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    The Daily Michigan: A private tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes with SBD Tours

The Daily Michigan: A private tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes with SBD Tours

Today on The Daily Michigan we have guided private explorer tour for up to six people through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with SBD Tours!

The emphasis is on the exploring as you check out sites like Pierce Stocking Drive & Glen Haven, take a hike, visit a ghost town or old farm visit and even enjoy a wine tasting!

Through hikes and tours, SBD Tours helps visitors connect with the natural beauty of northern Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes area as they learn about our links to the past and help preserve this wonderful resource! Your tour guide is a Certified Interpretive Guide, a Master Gardener and a Master Naturalist. She has been in this area for nearly twenty years and has a great appreciation for this scenic part of northern Michigan. Visit their website for more information about the tours!

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

2011 September Michigan Event Calendar

Mick Road Maple Monster by jimflix

Say hello to September and enjoy the bountiful harvests and beautiful scenery it brings. September is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with it’s warm days and cool evening temperatures (not to mention the declining mosquito population). As far as things to do in the Great Lakes State September is ripe for the picking. So get out and enjoy the harvest celebrations, color tours, wine trails and the abundant festivals and fairs! As usual we by no means have listed all the events happening around Michigan. Add ones we missed (with links) in the comments below!


“September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours, but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn. The cricket chirps in the noontide, making the most of what remains of his brief life. The bumblebee is busy among the clover blossoms of the aftermath, and their shrill and dreamy hum hold the outdoor world above the voices of the song birds, now silent or departed.”
- September Days By Rowland E. Robinson, Vermont.

“When the goldenrod is yellow,
And leaves are turning brown -
Reluctantly the summer goes
In a cloud of thistledown.

When squirrels are harvesting
And birds in flight appear -
By these autumn signs we know
September days are here.”
- Beverly Ashour, September

WikipediaFast Facts

  • September’s birthstone is the sapphire. The meaning is clear thinking.
  • The birthflowers for September are the forget-me-not, and aster.
  • The equinox named the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the vernal or spring equinox in the southern hemisphere occurs on dates varying from 21 September to 24 September
  • September begins on the same day of the week as December every year, because there are 91 days separating September and December, which is a multiple of seven (the amount of days in the week).

Stuff to do and places to go

You can get a big list of September 2011 events via Pure Michigan and also check out the September Events Roundup on the Pure Michigan blog.

August 21 – October 3
Michigan Renaissance Festival Holly
Festival is held on weekends and Labor Day, rain or shine. “visitors may also partake in games of skill or enjoy non-stop entertainment where belly dancers, sword swallowers, musicians, comedians and sword fighters provide merriment for all ages. The Festival is best known for it’s awe-inspiring full-contact armored jousting tournaments where gallant knights defend their honor until the last man is standing!”

September 9 – 11
Art & Apples Festival Rochester
Presented by Paint Creek Center for the Arts, the Art & Apples Festival is Michigan’s second largest juried fine art festival with an average attendance of over 125,000 festival-goers and 250+ artists from across the country. The festival showcases artists from across the country, local and national entertainment acts, a free Kids Art Zone, Activity Zone, 3 food courts and more.

September 9 – 10
Hopps of Fun Beer & Wine Festival Mackinaw City
On September 10th & 11th, 2010 Mackinaw Crossings will host the Historic Depot Happy Hour Hopps of Fun. This unique event will feature as extensive sampling of 50+ award winning Michigan micro brewed beers and over 40 wines from Michigan’s four internationally recognized wine regions. Plenty of food, wine, beer, entertainment and fun! Festival grounds are located at Mackinaw Crossings in Downtown Mackinaw City.

September 9 – 11
Wine and Harvest Festival Paw Paw

  • Music – 3 stages of entertainment for all musical tastes
  • Sports – Choose from our hole in one contest, 5k walk/run or our bicycle tour.
  • Family Activities – Carnival rides, free children’s activities in Stompyland, Fireworks on Maple Lake, Parade, and the Grape Stomp.
  • Wine Enthusiasts – Wine tours and wine tasting tents abound throughout the festival area.
  • Other activities include: Car show, Arts & Crafts show, turtle derby, and much more!!

