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Romantic Scenic Dives

As the old adage goes, “The greatest gift you can give sometime is your time.” So instead of finding a gift for your special someone come Valentine’s Day, birthday, or anniversary, make it a priority to spend time together. One way to do this is by taking a scenic drive. Embarking on a new adventure and sharing together the sights of the Great Lakes State will strengthen your bond and get you away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Here are seven of the most scenic drives to take in Michigan. Some of them are picturesque year-round, but others have their peak season.

And you don’t need to forgo chocolates, wine, flowers, or nice restaurants. We’ll offer some additional suggestions of where to go if you want to especially spoil your special someone.

Caring for Canine Companions in Cold Weather

Dogs are not fair weather friends – they stand beside us in every type of weather.
This applies not only to the highs and lows of life, but to the various weather conditions that affect us all when we spend time outdoors.

Are you doing some winter camping or winter activities and have a dog along? Then you probably already have a pretty good idea of what you need to know about keeping your dog safe and warm; however, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on how to care for dogs when the weather turns cold. Even spring and fall have their share of finger numbing days.

 

Camping Friendly Chocolate Cake Recipes

You never need to find an excuse to enjoy a piece of moist chocolate cake, but today we’ll give you one. For instance, January 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day! But you don't need to wait around for January to enjoy one of these tempting recipes.

At the campsite, your Dutch oven and slow cooker are perfect candidates for making a delicious treat that everyone, including the neighbors, will surely enjoy. The ingredients are few and easy to pick up at the local market or grocery store. Here are four recipes to save and try this upcoming season (or now, if you so desire).

 

Things to Do in Northern Michigan: East Side

The west side of the state may get all the recognition, but it can get quite crowded due to that fame. If you really want to get away but don’t want to drive as far as the UP, visit northeast Michigan.

It’s more remote but just as picturesque, with a wide range of things to do if you love to spend time outdoors. The towns are typically small and full of local flavor.With a couple of exceptions, they aren’t “touristy.”  These are places where hardworking men and women have decided to make their livelihood, among the serene nature of northern Michigan. Shops and restaurants offer original wares, friendly faces, and home cooking.

Ice Fishing: A Michigan Winter Tradition

When you live in a state with more than 11,000 inland lakes and streams in addition to being surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, fishing is an inevitable activity.  When winter arrives and the lakes are covered by inches of ice, it’s time to bundle up and go ice fishing.

This longstanding traditional activity is a favorite for many Michigan outdoorsmen, women, and children… both for catching fresh food and for recreation.  Many visitors travel to Michigan just to go ice fishing. The most common species of fish are pike, perch, walleye, trout, musky, bluegill, and crappie. Your catch will depend on where you drop your line.

Private Campgrounds Q&A

There are options aplenty as to where to take the RV and set up camp. There are public campgrounds, such as those located in national forests and state parks, that are managed by federal, state, or local agencies. Counties and townships also manage public campgrounds.  Or you can also choose a privately operated campground or RV park. These are operated by private individuals or businesses.  

There are differences between public and private, from the size of the site to who can be admitted to the types of amenities, and there are plenty of options for every type of RV owner. Through experience and the recommendation of others, you may prefer one or the other, but we wanted to address some basic questions regarding private campgrounds to better help you make your travel plans. Either route, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy all that Michigan has to offer.

Snowmobile Michigan's Hills and Valleys
Whether you're bringing the RV or not, Michigan has some of the best snowmobile treks in the country.

Michigan is a snowmobiler's paradise, one that attracts winter enthusiasts from all over the country – especially to the Upper Peninsula. With more than 6,200 interconnected, maintained trails across the state, over diverse terrain and around scenic lakes and ponds, snowmobilers can ride to their hearts' content – and get a glimpse of Michigan few get a chance to see. About half of the trails are located on private land and the rest on federal, state, or public land.

Fun and Inventive Hot Cocoa Recipes

‘Tis the season for hot cocoa! Another Michigan winter is underway, and it’s a guarantee that we’re in for some blustery, chilly days.

We all have fond memories of coming inside after a full day of building snowmen and challenging friends to snowball fights, to dethaw over a class of piping hot cocoa. And it’s hard to beat the classic recipe, homemade or instant, but us RVers are the adventurous type, taking the road less traveled; and the same should go for our cocoa. This winter, mix it up a bit and take a new hot cocoa for a test drive!

How to Maintain your New Year’s Resolution in your RV

As we gear up to bring in the New Year, many are already taking into consideration what their New Year’s Resolution will be for 2016. And if you’re like most people, one of your goals will likely be to live a healthier lifestyle. Whether it’s making healthier choices at the dinner table or stepping up your daily exercise regimen, you can meet and maintain your New Year’s goals, without giving up your RV lifestyle.

