Showing posts with label Michigan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michigan. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Hotel Saugatuck is a Hidden Gem

 

Lynn and I enjoyed our fresh breakfast of omelets and muffins. It was delivered right to our room at Hotel Saugatuck in Michigan so we got to stay in the comfortable bathrobes a bit longer.


We wished we could stay longer, but we did decide to explore before leaving. The suites are quite big and it had a Jacuzzi tub, microwave, and small refrigerator.

We brought our luggage down to the lobby. The Inn was inviting with a fireplace and piano and the staff was friendly and helpful.

The cottages across the driveway were occupied so I didn’t get to see them, but they looked adorable from the outside.

The Michigan town of Saugatuck includes a quaint town and quiet beaches. We decided to take a drive to Oval Beach.

Lynn and I spent most of our lives on Long Island in New York so we weren’t quite sure what to expect from a Michigan beach. 




Honestly, the water was more inviting than the Atlantic Ocean, without the seaweed and waves, and with the beautiful blue color.

The other thing that you don’t usually see on Long Island is a snack bar and shop in the middle of the beach. What was the same were the people lounging and swimming, and sailboats in the background.


I sat down to rest a while Lynn walked along the beach. We had a long drive home, though, so we didn’t stay too long.

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Michigan, especially along the Great Lakes. I wish I had more time to explore more of the towns there. There are so many great towns and beautiful beaches.

I will be back.



Sunday, September 30, 2018

Mackinac to Saugatuck



It was a beautiful morning on Mackinac Island, where my friend, Lynn, and I were staying at the Grand Hotel.

Fortunately, we weren’t in a hurry to leave and could enjoy the hotel and the island until the afternoon.

We went to the main dining room for another breakfast with just about anything you could possibly want. We were always greeted with a fresh, warm basket of baked breads and pastries.

Everything was delicious and the service spot on.

  

We took our time and packed up our room at the Grand Hotel, enjoying a little time on the balcony taking in the spectacular view for the last time.

After we checked out, we took the horse drawn carriage to downtown, where our luggage would be store while we walked around.

Downtown Mackinac Island is filled with shops for souvenirs, clothing, and fudge. I certainly couldn’t leave without taking some with me.

We decided on the Pink Pony, a well-known bar and grill, for lunch before we got on Shepler’s Ferry back to St. Ignace.



The ride was smooth and quick and we were soon in the car driving to Michigan’s lower peninsula. I had arranged for us, rather than take an eight-hour drive home, to stay over night in Saugatuck, about halfway in between.

The Hotel Saugatuck is a beautiful property on the Kalamazoo River, just a few minutes from the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

It’s a bed & breakfast with attention to luxurious details. In addition to the rooms, there are cottages across the parking lot, for a total of 18 accommodations.

The entrance to the hotel is welcoming, with a fireplace and piano. We were taken to our suite, the Blue Star Room, which had its own fireplace.


One of the specialties of this hotel is that they bring to your room a homemade “sweet treat” each night. For our stay it was blueberry mousse).

I wasn’t feeling well after a long day and decided to stay in and rest. Lynn went on her own for a drive to check out the area.

I would still have the next day to see more of Saugatuck.  

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Best of Mackinac Island

It was a beautiful morning on a most amazing island.

I fell in love with Mackinac Island on my first trip and this time was no different. My friend, Lynn, and I had arrived at the Grand Hotel the day before and were ready to explore.


Most of the people who stay at this resort take the dinner and breakfast package, and that’s what the hotel had provided for us.

After taking some time to once again enjoy the view from our balcony, we headed to the main dining room.

The buffet at the Grand Hotel, from which I decided to take a little of a few different items to have with a smoothie and coffee, was extensive, as was the menu. 

Included were items such as Apricot Cream Cheese Brioche French Toast and steak and eggs. The basket of freshly baked breads was also always on the table.

After breakfast, we headed down to the front entrance. Mackinac Island does not have motorized vehicles. Instead of asking the bellman to get a cab, we needed to get a horse drawn carriage to bring us downtown.

We were going to spend the day with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. I had done the tour previously and it’s the perfect way to get a real feel for the island.

The tour had changed some since the last time I took it as it had a stop in the middle for shopping and a carriage change. It still covered all of the highlights of this one-of-a-kind island.


We saw the sites on Market Street as Mackinac’s history came to life. We went to the Parade Ground, and saw some of the town’s Bed & Breakfast accommodations and stores. Then, we went to Mackinac Island State Park and Fort Mackinac for the most breathtaking spots in the Midwest.


After the tour, we checked out a few stores and picked up some fudge. Mackinac Island is famous for its fudge and you can get samples and purchase unique flavors at a dozen different shops.


When we returned to the Grand Hotel, we stopped at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, where we enjoyed local flavors, Mackinac Island Fudge and Michigan Deer Traxx (Peanut butter cup and chocolate fudge in vanilla ice cream).


