Pure Michigan Wrap-Up

Kayaking in Michigan. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

By Elizabeth Kinsey

Great Blue Heron on Jordan Lake. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Wherever you vacation in Michigan, you’re sure to have a great time. There’s something for everybody. Whether your preference is roughing it, camping with a camper or RV, staying in a motel or renting a cottage, you’ll find a spot that makes you want to start planning a return trip when you have more time.

Michigan bike trail

Michigan’s cities offer inspiration, gardens, theatre, concerts, cultural diversity and many educational opportunities. Nature’s at her best in Michigan, too, with hundreds of campgrounds and miles of bike trails and hiking trails across the state. If you can swing the time for a vacation before or after Annual Conference, be sure to make your plans early. The beauty of Michigan is not a big secret. It’s a favorite vacation spot, a summer home, a delightful return stop for many folks. Those of us who wait all year for those show-stopping Michigan summers don’t stray too far away from June through September. It’s just what we’ve been waiting to experience again. The summer weather is unpredictable in Michigan, so do come prepared with layers.

I sure hope you can play for a while in this beloved state I’ve called home for 62 years. I’ll be here ready to welcome you to Pure Michigan!

Sunset, Grand Rapids. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Lower Northeastern Michigan

Lake Huron Beach. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey

By Elizabeth Kinsey

Although I grew up on the east side of Michigan close to the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron, it had been a long time since I spent beach time there. What a pleasant surprise I had with hubby Jim and my sister Steph over Labor Day, time on beautiful Lake Huron shores near Au Gres. There is so much beauty on this shore but it’s not as populated as the western shores of Michigan. Life is more relaxed, less congested and more rustic. Towns are farther apart.

Relaxing around a campfire. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Lake Huron is delicious for a swim on a warm summer day, although you’ll want to wear water shoes for the small rocks that make water-walking a challenge. Tiny rentable cabin clusters dot the shore as you head north into Pinconning (don’t pass a cheese shop without a stop), Au Gres, Tawas City, East Tawas, Oscoda and parts even farther north.

Cabins in the Tawas Area. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

One campground is right between the beach and the town of Tawas City. That’s a whole lot of fun without having to move your car! East Tawas also has a state park and a dog beach.

Inner Tubes on Lake Huron

If you’re an early bird, sunrises on Lake Huron are breathtaking and perfect for early morning meditations or long walks on the beach. Bike, hike, kayak, canoe, camp, fish, grill or do what we did on the beach, read, relax, walk, bob on an inner tube in the waves, chat and then find a restaurant for supper. The Lake Huron shoreline has it all!

Lake Huron sunrise. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

The Foodie Entry

By Elizabeth Kinsey

Brethren certainly love to eat! Once while we were staying in Beulah, we did quite a bit of stocking up for winter. I considered it our Food Tour since we love to eat, too.

Cherry Hut in Beulah. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Cherry Hut in Beulah. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

In Traverse City there are many places that specialize in Michigan-made products, especially cherry products. There’s Benjamin Twig’s, the first cherry store in Traverse City. American Spoon Foods, also in Traverse City, has a recipe for turkey chili using their pumpkin chipotle and peach salsa that is just amazing. The Cherry Republic in Traverse City specializes in ALL things cherry; my favorites involve chocolate.

Take your treats on the drive along the Old Mission Peninsula and admire the many orchards. No doubt there will still be sweet cherry stands aplenty and beautiful views with the treat of a lighthouse at the northern tip. In Glen Arbor you’ll find the original Cherry Republic with cherry pit-spitting contests, various cherry ice creams, salsas, chocolate-covered cherries of all kinds. Not sure about the flavors? Then try a sample of each!

Boone Docks. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey

Boone Docks. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey

Eat at the Boone Docks there if you’re really hungry.

Smoked fish is a must in Leland’s Fishtown. It makes for great picnic food. (Bell’s in Mackinaw City has great smoked fish, too!)

Plevas Meats. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Plevas Meats. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Pleva’s Meats in the little town of Cedar is a popular spot if you’re a sausage fan like some folks in our family.

What more could you possibly need to enjoy the shores of Lake Michigan than a picnic of fresh, dried or chocolate-covered cherries, cherry salsa and chips, some smoked fish, cheese from the cheese/winery in Traverse City, and fresh artisan bread with Traverse City (or Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island) fudge for dessert? If it’s rainy, head to The Cherry Hut in Beulah for their reasonable delicious meals and some cherry pie for dessert. What finds! Yum!

