Monday, August 19, 2013

Northern Michigan = HEAVEN

We just returned from a one-week vacation with my husband's family to Northern Michigan.  Although I have visited Traverse City and some surrounding towns several years ago for a long weekend, I have never spent enough time to truly appreciate this area's charm and beauty.  We stayed in a quaint cottage on Torch Lake, named by National Geographic Magazine magazine the world's 3rd most beautiful lake, behind Lake Geneva in Switzerland and Lake Louise in Canada! Torch Lake ranks 1st in water volume and 2nd in size among Michigan's inland lakes...According to this cute little lakeside restaurant, Dockside, some Torch Lake facts below:

Surface Area - 18,770 acres
Shoreline - 40.8 miles
Maximum Depth - 330 feet
Average Depth - 111 feet
Maximum With - 2.35 miles...

It is not an exaggeration to say that when you are cruising across the turquoise blue lake, looking through the crystal clear water at the sandy bottom, you feel like you are in the Caribbean (minus the palm trees and crazy drivers).  Kenny Chesney needs to write a song about this place!  In fact, while we were there, I learned that Kid Rock's "All Summer Long" references this lake....specifically, "It was summertime in Northern Michigan.... splashin' through the sandbar, talkin' by the campfire, its the simple things in life like when and where..."  Well said, Kid Rock.

The entire area has a very peaceful, remote, and private feeling.  This is not a place littered with typically touristy traps such as high rise hotels, McDonald's and amusement parks.  Rather, you will find plenty of cherry stands, birch trees, Petoskey stones, sand dunes, rustic lodging options, scenic lookout stops, and quaint little towns with local, (often artsy) businesses galore...Your cottage will likely have no A/C...yielding the tactile delights of peaceful cool breezes and soothing sounds of the waves courtesy of the open windows and fresh air.  Between the hours of 9:30-10:30 pm the Torch Lake area shares a common "lights out" practice, so everyone can enjoy the night sky stargazing...

Had we had more time, I would have loved to spend a day in each neighboring town to soak up its slight unique variation on Northern Michigan culture.  Had we had a babysitter on hand, I would have loved to spend a day touring the plentiful local wineries...With exception to the one casino we passed en route to Sleeping Bear Dunes, this area is the version of a travelers haven!

Our trip was capped off with the beautiful wedding of our friends, Chad and Ellie (Frey) Zagel at her family's scenic Charlevoix farm.  Having never visited California wine country, I can only imagine this setting rivals those out west.  The beautiful green rolling hills, lush vegetation, and miles of privacy, it was the perfect backdrop for an intimate, charming pics to follow in next blog post...

On the drive from Cleveland to Northern MI, we stopped at U of Michigan (Ann Arbor), my husband's Alma Mater

Of course we made a pit stop at the infamous "M Den" for Michigan T-shirts

We ran into our friends, The Reau Family
A little Wolverine spirit for Baby Jolie Reau!

Lunch with the Reau Family in Ann Arbor

First night campfire on Torch Lake

Our cottage supported both U of M and Mich State fans..

We watched the cutest pair of weinheimer dogs on a canoe ride in their adorable dog-life-vests...

Quaint stone cottage we spotted on a walk around Torch Lake

View from a walk around Torch Lake

My husband, Bob water-skiing

Bob water-skiing

Uncle Rick water-skiing

Beautiful, scenic drives throughout the region

We made a trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes...amazing!

We made the 4-mile hike (round trip) from Sleeping Bear Dunes to Lake Michigan...beautiful views, but with steep hills and sandy terrain...this was an awesome workout!


Finally made it to Lake Michigan!

Pirates Cove in Traverse City

On a chilly day, we visited Pirates Cove in Traverse City...put-put golf, mini go-carts, zip-lining, ropes course.  We all had a ball!

Jack zip-lining!

Jack and Charlie had a ball with their water-gun fight on the bumper-boats

This little girl had the cutest shirt...

We had lunch one day at Dockside, a waterfront restaurant on Torch Lake...
sign says it best,
"Without boating, most of the Earth's surface would be wasted..."

Some fun facts about Torch Lake, courtesy of menu

Views from Dockside restaurant

One evening, we went into the little town to stroll the Farmers Market, Live Music, Magician, Ice Cream, etc...

Jack dancing with Aunt Marcy!

One day we went into Suttons Bay, a cute little artsy town and had lunch at this fabulous local spot, The Village Inn Grill, one of the oldest continuously operated restaurants in Michigan. Delicious fish tacos!

Driving through Charlevoix...amazing how they planted these petunias along both sides of this major pretty!

View from Edgewater Inn, Charlevoix hotel 

Mettlers, adorable little local shop in Charlevoix,
where everything is American made...preppy with a vintage/Western vibe

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