The Finer Points of Michigan

Schooner John J Audubon
The bow of the wooden two-masted schooner John J Audubon. Photography courtesy NOAA/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The last of summer’s stinging rays will soon give way to fall color vigils, and Michigan BLUE is celebrating the unique adventures offered by land and sea in this ’tween season filled with fairs, festivals and road-trip adventures.

The march toward fall is a sure sign of this time with the shout, “Surf’s Up.” Lake Michigan shows its power (without the showers). Muskegon is the host city for the first Great Lakes Surf Festival. Surfer Joe Bidawid, who has marked 30 years of surfing adventure in his home state as well as the western coast of the U.S., remarked, “It’s pure, tribal, there are still new conditions and spots to be found; there’s a level of purity that I can’t find (in the) ocean.”

A travel map less followed is that of Michigan’s underwater preserves, offering what is considered world-class diving, particularly to see the treasures of more than 6,000 shipwrecks dating as far back as the 1700s. The Thunder Bay preserve alone, in northern Lake Huron, is 4,300 square miles.

Readers can have their curiosity satisfied at these maritime museums, which dot Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron. Each reveals an understanding of history not found elsewhere.

Contributing writer Marla R. Miller takes readers on a land-based adventure with the Tin Can Tourists. These are the folks celebrating the adventure of restoring vintage travel trailers and who share the love at campgrounds of “a salvaged slice of Americana.” These traveling trophies are more fun than a carnival with bright bulbs, vivid colors and “artifacts” from a Mad Men generation, including pink flamingos aplenty.

A favorite column this month is Michigan Top 5. Columnist Kim Schneider offers reason to pause along Michigan’s byways for moments of Zen. She has mapped out the top five scenic turnoffs (complete with winery and site details). Read on to find the best vantage points for sunsets and stargazing.

End-of-summer art shows and concerts beckon weekenders across the state, but BLUE contributor Alexandra Fluegel discovered one well-known gallery that now also gives the art of winemaking a place alongside, J. Petter Art & Wine Gallery in Saugatuck. “There’s just something about the finer things in life,” owner Julie Petter said.

Michigan BLUE considers all the special qualities of this Great Lakes State to be “the finer points of life.”

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