Three Spring Hikes to Raise Your Spirits

On top of Old Baldy

On top of Old Baldy

By MIKE NORTON

Hiking in the Traverse City area can be fun in every season, but spring is one of the best times to be out on the trail!

Why? Well, partly because it’s such a delight to be out on the trail, smelling the scents of spring and enjoying the feel of warmth and damp on your skin after a winter of cold, parched air. (And it’s still cool enough on most days that you won’t automatically break into a sweat when you exert yourself.) Also, it’s wonderful to watch new life appearing: the green leaves and shoots rising above last year’s leaf litter, the first buds and bugs, the bright highlights of new wildflowers.

But most of all, spring is a great time to explore our region’s many wide open spaces because the lack of foliage means you can see a great deal more than you can when everything has leafed out. The ups and downs of ridges and hillsides are much more defined, and wide views of valleys and lakes can be glimpsed in places where they’re invisible during the summer.

I’ve tried to incorporate all those ideas into the three easy hikes in this blog post. They include two of my all-time favorites and one new discovery that’s going to be one of my favorites from now on. Hope you like them, too!

Hickory Meadows

Hickory Meadows in Spring

Hickory Meadows in Spring

Years ago, grocer Jerry Oleson used to grow apples, cherries (and hay for his large bison herd) on a series of connected meadows in the hills above Traverse City’s West Side. Thanks to a tax millage approved by voters of Traverse City and Garfield Township in 2004, these interlocking fields – high above the city neighborhoods but bounded on three sides by even taller hills – are now a 113-acre park known as Hickory Meadows.

This is one of the nicest walks in the city, and I’m always surprised to meet people who have never visited this lovely preserve. It’s a great place for an easy stroll (lots of West Side folks walk their dogs here, and I often ride my bike up here during the lunch hour) but because of its location at the foot of the Hickory Hills Ski Area, you also can combine it with a strenuous climb to the top of the nearby ridges if you’re feeling ambitious.

The park has two miles of improved trails, and can be entered at three separate trailheads: a nearly hidden path that starts at the edge of someone’s driveway on Wayne Street, an unobtrusive parking area on the south side of M-72 –  about a mile uphill from the bay – and a third parking area at the top of Randolph Street, near the entrance to the ski area.

As you’d expect, the preserve’s best-known feature are its two main meadows, separated by a fine windbreak of old-growth hardwoods. One has a single trail running down its middle; the other features a loop that’s used by skiers in the winter and by casual walkers the rest of the year. The high hills that surround them make this area feel cozy, and once the spring buds come out the forest seems to be enveloped in a lovely green mist.

But there are other delights in the woods; a path that leads under a cathedral of tall pines to a rustic bridge over a stream, a trail leading north to M-72 through a small third meadow and a gravelly moraine that feels like it should be somewhere in Colorado, a hidden frogpond complete with a bench for rest and contemplation, and a secret trail to an east-facing overlook with great views down through the trees to West Bay.

The Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve

Much as I love high windswept places in spring, they’re not always the best places to view wildlife and to enjoy spring wildflowers. For that, you sometimes need a sheltered moist place – like a river valley. Fortunately, Traverse City has one of the most wonderful streamside trail systems in the Midwest: the 505-acre Grand Traverse Natural Education Reserve.

The Reserve’s seven miles of six trail lead along the Boardman River through wetlands, forests and upland meadows, past rushing rapids and quiet ponds – full of birds, deer, otter, mink, fox, and an amazing diversity of flowering plants. Best of all, its trails are broken up into six smaller segments that can be accessed at separate points along the way – so you don’t need to do the whole thing in one hike.

Spring Fishing at the Keystone Rapids

Spring Fishing at the Keystone Rapids

My favorite segment these days is the 2.3-mile section that begins at the south end of Boardman Pond. If you park at the Lone Pine trailhead off Keystone Road, you can get a gentle introduction to this area on the short barrier-free Long Pine Trail heads north along the top of a steep bluff above the river to a fine viewpoint over the pond where you can see some of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the valley as a result of efforts to return the Boardman to its natural state.

If you turn left after the parking lot, you’re in for an even more dramatic experience. Here the trail plunges down to the water’s edge, where the spring current rushes over rocks and logs, follows footbridges over spring-fed creeks filled with watercress and marsh marigolds, and rises steeply to fine viewing platform and a pretty footbridge that leads to a charming loop through the woods on the river’s west bank.

South of the bridge you’ll be at the site of the former Keystone Dam, which washed out in 1961. (The trail passes its crumbled foundations, which rise from the forest like ancient ruins.) The dam’s collapse left a beautiful little gorge behind, as well as the Keystone Rapids, probably the best whitewater paddling area in the Lower Peninsula.  There’s a nice little viewing platform here, too, so you can rest a bit and peer down into the rapids before heading back downstream.

