Where to Eat in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City Beach

I was recently asked where we were headed next. My answer…No where! And I was excited about it! This weather is what Michiganders endure 6 months of winter for! It is finally going to be beach weather and we have some of the best beaches and beach towns (I may be a bit biased.) Okay, so I’m not exactly going to stay put. Truthfully, I am going to take every opportunity to hit up the lakeshore and road trip it up north. We just had our very own family tradition of our “unofficial first weekend of summer” in Traverse City. Here is where we ate: Continue reading Where to Eat in Traverse City, Michigan

Friday Finds (Take 2)

 

Our Crazy Buddy

Welcome back to my randomness… with Friday Finds, Take 2….Hope you all had a great week! We made it to almost-Friady. Yay! And I made it through February without a broken bone- double Yay! Our only February hick-up was that our dog ate sand at the beach and had to spend the night at the Emergency Animal Hospital. Fortunately, he is back to his crazy, jumping, kissing 10-year old self. 

Brunch Bowl @ Donkey

Donkey Taqueria- If you are visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan, or live within an hour radius of Grand Rapids, this restaurant is a must. It is my favorite restaurant. So much so that I always have fabulous intentions of trying one of the new eateries that keep popping up around the city but just cannot tear myself away from Donkey. I love being guaranteed great service, a delicious Paloma, and top-notch food. Every. Single. Time. Making it feel even more special is the fact that it forces you to just relax. You cannot call ahead (there isn’t a listed phone number), making you come to terms with the fact that you are just going to have to show up and go with the flow. If the wait is too long, we have always had good luck going across the street to Winchester for a pre-dinner drink. Donkey will just text you when your table is ready.

Lee and Birch– Looking for a different activity while you wait for your table? Just head up the street to Lee and Birch. I went in to just “check it out” and pretty much could have seen myself in all of the clothes in the store. It is small, which feels cozy and not too overwhelming. The sales people are pretty chill, helpful but not at all pushy.

Zing Zangs- This is an oldie but goodie. One of my brothers-in-law is our designated Bloody Mary guy and this is a favorite. Whenever he and my sister-in-law ask what they can bring, I always want them to bring the Bloody Mary’s. He did, however, share his secret, so now we can all make delicious Bloody’s. Zing Zangs has just the right amount of spice and thickness. It’s as much a staple at our family gatherings as ice cream cake, maybe even more so!

Barre 3 via You Tube- With all of this eating and drinking going on, I thought it only “fitting” that I throw in a workout too. I just discovered this tonight, and it is great! It is perfect for when, say, your stairclimber is covered in plastic and every item in your storage room is now in the family hangout room because you had/have a “vision” for your laundry/mudroom (insert teeth-clenched emoji here). Moving on… the You Tube sequence is about 40 minutes long and would actually be perfect for when you are traveling too (there are small weights involved, but, let’s be honest, I’m not using those at home either). I really found the instructors to be encouraging and saying everything I needed to hear throughout the workout. The sequences are really easy to follow, and since repetition is key, it’s fairly easy to stay on track.

Well, there you have it, my barely-travel-related Friday Finds. I’ll be back next week with the Island Interviews Series. You may have also noticed all of the beautiful beaches lately on my Instagram account.. stay tuned, a related post is coming next week too. 

**I have no more fun ways to say this, so just know… this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may be compensated. Thank you!

Top 5 Posts of 2016

Since I love a good countdown and have been seeing quite a few Top 5 Posts of 2016, I thought it might be entertaining (and, admittedly, a bit self-indulgent) to look back, too, especially because I’m grounded until March. (Have a mentioned that? Ha!) Granted, the statistics are from a whole 3 months, but still… Here we go…

5. Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life, Part II: This was a fun post. One, because I love lists and, two, because I love gifts.

Mackinaw Road Gift Guide

4. A Long Weekend in Northern Michigan: Northern Michigan’s beauty never ceases to amaze me. Can you believe that water is in Michigan and not the Caribbean? We had such a wonderful trip; it will definitely be on our list for next year, too.

Northern Michigan

3. Global Christmas and Holiday Traditions in 2 Hours or Less: My son and I had so much fun checking out the holiday displays from our roots at our local gardens. Can you guess which country this tree represents?

Holiday Global Traditions

2. Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life: Here I provided several gift suggestions for the traveler in your life. I purchased the Leather Charger Roll-Up for my husband for Christmas, and not only does he carry it with him when he travels, but he also tells me all about it often.

Mackinaw Road Gift Guide

1. Banff: Something for Everyone: I was so happy to see this as my top post of 2016. It was such a surprising and amazing destination. I really would recommend Banff and Lake Louise to anyone and everyone.

