids is hosting the World of Winter Festival with large-scale art exhibits and ice sculptures.

Visit a waterfall – People usually flock to see the incredible waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the summer. But each falls has its own special character in the winter, when the landscape is as beautiful as ever. You’ll feel a bit like an explorer discovering something for the first time! Some parking areas near waterfalls are closed during the winter and some falls can be difficult to reach in the snow. But many falls are easily accessible with parking right on the road. Knight recommends Bond Falls off U.S. 45 near Paulding.

person walks across a snow covered wooden bridge in the woodsDine in an igloo – Even now that indoor dining is available again in Michigan, outdoor dining remains a popular winter activity. As a resident of both Marquette and Grand Rapids, Knight has recommendations for both areas: the heated igloos at historic Mt. Shasta Restaurant in Michigamme, the heated “deck rooms” on the deck at Elizabeth’s Chop House in Marquette and the heated igloos at Royals and other restaurants in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids. “It’s a fun way to experience the outdoors without being cold,” Knight said. “You don’t need a coat or anything.” Whether in an igloo, shanty or some other kind of enclosure, there are .

Take a lighthouse tour – There are so many summer photos of Michigan lighthouses. But these maritime relics remain standing throughout the winter, too. What better place to see them in all their wintry glory than in the Traverse City area? From Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfurt to Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula to Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, the Traverse City area is home to some of Knight’s favorites. “A lot of the colors, especially the red ones, really pop in the white snow,” Knight said. Take a look at these incredible photos of frozen Michigan lighthouses.

There are so many great ways to spend a winter day in Michigan that it’s hard to whittle the list down to just five. The ideas above don’t even include cross-country skiing on the Noquemanon Trail, popularly known as the “Noque,” in Marquette; hiking through woods full of towering, snow-covered evergreens at Hartwick Pines State Park near Cadillac; having the surreal experience of visiting the Eben Ice Caves near Munising; winter rafting on the Sturgeon River near Gaylord; snowmobiling around Grand Marais; or walking the trails at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore west of Traverse City.

Explore all there is to do this winter in Michigan and plan an excursion while the snow’s still on the ground. Note that reservations may be needed for some activities due to pandemic-related capacity limits.

Winter is at its peak! Enjoy the snow and look forward to what’s next

person downhill skiing in Michigan

We’ve gotten a lot of snow all across Michigan in the past couple weeks and our state is as beautiful as ever. It is an ideal time to get out and enjoy the winter activities that make this time of year where we live so special.

It’s also time to start looking ahead to the next season of fun and book your spring and summer adventures in the Mitten State. Fortunately, many Michigan destinations are offering money-saving offers right now both for winter excursions and warmer-weather recreation.

In our Pure Michigan Featured Deals for February you’ll find a luxury getaway to Mackinac Island’s historic Grand Hotel, which has an April opening that will be here soon! If you book the hotel’s Simply Grand Package now, you’ll get a bonus resort credit to use at Grand Hotel restaurants and shops or on resort activities. And since we’re in the “month of love,” you can make a Simply Grand Package the perfect gift for your valentine by topping it off with a Touch of Romance basket that’s filled with a bottle of wine, flowers, world-famous Mackinac Island fudge and a card.

RELATED: Explore Local: A magical, local Valentine’s Day adventure

Of course, there’s still time for a winter getaway, too, either just the two of you or an entire family. But Mother Nature won’t keep sending snow for long. The groundhog says we only have a few more weeks of winter left!

skier shushing through fresh snow in MichiganIf you haven’t yet hit the ski slopes or taken the kids tubing, then make a plan today to do that before the snow’s gone. You can tube and go downhill or cross-country skiing – and save money too! – with lodging rates as low as $119 a night with the “Bellaire Means Fresh Air” deal at Shanty Creek Resort. At Trout Creek Condominium Resort in Harbor Springs near the Nubs Nob and Boyne ski areas, you can get a third night for free and warm up by the fireplace after each day of outdoor winter recreation.

With pandemic restrictions on indoor dining now relaxed, you can add nice sit-down dinners to your trip. Explore the incredible diversity of dining options in Ann Arbor while escaping for a night or two at any of 40-plus hotels offering rates starting at $89 a night. Or book a Traverse City Escape Package and get discounted lodging plus coupons for attractions, shopping, dining and drinks at some of Michigan’s best wineries and craft breweries.

For a more intimate dining experience, look at this amazing Dine-In deal at The Townsend Hotel in the walkable upscale community of Birmingham, where a night’s skis, snowshoes, and walking polesstay comes with a $75 room service credit and valet parking. And if you’re looking to escape from the world for a while to enjoy a unique nature-centric retreat, how about a winter cottage getaway to southwest Michigan’s picturesque Bay Pointe on Gun Lake?

Winter only comes once a year. Fortunately, there’s still time to make this winter extra special! And as you plan ahead for spring and summer, be sure to explore the wide variety of ways to shop, eat and stay local right here in our Pure Michigan.

