Cool Vacation, Warm Memories in the Petoskey Area


Winter Festivals and Events in the Petoskey region

If you love it when the snow flies, you’re really going to love the Petoskey Area. After just one visit here, you’ll see why so many people return year after year.

For starters, this is the best skiing between the Rockies and New England. Here you’ll find three ski areas, more than 160 downhill runs, and an average yearly snowfall of more than 10 feet. Plus, there are terrific cross-country snowmobile trails, winter rafting, sleigh rides, skating and sledding.

The Petoskey Area is also home to a wide variety of winter festivals and events. Here are some of the most popular, to help you start planning.

HARBOR SPRINGS ANNUAL MERCHANTS OPEN HOUSE
December 11, 2010
6:00pm to 9:00pm
Downtown Harbor Springs, MI
You'll feel as if you've stepped into a Norman Rockwell picture when visiting this lovely resort town during the holidays! Stroll the streets weaving in and out of delightful shops and boutiques and get a jump start on your holiday gift buying. Treats for the eyes and the tastebuds will tempt you tonight! For more information, contact Marge Owen at (231) 526-7999, or visit www.harborspringschamber.com.

6-FOR-1-DAY
December 17, 2010
9:00am to 4:30pm
Boyne Falls & Harbor Springs - BOYNE
Six tickets for the price of one, are you kidding me? Load up the van and point it to Boyne Mountain or Boyne Highlands. Save bucks and have a great time! Don't let school or work get in the way, B-line it to BOYNE. For more information, contact BOYNE at (800) GO-BOYNE or www.BOYNE.com.

RED WING ALUMNI GAME SURE TO EXCITE
December 20, 2010
Harbor Springs – Griffin Arena
Come join in the fun and excitement of a Red Wing Alumni Game! At 3:00 pm bidding on silent auction items will begin and continue through the second period. 1st period will be Petoskey Northmen vs. Detroit Red Wing Alumni; 2nd period will be local skaters vs. the Red Wing Alumni. A Millionaire’s Party follows at North Central Michigan College at 8:00 pm for those 18 years and older. Call (231) 301-0334 to find out more.

NEW YEAR’S EVE AT THE ARTS CENTER
December 31, 2010
Crooked Tree Arts Center – Petoskey
New Year’s Eve at the Arts Center is an all age, alcohol free celebration featuring performances and workshops by the art center’s instructors and by area artists and organizations like Blissfest. Whether you prefer to participate in a hands-on workshop or enjoy a performance – this night is for you! The evening concludes with a “Midnight at 9,” Times Square style, dropping of a lighted ball. For tickets and information, please call the Crooked Tree Arts Center at (231) 347-4337.

WINTER RAFTING, SNOWSHOEING & SPA OUTING
January 9, 2011
Boyne Falls - Boyne Mountain, MI
Come experience the magical winter wonderland in northern Michigan with a guided winter rafting trip, snowshoeing, hot beverage, snack and choice of one 50-minute spa treatment starting at only $175 per person. Departing at 9 a.m., this north woods experience is great fun as you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Jordan River Valley. Check out the trees and riverbanks blanketed in snow and sense the peacefulness as you travel down the river in a guided raft. This trip includes a stop along the rivers edge for a hot beverage, snack and to take in the natural beauty of the area. A guided snowshoe hike (snowshoes provided) allows you to further explore the snow-covered forest. Be the first among your friends to say "I went winter rafting in Michigan!" Return to Boyne Mountain to experience Michigan's premiere destination spa with an afternoon of relaxation plus your choice of a 50-minute spa service. For more information, contact Solace Spa at (231) 549-7946 or www.BOYNE.com.

TIME FOR THE ANNUAL MOOSE JAW SAFARI
January 15, 2011
Harbor Springs, MI
Now in its 46th year, the Moose Jaw Safari is an easy ride over scenic trails and takes just over two hours with three stops along the way. This is a great group event that ends with the best bean soup anywhere. The more the merrier – so come experience snowmobile riding as it was meant to be. Visit www.harborspringssnowmobileclub.com to find out more.

BAY HARBOR ICE & SNOW FESTIVAL
January 20 – 23, 2011
Bay Harbor, MI
The National Ice Carving Association will be on hand for this year’s ice festival and the carvings promise to be bigger and better than ever! You’ll be amazed as 60 pound blocks of ice become works of art. The festival will also include snow sculpting, a chili cook-off, sled dog rides, a dynamic snow boarding show and children’s activities. Get into the spirit of the festival by relaxing in an “ice chair” sipping your favorite beverage! The Village at Bay Harbor has all the details at (231) 429-2004 or visit www.villageatbayharbor.com.

WINTER CARNIVAL
February 19, 2011
Petoskey, MI
Visit the charming town of Petoskey on February 19th for the Petoskey Winter Carnival held in Petoskey’s Winter Sports Park. There will be youth hockey games, sledding, and figure skating with open skating and skate rentals offered all day. Also attend the ever-popular Petoskey Cardboard Challenge, where contestants race their cardboard sleds, judged on both speed and creativity of design. Petoskey’s own bump-jumping competition is something you don’t want to miss either! For more information, contact the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau at (800) 845-2828.

