Sunday, August 16, 2009

Enjoying the Beauty of Northern Michigan

I just got through with an amazing, much-needed long weekend vacation.

Jason and I wanted to take a little trip to celebrate our first year together, so I checked into various places - Las Vegas or Florida (we decided it's just too hot this time of year) and Colorado (too expensive) before deciding it would be best to just spend a few days in our own state, supporting our local economy.

Boy am I glad we did decide to make our own Michigan adventure...We began our trip bright and early on Thursday and traveled through Grayling, where we stopped at a place I had discovered during some online research - Dawson & Stevens classic 50's diner. I'm a sucker for diners and 50's music and since this wasn't out of our way at all, we stopped for lunch (and a Boston Cooler). It was a lot of fun!

We continued our drive up the Leelanau Peninsula, stopping at a few wineries along the way to sample the local use of grapes. We winded through the infamous M-22 all the way up to the northern-most tip on the peninsula, a small town called Northport, where we tent camped for the night at the Leelanau State Park. We hiked to the beach through a beautiful forest, grilled hot dogs over a campfire and slept on an air mattress. My phone didn't get service and we were away from it the beauty of northern Michigan. I know camping isn't for everyone, but to me, it was a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the D.

We woke and packed up our camping supplies and headed down the peninsula once again, stopping to stroll around downtown Traverse City and chill at the beach to wash away the smell of campfire. We checked into our hotel (the unsexy, but totally economical, clean and friendly) Travelodge and showered to prep for a wine tour along Old Mission Peninsula. It was SO much fun! We stopped at nearly every spot along the way (it was like an adult treasure hunt), sampled some great wines and purchased enough wine to last us awhile...I don't know which winery I liked most - all had unique qualities and wonderfully-tasting vino. We closed out the night at the Blue Tractor (also in Ann Arbor) to taste the creative mac n' cheese and hit the hay early-ish, mostly due to our comfort food coma.

We woke early on Saturday to head to Ludington. We opted for the scenic route along M-22 instead of the straight route down US-31 (if you're a Michigander, you need to make this drive). We enjoyed the cute beach towns along the way, stopping a few times at random places that caught my antique-and-craft-loving eye and to picnic at a beautiful scenic turnout overlooking Lake Michigan. In Ludington, we enjoyed the beach again and supported the local beer hot spot - the Jamesport Brewery (amazing blueberry-infused beer) and a downtown dive bar where Jason and I competed in a trivia game for a few hours (it was fun for us!). Our motel, the Four Seasons, was quiet, quaint and most importantly inexpensive and close to everything.
Overall, it was a great and romantic getaway. At the end of the trip, it was refreshing to think about how much we were able to relax and enjoy our amazing state and reflected on why we need to have more pride for living here year-round.


EstrellaBella10 said...

Let me tell you how jealous I am that you went on this excursion! My goal this summer was to do a similar trip through various northern Michigan cities, and that's not going to happen until next summer. I can't wait to try the wine you brought back for me!

Becky Babcock said...

Hi Lauren! Just catching up on your life! Glad you enjoyed Mich., we feel the same way when we do that... the hotel, Four Seasons, is about 1/4 of a mile from my grandma's house. I love Ludington, one of my favorite spots!