A couple of weekends ago, Eric and I headed off to Frankenmuth, Michigan. It is seriously in the top three of my favorite days of the entire year. We literally do the same exact thing every year, so maybe it's the routine and tradition I love? Maybe it's just how festive the town is? Maybe it's because of the delicious food and drinks we stuff ourselves with? I'm not totally sure, I just love every second of this entire day. It's always so much fun! If you've never gotten the chance to visit Frankenmuth (especially you Michiganders), you really need to plan a visit... and soon!
On our last day in the thumb, we headed over to Bay City for their Tall Ships Celebration and to tour the rare Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse. We were in Bay City three years ago, and almost exactly to the date, we tried to see this lighthouse but couldn't because it's on private property owned by a chemical company. I remember arriving to a locked gate, knowing the lighthouse was just down the dirt road, and was so mad I couldn't see it! So now I'm super happy we got to see it! They offer up tours once a year to the public (this is only the fourth time the public has seen it) and I immediately jumped on the chance.
They are in the middle of restoring the lighthouse, but it was still a beauty! The inside is completely bare bones, but it was fun to walk around and tour the inside. You could see the old peeling floral wallpaper, and where each of the rooms used to be. This lighthouse was built in 1876, replacing the old Saginaw Bay Lighthouse. Range lights are built in twos... the front range light was a smaller white crib, and the rear range (this light) was much bigger so the lighthouse keeper (a woman!) and her family could live there and maintain the lighthouse. All that remains of the front crib is a cement block it used to live on. We walked over to check that out, and waited for the bus to pick us back up!
We headed back into downtown Bay City after that. It was so busy because of the festival, and it was fun to spot a few of the tall ships! They are amazing. We also stopped to St. Laurent Brothers for ice-cream and a few homemade chocolates. Apparently, Madonna has been spotted there before because her family used to stay there when she was a child. Unfortunately we didn't spot her, but maybe next time. ;) After eating our ice-cream on the curb, we headed back to Grand Rapids! Such a great weekend. I love the thumb!
Many of you asked about this top, and I got it last year at Old Navy, and it's sold out now! They do have a few similar styles on their website like this sleeveless tank, and this navy top, which are both on sale for $19 right now. It's been HOT in Michigan lately, and I've been melting in 90º heat, but I did just place a few orders of autumn clothes! I so much prefer shopping for autumn than summer. Granted, I'm not totally ready for summer to end yet (really glad we still have a month or so left), but I'm definitely ready for autumn clothes.
I'll be back with some photos from our trip to Mackinac Island on Friday, so stay tuned! And thank you to everyone who pops in and reads SP. It honestly means so much. I just received a comment on my Instagram the other day from a reader who said she's been reading my blog from the beginning (almost 7 years now) and that I inspired her to start her own blog... and that just made my day. I'm so lucky for my readers I've had that long, and for the new ones too, of course! So thank you again for popping in. It truly means the world.
After our boat trip to Charity Island, we drove over to Port Austin to check into our lodge for the weekend. I'm really glad we ended up staying in Port Austin! Everything we did was walkable, which was maybe my favorite part of the town, honestly! We stayed at the Lakeside Motor Lodge, which was fun. It wasn't fancy by any means, but I loved that it was so central to everything and had an outdoor pool and fire pit! We ended up watching movies in bed for a while, trying to get over my motion sickness from the rough boat ride earlier in the night!
Saturday was such a fun day. We woke up, walked down to breakfast at Stock Pot, and headed over to Port Austin Kayak to rent kayaks for the day. We had to wait a bit, so we ended up grabbing drinks over at Pak's Backyard, which was really cute! I had a strawberry daiquiri, and we played a couple of games of corn hole before hopping on kayaks. Kayaking was so much fun. As soon as we got out of the harbor, we immediately paddled out to see the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse. It's about 2 miles out into Lake Huron, but it didn't feel too bad to kayak out there! I was so excited when we got really close to it. I love the shoal lights (lights that are out in the water, not connected to land).
