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Michigan Bucket List

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen these location-based “ultimate bucket list” graphics floating around Pinterest. I’ve even pinned a few of them for future trips. I searched and searched for a Michigan one (I was curious how many “bucket list” worthy things I’ve done in my home state) but when I came up empty, I decided to make one myself! Some of these are attractions and others are cities, but they span both peninsulas and are definitely the highlights of the Great Lakes State!

Ultimate Michigan Bucket List:

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes

  1. Sleeping Bear Dunes
    Located in Northwest Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore covers 35 miles of Lake Michigan coastline. In 2011, the area was named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America. The Dune Climb is one of the most popular hikes in the park, but the Empire Bluff Trail (above) has amazing views of the crystal blue water!
  2. Grand Rapids
    The Second Largest City in Michigan, Grand Rapids is known for its food and its art. In 2011, Grand Rapids tied with Asheville, North Carolina for the title of “Beer City USA”. Grand Rapids was also the childhood home of US President Gerald Ford and is home to the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum.

    Tawas Point Lighthouse

  3. Tawas Point Lighthouse
    An iconic Michigan landmark, the Tawas Point Lighthouse is located on Lake Huron in Tawas State Park. The lighthouse was built in 1853 to prevent shipwrecks on the point.
  4. Pictured Rocks
    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located on the southern shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 1966, congress named Pictured Rocks the first National Lakeshore.
  5. The Henry Ford
    Located in Dearborn, The Henry Ford is an indoor and outdoor history museum started by Henry Ford himself. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover dedicated the museum to Ford’s longtime friend, Thomas Edison, on the 50th anniversary of Edison’s successful incandescent lightbulb. On display in the museum are The 1896 Ford Quadricycle, the limousine where Kennedy was assassinated, George Washington’s camp bed, the bus where Rosa Parks was arrested, and the chair from Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was assassinated, among many others. The Village is home to Henry Ford’s Birthplace, The Logan County Courthouse where Lincoln practiced law, Noah Webster’s Connecticut Home, along with many other historical buildings.

    Lower Tahquamenon Falls

  6. Tahquamenon Falls
    Located in the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is home to two waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River. The Upper Falls is more than 200 feet across with a drop of 48 feet. Located four miles downstream, the lower falls are actually a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island. The Tahquamenon is also known as being the land of Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha, which contains the line: “by the rushing Tahquamenaw”, where Hiawatha built his canoe.
  7. Frankenmuth
    The name Frankenmuth translates to “Courage of the Franconians”. Frankenmuth wears its German Heritage on its sleeve with Bavarian architecture, German Food, and the first Oktoberfest to be recognized outside of Germany. Frankenmuth is also home to Bronner’s, the World’s Largest Christmas Store, as well as dueling chicken restaurants.

    Big Sable Point Lighthouse at Ludington State Park

  8. Ludington
    Ludington is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River. Ludington is home to the SS Badger, a car ferry that will take you across the lake to Wisconsin. Nearby Ludington State Park is one of the most popular parks in Michigan and is home to the iconic Big Sable Point Lighthouse. In 1675, French explorer, Pere Marquette died and was laid to rest in Ludington.
  9. Drive M-22
    Running from Manistee to Traverse City up breathtaking Leelanau Peninsula, M-22 is so popular, people steal the road signs to hang up in their homes. The Michigan Department of Transportation has redesigned the signs in hopes of reducing the number of thefts. In 2015, readers of USA Today named M-22 the best scenic autumn drive in the nation.
  10. Mackinac Bridge
    Connecting St. Ignace to Mackinac City, the Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere at 26,372 feet long. The bridge officially opened to traffic in 1957 after three and a half years of construction. Once a year on Labor Day, the bridge is open to pedestrians for the annual bridge walk.

    Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

  11. Belle Isle
    Belle Isle, the 982-acre park on the Detroit River, was designed by urban park designer Frederick Law Olmstead and is the largest city-owned park in the United States. The island is home to the Belle Isle Conservatory, Belle Isle Nature Center, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, The James Scott Memorial Fountain, and Belle Isle Aquarium. Before it closed in 2005,  the aquarium was the oldest operating aquarium in the United States. It was reopened in 2012 as part of the Belle Isle Conservancy.
  12. Traverse City
    Traverse City is located in Northwest Michigan on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. Being the country’s largest producer of tart cherries, each summer the National Cherry Festival is held in Traverse City. Known for vineyards, freshwater beaches, downhill skiing, and breweries, there is much to do and see in TC.
  13. Detroit Institute of Arts
    The Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the largest and most notable collections of art in the United States. The collection includes works of art by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and many more. One of the highlights of the museum is the huge fresco-style murals by Diego Rivera known collectively as Detroit Industry, or Man and Machine. Built in 1927, the Italian Rennaisance inspired building the museum is housed in is beautiful as well.
  14. Whitefish Point
    Whitefish Point is a cape in the Upper Peninsula that marks the entrance to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. For visitors, Whitefish Point is great for rock hunting, birding, and ship watching. It is also home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point Lighthouse.

    Kitch-iti-Kipi

  15. Kitch-iti-Kipi
    Located near Manistique in the Upper Penisula, Kitch-iti-Kipi is Michigan’s largest natural spring. Early Native Americans referred to it as the “Mirror of Heaven”. The limestone bottom of the spring gives it its unique emerald green color. The water in the spring is has a constant temperature of 45 degrees so even in the middle of winter, it does not freeze.
  16. Houghton
    Located on the Keewenaw Peninsula in the Northern Upper Peninsula, Houghton is home to a lot of wilderness and is a great place for outdoor exploration from hiking and biking to snowshoeing and snowmobiling.  The Keewenaw is home to the Copper Mining boom and you can experience that history today at Quincy Mine near Houghton. Houghton is also where you can catch a ferry to Isle Royale National Park.
  17. Porcupine Mountains
    Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is located in the Northwestern Upper Peninsula and is made up of a group of small mountains. As a wilderness state park, Porcupine Mountains has a large system of backcountry trails for hiking and backpacking with the North Country Trail running through the park. Seeing Lake of the Clouds should be on everyone’s Michigan bucket list.
  18. Mackinac Island
    Located in the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Island is a popular summer tourist destination. The island is closed to most motor vehicles so most people travel by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage and stepping off the ferry is like taking a step back in time. One of the biggest attractions on the island is the Grand Hotel, a Victorian-style hotel with the world’s longest porch. The island is also home to a British fort that was built during the American Revolution and saw action during the War of 1812.

    Tulip Garden in Holland

  19. Holland
    Where Frankenmuth was settled by Germans, Holland was settled by the Dutch. Located in the western part of the state on Lake Michigan, Holland is home to Tulip Time, the largest Tulip Festival in the United States. Located in Windmill Island Park, De Zwaan was supposedly the last windmill that was allowed to be removed from The Netherlands. Dutch culture is pervasive in Holland; wooden shoes are available in all of the gift shops.
  20. Eastern Market
    Eastern Market is a historic commercial district located in the city of Detroit. Covering 43 acres, it is the largest historic market district in the country. The market changes on different days of the week. Saturday Market is a big event with over 225 vendors selling everything from produce to tacos. The Sunday market features a taste of Detroit with the work of local artists, jewelers, cooks, musicians, and more. A more traditional farmer’s market can be found on Tuesdays and every third Thursday in the summer Easter Market offers a unique night market with food, drinks, music, and shopping.
  21. Turnip Rock
    Located in Lake Huron near Port Austin at the tip of the thumb is Turnip Rock, a unique geological formation. The water of Lake Huron has severely weathered this small rock so that the top is much larger than the base with trees growing out the top. The rock is located on private property so the only way to see it is by water. The trip to the rock is a 7 mile round trip paddle along the Point aux Barques trail with several local companies that will rent you a boat for the trip.