KRAZY DAYS AND CARNIVAL WEEKEND
March 18 - 20, 2011
Boyne Country, MI
One day just isn’t enough to really enjoy a St. Patrick’s celebration. So Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands have made it an entire St. Patrick’s Weekend. Put on your party hat the weekend of March 18-20 and head to Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, or Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs. Boyne Mountain will feature live bands and a costume party on Saturday. Topping it off will be the famous Wet n’ Wild Slush Cup on Sunday and plenty of beads for those who get a little crazy. Boyne Highlands chimes in with Krazy Days on Saturday. There will be a totally wacky costume contest, a fun-filled obstacle slalom course and the chance to ski across a frozen pond. For more details, call BOYNE at (800) GO-BOYNE or visit www.BOYNE.com.

Ohio adds 26,000 acres to ReCreation Land

American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio continues to add to its conservation legacy with the opening of an additional 26,000-acres in the ReCreation Land agreement area located in Morgan, Muskingum, Noble and Guernsey counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

According to a release this area will be in addition to the existing 34,000 acres of the ReCreation Land for a new total of approximately 60,000 acres in a cooperative management agreement with ODNR’s Division of Wildlife.

The AEP ReCreation Land is the largest of five agreement areas owned by AEP Ohio that allow for public use of the property including hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking and camping in designated areas. With the addition of these acres, AEP has more than 85,000 acres of agreement land in more than nine counties including Athens, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Meigs, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble and Perry counties.

Other AEP lands that are in agreement with the Division of Wildlife include: Avondale Wildlife Area (4,919 acres), Conesville Coal Lands (14,640 acres), Gavin Wildlife Area (6,885 acres), and Poston Plant Lands (2,300 acres).

Visitors of the AEP ReCreation Land and all other AEP agreement areas must obtain and carry a lifetime permit issued by AEP. The permit is free and can be obtained online, from the McConnelsville American Electric Power office, the Division of Wildlife or at many local convenience stores in the area. An AEP permit allows recreational use of lands that are posted as public recreation areas only. Visitors to all AEP agreement areas are responsible for obtaining maps of the areas and reminded to respect fences, gates and the boundaries of these areas. Entering AEP properties that are not open to recreational use is prohibited by law.

Recreational users must obey all Ohio laws and regulations in addition to regulations specific to AEP agreement areas. An updated map of the area is available online, by calling the McConnelsville AEP office at (740) 962-1205 or by calling ODNR’s Division of Wildlife at (740) 589-9930.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

Find out Whooos Out There at Oakland County (Mich.) Parks

Oakland County Parks and Recreation invites families to learn about owls and head out on the trails to see Whooos Out There, Dec. 11 from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. at the Wint Nature Center of Independence Oaks County Park, located in the rural suburbs northwest of Detroit.

“This is a great educational opportunity for families to learn about owls, one of the most recognized groups of birds,” Recreation Program Supervisor Tim Nowicki said. “After some classroom fun and learning, we’ll head out into the park in hopes of seeing and hearing some owls.”

Using mounts and specimens of owls, parks staff will explore some of the special features of owls, their ranges, habits and food preferences. Indoor learning will be followed by an outdoor hike where staff and participants will look and listen for owls in nature.

Cost is $1/person. Suitable for school-age children and adults. Space is limited. Pre-registration and payment are required. To register, contact the nature center 248-625-6473. Wint Nature Center is located in Independence Oaks County Park at 9501 Sashabaw Road in Clarkston.

For more information about nature center programs, visit www.DestinationOakland.com.

ODNR dedicates new State Forest & Wildlife Area

Ceremony commemorated public-private partnership to protect 15,494-acre area

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Sean Logan recently announced the opening of Ohio’s newest state forest, the 12,089-acre Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest, as well as the neighboring 3,405-acre Vinton Furnace State Wildlife Area. Together, the two new conservation areas represent a rare, contiguous block of forestland, which is home to a wide array of native Ohio flora and fauna, including a number of endangered species. The site also hosts one of the most important forest research centers in the country.

“Today’s opening of this great forest is an example of true private-public collaboration at its strongest. And with today’s dedication, Ohio now has more acres of public land available to more people in more places than ever before,” said Governor Ted Strickland. “The Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest and Wildlife Area represents an innovative model for conservation that will play a vital role in improving southeast Ohio’s economy while protecting wildlife and furthering educational research.”

In addition to formally opening the new property, Governor Strickland and Director Logan applauded several companies and organizations which contributed the majority of the funding used to purchase the new forest.

“This is an exciting day for ODNR, our many partners, and all who benefit from and enjoy Ohio’s forests,” said ODNR Director Sean Logan. “For the past four years, we have worked with private and public entities to ensure this amazing forest and all of its features will bring great value, both economic and environmental, to Ohio. We could not have done this alone, so I offer my deep thanks to all those who worked so hard to make this possible.”

