Even though we haven’t had a traditional “winter” here in Michigan the past few months, the true spring season is just around the corner. It’s a time of rebirth and growth – of new awakenings and fresh colors. One of the state’s most active promoters of the spring season, Joe Breidenstein, worked endlessly to get the state legislature to introduce a resolution designating the last week of April as Springtime Splendor Week. Although Joe passed away a few years ago, his legacy lives on in the celebration of all things green and spring here in Michigan! As you look to explore the Great Lakes State in the coming months, consider these 12 “Pure Michigan” destinations and activities.
1. Butterflies Are Blooming – Each year, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids hosts its world-renowned “Butterflies Are Blooming” exhibit – featuring thousands of fluttering butterflies inside the warm of the Lena Meijer Conservatory. It’s the perfect “Spring Break” family activity. www.meijergardens.org
2. Wildflowers – April showers bring May flowers, like the trillium that blanket the forest floor. Spring also brings the blossoms on the apple and cherry trees, making this one of the most fragrant times of the year to get out and travel the Great Lakes State. Special flowering events, including Blossomtime Festival in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor and Tulip Time Festival in Holland, are not to be missed! www.michigan.gov/dnr
3. Woodland Edibles – Morel mushrooms, wild ramps, leeks and fiddleheads are all delicacies that can be found by foraging through the woodlands of Michigan. After a successful “hunt” you can savor these mouth-watering finds, paired with a fine Michigan beer or wine. Many of these edibles are featured in the annual Chefs Challenge (to benefit Challenge Mountain), which is another brainchild of Joe Breidenstein. The event will be held April 20-21 at Boyne Mountain. www.chefs-challenge.com
4. Fishing – Whether you enjoy fly fishing on the rivers and streams, heading out on a charter on the big lake or casting a line for pan fish in an inland lake, you’re sure to catch something while spring fishing in Michigan. From walleye, trout, steelhead and salmon to perch, bass and bluegills, this is a fisherman’s paradise. www.michigan.gov/dnr
5. Wine Tasting – While nearly 100 wineries throughout the state of Michigan are open year round, spring is the ideal time to visit as this is when the new releases are available for tasting – especially during “Michigan Wine Month” in April. Be sure to purchase a bottle or two, to pair with those woodland edibles and fresh catches! For more in Michigan wines: www.MichiganWines.com
6. Bird Watching – Nature centers, sanctuaries and wildlife viewing areas are thriving with opportunities for spring bird watching. For more about birding, visit the Michigan Audubon Society website: www.michiganaudubon.org
7. Paddling – With thousands of miles of rivers and streams, not to mention the inland and Great Lakes, spring is the perfect time to get out in your canoe or kayak and head out on the water for some peace and quiet. For more information, check out the website for the Michigan Association of Paddlesport Providers: www.michigancanoe.com
8. Peddling – Michigan is home to some of the most scenic biking trails, ranging in distance and level of difficulty. Whether you’re taking a short family trip along a paved trail or are heading out for an off-road mountain bike adventure, you’ll find plenty of opportunities around the state – including special events geared toward cyclists. For more information on biking trails and events around the state, check out the website for the League of Michigan Bicyclists at www.lmb.org.
9. Hiking – From nature centers to city, county and state parks, you’ll find countless trails waiting to be explored. In Michigan, you can hike more than 200 miles on the Shore-to-Shore Trail that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Or, take a day hike on any breathtaking section of the North Country National Scenic Trail which operates is national offices from Lowell, Michigan. www.northcountrytrail.org
10. Golfing – Michigan is home to more than 800 golf courses and during the spring season, the rates are often lower, there are fewer people (and bugs) and the temperatures are pleasant. For a detailed list of courses throughout the state, visit the Golf Association of Michigan online at www.gam.org.
11. Camping – Although camping is a year-round activity in Michigan, spring signals the onset of the warm-weather camping season in Michigan. By early May, a large number of the privately owned campgrounds in Michigan are welcoming guests looking to shake off the winter blues and enjoy the great outdoors. For a list of nearly 200 campgrounds, log onto www.MichCampgrounds.com.
12. Driving – Michigan Highways offer a state-wide listing of Heritage Routes – in three specific categories: Scenic, Recreational and Historic routes online at www.MichiganHighways.org. If your travels take you to Dearborn, be sure to check out “Driving America” at The Henry Ford Museum – the world’s premier automotive exhibition. Centered around an unparalleled collection of historically significant vehicles, this remarkable mix of authentic artifacts, digital media, interactive play and personal accounts focuses on the enormous influence the automobile has had on American culture. www.thehenryford.com
No matter which spring activity you chose, be sure to travel with camera in hand to capture the awakening of all around you. To learn more about how to enjoy Michigan’s “Springtime Splendor” and cure your cabin fever, visit Travel Michigan’s award-winning website, Michigan.org!