As predicted, we got somewhat of a late start, so we arrived at Saugatuck, MI around lunch time. The cute Lake Michigan resort town was really bustling on this August Saturday, making it somewhat difficult to find parking. At the recommendation of a friend, we lunched at The Butler Deck. Like everywhere else, there was a wait for a table, but after about 20 minutes we were seated on the outdoor deck overlooking the lake. I have to say that, while the view was nice, I absolutely baked with the hot sun beating down on me. The food was good, but nothing I would call particularly special…the usual assortment of burgers, sandwiches and salads. Hovering bees and somewhat slow service made it a place I probably wouldn’t frequent. I’m sure it’s wonderful on a cooler, less crowded day or evening.
On to Grand Rapids where we checked in to the Fairfield Inn. It was newly renovated and, while a fairly typical Fairfield layout, was nicely decorated and clean. At $99 for a two queen bed room including continental breakfast, I’d have no trouble recommending it, especially for a night or two. We took advantage of the nice late afternoon by taking a self-guided walking tour of some historic homes in Grand Rapids. There are a number of maintained and restored homes of varying architectural styles dating to the early 1900s within a few blocks, including the Meyer May House. The Meyer May House was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first commission in Michigan and has been beautifully restored. Unfortunately for us, touring hours were over, but we walked around the outside.
A city which, unlike much of eastern Michigan, seems to be thriving and growing, Grand Rapids offers a lot of culture, entertainment and, for us foodies, great dining and drinking. They’re calling themselves “Beer City USA”, boasting 21 local breweries and a list of awards. That’s something we’ll have to explore on another trip! We did, however, find a restaurant for a casual dinner. Since it was getting late and we were getting really hungry, we didn’t take time to explore, instead returning to a location to which we’d been on a previous trip where we knew there were several restaurants. Once a grocery warehouse, “The B.O.B.” (an acronym for Big Old Building) in downtown Grand Rapids is a 70,000-square-foot, four-story building which houses three restaurants, a lounge, nightclub, comedy club and microbrewery. We ate at Bobarino’s which serves wood-fired pizzas and an array of burgers, sandwiches and entrees. I had a succulent Cubano sandwich of pulled pork, ham, mustard, pickles, Swiss cheese and mayo all on a perfectly toasted ciabatta bun. My daughter loved the “build your own” pizza, choosing from five different sauces and 19 different toppings. A game of Phase Ten back at the hotel (with Mom getting creamed!) completed our night in Grand Rapids.
Sunday morning we got up and made the 148 mile drive to Traverse City. I had booked a room at the Grand Beach/Sugar Beach Traverse City beachfront resort. Our room wasn’t ready for check-in, so we headed to Clinch Park Beach to meet our friends who were enjoying the last day of their Traverse City vacation. While some of the gang played volleyball on the beach, I visited with Cathy and got some of her tips on places to visit in T.C. The beach is located right across the street from the central downtown area, so we walked over and hit a few shops before our friends left town. Cherry Republic offers tastings of their many products made from Michigan cherries. We sampled cherry sodas, cherry wine, cherry salsa and even cherry tortilla chips. We settled on purchasing some delicious cherry barbecue sauce. I’m looking forward to using it on a pork roast in the near future!
Perhaps my favorite find in downtown Traverse City was Fustini’s, a boutique of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars. In Italy, “Fustini” are the stainless steel containers in which olive oils and vinegars are stored. The walls of the shop are lined with fustinis containing the most wonderful assortment of oils and vinegars with little plastic cups for tasting. I limited myself to purchasing only 3 bottles…it was difficult! In the end I settled on the Tuscan Herb olive oil and the Wild Blueberry and Espresso Bean balsamic vinegars. Fortunately, Fustini’s ships and you can order at their online store www.fustinis.com.
Across from our resort was Pirate’s Cove, where we played a round of mini golf before calling it a day.