Gateway to Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City is an ideal destination for offbeat travelers. Located on the northern most tip of lower peninsula this city provides an abundance of attractions & activities, but here are few which we covered on our trip and surely shouldn’t be missed:
An 8 km long suspension bridge standing 552 feet above is part of Interstate Highway 75, which connects Upper Peninsula to the mainland and is the way ahead for entering Canada. First opened in 1957, a wonderful drive through this 4 lane bridge takes you between Mackinaw city and St. Ignace. Check out the video
Oldest working lighthouse of Lake Superior, with history beginning back 1849, this lighthouse has observed greatest shipwrecks and so is also known as graveyard of shipwrecks. Located next to the largest freshwater lake of North America in Paradise, Michigan, here one can visit Shipwreck Museum and Lighthouse, sit besides the Lakeshore spending some quality time with mesmerizing lake. We got enthralled by the beauty of Lake Superior and spend hours relaxing while walking along the deserted beach.
Ferry is lifeline of Mackinac Island, the only way to commute from Mackinaw City. The ferry to Island is a 20-min ride and on way back 30 min. Beautifully located in midst of Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is one of the most famous attraction of Michigan. The Island is quaint, historic and lively, which can be explored only by bicycle or buggy ride. On the way back to Mackinaw City it’s a great experience as ferry drives down below Mackinac bridge and you can get a closer look around the bridge along with some historical information about it.
Don’t miss the chance of experiencing sunset along the Mackinac bridge. Ideal for photographers and nature lovers, the surrounding area provides breathtaking sunset views from either ends Colonial Michilimackinac Park in Mackinaw City or Staits State Park in St. Ignace.
The trip to the island is not complete without having the mouthwatering fudge. As Mackinac island is better known as America’s Fudge Capital and offers countless fudge flavors which no one can resist. Must try Joann’s Fudge, selling famous fudge since last 35 years.
Scalawags WhiteFish & Chips is Mackinaw City’s famous food joint serving quality seafood. On the shore of freshwater lakes this city offers ample seafood options. Don’t miss this place located in corner of Downtown, it might take a while to order the food due to it’s popularity, but it’s definitely worth a wait.
Walking down the streets in downtown is a true delight. There are shops of fudge, souvenirs, apparels and one can find many local eateries. If you get lucky as us, you might end up enjoying bands and music show late in the evening.
While strolling around Downtown if you get across a human size statue just give it a closer view, you might be looking at Robert Shangle, the world famous “Live Statue”. Most of the time people cannot sense that he’s real person & get stunned with his sudden blinks.
- While visiting Upper Peninsula try to get to Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
- For Ferry rides to Mackinac Island opt for Starline or Shepler’s ferry links are below: http://sheplersferry.com/ or http://www.mackinacferry.com/
- Summers are the best time to visit Mackinaw, otherwise keep some warmers as it may get cold.
Being the only state with two peninsulas and borders with four Great Lakes (Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior & Lake Erie), we made a trip to State of Michigan. We always had a strong desire to explore this heavenly place, so we took an additional two days off on Labor day Weekend.
We started from Columbus, Ohio towards Mackinaw City which was a 472 miles long drive. It took us nearly eight hours to reach there and we barely made it before sunset. After getting re-energized witnessing the gorgeous sunset, we were all set to take a stroll around Downtown.
Next morning we drove to Whitefish Point Lighthouse located in Upper Peninsula connected to the mainland through Mackinac Bridge. We drove 80 miles from city through Lush green Scenic drive (one of our best long drives), just to experience majestic Lake Superior.
After spending a good time there we drove back to Mackinaw city and took a 16 min Ferry to Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island is connected only via ferry with Michigan mainland and is popular for its awestruck viewpoints, fort, fudge and famous buggy rides, the only public transport available on island.
As we had to make a good 150 miles drive we started early morning for our next destination Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We landed before 11:00 am driving through beautiful Traverse city and took a hike into dunes for next 4 hours. The initial Dune climb looked fine, but the next 4 miles in sand dunes steep uphill and downhill totally drained us out.
Worn out and starving we dropped our plan for Silver Lake(2 hrs drive from Bear Dunes) and headed straight towards our hotel 169 miles away in city of Holland by nightfall.