Mackinaw City Fudge. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Mackinaw City Fudge. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Things to see in Michigan

By Elizabeth Kinsey

There are many unique things to see in Michigan. Enjoy the Lake Michigan shoreline as you head north.

Lake Michigan overlook

Lake Michigan overlook. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

One of my favorite attractions is the mushroom houses of Earl Young in classy Charlevoix about three hours north of Grand Rapids right on Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. You can take a boat ride on beautiful Lake Charlevoix and see a mushroom house or two, and you can get the map on-line and drive by several. They are so interesting.

Charlevoix waterfront

Charlevoix waterfront. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Visit Castle Farms near Charlevoix. This mansion was constructed in 1918 by Albert Loeb who was the Vice President of Sears, Roebuck and Company. There’s quite a tale of ownership as it passed hands over the decades, even becoming a concert venue which didn’t go over very well with the locals, before being restored to its original beauty. Although it is currently an events venue, there is an informative AM tour to enjoy with a small museum. Look at many items from the early days of the Sear, Roebuck catalogue, a walk down Memory Lane. See posters advertising the variety of musicians who graced the stages. Some of them attracted such a wild audience that Charlevoix’s tiny upscale hospital emergency room had more than it could handle at the end of particularly wild concerts. The gardens are absolutely beautiful, especially in July and August!

Lavender Hill Farm

Lavender Hill Farm. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

When we drove around Lake Charlevoix, we found a treat, Lavender Hill Farm out in the country, a Boyne City address. Who can resist lavender? Their little shop has everything from stationery and dishcloths to lavender sugar and oils. Hmmmm! I can still smell that soothing aroma. For a short-cut across Lake Charlevoix, take the little Ironton Ferry. It’s a quaint way to find your way to the other side. Charlevoix is a Michigan gem that’s sure to please.

Things to see and do near Grand Rapids

By Elizabeth Kinsey

Right in the middle of the Michigan mitten near and in Grand Rapids, site of the 2017 Annual Conference, there are plenty of things to see and do. The Gerald R. Ford Museum is in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. It’s an interesting walk through Ford’s presidency.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Berries at farmers market

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

A mile or so from that is the Fuller/Fulton Street Farm Market, open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Where but in Michigan can you buy fresh Michigan strawberries, raspberries, famous Michigan sweet cherries, early blueberries, and maybe even a few early cling peaches and so much more? Throw in artisan bread and cheese and you’ve got most of a picnic to eat along the Grand River back at Annual Conference.
Blueberries and peaches

Fruit at the farmers market. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Check the fresh market downtown for ethnic foods galore. I haven’t been there, but Joanna Willoughby can give you enticing suggestions for good eats there.
art prize

ArtPrize work. Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Check around for remnants of the Grand Rapids ArtPrize, another reason to come BACK to Michigan in late September to early October. It’s when hundreds of thousands of folks enjoy art from around the country, on display all over Grand Rapids for two weeks every year.
A few miles from downtown, you won’t want to miss the award-winning Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. There’s so much to see, even a little tram that will chauffeur you around in comfort. The Japanese gardens are especially popular there, I’m told! The sculptures are unique as well.
sculpture garden

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Image courtey of Elizabeth Kinsey.

Beaches near Grand Rapids


Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

By Elizabeth Kinsey

So…you’re coming to Michigan for Annual Conference? You will certainly want to make a vacation out of it! I’ve lived in Michigan all my life; it’s a treasure. I’ll share a few spots I’ve visited recently that you might like to try with your family. Any other Michiganders will be glad to give you their favorite spots, too! You won’t regret spending an extra week or two in beautiful Michigan!


Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Within an hour of Grand Rapids, there are many beaches to enjoy. My favorite is Oval Beach across the river and over the dunes from Saugatuck. It is easily accessible, especially if you get there in the morning. On the north end there’s even a boardwalk to the water for those who have mobility challenges. Beach walking is a pleasure. Swimming is a joy with Lake Michigan’s sandy bottom. Watch for waves and rip currents on wilder days, but there are plenty of days of calm. It’s a city park, $8 to use it.

paddlewheel boat

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

State parks are more for the day, but worth it! Closer to Grand Rapids there’s Holland State Park, Tunnel Park in Holland, and Grand Haven State Park is great, too. In Grand Haven and Holland you can walk long piers. From Grand Haven State Park you can walk along the channel of the Grand River, walk into town and have access to great food and creamy treats. These are just three of the beaches I love near Grand Rapids.


Image courtesy of Elizabeth Kinsey

Shopping Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Haven are sure to please if the weather doesn’t cooperate, especially because they are such artistic communities.