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Hello Monday – Our Northern Michigan Summer Vacation

Hello Monday!

I’m linking up with Sarah and Holly for Hello Monday!

I’m here today to share our trip up in northern Michigan.  We love Michigan, we love Michigan especially in the summer…we love northern Michigan in the summer even more!  Ha!

This is a long post since I wanted to document all the things.  I did break it down day by day, but I’ll warn you – there are tons of pictures in this blog post!

The kids’ last day of school was Thursday, June 2nd and we were packed and ready to head north as soon as they were out of school…


We picked up the kids from school, drove back to our house to drop off their backpacks, since we had zero space left in the car, and we were off.

We camped at Ludington State Park on the Lake Michigan side of the state.  We love this campground and Jon later found out it’s the most popular campground in the state and it completely books out every summer.  It’s absolutely beautiful.

Lucky for us (<—sarcasm) we had a campsite with dirt on it so Jane took to it almost immediately.  It was good though, a little dirt and a 3 year old go hand-in-hand, I suppose!  

Our campsite was ready to go! 

Jon wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to bring Jane’s bike.  I pressured him into finding a way, because I just knew Jane would love being able to ride her bike around and boy, she sure did.  She easily biked 2-3 miles every day!

We indulged in s’mores…

It was still early in the evening and I think Jon and I thought we would be at our campsite for the remainder of the evening, but I looked over at Jane and thought, “Nope, we need to keep moving or else she’s going to grow restlesss.”
It was going to take forever for her to head to bed what with it being so bright, so off we went on a bicycling adventure.
We ended up finding this really amazing park…
It started to get dark and it was around 9:00.  It was waaaaaay past Jane’s bedtime, but also, I was worried that it was going to get dark really fast now…especially through the woods…

Oh and it did.  This is a blurry picture of me being slightly concerned over how dark it was becoming and trying not to look scared an concerned over what animals could be lurking or were in the woods while we rode through on our bikes all alone!  

We had made it back to camp, hit the hay and froze as we slept.  It had gotten down into the mid 40s over night and I was sooooo cold all night.  I definitely had not packed enough warm clothes or bedding for our two night camping stay.  I told Jon that the next night I was going to wear all of my clothes just like Joey Tribbiani did with Chandler’s clothes.  LOL! 
Jane woke up refreshed and ready to party – AKA ride her bike everywhere!
Henry and Eliza did fine.  It seemed as though their sleeping bags really helped keep them cozy.
I brought my mini Keuirg and a K Cup from Disney with me so that I could function.  Bahahaha!  This was the only part of the camping trip that was even close to “glamping.”
Eliza wanted an itty bitty taste.
She deemed it awful.
We rode our bikes out to a lighthouse – we went here last year, as well, but this year it was a much easier ride and we knew what we were in for…
We had made it AND it was open this time around, so we took advantage and paid to take a tour and go up into the lighthouse.
The stairs were a little work with Jane.  They even had to measure her to make sure she was safe to go up.
Once at the top, the keepers told us to keep Jane on the ground and that it would be windy.
The views were spectacular.
On our bike ride back to the campsites (it was a about a 2 1/2 miles roundtrip or so), I had noticed these really fun dunes, so we stopped at let the kids jump and run and slide down the dunes…

It was magic…
We looked across the sandy road and spotted this really crazy tall and vertical dune.  Eliza somehow raced to the top, so of course I had to see what was up there so Jon and I joined in…
It was worth the climb…
We had a blast going down this one!
Our ride back…
Later in the day we found this amphitheater in the woods and of course the kids put on a show!
On Saturday we woke up slowly and packed up to leave.  We had two gentlemen from different campsites compliment us on our parenting – that ALWAYS feels good to get a parenting compliment!  I did inform them that they probably just didn’t hear me disciplining them throughout the days.  Hahaha!
The kids sat and colored as Jon and I continued to pack up…
We headed further north, picked up our key to our rental and stopped by one of our favorite parks in Glen Arbor.
We then headed to the house and I snapped this quick picture…
After we unpacked we headed down to the lake.
We collected stones, skipped stones and took in the view.
I’m always on the hunt for a Petoskey Stone.

