FUN U-Pick: In one of the prime fruit-growing regions in the world, spending a few hours in a U-pick berry patch or orchard—filling buckets (and bellies) full of nature’s bounty— is a summertime must. Almost every month Up North offers a different fruit: look for strawberries in June, cherries, blueberries and raspberries in July and August, peaches in late summer, and apples in the fall. Visit LOCALDIFFERENCE.ORG for a searchable directory of the region’s U-picks.
Farmers Markets: Traverse City’s downtown farmers market is certainly the best known in the region, but to avoid the accompanying crush of customers, you might try one of TC’s other spots for direct-from-the-farm produce. The Village at Grand Traverse Commons offers a supremely laid-back market scene on Friday afternoons (THEVILLAGETC.COM); or, for a traditional roadside farm market experience, try Hoxsie’s Farm Market. (HOXSIESFARMMARKET.COM), OPEN DAILY, 2 ¾ MILES EAST OF ACME ON M-72.
ANJANETTE MERRIWEATHER, ANGELA BROWN
On a foggy day, you might not even notice this island gem in the middle of West Grand Traverse Bay. Located about seven miles from downtown Traverse City and 2.75 miles from the nearest boat launch at Bowers Harbor on Old Mission Peninsula, this 202-acre county-owned oasis offers a microcosm of the best the region has to offer: sandy beaches, wooded hikes, rustic camping, and even a touch of history (auto titan Henry Ford owned the island from 1917 to 1944). For experienced open-water kayakers, Power Island makes for a sweet day trip; otherwise, renting or chartering a powerboat is the way to go (several local charter boat companies offer transportation to and from the island). Find the public dock on the east side of the island. Park department: 231.922.4818.
Rogers Observatory: With long summer days full of fun and sun, don’t forget about the beauty that a Northern night sky has to offer. Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory is the best place for guided stargazing—especially since 2009, when a retiring General Motors engineer donated his twice-used Meade 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope to the college. Twice-monthly public viewing nights run just $2 for individuals and $5 for families. Check the schedule at nmc.edu or call 231.946.1787.
Islands of Long Lake With four little islands scattered across its waters, Long Lake offers more choices for an island-hopping experience than even nearby Grand Traverse Bay. Though all of the islands are protected by a local conservancy, only two—South and Fox Islands—are open to the public. Thirteen-acre South Island has short-but-sweet hiking trails and views of its unusual island bog ecosystem; Fox Island’s blanket of second-growth hardwoods gives you a quintessential Northwoods experience and a chance to spot bald eagles, which nest on the island. Because of the calm waters, most days you won’t need anything more than a canoe or kayak to reach either island. GTRLC.ORG. MyNorth 2013 Vacation! 25