Tuesday was our last day in the Traverse City area and our goal was some outdoor fun. We drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes and climbed to the point where you could see Lake Michigan. Climbing the first dune was the most strenuous part of the trek and for an out-of-shape middle-aged woman, I was just glad I made it to the top! Coming back down was really fun!
We had a late lunch in the little town of Empire at Joe’s Friendly Tavern. This little hole in the wall served up exceptional food! They grind their own hamburger daily, which could explain why their “olive burger” was perhaps the best burger I’ve ever had in my life! My husband’s chili was a good balance between the amount of meat and beans with a nice amount of heat, but not too spicy. The atmosphere is distinctively northwoods neighborhood tavern-like and the service really was friendly. It seems like a place all the locals go, and with good reason.
After an exhilarating day, it was time to head for our destination of Holland, Michigan where we would stop for the night. As it was starting to get a little late, we ended up stopping in Grand Haven for dinner at Portabello. The nicely appointed restaurant was a welcome stop with a menu of favorite Italian fare. The portions were generous and the dishes were well-prepared and delicious.
Here’s a tip…we had tried to stop in Muskegon, but found it to be a depressed area of urban blight…not a restaurant to be found in the “downtown” area.
Unfortunately, the only reservations in Holland I could get on short notice were at the Days Inn. I’d give it 1 star. The room was tiny with 2 double beds, not queens. It’s in sore need of a remodel, but it seemed clean. I realize how spoiled we’ve become staying in nicer accommodations, but if you’re on a strict budget, it will do.
Before heading for home on this Wednesday morning, we checked out the downtown Holland area, stopping in some shops and grabbing a cup of Starbuck’s and a pastry at the Alpen Rose Konditerei. It actually had a cute-looking German/Dutch restaurant in the back, but we weren’t going to be staying for lunch.
Needless to say, there were more tempting establishments in western Michigan than we could possibly try in just a few days. I’d definitely go back just for the dining and drinking! How about an autumn trip next year??