go back in time for that all-American summer date at the Cherry Bowl Drive In, just east of Honor. One of only a handful of drive in movie theatres left in the U.S., the Cherry Bowl is celebrating its 51st year and boasts all the nostalgia youd expect, including the occasional Elvis sighting. Since it is a family-run place, movies are in the PG-13 range. Flicks are $7.50, with kids under 12 free. They change weekly, open April September, show starts at dusk, call ahead for the latest line up, 231-325-3413.
fill a cooler, grab your sunscreen and spend a day at the beach that gives you the best of both worlds warm North Bar Lake and a few feet away, Lake Michigan to cool off. Just north of the village of Empire, the beach goes on forever and offers panoramic views of the dunes and the coast. There is a considerable hike around North Bar to the Big Lake, so it tends to attract a younger crowd.
...check out a free concert. Pennsylvania Park in Petoskey is typical of many towns across the north, including Bellaire, Cadillac, Northport and Charlevoix, which offer free concerts in the park by local talent every week all summer. See the Express calendar listings for the shows nearest you.
enjoy a Northern Michigan summer stroll on Main Street in the harbor town of Frankfort. Treat yourselves to an ice cream cone from Kilwins and meander down the street to watch the sunset at the end of the pier overlooking Lake Michigan. Or splurge and get fudge! Then catch a movie for under $5 at the Garden Theatre, Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights they start at 7 p.m. Movies change weekly, call for current listings, 231-352-7561.
stop at Trick Dog in Elberta to check out some of the best in locally inspired artwork, then spring for a cappuccino and some munchies and head up to one of the best Lake Michigan views anywhere. Or head down to one of the best (and most secluded) beaches around. Bring some firewood and snuggle up for the sunset and a bonfire. Trick Dog is open daily 9-5 all summer, 231-352-8364.
... spend a day in Mackinaw City. A shoreline park offers spectacular views of the Mackinac Bridge. Combined with Colonial Fort Michilimackinac, the town offers plenty of quirky attractions and people-watching opportunities to keep you entranced for an afternoon.
. tube down the Platte River to where it empties into Lake Michigan. A summer tradition, theyve got it down to a science at Riverside Canoes, off M-22 near Frankfort. Everythings provided, including transport from your vehicle, all you have to do is lay back and float! One hour tubing trips start at $6 per person. Open 8 a.m. 10 p.m. all summer, call ahead for reservations, 231-325-5622.
.pick a bouquet of fresh flowers starting at around $4 at Omena U-Pick Flowers, off M-22, one mile south of Omena, where 25 beds are blooming from May October. Self-serve, on the honor system, everything is laid out for you. The beds are open dawn to dusk, if you can see, you can cut. Then go one-mile north to Leelanau Wine Cellars, for wine tasting at no charge or try a bottle of their popular Tall Ship Chardonnay for $11. Summers hours are Mon-Sat., 10-6 and Sunday, 12-5.
kick up your heels for no cover charge at the Cabbage Shed, overlooking Betsie Bay in Elberta. With live music by local bands on weekends, a big dance floor and seating for over 150, its a hoppin spot on a hot summer night. They pour nine draft beers, ales and stouts - including the popular Shed Light and scores of bottled brews from around the globe. They also stock 11 single malt scotches and boast the worlds best martini (they keep the gin in the freezer.) Call the Cabbage Shed at 231-352-0843.
... take a hike. The Jordan River Valley Trail, Pigeon River State Forest, Manistee River Trail, Empire Bluffs and Sleeping Bear Dunes all offer gorgeous scenery just a few miles from the madding crowd.
visit the world renowned studio of artist Gwen Frostic Presscraft Papers, off River Road in Benzonia, where the print shop is practically grown into its surroundings. Purchase very affordable and unique nature-inspired note cards, books, and other artwork. Open 9-4:30, Mon-Sat., 11-5 on Sundays. Stop just up the road at Beedazzled Candleworks for unique gifts from the hive, including handmade soaps, candles, potpourri, lotions and fragrant gardens for strolling in. Call for their summer hours, 231-882-7765.
find a free festival almost every weekend in July and August somewhere in Northern Michigan. One of the local favorites is the Spirit of the Woods Folk Festival, June 19, in Brethren The event is in its 28th year and features folk, bluegrass eclectic and old-time music from all over the Midwest. A free family festival and a day full of music on two stages, arts and crafts vendors, children‘s activities, great food, and a closing square dance. Music runs from noon to nine p.m. For more information, contact 231-477-5381.
check out one of the premiere summer art events in Northern Michigan, the Suttons Bay Art Festival, coming this year on August 7 8. This highly competitive, juried art festival, draws artists from across the state and nation, with collections of unique jewelry, furniture, glass, wood, painting, fiber arts, photography, sculpture and much more. Held in Marina Park, on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, local restaurants will host food booths. For more information, call 231-271-5077.
enjoy a real taste of Northern Michigan with fresh smoked whitefish from Carlsons, located in famous Fish Town in Leland. Walk on a real fishermans wharf and you might even see them unloading the catch of the day. Stop in across the street at the local favorite Bluebird Restaurant for their yummy 50 cent cinnamon rolls, or splurge on the whitefish sampler plate for $15.95. Open June Oct., 11:30-3 for lunch, 5-10 p.m. for dinner, and the tavern is open daily 11:30 a.m. 10 p.m.
pack up a picnic lunch, then head out to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, for a $5 entry fee, you can get lost anywhere along the picturesque Pierce Stocking Drive. Bring your camera for dramatic views of Lake Michigan and the Manitou islands and Glen Lake. Feeling energetic after lunch, you can still climb the sand dunes for free. Located north of Empire, off M-22, call the Visitors Bureau at 231-334-2000.
start with lunch for around $12 at Elberta Beach Diner, where they specialize in authentic Polish dishes, then take M-22 south from Elberta to Manistee for the most amazing view of Lake Michigan anywhere along the coast. The drive winds and climbs to an overlook point thats sure to take your breath away and impress any date!
absorb some summer culture at Interlochens National Music Camp. Bring your bicycles and tour the campus from June-August when its abuzz with fine art students from all over the world. Music and art is everywhere and student productions and recitals are happening almost daily and most are free. Refreshments are available for purchase and you could plan your next date to attend one of their premiere summer concerts. Call 231-276-7200 for summer concert info.