Travel News and Updates from Traverse City, MI

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What’s Up North…
News and Information from Traverse City, Michigan
January-April 2016
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Fat -Tire Biking on the Snowy Forest Trails of Traverse City 
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TC Tourism Unveils Winter/Spring “Escape” Packages

Traverse City Tourism’s  “True Escape” package, good from Jan. 4 until May 12, combines special rates at a number of participating hotels and resorts with a wide range of discounts on winter recreation, shopping, dining and entertainment. There are deals at some of the area’s best restaurants and special discounts on shopping, spa services, movies, wine tastings and other entertainment. And for winter sports enthusiasts, the packages include coupons and discounts on trail passes, lift tickets, tubing and snowmobile rentals.

For more details about the 2015-2016 True Escape Package, click

At Long Last, the Hotel Indigo

After more than a year of construction delays, Traverse City’s first new hotel in a decade – the 107-room Hotel Indigo – is scheduled for an opening in April. The new hotel fronts the Grandview Parkway and sweeping views of West Grand Traverse Bay, with 100 standard rooms and seven suites, decorated in a style that pays homage to the city’s lumbering past “with an urban edge.” The hotel will feature an open-air rooftop bar serving small plates and drinks, as well as a farm-to-fork restaurant called Warehouse KiTChen + Cork.

Company to offer Guided Kayak Tours at Sleeping Bear Dunes

All About Water has received authorization from the National Park Service to provide guided kayak tours in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore beginning the summer of 2016. All About Water is the only company at this time authorized to offer guided kayak tours in the park that will do so with regularly scheduled tours.

The guided kayak tours will feature the shore at the base of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Overlook, around Pyramid Point, and Good Harbor Bay. All About Water will provide all of the necessary equipment, including the kayaks, seat backs, life jackets, paddles, dry bags for personal items, and when the weather is cold, wetsuits.

New Winery, Brewpub opening 

Creighton and McKenzie Gallagher are planning a spring opening at Rove Estate, a 2,000 square-foot tasting room on M-72 just west of Traverse City in Leelanau County. The 1,100-foot elevation of the new winery is the highest of any on the Leelanau Peninsula, and the tasting room will feature a wraparound outdoor deck to take advantage of its views. For now, Rove Estate lacks a winemaking facility of its own and is working with winemakers at Brys Estate (on the Old Mission Peninsula) to craft wines from its vineyards.

Aaron and Nikki Ackley have changed the name and theme of their popular crossroads restaurant, the Cedar Rustic Inn, just north of the village of Cedar. It’s now a brewpub — Big Cat Brewing. Although it remains a full-service restaurant with many of the same menu items, Big Cat (named for the semi-legendary wildcat said to prowl the nearby swamps) will also feature six house-brewed beers on tap.

A New Restaurant, too!

Mike and Sheila Connors, owners of Apache Trout Grill on West Bay Shore Drive, have purchased the former Harbor 22 building, about a mile north at Cherry Bend and announced plans for a “classic neighborhood pub” called The West End Tavern to open in late spring. The new tavern will feature many dishes offered at their other restaurant, with the addition of more casual items like wood-fired artisan pizzas. The 7,000-square foot property has a large deck overlooking the Harbor West Marina, and will include a full bar with local wine and craft beer, and occasional live entertainment on the patio.

Other Openings

The all-new Cherry Blossom 14, a 14-screen multiplex cinema, has opened in Buffalo Ridge Center, the former Horizon Outlet mall.  It features a range of theater spaces, from 144 seats up to a huge 500-seat IMAX theater with a 36-foot high and 65-foot wide screen, the largest north of Grand Rapids.

Jen Mackey, former sales manager of the Northern Natural Cider House, has opened a new cider taproom, Taproot Cider House, at the corner of Park and Front in the former home of the Eurostop Café. She plans to offer 20 hard ciders on tap, as well as specialty cocktails, beer, mead, in-house craft sodas and a full menu.

Improvements and Renovations

Building on its successful Big Changes program from 2014-15, Shanty Creek Resorts has made several additional improvements, including a new warming center and restrooms for the Beginner Ski Area on the north slopes of Schuss Mountain (as well as open-air shuttle transportation between the beginner area and the Lodge at Cedar River where ski-school registration and ski/snowboarding equipment rentals are, improved grooming for its 30K Nordic ski trail system, advance online equipment rentals and Alpine Tubing tickets, high–performance ski/snowboard rentals from Volkl, Nordica, and K2 thrugh Summit Sports, and $250,000 in improved snowmaking infrastructure.

The Chateau Chantal Winery B&B is renovating its Van Gogh and Renoir master suites, installing cornice work, new paint, furnishings and updated bathrooms.   The Traverse City Quality Inn has completed renovations to its lobby, installed new sinks, countertops and vanities in all guest rooms and furnished them with new window treatments.

