I’ve been working a lot lately, and my 5-year-old has gotten a bit tired of it. So, partially out of guilt but mostly because I wanted to spend uninterrupted time with him, I took him to Frankenmuth for the weekend.

I have fond memories of Frankenmuth, but they are vague: My mom took me there to buy shoes for my first communion, and I know I’ve eaten that chicken dinner at Bavarian Inn in the company of extended family. I haven’t been back as an adult, and I knew I was long overdue. So I reached out to Sonja Wood at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau and began planning my trip. (Sonja was nothing but helpful. Never underestimate the local CVB when you need some expert insight and support.)

Because my son is young, we stayed at Zehnder’s, which offers a fabulous water park and an arcade, among other amenities. Saturday I had planned to take him into town but doing so took a fair bit of persuasion—he was quite content to roam the hotel, eat at the very kid-friendly Elf Hollow Café, splash in the pool and accumulate fistfuls of tickets playing Frogger.

Finally, though, I cajoled him into the car. And I’m glad I did—Frankenmuth is actually pretty fabulous. When Grand Traverse Distillery sets up a tasting room in your downtown, your hipness factor is fairly high. The whole shopping region was a microcosm of the best Michigan offers, really, with plenty of green space for my son to run wild and appealing dining options sprinkled throughout.

When it came time to eat, we headed to Bavarian Inn Restaurant, which promotes its chicken dinner with gusto. The dinner’s reputation is considerable, which I realized in full when I tried to walk into the restaurant to eat at 3 pm. Without a reservation, the wait was much longer than I would expect at that time of day. Fortunately, the restaurant has several sections, some of them designed to accommodate for poor planners like me, and my son and I enjoyed some very delicious food, including the biggest, freshest pretzel I’ve ever had. (Note: Frankenmuth is reasonably priced. From the cost of meals at Elf Hollow to shopping in town, prices were not set to gouge.)

Our last morning, we packed in another swim, a pancake breakfast and an exchange of arcade tickets for a new toy fire truck before it was time to say goodbye. We had a wonderful time, and I’m already fielding requests from my boy about when we get to return.

MACVB Annual Educational Conference finally reaches the shores of Mackinac Island.

As I rode in the carriage from the Shepler’s Ferry terminal to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, my mind wandered to a scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” In said scene, King Arthur and his sidekick, Patsy, approach a castle while galloping and banging coconuts together. After a few moments passed and my mind wandered back to the tree-lined streets of the island, I realized it was the clippety-clop of the draft horses pulling our carriage that brought on my thoughts of Python.

 

The day’s agenda is done—all the to-do items have been checked off, and it’s time to come together as friends and colleagues. So, what is there to do? Well, if you’re meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, plenty. Located just 20 minutes to the Detroit Metro Airport, which offers 1,100 daily flights from four continents, the city is home to the University of Michigan and is a hub of creativity and culture. Ann Arbor offers a walkable downtown and the quirky and innovative attractions you’d expect to find in a college town. 

 

First came COVID. Then came the tornado.

The northern Michigan community of Gaylord was just starting to rebound from the pandemic with its groups and events business as a new season was getting underway when a rare EF3 tornado with estimated wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour struck May 20.

Two people were killed and at least 44 were injured, according to official reports at the time. West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen said it was the strongest tornado to strike in the U.S. that month.