The project’s partners included American Electric Power (AEP), The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Rockies Express Pipeline, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, and ODNR’s divisions of Forestry and Wildlife. Non-state sources comprise 70 percent of the funding needed to purchase the Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest and Wildlife Area.

"For over a century, AEP has strongly believed in giving back to the communities where we live and work," said Bob Powers, president of AEP Utilities. "Today, we continue that tradition through our proud support of the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest. Our continued partnership with ODNR and our ongoing environmental stewardship have helped to provide Ohioans a protected recreational area for generations to come."

"In keeping with The Conservation Fund's goal to preserve our nation's working forests, we're thrilled to support this terrific effort," said Dan Sakura, vice president of The Conservation Fund’s government relations. "We commend Governor Strickland, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, American Electric Power, Ohio's bipartisan congressional delegation, USDA Forest Service, Rockies Express East, the Forestland Group and other partners for their vision and leadership to leave a lasting conservation legacy for future generations."

"We can heap accolades on this project all we want, and we should, because we’ve saved one of the last great swaths of Appalachian forests left in Ohio," said Josh Knights, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “But the most important songs of praise will come in spring, when the cerulean warbler returns from its winter in South America and sets up a nest here. Its song will be welcomed by all the other animals that live in this forest, and by the people who will come here, just to listen.”

“The Vinton Furnace tract represents a major milestone in the protection of more than 2 million acres of working forest land in the United Statesthrough the Forest Legacy Program,” said Robert Lueckel, field representative for the USDA Forest Service. “We in the Forest Service are proud to partner with the state of Ohio and others to ensure that working forests are a vital part of the Ohio landscape.”

The Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is one of the most biologically diverse woodlands in the country and has hosted on-going forest research for more than 50 years. Located 75 miles southeast of Columbus, the forest is home to the state’s largest known population of bobcats, and is also home to black bears, timber rattlesnakes, cerulean warblers and several rare plant species.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

Celebrate the Holidays with a Southern Indiana Getaway


For many families, traveling around the holidays has become as much a tradition as gift giving. Schools close, and most workplaces slow down, so what better time of year to get away for some quality time? Southern Indiana offers a variety of holiday-season experiences for travelers.

Family Fun
One of the state’s newest attractions, Big Splash Adventure in French Lick, also is the nation’s only indoor water park with a retractable roof. The 40,000-square-foot park includes a 40-foot tower with four slides, a three-story play structure, a lazy river and plenty of pools, splash areas and activities for the whole family. While day passes are available, all overnight rooms include passes to the water park and breakfast. Many of the family-friendly rooms and suites feature bunk beds, and electronic wristbands double as room keys.

Nearby is the new French Lick West Baden Indoor Karting, which features go-carts on a 1,250-foot indoor road course. Junior carts reach 20 mph, while adult carts accelerate to 40 mph. Kids must be at least 48 inches tall to drive.

“The Polar Express” story comes to life on the French Lick Scenic Railroad. Children are encouraged to dress in their pajamas and take a roundtrip train ride to the North Pole, where they’ll meet Santa. The conductor will yell, “All aboard,” and passengers enjoy hot cocoa and caroling. Ticket and hotel packages are available at the Big Splash Adventure, Comfort Suites French Lick and the French Lick Resort.

Adventure seekers can ski, snowboard or snowtube down a hill on a tube at Paoli Peaks. Paoli’s 17 trails and three terrain parks are projected to open Dec. 18. Rental skis, poles, boots and snowboards are available, as are ski lessons. A snow tubing park offers a great alternative to trying to stay upright on skis. Slide down a 700-foot-long snow-covered hill on specially made inner tubes and ride back up on a surface lift. Check www.paolipeaks.com for the most up-to-date snow reports.

Down the road in Corydon is Golf Shores Fun Center. This indoor miniature golf course with black lights where you can play wearing 3D glasses is a new twist on an old favorite – and usually something you can only do in warm weather months. Black lights illuminate colorful creatures in underwater and jungle settings that include appropriate sounds as well. Golf Shores also features an arcade, snack bar and coffee shop.

Old World Christmas and Traditions
No holiday trip would be complete without a little shopping. And several Southern Indiana communities pay homage to their German heritage at stores and restaurants throughout town.

Just off Interstate 64, the charming village of Ferdinand features quaint shops – Tin Lizzie’s on Main Street is a visitor favorite for home furnishings and décor. Stroll through the downtown, then take a scenic drive just a couple miles north to Huntingburg. The Historic Fourth Street Shopping District is home to dozens of antique and specialty shops and unique eateries, including Fat & Sassy, where you’ll find such specialties as chunky chicken salad and bread pudding. Shops and homes in the downtown district are decked out for the holidays.

