The staffers at Wet Mitten Surf Shop know their trade. Not only do they keep the shop stocked with an impressive array of boards—proffering standup paddleboards, surfboard, kiteboards, and longboards alike—they also lead lessons to get surfing rookies on their feet. During standup-paddleboarding or kiteboarding lessons, instructors introduce newcomers to Michigan’s surfing scene, or allow them to test the waters themselves with a board rental—the cost of which can be used toward the later purchase of a board.
Casks of award-winning vintages tempt guests at Bowers Harbor Vineyards, which earned Best of Class for its 2007 Cabernet Franc at the 2010 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, among multiple other awards and pleasantly slurred compliments. Surrounded by verdant hills near the lapping tongue of Lake Michigan, Proprietor Spencer Stegenga oversees the harvest, fermentation, and self-defense training of a delicious range of reds, whites, and sparkling wines, as well as hard cider. Visiting sippers can silence their thirstily jabbering tongues with Bowers’ signature reds—the 2896 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, touched with a bit of cabernet sauvignon, or the Meritage blend, whose soft tannins create a smoothly quaffable mouthful. Or try the 2009 Rosé, redolent with the flavors of flowers, berries, and wine.
The inaugural Up North Fourth festival gathers musicians and munchies in Charlevoix’s East Park for a barbecue worthy of the finest red-checked blankets. Fill mouths with Cross Fisheries’ whitefish tacos as Eufórquestra and its entourage of drummers and hula-hoopers stuff ears with afro-Caribbean funk, or pair the tang of Friske’s barbecue ribs with the twang of rockabilly crew Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys. Hop-loving attendees can sample five 7-ounce pours of Short’s Brewery’s best imbibeables—including Nicie Spicie and the experimental dessert beer, Key Lime Pie—and leave with commemorative mugs and the taste of barley on their tongues.
T.C. Paintball gives wannabe warriors the opportunity to practice trigger pulling and ambushing with day-long paintballing passes. Armed with 500 colorful capsules and paint-spewing machinery, soldiers battle friends and enemies in the great indoors or traverse the natural elements in the flourishing outdoor battleground, which teems with sandbag walls, empty oil barrels, and motivational Patton lookalikes at every turn. Corporal casings can successfully shield themselves from incoming pellets with protective goggles and face masks that are included in the Groupon and should be worn throughout the day. Particularly trigger-happy gunners can visit the on-site store to restock ammunition, peruse guns, or hide from paint-splattered carpool moms.
Reid outfits the modern outdoor human with durable clothing for work and play, stocking apparel, footwear, and safety products from top brands such as Carhartt and Wolverine. As the perennial workplace leg covering, the low-maintenance Dickies men's Original 874 work pant ($26.99) resists wrinkles and needs no love from irons and the Carhartt men's nylon jacket ($79.99) protects torsos with triple-stitched seams and a fleece lining that keeps limbs warm long after the sun clocks out. Women can stylishly traverse rugged terrain in a crimson-colored Carhartt polo shirt ($24.99), complete with a four-button front, side vents, and an anticurl collar. A selection of safety products from LED flashlights to the Dickies men's high-visibility utility vest ($33.99) serve as necessary accessories for walks in the nearest industrial park or extreme-runway fashion shows.
Some running stores brag about their huge selection. For Running Fit, it isn’t about quantity, but quality. Their selection, which typically spans about 200 options, never includes poorly made shoes, even if they’re hot brand names. The shop's buyers focus on three core principles: fit, construction, and price. If a shoe doesn’t fit their high expectations, it simply doesn’t make the cut. The staff is trained to help you find a shoe that fits your unique specifications, from foot and gait type to preferences in in-shoe rocket boosters.
Those who are getting into running for the first time should try Running Fit's Running 101 class, which prepares students for the trials of a 5K through group runs and info sessions that focus on apparel and shoes, stretching, nutrition, and how to prepare for a race. More experienced runners can raise their game up by having their form analyzed or signing up for the half- and full-marathon class, which takes participants through the training process from start to finish. The running obsessed, meanwhile, should check out The FIT, a weekly running newsletter that doubles as an arch support.