On a recent trip to Leland, Michigan, I was able to join in the festivities as Maggie Revel Mielczarek celebrated 5 years of Leland Gal in Fishtown. Maggie and I met years ago (i.e., before kids) at Bunco. (If you love to talk but don’t love learning card game rules, this is the activity for you :-). Continue reading Leland Gal
I recently visited Leland, Michigan. I hadn’t been in years but was excited to visit and join in Leland Gal’s 5 year anniversary. And, honestly, it’s Northern Michigan… you really can’t go wrong up there. The water is a shade all its own and is as clear as can be. There is a very relaxed beach town vibe complimented by good old Midwestern friendliness. Continue reading What to do in Leland, Michigan
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
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).
Speaking 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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Finally, 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.
If you have lived in Michigan or visited Michigan or are thinking about traveling to Michigan, come in mid-to-late July and Early August. Not only is the weather typically gorgeous, but the blueberries are plentiful and divine. Rarely do blueberries make it into a pie or muffins or smoothie at our house… they are just that good. However, my son (also known as The Captain) and I needed an activity as well as a little snack to bring to a playdate, so we decided to make some muffins. We used Ina Garten’s recipe for Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins from her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook as a jumping off point but then changed some things based on our tastes and, honestly, what we had in the house. (You can find her original recipe here.) Even my daughter (aka, The Princess) had one after school and said “just smell this!” To me, from my not-at-all-interested-in-baking-or-eating daughter, this was a HUGE compliment. So, here you have it folks, my travel-to-Michigan-in-late-summer-inspired plug. (If there is no way you can make it to Michigan for blueberry season (please, please try though!), I’m sure any blueberry will work just fine.)
What to Do: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with paper liners.
In a mixer, mix 12 tbsp of room-temperature butter with 1 1/2 cups of sugar for about 5 minutes. Mix in 3 eggs, 2 tsp of almond extract, 1/4 cup of milk, and 1 cup of Siggis vanilla yogurt. Then add 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp of salt until just mixed. Add 2 cups of Michigan blueberries and gently (gently, gently) stir in the blueberries with a spatula. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. Using this recipe, we were able to make about 15 muffins.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.I 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.
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.
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.