Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

It’s been a few years since we visited Mackinaw Island, but we did have a wonderful visit! My family especially loved the Fort and the carriage ride around the island. My friend Tanya from Traveling Tanya was there last year, and hearing about her trip takes me back to our day on the island and makes me want to plan another visit soon! Check our her adventures and advice:  Spring has finally arrived! I’m Traveling Tanya, and I enjoy traveling just about any time of the year. But spring is an especially fun time to get out and explore. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind getaway this spring, consider Mackinac Island. Last fall I took my family to this magical island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While fall is a great time to visit the island, I long to return in springtime to see the flowers in bloom and watch this quaint town come back to life after a winter slumber. But for now, I’ll reminisce about our fall getaway to Mackinac Island! Preparing for Mackinac Island I’m a planner by nature, so before heading to Mackinac Island I did my research. Reading several travel brochures and googling places of interest on the island. Even if you aren’t your family’s designated “tour guide” or “travel agent” there are other fun ways to get up to speed and energized about an upcoming trip to an unfamiliar destination. A few months before our trip, I happened to see a secondhand copy of a novel about Mackinac Island.  The book included 4 short stories, all taking place on the island during different...
Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

At least a few times a year we embark on long road trips. As neither my husband or I particularly like to drive, we had to come up with a way to make them bearable. Getting in the car and driving all night was not something we could do – the few times we tried it, we wound up exhausted the next day and essentially missed the first day of our trip. Talk about stressful! Luckily, I’ve found a way to make the trip enjoyable. So much so that my kids would prefer to drive than fly! How did we do it? Attitude. This is the most important part – by simply reminding ourselves that the journey can be as fun as the destination, we hit the road with the right mindset. We’ve come to look at a road trip as a chance to relax (versus work), see something new, and have some great conversations. Try new restaurants. It’s a rare trip that we don’t break out Yelp when we start to get hungry and search up local restaurants. Once everyone starts getting hungry, I open the app, switch it to map view and start searching for places twenty minutes ahead or so of our current route. We’ve discovered awesome dive bars, amazing breweries, old-school drive-ins and everything in-between. The rule is it can’t be more than ten minutes off the road we are traveling, and it can’t be a chain. Other than that, anything goes. Yes, it adds time to our trip, but we’ve created a fun memory, enjoyed much better food and had some fun while getting...
Raise a Toast to Hamilton County Wineries

Raise a Toast to Hamilton County Wineries

Whether traveling or at home, I enjoy visiting wineries. I love trying the different wines, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and learning about each one’s history. Lucky for me, there are some fabulous wineries just minutes from my home in Noblesville, Indiana. With warmer weather finally coming to the Midwest, it’s the perfect time to visit one of these favorites. Grab a delicious glass of wine, indulge in some snacks, listen to music, enjoy a beautiful patio – all of this and more awaits: Urban Vines in Westfield is my go-to location when I’m looking for a fun and relaxing evening out. It’s perfect for date night, girls night out or even just enjoying an afternoon of playing cards while listening to music. Urban Vines offers a delicious array of white and red wines, their own beers and even ciders. In the summer, the wine slushies are a dangerous delight. With weekly Bingo or Trivia nights, live music most weekends and tasty “create your own” charcuterie platters you can’t go wrong with visiting this favorite of mine. I share more details on Urban Vine in my 5 Fun Fall Adventures in Hamilton County Post. Sugar Creek Winery is the newest addition to the wineries in Hamilton County. Sugar Creek has an upscale, outdoor vibe and an amazing outdoor firepit. The vineyard is located in nearby Montgomery County and produces many of the grapes that create their delicious varieties of wine. Sweet Water doesn’t serve food, but that means you get the fun of bringing in your personal favorites. Learn more about Sugar Creek in this post on Sugar Creek Winery....

Chicago for Tweens

I recently had the opportunity to visit Chicago with just my son. For school-related reasons my daughter (and therefore husband) couldn’t join us so it became a fun one-on-one trip. Not something we get to do often, so it was very special. We arrived Friday night to our amazing room at the Wyndham Grand – it was the perfect location, easy to get everywhere and with awe-inspiring city views. Once I parked my car, we used Uber or good old-fashioned walking the rest of the weekend – it was lovely to not think about driving, parking, etc. However, I do want to caution everyone to be very careful with valet parking – we ended up with some issues that I’m still dealing with – and this was at a very nice hotel and expensive parking spot. Thanks to our Chicago CityPASS, we knew our Friday night adventure would be the 360 Chicago Observation. After enjoying the views – loved the ice breaking up on the water – we walked across the street to do a little shopping at The Water Tower. I actually remember shopping there as a kid so it was nostalgic to share that experience with MY kid. As we had a full day planned for Saturday, we just grabbed quick salads and “fancy” drinks at The Cheesecake Factory just outside the mall. I rarely do chains when traveling, but that’s what my kid wanted and this was his weekend … The next morning started bright and early with the goal of seeing how many museums we could visit in one day (and still enjoy them!). We also...
The Best Places to Fuel Up after a Day of Skiing at Boyne

The Best Places to Fuel Up after a Day of Skiing at Boyne

Every year we visit Boyne Mountain at least once for a long weekend of skiing. Through the years, we’ve stumbled upon some amazing places to enjoy a boisterous or low-key (depending upon our mood) evening of good food, drinks, and atmosphere. It’s always a struggle to decide which ones to visit when we only have a few days. Luckily, we know we’ll be back next year to hit the ones we miss. Here are three of my current favorites: Cafe Sante is perhaps the most elegant of these choices. However you needn’t feel out of place in warm sweaters and jeans – after all in the winter, Boyne City is a ski town and being bundled up is expected. The atmosphere is cozy, the food has a French influence and the drinks are strong. All excellent reasons to visit. Cafe Sante also has an amazing Happy Hour. From 3- 6 every day there are a number of $3 drinks and appetizers. The choices change slightly from year to year, but we always have a good time putting together a tasty dinner of delicious tidbits. Shrimp cocktail, salmon pate, mussels, eggplant, and even deviled eggs were some of the delicacies we enjoyed on our recent trip. Along with several $3 margaritas, we left full and in good spirits early enough in the evening to be able to peek into a few of the Boyne City stores before heading back to our resort. Interested in more information on Cafe Sante? Check out my review on The Yums. Red Mesa is just down the street from Cafe Sante and actually owned by the...
Chicago CityPASS for the Win!

Chicago CityPASS for the Win!

A big thanks to Choose Chicago and CityPASS for sponsoring our Chicago activities via CityPASS. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. Recently I took my son to Chicago for a fun mother-son weekend. Although the whole family went last summer, this was a trip specifically geared towards things the two of us enjoy doing together. Thanks to CityPASS, we were able to do everything we desired for one low price! I’ve heard of CityPASS before but hadn’t checked it out myself, so when we received two passes for this trip, I was super excited to learn more. Each Chicago CityPASS has savings of 51% off regular admissions. Our CityPASS included Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Science & Industry OR 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. As an added bonus, we got VIP admission, so were able to skip ahead of the normal ticket lines. As soon as we arrive Friday, we picked up our passes and headed off to the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Neither of us had been to this attraction before so we were super excited to check it out. It was early evening so we had the opportunity to see the skyline at dusk which was beautiful. It was interesting to walk all the way around the observation deck and check out the city from various angles. We didn’t indulge since we were heading to dinner next, but there was a lively bar full of specialty drinks for both adults and kids. For an additional $8 we could have tried the tilt option. There is...

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