The Treat Farm and Old Baldy

The Road to the Treat Farm

The Road to the Treat Farm

I saved this one for last, because you should endure a little small talk in order to earn the secret of this excellent trail – one of the least-known and most beautiful spots in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Located just a mile or so south of the popular Empire Bluff Trail, the path to the Treat Farm begins at Norconk Road and follows what must have been the two-track leading to the farm itself. It’s an easy half-mile climb through a forest that’s filled with wildflowers in spring – I was there in early April and there were already clumps of white, blue and violet hepatica bursting out among the leaves. By May, the entire area is carpeted with trilliums!

At the end of the path is the well-preserved homestead of Charles and Martha Treat, who moved here in 1912 and farmed this land into the 1930s. The handsome white farmhouse stands on a short bluff overlooking wide meadows to the south, surrounded by a collection of fascinating outbuildings – including a strange circular garage built of concrete with a domed roof. But the real treat (sorry – couldn’t resist!) lies beyond the farm.

If you follow the trail another half mile to the west, you’ll notice how it leads off to the left, skirting the foot of a steep bluff known as Old Baldy. You can go that way if you’re not feeling very adventurous. But if you’re not afraid of a little strenuous exercise, take the path that climbs up to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful views in the entire park, a rare taste of what this coastline looked and felt like when no one lived here but a few hardy farmers.

Standing at the top of the path, the wind rushing past your face and the golden curve of Platte Bay hundreds of feet below you, you’ll feel like an eagle poised above an abyss of deep blue space. The trail suddenly branches off into dozens of smaller trails – made by humans and animals – but there’s no way down to the water, so don’t even try. This is a place made for contemplation, for awe and for reverence. With any luck, you’ll probably have it all to yourself.

Let it sink into you for a bit, – and when it’s time to leave try, to make sure that those who come after you will be able to have the same kind of experience. There aren’t many places like this left in the world. Don’t make me sorry I told you about it.

The Return Trail: Old Baldy

The Return Trail: Old Baldy

"Find Your Park" this Month at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

 

Looking out to South Manitou Island from the Lake Michigan Overlook

Looking out to South Manitou Island from the Lake Michigan Overlook

By MIKE NORTON

Quick! What’s the most popular attraction in the Traverse City area?

The volunteers here at the Traverse City Visitor Center know, and so does anyone who’s ever come here as a visitor, even once. It’s the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, that magnificent symphony of water, sky and sand located just a half-hour to the west of us. And even though it’s not within the city limits, or anywhere near them, we all think of it as “our park.”

I think that’s what the National Park Service is getting at with their new “Find Your Park” campaign. As a way of celebrating their 100th birthday in 2016, the Park Service has mounted a nationwide public awareness and education effort to get us all thinking about the places we think of as “our park.” Over the next year, we’ll see lots of reminders of this massive campaign – it’s nationwide, after all, with celebrity spokesmen and corporate partners and so on – but the idea behind it is a solid one.

“Find Your Park invites the public to see that a national park can be more than a place – it can be a feeling, a state of mind, or a sense of American pride,” wrote Sleeping Bear’s Gary Vanderziel. “Beyond vast landscapes, the campaign highlights historical, urban, and cultural parks, as well as the National Park Service programs that protect, preserve and share nature, culture, and history in communities nationwide.”

The truth is, “your park” doesn’t have to be a national park. It might be a state park, a nature preserve or a town commons or other open space. It can be as small as a woodlot in your neighborhood or a playground down the street – some place of beauty and serenity where you can recharge your energies and restore your sense of being human. Some of us do that through solitude and contemplation, while others prefer large amounts of sociability, noise and fun. But the end goal seems to be the same.

When I first moved to Traverse City 37 years ago, the National Lakeshore was in its infancy; there was still a great deal of anger and resentment among some local residents about the way the government had acquired many of the farms and homes that are now part of the park. Knowing the love those people had for the land, it was difficult not to sympathize with them. But any time I would hike to the top of Pyramid Point or stand at the water’s edge at Aral, I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of gratitude that this place now belonged to all of us.

With a ranger on the Sleeping Bear Point Trail

With a ranger on the Sleeping Bear Point Trail

Over the years, my family has camped, hiked and explored National Parks across the country, from Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee to Zion in Utah, from Olympic in Washington to San Juan in Puerto Rico. Even so, Sleeping Bear is something very special. It’s “my park.” It’s where I go when I really want to get away – and it doesn’t bother me to share it with other people who want to do the same thing.

Has it been a while since you’ve been out to “our park?” Well, you’re in luck. Next week (April 18-26) is National Park Week, so the Park Service is waiving entrance fees at Sleeping Bear this coming weekend and putting on several free special events:

  • On Saturday night from 9 to 11, park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be holding a Star Party at Platte River Point to introduce visitors to the spring night sky. (Dress for the weather and bring a flashlight.)
  • All week long visitors can join in a Find Your Park Scavenger Hunt (instructions can be downloaded here or picked up at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire) and share their experiences on social media using #findyourpark.  There’ll also be special daily Find Your Park posts at 4 p.m. each day on the National Lakeshore’s Facebook and Twitter sites.
  • On Saturday, April 25, the Lakeshore is holding a special Junior Ranger Day at the D. H. Day Log Cabin where youngsters can earn their official Junior Ranger Day badge with such activities as designing their own arrowheads, painting on the beach, and learning basic knot-tying techniques. There’ll be two sessions, once from 10-11:30 am and another from 1-2:30 pm, each followed by an official swearing-in ceremony for the new junior rangers.