September 9 – 11
Wheatland Music Festival Remus
Each year thousands of people converge on the 160-acre festival site to enjoy a wide variety of activities, as well as the star-studded lineup on the main stage. There is a juried arts and crafts show, a raffle, children’s activities, teen and young adult activities, instrument and dance workshops, music, food, fellowship and fun. Impromptu jam sessions can be found throughout the campgrounds all weekend long.

September 10
Dally in the Alley Official Artist Detroit
“The Greenest Festival in Detroit”. What began as an inner city art fair in 1977 evolved into a performing arts festival when it was moved to its present alley and renamed in 1982 to “DALLY IN THE ALLEY”, the title of a medieval drinking song. Great musical talent (including an electronic music stage), good beer and a remarkable string of fabulous September weather has indelibly marked the alley at Second and Forest in Detroit ‘s Cass Corridor as the site one of the top music festivals in the Midwest .

September 9 – 10
Smokin’ Jazz Barbecue Blues Festival Brighton
The Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Smokin’ Jazz & Barbecue Blues Festival was created approximately four years ago and after its conception quickly became Brighton’s hippest event. Not only does this event bring you authentic jazz, blues and zydeco, but is also offers some of the tastiest barbecue this side of the Mason/Dixon line.

September 10
Great Lakes Cider & Perry Festival St. Johns
Enjoy samples of the finest cider and perry (cider made from pears) from the Great Lakes area will be available for tasting. In addition to the cider and perry tastings, food vendors will be selling sweet and savory selections. Attendees will also have an opportunity to stock up on these not-so-easy-to-get beverages, available for purchase during the event.

September 10 – 11
Harvest Stompede Vineyard Run & Walk Leelanau Peninsula
The weekend features a spectacular race through Leelanau’s vineyards and a self guided wine tour of LPVA member wineries featuring world class wines and culinary delights that reflect the season’s bounty. In 2011 they are highlighting local foods and each winery’s food pairing will feature locally sourced items.

September 10 – 11
Historic Home Tour Marshall
For nearly 50 years years the Marshall Historical Society has been showcasing 8 private homes, 1 church and 1 business as part of its Historic Home Tour. It has been called the Granddaddy of Midwest Home Tours and is famous all over the country for its traditions and heritage.

September 16 – 18
Michigan Irish Music Festival Muskegon
Three days of the best in traditional and contemporary Irish music comes to Muskegon each year in mid-Septembe. The festival features four stages of entertainment featuring music, dance, cultural presentations, interactive displays, a Celtic market and Pub Tent with authentic Irish food and beverages.

September 16 – 18
Victorian Festival Northville
Journey back through time to a simpler era with a visit to downtown Northville’s annual Victorian Festival. Experience the art, history, and romance of the 1800s. The streets will be closed to automobile traffic as townspeople, artists, and business owners turn back the clock and transform themselves into a Victorian Village complete with period costumes, storytellers, magicians, musical entertainment and demonstrations, rides for kids and the Victorian Saloon.

September 15 – 18
“On the Waterfront” Car Show & “Big Rig” Truck Show St. Ignace
The well known St. Ignace Car Show was formed in 1975 and the first show was held the last Saturday of June 1976. 134 vehicles were on display that year. The show continued to grow each and every year and by 2004, 2500 collector vehicles were on display with 100,000 spectators observing.

September 17 – 18
Living History Encampment Belmont
This is an annual event where visitors can view first hand what life in early America was like. This is a time line event featuring military & civilian living historians demonstrating our country’s history from colonial times to the present. This event is supported by local citizens and businesses, and is open to the public at no charge. Historical re-enactors will be wearing authentic period clothing and living in period shelters. Traditional Artisans will demonstrate their historic skills, including blacksmithing and woodworking throughout the weekend. Activities will also include musket and cannon firing and multi-period military tactical Demonstrations.

