One Northern Michigan travel expert is on a mission to improve the state’s economy by visiting 10 places she’s never been before — in her own hometown.
Brandy Wheeler, owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas and creator of the Traverse Traveler iPhone app, has lived in Traverse City for over 20 years and yet she is the first to admit there are dozens of businesses she’s never been in. So Wheeler has created a summer to-do list filled with stops along her travel route that many people have probably missed.
“My job takes me across Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau County every month, down the same highways area travelers flock to for a taste of Northern Michigan,” Wheeler said. “I’ve driven these roads for years, often passing businesses I’ve never been in. And that got me thinking, why not? That’s when I decided to set a goal of visiting 10 places I’ve never been.”
To share her explorations, and encourage others, Wheeler decided to turn the to-do list into a travelog series on her Web site, www.Mealtickets.com. Entitled, 10 Places I’ve Never Been, the list highlights some well-known locations throughout Northern Michigan along highways M-22, M-72 and US 31, as well as newly established businesses.
Picks on her list include:
* Hodge Podge Lodge — An eclectic store in downtown Beulah that combines new finds with resale and antiques.
* Chateau de Leelanau — New owners have turned this M-22 drive-by near Suttons Bay into a destination wine tasting room.
* Korner Gem — Located out of sight but close to town in Traverse City, this jeweler turns beach stones and gemstones into treasured souvenirs.
* Woodland Creek Furniture — Cruising through Traverse City on US 31 it’s easy to pass this huge furniture store without realizing the size or quality of what’s inside.
* The Rock Shop — Anyone who has traveled US 31 between Interlochen and Honor has probably wondered how a Rock Shop stays in business for so many years.
* 22 Vines & Wines — A new dining experience right along M-22 south of Suttons Bay features a Philippine chef, and a mouthwatering menu.
* County Christmas — The holiday season starts early for this cottage business on the uphill side of M-72 just outside Traverse City.
* Two Fish Gallery — In the shadow of a champion tree in Leland lies a quaint gallery with a varied collection of Northern Michigan gifts.
* The Cherry Hut — Believe it or not, not everyone has been to the Cherry Hut, a landmark restaurant for the little town of Beulah.
* Mystery Stop — The 10th stop on Wheeler’s list will be chosen from fan suggestions on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition to highlighting these newfound locations in the travelog series online, Wheeler plans to make sure each business is listed in the Traverse Traveler iPhone app, so visitors can discover them as well. To download the app visit: http://TraverseTraveler.com
Brandy Wheeler is the owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas, a 10-year-old Traverse City marketing service with displays of business cards touting local businesses in more than 70 locations throughout Grand Traverse, Benzie and Leelanau County. In 2010 she launched the Traverse Traveler iPhone app, a handy mobile guide for the Grand Traverse area visitor.