Yes, it’s early in the season. But rangers say they’re hoping to have many sections of the Sleeping Bear Dunes park swept and cleared and ready for business by the start of national Parks Week. So take advantage of the opportunity to get out and visit “our park.” (Check their website for updates.)

(And don’t worry if you can’t make it; this is just the first of many “Find Your Park” events and opportunities that will be made available to the public between now and the end of 2016. Visit findyourpark.com to learn more about the campaign and how it’s unfolding across the country.)

A 19th century German farm in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

A 19th century German farm in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.

Racing into Spring & Summer in Traverse City

By KELLY YAUK

Spring has finally reached Traverse City, and although the cherry trees may not have blossomed yet, you can count on some things to pop up at the first sign of a thaw. That’s right; it's spring and the runners are back!

Of course, there were a few hardy souls who braved the winter temperatures to get out and run, but now that the sidewalks have reemerged from their wintry cocoon you can expect to see more and more runners pounding the pavement of Traverse City.

Although the Traverse City festival season gets much of the attention, local runners know that springtime kicks off an amazing season of racing. Throughout the year, Traverse City hosts not just a high volume of races, but also a great variety -- from fun runs and 5Ks to marathons and trail runs. Most locals are aware of May's Bayshore Marathon (it's already sold out) but there are many more races to get on your 2015 calendar.

Superhero

April 11, 2015 - Big Little Hero Race
Created by students at Northwestern Michigan College’s business school, the Big Little Hero Race includes a fun run, a timed 5K, and a timed 10K race. All race proceeds go directly to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Michigan. Participants are encouraged to dress up as super-heroes, and prizes will be awarded for best costume. Register here.
S
PECIAL OFFER - Save ten dollars off 10K registration using code 10$10K or ten dollars off 5K registration using code 10$5K.

May 9, 2015 - Run the Ridge
Run the Ridge is a two-person 10K relay (2x 5K) on the trails at Timber Ridge Resort. The race is followed by a campfire-style cookout at sunset featuring s'mores, retro beers, campfires and a festive awards ceremony. Register here.

Conquer the Village

May 30, 2015 – Conquer the Village
Conquer the Village is traditionally a mountain bike race held on the grounds of the Grand Traverse Commons, but this year they've also added a 5K trail run to the event. Proceeds support the Hickory Hills Ski Area. Register here.

June 20, 2015 - The Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon & 5K
This scenic half marathon and 5K running race in Glen Arbor is a personal favorite. The half marathon takes runners around Big Glen Lake and includes a climb up Inspiration Point before finishing in downtown Glen Arbor. The 5K course is flat and fast, and takes runners through tree-lined streets near downtown Glen Arbor. Register here.

Stars, Stripes and Splatter

July 4, 2015 - Stars, Stripes and Splatter Stars, Stripes and Splatter is a "color run" style 5K fun run held on July 4th at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. This family-friendly race features multiple stations with patriotic colors and awards for most patriotic ensemble. Register here.

Having a strong local running scene isn’t just about the great races. If you are a runner and are looking to hit the pavement with someone else, there are Traverse City groups geared towards runners that can help you get started or stay motivated.

Check out the Traverse City Track Club, which hosts free Wednesday fun runs all year long or Team Barefoot, the active lifestyle team of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Whatever run experience you are looking for, you can find it in Traverse City!

KKelly Yaukelly Yauk is the e-Marketing Manager at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and an avid runner. A Michigan native, she moved to Traverse City four years ago. When Kelly is not hitting the pavement on a training run, she enjoys reading and talking about running and reading. She is the voice behind the Resort’s Team Barefoot and recently ran the Leapin’ Leprechaun 5K while 4 months pregnant.

Traverse City Folks Take Home Awards from the 2015 Governor's Conference on Tourism

It was a good night to be from Traverse City.

We’re talking about the March 23 “Stars of the Industry” awards banquet at the 2015 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, where three of the big awards went to Traverse City honorees.

A coalition of ten local wineries won the Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration for their program to train and certify employees at local tasting rooms. A Traverse City chef won the “Culinary Star of the Year” award for his commitment to excellence and community spirit. And the head of Traverse City Tourism won the “CVB Star of the Year” award for his leadership in local and state tourism development efforts.

The Northwest Michigan Wine Tasting Room Training Program is a two-year effort between the wineries of Traverse City, Old Mission Peninsula and the Leelanau Peninsula. Ten wineries, headed by a five person steering committee, collaborated throughout to create a credentialed program for wine tasting rooms that features education, training and competency in the areas of customer service, wine fluency and alcohol management. This program developed the curriculum and instructional materials and then trained 16 individuals with skills that they did not possess before.