This house.

On Sunday we woke up nice and clean and knew we had a full day ahead of us.  We had invited Jon’s parents to come up and like the rockstars they are, they said yes!  The kids were really excited to see them!
But first coffee and snuggles…
We headed out on an excursion to Sleeping Bear Dunes.  It was 4.5 miles to get there.  Last year we rode a little on the trails but not as far the the 4.5 miles (9 miles roundtrip), so we knew this was something we wanted to try…
We had made it!  
This is a major attraction in Michigan and people from all over come to this dune.  Jon was saying he read that these dunes can be seen from space.
It’s quite a hike to the other side and it’s difficult to say the least.  Last year we somehow made it halfway in about 45 minutes…and that was with carrying Jane a lot, too.  It gets hot and it’s not easy.  This year we opted to stay on this main dune…
More carrying of Jane.  This was quite the workout!!!
Eliza did a handstand…
Jon did this.  *eyeroll*
I kid, I kid…he works hard for those muscles!
The kids and I did this…
A view of Glen Lake on the way down…
Jane loved making sand angels everywhere…
Being goofy with her booty…
We biked back to our rental, and in kind of a speedy manner, to meet up with Grandma and Grandpa.
We had a lot on the agenda.  First up, a hike up to Pyramid Point.
This view and that water – L-O-V-E!
This girl has my heart!

The dune drops off so we were careful not to back up too far!
Great picture of George and Terri…
Love this guy…
The hike back to the car was all down hill!
Parking lot group picture!  Haha!
We decided to head to Leland (AKA Fishtown), since George had never been.  It’s the quaintest little town, buy always bustling with people.
The Candy store…

We loved seeing some candy for ten cents.  We bought the kids lots of goodies.
We headed into some stores and I was loving these mugs.  I bought the one on the bottom left…

Lattes for the ride back to Glen Arbor…

We ate at Cherry Republic for dinner, but had to eat early because one of the owners was hosting his son’s High School Graduation party at the entire restaurant, so the kitchen was closing at 4.  We planned to get there around 3:45ish and it all worked out perfectly.  The food and the drinks were the best!
After dinner, we walked back to the house and then headed back over to Sleeping Bear for the second time that day because George had never been to see it before.  They were leaving the next day, but it was also supposed to rain all morning so we knew this was our only chance to get hime there.

So happy we went!

On Monday we drank coffee and visited.  The kids played a board game with Grandma and Grandpa and we slowly got around.
After they left we had to come up with a rainy day plan so we decided to drive over to Empire, Michigan.  This is one of my favorite little towns.  It’s almost like a secret.
Janie sat in the egg chair before we left…
We drove around to just check things out – I dream of a cottage in this area – and we found this coffee shop.
The door was wide open but nobody was around.  I thought it was closed.
Suddenly the nicest woman ever appeared and said she was using the restroom.  She later told us they live on the other side of the building.  She and I knew some of the same people where we live in southern Michigan and Eliza said she wasn’t wearing shoes – just socks.  She almost forgot to take our cash, too.  She was very knowledgeable and had lived in the are all her life and I just loved her hometown/up north/laid back vibe.  
She took her time with the kids and made their hot cocoas extra special!  It was a lovely experience!
We took our coffees and cocoas to go and headed to the National Park building – All of Sleeping Bear is a National Park – there were people from EVERYWHERE and the parking lot was packed – it was crazy!
We then drove over to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  This drive was GORGEOUS!!!!!  I couldn’t believe we had never done it before.
We found ourselves at Lookout #9 and #10 – Stunning – Absolutely stunning!
The rain didn’t slow us down!
Pictures just don’t do the scenery justice…
We were soaked!

This was quite a drop off!

The kids were pretending to fall/climb, but then I looked over and Henry was actually falling.  Talk about a heart attack!!!!
It was still early in the day and we knew going back to the house would just result in boredom, so we headed up and over to Sutton’s Bay, Michigan!
We found the cutest stores there!

