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.
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.
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.
Two Lads Winery's grape-laden, sustainably farmed fields yield 11 wines in a variety of vintages, with a focus on dry reds and sparkling wines. The 1.5–2 hour visit starts with a tour of the 58-acre hilltop complex, during which guides explain the wine-making process using diagrams painted by children, before the tour moves to the 22-acre vineyard, where the grape connoisseurs teach about grape varieties and grape-milking techniques.