Left Foot Charley

The project’s oversight committee included Brian Lillie of Chateau Chantal, Meridith Lauzon of Left Foot Charley, Andrew Jacobson of Black Star Farms, Cristin Hosmer of Villa Mari, and Kirstin Policastro, formerly of 45 North. Created “by the wine industry for the wine industry,” the program is the first of its kind, giving tasting room employees skills and tips to further enhance customers’ experience and boost the credibility of the wine industry. The next objective is a statewide roll-out of the training program.

The awards were presented by the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan – a group of over 47 statewide tourism associations, corporations and convention and visitor bureaus – on behalf of the Michigan Travel Commission, which created them to elevate the status of the state tourism industry and promote innovative collaboration. Two other projects – one in Grand Rapids and another in Brighton – also received awards.

At the same banquet, Marc Pritchard, executive chef at Traverse City’s Park Place Hotel, was named the “Culinary Star of the Year” by the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association. Pritchard, a native of the United Kingdom, has worked in the United States for 18 years, almost all of it at the Park Place. He was cited for being for being “a consistently creative chef with a passion for food, presentation and attention to detail” and a leader who “encourages and inspires his team…with good humor, professionalism and a relentless commitment to quality.”

Minervas

Pritchard was classically trained at the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism, and Creative Studies in Birmingham, England. In addition to his time in the kitchen, he coaches young soccer players in the area and also carves ice to support the festivities around Santa's arrival for the downtown Traverse City Association. His White Chicken Chili has won the “best in category” prize 12 times in the annual Downtown Traverse City Chili Cook-Off.

Last – but definitely not least – our own Brad Van Dommelen, president/CEO of Traverse City Tourism, was named a “CVB Star of the Year.”

Van Dommelen was cited by the awards committee for his “industry knowledge, determination, attitude and imagination” in bringing Traverse City to the attention of new national and international markets, as well as his leadership at the state level, including his work to bring about a change in Michigan law allowing destination marketing organizations to increase their tourism promotion funding to further benefit their communities and the state.

Traverse City Visitor Center

Organized in 1981 as the Traverse City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Traverse City Tourism is the area’s official destination marketing organization.  Its focused mission is to stimulate economic growth by attracting convention business and developing leisure tourism.

Pritchard and Van Dommelen were among 14 awardees recognized at the annual banquet, including hotel and tourism workers from Detroit, Lansing, South Haven, Grand Rapids, Dearborn, Adrian, East Lansing, Harbor Springs, Gaylord, Port Huron and Frankenmuth.

The Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association represents hundreds of hotels, motels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts that comprise more than 50,000 guest rooms throughout Michigan. MLTA is the only statewide trade association advocating for the state’s lodging and tourism industries.

From the Chair: Featuring Tori Piersante

Tori Piersante - VP of Sales

Tell us a little about what The Vice President of Sales does at Traverse City Tourism.
One of the great things about being at Traverse City Tourism is the variety in my days!  In the sales department, the goal is simple: find group business we do not currently host and invite them to convene in Traverse City.  How we go about that can vary greatly depending on the type of group, so that’s where the fun begins.  Our sales efforts consist of targeted groups at the state, regional, national and even international levels.  We are very passionate about all of the amenities that make Traverse City a world class destination, and telling people about that is a pleasure.

What did you do before Traverse City Tourism?
Before I came to Traverse City Tourism, I worked for the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I was a Director of Convention Sales and worked with national groups that used multiple hotels and the Salt Palace Convention Center.

What do you love the most about working for Traverse City Tourism?
I get to live here and I get to work with some incredible people!  The leadership and staff of Traverse City Tourism, and the tourism partners we represent, all understand the value of bringing people to our area.  Two things that really stand out are the Community Champion program -- where we recognize local people for their initiative in helping to bring groups to our area  -- and the site inspections we conduct with potential meeting clients.  I love being able to match the accommodations from our hotels, restaurants, and attractions to fit a particular group's needs, and escorting them as they discover our amazing city!

What attractions, destinations, restaurants, etc. do you favor in Traverse City?
That’s a really hard question to answer, and I think it comes down to what you’re looking for on any given day.  Sometimes my favorite thing is the awe-inspiring Sleeping Bear Dunes, on other days it's the bustle of downtown or the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. And of course, there’s always room for wine tasting, or a craft brew or distillery tour.  Some of my favorite spots have been shared with clients and include, Amical, Red Ginger, and the Boat House.

What’s your favorite downtown lunch spot and why?
Again with the favorites question – it’s too hard!  The Dish for great soups and salads, Little Fleet is fun and different, and North Peak has some great variety.

How would you describe Traverse City to a first-time visitor?
I usually let them know that when they come to visit, at one point they will say, “I had no idea Traverse City was so amazing!"  I love to wait for that aha! moment, and it always happens.

Traverse City is unlike any other northern experience.  Not only do we have the natural beauty of lakes, beaches and forests, but we combine those with first class accommodations, a walkable, charming downtown with boutique shopping and award winning restaurants, the history that makes up the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, beautiful wine trails and vibrant cultural opportunities.  By the time they leave, they have found their new favorite place to be.