The best lattes of our trip – THE BEST!
Puddles for the win!
We visited Forty-Five – for being on the 45th parallel – halfway between the equator and the North Pole!
Rumor has it I had been here like three times before, but I had zero recollection.  😉 
The kids were cracking up over the decor…
Grapes for mom and dad…
Grape juice for the kids… 

Our attempt at a selfie…  LOL!
This is probably why I don’t remember being here.  I climbed this only after a shared flight of three drinks.  LOL!
We headed back to the house and decided to have s’mores.  We couldn’t find ice cream anywhere in town due to it still being the off season, so s’mores it was!
The kids headed to bed and a beautiful sunset followed.
I love this place.


On Tuesday we headed to the local Farmers’ Market and boy, it did not disappoint.

We left with sooo many goodies, probably the most we’ve ever bought at a Farmers’ Market.
We bought scones, a loaf of bread, nuts, a lemon brownie, carrot cake, asparagus…I’m sure I’m missing some things in there – seriously so delicious!

We took our treats back to the house and indulged and then we hit the road back to Empire and indulged while en route.
We hiked Empire Bluff and it provided us with another gorgeous view.
Jane brought a lotion and a book to read on the hike up.  LOL!
We decided to eat somewhere else and headed over to Traverse City.  American Spoon is one of my very favorite stores and I knew exactly what I wanted – the Cherry Salsa and Blue Corn Chips.  I’ve loved this place since I was a little girl and now here I was, bringing my little girls inside!

We finally found ice cream and the kids were thrilled!

Jon and I found a place for more coffee and then we headed to another early dinner at Red Mesa in Traverse City.

Wiki Stix for the win!

Wednesday was our last day so we decided to ride our bikes one more time over to the dunes.  We took our time and we were gone for hours.
We relaxed and climbed the dunes for the third time that week.  I went up another dune a way I had never taken before.  I was able to see Lake Michigan and Glen Lake and Jon and the kids way down below.  It was so beautiful that I literally and audibly gasped!
Jon in his relaxed state was cracking me up!
Jane joined in on the sandy fun!
I love this.  My boy…
My girls…

We biked home and still had a lot of time left in the day.  The temp had dropped while up on the dunes, so we knew we wanted to stay warm, but continue our adventures, so we headed up to Northport at the tip of of Leelanau Peninsula and WOW – we saw some amazing and HUGE homes on the way!
You can’t see anything here, but I’d love to go back and drive sloooooly through these neighborhoods!

We made it to Northport and it was so pretty – we headed up to the lighthouse and this place was super special.  We loved reading and learning about the family that occupied this home years ago.  It had really good vibes and I felt like the home was smiling at us and loved having our kids there.
What adventures the family must’ve had…

Then there’s ours…Hahaha!

We climbed to the top of the lighthouse and grabbed a quick pic of Jane.  It was tight up there, but the views were gorgeous!
I managed to snap this pic.  Lilacs, lighthouses and lakes – perfect!
We loved our vacation so much and we made so many beautiful memories!
Thank you, Sandy Bear!  Rumor has it this home won’t be available next summer, and while it makes me sad, I’m happy the couple who built it will get to enjoy their retirement in such a lovely and magical area of Michigan!

If you’re still here, thanks so much for following along on our adventures!
Marie 🙂

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  1. What a fun and exhausting trip! Y'all squeezed in a lot! I can't believe how cold it is there still!! I would give anything for 40's right now!! Right now it's 95 degrees with a heat index of 109 here. Waaaahhhh!!!!

  2. WOW! Your vacation looks amazing. You saw so many stunning views and did SO MUCH. I love to read about Michigan. My mom was from MI so we visited her family that still lived there quite a bit (I grew up in IN). My aunt whom we visited the most lived the furthest point from any lake in the state I think!! We may as well have been in Indiana, lol. But I still loved going there. We did have family that lived in the UP for two years so we went there twice to visit and it was cool, literally and figuratively. This post has me pining to see more of Michigan's coast.

  3. Such a beautiful trip! You hit some great areas! I don't know how you slept outside in 40 degree weather- I would've died- you crushed it! The kids look like they had a ball- love all of the pics 🙂

  4. There is nothing like northern Michigan! We have fallen in love with Silver Lake the last few years – it’s so fun to run or slide down the dunes right into the water!

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