Mackinaw Road- Banff

I’m so excited to see what 2017 has in store for us! We already have four trips planned, two with our larger families, one with the four of us, and one with just the two of us. Do you have any destinations on your bucket list that you are hoping to check off this year?

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

 

24 Hours in West Michigan

Someone recently posed the question… What would you do in your city if it was your last 24 hours there? Good question. First, I would cry… because I really do love where I live. Second, I would be all over West Michigan because it would be too difficult to stay in one city, and, with the ease of travel here, why not? Third, how has this not been a dinner conversation topic before? Move over crazy toddler stories, there’s a new topic in town.

I would begin my day with a nice jog around Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids. Waking up to perfectly aligned swans and a gorgeous sunrise? Yes please.

Reeds Lake

Fortunately, the purpose of that run would be more for scenery than good health because I would then head straight to D’arts Donuts in Eastown for a beignet and to-go of Madcap coffee.

D’arts Donuts

After a 40 minute drive to Holland, I would head out to the Big Red Lighthouse and pier to watch boats going out for the day.

Big Red

Because it is difficult to leave the lake on a beautiful day,  Saugatuck State Park would be next on the list for a hike through the woods and a beach walk.

Saugatuck State Park

I’d finish with lunch at New Holland Pub on 8th and a stroll through downtown Holland.

New Holland Brewery

Back in Grand Rapids, I would stop by the GRAM (Grand Rapids Art Museum) because it is the one place I keep meaning to get to and haven’t.

GRAM. Photo credit- Griggs and Woodward

Dinner would most definitely be at Donkey Taqueria…

Donkey Taqueria

Followed by an outdoor concert at Fredrick Meijer Gardens.

Fredrick Meijer Gardens

And back to the lakeshore for a sunset.

Lake Michigan Sunset

So, apparently, I would really just want to eat a lot and be by some of the lakes that make Michigan such a great state in my last 24 hours in West Michigan. Oh, and the remainder of the evening and into the night would be spent with family and friends talking, planning, and reflecting on this porch…

Now, I’d love to hear from you… What are your must-sees and must-dos in your home city?

*Please excuse the multitude of seasons in the photographs… but now you have an idea of the ever-changing weather of Michigan! 

**This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

An Afternoon in Grand Rapids

Today I was fortunate enough to have a “work afternoon” with Kelly from the Lily Pad Cottage. Have you visited her blog? If not, you should go right now. Not only is her design and taste impeccable, but she is also seriously such a nice person. She is gracious and generous (much like that famous designer on HGTV from Texas) and has been helping me/fielding all of my annoying questions since the idea popped into my head that I wanted start a blog. Oh, and did I mention she is super fun? I had such a great time shopping and eating (and talking) our way around Grand Rapids today.  If you are in town for a few hours or just passing through or looking for a little break from all of the holiday gatherings, here are some stops to put on your list.

We met at Reinspired Treasures in Alger Heights. Again, if you haven’t been, it’s worth checking out. From vintage to new home items to repurposed, well, treasures, they seem to have a little bit of everything. I have to do at least 10 laps before I feel like I have seen everything there is to see. This is the store that feeds my wooden sign addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After shopping for a bit, we headed across the street to The Old Goat. I had been hearing about this restaurant for awhile and was excited to check it out. The food was delicious and was brought out on a cute wooden cutting board. There are soups, sandwiches, salads, and even entrees if you are particularly hungry from your shopping. And I sort of feel like I could have stared at the ceiling for a few more minutes if I hadn’t been too busy chatting.

We then headed to Eastown for a quick coffee and to pick up some donuts for the kids’ after school snacks. We met at That Early Bird, another great setting, very calming colors and not too quiet, not too loud. I love the pretty designs in the coffee, but, believe me, even if this coffee was super ugly, it still is one of the best cups I’ve had.

D’Arts Donut Shop was the last stop of the afternoon to pick up a couple 1/2 dozens to take to our respective homes. Again, the setting is unique and trendy, and the donuts will not disappoint. I went with the Christmas sprinkles, Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows, and Peppermint Mocha. And have no pictures to show for them. Because they went that fast.

 

Friday Finds (Take 1)

Welcome to the first installment of Friday Finds, aka my excuse to be Random!

It is looking like another beautiful, slightly colder, weekend in Michigan. As such, my first random recommendation is to hit up Mt. Baldhead in Saugatuck. We took our kiddos last weekend, and we all had a fantastic day. Here is the gist: you climb up many, many, many stairs to discover spectacular views of Saugatuck and the Kalamazoo River. Next, you hike down a dune which leads to Oval Beach where there is plenty of sand, walking, and a swing set; there may even have Saugatuck, Michiganbeen some giggle-infested stick fights on our trip. When you are finished at the beach, climb back up the dune, take one last look at the views, and climb back down the stairs. We ended the afternoon with some beer for us and mac ‘n cheese for the kids at Wick’s Park, one of our favorite places to eat with kids in Saugatuck.