What is your perfect day in Traverse City?
Anything that gives me a day with my two sons and spending time in Traverse City.  We’d probably start with a great breakfast then head to the Sleeping Bear Dunes – it’s so inspiring!  We'd do every stop on the Pierce Stocking Drive, head back to Traverse City and downtown, poke around the shops, maybe stop at a distillery, and perhaps try out some paddle boarding on the bay.  If time permits we would also visit the gardens at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, grab a snack at the Michigan Farm Market, sample some wine (at TASTES of Black Star Farms or Left Foot Charley), and then take a peaceful cruise aboard the Tall Ship Manitou.

If you could wish for a celebrity sighting on the streets of downtown Traverse City who would you want to see?
I can't decide between two people...
Tim Allen, because he’s hilarious and I love what he’s done with the Pure Michigan campaign. Or, today, I’d have to add Tom Izzo.  It is March, after all!

What is your favorite season in Northern Michigan?
Traverse City has more to offer as a four-season destination than anywhere else I can think of!  People here embrace all the seasons and enjoy the winter, spring and fall offerings – that’s cool. Still, if I had to pick one season it would be summer, when I can walk on that gorgeous sand and play in the Bay!

Describe a memorable Traverse City moment/experience.
I had the pleasure of conducting a site inspection with a gentleman representing a group whose members are extremely interested in wildlife, particularly birds. That meant that in addition to all the usual things I always highlight, we had some unique areas to see as well.  Part of what was memorable was that when he arrived he was a bit skeptical that Traverse City would be able fill all his group's needs. (This group required “markers” or a grading scale of wildlife offerings combined with amenities that would entice their attendees, and he had assured me that this was a monumental task!)

We were heading out on the Old Mission Peninsula and he was telling me how absolutely beautiful our area was, how wonderfully it would work for their group and how, despite his skepticism, we turned out to be the poster child of all that a wildlife destination can offer.

And, no kidding, just then a bald eagle began to float in front of us -- right on cue!

Bald Eagle

Ready to Celebrate Easter? Here's the Full Lineup of Activities and Restaurant Specials!

egg hunt recap banner image

Grand Traverse Conservation District Springtime Egg
Photo Courtesy of Grand Traverse Conservation District

Easter is coming up quickly and we've got the run down on all of the fun activities and specialty meals being planned around the area!

Easter Fun (including egg hunts!):

March 28th - Community Easter egg hunt at Trinity Lutheran Church with prizes and activities. Registration starts at 10 am. RSVP’s appreciated.

April 4th -  Free Easter egg hunt at Fellowship Church, 10-11:30 am.

April 12th – Free natural Easter egg coloring demo at Oryana Food Co-Op, noon-2 pm.

April 4th – 1st Annual Resurrection Celebration at Bayview Wesleyan Church, 9 am.
Easter egg hunt and prizes for children! Have your picture taken with the Easter Bunny. Cake walk, raffle and craft fair. A free event open to the community, takes place rain or shine.

April 4th - Grand Traverse Conservation District Springtime Egg Hunt, 10-11:30 am and Noon-1:30 pm, $5 per child, Kid’s Creek Park (between Kohl’s and Great Wolf Lodge on US31).
This isn’t your average egg hunt! Bring your basket and get ready to be sent out on a mission to find five eggs, each of a different color, that correspond to a Michigan critter that actually lays eggs. Before you leave, redeem your eggs for prizes and treats! Space is limited for this event and it was a sell-out last year, so pre-registration is encouraged. Click here to register. Walk-ins are welcome on the day of the event as space allows.

April 4th –Free Easter egg hunt at Cycle-Moore Campgrounds
Starts at noon (line up by 11:45) Kids 13 and younger. Bring your own baskets. Will move indoors in case of inclement weather.

April 4th - Easter Kids/Family Sip and Dab
Bring your children (8 and up: younger children must be accompanied by an adult) or paint as a family with local artist Shelly Morey as you are guided through your our own paint on canvas masterpiece; all experience levels welcome. Create a memory of art with Sip and Dab for Easter while sipping and eating great food and beverage choices offered by the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. $20 per person, register here

Easter Brunch: 2014

Aerie - Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
Reservations are highly recommended. Serving brunch from 1 pm-4 pm, adults $29.95, kids 5-12 yrs. $14.95, 5 yrs. & are free.

Amical
Reservations are highly recommended. Serving menu style brunch from 9 am-3 pm, price range $7-$14.

Apache Trout Grill
Serving brunch from 9 am-3 pm. No reservations.

Bistro FouFou 
Serving a plated brunch from 10 am-2 pm. Order off a special menu.

Blu
Open for dinner from 1-7 pm. Order ala carte off of special menu. Menu prices $27-$55. Please call and leave a message for reservations.

The Bluebird 
Reservations are recommended. Serving special plated dinners from 11 am-2 pm.

The Boathouse
Reservations are highly recommended. Serving brunch 9:30 am-2:30 pm and dinner from the regular menu 4 pm-9 pm. adults $28.95, kids $16.95.

Boone’s Long Lake Inn
Open noon-10 pm. Regular menu with $5 off prime rib dinners and combos.