The tiny town known as Santa Claus was settled by German immigrants in the early 1840s. Today, thousands of visitors make the trip to the world’s only post office with the Santa Claus name to obtain its one-of-a-kind picture postmark cancelation stamp on holiday greeting cards and packages.

Visitors can learn more about the town’s holiday traditions at the Santa Claus Museum. Throughout the town you’ll discover 17 Santa statues. Browse through the shops at Kringle Place, where Santa’s Great Big LED Tree of Lights comes to life with a choreographed musical light show at the top of every hour. Pick up some candy canes at Santa’s Candy Castle, which has the world’s largest selection of gourmet candy canes and 25 flavors of hot chocolate. Watch Christmas wood carving demonstrations during the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, the first three weekends in December. This holiday festival includes craft shows, a parade, holiday light tour through Christmas Lake Village and, of course, Santa himself. A traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and a visit with Santa takes place at Santa’s Lodge on Dec. 3, 10 and 17.

In Corydon, Indiana’s capitol from 1816 to 1825, you’ll find not only historic architecture such as the first state capitol, but also unique shops and restaurants all decked out for the holidays. At the 25th annual Light Up Corydon on Nov. 27, thousands of tiny white lights will be turned on at the beautifully decorated town square.

The French Lick Resort pulls out all the stops to create a festive atmosphere with wonderful holiday entertainment and great opportunities to create memories. The soaring atrium of the West Baden Springs Hotel sparkles even more during the holidays. A 40-foot tree with nearly 50,000 lights pays homage to the angel murals found high above the dome in a secret room. Just a mile away, French Lick Springs Hotel features a huge outdoor tree with vintage toys, and 25 more trees throughout the hotel.

Holiday performances at the resort range from free Saturday afternoon entertainment by the Dickens Carolers at the West Baden Springs Hotel to a dinner and show with local favorite the Wright Brothers Dec. 26 through 29. The Holiday Twist Tour reunites four stars from the original cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys on Dec. 18.

Santa makes a special trip to French Lick each weekend, allowing kids to meet the jolly elf for breakfast and hear stories told by Mrs. Claus. A special hangout called KidsFest features Bowling with the Elves, holiday cooking and holiday movies, in case mom and dad want some time on their own.

A Holiday Tour of Wines
Winzerwald Winery located in Perry County just off Interstate 64 celebrates the owners' German heritage and the German and Swiss heritage of Southern Indiana. The winery’s name, Winzerwald, means “vintners of the forest” in German. Everything from the handcrafted tasting counter, constructed with a variety of hardwoods from the forest of owners Dan and Donna Adams, to the handmade wine labels adorned with a nutcracker, gives visitors a chance to experience German wine culture in Indiana.

The winery will offer special holiday selections, including wines in Christmas-tree shaped bottles, Schweizer Spice (known as liquid pumpkin pie) and Gluhwein, a mulled spice with cinnamon and cloves, also called Christmas in a glass.

Winzerwald Winery is part of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, which takes visitors from just north of Louisville through the back roads of Indiana to Bloomington, introducing travelers to a variety of Indiana wines in unexpected places.

The French Lick Winery, for example, is located in the former Kimball Piano Factory in West Baden, where you can stop for lunch at the Vintage Café, which has a selection of salads, pizzas and pastas, paired with wine, of course.

Other wineries on the trail include: Best Vineyard, Brown County, Butler, Carousel, Huber, Oliver and Turtle Run. Visit the nine wineries now through January 31 for “Winter in the Uplands.” Tickets permit wine lovers to receive eight pieces of stemware and a matching decanter. Visit www.indianauplands.com for details.

Wineries too new to be on the tour but still worth a visit are Blue Heron Vineyard Winery, home of spectacular 20-foot Celtic cross carved from stone natural to its location in Cannelton, and Scout Mountain Winery and Bed & Breakfast on 35 acres near Corydon.

Sacred Holiday Tours
Southern Indiana’s rich spiritual tradition is represented well by two monasteries and a collection of historic churches, which make for an inspirational weekend getaway.

The Archabbey Monastery in Saint Meinrad, founded in 1954 by monks of the Abbey of Einsiedeln in Switzerland, is home to about 120 Benedictine monks. Ever hospitable, the monks invite you to tour their home, join them in prayer and stroll the grounds. A lovely Midnight Mass service is held on Christmas Eve at the Archabbey. Guided tours of the monastery and the nearby Monte Cassino Shrine are given each Saturday at 1:30 (CDT). Self-guided tours also are available, but be sure to pick up an audio player at the Archabbey Guest House

Known as the "Castle on the Hill," the Monastery Immaculate Conception, founded in 1867, is home to one of the nation’s largest communities of Benedictine women. The distinctive, recently restored Romanesque dome rises 87 feet to majestically overlook the town of Ferdinand. Eighty-nine angels adorn the church, 16 of which are depicted on the stained glass windows surrounding the dome. During the holidays, lights sparkle on the grotto. The nuns who live here invite visitors to join the monastic community for daily prayer and provide tours of the Monastery throughout the year. The Monastery gift shop offers handmade crafts from the sisters and other unique spiritual merchandise. The Kordes Center, also on the Monastery grounds, offers a peaceful and rejuvenating getaway.

