Oh my! Mr. G.Q. and I just returned from a one week fall foliage trip around Lake Michigan and the colors were SPECTACULAR! We started in Northfield, which is a northern suburb of Chicago and headed north through Wisconsin, and then went east through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and then we traveled home via western Michigan. Here is a post showing you some of our fun stops along the way.
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin: Our first night was spent in the most southern town on Door County Peninsula. We stayed at a bed and breakfast named the Inn at Cedar Crossing. I have stayed here several times pre-Covid and unfortunately, due to this, the inn was quite modified. Usually, they serve a delicious breakfast, but not this time. The rooms are usually decorated in a Victorian style but due to the pandemic, the room was quite spartan. Every hotel we stayed in had white linens, a white blanket, and no frills.
We did dine at the restaurant in the hotel where we had a delicious dinner. Because breakfast offerings the next morning were basically cold cereal, or yogurt, we decided to head over to Scaturo’s bakery. This was no hardship as the four photos above suggest. Mr. G.Q. LOVES sweet rolls, so he ended up delighted to go to this lovely bakery/restaurant. He bought himself a delicious pecan roll, a raspberry danish, and a donut. I had a cherry granola cookie which I figured was obviously a wonderful selection, that counted as a fruit!
Marquette, Michigan: After a four hour drive through pouring non-stop rain, we stayed the second night at the Landmark Inn in Marquette. It was a nice enough spot for one evening and it had the requisite white linens of this time in our lives. We went on a scenic walk through through the old town along the water and had a great Mexican dinner at Sol Azteca downtown. Lovely servers, delicious and fast service in an upbeat, clean, colorful, cozy spot.
Traverse City, Michigan: Now this was our longest day of driving. Mr. G.Q. drove six hours from Marquette, Michigan all the was across the Upper Peninsula to Traverse City. We drove across the Mackinaw Island bridge, continued through the towns of Petoskey, and Charlevoix, and ended in Traverse City. Since this was our first time in this part of Michigan, we of course could have stopped in any of these towns for a visit. But, we decided to land in Traverse City and use it as our base for the next few days. (We plan to make another trip to see Mackinac Island and Petoskey.) Along this long day of driving we were so impressed by the wonderful fall colors. As a native Chicagoan, I have seen many fall trees. What’s so neat about this trip, is Michigan has so MANY MORE GORGEOUS TREES than Chicago! They go on forever! And the hills are so picturesque. We were on literally hundreds of miles of winding roads that were entirely tree-lined. Sadly, it rained much of the time and since Mr. G.Q. did all of the driving, I took quite a few cat naps along the way. EVERY time, I awoke to even prettier landscapes of trees!
Just to keep you oriented along our route, the next day we back-tracked to Charlevoix. This quaint town had a darling breakfast all day restaurant called the Harbor View Cafe. From the outside, it didn’t look like much but, inside it was sweet with these bright, colorful paintings and delicious food. I had an excellent gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and Mr. G.Q. enjoyed a delicious egg scramble with loads of chopped bacon. Again it was raining, but we managed to buy some darling books for the now FOUR grandbaby boys (!) at the Round Lake Bookstore. The shop is small, but cutely displayed with lovely, helpful staff. We also stopped in the American Spoon shop where we purchased lots of cherry and apricot preserves. All are made in small batches in Petoskey, Michigan which is a bit north of Charlevoix. This area is known for its cherries, blueberries and apricots.
Back to Traverse City:
My sweet friend, Larry Hanson and my great brother, Larry Marshall each had quite a few suggestions about this area, so we took their suggestions to heart in our itinerary. Larry Hanson actually has a home on Traverse City on the Old Mission Peninsula. As the next few photos suggest, it’s a romantic, gorgeous drive ending in the classic old white Mission Point Lighthouse. There are many wineries, farm stands, cherry orchards and as stated above, many, many fall trees.
The next notable spot in the Traverse City area is the Leelanau Peninsula. This is another very scenic route that ends in a very cool destination. This is the site of Sleeping Dunes State Park. Usually one can drive the 27 mile famous road to see the dunes and actually stand atop this 1000 foot sand dune. Unfortunately, due to construction on the road, we instead had to hike through the woods for about 3/4 of a mile to see the dunes from afar. But it was totally worth the effort as you can see from my photos below.
While in Traverse City, we stayed at the Cambria Hotel. It was opened in 2009, so it was clean, up-to-date, and really organized with respect to all the Co-vid precautions. The front desk staff, were friendly and helpful for our two night stay. They actually suggested Sorellina’s as a terrific Italian dinner spot in downtown Traverse City. This was my favorite dinner of the trip. The second night we had a delicious French meal at Amical which ironically, is just across the street from Sorellina’s. For breakfast on our second morning we checked out Potter’s bakery in Traverse City. Mr. G.Q. did not go hungry as he had a delicious apple-cherry fritter and a chocolate donut before our hike to Sleeping Bear Dunes. I had a yummy cinnamon roll.
South Haven, Michigan
Again it was really windy, rainy and cold but we managed to go into the town and see the cute shops. There weren’t many of them, but all the shop owners were friendly and eager to serve. We stayed at the Old Harbor Inn. The staff was eager to please and the view of the harbor was terrific. The hotel itself is clean but really dated in its room layout, linens, etc. We lunched at a cute comfort food restaurant called Clementine’s and had dinner at Tello’s (Italian) and I enjoyed a delicious rocket salad and a squash and sage stuffed ravioli. Yum!
This was our last stop on our way home so we just walked around the town before driving home. This town seemed to have lots of outdoor dining spots and most were quite crowded. There were many shops to peruse including some art galleries. I spotted this neat bed and breakfast, the Wickwood Inn at which I hope to stay in the future as the owner is a cookbook author named Julee Rosso. That’s gotta’ be a good place to stay, don’t you think?
Well, there you have it. My recent itinerary around Lake Michigan this fall. The trip was well worth the time away. The towns were quaint and romantic. Dress warmly if you head up this way.
Happy Fall Weather!