    Chapel in the Woods at Hartwick Pines

  22. Hartwick Pines
    Hartwick Pines State Park is one of the largest parks in the lower peninsula. Located near Grayling, the park contains 49 acres of old-growth pine forest, one of the few remaining in the state. The Hartwick Pines Logging museum pays tribute to the 19th-century logging industry when Michigan led the nation in lumber production.
  23. Motown Museum
    Motown Records was founded in Detroit in 1959 by Berry Gordy. Hitsville USA, once the home of Motown Records is now the home of the Motown Museum, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeastern Michigan. Visitors to the museum will walk through Studio A where many Motown Stars recorded their hits including The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, and many more. Michael Jackson’s white glove is on display as well as countless other Motown artifacts.
  24. Headlands Dark Sky Park
    Located near Mackinaw City, Headlands Dark Sky Park is a 550 acre park including 2 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline. It was only the 6th park in the US to receive the Dark Sky Park designation and is one of the best places in Michigan to view the night sky.
  25. Soo Locks
    The Soo Locks provide ships with a way to bypass a waterfall on the St. Mary’s River and gets ships adjusted to differing water levels on Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The Locks are located in Sault Ste. Marie, in the northeastern upper peninsula. There are four American Locks and one set of Canadian Locks. Visitors can watch ships go through the locks from the observation deck, or can take a Soo Locks Boat Tour and experience the locks first hand.

    Meijer Gardens

  26. Meijer Gardens
    Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a 158 acre botanical garden located near Grand Rapids. The Gardens are home to more than 170 sculptures from sculptors such as Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin, Dale Chihuly, and many more. At five acres, the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden is one of the largest children’s gardens in the country. In 2009 the Gardens were named one of the 30 “must-see museums” in the world in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
  27. Silver Lake Sand Dunes
    Located on Lake Michigan, bordering Silver Lake in Mears is Silver Lake State Park. The park is best known for its 2,000 acres of beautiful sand dunes. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are known for ORVs and dune buggy rides, but there is a section of the park that is closed to vehicles for people to climb. Also within the park is the beautiful, brick, Little Sable Lighthouse.
  28. Isle Royale National Park
    The crown jewel of Michigan and the least explored is Isle Royale National Park. Established in 1940, the 894 square mile park is located in northern Lake Superior and can only be accessed by boat or seaplane. Camping, hiking, and fishing are popular on the island. Isle Royale is the only known place on earth where moose and wolves cohabitate without bears.

So far, I’m at 22/28. What’s your number? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Feel free to share this on Social Media to show off to your friends!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Wine Tasting in the Finger Lakes

Vineyard on Keuka Lake

The Finger Lakes was recently named the number 1 wine region in the country by 10best.com. It beat out Napa and Sonoma in California. Michigan’s Leelanau peninsula actually came in second, but more about that another time. The last time we were in the Finger Lakes, we mostly stayed on the east side of Seneca Lake and we weren’t impressed by what we tasted. This trip, we had more time in the area and we were able to explore more of the area.

Atwater Estates

As I mentioned before, coming down from Buffalo, we stopped at 3 wineries on the west side of Seneca Lake: Ravines, Billsboro, and Fox Run. On our way to Ithaca, we stopped at our favorite winery from our last time, Atwater Estates. We got there right after they opened and were their first customers of the day. As we remembered, all of the wines we tasted at Atwater were phenomenal and between us, we ended up buying a whole case. They have two force carbonated wines that are unlike anything I’ve had before and I highly recommend you give them a try if you are in the area. Atwater has the best view of any of the wineries we visited on Seneca Lake. I only wish we were there on a warm, sunny day to enjoy the outdoor patio.

On our final day, before heading home, we made our way out to a few wineries on Keuka Lake. The first one we tried was Pleasant Valley which had the biggest facility and a very large selection of wines, but they seemed to appeal to sweet wine drinkers. There weren’t a ton of dry wines available, but there prices were very reasonable so we ended up with a few bottles.

After Pleasant Valley, we stopped at Bully Hill. We were there early on their first day in their new tasting room so I don’t feel like we got a great feel for the experience as the employees were busy unpacking and getting the tasting room ready. All the wines we tried were good and the new tasting room has a great view out to the vineyards and the lake below. I will have to come back when they are more settled to get the full experience.

And our final stop was possibly the best of the whole trip! While in a wine store in Corning, we found bottles from a vineyard called Dr. Frank. I thought that was a funny name for a vineyard so I looked them up when we got back to the car. It turns out, Dr. Konstantin Frank was the man that brought winemaking to the Finger Lakes region and was the first one to use grafting to be able to grow European grapes in the United States. Dr. Frank currently has the second oldest vines in the country and their Old Vine Pinot Noir is probably one of the best wines I’ve ever had. We ended up buying a lot of wine there, but when we drink it all, I will probably be going online to order more. If you are in the area and like a good wine, definitely stop at Dr. Frank!

