Aaron Selbig

At the very northern tip of the Lower Peninsula is Michigan’s only “dark sky park,” a place almost free of light pollution – reserved just for the enjoyment of the stargazing public.

Ludington and Traverse City are on a short list for a new 19-day festival being planned for 2016.

History Prize would be modeled after ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. Organizers of the new event hope to offer cash prizes in the tens-of-thousands of dollars for the best exhibitors.

City of Cadillac expands free bike program

Aug 15, 2014
City of Cadillac

A free bike rental program in Cadillac was expanded this summer. Today the city is loaning out 30 bicycles at two locations. The original location remains at Mitchell State Park. The city has added a second rental location across Lake Cadillac at the downtown After 26 Café.

Mayor Carla Filkins says the program, called Bike Cadillac, is designed to encourage more visitors and residents to use the area’s bike trails.

We recently asked people on our Facebook page for their ideas about hidden gems in Michigan.
One of the answers was the Cascade Falls in Jackson. The landmark was created in the 1930s by a local businessman. But these days the Cascades need some help.
The county parks department is trying to raise almost $10 million for renovations to the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical parts of the falls. 
Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris and Lucy Perkins decided to visit the Cascades and describe what happens at this manmade attraction. 
* Listen to the full story above.

A New Barn Quilt Trail In Mason County

Jun 18, 2014

A new tourism trail of Mason County farms will open this September. It will be similar to a trail of barns on Old Mission Peninsula. They display barn quilts. They’re not fabric quilts. They’re large pieces of wood painted to look like quilt squares and fastened to the exteriors of barns. The Mason County trail is hoping to have 12 quilts up by mid-September. Brandy Henderson is Executive Director of the Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Brandy says, "People will be able to bring their cellphone and dial a number at each stop and they'll hear the story and history of each barn

Tom Carr

  Getting around Northern Michigan's hottest tourist destination has become a strategy for board game enthusiasts. Mackinac Island Treasure Hunt is not in stores yet, but IPR followed along one day as students at The Greenspire School had a chance to play it.

In the game, players collect photo cards about sites like Fort Mackinac. Cards also represent the island's native plant life, such as lady slipper, and local animals like the red fox.

Parking spaces in downtown Traverse City could be used for outdoor dining this summer. The plan is to allow businesses to use designated parking spaces from May to October. The city commission gave preliminary approval on Monday. 

The proposal still needs a final vote. If approved, so-called “platform” seating could be in place by the end of this month.

The Downtown Development Authority supported the plan in a unanimous vote. 

Peter Payette

Visitors to the public beach in Empire will pay to park this summer. The Empire Village Council last night stuck with its plan to charge visitors $1 an hour.  Citizen-led petition drives both for and against the measure failed to change any minds on the council.

Many supporters of the idea are village residents whose taxes maintain the beach and more than 80 parking spaces. Those opposed say it will overburden parking spaces in the village’s business district or keep tourists away altogether.

They call themselves the Tin Can Tourists. They're folks who celebrate the travel trailer – the vintage travel trailers – the kind that grandma and grandpa might have used.

This weekend the Tin Can Tourists are holding their 17th annual gathering at Camp Dearborn in Milford.

Forrest Bone is the head of the Tin Can Tourists. And he told us today that his group actually dates back to 1919.

*Listen to our interview with above.

Opponents of a controversial housing development in Traverse City prevailed last night with the city commission. The proposal to allow four houses where only three can be built under current zoning rules came up one vote short.

Most of the public comment came from residents of Slabtown Neighborhood who were against the proposal. Many said it would make traffic problems worse along West Front Street. Some said that there was no good reason for the change.

When you think "Michigan," you have to think tourism. It's big business for the Mitten.

The now-famous "Pure Michigan" commercials are airing on network TV for the first time.

Pure Michigan advertising attracted more than four million out-of-state visitors last year. But how will our warming climate impact what those visitors might be able to do and enjoy when they come to Michigan?

Sarah Nicholls is an associate professor of tourism at Michigan State University, and Jim MacInnes is President and CEO of Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville. They joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

2014 Cherry Fest Will Not Have Smoking Sections

Mar 26, 2014
Jeremy Sorrells / Flickr

This year’s Cherry Festival in Traverse City will be missing one thing: a smoking section. Smoking corrals will be eliminated from the Open Space in Clinch Park on West Grand Traverse Bay.

The city refused to allow smoking this year. In previous years, the event has been given an exemption from the no smoking rule for the Open Space.

Trevor Tkach, executive director of the National Cherry Festival, says it’s a positive move.

Tom Hubbard / Flickr

Visitors to Traverse City this summer could be eating dinner where cars are usually parked. Outdoor seating may replace some parking spaces this summer in the Cherry Capital. 

Yesterday, an ad hoc committee expanded the plan from downtown to the entire city. It would allow so-called "platform cafes" in select parking spaces from May to October. 