The Dennos Museum Center has received a $1 million gift to expand its signature Inuit art gallery. The expansion will add about 2,650 square feet to wrap around the existing Inuit Gallery and will include additional storage space for the growing collection, which now stands at nearly 1,500 works and is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive.

New Faces

Lisa Monache, formerly a sales manager at Traverse City’s Great Wolf Lodge, is the new Director of Sales & Marketing for the Park Place Hotel.  She calls the move a “return back home,” since she spent four years as sales manager at the Park Place. She has over 25 years of conference sales experience, including stints as national sales manager at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and at Shanty Creek Resort for nine years.

Rachelle Grouckau is now a Sales Manager at the Great Wolf Lodge.  She was previously the Sales Manager at West Bay Beach, a Holiday Inn Resort.

Brooke Hayes has been named the new general manager of the AmericInn Traverse City. She had been assistant GM to Nick Trahair, who is stepping down after 15 years with the property. The AmericInn was recently sold to real estate developer Tom Borisch of Grand Rapids, who said he plans to leave things exactly as they are.

Joanna Parin is the new Event Design Manager at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.  Joanna studied Hotel Management with an emphasis in Culinary Arts at Ferris State University. As Event Design Manager, Joanna assists meeting groups and wedding parties with specialty linens, table settings, and room décor.

Raymond Malinao is the new General Manager at the Traverse City Quality Inn, taking the place of former GM John Clouthier.

Awards and Honors

Karin Flint, creator of the Flintfields Horse Park, was named a “Community Champion” by Traverse City Tourism. From 2007 to 2014, Flintfields served as headquarters for Horse Shows by the Bay, which brought an estimated 9,000 visitors and $12 million in spending to the Traverse City area each year. It is now home to the seven-week Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.

Traverse City Tourism launched the Community Champions program in 2006 to promote new convention and meeting business by recognizing local men and women who have worked with the organization to bring meetings, conventions and other events to Traverse City.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have awarded Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival the title of “2015 Air Show Site of the Year.” The Air Force flying team performed in Traverse City in July after a 25-year hiatus, and its members were deeply impressed by the community, its surroundings and the festival itself. The 2016 festival airshow will feature U.S. Navy Blue Angels, but the Thunderbirds will return in 2017 for the July 1-2 opening weekend.

In addition, three Cherry Festival employees — Executive Director Trevor Tkach, Operations Manager Kat Paye and Business Development Manager Michelle Elliott – were named Certified Festival and Event Executives by the International Festival and Events Associate (IFEA).  The festival received a Silver Medal in the association’s Pinnacle Awards program for the TV Spot “Cherries, Cherries and Cherries!” produced by Novum Productions of Traverse City.

Tennis Professional Fernando Belmar of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa won the International Tennis Federation’s November Mexico City tournament, a victory that placed him among the world’s top 100 players in his age group. He is planning to represent his native Spain in the World Team Cup and Singles Championships to be held next June in Helsinki.

Meanwhile, Jack Seymour, a 17-year-old assistant tennis instructor at the Resortreceived the 2015 Northern Michigan Tennis Association (NMTA) Junior Male Sportsmanship  Award, given to a player who demonstrates the highest standard of tennis accomplishments, character, conduct, sportsmanship, appearance, and amateurism.

A 40th Birthday for Two Great Nordic Ski Events 

The winter of 1977 is still remembered for its bitter winds and bone-chilling cold, and it may not have been the best time to inaugurate a cross-country ski race. But here in Traverse City they started two of them. The White Pine Stampede and the North American Vasa Festival of Races, two immensely popular events with distinctly different personalities, will both celebrate their 40th birthdays in February.

The White Pine is a point-to-point race through the rugged highlands of Antrim County, just east of Traverse City. It starts in the village of Mancelona and heads northwest, climbing the plateau where the Shanty Creek resort complex is located, with distances of 50K and 20K (and a noncompetitive 10K version). It’s always held on the first Saturday in February, and the 2016 race will take place Feb. 6.

The Vasa (now known officially as the North American Vasa Festival of Races) is a two-day series of ski races in both freestyle and classic techniques – as well as a fat bike race called the King Vasa — held on a series of looped trails (12K, 27K and 50 miles) on its own dedicated course in the Pere Marquette State Forest, just east of Traverse City. The 2016 festival will be held Feb. 13-14.

Each of the two events draws an average of 800 to 900 skiers.

Other Events:

Jan 1 — Resolution Run

A 5K run/walk to support health care services for individuals and families while promoting a healthy, active lifestyle and family fun.

Jan. 3 — 21st Annual Downtown Bridal Show

Dozens of vendors gather to showcase all things wedding at the City Opera House in Downtown Traverse City from noon to 4pm. A wedding fashion show will take place at 3:15pm. Admission to the event is free

Jan. 9 — Downtown Chili Cook-Off

The annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off brings together some of the area’s finest restaurants and their creative chili recipes for a spicy showdown in downtown Traverse City.