We bought more wine on this trip than I imagined we would but the wine was all so good! We have really gotten into wine traveling lately and the wines from the Finger Lakes are far and above the wine from other places we’ve recently been. This wine has totally spoiled me. I’m a wine snob now. No doubt about it. Grocery store wine will no longer do it for me. If you enjoy wine touring, definitely plan a trip to the Finger Lakes. You will not regret it.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Glass Making: Corning Museum of Glass

My blown glass flower

After exploring Ithaca, we headed back to Corning to make our appointments for glass making at the Corning Museum of Glass. After our last time at the Corning Museum of Glass, we knew that if you want to try any of the glass blowing, you need to make reservations in advance. At the end of November, we looked on the website and decided what we wanted to make.

Part of the reason for this trip was an exhibit they had for the 50th Anniversary of the moonwalk called “How Glass Got Us to the Moon”. Because of the exhibit they had a special moon ornament that you could make. Chris and my mother in law both signed up for that. We didn’t need two moon ornaments so I signed up for the Blown Glass Flower (top).

Another thing I learned during our first trip to the museum is that a lot of the glass blowing experiences you don’t get to do much more than the blowing part. I assumed when booking our experiences that if preschoolers can do it, you probably don’t get to do too much. The blown glass flower is only for 14+ so I knew that you probably actually get to do a lot with that one.

Making my flower

After checking in, they gave me goggles, gloves, arm protection, and an apron. Then, the artist I was working with demonstrated the technique and explained how to use the tools. When my turn came, I sat on the bench and he brought the molten glass to me on the pipe. I rolled the pipe and pressed a piece of wood into the glass to flatten it. Then, after he reheated it in the furnace, I got to use some heavy-duty tweezers to form the petals. It was an awesome experience and it made me want to learn how to blow glass!

If you are planning to visit the Corning Museum of Glass, I highly recommend you book a glass making experience! They have activities for all ages! Young children can blow a glass ornament or if they would prefer to be more creative, they can try sandblasting or glass fusing. For adults, I recommend choosing something that is not for all ages, unless you are fine with someone else basically making your item for you. Last trip, we did flameworking and were able to use a hot torch to fuse colored glass into a pendant that I get complimented on anytime I wear it!

Thanks for stopping by! For more information about the Corning Museum of Glass visit CMOG.org, To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Ithaca in the Winter

After our morning exploring Watkins Glen, we headed for Ithaca. We didn’t venture to Ithaca on our last trip to the Finger Lakes so this was something new for us. Our first stop in Ithaca was Ithaca Falls (top). This huge cascade was at the side of the road, across from an elementary school. We parked at the school and walked across the road to get a better look. We were able to get pretty close to the falls and being that it was winter, there weren’t very many other people around. I imagine this is a hot spot in the summer.

After admiring the falls, we decided to head to Cornell. There’s not a ton on the campus that we found that was opened to the public, but we did stop at the botanical gardens. Not much is blooming at the end of December. The visitor’s center (left) was even closed, but it was nice to get out and walk around. There was a “winter garden” which was basically a bunch of conifer trees. I can only imagine the gardens bursting with color in the spring and summer. I really wanted to see the arboretum, but it is closed in the winter.

From the Botanical Garden, we headed to the Cornell Ornithology Lab. This was a little way from the campus, but I guess it is a well-known place for birders and scientists. Once again, the Visitor Center closed between Christmas and New Years, but the hiking paths were open. We took a walk on this boardwalk through a swamp. We had to stop where the boardwalk ended because it was too muddy to continue. It was a beautiful day, though and it was nice to be outdoors listening to the birds. I am in no way a bird person, but I could enjoy spending some time on the trails and trying my hand at photographing birds.

All in all, it is always nice to explore new places, but not much was open during our visit to Ithaca. I would definitely enjoy returning when it is warmer, with proper footwear. From Ithaca, we headed back to Corning for our glass making appointments at the Corning Museum of Glass. Be sure to come back next week to hear about that!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: American Falls

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