St. Joseph Church in Jasper, also on the National Register of Historic Places, is an 1880 Romanesque Old World church that features German stained glass windows, Austrian designed mosaics and marble statues.

For more information on holiday getaways in Southern Indiana, visit www.ExploreSouthernIndiana.com.

Illinois State Park to get $1.8 million shoreline upgrade

IDNR Investing $1.8 Million to Conserve and Protect Illinois Beach Shoreline

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is moving forward with plans to improve and conserve Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. A total of $1.8 million will be used for shoreline stabilization to prevent further erosion of the beach.

“I applaud the governor for recognizing the need for these improvements. This project is vital as part of our efforts to conserve and protect Illinois Beach for many generations to come,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said in a release. “Reopening Illinois Beach to swimming and other recreational activities will generate more tourism and have a positive economic impact on the area.”

Governor Pat Quinn approved the release of $1 million in the Fiscal Year 2011 capital program for the design and construction of a revetment system, which will minimize wave action and prevent further erosion of the beach just south of North Point Marina along Lake Michigan. IDNR will spend an additional $800,000 from its “Mud to Parks” fund to relocate accumulated sand from other parts of the beach in order to replenish sand that previously eroded.

The Capital Development Board manages the construction, repair and renovation of state facilities across Illinois and is currently in the process of selecting a contractor for the Illinois Beach project, which has the potential of creating more than a dozen jobs. Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park is a 4,160-acre park that offers ample opportunities for swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping and just appreciating nature.

A campground in the southern unit provides 241 Class A Premium sites with electricity and access to showers and sanitary facilities. Reservations can only be made online at www.reserveamerica.com and will only be accepted from May 1 - Sept. 30 every year. Due to the high use of this area on holiday weekends reservations are recommended. Campsites are also available on a first come first serve basis but will fill up early on fridays during the summer season. There are three handicap accessible campsites in the campground near the accessible restrooms and a dump station.

Attention women: Learn Outdoors skills in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in February

Winter 'Becoming an Outdoors-Woman' program set for Upper Peninsula Feb. 25-27

Women seeking the opportunity to improve their outdoor skills are invited to register for the 11th annual Becoming an Outdoors-Woman winter program, set for Feb. 25-27 in Big Bay, 30 miles north of Marquette.

The program will be held at Bay Cliff Health Camp, a universally accessible facility, located in a picturesque wooded setting overlooking Lake Superior.

Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, this program offers instruction in more than a dozen kinds of indoor and outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing, fly tying, wilderness first aid and wood burning. Instructors provide basic and advanced instruction that is tailored to the participant's individual ability.

The $175 registration fee includes all food and lodging, as well as most equipment and supplies (except as noted in the registration materials). Participants will be housed in a dorm-style facility with many amenities, including a sauna and hiking trails with access to Lake Superior.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops are for women, 18 and older, who wish to learn outdoor skills in a relaxed, noncompetitive atmosphere. The U.P. BOW program also includes special evening programs during the weekend event.

Registration deadline is Feb. 4, but early registration is recommended as space is limited and the program fills quickly each year. Class information and registration materials are available online at www.michigan.gov/bow. For more information, contact Sharon Pitz at the DNRE office in Marquette at 906-228-6561 or e-mail pitzs@michigan.gov.

Many other outdoors programs for women are scheduled across Michigan. To learn more about these additional opportunities, check the BOW website or contact Sue Tabor at 517-241-2225 or DNR-Outdoors-Woman@michigan.gov.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is committed to the conservation, protection, management, and accessible use and enjoyment of the state’s environment, natural resources and related economic interests for current and future generations. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/dnre.

Tamarack Lodge hosting Traverse City holiday shopping getaways

Love to shop but hate the crowds? Tamarack Lodge is welcoming guests to visit Up North Michigan and experience Downtown Traverse City with a stay at Tamarack Lodge.

A great value, this one of a kind stay offers downtown entertainment, dinner at one of Traverse City’s hot restaurants and special discounts for Tamarack guests at downtown merchants – all for less than $500- with even better rates mid-week.

Tamarack’s Experience Downtown Traverse City package includes two night stay in one of their luxurious Penthouse or two bedroom suites, shopping discounts at merchants throughout Downtown Traverse City, $50 Dinner pass for any Downtown Traverse City restaurant and two movie passes to the renowned State Theatre in the heart of Downtown. With over 100 restaurants, merchants, galleries, State Theatre and City Opera House right downtown and even more places to explore, you’ll find something for everyone.

Tamarack Lodge, a luxury condominium resort offers fractional ownership of their one, two and three bedroom suites on private beachfront of the Grand Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. Each suite offers direct water views, four season enjoyment en suite with chef’s kitchen, fireplace and jetted tubs in master bedroom suites. Tamarack guests enjoy classic comfortable lodge style furnishings in Arts & Crafts inspired elegance in each room and comfortable arrangements for larger families or extended families to getaway together.