Although it can be difficult to make healthy choices while traveling, it is definitely doable. So here are a few tips and tricks to guide you on your way to living your healthiest year yet – if you’re up for the challenge!

Make Your Plans: Michigan Winter Beer Festivals
Warm up with a cool pint.

We have all grown accustomed to Michigan winters of whipping winds and heavy snowfalls. In years past, many children would’ve already experienced the joy of an unexpected, but anticipated, snow day. But this year has been quite mild compared to what we’re used to, and the National Weather Forecast predicts it will continue on this course. While this may hinder some snow bunnies’ plans to hit the slopes, trails, and icy ponds, beer enthusiasts can rejoice!

Michigan is one of the largest craft beer producing and consuming states in the country. To celebrate and spread the goodness of their beverages, cities around Michigan throughout the year host beer festivals and events. Some of these take place in the winter months, many of which are outdoors.

Visit Northern Michigan This Winter
We’ll give you the inside scoop on where to go and what to do when the snow flies.

Winter is one of Michigan’s longest “seasons,” but that doesn’t mean you need to stay bundled up inside the whole time. The cold and the snow give the landscape a brand new appearance, quite the contrast from the brightness of the fall.

When it comes to experiencing and enjoying a Michigan winter, almost everyone will say, go up north. We’ll focus on northwest Michigan, where there’s the highest concentration of ski resorts and towns. 

Try one of these crockpot recipes, including beef vegetable soup!Easy Camping Meals
The slow cooker can be a real time-saver in campsite meal preparation

The crockpot is an essential appliance for many RVers to have on hand. During nice weather, it provides everyone with the flexibility to go outside and enjoy hiking, biking, walking, playing games, you name it – and a fully cooked meal is ready when you get back.

The winter brings back hearty appetites and the thoughts of hot food. A crockpot not only gives your RV a tantalizing smell, it can provide you with an alternative to being outside in poor weather checking a Dutch oven cooking over the fire or slaving over a stovetop while everyone else it out having fun.

With a slow cooker, you can spend more time with your loved ones doing the things you all like to do and have fewer pots to clean up.

Visit one of these hot indoor attractions in southeast Michigan.Must-See Museums in the Upper Peninsula
Take a break from the questionable weather and explore Michigan’s rich history at one of these museums

The UP is best known for its natural resources, expansive landscapes, and diverse ecology. Though not made by man, these natural wonders have impacted our human history and helped define it.

Think of the Upper Peninsula as the cultural gateway to understanding and appreciating Michigan’s ancient history before we came along -- and once we did, the arduous labors and accomplishments of past generations of peoples.  

So if the weather is questionable or you want to see something new, these are the places to go. Many popular museums and indoor attractions, such as the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, are not included in this list because they are closed during the fall and winter, reopening in the spring. The museums below are open year-round or by appointment.

Go Play Inside in Southeast Michigan
Five indoor attractions you won't want to miss.

Visit one of these hot indoor attractions in southeast Michigan.Outdoor activities can be challenging to do in fall and winter, but there are plenty of interesting and fun activities for kids of all ages that take place indoors. Think about visiting one of these places in southeast Michigan next time it's too cold, rainy, or snowy outside.

1. Bayou Adventure, Joe Dumars’ Fieldhouse, Shelby Township
Monday-Friday 5-10, Saturday and Sunday 10-10

45300 Mound Road, (586) 731-3080

There’s plenty to do at the Bayou in Shelby Township. At 30,000 square feet, kids and families can enjoy activities such as mini golf, laser tag, a high ropes course, and a climbing wall. The 33 foot inflatable shark slide is a favorite and opens for a limited time each day. Those with lots of energy will love Bayou Adventure!

Pasties: It's That Time of Year!
A working man’s staple has become a defining cuisine of Michigan.

It's pasty time in Michigan.The Upper Peninsula is defined by a hard-working class of men and women who logged, mined, and farmed Michigan’s wilderness and resources. They were – and are – as much a part of the land as the natural resources they made their living on. Out of these folks came a defining cultural food: the pasty.

What used to be ethnic food – its origin is attributed to miners from Cornwall, England – became regionally defining over the decades as the many cultural groups in the UP worked together and eventually blended. But you’ll find that each pasty shop today has its own bend on things, similar to how each nationality – Polish, Finnish, Swedish, Irish, etc. – made the pasty their own back in the day.