After kayaking to the lighthouse, we kayaked over to Turnip Rock. We honestly almost missed it... but we saw a bunch of people heading there, and I was like, "I think that's it!". You don't really see the beauty of it until you kayak around it to the other side facing north. It's so pretty though. It has always been on my Michigan bucket list and I'm so glad we finally saw it. We brought our camera on our kayaks, but it was so so bright and none of our pictures turned out that great. But you can check out what it looks like on my Instagram here!
After kayaking, we went back to the lodge and napped for a little bit. I was still trying to get over my motion sickness, and kayaking definitely didn't help. Haha! We got ready though, and went to a super nice dinner at The Bank 1884. I loved it. We had a few drinks, ate some fancy meals and ordered cheesecake and tiramisu to go. I honestly just felt like I was on a boat the entire time though, and we were seated next to a guy that sounded like he was hacking up a lung. Eric couldn't stop laughing, and I think between the wooziness and the guy's hacking, I was ready to get out of there and take a walk to get some fresh air. Haha!
We headed down to the harbor to watch the sunset, which was so pretty! I loved that you could also see the Port Austin Reef Light from a distance. See in the photo below? After sunset, we went back to the hotel, watched a movie on TV, and devoured our desserts. Such a great weekend in Port Austin. I loved that weekend. So so much. I'll be back on Wednesday with our trip to the Saginaw River Rear Range Light, which is super rare to see! Hope you all had a great weekend!
I know I might have said this before, but I honestly think our weekend in the thumb of Michigan was my favorite weekend in Michigan. Ever. Crazy, right? We've been all over the place... to Pictured Rocks, Porcupine Mountains, Copper Harbor, Tunnel of Trees, Detroit, Traverse city and St. Joseph, and this weekend maybe tops them all. It honestly could have been the atmosphere, or just that we had some really fun things planned, but yeah, I seriously loved this weekend. So much. I already can't wait to go back.
We drove into Caseville and got there right on time at the Caseville Municipal Harbor to hop on board for the boat tour and dinner cruise to Charity Island. I've been semi-dying to do this for forever, and I'm so thrilled we finally got the chance to. The weather was pretty gray, but it was so warm outside, and just such a cool atmosphere. It's about an hour trip to the island, and they offer up soda and water (you can bring your own adult beverage if you want) and they also serve up cheese and crackers! My heart!
We got to the island, docked the boat, and headed off on the quarter-mile trek to the lighthouse. Of any lighthouse tour I've ever done, this was the most busy too... I think if you offer food with anything, people are more likely to be interested. Ha! We got to the lighthouse, which is all private property now. It was kind of a bummer to see the actual historic lighthouse tower (built in 1857) in shambles, and the house that was built to it is a "historically inappropriate" Cape Cod style cottage, so it didn't feel like the lighthouses we normally get to see. Thankfully though, the owner said that they just received a grant to fix up the lighthouse tower, so that's great news for future visitors!
We snapped a few pictures, walked around the lighthouse for a bit, and headed to the pavilion. They had a bar, where you could order beer or wine, and then we sat down for dinner. The owner of the island talked for a bit about the history of the island and the lighthouse, which was fun to hear. After that, dinner was served and it was excellent! Eric and I opted for the great lakes yellow perch, which was served with artisan bread baked in their wood-burning oven, sauteed fresh Michigan vegetable medley and baby red potatoes poached in fresh dill broth. YUM, right? It was so delicious!
After dinner, we walked back to the dock to hop on the boat because the sky was getting so dark and the wind was picking up like crazy! Our ride home was pretty rough. At first, I was having a blast, and kept calling myself "Sailor Tiek" to Eric and boasting I can handle anything! Of course, I immediately regretted that, because about halfway through, I felt so sick. I just had to sit in the chair, not move, not speak, and not breathe. Haha! They offered up strawberry cheesecake, and I was like... nope! We have to take that to go. Even with the motion sickness though, it was such a fun trip. I honestly just loved that night so much.
