Headed to Northern Michigan for a weekend? From Ludington to Marquette accent your Up North getaway with a bit of art and entertainment this month. Here’s how.
Start with a self-guided walking tour of downtown, perhaps themed around the 1959 Jimmy Stewart film Anatomy of a Murder filmed here and in nearby Big Bay, to see how the dramatic natural beauty and architecture blend in this city perched along Lake Superior. Then catch the many arts and entertainment surprises influenced by the city’s Arts and Culture Division. Stay at the Landmark Inn, where Abbott and Costello, Amelia Earhart and Louis Armstrong have stayed before you, then catch exhibits and classes like nature writing and figure drawing at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center inside the Peter White Library; the work of 40-some artists at Zero Degrees Gallery; the wooden sculptures of Mike Rea, displayed like movie scenes or sets at the Devos Art Museum or the Marquette Symphony Orchestra’s September 20 performance. (trav elmarquettemichigan.com).
You’ll not doubt that architecture and even kitchen design is art once you’ve hopped the trolley that takes you inside four Bay Harbor Homes on an annual tour offered by the Bay Harbor Foundation ($45; 231.439.2700) or four distinctive homes in the Petoskey area the following weekend, September 27, on a tour offered by the Little Traverse Historical Society ($20; 231.247.2620). Then feel right at home in your own suite overlooking Little Traverse Bay at the luxurious Inn at Bay Harbor or Petoskey’s historic Perry Hotel.
Student performances at the Interlochen Arts Academy are just starting to ramp up come September, but it’s just as memorable to listen to rehearsal sounds wafting from practice areas in the woods to your rental cottage or hotel room on the campus. Head inside Corson Auditorium September 21 to catch Traverse City Orchestra conductor Kevin Rhodes and internationally known pianist Jeffrey Biegel, performing works like Wagner’s powerful, passionate Flying Dutchman. Student concerts and performances dominate the last weekend of the month, and heading off site is good too. Traverse City boasts many galleries, a City Opera House performance by comedian Brian Regan (September 28, from $33, cityoperahouse.org), and an intriguing Dennos Museum exhibit of wire sculpture and contemporary Chinese photography. (interlochen.org; dennosmuseum.org).
Call it cultural immersion as you launch your getaway amid the spa robes and pillared porches of one of the six gracious inns (many former lumber baron mansions) that make up the Ludington Historic Bed and Breakfast Association. Then pick your entertainment pleasure. Ludington’s First Friday Art Walk (September 5, 5–8 p.m.) offers a nice overview, since the city’s stores, bars and restaurants all feature artists of various mediums. Some will love the month’s featured exhibit on cartoons, comics and animation at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, others the world-class jazz of Checkers Morton, who plays at the venue September 25. Or add a few laughs via Jim Belushi at the Little River Casino Resort in nearby Manistee September 26. The Victorian city’s signature festival comes September 12–14: the creative combo of classic wooden boats, craft beer and wine and a juried craft show all known as Hops and Props on the River. Or create art yourself by booking the Picture Perfect Weekend photography course offered by Ludington father/son photographer duo Brad and Todd Reed. (pureludington.com; visitmanisteecounty.com).