It’s spring in Northern Michigan, the sun is strong and the temps are warming up. From golfing to a wine festival, here are 10 reasons to head Up North in April.
Seasonal openings, like that of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, preening for its 129th summer. The Early Opening package (April 23-24) lets you peek into the mostly empty guest rooms, each one uniquely designed, see the new red carpet rolled out and learn gossipy tidbits and fun facts on the behind-the-scenes tour. There’s breakfast at your door and a deal: $205 for the night for up to four people. grandhotel.com.
British humor. Downton Abbey comes to downtown Traverse City in “America’s Got Downton.” The show is a growing number of traveling productions coming to Traverse City’s elegant City Opera House—this one straight from London, featuring comedian Luke Kempner’s take on characters from the PBS hit (cityoperahouse.org). Stay the night in a sort-of castle: a rented loft-style condo rental in the majestic Village at Grand Traverse Commons. For high tea, book a tour and tea at Antiquities’ Wellington Inn. wellingtoninn.com.
Fireplaces, a spa, and great beer. The 11th anniversary party at Short’s Brewing Company (April 25) is as good an excuse as any to book a room at nearby Shanty Creek to enjoy the spa and the wood-burning fireplaces in the guest rooms. Can’t make the 25th? A fireplace warms your soul any time. shantycreek.com.
Skiing that’s basically free. Need inspiration to squeeze in a few last runs? The Petoskey area’s Spring Skiing Special starts at around $99 a night (Harbor Springs’ Birchwood Inn) for two people in a room and two lift tickets to a regional resort. petoskeyarea.com.
Virgin greens. Golf season opens across the state. Gather a foursome and mark the event at the “We’re Open Open,” at Treetops Resort in Gaylord. treetops.com.
Featured flight shows. Migrating birds put on a show on Michigan shorelines, but nothing rivals what you’ll find at the Upper Peninsula’s Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, where birds gather before crossing Lake Superior to Canada. See as many as 1,000 hawks overhead on a single day. There’s also owl banding, birding lectures and a party feel at Spring Fling (April 24–26). Stay close to the action by booking at the remodeled Coast Guard Crews Quarters, now a B&B. shipwreckmuseum.com. wpbo.org.
A fancy hotel bed, not yet slept in. The same elegance that attracted guests like the Hemingways of Oak Park to the lake is promised at the new luxury Hotel Walloon, complete with fine dining. Now taking reservations for the expected spring opening. 231.535.6000.
Wine fests with a twist. Enjoy Brengman Brothers winemaker’s new take on an Old World French and Croatian custom, beseeching St. Vincent, the patron saint of vineyard workers, with a procession and prayer for a good growing season. Join the march and the gourmet wine brunch. $25, April 25, brengmanbrothers.com.
Shopping deals. Spring means deals in Up North galleries and boutiques, and Petoskey’s Stafford’s Perry Hotel offers extra incentive for spring midweek stays; the two-night shopping package runs from $280 for two and includes $40 in dining dollars, $40 to spend at local stores. staffords.com.
Family resort fun keeps everyone hopping around Easter and Spring Break. Boyne Mountain has the extra lure of its Avalanche Bay Waterpark, a consistently toasty 84 degrees. The Spring Break special ($269/night for a family of four) also includes the breakfast buffet, family movies, bonfires with s’mores, wagon rides and more. Or book a spring break for grownups: the honey hibiscus-scented Spa Renewal Package. boyne.com.