Northern Michigan Vacation: Design a September weekend around art inspired by nature, music by the lake, legendary comedians, even a learn-to-be-a-painter weekend at a spa, atop a ski hill. Read on.
Prepare for some full-on laughter therapy when your weekend includes the comedic magic of Bill Cosby or Lily Tomlin—both coming to Traverse City–area stages Sept. 15. Cosby appears at the Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Kresge Auditorium, an open-air pavilion on the shores of Green Lake. Tomlin’s genius will be on display, at the same time, at the City Opera House on Traverse City’s lively Front Street. Launch the weekend at TC’s annual Art Walk and let food, wine and music set the stage for art and giddy fun as you explore Traverse City’s art galleries and exhibits. Art Walk runs Friday, 5–8 p.m.; downtowntc.com; 231.922.2050. Cosby tickets:
For Tomlin tickets: cityoperahouse.org; 231.941.8082.
Rent an on-campus hotel room or cabin-style lodge, and you can play camper at Interlochen Center for the Arts without ever having to don that classic blue uniform. Then simply step outside your door to wander the shady campus of one of the nation’s leading arts boarding schools—an event in itself when it’s done amid the wafting tunes of students practicing music most everywhere. Catching a formal performance is equally easy; the Traverse Symphony Orchestra performs this month, as do several student groups. Bonus: a cafeteria meal is part of the lodging package. Likewise enticing: a juicy burger and homemade shake at nearby Bud’s. budsisback.com; 231.276.9090. Rooms start at $100; interlochen.org/lodging; 231.276.7570.
Settle into your riverside room at Gates AuSable Lodge or Borcher’s B&B, and then head out to view art inspired by the storied AuSable and wildlife-filled forests of Grayling. The town’s new self-guided Art Tour features two new galleries of nature-inspired works. Main Branch Gallery centerpiece artist Kim Diment launched her career sketching the river’s toads and turtles before going on to travel the world and using art to help save the dwindling Kenyan zebra herds and other endangered species. The AuSable Artisan Village Gallery, another gallery newcomer, features the gorgeous murals of artist Terry Dickenson. Somewhere amid the eight tour stops, rent a canoe and slip into the inspiring waters. Borcher’s, for B&B rooms or canoe rentals: 800.762.8756; Gates AuSable Lodge, for rooms, dining or fly-fishing guides: 989.348.8462. Art and mural tour info: grayling-mi.com/attractions/the-arts.
The lumber culture reigns supreme as a September Michigan festival theme. Check out Michigan’s Festivals and Events calendar (mfea.org) for ideas like Oscoda’s Paul Bunyan Days (September 15–16); the Lake City Festival of the Pines and its lumberjack competition (September 13–16); or the Red Flannel Festival of Cedar Springs (September 28–29). 231.271.1131; hillsidehomestead.com.
Translate the beauty of Northern landscape onto canvas, your way, at a watercolor workshop offered by Solace Spa at Boyne Mountain. Expect a pressure-free outing (the school is a spa, after all) as the class heads up a chairlift to the mountaintop for some full-on scenery inspiration. Bonus: The $39 painting course fee includes all materials and also scores you 10 percent off spa treatments and full access to spa facilities—normally $35 in itself (boyne.com/spa/solace). Rather watch others create? Head to Boyer Glassworks in Harbor Springs (231.526.6350), where artist Harry Boyer shapes colorful molten glass into captivating vases or colorful balls, or take in tricks of the wheel at Petoskey’s Sturgeon River Pottery (sturgeonriver.com; 231.347.0590).