This past weekend, Eric and I headed over to my favorite place to visit around the holidays, Frankenmuth, Michigan. If you've never been to Frankenmuth or haven't heard of it before, it's a Christmas wonderland! It's home to Bronner's, the world's largest Christmas store. During the holidays, the streets are completely lit up with Christmas lights, lines are out the door to shop at the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, or to eat a famous chicken dinner at Zehnder's or Bavarian Inn. Horse-drawn carriages are carting people around, tons of people are walking the streets, and there's just a festive spirit in the air. I love this little town.
Nicknamed "Little Bavaria" or "Muth", Frankenmuth is located just south of Saginaw in Michigan. The town was settled and named in 1845 by German immigrants from what's now known as Bavaria, Germany. There is a strong influence of Franconian-style architecture in the town. The buildings very recognizably resemble buildings found in Germany, with the use of timbers in "square" and "X" patterns on the outside of buildings. It's so quaint. Our first stop was to Bronner's World's Largest Christmas Store. We found a parking spot, and headed inside to browse! It was a total madhouse, but completely worth it. It's such a magical place!
Bronner's was founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner, and is visited annually by over 2 million people. The building alone is 7.35 acres, and the grounds are 27 acres! When you drive past this place at night, it is completely lit up with lights. The only thing we ended up buying there was a small guitar ornament that Eric loved, but I just loved walking around and checking everything out! Afterwards, we headed downtown to check out the Frankenmuth Brewery for the first time. It was so so busy, so we could only stand and have one drink, but it was super fun. And the Moscato I had was great!
After having a drink at the brewery, we started walking down the street toward the Bavarian Inn. But first, we stopped to the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus to sample cheeses. I ended up loving the chocolate cheese and bought some for our January wine club! I love strolling through little gift shops. We got to Zehnder's to wait for a chicken dinner, but decided to go across the street to Bavarian Inn because we heard better reviews, and the wait was inside the building instead of out! If you're familiar with both, do you have a preference? I think we're sold on Bavarian Inn now!
We ended up waiting 1 hour and 45 minutes for a table at Bavarian Inn, but it was so completely worth it. They had a server who would bring people drinks in line, so we just ordered tall glasses of beer and wine and enjoyed the wait! It was actually so fun to people watch, talk, and just anticipate one of the best meals ever! Once we finally got seated, we both ordered the Family Style Chicken Dinner (what made both Zehnder's and Bavarian Inn famous) and it was amazing and SO much fun. Eric got up to put his coat on, and was like, "Are you ready?" And I didn't want to leave, because I just loved that night and the memory of that occasion so much.
This was definitely one of my favorite nights of the entire year. Afterwards, we made a quick stop to do a little shopping at the Birch Run Outlets and headed home. Perfect day. xo
The final stop on our Thumb adventure was Fort Gratiot Lighthouse! It's located in Port Huron, by the Blue Water Bridge that goes into Canada, which was fun to see. We explored the outside of the lighthouse for a bit, walked down by the beach on Lake Huron (called Lighthouse Beach) and read about the great storm of 1913 and various shipwrecks nearby.
This lighthouse is actually the oldest one in Michigan, and it was beautiful. The restoration they completed recently is perfect. They just opened it back up for tours in 2012 after a five-year close down due to deterioration and falling debris. We weren't able to tour this one because of the time of day we got there, but the grounds were wonderful to explore!
I bought this vintage sailboat skirt when I was on a trip to Houston, Texas. I absolutely love dressing for different lighthouses and nautical locations, but I'm definitely getting excited for autumn. I've started planning outfits for the apple orchard, pumpkin patches, and other fall things we'll be doing! Plus, we're taking a few trips in October that I'm looking forward to. We'll be going to St. Louis for their fashion week, to Walker, Minnesota for a country competition Eric is playing in and we're heading up north to the "great northwest" for a fun weekend. Bring on fall!
Well, this is my final post from our trip to the thumb! We'll definitely be back someday to check out a couple more lighthouses we missed. Plus, I'd love to kayak to Turnip Rock and check out a few fun diners and what not along the coast. There is always something new to explore in Michigan, and I really hope to "see it all" someday. Next week will be a full week of posts from Mackinaw City. We took some of my favorite photos ever, so I'm really excited to share. Have a great weekend, guys!