Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vacation Recap Part One: Grand Rapids

If you follow me on Instagram (@learningtobeawife) you saw a few glimpses of our vacation. We were gone Saturday to Saturday last week and had the BEST time. As usual, I took too many pictures, read a few good books, and ate really good food. That's what vacations are made of, right? :)

We knew we wanted to go somewhere in September when the crowds would be lower and we could get off season rates. We were toying between Myrtle Beach and the Traverse City area. We love our TC! Renting a condo in Myrtle Beach would be cheaper, but would probably be about the same price as up north once you factor in the gas to get there. We also might go to MB next year with my family so we decided on Suttons Bay. 

Suttons Bay is in the Leelanau Peninsula and I fell in love with it last year. Actually, I fell in love with this waterfront property in Suttons Bay called White Fence. The reviews were outstanding and I have been trying to book a stay for TWO YEARS but it's always been booked! We finally found availability the first week in September and we jumped on it. 

Always up for extending a vacation, we found a great Hotwire deal for Grand Rapids the weekend before we were to arrive in Suttons Bay. Annnnnd since we really wanted a Saturday to Saturday vacation, we ended up booking a hotel in Traverse City for the Thursday that we had to leave White Fence. WF was booked again that Thursday so we couldn't stay the whole week (major bummer!). But with some creative thinking we ended up with the perfect up north getaway plan!

I'm sorry in advance that my vacation posts are long, but feel free to skim the pictures. I won't be offended. I love going on vacation, talking about vacation and hearing about other people's vacation so these kind of posts are always my favorite to write.

We left last Saturday morning for Grand Rapids. We dropped Manny off at boarding and got into GR around noon. Perfect timing for lunch! We heart Founders so that was our first stop. A no brainer, really.

We sat outside in their new patio area which was really large and really pretty. It was packed, but we found a place to squeeze in. I ordered the Rubaeus, a summer favorite of mine.

G ordered the beer sampler, naturally. He loves a good beer sampler and Founders is the perfect place to get it because they have so many great beers...for him. He loves his IPAs while I'm more of an ale girl.

If you have not tried their Beer Cheese Dip you haven't lived. I know it's dramatic of me to say, but it's the truth. I crave this! It is amazing and so filling. We feasted on the dip, chatted and enjoyed our brews while getting in some people watching and soaking up the sun. Our waiter was really funny, the food and beer were amazing, the weather was glorious, and it was just the perfect start to our vacation. 

We walked around Grand Rapids and then headed to our hotel to check in. Now, I realize we really lucked out with Hotwire last year scoring a hotel for $65 a night in the heart of downtown. We could get room service, walk everywhere and enjoy the river. It's a risk with Hotwire because you don't see your hotel until after you book... But we had such good luck last time I was sure we would get that hotel again. I was wrong. We got a hotel that was ten minutes away from GR. Wah wah wah. I was bummed about it and even tried to argue with Hotwire that was NOT in the downtown GR area. Regardless, I was stuck with the booking and tried to be positive about it. 

It actually ended up working out really great. We got upgraded to a suite which made me happy! Our room was right next door to the pool which was fun because after walking around GR we checked in, swam laps at the pool and then I read in the hot tub. It was so relaxing and kind of nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city. We ordered take out pizza and just had a quiet night in.

Sunday we slept in, ate breakfast at the hotel, swam laps in the pool (you guys, I love to swim!) and then headed to the Frederik Meijer Gardens. It's this really pretty garden full of statues and nature. It was so peaceful to just wander around and explore. I'll spare you all the pictures I took of myself mimicking the statues. I'm not sure why I can't act normal around a statue, but I just can't.

Instead I'll share this hilarious photo of OTHER people being silly around a statue. See, it's not just me! See also: That is one huge horse.

Most of the sculptures were either creepy or left me feeling like I could do that. I know, I probably just don't appreciate art. But this sculpture was pretty cool. My favorite of them all actually. 

Okay. Twist my arm. Here is one of our silly pictures. G is pretending to get pricked by a cactus. We are nerds.

The cactus picture and the above picture were in this really beautiful greenhouse. I think it was one of my favorite places of the whole garden. 

There was this waterfall creating this calming atmosphere and all these gorgeous tropical flowers making you feel like you were on some exotic island. It was so nice and relaxing.

After the sculptures and greenhouse we headed outside to another (bigger) waterfall. It was so pretty and seriously the sound of water falling is so peaceful. We sat by this waterfall for a bit and watched them set up for a wedding. What a perfect spot for a wedding. 

Another selfie of us in front of the biggest leaf I've ever seen. I'm such a tourist.

Speaking of tourist, who's the tourist now?!

Next we headed off on a nature walk on this boardwalk. It was hot and muggy outside and there were so many trees and birds chirping I felt like we were in the Amazon. We walked about a half mile and came to this lake with swans. It was so pretty.

After our nature walk we took a picture with the Grand Rapids Arc before calling it a day. 

Ahhh air conditioning felt so good. Also, I love this chandelier. See, I can appreciate art! It was hot, we were tired of walking, and we were HUNGRY.

We headed to Stella's for lunch based on a friend's recommendation and GQ naming it the best burger in America! The vibe was so neat. Very 90s. Scooby Doo and The Jetson's were playing on the bar TVs, how fun is that?! Gosh, it took me right back to my childhood. Love those shows. 

We ordered a pitcher of sangria and it hit the spot after hours of walking outside. Not too sweet, just the perfect balance. YUM.

We ordered fried avocado as an appetizer because why NOT? When in Rome. They were delicious as expected and also we were starving. 

We (of course!) ordered burgers because how could you not when GQ says they are the best in America?! I agree. It was the best burger I ever ate. It was SO good. I had the white cheddar cheese infused burger with bacon, lettuce and fried onion rings. It was as good as it sounds. The chronic fries had this cheese seasoning and they were crisp and a little bit salty and a whole lot perfection. 

After our late lunch we came back to the hotel and we walked by a car that looked like our friends' jeep and I joked with G that Gabe and Brittany were here. Well, they actually were! We ran into them in the lobby. Small world! They planned an impromptu trip to meet some friends. They were just heading out and we were just coming back, but we chatted for a bit. I have never run into people out of town, that was fun!

We swam laps at the pool for a bit and then I did some reading in the hot tub. I finished The Husband's Secret. I couldn't put it down, it was THAT good. One of those books that keeps you thinking about it long after you finish. We ate our leftovers from Stella's for dinner and watched You've Got Mail. It was a nice relaxing night...

UNTIL our smoke detector battery was low and started chirping every 8 seconds at SEVEN. IN. THE. MORNING. I called the front desk and was told everyone but the desk clerk had the day off for Labor Day so there was nothing they could do. Wah wah wah. So we headed to breakfast and then left earlier then expected. It ended up working out, but more on that in the next recap!


Jen Caputo said...

Sounds like a great start to a fun vacation! I love Rubaeus too, so much raspberry flavor! I've never had that dip at Founders, will have to keep it in mind :)

Anne said...

Fried avocado?? Yum!!! Looks like a great trip! I cannot wait to be done with school and have more time for fun little trips!

mags said...

I love all the pictures! Sounds like a great vacation! What fun!