Copper Falls Steakhouse
Easter brunch from 10 am-4 pm $27.50 for adults.

Firefly
Reservations are recommended. Serving a brunch buffet 10 am-4 pm, adults $24.95, kids 12-4 yrs. $10.95, 3 yrs. & under are free.

Great Wolf Lodge
Serving a breakfast buffet from 8 am-noon, adults $12.99, kids 4-10 yrs. $6.99, 3 yrs & under are free.

Harrington’s by the Bay
Reservations are recommended. Serving brunch from 9 am-4 pm, adults $19, kids $5.

Jolly Pumpkin
Special menu features from 10:3 0am-2 pm. Regular menu from 2pm-9pm.

Shanty Creek Resorts: The Lakeview
Reservations are recommended. Serving brunch from 11 am-3 pm, adults $30.00, seniors $28.00 kids 12-6 yrs. $14.00, 5 yrs. and under are free.

Maddy’s Tavern
Reservations are recommended. Serving brunch 10 am-3 pm, adults $17.95, kids 12-5yrs $9.95, 4 yrs. and under are free. Full regular menu after 4 pm.

Manor on Glen Lake – Empire 334-0150
Champagne brunch with special menu. Open 10 am-3 pm. $17.95 for adults.

Minerva’s-Park Place Hotel
Serving brunch 10 am-3:15 pm, adults $23.95, kids 3-12 yrs. $9.99.

Mulligan’s Pub & Grill
Easter brunch buffet from 9 am - 2 pm with traditional breakfast items. Adults $14.95, kids 5-10 yrs. $7.95. Under 5 are free.

North Peak Brewing Co.
Open noon-8 pm. Order off of special menu.

Pearls
Serving brunch menu 10 am-3 pm. Regular dinner menu served from 4 pm-8 pm.

Season’s Buffet (Turtle Creek Casino)
Noon-8 pm. Buffet includes prime rib, lamb, ham and other favorites. Adults $24.95, kids 12-5 yrs. $12.95, under 5 yrs. are free. No reservations, seating upon availability.

State Street Grille
Serving Brunch 10 am-3 pm, adults $12.95, kids 12 yrs. & under $7.95

Tuscan Bistro
Open noon-8 pm offering both ham and lamb specials in addition to regular menu items.

West Bay Beach a Holiday Inn Resort
Reservations are recommended. Brunch and Easter themed events including a craft and photo station. Easter brunch from 11 am-3 pm, adults $29.95, kids 5-12 yrs. $14.95, 4 yrs. & under free.

 

Traverse City’s Best New Event Venues

Planning meetings and events in a larger city for years was wonderful, but planning meetings and events in Traverse City is even better.  With the natural beauty and sheer number of amazing venues, it makes my job so much fun!  Within the last year or so Traverse City businesses have expanded their offerings by creating unique spaces well suited for a variety of special events. Read on to learn more about each one listed below.

Historic Barns Park

Home to the Botanic Garden and the Cathedral Barn, this is more than an event space. It’s a destination!  At the heart of the park stands the majestic Cathedral Barn that was built in 1934 and rescued from the wrecking ball in 2004. This soaring structure is now being restored as a public event space to be enjoyed by generations to come. The barn opened for events just a few months ago and was once home to a working farm for the Traverse City State Hospital.

The Cathedral Barn

The Cathedral Barn - Photo credit to www.thecompasspointshere.com

I love that this barn is so close to town! It is rustic with modern amenities such as heat and air conditioning -- both are always a plus in our Michigan climate. It is also on the same property as the Botanic Garden where there are diverse options for cocktail hour, dinner and other fun activities.

Kirkbride Hall & Kirkbride Suite

Kirkbride Hall opened in May of 2014.  The hall was formerly the chapel at the Northern Michigan Asylum.  It was built between 1883 - 1885 and was at the first place in Traverse City to have electric lights!  It’s now a fabulous spot for weddings, corporate functions, and other gatherings.  Best of all, it offers a suite above the space that is available for rent for wedding parties, families or very small groups.

Kirkbride Hall

Kirkbride Hall

This location is part of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons historic restoration and re-use project, one that I have admired since its beginning more than 12 years ago. Couple the gorgeous venue with the impeccable customer service and this space is top notch all around.

Corner Loft

The Corner Loft in downtown Traverse City offers some of the best downtown views in Northern Michigan. Located on the second floor of a former bank, this neoclassical building is the perfect addition to event venues in town because there is nothing else like it.

Corner Loft

The Corner Loft - Photo credit to Ardent Life Photography

I love the floor to ceiling windows with views of Front Street's quaint shops and tree-lined streets. Inside, the space is modern, elegant, and versatile for a variety of different events. It is truly a gem of a venue right in the heart of our beautiful downtown shopping district.

Shady Lane Cellars

A Leelanau Peninsula favorite, the award-winning Shady Lane Cellars completed a major renovation at the end of last summer.  There is now a large covered patio, a fireplace, a large open patio and a huge lawn for tenting.  These major amenities are nestled up to the adorable tasting room that was a former chicken coup.

