Tag Archives: traverse city

The Tribune/Northport, Christmas Cove Antique Apples, Carlson’s/Fishtown-Leand, Glen Arbor Biking, Taproot in TC

img_0306Fog was rising from the lake when we looked out the window this morning in Traverse City but by the time we reached the lovely town of Northport on the Leelenau Penninsula, the sky had cleared and was a gorgeous Autumn blue. The leaves are late to turn this fall, we’ve been told but we still saw many red, orange and yellow leaves…and we have had warm 60’s weather so no complaints.

img_0308In Northport, we had a good breakfast at The Tribune, a small cheerful dining room in an old white wooden building up from a pretty waterfront park, and then drove a little north to a remarkable antique apple farm in Christmas Cove that had no less three varieties of another hard-to-find apple I love: Russets!  There were dozens of other apple varieties I have never heard of for sale, rows and rows of them, not to mention shelves lined with hundreds of pop bottles,representing who knows how many different soda  makers.

img_0307NExt stop, a little house full of herbs and herb-infused vinegars (Woodside Herbs) and then to Fishtown in Leland, a bunch of shops in ramshackle fishing shanties along a river with a rushing dam that Fish jumped out of on occasion. PIcked up some superb smoked fish at Carlson’s that we ate after a vigorous bike ride around Glen  Haven, Glen lakes and Sleeping Bear Sand dunes around Lake Michigan near our friend’s lovely lake house. After a light dinner at Taproot downtown, we did some book shopping at Horizon Bookstore. Such a great trip. So glad are friends are happy and here and that we came to visit!

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The cooks house, alliance, Spanglish — eating well in Traverse City

Botanical garden, village at the commons, traverse city

Botanical garden, village at the commons, traverse city

To date, we have had three meals in this foodie town, each unique and excellent. The Cooks House is just that, a small cozy house with some fine cooks using a long list of locally sourced products duly listed on a chalk board. We had a fresh vvegetable  first course (mine was a creative take on sweet potatoes) and then a very Hearty entree (excellent steak, pork, fish). Today we walked all around the city which is full of people and interesting shops. We walked down Front street (the main drag where our friends are urban pioneers, living ina stunning loft fashioned from the second story of an old sandstone brick warehouse, with a back porch with a dazzling blue of Grand Traverse bay) to a former “insane asylum” that has been converted into a series of little shops, restaurants, residential lofts.

Boardman River, TC

Boardman River, TC


We walked around a beautiful old farm with botanical gardens in an old horse stable, ate an excellent Mexican meal at Spanglish, sampled wines and cider at Left Foot Charlie next door. Later we stopped at several wineries on the old mission peninsula, with more spectacular views of hills with red, yellow and orange trees leading to Lake Michigan ‘s blue waters.

Tonight, we ate at Alliance, the hot new restaurant in town which is no small feat considering how many good dining options this small town has. Shared plates of food in one of a kind combinations with very fresh ingredients, vibrant and complicated flavor combinations. We thoroughly enjoyed.


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Bus and trains from Chicago to Northern Michigan

A reader requested ideas on traveling by bus and trains to get from Chicago to Traverse City then  to Mackinac Island  and the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. I’m no expert but when I looked into the Chicago-Traverse City public transportation options a few years ago, renting a car seemed the best bet. A few other things:

– Remember the boat option, but again you’ll need that car. You can take a ferry (see ssbadger.com) from Manitowic, Wisconsin (about 1.5 hours north of  Milwaukee) to Ludington Michigan shore but you’ll land almost two hours south  of Traverse City.

–  When we compared the ferry/boat vs. driving around Lake Michigan option, we stuck with driving because as I recall the ferry/boat was pricey and didn’t save much time.

–  My dentist recently returned from a drive through the Upper Peninsula to Mackinac and then the Detroit area. She does NOT recommend the major road through the center of the UP. Apparently the view is limited to dense forest. She wished she’d taken a road hugging either coast, if there is a viable one.