The Experience Downtown Traverse City getaway package is priced for mid-week or weekend stay. Rates are available on the website at www.tamaracklodgetc.com.

For more information about Downtown Traverse City, visit www.downtowntc.com. Area information can be found at www.visittc.com through the Traverse City Visitors and Convention Bureau.

For reservations: 1-877-938-9744 or online at www.tamaracklodgetc.com. This package offer expires Dec. 24, 2010.

Enjoy the Holidays at The Henry Ford


Revel in the Glow, Whistles and Ho Ho Ho’s of the Holiday Season inside The Henry Ford

See the decor, visit Santa and watch the model trains chug by Nov. 26, 2010-Jan. 9, 2011

This Christmas, celebrate the magic of the holidays in Henry Ford Museum, Nov. 26 through January 2011. This event has become a visitor favorite with its spectacular decorations, 25-foot Christmas tree, hands-on activities and of course everyone’s favorite—Santa Claus.

Holidays in Henry Ford Museum is free with membership or admission to the museum; $15 adults, $14 senior (62 and up) and $11 youth (5-12). Children four and under are free. For more information, call (313) 982-6001 or visit www.thehenryford.org.

New this year, visitors can experience “Depot Town” near the Mighty Allegheny. This area of the museum puts the museum's train collection in the spotlight during the holidays and provides the perfect location for storytelling and some hands-on activities. Back by popular demand, the Lionel model trains will whiz and weave around their tracks in an intricate miniature display, while the Michigan LEGO Users Group also return with a brand new train layout. A new Learn to Build Workshop gives kids five years of age and older, the opportunity to build a train locomotive out of LEGOs, only on Saturdays. For times, visit www.thehenryford.org.

The museum's giant 25-foot Christmas tree and decorations will embody the warm wishes that characterize the season, while highlighting the innovative spirit The Henry Ford celebrates year round. This tree creates the perfect backdrop for your family’s holiday photo.

Lastly, follow the sound of Ho, Ho, Ho’s to the Silver and Pewter aisle where Santa Clause will be patiently waiting to hear everyone’s Christmas wishes. Don’t forget to capture the moment with a photo!

About The Henry Ford
The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Michigan, is the world’s premier history destination and a National Historic Landmark that celebrates American history and innovation. Its mission is to provide unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories and lives from America’s traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation. Its purpose is to inspire people to learn from these traditions to help shape a better future. Five distinct attractions at The Henry Ford captivate more than 1.6 million visitors annually: Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, The Ford Rouge Factory Tour, The Benson Ford Research Center and The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre.

The Henry Ford is also home to Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school which educates 485 students a year on the institution’s campus and was founded in partnership with The Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company and Wayne County Public Schools.

For more information please visit www.thehenryford.org.

Snowmobiling, Wine-Tasting in Traverse City

As president of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, Ed Klim has experienced some of the world’s most exotic snowmobiling spots.

So where is his favorite trail?

Not in Colorado or Montana, or even in Alaska. It’s Traverse City’s Boardman Valley Trail: an 80-mile network of scenic routes that wanders through thick green cedars and pines beside a snow-cradled river, skirts the edges of icebound lakes among wooded hills, and glides through stands of oak where deer run silently beside the pathway.

It’s not the fastest, most thrill-packed ride in the world, Klim admits. But it’s gentle and beautiful – and best of all, it’s just a few minutes from Traverse City, whose restaurants, galleries, casinos and resorts provide a welcome dose of luxury at the end of a day’s ride.

“I like the restaurants, because each one has its own personality, and I really like being able to indulge myself after I’ve been riding all day. I like to stay at a hotel with a nice hot tub, and I really enjoy stopping in at Mode’s Bum Steer for a nice big steak and a bottle of that great Traverse City Riesling.”

That’s snowmobiling “Traverse City style” – a blend of backwoods adventure, aesthetic appreciation and (let’s admit it) more than a bit of off-the-trail pampering. According to outfitter Jamie Bush, sledders come to this artsy community on the Lake Michigan shore precisely because they want to sample its winter amenities. Best known as a summer destination because of its sandy beaches, towering dunes and world-class golf courses, Traverse City is also becoming popular with winter visitors who like to sample its “Up North” lifestyle without giving up their big-city luxuries.

Those luxuries can include anything from Klim’s favorite hot tub-and-steak combination to an evening at the nearby Turtle Creek Casino, a dinner at the trendy Red Ginger restaurant or a show at Traverse City’s newly-restored 1891 City Opera House.

“There are people who come just because it’s Traverse City,” says Bush, whose rental company supplies snowmobiles to hundreds of individuals and groups each winter. “They love the town, they love the casinos and the shopping, and they love being here at the lakeshore, even when the lake is frozen. Besides, you can get some really good deals on rooms here in the winter.”