After getting our muscles back in shape with a good overnight sleep, next day (The Labor Day) we kept it light and decided to enjoy Labor day Truck Parade in Holland Downtown (read it here). Labor day in Holland is a special occasion and the whole city of Holland and neighboring Zeeland gather to say thanks and acknowledge the local labors and service providers.By noon we made our move towards Windmill Island Gardens, famous for De Zwaan, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in USA. Also this place has got many Dutch cultured artifacts and details.
In the evening we headed towards Holland state park beach along Lake Michigan to enjoy the sunset next to the big Red Lighthouse. It was one of the most memorable sunset and came out as a perfect end of our trip.
Final day we left after breakfast for Columbus. A good 6 hours drive and we were back in our city.
As we really like offbeat locations and try to avoid big cities, so we skipped Detroit, Grand Rapids and Traverse city on our trip to Michigan. We will be back soon with more detailed posts on Michigan, so stay tuned.
Last week we took five day trip across Michigan state (which we will talk about in our upcoming posts) and luckily got the opportunity to witness 2016 Labor Day Truck Parade in our last stop Holland, Michigan. This parade wasn’t part of our itinerary, but while going through the upcoming events calendar on Holland’s official website, we found it really fascinating.
Holland & Zeeland community have a special way to honor their local service providers and labor force by organizing a Truck parade. The parade starts from Zeeland around 9:15 a.m. towards Holland ending up at Civic Center in Holland followed by free ice cream & snacks for everyone.
We reached Civic Center around 9:30 a.m. where people had gathered in large number with family and friends across the street, anxiously waiting for the trucks. The parade started with Holland Police Cops, followed by 72 trucks ranging from Road services to Digital service providers finalizing with Holland and Zeeland fire trucks, closing up with Zeeland Police Cops.
After the Parade got over, people gathered around Civic Center parking to have a closer look around the fascinating trucks. Kids got goodies & this year there were Frisbee for all.
- Try to be there by 9:00 a.m. if you want to grab a special spot, although you can get the view even if you reach just before the parade.
- You can bring along your chair which most people brought to enjoy the wait time and great Parade afterwards.
- Bring earplugs for kids as it can get loud.
- Ice-creams and snacks are free.
Swept away by 2011 Tsunami in Japan, this Harley Davidson bike along-with other articles in a container drift across the Pacific ocean. Finally, it was spotted after more than an year, 4000 miles away on a beach of Graham Island in British Columbia, Canada.
The bike origin was unveiled by its Japanese number plate which it carried along for the long time. Although Harley Davidson offered to restore and return the bike to the owner but he requested to preserve the bike in same condition as a memorial to the victims of Tsunami. Currently this bike is under display at Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee since Oct, 2012.
On our recent visit to Bensalem, a small town near Philadelphia we came across Spice Rack after reading a lot of immensely positive reviews in Yelp. Located on Knights Road, this is a small restaurant with limited seating mainly dealing in take-out.
The menu is quite extensive so it took us a while to decide what to start with. This time we opted for only Vegetarian dishes and ordered Bhelpuri, Dahi Chaat and Papdi Chaat for appetizer.
After a bit long wait we got served with these delish snacks. From the first bite I got hooked on Bhelpuri, a tangy, garlicky and fully flavored one with authentic Indian spices. It was the most delicious chaat I ever had till now in USA.
Dahi Chaat one of my all time favorites didn’t disappointed me as well. Crisp puri exotically garnished with sev and coriander were so inviting that we finished all of them in a blink. Papdi Chaat took me back in streets of Delhi, the taste was equally good to what we use to have back home.
As we got fully confident on flavors we visited Spice Rack again to try some more items from the menu.
We ordered Paneer Pakora, Mutter Paneer, Garlic Naan and ended up with Gajar ka halwa. Sadly, Paneer pakora really disappointed us, they were not as savory as they look, on the other hand Mutter Paneer was zesty, typical North Indian style.
I am a die-hard fan of garlic naan and after a long while I had one of the best at Spice Rack, crispy and light with loads of garlic. Uhh, this place has awakened desi foodie inside me.
The only thing in which this place lags behind is service, it’s slow. It can take a while to place an order and longer to get it on your table.
Overall, this place reminded us street food of Delhi. Spice Rack really surprised us with strong flavors, a small joint delivering the true taste of Indian Cuisine.
