June 23, 2011
This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.
The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been.
Close your eyes and think about this for a moment. Wait…that makes reading rather difficult. Scratch that.
Better yet imagine, if you will, your morning commute. If you’re lucky enough to call northern Michigan home that drive probably takes you through quaint shopping districts, or perhaps a bayside cruise past restaurants, marinas and resorts. When you live in a tourist town, like Traverse City, you’re surrounded by unique destinations. But just like those beautiful bay views, you seldom stop the car to appreciate them.
When I’m running displays for Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas my route takes me across Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau county every month, canvassing the same highways area travelers flock to for a taste of Northern Michigan. Along these drives I pass dozens of storefronts I’ve never been in. And that got me thinking, why not? What is so difficult about taking 15 minutes out of my trip to satisfy my curiosity, and hopefully find something I like. That’s when I decided to pick 10 new places and pay them a visit.
What’s the big deal about choosing some place new?
One of the best parts of being a tourist is exploring uncharted territory. You never know what you’re going to discover. When you’re on vacation, especially in a place you’ve never been, every site you see, every food you taste, every door unopened is the beginning of a new adventure. If you look at your own community from the eyes of a visitor you’ll see a whole new world.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing shameful about having a favorite restaurant, or shopping at the same grocery store because it’s convenient. Every business needs ‘regulars,’ and that’s what the locals often are. But new customers are the key to business growth.
Did you know, in 2010 the Michigan tourism industry generated $17.2 billion— that’s a 14% increase from 2009. And, for the first time, out-of-state visitors spent more than Michigan residents on travel*.
Regions like Northern Michigan depend on those tourism dollars. And why do you think that is? Because we count on area visitors to do what we aren’t doing enough of: going out to eat, shopping at local stores and staying in area hotels. So I say, become a tourist in your hometown. And see what that does for Michigan’s economic recovery.
In honor of following my own advice I’m sharing my list of 10 New Places right here on the Mealtickets blog. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:
1. Hodge Podge Lodge – After seeing their listing in the Traverse Traveler app, and walking past the store in downtown Beulah, I had to check it out. And I must say, I’m loving my new $10 shoes! Click here to read more…
2. Chateau de Leelanau – Located on M-22 near Suttons Bay, this winery has new owners and some great wines…I’ll be back this summer for their cherry sangria, I can tell you that. Click here to read more…
3. Korner Gem – I’ve been dying to explore this hidden treasure just off M-22 on the west side of Traverse City, and I’m so glad I did. I can’t wait to show off the new jewelry they’re making—from my own beach stones. Click here to read more…
4. Woodland Creek Furniture – My friends from Virginia stop here every time they drive through Traverse City but I have never made a point to go in. Until now. It’s huge, and it’s amazing! Click here to read more…
5. The Rock Shop – If you’ve driven the corridor between Interlochen and Honor on US-31 you’ve passed it a million times. And so have I. But not this summer. I’m dying to find out how a place that sells rocks has been in business for so long! Click here to read more…
6. 22 Vines & Wines – I’ve heard nothing but good things about what’s coming from the kitchen in this tiny restaurant, with a Philippine chef, that lies along on the road to Suttons Bay. Click here to read more…
7. Country Christmas – Every local has passed this quaint cottage at 55 mph and yet I wonder how many have slowed down enough to read the sign. Looks like I’m gonna celebrate Christmas in July this year. Click here to read more…
8. Two Fish Gallery – There’s a huge tree near the corner of River & Main Street in Leland as you look down the boardwalk toward Fishtown. It casts a shadow on this lovely gallery. But the treasures inside are worth a visit. Click here to read more…
9. The Cherry Hut – Can you believe my husband graduated from Benzie Central, but he’s never been to this Beulah landmark? We’re going to check this one out together. Click here to read more…
10. Mystery Visit - I think I’m going to see what our Facebook & Twitter fans suggest, and base my 10th stop on their recommendations. Click here to reveal the Mystery…
You can keep up with my discoveries here on Mealtickets.com, and make suggestions of your own on Facebook and Twitter. And, as an added bonus, I’m going to make sure these new places get listed on the Traverse Traveler iPhone app. That way you can check them out too!
Why don’t you join me? Become a tourist in your hometown with these three simple steps:
- Get Ready: Take a moment and think about the places you drive past every week, but have never been in.
- Get Set: Pick ten, and make a list. The list is critical. There’s something about the simple act of writing it down that will help make you accountable.
- Go: You have 99 days of summer to explore your own backyard. Make it memorable.
Share your 10 Places with us!
June 23, 2011
I love my Michigan Wine, but sometimes summer calls for a cocktail.
So I decided to share a collection of drink recipes made from Michigan wine, spirits and beer. Cheers!
Raz Be Daz | Recipe from Black Star Farms
True North Lemonade | Recipe from Grand Traverse Distillery
1 ½ – 2oz Grand Traverse Distillery True North Cherry Flavored Vodka
6oz of a tart lemonade, Simply Lemonade in the refrigerated section of local stores works great.
Add a splash of pomegranate, cherry, or cranberry juice.
Mix over ice and enjoy.