A few of those rooms are actually on the trail itself, at Ranch Rudolf, a real-life dude ranch deep in the heart of the Boardman Valley that’s a winter mecca for trail-riders. Some spend a night or two at the lodge, but most just drop by to spend an hour or two by the fireplace swapping tales about their day on the trail before heading into town to check out the nightlife.

“The best part of being in Traverse City is that when a family comes up for a winter trip, they don’t all have to be riding if they want to do something else,” says Ranch Rudolf owner Sid Hamill. “If they’d rather shop, go to the casino, or spend the day in a spa, they can do that. There’s really a little bit of something for everyone.”

Most of the lodging in Traverse City is spread out along the city’s two bayfront beach areas, where 60 hotels, motels and resorts provide almost 4,000 rooms ranging from the budget-conscious to the luxurious. That’s also where the majority of the town’s restaurants and night spots are – and it’s conveniently close to three of the five staging areas that feed into the trail system at Hoosier Valley, Rasho Road, and Supply Road.

Hoosier Valley, at the western end of the system, is a steep section of trail with more wide-open spaces that provide opportunities for faster riding. Supply Road is on the opposite end, in a remote section of high woods. Rasho Road, at the center of the trail network, is closest to the heart of Traverse City’s hotel/resort district; it can be easily reached by way of the popular High Lake Spur, a five-mile roller-coaster trail over a series of glacial hills.

Farther to the southeast is the village of Fife Lake, where the Boardman system links up with an even larger series of trails to the south and east by way of a snowmobile bridge over the Manistee River. The scenery is beautiful, with many turnoffs along the river and lookouts over the broad Manistee Valley.

Since the region’s scenery is so diverse, the trails encompass many different landscapes: snug tunnels of tall snowy evergreens, open stands of hardwood where the sun shines down through blue shadows, high ridges where eagles soar, wide meadows that look out over distant glacial lakes. Sledders accustomed to the wide-open raceway style conditions in other snowmobiling areas say they’re amazed at how often they seem to have the Traverse City trails to themselves.

“Folks who love off-trail riding have plenty of options, too, in the expansive Pere Marquette State Forest that’s home to much of the trail system,” wrote Wisconsin sledder Michael Carr in the November issue of American Snowmobiler magazine. “So when the snow comes again, point yourself and your snowmobile toward Grand Traverse County, where you’ll find that the riding is grand indeed!”

SNOWMOBILE RENTALS:

Not everyone who comes to ride the Boardman Valley trail system brings their own machine – particularly if they’re new to the sport. Fortunately, there are several local outfitters located near the trailheads to serve would-be trail riders with one- two- and three-passenger machines. One is Blue Sky Rentals (231-633-2583). Another is Snowblitz Snowmobile Rentals (231- 932-1800).

STOPS ALONG THE TRAIL:

The amenities along the Boardman Valley trail system are just as diverse as the terrain. In addition to the lodge at Ranch Rudolf, with its fireplace lounge and dining room, another favorite stop for sledders is Peegeo’s Food & Spirits, a pizzeria/bar at the end of the High Lake Spur. It’s a rare snowmobiler who doesn’t take a break at Peegeo’s for some refreshment and conversation. The menu is simple but tasty, from pizzas and subs to Mexican specialties, steaks and burgers

OTHER THINGS TO DO:

Traverse City’s 19th-century downtown provides a relaxed pedestrian-friendly atmosphere for shoppers, with more than 150 stores, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, while the area’s many award-winning wineries are open for wine-tasting visits. For gaming enthusiasts, the Turtle Creek Casino in nearby Williamsburg is conveniently close to the Boardman Valley Trail. Other nightlife can be found year-round along the city’s East Bay hotel strip and at downtown bistros like Union Street Station and the http://www.myspace.com/theloadingdocktc, and there are shows almost every weekend at the 1891 City Opera House, the Interlochen Center for the Arts and Northwestern Michigan College’s Dennos Museum Center.

Kentucky State Parks adjust hours for winter months

Kentucky State Parks will be adjusting their hours of seasonal operation for the winter months beginning Nov. 14, 2010 through March 15, 2011.

Beginning Nov. 14, 2010, all 17 resorts will be open to the public beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays for lodging as well as dinner Wednesday evenings, then remain open until 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons during the winter. They will return to normal schedules on March 15, 2011 to accommodate the increase in spring visitors.

During the winter period, the lodge rooms and restaurants will be closed Sunday evening through Wednesday afternoons unless group meetings are booked. Cottages will continue to be rented any day of the week to accommodate travelers and the park grounds will remain open. All lodges and restaurants will continue to accept future reservations and accommodate meeting and group business.

These steps are being taken as part of a cost savings measure due to the budget constraints resulting from the national recession. The period between Sunday and Wednesday was chosen because those days have the lowest occupancy at the resorts during the winter.

Recreation parks and historic sites will also be adopting winter hours as in previous years. Guests should check in advance before traveling.

