|Crossing the Ohio River on a beautiful September day|
Michigan is less about rivers than lakes. We were headed for Traverse City, known to be a foodie town up north on Traverse Bay. The idea: find adventures, learn something, and eat some good food.
Traverse City was warm and breezy when we arrived at the Cherry Warehouse Loft we had rented through vrbo.com. On Lake Avenue near Boardman Lake, we were three blocks from Front Street with all the many shops and restaurants and just four blocks from Grand Traverse Bay.
|Grand Traverse Bay|
|Outdoor dining at The Towne Plaza. Outstanding menu!|
|State Theater on Front Street|
We hoisted our luggage up the steps over the kitchen of the The Parlor Bar, unpacked and went downstairs for happy hour. We would be sleeping in the old cashier's office where cherry farmers used to sell their crops.
|Tuna bites and a taste of locally distilled bourbon|
The best thing about Northern Michigan is the outdoors. Lake Michigan is beautiful with light sand against water in all shades of blue, including ice blue in winter. From Traverse City, driving west to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Leelanau Peninsula is worth an investment of at least two full days.
From Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive we walked out to the shore for our first sighting of Lake Michigan.
|Lake Michigan near Empire, MI in September 2016|
|Lake Michigan north of Empire, MI in September 2016|
|Hiking for the long views on Empire Bluff Trail|
|Sleeping Bear Dunes in the distance from Empire Bluff Trail|
|Lake Michigan from the top of Sleeping Bear Dunes|
|Chldren enjoying Sleeping Bear Dunes Park|
The pastoral green peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan on the west and Grand Traverse Bay to the east, rich with lovely views. And along the way, several smaller lakes, Little and Big Glen Lakes and North and South Lake Leelanau added more and more blue.
We drove the Wine Trail's Northern Loop, which includes eleven wineries and found a favorite Pinot Grigio at Blustone Vineyards which we could later enjoy for dinner at the Red Ginger in Traverse City.
|Blustone Vineyards on a high spot, Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan|
|Fish and Chips on the water at Cove in Leland, MI|
|Diana and Traylor celebrating 45 years on the 45th Parallel|
Back in Traverse City, we settled on The Filling Station for dinner, an old train station turned microbrewery and pizza restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating. Extremely filling...
|Pizza with locally grown Japanese Eggplant|
|Large Salads and Craft Beer|
Another fishing town on Lake Michigan is Frankfort, southwest of Traverse City. We headed that way the next day, looking for the The Betsy Valley Trail for a bike ride around Crystal Lake.
|Crystal Lake in Beulah, MI|
|Where the water is indeed crystal clear|
We biked the trail almost to Frankfort then returned to Beulah for a Deli-style picnic lunch from Folgarelli's Market and Wine Shopwe had packed before leaving the city.
|Picnic lunch from Folgarelli's Market and Wine Shop in Traverse City|
|Pier at Beulah, MI|
|Beach at Beulah, MI|
We later drove out to Frankfort and explored the town, its neighborhoods and wide inviting beach.
|Neighborhood in Frankfort, MI|
|Downtown, Frankfort, MI|
|Beach, Frankfort, MI|
|Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City|
Finally, back in Traverse City for the night, we walked to dinner at the Red Ginger restaurant on Front Street where we had a top-notch Asian dinner that was not all fish.
|Tuna Sashimi at Red Ginger|
|Kung Pao Halibut|
|Thai Salad with Petite Filet Mignon|
It feels a little creepy at times, looking around at the interior, thinking of how the mentally ill lived, but it's full of art and lighthearted activities now. Excellent and creative Italian food And someone must still buy fur coats.
|Fine art created from tiny stitches|
Due north of Traverse City, the long and narrow Old Mission Peninsula that splits the Grand Traverse Bay is worth exploring, too. Saturday was a brooding sort of cloudy day with calm water. We stopped by Chateau Grand Traverse and had a tasty glass of red on the patio before driving out to the end of the peninsula.
We learned that Michigan is third largest producer of apples in the U.S. after New York and Washington State. They increasingly plant high-intensity orchards heavily pruned.
|Apple orchard on Old Mission Peninsula, MI|
|Mission Table salad with all local ingredients|
Never knew we would enjoy Michigan so much. Travel is something one should never put off. So on we go, across the bridge to St. Ignace on the upper peninsula, next stop Mackinaw Island, like going back in time...........