Day-tripping “Up North”!

Since we can’t play golf on every day off – or can we? – we decided to take a trip northward through the Michigan towns of Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, and Petoskey. Having traveled this route before, we were curious to observe any additions, deletions, or overall changes to these very distinctive villages along the shores of Lake Michigan.

IMG_2422Along the way, we stopped to photograph the blooming cherry trees, most sporting white blossoms at this point. Within a month, these same trees will be green and filled with the cherries that this area is known for! We then cruised through Elk Rapids and our first stop was downtown Charlevoix. Much to our surprise, the weekly Farmer’s Market was taking place, truly a day where you could purchase anything from local, organic produce to fresh baked goods and from natural soaps and skin care products to out-of-this-world chocolate! We also noticed a few new stores and the absence of a favorite coffee shop on Main Street. Charlevoix is also home to the famous “mushroom houses” built in the early 1900’s by Earl Young. These “hobbit-esque” homes were constructed using rocks and boulders found along the shore of Lake Michigan and most of them still exist today. There are also several that can be rented, and a tour of these homes is a popular attraction in Charlevoix!

Onward we traveled to the town of Petoskey, a slightly larger location, filled with unique stores and eating establishments, again situated right on Lake Michigan, only about 140 from Michigan’s UP, or Upper Penninsula. Petoskey is also home to the “petoskey stone,” named the official stone of Michigan in 1965. These glacier-formed stones are hunted along the shoreline and when cleaned and shined, boast a distinctive six-sided pattern referred to as the “rays of the rising sun.” For my Jersey followers, this reminds me of our famous Cape May diamond!

Two years ago when we traveled through Petoskey, we were taken by the almost 5-mile stretch of roadway that was adorned on both sides by flowering petunias. Well, during this excursion, we witnessed the actual annual planting of the petunias! The ground was dug out and ready as we watched school children, families, and people of all ages, being guided by “Block Captains” – as their T-shirts indicated – as flats of petunias too numerous to count were planted to beautify their town! Talk about community pride!

IMG_2424Downtown, in what is known as the Historic Gaslight District, we stumbled into Symon’s General Store and did we hit the jackpot there! Entering the store is like taking a step back in time, with penny candy, gourmet cheeses, scrumptious sandwiches – yes, we tried one – and various other food and novelty items. As we waited for our sandwich, we were invited downstairs to the wine cellar which contains over 400 different wines and a lovely venue for dining and special events. Most of the baking and food prepping is also completed in the open kitchen in the cellar. A gentleman shared the history of the building and the path they have taken to become what Food and Wine Magazine calls one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences.”

Never hesitate to do a “re-visit” to places, as you can always discover new and previously overlooked attractions and opportunities! Our day trip proved just that!

Stay Calm and Travel On…

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