5 Day Road Trip Through “Pure Michigan”

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.

Day 1

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.

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Mackinac Bridge

Day 2

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.img_4097

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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.

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StarLine Ferry
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Makinac Island

Day 3

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.

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Dune Climb

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.

Day 4

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.img_4491By 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.img_4653

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.img_4858img_4868

Day 5

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.

Our Travel Map:

route

 

Travel  Tips

  1. Hiking in sand is seriously a bad idea if you haven’t done it beforehand.
  2. Carry loads of water if you are hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  3. Always keep a low day after 2 hectic days, it just get you back on track.
  4. If you are driving to Upper Peninsula keep your gas tank full, as there are only a few on the way.

7 Reasons To Visit Navy Pier In Chicago

Just a few weeks after landing in Chicago, we made our maiden visit to Navy Pier. This 3300 foot long Pier on shoreline of Lake Michigan left us fascinated. A place which attracts all walks of life equally, with uncountable reasons. After our first visit we had a lot many reasons to get back here, to quench our quest and explore it fully. Here are the things, which make Navy Pier so special:

Historical SignificanceLooking at today’s Pier, it really feels surprising how it has evolved from being just a Commercial Pier, to a Naval Training center, then a College Classroom and finally as we see it today a place for entertainment and public gathering. IMG_1816

InfrastructureNavy Pier currently has sections starting from a Park at entrance followed by Children Museum, IMAX theater(Chicago’s largest movie screen)shops and Ball room. In middle there are rides, Miniature Golf Course on upper floor, restaurants at lower level and festival hall at the end.IMG_3526

Rides– Pier Park has most popular rides as Ferris wheel (under renovation to increase its height from 150 to 196 feet), Musical Carousel, Light Tower Ride & Wave Swinger. 

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New Ferris Wheel

 

Ferris WheelVisiting Navy Pier and not opting for Ferris Wheel, one should not dare to do that. It should be on your bucket list while visiting Chicago. Take a 7 minute ride on Ferris for panoramic view of Chicago Skyscrapers & Lake Michigan, in the midst of winds just for $6.

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View from Ferris Wheel

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Water Tours & Cruise Another way to catch the sight of Windy City, opt for Water Taxi from Navy Pier to Shedd Aquarium and Union Station or Architectural Tour to get acquainted with the City of Chicago.

Go for any of the following:

  • Sightseeing cruises – Seadog Cruises, Shoreline Sightseeing and Tall windy ship,
  • Diner cruises – Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago and Mystic Blue.
  • Private yacht.
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Shoreline Sightseeing
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Tall Windy Ship

Live Music After rides, shopping & strolling around the pier, be entertained by the live bands (absolutely free) at Landshark Beer Garden along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Grab a beer,have a good time dancing with people around you or gazing blue water with the breeze at lake shore. IMG_1812n

Fireworks– Right through the Memorial Day to Labor Day, Navy Pier gets dazzled around every Wednesday and Saturday with fireworks. But the charismatic view comes across on 4th of July and New Year Holiday when the fireworks dance on music tunes. All looks stunning from Pier but the view from boat is out of this world.o (6)

Travel tips 

  1. Plan your visit to Chicago around 4th July, New Year’s Eve to get spellbound by festive fireworks, free of cost.
  2. Get boarded to Shoreline water taxi(Green Route) which cost around $8 to Shedd Aquarium for most striking view of Chicago Skyline.
  3. Full day parking costs $21 on weekdays and $25 over weekend including Friday
  4. On a budget try to eat at Food Court,if not there are many famous restaurants.
  5. Make a visit in summer for the pleasant weather.

 

 

P.S- The pictures in the post are our own except the fireworks one.

Cloud Gate a.k.a The Bean

In the midst of the city, Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor is most fabulous attraction of Chicago. We have been here many times, but still the beauty of this bean attracts you every time in a new way. While standing at Cloud Gate it feels fascinating witnessing the great skyline of Chicago.

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Officially Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean due to its shape, was opened for public in 2006. Covered with stainless steel this seamless surface has got its inspiration from liquid mercury, providing distorted reflections and great elliptical skyline. A 100 tons sculpture expanding to 33 by 66 by 42 Feet, is truly a masterpiece by well renowned artist Anish Kapoor.

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Inside the bean

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Best Time to visit:

Its spectacular in summers and splendid in winters, so anytime year around is great, day or night it gives a spellbound view.

Timings: 6 AM to 11 PM.

Travel tips:

  1. Do not forget your camera & try getting some funny poses around “The Bean”.
  2. Make a visit around sunset or sunrise.
  3. Be an early-bird to click only “The Bean” with no people around.

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St Louis: What Shouldn’t Be Missed !!

