As we move into a new year, I put out a challenge to all Michigan residents and visitors alike to look around our fine Great Lakes State and discover all the hidden gems that make it such a great place to live, work and play! Here are 12 ideas to get you started…
1. As you cozy up under the blankets on snowy winter days, seek out Michigan authors who have great stories to tell! Specifically, I’d like to recommend the “Great Michigan Read” for 2012 – Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age by Detroit native, Kevin Boyle. For a list of other Michigan authors: http://libraryofmichigan.state.mi.us/Authors.
2. Attend a new festival or event, more than an hour away from your home. Michigan Festivals & Events Association has the most comprehensive list to choose from: www.MichiganFun.us.
3. When seeking out new eateries for breakfast, lunch or dinner — look to the locally-owned establishments that put their own spin on their menu. The Michigan Restaurant Association is the place to get started: www.MichiganRestaurant.org.
4. Host a garden or deck party featuring Michigan wines to welcome in summer. Did you know that Michigan has more than 75 wineries collectively producing hundreds of award-winning wines? Find them online at www.MichiganWines.com.
5. Plan a Michigan beer dinner — one of our fastest growing culinary trends. Did you know that Michigan ranks #5 in the nation for the number of breweries (closing in on 100)…thus, supporting its claim of Michigan: The Great Beer State! For a list of breweries and locally crafted beer, log onto www.MichiganBrewersGuild.org.
6. Take in an outdoor concert or performance at one of the amphitheaters around the state. Visit www.Michigan.org for venue ideas.
7. Watch the sun rise over Lake Huron, watch the sun set over Lake Michigan or do both in one day when you spend the night in the Straits of Mackinac area. Check out www.mackinawcity.com or www.stignace.com to start your trip planning.
8. Go island hopping…from inhabited to rustic to historic Victorian, and everything in between. Back to www.Michigan.org for information on all our great isles.
9. Visit a local farm or farmers market, and support Michigan’s #2 industry: agriculture! The Michigan Department of Agriculture is the best stop on this tour: www.Michigan.gov/mda. You can also find great foodie tours at www.Michigan.org (search “Things to Do” – “Road Trips”).
10. Go back in time to one of the state’s great historic sites – those that are well known and those that are not. Begin your trip planning with resources from the Historical Society of Michigan (publishers of Michigan History Magazine): www.hsmichigan.org.
11. Get back to nature! When was the last time you went camping? Did you know that there are even campgrounds in Michigan that offer winter adventures? Check out the Michigan Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (www.michcampgrounds.com); Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (www.MARVAC.org) and Michigan State Parks (www.Michigan.gov/DNR).
12. Try a new adventure — pedaling one of the linear state parks, paddling one of the flowing rivers, fly fishing on a blue ribbon trout stream, sailing aboard a tall ship, take a buggy for a dune ride. There’s so much to do that is simply Pure Michigan! Need I repeat…the best source for all things Michigan is www.Michigan.org.
As you travel out and about the “Mitten State,” show your Pure Michigan pride by sporting apparel that is available at www.PureMichiganStore.org. Many items are also available at Meijer locations around the state (another Michigan-formed company!).
Now…what Michigan activities are YOU looking forward to in 2012? Post your comments online at www.facebook.com/promotemichigan2.