September 16 – October 30
Chrysanthemums and More! Grand Rapids
Formerly “Colorfall”, this annual celebration of the autumn season features an extensive chrysanthemum display with hundreds of flowering plants in both interior and exterior areas. Indoor highlights include varieties on display along the winding Scenic Corridor and the Seasonal Display Greenhouse, while outdoor plantings are featured in the English Perennial Garden, Michigan’s Farm Garden and Volunteer Tribute Garden. Color tours, tram rides and seasonal children’s activities offer a unique way to experience autumn.

September 15 – 18
Oktoberfest Frankenmuth
In 1990, Frankenmuth, “Michigan’s Little Bavaria,” celebrated its first Oktoberfest. The Frankenmuth Oktoberfest celebrates German culture, cuisine, heritage and love. The goal is to incorporate as many of the sights, sounds, taste and traditions of the original Munich Oktoberfest as possible, and Frankenmuth boasts the first Oktoberfest outside of Munich to be sanctioned by the Parliament and the City of Munich.

September 17
Evening at an 1896 Logging Camp Grayling
Journey back to 1896, when Salling, Hanson and Company’s Section 9 Camp logged what is now Hartwick Pines State Park. As a “new employee,” you will travel the quarter-mile lantern-lit route from the Grayling train depot (the Hartwick Pines visitor center) to the logging camp (Hartwick Pines Logging Museum), where Section 9 Camp is preparing for the upcoming winter logging season. “earn “first-hand” about the logging industry, logging-camp life and some of the dangers of a logging job.

September 16 – 17
Old Town BluesFest Lansing
The Old Town BluesFest is a two-day FREE music festival that brings local, regional, and national acts to an audience of roughly 15,000 people from across Michigan and nearby states. BluesFest’s music truly is living music, history in the making. Each artist at the festival is asked to play an original composition, something that hasn’t been played at any other festival. It all happens in the streets of Lansing’s Old Town, surrounded by the best of the Capital City’s art galleries as well as unique retail stores and grand architecture with shops & vendors lining the streets and offering ethnic food, beverages, art, clothing, and crafts!

September 16 – 16
Salmon Festival Grand Haven
The annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival is a three-day festival that marks the passing of summer and celebrates the fall harvest season and salmon migration. The festival theme is arts, education and entertainment and assures the residents and visitors alike a unique opportunity to learn about the region’s natural assets, while experiencing the cultural appeal of the area through music, art, entertainment, history and education.

September 18
Southwest Michigan Community Harvest Fest Scotts
You’re invited to the 8th Annual Southwest Michigan Community Harvest Fest, a celebration of local food, local farming and sustainable living. A few years ago, some people got together because they all had the same idea: How about hosting a celebration of local food and farming? Tillers International was approached to be the site host; its rural setting and mission of teaching farming techniques worldwide made it the ideal choice.

September 21 – October 9
ArtPrize Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids’ radically open art competition awards the world’s largest art prize and transforms the city into an amazing canvas for creation. Part arts festival, part social experiment – this international art contest is decided solely on a public vote. Art is the focus of the competition, but the main event is community. Artists take over the city, visitors explore and new relationships form. This event has Absolute Michigan’s highest rating and is not to be missed!

September 23 – 24
Kalamazoo Irish Fest Kalamazoo
Live Celtic music featuring: Belfast Gin, Blackthorn, Chelsea House Orchestra, Craic Wisely, Dyed in the Wool, Embarr, Erin Quinn School of Irish Dance, Harvest Home, Kalamazoo Pipe Band, Irish Dance Company of Lansing, Kennedy’s Kitchen, String Cheese, The Waxies and Whiskey Before Breakfast. Irish Step Dancers from the Erin Quinn School of Irish Dance and the Irish Dance Company of Lansing. Supervised children’s area with arts and crafts activities and games and prizes, all with a Celtic theme. Food vendors and Guinness Beer Tent with Irish Cuisine and drink. Over 20 merchandise vendors, selling Irish and Celtic themed clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts and more. Cultural Area where you can learn about your family’s genealogy, have your palm read and learn about the art of calligraphy and the craft of weaving.