– When in Mackinac, make sure to venture off the main drag of touristy shops (although you might want to get some Murdick’s fudge first) and wander up the hill to the Grand Hotel and to the wilder areas of the island to enjoy its natural beauty. You can  rent bikes to explore. (see: http://bikemackinac.com/)

– Around Traverse City, don’t miss Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park. We also enjoyed staying in Glen Arbor and visiting Empire, Michigan (go to the Friendly Tavern) and the Cherry Bowl Drive-in Movie Theater in Honor, Michigan.


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Traverse City hotspots

We were staying very close to Traverse City Michigan when we were up north a year ago, bunking in a sweet little lakeside cottage in Glen Arbor, but we never made it into the big city, although I wanted to. Just ran out of time – too much to do in the small lakeside towns in the area. But now comes the NYTimes Travel section with some recommendations for TC which I will duly note here for our next trip there – which I hope will be soon!

– Artisandesign network, new gallery with local artists’ and designers’ work, especially furniture and “elegant dining chairs” by Woodbine.

– The Cooks’ House, a farm to table restaurant now in new larger location.

– Right Brain Brewery, 16 tap brew pub with all local ales. Must try the Black Eye P.A.

– Mana, “soul food” including the Divine Swine pulled pork sandwich.

– State Theater, site of TC Film Festival started by local resident and filmmaker Michael Moore

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restaurants to check out all over the Midwest

Found a copy of the  Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Midwest Living on the library’s sale rack – so scooped it up since there’s always good recommendations on things to do in this neck of the woods. Here’s some restaurant recommendations:

– In Indianapolis, Recess (soup!)

– In Chicago, Gilt Bar and Restaurant on Magnificent Mile.

–  Woodbury, Minnesota (where we have friends!), Apertif (rotisserie chicken) and in neighboring St. Paul, Heartland (clever meat and potatoes) and Clearwater, Minn., Nelson Bros. Restaurant (yes, at a restaurant on I-94; fritter french toast w/wild rice sausage)

– Omaha, Hiro 88 (sushi and more in the Old Market district)

– Madison, Wisc. L’Etoile (longstanding haute green cuisine in new location)

– Kansas City, Glace Artisan Ice Cream (peanut butter ice cream with swirl of strawberry jam…) and Succotash

–  Traverse City, MI, Soul Hole (southern food in Old Town)

– Iowa City, Blue Bird Diner (Sunday brunch)


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Filed under Chicago, DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING, Illinois, Indianapolis, Iowa City, Kansas City, Michigan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Omaha

Transportation options between Chicago and Traverse City

We were looking lat summer – with little success  – for mass transportation between Chicago and Traverse City, Michigan. And finally decided the best bet was to rent a car.

But there is another option a reader offered:  an Indian Trails bus (indiantrails.com). It is a fairly long trip (9 hours) compared to driving a car (5 hours), but the advance purchase cost is, we’re told, $50.

The other options: take the train from Chicago to Grand Rapids (which takes about 4.5 hours) and then somehow get to Traverse City. Word has it there’s a bus connection but it takes 12 hours.  (that’s crazy.)


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Filed under Chicago, Michigan, train

the best b&b around Traverse City

We’re vacationing in Glen Arbor, Mi. in August and renting a cottage on Big Glen Lake that, alas, is not big enough to include relatives from suburban Detroit who we hope are meeting up with us.  So I’ve been looking online at the lodgings around the area, trying to find a nice b&b or inn that’s affordable, not too far from us, and has decor that’s not too goopy. My favorites so far – although some are too far  – (and this is just judging from website pix) are:

www.tesoroinn.com/ (too far, alas)
www.kornerkottage.com (recommended by NYT ; also too far)

Other options: The Homestead, The Sylvan Inn and Glen Arbor   Bed & Breakfast


Filed under LODGING, Michigan

Transporation between Chicago and Traverse City, Mi.

I’m trying to find an economical (as always) way to get my son from Traverse City, Mi. to chicago (and ultimately Des Moines) in mid-August. He can take the megabus from Chicago to Des Moines for $10 (I LOVE that bus!) but the first leg of his trip is problematic. No bus service of any kind, as far as I can tell. A one way plane tix is over $600. Another option is for him and his older sister (who is 25 so she can rent a car) to rent a car at the traverse city airport for $115 and drive back to Chicago. Then he’ll catch the bus from there. Wish there was a megabus between Traverse City and Chicago!


Filed under Chicago, Michigan