Tour de Michigan

I’m fortunate to work for a company that offers (and actually encourages) taking vacation when you need it. Thanks to this, I was able to spend 28 days in my home state. I worked remotely for a few days of the trip, but for three solid weeks, I was completely checked out and offline.

Days 1–3

San Francisco airport · Flint airport · Fenton · Brighton · Vassar · Midland · Gaylord · Mackinac Bridge · Munising

I flew from San Francisco to Flint to hang out in Fenton with my friend Caitlin. I was excited to spend time with her and see this cute town she calls home. We had drinks and snacks at Fenton Winery and Brewery and had dinner with my sister Olivia and her boyfriend Terry at the Brighton Grill. I love cute little downtowns, and both Fenton and Brighton are adorable. I rarely spend time in the East side of Michigan when I’m home, so the first few days of my trip were a unique and special experience.

Left: my first experience at a United Club, ORD | Chicago · Right: I’ve always wanted to fly into PDX because of #PDXcarpet, but Flint’s airport carpet was pretty cool, too!

The following day, I had lunch at The Laundry, dessert at Crust in Fenton and drinks at The Rough Draught with Caitlin and her friend Laura. I’ve been hearing about Laura for years and I’m so glad were finally able to meet! I’ve also been hearing about the fabulous food in Fenton, and Caitlin and Laura’s favorite spots did not disappoint.

Left: mugs on the wall at Fenton Winery & Brewery · Center: exploring Fenton with Caitlin and Laura · Right: playing with Megan’s daughter Auden

We headed to Vassar to see my lovely cousin Megan, her husband Evan, and her delightful daughters Luna (4) and Auden (1). They were as cute and sweet as ever, and I got to see Megan’s new additions: a playhouse, a vegetable garden, and a cabana on her back deck. From there, we drove to Midland to stay at my sister Melissa and brother-in-law Derek’s house. We spent time with their adorable dog Blue and rested up for our trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

We left Midland for Marquette the next day and made stops for coffee and doughnuts at Cops & Doughnuts in Gaylord. We attempted (and failed) to take cute selfies of us eating maple bacon doughnuts when we arrived at the Mackinac Bridge, and then continued on to Munising for lunch. The UP is remote but beautiful. After lunch in Munising, we saw the Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior before driving to Marquette.

Days 3–5

In Marquette, we checked in to our hotel and went downtown to meet up with the rest of the Michigan Beer Show crew: Brandon, Tony, Ashley and Brandon’s friend Griffin, who is a Marquette resident.

Left: The Marq restaurant in downtown Marquette · Right: the stage setup at Forestville
Left: Tony, Ashley, me, Caitlin, Brandon — the Michigan Beer Show crew! · Right: the Mackinac Bridge in the rain and fog

We had dinner at The Marq, a fabulous farm-to-table restaurant, and learned that there is a shrimp (and other seafood) farm in Okemos, Michigan—right next to our hometown of Haslett! The Marq was adorable, delicious and we had excellent service. Dinner (several shared plates and some fancy entrees) and drinks totaled less than $200 for six people!

Forestville, a music-food-beer festival (aka my favorite) took place the next day. We had a great time meeting beer enthusiasts, trying some new creations, and enjoying treats from the taco truck, the hot dog stand, and the wood-fired pizza tent #dietstartstomorrow.

We wrapped up the weekend at Third Street Bagel for breakfast, followed by a pint of beer at Blackrocks Brewery across the street. Tony and Brandon were recording episodes of the Michigan Beer Show in the brewery, so we sat and watched/listened for a while before hitting the road to head back downstate. I spent a few days working remotely in Haslett before starting my three-week vacation in Northern Michigan.

Days 5–28

I spent ten glorious days in Elk Rapids at Grant’s cottage with his family. We were able to see our friends Kerry and Jeff—we met them while working in advertising in Detroit, made fun memories with them in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe while they lived on the West Coast, and now enjoy visiting them in their new home of Traverse City. Jeff left a job in banking in San Francisco to start Great Lakes Malting in Northern Michigan. We’re very excited for him—craft beer is such a huge part of Michigan culture and industry, and a malting business is a great addition to the scene.

The rest of the time, we relaxed on the Hawkins tritoon boat in the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay, biked to downtown Elk Rapids, explored wineries (Mari Vineyards), breweries, food and a secret garden on Old Mission Peninsula, attended a concert in an art park, kayaked Lake Michigan, and snorkeled around a 130-year-old shipwreck off of Old Mission Peninsula.

We met my parents at Little Fleet food truck park in downtown Traverse City before heading to Brengman Brothers for wine tasting in Leelanau County. From there, we went to Mitten Brewing Co. in Northport and enjoyed walking around yet another adorable Michigan town.

For the next several days, we spent time at my family cottage in Leland, kayaking, sailing, swimming, boating, and relaxing in both Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau. We wandered around the lovely Fishtown and hiked Pyramid Point, explored Glen Haven, Point Betsie Lighthouse, and downtown Frankfort. There, we visited Stormcloud Brewing, which was just named the top new brewery in Michigan, before continuing on to Longview Winery in Cedar for wine, beer, cocktails, and dinner.

Our trip was such a fun, relaxing time and both Grant and I agree that it was our favorite vacation ever.

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