 

Fun Things to Do in November

Apple picking in Michigan is an event like no other.Mid-fall in Michigan can sometimes present a challenge to enjoying outdoor activities. The leaves have fallen, the weather is questionable, and there’s only the promise of snow.  But that doesn’t mean there's nothing to do.

There are events taking place throughout Michigan during the month of November, both indoors and out. Full event listings are available through the Michigan Festivals & Events Association and Pure Michigan, but here are some of our top choices, ordered by when they take place.

 

Visit a Corn Maze
Try a fun, sometimes challenging, fall activity that’s a true family favorite!  

Apple picking in Michigan is an event like no other.When autumn arrives, we find the wool sweaters and the high boots, the scarves and the portable thermos. We look forward to hot soups, hearty meals, and crisp apples. But besides what to wear and what to eat, fall is a time to look forward to pumpkins, apple cider, and corn mazes.

If you like puzzles, then a corn maze is right up your alley. A fun activity for all ages, mazes offer various levels of challenge and intrigue depending on the intricacy of the design. Some mazes have dead ends and loops, making you think you’re on the right path until it comes to an abrupt end. But figuring out the route and making it through is what makes a corn maze fun.

 

 

Apple Orchards and Cider Mills

Apple picking in Michigan is an event like no other.With the kids back in school, the weather getting cooler, and the leaves beginning to change, Michiganders have come to know this time of year simply as: apple season. Home to many great varieties of apples, ranging from sweet and juicy to tangy and tart, Michigan proudly reins as the nation’s third largest apple-producing state.

With hundreds of orchards to choose from, it may be hard to know where to begin. Featured below are five apple orchards, one from each region of the state, to help you get started.

 

Breakfast Recipes You Need to Try

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? Studies show that eating breakfast regularly and soon after waking helps give your body a jumpstart at reaching its daily nutrient needs, helps facilitate weight loss, and improves cognitive function.

At the campsite, whether you’re cooking on the stovetop in your RV or over an open flame outside your pop-up camper, try one of these three recipes to get the day started.

(Full disclosure, these recipes rank from healthy to downright outlandish yet irresistibly delicious.)

 

Five Fun Road Trip Games

Enjoy the ride with some easy to play games that are sure to entertain

With the warm summer weather drawing to a close and your children’s back-to-school blues already in effect, now is the perfect time to escape for a family road trip!

A family road trip means spending a lot of time together in close quarters, including on the way to your destination. Whether the family is packed into the tow vehicle or has more space to spread out in a Class A motorhome, chances are it will take some time to reach your destination. So how do you pass the time? Ditch the iPads and play some old-fashioned road games.

 

Michigan Wine and Beer Destinations That Deserve a Visit

The perfect spots for campers to enjoy a glass or two of local flavor.

RVers have another reason to make the trek to and across Michigan: local brews, wines, and spirits. Michigan has grown quite the reputation the past few years, and wineries and breweries have sprouted up across the state in rapid numbers.  Many of them also offer food, sometimes a full menu, so it’s possible to take the whole family.

Breweries and wineries don’t just offer delicious, locally crafted beverages, they offer a taste of local culture. A taste of Michigan.

 

Fall Views Worth the Hike

Get a little closer to the clouds to really see Michigan's beauty.

It’s a popular time of year for campers to visit and go on color tours. Even Michiganders hit the road for a day or two to experience Nature’s beauty.

Though the colors can be appreciated by taking a drive around or even from your campsite, it’s worth it to put on the hiking shoes, grab the daypack, and head out on the trail to get a more encompassing look. Here are five favorite trails of various difficulties that give hikers a view of spectacular fall vistas – and memories – for which Michigan is known.

5 Tips for RVing on Labor Day

Prepare yourself and your rig for a great weekend trip.

Labor Day is right around the corner, and for most of us, that means a nice, long weekend spent around the grill enjoying the company of family and friends. And a surefire way to guarantee a great weekend is to plan ahead - preparedness is your best bet for a carefree vacation.

So follow these five simple steps and you will be on the way to a Labor Day for the memory books!

Hiking in Michigan: Tips to Get Started

Most RVers can agree: There’s nothing better than stretching their legs after a full day of traveling. Michigan is home to hundreds of beautiful hiking trails, near your favorite camping destinations, that really get the blood flowing and showcase the serenity of this magnificent state.

As it turns out, hiking is actually a favorite leisurely activity of many campers. According to Coleman’s 2014 American Camper Report, the majority of campers, 76 percent to be exact, find hiking to be their most enjoyable camping activity. For those who already hike regularly, this article is a simple reminder about health benefits of hiking, gear, and safety. But for those just starting out or expanding their horizons, this will provide some useful information before you hit the trails. 