It was time for a rest before another delicious dinner that included pork chops and filet, with all the trimmings and a delicious dessert.

Then, we headed out to the porch, enjoying some wine on our final night on Mackinac Island.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Welcome Return to Mackinac Island


I was enjoying my time in the UP of Michigan and it got even better when my friend, Lynn, joined me. We have known each other for 30 years and have done many trips together in the last 10.

We woke up at the Alger Falls Motel in Munising and got ready to hit the road. Our final stop was one of my favorite places in the world, Mackinac Island.

Along the way, we veered off to a few places that had scenic overlooks. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the lake and the landscapes, which includes waterfalls everywhere.

We stopped for lunch in Grand Marais, once again overlooking the water. It’s a quaint town, home of the Pickle Barrell Museum, I’d like to visit again someday.

From there we drove to Ferry from St. Ignace to take the ferry to Mackinac Island. This was my second trip to the Island I had so greatly loved a few years ago.

It’s hard to describe Mackinac Island to someone who hasn’t been, though you can get a good idea by watching the Christopher Reeve movie Somewhere in Time. It’s a place that has remained back in time, with no motorized vehicles allowed.


Mackinac Island is in the middle of Lake Huron and surrounded by natural beauty. You can only get there by boat. There are ferries from Mackinaw City in addition to the one we took from St. Ignace. The ride is only about 15 minutes.

I had made arrangements for us to stay at The Grand Hotel and its name says it all. It’s on the list of Historic Hotels of America and certainly deserves to be there.

There was a horse and buggy waiting at the pier when we arrived. We climbed inside and they put our luggage on another horse drawn cart to take us to the hotel.

We were immediately mesmerized by the longest porch in the world, sparkling white and adorned with flags. You can also see the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge from the hotel.

Inside, we were greeted and taken to our room, which was beautifully decorated. Each of the 397 rooms has its own personality. There was a box of Mackinac Island Fudge waiting for us, a reminder of the dozen different fudge shops on the island. We also had a beautiful view from our balcony.

After a rest, we dressed for dinner, which is a must at the Grand. Most of those in the dining room adhered to a semi-formal attire for the white glove service.

The waiters were very attentive and we had a spectacular five-course dinner. It started with a grilled pineapple and ham appetizer, continued with salads, had cream of mushroom and gazpacho soups, included Beef Medalions and Spinach Asiago Ravioli, and ended with a delicious Marshmallow Nutella Bread Pudding for Lynn and cheesecake for me.

The menu changes every night, with choices in every section. It reminded me a bit of staying at the Catskills when I was younger. This was a lot more formal and I didn’t mind at all. It’s nice to dress up and be waited on once in a while!

After dinner, we went outside to see the sunset. It was too cloudy, but it was a warm night and we sat on the porch and listened to the music played in the parlor inside.

It was the perfect way to end our first day back on Mackinac Island.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Birthday Along Pictured Rocks

It was my birthday and I planned to spend it enjoying the beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I was staying at the Alger Falls Motel in Munising. The tourism board had arranged a two boat rides for me the day before and I had another one to go. It was a beautiful day for it too.


The Pictured Rocks Cruises is the one I was looking forward to the most because it highlights the most beautiful rock formations in this area.

I had the tour scheduled for the morning and it did not disappoint. The sites are just breathtaking, from Miners Castle to Painted Coves and Lovers Leap. It reminded me a lot of some of the things
I saw in Los Cabos, Mexico.

There were kayakers below us seeing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from a whole different angle. I have to admit I was a bit jealous that I wasn’t able-bodied enough to join them.

After I got off the ship, I decided to take a drive around town. Munising is a fairly small town considering it has one of the most spectacular spots in the Midwest.

There are local shops and restaurants along the main road. I looked around a little and stopped at the Frozen Flamingo for ice cream.




Before I headed back to the motel for a rest, I went to Horseshoe Falls. I heard it was one of the most accessible of the many waterfalls in this area and that was true.

Horseshoe Falls has an easy to follow walking path to and around the falls. I loved the signs along with way with Native American sayings, as well as information about the falls. There is also a large spring that comes into the area.

I picked up my friend Lynn from Escanaba airport in the evening. I had looked around for a restaurant for a nice birthday dinner and found one not far from there in Gladstone.

The Freshwater Tavern had both atmosphere, overlooking Lake Michigan, and delicious food (even the rolls).

Before we headed back to the Alger Motel in Munising, we took a scenic drive along Lake Superior for the sunset.  

Although my time in this town was coming toward, there was lots more Michigan to come.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lakes of Beauty in Munising


My first trip up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was in the wintertime. I took a ride to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and, even in winter, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. 


I vowed to come back and explore this area more and it seemed like an ideal way to spend my birthday.


I left Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee and drove through Wisconsin to the UP. I had decided that Munising was a base for me to start and it was the right choice.

It was near sunset when I arrived at the Alger Falls Motel. The Munising tourism board had set me up there for two nights. The rooms were large and the location was central.