RELATED: How to make the most of our Pure Michigan winter

5 uniquely Michigan winter adventures

Eric with sled dogs in winter

In this episode, Eric Hultgren talks with Tom Daldin and Jim Edelman from the Emmy award-winning Under the Radar about 5 winter adventures that are unique to Michigan. From ice caves to dog sledding there are tons of fun things to do in this winter weather here in Michigan. Stay safe while getting a view outside your own four walls.

First-ever Ann Arbor Area Hotel Week to debut with deals, Restaurant Week tie-ins

Ann Arbor hotel and restaurant weeks graphic

Michael Weber hears it from friends, he hears it from fellow members of the Washtenaw County Hotel Association, and he hears it from guests who have stayed at his Weber’s Boutique Hotel in Ann Arbor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are saying they’re getting a bit stir-crazy,” Weber said. “They’re ready for a break and a release to get them out of their houses. They just want to do something that lets them focus on having fun and relaxing.”

Destination Ann Arbor and the hotel association are providing a solution with the first-ever Ann Arbor Area Hotel Week, an innovative promotion that offers incredible room deals, upgrades and dining packages to coincide with the region’s restaurant week that runs Feb. 21 to Feb. 26.

“There’s a lot of energy with restaurant week, and this adds to the excitement and the ability to do something that is a change of pace,” said Weber, the president of the hotel group. “It’s a great opportunity for a staycation or for people to come and see what Ann Arbor has to offer.”

Find your Hotel Week deal: A complete list of all discounts and packages

The annual restaurant week celebrates the dining scene as chefs and staffs show off creative menus at affordable prices. Nearly 20 eateries are participating in the event with dine-in and to-go meals, including family-sized options. Menus offer a variety of meals, including vegetarian and vegan options as well as two and three-course selections.

New this year are online demonstrations from Vinology’s James Beard Award winner Alex Young, who will teach viewers how to make his famous fried chicken, and Zingerman’s Deli Chef Rodger Bowser showing how to make its legendary Chicken Pot Pie.

“Restaurants are putting their best foot forward to highlight what they do best and to make something new for their guests,” said Sandra Andrade, the executive director of Main Street Ann Arbor, which organizes the week. “This is about connecting with the community and keeping this great dining culture thriving.”

Marriott hotel room in Ann Arbor, MIAndrade said the synergy and partnership between Hotel Week and Restaurant Week comes at a critical time for the hospitality industry. While the plight of restaurants has been well publicized, the impact of the pandemic has also battered hotels with minimal business and leisure travel and no convention or event traffic.

“The whole hospitality sector has taken such a big hit this year and that makes this even more important to get out there and support your favorite places or try something new,” she said. “It’s really exciting to have these events work together and support each other.”

The exclusive, limited time offers at area hotels can be found here, and while some are only available during the promotion week, others will allow and encourage guests to book packages now and stay later in the year.

Jamie Vecchioni, the director of sales and marketing at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, said hotels are committed to making the week enjoyable for guests.

“This is such a cool idea because there are so many great restaurants and so many great hotel properties in our area for people to experience,” Vecchioni said. “This is a perfect time to pair a delicious meal with a night out in a comfortable room.”

Participating restaurants and hotels have been practicing and adhering to strict safety and sanitation guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing signs and safety partitions are installed throughout properties and mask use is mandatory in common areas.

“The protocols are really important to us as an industry because we’re all in this together,” she said. “We encourage people to come now if they’re ready or to join us later in the year if they want to wait. We are excited to greet you.”

This 330-mile trail system, the Snowmobile Capital of the Midwest, is in Michigan

snowmobiling in Munising, MI

It seems perfectly fitting for 2020, which has been unusual in so many ways, that a lack of significant snowfall has delayed activity in the Upper Peninsula’s Snowmobiling Capital of the Midwest, centered around 330 miles of trails near Munising.

But weather reports indicate that a return to normal is coming as the late December and early January forecast shows snow accumulations to hit the area in 7 of the next 10 days.

friends pose in front of the frozen Eben Ice Caves in Munising, MI area“There’s never really a problem or a question if we’ll have enough snow,” said Cori-Ann Cearly, the president of the Munising Visitors Bureau. “It’s always just a matter of when.”

The region averages 230 inches of snow each winter, making Munising and Alger County the perfect destination and starting spot for sled riders looking for a complete trail system that allows travel between towns, through magical woods, and to majestic ice caves and ice structures that daring climbers scale daily.

The groomed terrain matches any snowmobiler’s taste for adventure, or an easy day on the packed surfaces to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Miner’s Castle. The wide berths and stress-relieving scenic views are the perfect tonic to the tumultuous year stained by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the virus in Alger County has been minimized by safety measures and social distancing. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in winter

“Going on an adventure and seeing things that bring you joy is something we all really need right now,” Cearly said. “The most important thing is that it offers an opportunity for activity that is safe and healthy.

