We’re so fortunate to have friends in Traverse City. They’re long-time friends of mine who are also fabulous people living in one of my favorite northern Michigan towns. So I was excited to recently make the trek north for a weekend getaway. Besides summertime in northern Michigan is one of the best seasons. Everything seems prettier, more relaxed and fun when you head north for a break from the craziness of working in metro Detroit.
We decided to head west toward Grand Rapids on the way so Justin could attend a beer release at Perrin Brewing Company. It was a beautiful Michigan summer day so I was up for the drive and checking out a new brewery. Perrin is located in Comstock Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids. It seems a little off the beaten path but easy to find. There is a nice selection of beer. I enjoyed Ain’t No Sunshine, a flavorful Belgian ale and their Razzberry Blonde. Justin tried the new release of No Rules, a Vietnamese Porter. I’m not typically a fan of dark beers, but found this to be a smooth, easy drink too. Perrin’s food menu isn’t large but offered enough options, and our choices good.
After a relaxing lunch, we headed north to Traverse City. Our friends provided a delicious Mexican themed dinner, then we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and warm weather to visit Empire to swim and watch the sun set over Lake Michigan. On our way, we stopped at Tiffany’s Ice Cream for yummy ice cream! The park was fairly busy when we arrived but we played in a small inland lake across from the Lake Michigan beach, which was very quiet. The water was warm and calm. Justin tried teaching me to skip stones across the water (he’s a pro!). I need some work on this. As the sun started to set, we walked across the parking lot to the beach, set up our chairs and settled in for the show. A group of paddle boarders headed out to enjoy the sunset from the water (Note: we were surprised, and disappointed, to see the lack of safety measures taken by this group. Only one of 12 paddle boarders carried any type of light source. It seemed so unsafe to me. How would someone be found in the dark waters if they needed help?). The sun was beautiful and peaceful on the lake. We happen to be outdoors for the Blue Moon. The moon appeared so large and clear above us. It was fun to watch it on our way home (a little tricky explaining to a four-year-old why it wasn’t blue!).
The Traverse City Film Festival was occurring this weekend so downtown Traverse City was busier than usual (which is typically pretty busy during summer!). Our first stop was to check out the Chalk Art & Chocolate event happening near the beach. Several artists were set up to draw chalk art along the sidewalks. As a bonus, a few local stores were selling samples of homemade chocolates. Yum! After we walked around the chalk art event, we wandered to the downtown area. Lunch was at 7 Monks Taproom, which serves good food and craft beer. It was a beautiful day to walk off our calories so we wandered through many of the stores along Front Street. My favorite was the Cherry Republic! The new, larger building houses all of their delicious products (chocolate covered cherries, trail mix, salsa, jam and more!), plus a new cafe, tasting bar (wine and soda pop) and ice cream bar. Is it any wonder that it’s one of my favorite stores?
Our friends live in a beautiful, quiet area outside of downtown Traverse City, which is perfect to relax in between our activities. You know you’re true friends when you all agree it’s nap time! After a short rest and walk through the neighborhood, we picked up sandwiches and headed to Frankfurt to watch another pretty sunset over Lake Michigan. The wind was a bit brisk this night so I didn’t go in the water. It was another awesome sunset to witness. So thankful for another day on this planet.
The next morning we decided to squeeze in another quick adventure before we departed. The skies were cloudy but we piled in the car and headed to Cedar for a quick stop (and tasting of course!) at Longview Winery to pick up some of our favorite wines. The clouds sprinkled rain on our way to Leland but we continued on. We realized when we arrived in Leland that we had just missed a big storm. Branches littered the ground and a big tree had toppled onto two cars! Thankfully no one was hurt. The power unfortunately went out shortly after we arrived, however, many stores remained open to visitors. We wandered around the small stores near the harbor. Lunch was at The Cove, where it seemed many people were taking refuge from another incoming storm. From our table on the second floor, we watched the clouds gather over Lake Michigan and the waves increase in size. I was happy to be inside a dry building and not on that lake! I adore Leland. It’s a quaint little town with small stores and friendly people. The charter boats to reach North and South Manitou Islands are found here, as well as plenty of fishing opportunities. Leland, known as Fishtown, still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in Michigan.
It was another great weekend in Traverse City and northern Michigan. I’m always so grateful to spend time with our friends and their amusing, sweet little girl. It’s a wonderful reminder of the great state I live in and the special people who fill my life.