My second random recommendation is to check out Lole in Gaslight Village in East Grand Rapids. I’m not sure why but I am always shocked when it snows in Michigan and find myself scrambling because I am unprepared. Trying to makeFriday Finds Lole this year different, I decided to check out Lole for a ski jacket. They are having a promotion for which you bring in an old jacket (men’s, women’s, or children’s) and they will give you $50 off a new coat. The old coats are listed on minitradeca and proceeds in the United States go to Ample Harvest. Check out your Lole coat choices ahead of time here. Oh, and by the way, there is even a section just for Lifestyle & Travel!!!

My third random recommendation is a restaurant. If you happen to be in Friday Finds Wheelhousedowntown Grand Rapids or are even driving through, check out Wheelhouse. Their food is delicious (we had the duck sandwich and crab cake sandwich), the setting is modern, and the waitstaff is great, too.

 

 

 

My final recommendation is to go for a hike~ yes, again! It isn’t going to be nice like this forever. Check out Calvin College’s Eco Preserve. There areEco Preserve trails as well as a center to check out seasonal displays. It is so peaceful and fairly easy to navigate.

There you have it~ pure randomness!

Hope you have a very happy weekend!!!

*Please note some links may be affiliate links, which means that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

A Few Hours in Saugatuck

Autumn in Saugatuck

There are seriously so many cute stores in downtown Saugatuck, Michigan, that it was difficult to make a short-list (because, of course, I have a list). Nonetheless, here are my suggestions if you only have a  few hours. Autumn is the perfect time to go for a stroll in this cute and artsy village.  It is considerably easier to find a parking spot and, well, the picture above demonstrates the pure beauty of it all. One word to the wise, Saugatuck truly is on its own time, so just because a store opens at 10am one day, doesn’t necessarily mean it will open at 10am the next day (because some days, we all just need that extra cup of coffee).

Saugatuck Uncommon GroundsSpeaking of which, after parking, head to Uncommon Coffee Roasters, because no Saturday morning stroll is complete without that cup of coffee in hand. Also, if you brought the kids and decide to head to my next suggestion, you will need the caffeine.

Saugatuck Toy Store

The Teeny Tiny Toy Store is a must with children. As the name suggests, it is, well, tiny. Nonetheless, there are oh-so-many good toys in the store that you will likely finish your grande vanilla latte and your children will still be finding new toys that they absolutely need.

Saugatuck Landsharks

And then, to make your husband happy, you could head across the street to Landsharks to get geared up for sporting events, ski trips, Michigan souvenir shirts (my favorite!), etc, etc.

Saugatuck Playground

Now, by this point, your children, okay fine, my children, will likely be bouncing off the walls (quite literally), so you can just walk a short block to the village park, deposit them there with your husband, and continue on your merry shopping way. Warning, there is a scary snake/worm at the entrance. While a little disconcerting at first, the snake/worm will grow on you and you will find yourself taking pictures of your children climbing it.

Saugatuck Brass AnchorThe Brass Anchor Co. is my new favorite shoppe in Saugatuck. The clothes are trendy yet classic, the mugs and framed prints make me giggle, the home decor is just my style, and I can easily find a gift for any host.

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Because you may just end up spending too much time at The Brass Anchor, you may just quickly want to pop into Wine Sellers of Saugatuck on your way back to the park to pick up a bottle or ten. There is quite a bit to choose from and also fun wine accessories. If you have more time, other wine options could include either the Tabor Hill or Fenn Valley wine tasting rooms.

Saugatuck PhilsFinally, after dragging your children from the playground, end your day at Phil’s. And get a burger. I do not typically order burgers when dining out, but I almost always order a burger from Phil’s because it is, in my opinion, by far the best burger in West Michigan. Oh, and if you become a regular, you may just get your name on the marque for your birthday or anniversary or graduation… You just never know.

 

Saugatuck is such a great village in winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Brace yourself for more Saugatuck posts because I’ve only scratched the surface and most definitely will have even more suggestions and unsolicited advice.

A Long Weekend in Northern Michigan

 

Mackinaw Road- MI water

Just look at this view! THIS is why I love Michigan. And this is just not even touching on all of the cute, gorgeous towns along the way (I’ll save that for next time) or the MANY activities we did not get too (more on that in a bit).

