Some of the best trips you take are the ones that were to a random place, had the least amount of planning and exceeded your expectations. My trip to Traverse City, Michigan was exactly that. A few weekends ago we decided to take a short one night trip to upper Michigan to get away from our day to day life and enjoy some time together with R. I had heard about Traverse City through a friend and after googling it and seeing few photos I booked us an Airbnb. With no general plan except where we were staying the night, we headed up north to Midwest’s number one small town to visit.
|(A few miles outside of Traverse City we drove down this scenic road)|
|(One of the cute homes on the street we were staying on )|
The drive from Chicago is about four to five hours along the main highways and tollways, far enough away but close enough in distance for a weekend away. Most nights I get home from work around 6 30pm so there was no way we were going to drive up Friday night after work. Instead we woke up earlier than usual for a Saturday, packed the car and got on the road. The autumn leaves had begun to change making for a colorful trip and scenery that reminded me of New England in the fall.
|(Selection of delicious pies)|
|(Grand Traverse Pie Company)|
A little after lunchtime we arrived at our Airbnb, a guest house attached to the main house and just a few blocks from the historic center of Traverse City. Our Airbnb host had bikes prepared for us in the backyard, a perfect way to get around town. Even though it was late October we had weather in the mid 50’s F / around 13 C with the sun shining. Having been in the car for a few hours we were both hungry so we got our bikes and rode to the center of town in search for food. We ended up at Grand Traverse Pie Company, a Michigan bakery offering the most delicious pies and baked goods. I ordered the beef pot pie with Italian Wedding soup and R had chicken pot pie with a slice of apple pie for dessert It was the perfect first meal of our trip and the pies were delicious.
|(Map of downtown Traverse City)|
|(Walking along the Boardman River)|
|Boardwalk along Boardman River|
Because Traverse City is a touristy town you can find a map of the area in almost every restaurant or store. We loosely used the map to navigate around but decided it would be more fun to spontaneous bike around and see what we would find. The Boardman River curves through town and you can walk along the boardwalk in most spots. We found a few picturesque spots and walked along the water’s edge. The crisp fall air was refreshing to breath in, a detox from the Chicago city air.
|(Filling Station Micro Brewery)|
|(Bike trail from town to the micro brewery)|
We had seen on the map there was a microbrewery that we hoped to find while biking, and with luck we did. Most of the town was quiet and empty but the Filling Station Micro Brewery was full of people drinking and enjoying each other’s company. We ordered our beers at the bar and sat down as the sun began to slowly set. I wanted to see the sun set over the lake so we finished our beers and made a quick stop at our guest house to grab our jackets. The sunset was beautiful to capture and allowed for me to play around with my camera and photography skills. I have been hoping to advance my knowledge of my camera, especially when it comes to using the manual options. Watching the sun set over the colorful treetop covered hills, I was filled with happiness that I had chosen to take this mini adventure. Once the sun set it definitely dropped a few degrees and felt like a cool autumn evening.
|(Left: Georgina's Fusion Cuisine; Right: Walking along the lake)|
|(Great Lakes Bath & Body)|
While traveling I love trying local food and restaurants. While shopping for candles at Great Lakes Bath & Body we asked the friendly manager which restaurant he thinks is the best place to have dinner. His response “Georgina’s, if you can get a table”. Challenge accepted. R and I purchased our candles and made our way toward Georgina’s, a creative Latin and Asian fusion restaurant. The place was packed when we walked i but the waitress said our wait could be around twenty minutes if we sat at the bar. After studying the menu we decided we both really wanted to eat here so why not wait. To our surprise we were seated within ten minutes of waiting. We each ordered a glass of wine and took in the lively yet intimate atmosphere. I had the Tostada de Lechon – Cuban pork served between to crunchy tortillas with beans and mozzarella and topped with fresh lettuce, salsa and a side of the rice and beans. Each bit was bursting with flavor, I could definitely make the drive back up to Traverse City to come back for more. R ordered the bistec milanesa, a beef tender pounded thinly, breaded with panko, baked with layers of ham and salami and cheese, topped with a tomato basil sauce. After the last drop of wine was drank we headed out to the beautifully lite streets of Traverse City. Every restaurant was filled with people and a wedding was in full swing as we slowly headed back to our guest house. The evening was topped off with the Chicago Cubs winning the game against the LA Dodgers, moving them on to the World Series. (spoiler alert: they won the World Series!!!!)
|(City Opera House - where you can find Great Lakes Bath & Body and Brew Cafe)|
Headed back to Chicago we decided to take a different route than the one we took coming up north. Side roads along the western edge of Michigan take you through the small towns along the coast and allowed for us to see more colorful foliage. Our first stop along scenic route 31 was in Manistee where we got to see one of the many lighthouses that you can find along Michigan’s coast. We couldn’t have asked for a better day – blue skies and the temperatures around 65F/18C, a rarity in Northern Michigan in October. Continuing back home we stopped one more time in Muskegon for lunch. Much to our disappointment a lot of the restaurants were closed on Sundays and we ended up grabbing a quick bite at a Culver’s (my first time at the fast food chain, and it was quite good).
|(Lighthouse in Manistee)|
|(Left: Life safety ring from Manistee; Right: The beautiful coast of Lake Michigan)|
|(Lake Michigan in Muskegon)|
|(Looking out towards Chicago from the other side of Lake Michigan)|
I want to take advantage of living in the Midwest and see as much possible of this region of the US while I still live here. Traverse City had exceeded my expectations and I will always look back at our mini adventure happily. Is there any place you went to that exceeded your expectations?
x the Adventurer