10 trip ideas for May in Northern Michigan include birding, blossom watching and volunteering. The weather is moderate, the prices even more so, as you head North to explore beaches and blooms. Find these ideas and more in the May 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. May’s the month for…
Beachfront deals. Dive into the blues of Traverse City’s Grand Traverse Bay (with your eyes at least) from your window at a shoreside hotel like Grand Beach—and on the cheap. Water view rooms start at $100 a night this month, less than half the price of the same room mid-July. tcbeaches.com.
Bird spotting. Birding expert Dave Barrons calls Northwest Michigan the nation’s last undiscovered birding hotspot, meaning few crowds as you scope our feathered friends. Explore woods and beaches, and skirt between islands (migrating birds like islands) via tall ship at the Leelanau Peninsula Birding Festival (May 28–31; mibirdfest.com). On the state’s east side, the Tawas Point Birding Festival (May 14–17) is the one not to miss. tawasbirdfest.com.
Blossom blessings. Cruise among Old Mission Peninsula orchards in bloom while sampling new releases from peninsula wineries on Blossom Day, May 16. Next day, stop in to Chateau Chantal for a nondenominational Blessing of the Blossoms, a century-long ritual for the blossoms and those who tend the vineyards. Partake in a ritual more than a century old as you help to bless the blossoms and those who work in the orchards at Chateau Chantal on the Old Mission Peninsula, and then enjoy a newer twist on tradition: Blossom Day wine tasting with food pairings, surrounded by orchards abloom. May 16; wineriesofoldmission.com.
Bonfires. Linger longer under starry May skies at a bonfire by the Straits to warm body and soul, offered nightly (with marshmallows) at St. Ignace’s Harbour Point. Book May 23–24 to catch a grand entry parade, dancing and drumming— highlights of the town’s Native American Festival. stignace.com.
Waterfall watching. Grab a map at any ranger station at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and go hunting for your favorite waterfall among dozens of options, all surging powerfully during late spring flows. Lake Superior boat tours start mid-month and travel past Spray Falls if you book the photo-worthy late afternoon excursion. picturedrockscruises.com.
Volunteering. Don’t just look at the North’s flower-lined downtowns; help bring them to being. Charlevoix’s Operation Petunia (May 28) invites volunteers to help plant their famed five flower miles, with the reward of an East Park picnic (keepcharlevoixbeautiful.org). In Ludington, May 16, it’s 30,000 petunias looking for a trusty gardener.
Spa going. Crystal Mountain Spa Days (through May 10) is your excuse to book a weekend of pampering; after all, the savings on treatments for two can cover your night’s stay. Massages run $69/person for 80 minutes, $40 less than the normal rate, and eu- calyptus steam rooms, an outdoor garden with hot tub, the indoor pool and fitness center are yours for the using. crystalmountain.com.
Woodland treasures. Foragers know this as the month of the morel. Good bets for beginners are the guided hunts at the state’s morel festivals. The gourmet Taste of Morels option at Boyne City’s National Morel Mushroom Festival also assures you won’t go hungry, as does the related Morel Fest Wine and Dine at Boyne Mountain’s Beach House restaurant ($45/person for five pairings). bcmorelfestival.com.
Biking. If you like your biking communal and noncompetitive, then the Zoo-de-Mackinac (May 15) is for you. Join 4,000 riders on a 51-mile pedal from Boyne Highlands to Mackinac Island, rolling along the Tunnel of Trees. zoo-de-mack.com.
Scenic hikes. Orchids like the showy lady’s slipper, calypso and ram’s head line your meditative path at Cheboygan State Park, one of many hikes highlighted along the Huron Shores Heritage Route (us23heritageroute.org). Find more options, including great ways to spot the showy trillium, at the Little Traverse Conservancy web site (landtrust.org); or wander amid the 71,000 acres of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on a ranger-led wildflower hike. nps.gov/slbe/.