Jim Carruthers, mayor pro tem and committee chair, says the committee reviewed the proposal.

A Ready-Mix concrete company, McCoig Materials, wants to open up a mine on a site north of Chelsea. The two parcels of land they want to mine are in between the Waterloo and Pinckney Recreation areas. This part of southeast Michigan has a lot of little lakes and unique natural areas.

McCoig Materials wants to operate the mine for 22 to 30 years and remove 11 million tons of sand and gravel.

People who live on the lakes nearby have been raising concerns about that.

Mary Mandeville spends summers in her cottage at Island Lake.

“Just to the west of us is where the proposed gravel mine would be putting in their operations. We’re very concerned about the impact on the environment, on the water table level. We’re concerned about air quality with all the dust from the dumping of the gravel into the trucks.”

Strong Travel Season Predicted For 2014

Mar 10, 2014
Rachel Kramer/Flickr

Tourism researchers at Michigan State University predict a strong year for the travel sector, despite a ‘wildcard.’

The Great Lakes are more than 90 percent frozen for the first time in decades, a cooler summer season has often historically put a damper on Michigan travel. But MSU tourism researchers with the university's Department of Community Sustainability say they’re predicting a four-point-five percent increase in hotel and motel tax receipts this year. They say 2013 saw an uptick in travel despite the fact that it was appreciably colder than in 2012.

Peter Payette

A plan to designate large portions of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness could move forward today in Congress. It’s been five years since the plan was first proposed. It would designate 32,000 acres, more than 40 percent, of Sleeping Bear as wilderness.

Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich says that wouldn’t change much in the daily operation of the park, since those areas are already treated as wilderness. It would put the land off limits to future development.

City Adds Limits To Summer Festivals On The Bay

Dec 17, 2013

It looks like the Traverse City bayfront is already booked to capacity for major events in 2014.

In addition to the cherry festival and film festival, the two other major bayfront events for 2014 will likely be Taste of Traverse City on June 7th, and a a joint event has reserved the space for August. Porterhouse Productions plans the Traverse City Music Festival partnered with the Traverse City Waterman Challenge once again this August. Permits have not yet been issued, but the events have dates reserved with the city.

A state board awarded $31 million dollars Wednesday to buy or improve properties for public recreation in Michigan. Several of the grants are slated for the Grand Traverse area.The state would spend up to $2.5 million dollars to buy just over eight acres at the northeast tip of the Old Mission Peninsula. The former private campground and marina would be developed into a boat launch that Peninsula Township has agreed to maintain.“The recreational resources that we have in northern Michigan help drive our economy.

Many small towns across the country are using special events to attract visitors and commerce. The strategy has been a big hit in places like Aspen, Colo., and Park City, Utah, whose names have become synonymous with major festivals.

But it can take a toll. Some residents in the northern Michigan town of Traverse City complain that they're suffering from festival fatigue and would like a little less excitement.

Mackinac Island Historic District Commission

Developers proposing a new hotel on Mackinac Island will appeal to a state review board. An appeal filed for Ira Green and Melanie Libby says the Mackinac Island Historic District Commission acted arbitrarily in September when it rejected plans for the Main Dock Inn.

The three-story hotel would be right in front of the oldest ferry terminal on the island. People disembarking the Arnold Line would walk underneath the upper floors of the hotel to get to Main Street.

Protecting Mackinac Island's History

Jan 4, 2013

A public hearing is set for next week on Mackinac Island. After that, there will be nothing left but for the city council to decide whether old buildings in the 200 year-old city need protection. Brad Aspey talks with IPR News Director Peter Payette. 

One of the most historic communities in the Michigan is in an uproar over preserving its past. Mackinac Island was fought over in the War of 1812. It is sacred to American Indian tribes who have buried chiefs in its soil. And today the 200-year-old city in northern Lake Huron is a popular destination for tourists. But the demolition of old buildings has raised a heated debate about how to hold onto the past while trying to profit from it.

For most of us summer winds down this holiday weekend but not if you're a surfer. The surfing season is just starting up. The Dairyland Surf Classic is in Sheboygan, Wisconsin this weekend. It claims to be the largest freshwater surfing contest in the world.

Lampooning Michigan

Mar 8, 2012

John Kerfoot says his parents aren't exactly proud, but he's the man behind Not So Pure Michigan. His parody of the popular state promotion campaign, Pure Michigan, has attracted millions of viewers online. He joins us this week to talk about lampooning the Great Lakes State. Points North is at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Friday on IPR News Radio.

Barn Quilts Of Northern Michigan

Oct 12, 2011

Some of the barn quilt designs look just like squares from old quilts. Others have images that represent the farm and the farmers like a bunch of cherries or the Finnish flag. They look right at home in their rural setting.

A New Tradition