During the winter months, there are still many special park events planned around the holidays, New Year’s Eve parties, wildlife viewing, entertainment and more. For more information about parks, hours of operation, special events and reservations, visit www.parks.ky.gov

Ohio to host public forum on Great Lakes Compact report


Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board Draft Report Released

ODNR to hold public house on November 19 in Bay Village

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) released a draft report of the Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board, which contains recommendations for implementing the Great Lakes Compact in Ohio. Public comments are welcomed through Nov. 19.

Additionally, ODNR will host an open house for further public input. An historic agreement, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (Compact) applies common standards for all eight Great Lakes states to protect and sustainably manage the waters of the Great Lakes. Ohio ratified the Compact in 2008 when Governor Ted Strickland signed House Bill 416.

Under the Compact, each state must enact enabling legislation to direct how the state will carry out the Compact's provisions. House Bill 416 established a state advisory board comprised of state agency experts, legislators, and academic, environmental and industrial stakeholders.

“I’m both proud and grateful of the significant progress made to develop sensible recommendations which protect one of Ohio’s best natural resources—our Lake Erie—while continuing to attract economic development investments,” said Sean Logan, ODNR Director and chair of the Compact’s Advisory Board. “I commend the board members for working together to find solutions, and I am hopeful their continued involvement will lead to meaningful protection measures for Lake Erie.”

The advisory board's purpose is to provide recommendations on the necessary implementing legislation for Ohio. The draft report which includes those recommendations is now available on ODNR's Web site. The Advisory Board will conclude its work and submit a final report to the Governor and General Assembly by Dec. 15.

Prior to submitting the final report, ODNR will accept public comment until Nov.19. Comments may be submitted to the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources at 2045 Morse Road, Building B-2, Columbus, OH 43229 or compactcoordinator@dnr.state.oh.us.

In addition, ODNR will host a public open house on Nov. 19 from 3-5 pm at the Bay Village Library which is located at 502 Cahoon Road in Bay Village.

All comments received will be compiled and included as a separate appendix in the final report that is submitted to the Governor and General Assembly.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

Cottage Inn B&B on Mackinac Island to open for the holidays and winter season

One of Mackinac’s top rated B&B will be open from Dec. 1 to Feb. 20

The Cottage Inn, Mackinac Island’s top-rated bed & breakfast, will open on December 1 for the holiday season and remain open until February 20, 2011 for the winter fun season. Guests staying at the Cottage Inn are treated to a modern bed & breakfast experience with a deluxe breakfast that includes a hot egg dish, fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh baked goods, and more, plus treats and tea at 3 pm each day.

For lunch and dinner there are three restaurants that remain open throughout the holiday and winter season. As the restaurants are closed on Christmas Day, The Cottage Inn provides a bountiful meal and Hor’s D’euvres. Accommodations during the holiday and winter season range between $95 and $275 depending on the date and type of room desired.

“People come here to experience the Island in the winter,” says Rich Lind, Innkeeper of the Cottage Inn. “The views are spectacular and there are plenty of things to do like cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and visiting a few shops that remain open. It’s really a magical place in the winter.”

Some of the activities available during the holiday and winter season include a Christmas Bazaar and tree lighting the first week in December, a fundraiser for the Island’s three churches, New Year’s Eve parties, winter festival and chili cook off in February. Travel to and from the Island is available via The Arnold Line until January 5th, and then through Great Lakes Air, which makes several flights daily.
For more information about the holidays and winter season fun at The Cottage Inn, to make reservations, please call 906-847-4000 or visit www.cottageinnofmackinac.com.

Homestead Resort, Leelanau Vintners host special weekend wine-tasting packages


Toast the Season with The Homestead Resort and Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association
Tour weekends planned for Nov. 6-7 and Nov. 13-14

Enjoy a weekend in Michigan's picturesque northwest lower peninsula touring 18 Leelanau wineries to celebrate the holiday season. Bring your friends and family for a self-guided tour of up to eight wineries each day. Wineries will pour a sampling of their best wine accompanied by a gourmet food sampling. The wineries will be decorated for the holidays to add to the fun and spirit of the season.

At your first winery stop you will receive a commemorative glass, a Leelanau Peninsula Vintner’s Association holiday ornament and a holiday gift bag featuring food from members of Sleeping Bear Gourmet, a group of local, fair trade and organic food producers.

The tours start at 11 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday, ending at 5 p.m. each day. Wine tasting and lodging packages are $49.50 per person, per night based on double occupancy and include the tickets for a full weekend of wine tasting. Couples will receive two glasses, wine pours and food at each winery, but only one gift basket and ornament.

The Homestead is Northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community, located in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – a unit of the National Park Service. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offers guest pools, tennis and golf in the summer; downhill and cross country skiing in the winter; and shops, restaurants, meeting centers and the luxurious new Spa Amira throughout all four seasons.

For more information, visit www.thehomesteadresort.com or call 231-334-5100. Also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thehomesteadmi.