The Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District is kicking off the holiday season in Glen Arbor with the third annual Strolling Lights Festival. The event is a great way for families, friends, teams, businesses and organizations to express their festivity, all while supporting a great cause. This year, the cause is near and dear to the hearts of CRO customers and team. In August, lead buyer Kelly Florip was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in her life and has a major journey ahead of her with treatment and travel for this treatment. The cost is $150 per sponsored tree with proceeds going towards Glen Lake School on behalf of the Kelly Florip family. Twenty pre-lit trees will be placed around the CRO District by Nov. 17. Sponsoring groups and families must provide the decorations and have until Nov. 25 to decorate it. After that, trees will be on display for the public to admire through the new year.

Mike Sheldon, the longtime CEO of Deutsch advertising agency in Los Angeles and a Lake Leelanau resident since 2017, has broken ground on an 18-hole putting and dining destination at the former River at Crystal Bend in Glen Arbor—where the Crystal River turns and heads northeast toward The Homestead and Sleeping Bear Bay. He received a conditional Land Use Permit last night from the Glen Arbor Township Planning Commission and hopes to open the venue to the public next spring. The destination will bring even more action to the east side of town, where Crystal River Outfitters, the Cyclery, the M22 Store and Coastal already draw crowds. Less than a mile away, the renovated Mill has generated buzz since it opened this spring.

Just outside of Glen Arbor, a well-traveled section of County Road 675 is imperiled as it crosses three sets of undersized culverts slowly crumbling into the Crystal River. That’s a multi-million-dollar problem for the Leelanau County Road Commission. The engineering plans call for the construction of a concrete and steel structure to replace the culverts under CR 675 closest to M-22. That will keep the two road surfaces closely matched in elevation. The two sets of culverts further east, including the “shoot-the-tube” culverts, are to be replaced with classic wood bridges providing a lot of headroom for paddlers, ending the need for portages across the road. Plans call for the replacement of the Tucker Lake overflow culvert with a wide and substantial concrete box culvert.

This summer means now. A sign reading “Opening this Summer” inside the window at Millie’s, the new pizza and ice cream restaurant on the footprint of the famed Riverfront Pizza, has been replaced by a new sign that reads “Grand Opening” and “Thursday to Sunday 12 pm to 8 pm.” Millie’s holds its grand opening on Thursday, Aug. 10, and features made-from-scratch “Roman Pizza al Taglio,” known for its semi-thick, light and fluffy interior and crispy exterior. Pizza slices, which cost $5 or $6 each, offer cheese, pepperoni, sausage and onion, or mushroom and roasted garlic. For dessert, Millie’s features ice cream in two flavors—cinnamon toast and dark cherry—crafted from a rich, custard base that uses cream, whole milk, sugar, salt and egg yolks. The restaurant is managed by Fernhaus Studio hospitality group, whose team also runs The Mill, another time-honored Glen Arbor landmark on the Crystal River, The Riverside in Leland, and Brew in Traverse City.

Leelanau County has a vivacious music scene all summer, that continues into the spring and fall months. Whether they are buskers in Glen Arbor, performers at restaurants in Northport, or concerts at The Old Art Building in Leland, the county is filled with talented musicians who love to share their art with the public. Blake Elliott is a local musician who plays a variety of music spanning from jazz and blues to old fashioned country and folk in Leelanau County. She makes her living by playing gigs all around northern Michigan, and entertains audiences nearly every single day in the summer. In the winter, Elliott is an instructor in the songwriting department at Interlochen Arts Academy, and continues to play music professionally full time. 

The Crystal River Outfitters Recreation District on Glen Arbor’s east end, which includes the M22 and Coastal retail stores, is attracting customers to its Strolling Lights Festival, which continues through New Year’s Day. According to Katy Wiesen, who owns the three businesses together with her husband Matt, the year ahead will yield a new building across M-22 in the vacant lot which previously housed Riverfront Pizza & Deli.

After a successful first year, the Strolling Lights Festival at Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District in Glen Arbor returns for a second year. This event is a combination of holiday festiveness with the added bonus of supporting local youth and families. Twenty-two pre-lit trees will be placed around The District by November 12. Sponsoring groups and families must provide the decorations and have until November 26 to decorate it. After that, trees will be on display for the public to admire through the new year.

Fried, the new food truck in the Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District, diversifies the Glen Arbor eating scene, as hundreds of thousands of hungry tourists begin arriving to soak up the summer. “Food trucks offer variety and a different, fun atmosphere,” said Raupp. “You get to interface with the guests, which doesn’t happen when you’re a chef in a restaurant. There’s a symbiotic relationship and a more experiential dining experience. With so much tourism up here in Northern Michigan, and lots of little pockets that could use food, snacks and refreshments, there’s room in our industry to grow.”

The seventh annual Glen Lake Restaurant Week offers an array of dining around Glen Arbor, the week before Mother’s Day. Whether you plan to dine-in or take-out, enjoy mouthwatering experiences from “French fries to French cuisine” Friday, April 29-Saturday, May 7. Glen Arbor’s dining scene in 2022 will also include two food trucks opening in late May on the vacant lot next to the former Riverfont Pizza & Deli, which was acquired last year by Katy and Matt Wiesen, owners of the Crystal Rver Outfitters Recreational District.

The Crystal River Outfitters Recreational District in Glen Arbor is hosting its first Districtwide Easter Egg Hunt. The festivities will take place on Saturday, April 16. The afternoon will be full of Easter activities and family fun. The event will kick off at 3 pm with face painting and crafts. At 4 pm, the Easter Egg Hunt will begin with an opportunity to meet the Easter Bunny. Afterwards, families may enjoy spring drinks (think wine cocktails and mocktails for the kids) and Peep ‘smores on the M22 Wine Patio.