 


I was a bit hungry and decided to go for something local. I drove down to Muldoon’s and had my very first Pastie, a local favorite they were known for.

 A pasty is a hand pie looks like a cross between a turnover and a calzone, or for those who have been to the U.K., a meat pie. I decided I was not in a beef mood and got one vegetable, and one apple for dessert.



I took my pasties down to the Munising dock. It was a beautiful scene of boats and glistening water, and the perfect way to end the day.

After a full night’s sleep back at the motel, I was ready for an extremely full day in Michigan. Lake Superior was the center of it all and the turquoise water was waiting for me.

 


First up was a fairly new attraction, the Munising Pirate Cruise. It was a warm, beautiful day for this family filled cruise.

It was a nice combination of pirate fun for the kids and adult sightseeing. I enjoyed watching and photographing both as we went up Grand Island and back along the cost of Pictured Rocks.

 


It was even more beautiful than I had imagined. I saw the Grand Island lighthouses, old and new, and rock formations that could only be made by nature.

I grew up near the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about enjoying life on Long Island, but the idea of these calm, clear, colorful, hurricane and shark-free waters of the great lakes appeals to me much more.

 


After the boat ride, I had most of the day free until another cruise in the evening. I headed back to the motel for some rest and then out to a late lunch/early dinner.

I decided on a local favorite, Dogpatch, for the salad bar and delicious pulled pork.


Despite rain in the forecast, it was ideal evening weather for the Shipwreck Tours with a glass bottom boat.

The boat was going in the same directions as the morning one, but the itinerary and purpose was different. We were going to see many of the shipwrecks left in these clear waters of this Great Lake.

 


The windows on the bottom of the ship were large and clear and it was easy to see the wrecks. The boat went in and out of some of the Grand Island caves, even stopping in one for us to get a closer look, as well as selfies.

The formations of these caves were a work of art. I was looking forward to seeing the ones on the other side, at Pictured Rocks, the next day.

 


I was extremely relaxed on this amazing body of water and had another peaceful night sleep. I was excited that I had more days to explore the wonders of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Luxuriating in Bay Harbor

It didn’t take me long to feel relaxed and comfortable at the Inn at Bay Harbor, a hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy Autograph Collection. 

My suite was perfect, and I had slept well. I was ready to take the relaxation to another level.

My day was wide open with the exception of the start of it -- at The Spa.
I arrived a few minutes before my appointment for the Ginger Glow treatment. 

I changed into my luxurious robe and sat down with a cup of tea in the quiet waiting area.




The Ginger Glow is one of the signature offerings at the Inn at Bay Harbor, and I can certainly understand why its so popular. I could easily rename it “Heaven on Earth.”

It began with a scrub made of ginger, with a hint of eucalyptus, to get rid of the dead cells on my skin. 



After that was rinsed off, I had a full body massaged with a ginger oil and hot stones.

The next part was probably my favorite as arthritis always has me seeking warmth: my whole body was wrapped in a warm robe-like cocoon while I received a scalp massage.
When the spa experience was done, I was ready to take a nap, but I was too hungry to do so. It was late for breakfast at the resort and 

I asked one of the drivers to take me to the Marina.

It's a free perk if you are looking to go around Bay Harbor and don’t want to walk or bike along the beach path. 

I saw a sign in front of the Original Pancake House for their famous Apple Pancake. 
I decided to go inside and, with a side of eggs for some protein. 


I managed to get through less than half of the scrumptious treat. (Of course, I brought the rest back to my room.)


I asked the driver to give me a little tour on the way back to my hotel suite.


In addition to the main lodge, there are also 35 cottages on the property. 

They are two and three-bedrooms each, and popular for family reunions, girlfriend getaways, and golf weekends.

Guests have the option of playing at the Bay Harbor Golf Club, an award winner with 27 holes along the shoreline, or the 18-hole championship course at Crooked Tree.

Golf is available in three seasons.

 In the winter, guests can do cross-country skiing and snow shoeing, or arrange to head to the sister properties, Boyne Highlands or Boyne Mountain, for downhill skiing.

In the afternoon, I took a drive to Charlevoix (about 20 minutes away). I stopped at one of their beautiful beaches before heading to the quaint downtown to visit one of my favorite Michigan stores, Cherry Republic. 






I picked up two bags of cherry goodies (especially the Cherry Fudge Sauce my daughter loves).

Brittany and Jamie came back to the hotel to join me for our final night in Michigan. 

We decided to stay on property and relax with s’mores by the fire pit in front of the beach. (I also decided to stick with some leftover cheese for dinner as I had enough snacking.) 
It’s just one of the free activities the Inn at Bay Harbor offers its guests.

Before leaving the next day, I had a delicious breakfast of Blueberry Pancakes and conversation with Erin Ernst, Director of Communications for the Boyne properties.

Then it was time to head south, back to Illinois. It was good to be going home, but I was also happy that I’d be going back to beautiful Michigan in just a few short weeks.