Mackinaw Road- Spanglish

Traverse City is a great town~ the downtown is nice, the food is delicious, and the views are spectacular. We had a voucher to use at The Grand Traverse Resort, so we decided to head up that way for a night… only to find out that our very close friends were also headed that way. Major bonus! We all had someone to play with~ always a good thing. Here are some places we hit up on this trip.

Mackinaw Road- Fairy Trails

Spanglish and The Fairy Trails: We met up at Spanglish, a restaurant in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons; this place has an interesting history. It used to be the Traverse City State Hospital and before that it was the Northern Michigan Asylum. The Village has been renovated and is just a really neat place to visit with various shops, restaurants, and beautiful grounds. Anyway, back to Spanglish, I don’t know if it was having to keep kids happy in a car all morning or that is was later in the lunch hour, but I was hungry. The tostada I ordered was tasty. Fueled up and ready to go, the nine of us headed out to the Fairy Trails in search of fairy houses. The kids were thoroughly entertained and needed constant reminders to stick by the parents~ hiking is in a favorite activity amongst this crew! After our somewhat chilly trek, we headed inside to get some hot chocolate and warm up.

Mackinaw Road- Bonobo

Bonobo and Jolly Pumpkin: Bonobo winery on the Old Mission Peninsula is a must. The views are spectacular and the kids (and adults) were completely entertained with the Scrabble tiles provided. (Side note: An adults-only trip on the wine trail on the Old Mission Peninsula would be another really fun trip to TC. Next time.) Jolly Pumpkin was next on our list for dinner. It didn’t disappoint. The Jolly Pumpkin is a staple on all of our trips to TC. Any restaurant that brings warm potato chips and aioli to the table is bound to be a winner in my book.

Mackinaw Road- TumbleweedsMackinaw Road- Dylan's Candy Bar

The Grand Traverse Resort: We often stay here in May for a conference, so this wasn’t our first stay. It is a great resort complete with a spa, pool with a slide, tennis courts, golf course, workout facility, etc, etc. This resort is great because if one adult is with the children while the other is, say, working, the other adult is able to entertain the kids within the hotel grounds. Tumbleweeds, complete with all the good Melissa and Doug toys, is a favorite of ours. They even have a toy kitchen, fake food, and puzzles out for the kids to try. I typically stop for a coffee and then take the kids to the store. Another favorite is Dylan’s Candy Bar. So.Many.Yummy.Choices. Mud Pie is also a fun kids and home store located within the hotel.

Mackinaw Road- Mackinaw Bridge

The next day, the four of us headed even farther up north on our own to Mackinaw City to catch the ferry to Mackinaw Island. Just a little word to the wise.. if you are going in the fall, bring your hats and mittens. It can get cold on the boat ride over. When we got off the ferry, we were greeted by a cute downtown complete with all kinds of fudge shops and horse-drawn carriages. Because cars are not allowed on the island, people get around mostly by foot, bike, or carriage (note: it may take some time to get used to the smells that come with this). We walked the few blocks up to The Grand (all luggage from the ferry is delivered to your hotel). It was quite stately and there is so much history behind it that I’m not going to even try to go into it in this post. I am, however, committed to watching Somewhere in Time, which was filmed on the island. Below are some brief descriptions of what we did on this trip. We already have our list for next time.

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The Grand Hotel: If you are staying at The Grand Hotel with children, they have a great green space out front (by the pool) that includes croquet, bocce ball, and bean bag toss~ all great activities for the kids. They also have two game rooms in the hotel- one with more teenage-geared games and one with a cute picnic table with board games, paper, and crayons/markers/colored pencils for the younger ones.Mackinaw Road- The GrandI also attempted both breakfast and dinner with my two kids. They actually did quite well and made it through the 5 course meal! It is quite an experience to dine in the main room. If you are staying at The Grand, don’t skip it. And be sure to bring your Proper Attire.Mackinaw Road- The Grand

Biking: Rent a bike to ride around the island. There are several places to stop for a picnic and many different plaques to read about the history of the island. My 6-year old was able to ride her own bike and my 3-year old was happy on a tandem bike. The views were breathtaking, and it is always good when our kids are able to move as part of the activity. If you are on the island without children or with older kids, you can choose to bike on the trails that are a bit more hilly.

 img_0647Mackinaw Road- MI bike ride

Mackinaw Road- Bike Ride

Downtown: Plan to spend an hour or so (depending on how much you like to shop) downtown. Sample the fudge and pick some up for all of your loved ones back home. There are also some historic buildings and churches downtown or close to the downtown that you may want to check out. We are talking 1800’s brand of history.

Well- that’s it! Our 3 day trip to Northern Michigan.

Mackinaw Road- MI swing