“The trails are like a highway in the woods, and it’s a place that we can slow down take your time and just be outdoors.”

Here is what Munising visitors will find:

330 miles of trails groomed daily

Members of the Snowmobile & O.R.V. Association of Alger County (SORVA for short) begin grooming the trials Dec. 1 and continue as long as the snow lasts, which is usually into April. The system provides access from Au Train to Shingleton and all trails and points between, Cearly said.

Widened trails improve safety

The trails that already allowed riders to glide across the snow will now include a median of sorts. SORVA brought in brush-hogging equipment over the warmer months to provide more room to ride – a key safety factor when sled operators encounter each other while traveling in opposite directions. Cearly estimates that the paths have 30 percent more room. While the width could allow three riders to fan out side-by-side, it is still strongly recommended to travel the trails single-file.

Low-lying areas have been in-filled

More off-season trail preparation has brought even better grading and filling to eliminate large depressions and holes. Don’t worry, there are still great hills and varying terrain, but riders won’t hit pothole-like conditions while zipping around the trail. Previously snowfalls would not completely fill and level the terrain since the snow packs down and forms around the hole, just like a pothole that will jar you while driving on pavement.

“All of this has been done to make it a better experience,” Cearly said. “You’re going to have just as much fun, probably more, because it’s going to be such a smooth ride.”

Smaller season crowds and better rates

Now, to be fair, with hundreds of miles of trails and countless off-trail spots to ride, there’s rarely snowmobile gridlock. History, however, shows that winter is slower than the summer influx of sightseers. Lodging rates fluctuate with demand, so that means there are even better deals to be found at area hotels.

If you don’t have your own machine, you can potentially find rental sleds available at a lower cost as well. It’s the perfect time for a quick winter weekend up north.

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

Learn more about all Munising has to offer here.


Cutting-edge virtual physical therapy treats everyday aches and pains at home

Alliance PT Agile PT at home

As Grand Rapids-based Alliance Physical Therapy’s leaders prepared for the nationwide launch of its Agile Virtual Care telehealth practice, they were confident in the distinct advantage the service is providing patients.

CEO Richard Leaver explained: “We are embracing the technology that allows us to leverage a 40-year history of delivering high-quality care and exceptional patient experiences beyond our brick-and-mortar locations. We have developed a network that relies on existing physical therapy professionals and their expertise and proven clinical abilities.

“While others rely on the platform and try to build out the care network, we are balancing the strength of our practices with telehealth advancements. It is a fundamental difference.”

Patients will be able to access physical therapy from the comfort of their home and at the time that fits their schedules, Leaver said. The process is simple, convenient and, most importantly, effective because of the physical therapists who will customize treatment plans for each patient.

The standard of care, evidence-based treatment and attention to detail is no different from an office visit except for it taking place via a smartphone app, on a computer or tablet.

Agile Virtual Care will serve patients experiencing everyday body pain, movement limitations, strength decreases, a lack of flexibility, as well as those who require treatment before or after surgery. The most common areas of need center around:

  • Neck
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Foot
  • Ankle
  • Wrist

“There is a full range of service and direct 1-on-1 care,” Leaver said. “As a consumer, you get more attention because there are no distractions and no one else in the session.”

Direct access to therapists can begin without a doctor referral and Agile Virtual Care will work with patients to determine any insurance coverage across the 29-state network. Virtual care reduces patient expenses by up to 47 percent and speeds scheduling an appointment by 60 percent over in-person care, studies have found.

“Our goal is to improve timely access to care and also geographical access,” Leaver said, pointing out that many patients do not live near a physical therapy center. Patients who do live near an office can use a hybrid treatment, particularly useful if manual therapy is needed.

The easy-to-navigate four-step process to regaining agility and muscle memory starts with requesting an appointment online or calling 1-844-648-0024 to provide patient information and a description of symptoms and limitations. Next, patients, within 12 to 24 hours, will receive an email with instructions to join a virtual care appointment at a time they’ve selected.

Patients enter a virtual waiting room before their visit and meet the therapist who will discuss the problem before evaluating mobility and movement thresholds. The trained, licensed therapist determines a course of care and recommends exercises and other recovery strategies.

The treatment continues at home through prescribed video exercises that give patients visual reference to their treatment, reminders to perform the movements and the ability to track their work. Future visits with physical therapists are charted out based on individual need. A typical first consultation and evaluation lasts approximately an hour and follow-up appointments are generally about 30 minutes

Virtual physical therapy is ideal for time-crunched professionals, weekend-warrior athletes who want to get back in the game and those simply looking to improve their lives, Leaver said. The virtual platform allows patients to skip steps necessary to access help.

Instead of going to an urgent care or scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician, who often will refer patients to physical therapy, there is a direct line to assistance.

“We’re really breaking new ground here with the immediate access to a robust, effective method of treating a wide range of conditions,” Leaver said. “We’re making it easier for people to live and feel their best.”

Visit Agile Virtual Care today to learn more or reach the physical therapy team here.