September 24 – 25
American Heritage Festival Lansing
Join them for a step back in time and experience a piece of our rich Mid-Michigan cultural heritage. A day the whole family will enjoy. Farmers Market, pioneer toys, Apple cider pressing, spinning, live animals, blacksmithing, historic farm tool display, spinning, lace making, good old time music, Grand River pontoon boat rides, good food, WolduMarket and much more.

September 28 – October 1
Midwest Fest Mt. Pleasant
Midwest Fest is an annual festival in Mt. Pleasant featuring indie, folk, electronic, experimental and pop bands from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. With 20 bands over four nights, it’s a great chance to experience some of our region’s most innovative music. Absolute Michigan is giving away a pair of tickets through our Festival Summer giveaway!

Sponsor Feature: Great Northern Beer Tour

Tour designer & leader Bob Lovik writes for Absolute Michigan and we’re featuring this in appreciation for his work and also because we think it’s a great chance to drink a little deeper of Michigan’s craft brew scene!
Short's Brewery in Elk Rapids

Short's Brewery in Elk Rapids

Join us on Sunday June 26th from 12 – 5pm for  the first ever tour of its kind in Northern Michigan – one designed specifically for the craft beer lover. With a heavy focus on tasting, the Great Northern Beer Tour will sample beer in the breweries, taprooms and even a hops field of some of the country’s most accomplished and dedicated brewers. Set amongst the stunning backdrop of Northern Michigan and the Old Mission Peninsula, the Great Northern Beer Tour aims to inspire Michigan’s craft beer lovers. With tastings conducted by the experts from four distinct and well-loved breweries, we will learn more than just the basics of making and enjoying craft beer.

We will start the tour by visiting the Short’s Brewing facility in Elk Rapids for a tasting and lesson in brewing from one of Northern Michigan’s most innovative brewers. Then we will head over to the Old Mission Peninsula where we will walk in a hops field and learn about the beautiful little clusters that have been flavoring beers for well over a millennia.

Happy Hour at Right Brain

Happy Hour at Right Brain

Next, we will head to the Jolly Pumpkin restaurant to taste both Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak seasonal and annuals in a historic setting in the stunning Bowers Harbor on the West Bay. And we will top things off by visiting the eclectic Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City’s Warehouse District. For a day filled with lagers, stouts, pilsners, IPA’s, porters and a cask ale or two, call By The Bay Tours at 231.932.1065 to purchase tickets.

The cost is $65 per person which includes tastings at every stop, transportation including Traverse City hotel pick-up/drop-off, all tours and tasting information with goodies along the way. Additional tastings along with beer to go and merchandise will be available to purchase along the way.

For any questions, please email Bob at Cheers!

Michigan Culinary Tourism

Mack-in-touch Apples by (  Jennifer  )
Mack-in-touch Apples by ( Jennifer )

A month ago, Absolute Michigan participated in the the Creating Michigan Culinary Destinations conference (read our live blog) where the Michigan Culinary Tourism initiative was launched. For the video below, we spoke with Melody Johnson of the International Culinary Tourism Association, keynote speaker Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s, Linda Jones of the Michigan Wine & Grape Council and a number of attendees to get a sense of what culinary tourism can mean for Michigan.

Check out the Michigan Culinary Tourism page for links to foodie tours and other resources.  We’re also wondering about your thoughts on how culinary tourism can play a role in Michigan’s future – let us know your thoughts and interesting culinary experiences in the comments!

This video features photos from several photographers from the Absolute Michigan pool: blondieyooper, richard deming photography, photoshoparama, oldog_oltrix, southen, detroit derek, trish p and jennifer. Stay tuned to for the latest on Michigan’s booming epicurean industry!