Along the banks of Mississippi river on border of IL and MO is situated the city of St. Louis. Apart being known for the Arch, this city has a lot to offer. We tried to capture most of the city both as traveler and foodie, walking down the streets, getting a bite of local food and capturing the famous tourist spots. Here are few reasons why St Louis should be your next destination:

1. Gateway Arch:  A 630 foot monument on the bank of Mississippi river, is world’s tallest arch and a major tourist spot. Easily accessible from downtown and the most visited attractions. Buy tickets to visit observation deck on top of the arch,this few minutes tram ride will be your best experience in St Louis.IMG_3001.JPG

2. Missouri Botanical Garden Located in Shaw Blvd, this is the oldest botanical garden offering a vast horticulture exhibit. Spread across 79 acres this garden includes major attractions like Japanese garden, Climatron(a conservatory based on tropical rain forest  theme), Temperate House, Linnean House (oldest operative greenhouse). Click Here for pictures

Timings: 9am -5 pm daily, General Entry Fee: $8

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Missouri Botanical Garden

3. Cathedral Basilica of St Louis One of the few churches which are both Cathedral(having pope’s throne) and Basilica(special spiritual, historical, and/or architectural significance), it took more than 7 decades to complete it(from 1912-1988). Witness the extravagant interior of mosaics made out of glass in 7000 different colors, astonishingly no paint has been used inside the church,Check out the pictures.Tours are available to get well versed with art and history of the Church. Tour booking is free and can be done through the website or over the call, you can make a donation as per your will after tour commences.IMG_2943

4. Mississippi River Overlook-Most serene place in St Louis to experience the spectacular view of Downtown, Gateway Geyser and skyline of St Louis from 40 ft tall platform overlooking Mississippi river.

Do make a visit to Gateway Geyser next to the platform, incredibly boosting the water approximately to the height of Gateway of Arch on the other side of Mississippi River. It also holds the credibility of being the tallest fountain in USA and second in the world.

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View from the platform

5. Downtown Take a walk on the “Washington Ave” and “Broadway”, try out the best restaurants, indulge in shopping and acknowledge the diverse culture of St Louis. Busch Stadium, home ground to St Louis Cardinals and Old Courthouse are just a few blocks down from the Washington Avenue(the main street).

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Washington Avenue

6. Toasted Ravioli  Created in St Louis, this deep-fried appetizer should be on your list. Toasted ravioli of St Louis became famous when it got dropped by chef accidentally and eventually became the most desired menu item. Filled with meat and fried till golden brown it is served with marinara sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese. One can have this dish at “The Hill”, an Italian neighborhood in St.Louis.

Must try Mama Toscano’s Ravioli at 2201 Macklind Ave, St. Louis.

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7. St Louis Style BBQ – We have started loving BBQ after visiting couple of joints in Chicago and now on our visit to St Louis, it would have been unfair if we hadn’t tasted the renowned St Louis Style BBQ. Few notable restaurants serving authentic STL BBQ: Pappy’s Smokehouse, The Shaved Duck, Smoki O’s Bar-B-Que. 

We tried Smoki O’s BBQ Read our review here . This place is highly recommended if you are in the city and a non-vegetarian of-course.

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Travel Tips:

  • Try to book hotel in Downtown as most attractions are nearby.
  • Make a visit to Mississippi River Overlook around sunset for spectacular view.
  • Traveling with kids !! Well St Louis do have City Museum, Zoo & Aquarium. There is no entry fee in museum and zoo.
  • Try to visit Missouri Botanical Garden in Fall season.
  • Do try Gooey Cake & Provel Cheese Thin Crust Pizza, other specialties of St Louis.
  • As a visitor, do not roam around at late nights. Be safe
  • Last but not the least click a selfie at Mississippi River Overlook.

 

 

Meet “Sue- The T.rex”

Yesterday on our visit to Field Museum Chicago, we got the chance to see “Sue” most popular, well preserved fossil of Tyrannosaurus Rex (T.Rex), named after the discoverer, i.e. Susan Hendrickson.

In 1990,it was found mostly complete and the bones were in great condition too, which brought much more attention to “Sue”.

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Sue is 42 feet long, 13 feet high, 5 feet long head with 58 dagger teeth and weighed nearly 7 tons when alive and currently the most striking feature of Field Museum, Chicago.

Tips– If you are visiting Field Museum, Chicago then do not miss T.rex 3D movie .

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights- Festive Vibes

Merry Christmas and Happy holidays from Chicago..

In this festive season, one of the most popular events that takes place in Chicago is Lights festival at Lincoln Park Zoo. It is organised every year from the day after Thanksgiving till the New Year. A couple of days ago we visited this place to get involved in the eve of Christmas. As it was our first visit and experience, so we were as excited as kids.IMG_2614IMG_2604IMG_2638IMG_2641

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The spectacular musical light show was highlight of the whole festival. A must see and most recommended if you are visiting Chicago.

Best Time to visit– On weekdays, as weekends are over crowded.

Entry Fee– FREE !!

Timings– 4:30-9:00 p.m

Apart from the lights you can go for Ice Skating and if not then go for Hot Chocolate or Popcorn enjoying the great view of Chicago Skyline..

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