Strawberry Sangria | Recipe from 2 Lads Winery
1 bottle of 2Lads Rosé of Cabernet Franc
½ cup white sugar (more or less to taste)
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 cups ginger ale (Vernors if you can get it!)
In a large pitcher mix the wine, sugar, lemon and strawberries. Refrigerate for several hours, or up to a day. Add ginger ale just before serving over ice. Enjoy!
World Famous Cherry Wine Sangria | Recipe from Chateau de Leelanau Vineyard & Winery
Mix fruit and cherry wine together in large container, refrigerate. When ready to serve add sparking cherry juice and pour over ice.
Cherry-tini | Recipe from Uncorked Wine Bar
1 ½ oz. Grand Traverse Distillery True North Cherry Flavored Vodka
1 oz Peninsula Cellars Melange
½ oz Indian Summer Cherry juice
Mix on ice, pour into a martini glass and garnish with maraschino cherries.
RBB Summer Shandy | Recipe from Right Brain Brewery
Applemosa | Recipe from Bel Lago Vineyard & Winery
Bel Lago Brut Rose Sparkling Wine with a splash of Apple Cider
Peach Fus"tini" | Recipe from Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars
Mix peach balsamic vinegar and vodka in a glass with ice. Add sparkling water to fill. Serve.
Blueberry Mint Lemonade | Recipe by Drink Michigan
1/3 cup fresh mint
1 cup of blueberries
4 cups of water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 bag or 8 lemons)
1 cup of Grand Traverse Distillery Wheat Vodka
In a blender, add the water, lemon juice, mint leaves, blueberries, and sugar. Blend until mixture turns pink. Let sit for at least an hour, then strain to remove blueberry and mint leaves. Add in your vodka, chill and serve over ice!
* For a family-friendly option, serve sans alcohol. A nice treat for the kiddos too.
Dragon’s Milk Ice Cream Float | Recipe by DinnerFeed
1 (pint, 6-ounce) bottle Dragon’s Milk Ale (New Holland Brewing)
6 large scoops vanilla ice cream
6 strawberries, each slliced into a fan for a garnish (optional)
Mound scoops on vanilla ice cream in bowls or glasses. Carefully divide and pour Dragon’s Milk over ice cream. (Pour slowly off to the lip of the glass. Dragon’s Milk is quite foamy.) Garnish with strawberry fans, if using, and serve.
Remember, Buy Local also means Drink Local! Visit your local Michigan wineries, craft breweries and distilleries this summer.
June 15, 2011
Star Party at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Saturday, June 18 at 9:00 p.m. for an evening with the stars. Join a Park Ranger and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at the mouth of the Platte River on Lake Michigan Drive in Benzie County to learn about and celebrate the night sky. Watch the sun set into Lake Michigan, view the starry constellations, and spot the rings of Saturn through huge telescopes. If you are lucky, you may even get to see the elusive green flash as the sun sinks below the horizon!
The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society is partnering with the National Lakeshore for this event. The Society has been in existence for 29 years and its members regularly share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the public at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory in Traverse City. More recently, the Society has branched out to locations from street corners to national parks, sharing the wonders of the universe with the public. Our first joint star party was this past October on the 40th anniversary of the National Lakeshore. Four more evenings are scheduled through October 2011. (Photo from October 2010)
The dark skies of the National Lakeshore were recently hailed as one of the ten best in the entire National Park System. “Just as the parks are dedicated to preserving landscapes, cultural sites, and habitat for wildlife, so are they concerned about overhead resources – particularly the kind of dark skies that reveal the beauty of the nighttime firmament,” declares National Geographic’s newly released Ten Best of Everything National Parks.
Superintendent Dusty Shultz noted, “Many of our visitors come from cities where they rarely, if ever, get to see the Milky Way. Looking out over Lake Michigan, they are awestruck by the density of the constellations in view.” Shultz added, “We are pleased and honored to be working with the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society on this series of star
parties and know the public will marvel at what they can see through the lenses of those fabulous telescopes.”
The public is invited to join us on this fun and educational night. Meet the Park Ranger at the end of Lake Michigan Road at the mouth of the Platte River on Saturday, June 18. The event, which begins at 9:00 p.m., will be offered just in time to also watch the sunset. Society members will have their telescopes out until 10:30 p.m. Dress for the weather and bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car.
All Park Ranger-led programs are free. Participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass displayed on their vehicle to join in the fun. Please call 231-326-5134, ext. 328, for details or log onto www.nps.gov/slbe. Also, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sbdnl.
June 14, 2011
Pure Michigan debuts the new Traverse City "True North" ad today.
I’m excited to see my hometown featured on the Pure Michigan campaign, where millions of viewers can admire our beautiful community from a comfy cushion in their living room as Tim Allen’s voice lulls them into a state of utopia. With any luck they’ll be convinced that Traverse City is where they want to spend their next vacation.
And since planning the vacation is part of the fun, I hope the next step they take is to reach for their iPhone and download our handy mobile guide, the Traverse Traveler app. It’s a great resource for designing that trip to Traverse —whether you’re at home, abroad, at an airport or lying in bed watching TV.