City of Chicago is mainly known for its food delicacy and diversity. As a first timer every foodie craves for Chicago Style Pizza and we were no different. In our short span in Chicago suburbs we picked up some notable Chicago eats & can conclude that this city is definitely a lot more than just pizza bites.
Over the period the immigrants have brought taste and colors to Chicago and have developed Chicago style dishes out of them, while keeping the original base.
Here is our food guide of Chicago for first timers & foodies:
Indulge your senses in Chicago style famous “Garrett Mix”, cheese and caramel flavoured popcorn. Since 1949 this franchise has been famous for it’s high quality and taste. Maybe Garret popcorn’s are now available globally, but it will always be “Chicago’s tradition”. So next time while wandering around the streets in Chicago grab some Garrett mix for sure.
Where to eat– Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, O’Hare International Airport, E Madison St, Chicago.
From Two brothers to Goose Island, IPAs to Half Acre , Chicago has a lot of local craft breweries, portraying Chicagoan’s true love for beer.
In 1833 with Chicago becoming a town, it also got its first brewing company and as of today there are many local micro-brewing companies offering tours and beer tasting. Every year in month of March, the city holds beer tasting festival with more than 60 participating brands.
Where to try: Two Brothers Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Goose Island Brewery, Emmett’s Brewing(suburbs), Rock Bottom Brewery.
Gyros may not have been invented in Chicago but over the time Chicagoans have shown this is one of their most popular and favorite food. With Kronos as the biggest supplier of Gyro cones and many Greek restaurants offering these in abundance, Gyros doesn’t deserve a chance to be missed. For Greek food lover Halsted street, Greektown Chicago is the place to be. With many Greek restaurants in vicinity this place is best suited to taste the best gyros.
Where to eat: Central Gyros, Zeus Gyros, The Parthenon
Our favorite Chicago Style Pizza is highly acclaimed for its enormous amount of cheese and thick crust. Most people would contradict on the thick crust but believe it, whether it’s stuffed one or the classic deep dish there is no escape once you get the first bite. Though you would be full with just a slice or two, but this is one which you have to taste before you die.
Where to eat: Giordano’s, Gino’s, Unos, Lou Malnati’s.
Chicago’s most authentic fast food “Chicago-style hot dog” should be on your top list. This classic dish includes beef sausage served on a poppy seed bun with white onions, sport pepper, tomatoes, dill pickle and the very essential yellow mustard. Don’t leave the city without tasting Chicago’s hot dog .
Tip: Don’t ask for the ketchup with Hot Dog in Chicago as they believe it goes with mustard only. Sellers don’t even carry ketchup.
Where to eat: Portillo’s, Superdawg, Gene & Jude’s.
Thanks to Zomato Meet, Kavita got her chance to be familiar with this remarkable Greek Dish and that too at the place where it got originated “The Parthenon” in Greektown, Chicago. Read it here- My First Zomato Meet At The Parthenon,Chicago
Today Saganaki has many variations as with shrimp and mussels, but the original one has cheese fried in buttered shallow pan along with brandy, which is flamed at table with a shout of ‘Opa’, ending up with fresh lemon juice.
Where to eat: None other than “The Parthenon”, Greektown.
The famous city of California, San Diego has picturesque landscape, vast coast line, water sports and marine life. San Diego’s Zoo, Sea world and Downtown are major destinations attracting tourists throughout the year. But as we always look for less crowded and not so popular tourist spots, so we tried to explore some offbeat features this city has to offer on our two day trip.
A perfect place to get the best view of San Diego downtown. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and spend few hours of calmness in Centennial park overlooking San Diego skyline.
Don’t miss the chance to drive on San Diego- Coronado bridge, a 2.1 miles long 5 lane bridge is part of State route 75. As Coronado Island is a Naval base, it took a while to join Coronado to mainland via bridge. Finally in 1969, this bridge was opened for public,being 200 feet tall it allows naval base ships to pass underneath with no hassle.
Coronado Beach, most beautiful white sand beach is mainly known for surfing. Driving down the San Diego-Coronado bridge, a few blocks to the left, we got the view of radiant beach. This beach is along the Ocean Boulevard with free parking on road, restrooms and shower facilities on beach. Best time to visit the Coronado beach is early morning.