Take a ride with The Night Move

A couple of years ago I met Chris Ramos who started The Night Move in metro Detroit. Tom Hendrickson of metromode put together this great piece on Chris’s carbon-neutral transit company that runs to private shuttles for corporate conferences, tours, major concerts & events and a 6 PM to 3 AM loop every Friday & Saturday between Ferndale, Royal Oak and downtown Detroit.

There’s even a link to the fast-growing Michigan culinary tourism scene (beyond just giving people a way to safely consume our great beer, wine & spirits). Taste-full Tours works with The Night Move to provide opportunities to experience the stores, restaurants, markets, breweries and to meet the chefs and artisans who are making it happen. Anyway, here’s that video. I have to agree with Tom that Bob Seger’s Night Moves would have pushed this over the top!

Live at the Michigan Culinary Tourism Conference

Click here for a video from the conference!

Michigan Culinary TourismAll day today the Absolute Michigan team is at Creating Michigan Culinary Destinations, Michigan’s first conference on Culinary Tourism. The conference was a hot ticket, and nearly 200 tourism industry stakeholders are getting ready to learn about Michigan’s new initiative to increase tourism. You can learn all about the Michigan Culinary Tourism Inititative at that link and read on for updates as we have them!

Zingerman's Delicatessen
Zingerman’s Delicatessen by Ashley Dinges

1:30 pm The lunch keynote speaker is Ari Weinzweig of one of the giants of Michigan ‘s food scene, Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor. Ari is definitely a fast talker, and related that he got started washing dishes at Maude’s, and at that time, Tang and Space Sticks were his culinary adventures. He met co-founder Paul Saginaw at Maude’s and –  5 years after opening a deli in a town that wouldn’t support delis  at a location with no parking that people couldn’t find – was hailed as a genius. Today the Zingerman’s empire does $38 million in annual sales.

Ari says that (for him at least) all tourism is culinary. He relates  some “natural laws” from his book A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business that he thinks relate to building an authentic culinary destination. Natural law #1 is that an inspiring, strategically sound vision leads to greatness. He cautions that although  great visions come  from the heart, you need to develop your vision with enough richness and depth that people can understand what you’re talking about. He shared a bit of the vision for the West Side Farmer’s Market. With lines like “All these products have a story and none of them have traveled very far to get here,” it’s really clear that vision is a big part of what drives Zingerman’s.

His 2nd law is “You need to give your customers some really compelling reasons to buy from you.” He quotes Jim Hightower “Ain’t nothing in the middle of the road but 2 yellow lines and a whole lot of dead armadillos.” He  recommends that we seek to create offerings that have appeal for tourists AND residents to create a more resilient and dynamic customer base.

He closes with his belief that the customer experience is the most important thing. He breaks a recent study regarding employee attitudes toward their workplace into football terms: of the 11 players on a football team, only 4 know where the goal is, just two care who wins the game and all but 2 are just as likely to be  rooting for the other team as their own! Does this sound like your business? If it does, what can you do to change it? Ari suggests that maybe Michigan could steal a page from Hawaii and adopt the Ojibway word for welcome and become “The Aaniin State” … because someone has to be the most welcoming place in country!

Cheers,  ©n.walmsley
Cheers, ©n.wamsley

11:45 am – At the Building Lodging & Tour Packages session, Heather Price of Sandhill Crane Vineyards talked about the “Big Grape Bus” wine event they offer through the Pioneer Wine Trail in SE Michigan and all the pieces   – wine & food pairings, transportation, lodging and entertainment – that come together to create a compelling event. Steve Timmer of the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City echoed the importance of providing an all-inclusive experience and listed some of the things that his resort does including focusing on bringing local wines into their wine shop and even working with attendees on a cooking show.

One attendee (whose location shall remain nameless) wondered what to do when your area has little to offer in terms of culinary tourism. Steve suggested focusing on PR to invite food writers and the media and of course to leverage social media wherever possible. I asked him about if he had a sense whether today’s traveler is more or less interested in packages. He said that while packaging remains an important part of travel marketing, he’s finding that people are less interested in packages, preferring to design their own experiences. To me, that suggests that it’s really important for all players in the culinary travel industry to make their services and offerings clearly available across a wide spectrum of media, including that most old-fashioned of media: making your friends and neighbors aware of what you do!