Jan. 16-17 — Kalkaska Winterfest

An annual winter celebration with sled dog races, craft shows, a frozen disc golf tournament and more!

Jan. 16 — Winter Warm Up with the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula

Spend the day with the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula, who team up with peninsula area restaurants and businesses for a day of sipping and sampling: the best treatment for those winter blues!

Jan. 23 — Bigfoot Snowshoe 5k & 10k

The course is a super hilly off trail run with plenty of logs to jump and branches to duck. If there’s no snow, bring your trail shoes — the race goes on no matter what the conditions. Bigfoot is the Midwest qualifier for the National Championship Snowshoe race.

Jan. 23 — Sips & Soups

You’ll enjoy a yummy soup and wine pairing at each of the 22 participating wineries along the Leelanau wine trail. In addition, $3 for each ticket sold is being donated to local food banks.

Jan. 30 — Frozen Foot Race

A 5 Mile Run/Walk through great neighborhoods at the base of the Old Mission Peninsula. Varied terrain and temperatures are just a few things that set this race apart from the others!

Jan. 30 — Yetifest

A day of fun wintery events in Suttons Bay, including a YetiFest Bicycle Hill Climb for all skill levels, a 4-4 Hockey Tournament, a Yeti Story Time at the library, and a Kid’s Parade.

Feb. 6-7 — Taste the Passion

Love is in the air at Leelanau Peninsula Wineries in this weekend celebration of wine, chocolate and love! Chart your own course, enjoying food/wine pairings and some optional winter and Valentine-themed activities.

Feb. 7 — Women’s Winter Tour

This is the 18th year for this fabulous outdoor recreation event! Get your 70’s costumes ready for this year’s theme and don’t be afraid to get out that jumpsuit, fringe or anything else you rocked out in the 70’s.

Feb. 11-13 — Traverse City Winter Comedy Arts Festival

The annual TC Winter Comedy Arts Festival is back for 2016 to bring another three days of belly-aching laughs to downtown Traverse City.

Feb. 13 — Romancing the Riesling

Traverse City was first put on the “wine country” map for the wonderful Rieslings produced here, and this Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula event pays tribute to those wonderful wines! Wineries will showcase Rieslings with food pairings, and even special deals.

Feb. 13 — Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival

An outdoor celebration combining the spirit of craft brews, live entertainment, local grub and Northern Michigan winters – all under the comfort of heated tents!

Feb. 20 — The Great Indoor Folk Festival

Northern Michigan Songwriters in the Round and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons bring you this popular indoor festival featuring, bands/duos/soloists, an open mic stage, and a kids’ fun stage. Admission is free.

Feb. 21-27 — Traverse City Restaurant Week

Your chance to experience the culinary delights of Traverse City at an even more affordable price! Restaurants will offer 3-course meals for only $25 during the week-long event.

Feb. 21 — The Vineyard Race at Forty-Five North

Short’s Brewing Company comes to the Vineyard for one of the most spectator-friendly fat bike races out there. The 3.2 mile loop is almost all within sight of the cozy tasting room, with much of the route tucked between rows of frozen vines overlooking the rolling Leelanau hills.

March 5 — 10th Annual Suds & Snow

A half-mile hike through the backwoods of Timber Ridge Resort where we host two live-music stages featuring local musicians, at least 12 craft breweries serving beer, wine, & cider, and local food vendors. Northern Michigan’s premier “Party in the Woods!”

March 5 — Beard of Zeus Fat Bike Race

A fast, fun circuit with one cruel climb each lap that gives way to a flowing, wide open and spectator-filled loop winding through the Suds & Snow festivities at Timber Ridge. There’s no better atmosphere than sprinting along a corridor lined with fans cheering on every race!

March 5 — Shanty Creek Resorts Slush Cup

Watch the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as skiers and riders attempt to cross an icy 40-foot pond, sometimes in crazy costumes. Other events include a frozen fish toss, snow shovel racing and a seal slide-—all part of the traditional wild and crazy weekend.

March 12 — Leapin’ Leprechaun 5K

Put on your green race gear and get ready for this annual fun run that meanders throughout downtown Traverse City. Celebrate your finish and get an early start to your St. Patty’s celebration at the post-race party tent.

March 19 — Beer & Boards Brewfest

Like peanut butter and jelly, the slopes of Schuss Mountain and après-ski brews just go together. Gather outside Ivan’s for the fifth annual celebration of craft-beer, featuring many of Michigan’s top breweries, and chat with the brewmasters themselves.

Choose when you’ll visit:
spring season
summer season
fall season
winter season
Traverse City Tourism
101 West Grandview Parkway, Traverse City, MI 49684
Mike Norton | Media Relations Manager | 231-995-3909 | | Unsubscribe

Maralyn D. Hill

Maralyn D. Hill

Maralyn D. Hill, M.Ed.,  The Epicurean Explorer

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