Shady Lane Cellars

Shady Lane Cellars - Photo credit to www.thecompasspointshere.com

I can’t think of a more relaxing outdoor venue!  What a great place for a networking event, team building or any cocktail hour.  I love that I can work with any caterer and pair it with their fabulous wines.  The staff at Shady Lane Cellars make this space one of my favorite places to visit and host events.

The RG Studio at Red Ginger

Paired with the best sushi in Traverse City and my favorite restaurant for customer service, The RG Studio has a large private patio with views of Grand Traverse Bay.  Its modern look and feel makes it the perfect spot for a day of entertaining, rehearsal dinners or a hospitality suite right downtown.  It has a kitchen perfect for a sushi action station and a 60” flat screen TV in the room.

The RG Studio at Red Ginger

The RG Studio at Red Ginger

When I can pair my favorite chef, the best customer service in town at any restaurant and views of the bay, I know it’s the best small venue in town.  Red Ginger makes planning so easy and simple and they thoroughly understand the needs of event planners -- this is always a plus!

There are also many hotel and resort properties that offer fabulous event spaces that may meet your specifications. Information including meeting facilities, sleeping rooms, date availability, rates, amenities and special program requirements can be found here.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the future for the region for venues, but for the time being I know Traverse City is booming and has some of the best locations to host events not only in the state, but in the country!

Allison Beers

 

Allison Beers is the owner of Events North, a meeting and event management agency and Put Your Phone Down!, a business etiquette course she presents around the country.  She has over 15 years of experience in meeting and event management.  Allison’s favorite part of Traverse City is the diversity of outdoor activities that she gets to share with her husband and children.

Step Inside the Sculpture Court at the Dennos Museum Center

I always enjoy the experience of walking into the Dennos Museum Center and seeing how that experience changes throughout the year as the new exhibitions for the Zimmerman Sculpture Court replace their predecessors. Working at the museum allows me to view the Sculpture Court during all of the exhibitions and at different times of day, which always changes the space and makes me see it differently.

Currently, the museum visitor is greeted by the latest Sculpture Court installation of ghostly bamboo and paper sculptures that hang high and low throughout the space. These sculptures are the work of Korean artist Jinwon Chang, and give off a distinctly aquatic impression. This association with water is deliberate; Chang’s art is in response to his three near-death drowning experiences. These traumatic experiences have influenced many aspects of Chang’s life, including his art. His work is made up of representations of objects and animals that can exist in water. These include, ships, jellyfish, and other marine wild life. These creatures and objects are able to survive where he could not, and they represent, for him, self-portraits.

Dennos Museum Exhibit

Suspended from the ceiling to mimic floating in water, these delicate sculptures are made of bamboo frames (an art form Chang’s hometown of Gwangju is famous for) and paper pulp. As they float in the air, they cast beautiful shadowy patterns on the wall and floor, and some hang low enough to allow a glimpse inside the frames. Viewed from any angle, the exhibition creates a contemplative and ethereal space where visitors can enjoy the mastery and meaning of the sculptures.

Dennos Museum Exhibit

Chang’s exhibition, “Hweh-Geeh” Returning Again will be on display through May 17, 2015 at the Dennos Museum Center. Visit www.dennosmuseum.org for more information.

MeganHeator

 

Megan Heator is the Museum Assistant at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City. Besides being able to hang out in a museum all day, she maintains the Dennos Museum’s social media and generally assists as needed.  Follow the museum on facebook, twitter, youtube, and instagram for daily updates.

 

What’s New, Newsworthy and Must See this Year at the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

This week on the blog the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula share exciting updates for the spring and summer season ahead. 

Whether you visit the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula annually, or are looking for something new and different to do this year, we’ve got the inside scoop on the happenings at the eight exceptional destinations that are the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula. From new or returning wines to renovations and personnel changes, it's all taking place on the Old Mission Peninsula!

What’s New

The newest member of the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, Hawthorne Vineyards, will introduce Cherry Splendor this season. A Balaton and Montmorency cherry wine blend from the cherry orchard on property, this cherry wine is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. A must try when in the cherry capital, Traverse City.

Old Mission Black Star Farms, an extension of the Black Star Farms property in Suttons Bay, will offer a few new and returning wines. Stop by to taste Black Star Farms’ Hard Apple Cherry Cider, a sparkling, light-bodied, fruit wine that uniquely combines the fresh crisp flavors of local apples and cherries. Or taste the flavors of Northern Michigan with the Sirius Maple Dessert Wine, a unique wine made from hard apple cider, apple brandy and Michigan maple syrup. And, new to the tasting room this year is an aromatic and lush 2012 Arcturos Gewurztraminer.

Ever wonder how, when, where or why the families behind the wineries got involved in the industry? Peninsula Cellars recently launched their new website, with tons of features including an interactive timeline where visitors can explore the rich history of the Kroupa family and Peninsula Cellars.

Peninsula Cellars Timeline

Peninsula Cellars Timeline

Starting this spring, 2 Lads Winery will offer private tastings, for parties of six or less, featuring six pre-selected wines paired with specially chosen small bites. It’s the perfect reason to grab some friends, kick back, relax and catch up on new 2 Lads releases. Reservations are required.