The Bar @ Hopcat
The Bar @ Hopcat by stevedontsurf

11 am The “Marketing Your Culinary Destination” featured Dianna Stamfler of Promote Michigan, Sam Porter of Porterhouse Productions and Paul Stermer of Fair Food Matters. An audience member asked Sam how he got his nearly 300 volunteers. He answered “It’s all about fun. We take care of them pre and post event and engage them as partners to market and develop the events.” He also suggested engaging your fans to help you grow your social media network. The audience seemed to agree that social media is a vital component of an overall strategy.

Dianna mentioned that it’s the first-ever  Michigan Beer Week in Kalamazoo.  It’s been developed  in conjunction with the Winter Beer Conference and bars, restaurants and retailers will be teaming up to offer beer tastings, tap takeovers, brewer meet-and-greets and other special events.

Charlevoix Michigan Peppers
Charlevoix Michigan Peppers by DTWpuck

10  am Melody Johnson of the International Culinary Tourism Association was next up. She shared examples from all over the world of how everyone from third world nations on up the economic ladder are turning to culinary tourism as an economic driver. She cited rocketing technological advancements and our exploding interest in food as two prime drivers and talked about FLOSS (Fresh Local Organic Sustainable and Self-absorbed food). With  your average meal travelling 1500 miles, FLOSS is a concept that can  help keep food local.    Melody also gave a shoutout the the new “Boyne Appetit” marketing effort for Boyne City.

She showed three pictures – a museum, roller coaster and nice plate of food, and reminded attendees that food & drink IS an attraction as well, illustrating it with her discovery of Founder’s apricot wheat – a beer that she had last night with dinner and very much enjoyed. It’s not something you’re likely to find outside of Michigan, so to have it again, she’ll have to return. “The Michigan Experience” is what visitors are seeking – unique and memorable experiences that a tourist can brag about when he or she returns home.

9:40 am Steve Loftis of the Michigan Restaurant Association offered some thoughts about where Michigan’s restaurants are and what will be on their radar in 2011. One of his recommendations is that restaurants look to younger/technologically savvy members of  their staff for  ideas on more effectively using technology to acquire new patrons, but also to work more with existing customers.  He also stated that “the L word” should be on everyone’s mind as they work with their menu, trying to add more local offerings.

grits & bits (pre-syrup)
grits & bits (pre-syrup)
by jenny murray

9:15 am Linda Jones of the Michigan Wine & Grape Council opened the conference with an introduction to culinary tourism. One new resource for culinary tourists that she pointed out are the Michigan Foodie Tours.
The foodie tours feature local food and unique experiences from the whitefish and pasties of the western UP to the 200 restaurants of Ann Arbor.

7 am Last night I had a chance to talk with Melody Johnson, a founding member  of the International Culinary Tourism Association. Melody is the organization’s Community Manager and helps partners develop collaborations and inititiatives to capitalize on their culinary tourism assets. She gave me a simple thought to frame the day: “You always need to keep in mind what your customers  want to be successful. When people are coming to Michigan, they are wanting Michigan. They want authentic culinary experiences, the flavors and experiences that they can only get here.”

Although saying “It’s the food, silly” may seem a little simplistic, as the nation’s second most agriculturally diverse state, Michigan is in a unique position to tout itself as an unparalleled food destination. The local food movement has already started many on the path to promoting the strength and quality of Michigan food & drink and this effort will hopefully encourage many more to  “make it a Michigan wine/beer/fill in the blank.”

Tweet & Taste Michigan: Wines from Old Mission Peninsula

Courtney & Shannon Casey of are all about letting you know what’s what in Michigan’s fast-growing wine industry. One fantastic thing that they are doing are the Tweet & Taste Michigan virtual wine tastings conducted through Twitter.

