5 September Travel Ideas: Art-Filled Weekends in Northern Michigan

Try one or more of these artful experiences this September to mark another summer finale in Northern Michigan.

Soak up the scenery (and get your heart pumping) in Benzie County.
Visit the Michigan Legacy Art Park, a 30-acre wooded preserve at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville that offers both an art experience and hiking trail. (open during daylight hours every day year round). The outdoor sculpture park provides a rich cultural experience—as you meander a winding trail through towering hardwoods, you’ll discover 49 sculptures, 31 poetry stones and an abundance of natural beauty. Book Crystal Mountain’s Bed and Breakfast lodging package, which includes access to the Art Park. Day-trip to nearby Oliver Art Center in the coastal village of Frankfort, where September classes include ceramics, watercolor, yoga and Pilates.

Be entertained in Manistee.
Catch a flick or live performance on the shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee. The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts plays host to more than 200 events each year. See veteran Broadway stage performer Karen Curlee (she appeared in chorus and feature roles in long-running shows including Cats, A Chorus Line and Blackstone) from 7 to 9 p.m., Friday, September 8. Take in a movie at the city’s movie house, The Vogue Theatre, which features free popcorn the 21st of each month. Enjoy a pre-event dinner downtown; try Blue Fish Kitchen + Bar for river views and a large selection of Great Lakes fish (must-try: smoked whitefish dip).

Boyer Glassworks

Gallery hop (and travel back in time) in Petoskey and Harbor Springs.
This area packs a serious art and history punch. Make your first stop at Crooked Tree Arts Center, housed in a former Methodist church, circa 1890, in the heart of downtown Petoskey. The gallery, educational center and performance space is a hub for creativity and arts in the Little Traverse Bay Area. Check out Little Traverse Historical Museum, also in Petoskey, featuring a collection of images and artifacts from around the Little Traverse Bay region, including letters from Ernest Hemingway, Odawa baskets and a Victorian Parlor. Make the short drive to neighboring Harbor Springs for numerous gallery offerings, including the exquisite jewelry at Becky Thatcher Designs, signature glass pieces at Boyer Glassworks and paintings at Tvedten Fine Art. Book a Harbor Springs cottage or home rental for your stay.

Discover music and art in Traverse City.
Add two must-visit museums to your TC weekend. On the east side, explore the Music House, where the main attraction is a collection of antique musical instruments dating from about 1870 to the 1930s. Get up close to rare nickelodeons, pipe organs, music boxes and other music makers from back in the day. Take part in Family Day on September 17. Stop by Breakaway Cafe on Four Mile Road for coffee and a casual lunch (the grilled cheese on locally made bread is amazing). In town, self-guided tours at The Dennos Museum Center, on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College, are available anytime during open hours. (Guided, interactive tours are available with three weeks’ notice.) The museum is currently undergoing expansion, tentatively scheduled to be completed in November 2017; check a complete listing of exhibitions and events at dennosmuseum.org.

Feed your inner historian at the Mighty Mac.
The Straits of Mackinac offers an abundance of natural beauty and history, from a simple stroll along the shoreline in Mackinaw City with up-close views of the Mackinac Bridge, to a visit at Fort Michilimackinac to witness historical reenactments like cannon rings and cooking. Stop by the Mackinaw City Area Arts Council Art Gallery and Cultural Center, in the Mackinaw Crossings Shopping Center, for its art gallery and activity center featuring artists and creative events. Put the historic Mill Creek sawmill, built in 1790, and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse on your list of must-see stops, too.

Traverse travel editor Heather Johnson Durocher writes from Traverse City. [email protected]


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