What’s Newsworthy

Still reveling in the “Top 10 Hot Brands” in the United States accolade, where Wine Business Monthly cited the Brys Estate 2013 Dry Riesling as a must-try wine, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery will continue to celebrate as they kick off the 10th Anniversary of the winery. Events, specials and festivities will be announced soon. Look for a fun new unveiling this summer…we can’t tell you about it now, but we are sure you will like what the folks at Brys Estate have in store.

Brys Estate Hot Brands

Brys Estate Hot Brands

Chateau Grand Traverse’s 2013 Etcetera White Blend, a limited edition wine produced in celebration of the winery’s 40th anniversary in 2014, has garnered some national attention bringing home three major awards this year.

The wait is nearly over at Peninsula Cellars. This spring commemorates the return of a tasting room favorite...Mélange. The abundant cherry harvests of late allowed the winery to bring back this sweet, port-style dessert wine. It's the ultimate accompaniment to chocolate desserts!

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that one of the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula are currently shipping wine to China? More than 1,500 cases of Traverse Bay Winery® Cherry Wine from Chateau Grand Traverse have been exported to China over the past 18 months.

Chateau Chantal recently announced changes in personnel at the winery with Marie-Chantal Dalese, daughter of winery founders Bob & Nadine Begin, taking over at the helm as President & CEO.

What’s Must See

The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula all have spectacular views as well as settings in which to sit outside and enjoy the wine(s) of your choice. As the weather warms up it is the perfect time to visit the wineries and enjoy the many outdoor seating options. These include the new patios at Peninsula Cellars and Chateau Grand Traverse (both overlooking vineyards) and an expansive deck along with a one-of-a-kind Bridge Above the Vines at Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery. Regularly scheduled live music and light food pairings accompany the gorgeous views and complete the experience!

Chateau Grand Traverse Winery

Chateau Grand Traverse Winery

If food and wine are your preference then don't miss Dining in the Vines at Bowers Harbor Vineyards. It’s an idyllic scene that could easily be in Tuscany or Provence, but luckily for you, it’s right here in Northern Michigan! Intoxicating aromas swirl around you as you sip fine wine and watch a five-course gourmet meal being prepared beside you at an outdoor kitchen by a white-coated master chef.

Dining in the Vines

Dining in the Vines at Bowers Harbor Vineyards

In addition, Chateau Chantal also pronounced continued renovations at the B&B. This year, the Monet Suite will debut a new look and feel of ‘New French Chateau,’ adding romance and a touch of modernity to the 10-year-old room, thanks to the work of Rebecca Whitehead Interiors.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for upcoming WOMP events, including Blossom Day (May 16) and Divas Uncorked (June 12). Event tickets go on sale 60 days prior to each event. Stay up-to-date with the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula by signing up for their eNews, and following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

A Spring Preview

 

The iconic Traverse City spring image: blossoming cherry trees on the Old Mission Peninsula.

The iconic Traverse City spring image: blossoming cherry trees on the Old Mission Peninsula.

By MIKE NORTON

Spring is on the way -- you know it is! The days are getting a little longer, the nights are getting a little shorter, the sap is starting to run in the sugar maples and the birds are beginning to make cheerful noises in the yard. So just to help you keep your spirits up and help you to remember that warm weather isn't something you imagine having experienced, we figured it would be nice to run some of our favorite spring photos.

Spring begins sheepishly in this part of the world, sneaking back into our lives like a wayward dog who's returned home after a night in the neighbor's compost heap. The snow and ice seem to be gone, but the branches are still pretty bare. If it wasn't for the beautiful color of that water, you might not even believe it's really here.

TDTC-88178

The biggest change begins in the forest, where the tiny spring ephemerals begin to poke out. They have to grow and blossom quickly, before the trees leaf out and it gets too shady -- so the woods fill up pretty quickly with all kinds of fast-blooming wildflowers. The bees get to work, too, and pretty soon you can hear them buzzing from flower to flower.

Trout Lily

Trout Lily

The most amazing flower in our spring forests, though, is the giant trillum. Just one flower per plant -- but they're nice and big, and they completely carpet the forest when they're in bloom.

Flower

Trillium

By the middle of May, the long-awaited cherry blossom extravaganza begins; when we are lucky and the winds don't whip the petals away, it can sometimes last for weeks!l

Cherry trees on Old Mission

Cherry trees on Old Mission

Then come the lilacs -- don't you love that scent?

Lilacs in flower at Leffingwell Point

Lilacs in flower at Leffingwell Point

And something that doesn't smell QUITE as lovely -- but certainly tastes much better: The fishing begins to get serious up in the Boardman Valley!

Flyfishing in Boardman River

Flyfishing in Boardman River

By now, there's even evidence of spring in downtown Traverse City, where flowering crabapples and ornamental pears start putting out their annual show:

DSC_4234

And by then, it's almost time to get ready for summer. Not all that far off, now, is it?