View from Chateau Chantal by troyryans
View from Chateau Chantal by troyryans

Their next Tweet & Taste takes place tomorrow night (Monday Jun 7 @ 8 PM). Sorry about the late notice. Featured will be the wines of the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City. The wines they will be tasting are:

Over at #TTMI on Twitter, Michigan Master Sommelier   Claudia Tyagi aka winegenie is educating folks on the wines of Old Mission. Here’s a couple tweets – definitely try and pick up one or more of the bottles above and take part – it’s fun and you can do it in your PJs! (check the video below for a step by step explanation of TTMI).

RT @cortcase @tweetandtastemi: Read up on Wineries of Old MIssion Peninsula to prepare for TTMI WOMP on Monday #ttmi

CGT began it all 1st OMP winery, 1st Vinifera #ttmi Leadership! #wine #Michigan Go Riesling!!!!

For more about the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, see their web site at and also check out this Winery Report on the Old Mission from Toledo Wines & Vines.

Autumn in Michigan: Something for Everyone

Autumn Pathways by pentax hammer (gary syrba)

The crowds and traffic have subsided, the harvests are bountiful and the mosquitoes are few and far between. What we’re trying to say is that autumn is perfect time to get out and enjoy a color tour, take in a late season festival or event, go camping or hit some of Michigan’s numerous wineries and pick up a few bottles for holiday gifts or get-togethers. produced a great video a while back that takes you on a tour of Northern Michigan’s wine country and we think it is worth a watch and will entice you to plan a visit. On that note we should point out that Absolute Michigan is giving away a pair of tickets for the Toast the Season wine trail event which takes place on the Leelanau Peninsula on November 14 & 15.

Hoping to get one more wine tour in this summer? Or maybe you’re envisioning those glorious fall days when wine is an excellent excuse to drive through our wine country. Sit back and get some ideas as we visit Chateau Grand Traverse ( on the Old Mission Peninsula; Traverse City’s urban wineries, Left Foot Charley ( at The Village in Grand Traverse Commons (old state hospital grounds) and Black Star Farms ( in the Mercato, also in the Commons (Black Star also has its winery just south of Suttons Bay); and Shady Lane Cellars ( near Suttons Bay.

Enjoy watching the lush landscape as the vintners each tell us what makes them unique and what it is like growing and selling wine in Northern Michigan.

Also be sure to check out our monthly calendars on Absolute Michigan’s home page as well as keywords Halloween, maze, pumpkin, cider and more!

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town – Lansing, May 30th

Be A Tourist In Your Own TownWe wanted to draw attention to this annual event in Lansing as it is something every city in Michigan should consider emulating. It is just too easy to grow into the mind set that where you reside there is absolutely nothing to do or that you have already seen it, done it, surfed it. We wager to bet that there are plenty of area attractions right under your that offer new experiences or old ones that need to be rediscovered. This kind of local exploration is a great way to reconnect with your community, save a few dollars while at the same time pouring a few back into your community’s economy which in turn keeps your area of the Mitten prosperous and interesting to visit.

So we present to you:

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town brought to you by the fine folks at the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. Consider organizing one in your area!

About Be A Tourist In Your Own Town

Fifteen years ago, the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau created this event to increase community awareness of it’s attractions and the tourism industry’s impact on the area. So once again the doors are open for you to explore culture and creativity in mid-Michigan.

As Lansing celebrates its 150th anniversary, take this opportunity to enjoy attractions that highlight both Lansing’s unique history as well as its innovative and progressive future. This year they have included old favorites such as Impression 5 Science Center, Potter Park Zoo and the Michigan Historical Museum, and added new hot spots like the FRAG Center, MSU’s Breslin Center, WKAR Studios and taste the new “Capital City Sundae” ice cream flavor at the MSU Dairy Store. You can view a complete list of the participating places to go and things right here.

How it Works:

For only $1 you can purchase a “passport” which allows you FREE admission to more than 60 area attractions, local businesses, and special activities on May 30, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. **Ages 3 and under do not require a passport. Get from place to place with CATA. For only 50 cents you will receive a stamp which will allow you to ride the Be A Tourist routes for the rest of the day for no extra charge.