On one side of Ocean blvd is spectacular white sand beach and on other is a fine range of mansions and bungalows. Some of them are incredible piece of artwork while some depicts the lavish lifestyles, a few of these are also haunted.
Located 15 miles away from downtown San Diego, Torrey Pines State Reserve is famous trekking and hiking destination offering various trails in this state reserve with a wide geographical range.
San Diego offers many places to experience breathtaking sunset. Wide coastline and cliffs of San Diego makes it a photographer’s paradise for capturing stunning sunset. La Jolla Cove and Torrey Pines State Reserve are the best places to experience sunset across the ocean shore.
As a coastline area San Diego’s restaurants offers profusion of sea food. If you are foodie like us, must try the specialty of San Diego…Fish Tacos, a deep fried white fish on tortilla with some fresh lettuce, salsa and avocado along with slice of lime. Not to mention, San Diego has the best Mexican restaurants mainly in Old Town.
What’s on your list, if you visit San Diego?
La Jolla Cove is the most picturesque place we have ever visited. As a cove this is a small circular bay, providing protected area to colourful marine life. Beautifully surrounded by the cliffs, it’s widely famous for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and many more activities. But this cove is much more besides these, here are some free things to do in La Jolla Cove:
Spend the day looking at spectacular blue water and waves – We enjoyed our whole day watching ocean tides on rocks and cliffs of the cove. Daytime can be enjoyed next to ocean water, but as the day progresses tides rise to upper rocks and gushing water push you back to the higher grounds.
Spot coastal birds in abundance : La Jolla Cove is home for many birds like Brown Pelicans, Heermann’s Gulls & most commonly spotted ones are Western Gulls. Western Gulls are the big size white gulls from West Coast with yellow foot and can be seen in bunches hovering all around the cove.
Looking Sea Lions laying on the rocks: Of all the beautiful landscapes and sights around La Jolla Cove, the one which we loved the most was spotting poser Sea Lions. They are very commonly sighted around cove relaxing in sun. Usually they are lazy, harmless and habitual of people wandering around, so one can get really close which most of the public actually does. It’s quite disheartening that instead of leaving them alone people continuously disturb them & choose to take selfies.
Windup your day relishing the vivid sunset- The day came to end with witnessing the most amazing sunset. We spend a good amount of time admiring the sun getting down across the ocean end with vibrant shades all across the sky.
- Park your car on Coast Blvd or in Ace Parking(public parking) at Prospect Street.
- The place smells a lot but you don’t feel it much after a while.
- There are also other activities like Snorkeling, Biking & Kayaking.
- Must visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution, a 10 min drive from the Cove.
While visiting San Diego we came across Torrey Pines State Reserve, a 15 miles drive from the city, it’s a 2000 acres state park running across the coast.
Offering spectacular beach, cliffs, flora & fauna, trails in abundance & rare torrey pines, this place is a bliss for nature lovers. It has been listed under National Natural Landmark and California State Parks for preserving “Torrey Pines” an endangered species of pines.
Why to visit Torrey Pines State Reserve:
Hiking Trails : Having 8 trails including Broken Hill Trail, Beach Trail, High Point Trail & many more this reserve attracts hikers throughout the year. Beach Trail, Guy Fleming & Razor Point Trail are considered as most famous among visitors. The Beach Trail, 3/4 miles stepped stretch takes you to the Torrey Pine State Beach.
Glider Port: Apart from hiking, this place also welcomes gliding enthusiasts for paragliding, tandem gliding and hang gliding. Perfectly positioned on the cliff above Black Beach, it’s an ideal way to get stunning view of the ocean, state reserve and La Jolla.
Captivating Rock Formation: The most striking feature at reserve are the rock formations. This natural habitat is mostly rocky and has sedimentary rocks all over, mainly prone to erosion. That’s why fascinating formations have build along the trails over the vast expanse of time.
Photographer’s Paradise: Even without an adventurous spirit, still you can enjoy the picturesque landscape or stroll around the park. One can spent a whole day either on the beach or sitting on the cliffs overlooking ocean.
- Easiest way to reach Torrey Pine is by car.
- Being a natural reserve, food and drinks are not allowed except on the beach.
- Wear comfortable shoes for trekking, as trails are steep at points.
- Reserve remains open from 7:15 AM to sunset, all around the year.