Fly-Fishing in Northern Michigan and A Streamside Lunch

In the long view of Northern Michigan, Lake Michigan will always take center stage.
But there are other bodies of water in Northern Michigan that campers can enjoy.
Plentiful inland lakes sprinkle the landscape like gems strewn about the ocean floor –
not quite the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but all precious just the same.

Panfish abound and you might tangle with a bass or a bluegill or a pike or a walleye on
the many inland lakes, and boy, are they good in a thick beer batter near the campfire.

10 Do's For Camping With Your Dog

A vacation isn’t complete for many campers without a four-legged family member along. In fact, many people get into camping because they then have the ability and flexibility to take their pets with them on their adventures. According to the 2014 American Camper Report presented by the Coleman Company and the Outdoor Foundation, 31-35 percent of campers of all age groups went camping with their pets, with dogs the most popular type of pet.

Whether you’re a first-timer or a veteran, it’s important to remember a few important things that will help keep your dog safe and healthy, a joy to have along on the ride, and a good neighbor around other campers. Here are 10 Do’s for camping with your dog.

The Night Sky – Campers Get a Front Row Seat   

Camping allows us to experience adventure and to see many beautiful places. It also allows us to see one of Mother Nature’s best shows on a nightly basis: the sky, with stars as far as the eye can see. This cosmic world has acted as a guide for travelers for centuries, and its expansive magnificence reminds us just how small we are. For most campgrounds and RV parks, you can easily sit back and explore the night sky from your site, with more secluded options usually not far away.

Here are some upcoming events at which to turn your eyes upward, as well as some accessible tools to help you explore the night sky.

Families Benefit From RV Vacations

RV vacations are a fun and affordable way to spend time with the family. A 2011 vacation cost comparison study by PKF Consulting showed a family of four can save 23 to 59 percent on vacation costs by traveling in a recreation vehicle (RV), even after factoring in ownership costs and fuel. There are more than 10 million American households that now own an RV—the highest level ever recorded—up from 7.9 million in 2005.

Kayaking Adventures

Camping in the beautiful state of Michigan comes with many perks, one being our endless access to pristine water. Kayaking is in the forefront of MARVAC’s summer must-do’s! Whatever your skill set and interest, there is a place in Michigan ready to give campers a good time.

Green Vacations are Easy in an RV

With restricted space and resources, RVers and campers are natural conservers while traveling. Utilizing standard energy conservation and eco-friendly practices, RV enthusiasts live the three Rs—reducing, reusing and recycling.

RVs have a limited supply of water, so RVers are naturally frugal about the amount used. Many RVers conserve water by taking " showers," or showers in which water is only running while rinsing. Employing the "military shower" technique can cut water usage from about 17.2 gallons to 5 gallons or less, especially beneficial if you have a small hot water tank. For a (very) quick post hike rinse, a solar camp shower is a decent, inexpensive option.

Campsite Types—Where to Take Your RV

In addition to the 1,000s of lakes Michigan boasts of, there are also multiple places to drive and park your trailer and go camping. But trying to decipher what type of campsite you are looking for depends on what type of camping you are into—hike in or glamping; what your needs are—full hook up or rustic; and how long you anticipate staying—overnight or longer. Fees associated with parking can vary as much as the facilities themselves, but expect anywhere from free (parking lots of certain retail stores and restaurants) to $50 or more per night. Reservations aren’t always required, but during the busy season are strongly recommended.

Camping Etiquette

Being a good camping neighbor helps make everyone's stay more enjoyable. To do this one needs common sense and consideration for your fellow campers, campsite and natural environment. However, some etiquette related to camping is more specific. If you are traveling with children, make sure they know some of these rules.

Firewood Transportation: Do's and Don'ts

Campfires have always been a major staple in campgrounds–sitting around the fire on a starlit night, telling stories, and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.

Many campers and RVers haul firewood from one part of the state to another aware that transporting firewood also transports insects and diseases. Some of these insects and diseases have destroyed Michigan's native trees. One of these insects is the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that has killed more than 10 million ash trees in southeast Michigan, and is perhaps the most prominent threat to our state's forests. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a small, metallic-green, wood-boring beetle that was discovered in southeast Michigan in 2002. Native to Asia, it's believed to have been unknowingly transported to the United States in wood packing material. But, the EAB is not the only threat ... beech bark disease, Dutch elm disease and gypsy moths are the top threats in a growing list of firewood hitchhikers.

Please consider some simple precautions to ensure the future of your favorite recreation destination:

 

Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC)
2222 Association Drive, Okemos Michigan 48864-5978
(517) 349-8881, infoATmmhrvca.org
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