Check out a slideshow of the Lansing area from the Absolute Michigan Flickr pool!

Cruising the Great Lakes Past, Present and Future

city of detroit iiiA Brief History of Cruising the Great Lakes

Although pleasure boating and shipping have held steady over the years another form of once popular vacation travel is making a regal comeback – seeing the Great Lakes by passenger ship. According to the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition it was 1865 when it first became established upon the founding of the company Anchor Line. The industry carried on albeit with it’s shares of ups and downs into the early 1970′s.

Cruising…perhaps more accurately described as using the Great Lakes for transportation by indigenous North Americans, had been happening long before this. But in 1865 it took on a more formal aspect when Anchor Line, formerly Erie & Western Transportation co, was formed.

Their historical account of cruising the Great Lakes also takes note of Mark Twain’s famous 1895 world tour.

Later that century, on July 17, 1895 Mark Twain traveling on his “At home around the world” tour, boards the S.S. Northland in Cleveland bound for Mackinac. Twain wrote “All that has been said of this fine ocean ship on the Great Lakes is not exaggerated. Across Lake Erie to the Detroit River, Lake St Clair and the St Clair River is a most charming trip”.

The Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries has a brief but interesting glimpse into the history of recreational travel on the Great Lakes.

In spite of the hard times during the Great Depression, some people vacationed by taking a cruise of the Great Lakes on the S.S. South American or on the S.S. North American. The whole trip took one week and covered 2,200 miles. The ships made stops, and passengers had a few hours to sightsee and shop at each of the ports.

One of the stops was Mackinac Island, which was called the “Bermuda of the North.” Advertisements claimed that there were no mosquitoes or automobiles on the island and that people did not get hay fever.

You can see pictures and get information on passenger ships that once sailed the Great Lakes at the Marine Historical Society of Detroit website.

For more historical articles on cruising the Great Lakes check out this Google Timeline – 1800 – 2009.

The photo above is that of the City of Detroit III courtesy of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.

This vessel was the most beautiful of all the ships in the D & C fleet. Her parlors, 21 in all, were exquisitely furnished and the 477 staterooms were fitted out with the latest equipment. For close to 40 years, this ship sailed between Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo.

Clelia IIThe Present and Future of Cruising the Great Lakes

There is currently a renewed public interest and resurgence of businesses offer cruises around the lakes and the port cities are eagerly anticipating revenues from this age old form of tourism. There are currently 23 port city members seeking ways to market themselves to cruise companies through the Port Cities Collaborative (pdf).

The Detroit Free Press recently ran an article this potential boost to the economies around the Great Lakes. They also focus on the new docking terminal in Detroit that should be completed in 2010. In “Detroit could cash in on cruise industry” it is stated that:

This summer, three cruise ships will glide through Michigan waters and stop at ports in Wyandotte, Mackinac Island, Manistee, Holland and Houghton.

But within two years, downtown Detroit hopes to get in on the Michigan cruising action.

The photo above is of the extensively refurbished, redecorated and improved Clelia II which will sail between Toronto and Duluth, Minn., this summer, stopping at Mackinac Island and Houghton. To be launched in early 2009 the all-suite Clelia II will offer the finest in small-ship cruise travel. Public facilities include a restaurant that accommodates guests at a single, unassigned seating, two lounges, expansive library with Internet access, state-of-the-art gym/spa, beauty salon, boutique, Jacuzzi, hospital, and ample deck areas for relaxing and sunbathing.

A New Breed of Luxury Small Ship

2010 will see the launch of a new style of luxury small ship the Pearl Mist. The interior of the ship offers luxury accommodations with oversized staterooms, all with private balconies. Exquisite cuisine will be enjoyed in the spacious, glass lined dining salon and relaxing time can be spent in one of the many comfortable lounges. The ship is also designed with latest in cruising comfort featuring fully stabilized hulls, and the ability to reach each port of call more quickly so there will be more time to explore each destination.