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.