This week CNN Travel named our region, including Leelanau County and Traverse City, among the 24 best places to visit in the new year. The story encourages readers and travelers to “look at places that are still largely undiscovered, or alluring in the offseason, or frequently overlooked for their larger first cities or neighbors. Maybe it’s time to head to places that are making it easier for tourists to visit and those that pay close attention to encouraging tourism that’s sustainable.” Sleeping Bear Dunes is no stranger to national and international media exposure. In 2011 the ABC show “Good Morning America” named our region “the most beautiful place in America,” which immediately boosted tourism numbers to the National Lakeshore. The honor was largely the result of northern Michigan’s social media campaign, which we examined in this article.

TART Trails is thrilled to host the 18th annual Tour de TART bicycle tour on Friday July 20, from 4-6 p.m. More than 600 people of all ages will hit the TART and Leelanau Trails for an evening ride that begins in Traverse City at Darrow Park and ends at Village Marina and Park in Suttons Bay.

Calling all nature artists! Please join the Human Nature School on Sunday, June 3, from 1-6 p.m. at Leelanau Studios (previously Norris Elementary School) for “Art in Nature” open to families, individuals, and people of all ages.

Glen Arbor’s upscale clothing scene is expanding store by store, innovative brand after innovative brand. This summer Pierre and Anne Pujos opened Flea—a spinoff of their boutique, The Exchange, which opened last July next to the Old Schoolhouse across M-22 from the Town Hall.

Grab your friends and attend the seventh annual Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival, August 22-23 at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Over 200 beers will be on tap. Enjoy great music all evening long, shake your tailfeather in the Silent Disco tent, delight in delicious local food, and visit with thousands of other craft brew and music lovers. With the incredible Brandi Carlile and Nahko and Medicine for the People headlining, the weekend tickets are worth their weight in solid gold memories.

Again, this year, local musicians and performers are donating their time and talent to perform the Woody Guthrie classic, “This Land is Your Land” over and over (and over …) on a street corner in downtown Traverse City. They will be there, rain or shine, day and night for three straight days, singing their hearts out to help the hungry. And you can help. Buckets of Rain, the nonprofit that organized this musical marathon, provides sustainable gardens and fresh vegetables to impoverished areas of the world, including overseas and in inner-city Detroit.

One year ago, on warm August night along the south shore of Big Glen Lake, there passed a man that many in our community loved, however, few of the countless lives he touched will know his name. Bob Russell died last August 23 at the age of 62. He was many things to many people, from Eagle Scout, Internet guru, opponent, gather, activist, organizer and more. I recently had a chance to reflect on Bob’s life with his widow, Sally Van Vleck, on that very deck on Glen Lake where I last spent time with him.

There are approximately 250 volunteers helping out at the Inland Seas Education Association. “We’d be unable to function without all the amazingly talented and amazingly dedicated volunteers,” says executive director Fred Sitkins. There are doctors, lawyers, teachers, fish biologists, interior decorators, housewives and retirees of all kinds, including retired school administrators, pipe fitters and electronic hospital equipment salesmen.

The 2014 Traverse City Wine & Art Festival presents a new and improved event for its sixth year. This year’s festival, to be held at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons on Saturday, June 21, celebrates regional wine, food and culture of northern Michigan. More than 5,000 people will join the festivities, which includes several new additions such as a VIP party and lounge, a wine education tent, a second music stage and a juried art show with best of show and peoples choice awards.

Beginning Wednesday, June 11, 300 cyclists participating in the 2014 NorthWest Biking The Bear Tour will begin the annual five-day tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City, Leelanau and Frankfort areas. Each day, cyclists will ride a looped route that starts from their base camp at Indigo Bluffs RV Park. They will visit the following areas to enjoy the scenery, restaurants, and tourist attractions of Northwest Michigan.