Four years ago, my Mom and I decided that we needed a girl’s trip each year, just the two of us. I was inspired by my Dad, his brothers, and Grandpa who have been taking a trip together each year, for many years. This time each year is very special to me as I greatly enjoy having this uninterrupted time together while exploring a new destination. It gives my Mom and I a chance to bond and build our relationship.
This year, we almost didn’t go on a trip. Mainly because I had been overseas from January to June, started a new job in July, and was pretty broke. I think we both accepted the fact that 2016 would sadly have to be a wash for our annual mother/daughter trip.
As I started to ponder this more probably around August, I started to feel really sad at the thought of us not doing it and started to seriously question the decision not to go. There were still a few months left of 2016, why couldn’t we make it happen? Why was I initially okay with letting go of our tradition because of a few small things standing in my way? I didn’t want to look back and regret missing this time with my Mom – had I learned nothing about prioritizing my relationships while we were overseas? After all letting these swirling thoughts in my brain marinate, I emailed my Mom on August 14th..
“Would you be interested in trying to do a quick/cheap girls trip maybe in October? I really don’t want a year to go by where we don’t do this.”
“I would love to plan a trip for October.”
And we were back in business!
My Mom and I have both lived in the Midwest the majority of our lives and have for some reason, never really explored northern Michigan. So, I threw the idea out to head up there because we could drive, do it in a long weekend, I heard it was beautiful up there, WINE, and since Dan and I are planning on moving out of the Midwest this would be a great time to go. A mother/daughter trip was born!
We somehow narrowed it down to Traverse City and Mackinac Island probably because I found them on the top 10 must-see destinations in Northern Michigan. I also read that the leaves changing colors would be at their very best around this time. So we piled in the car and drove the 5 hours up to Traverse City in a torrential downpour but were greeted with this beautiful winery: Chateau Chantal.
Chateau Chantal is located on the Old Mission Peninsula as are many, many other wineries in this region. The views are absolutely stunning as being located on the peninsula provides lake views everywhere. The wine wasn’t our favorite here but the views were pretty unbeatable (also, the prices for tastings are super cheap!) Chateau Chantal has a gorgeous, large back patio were you can sip wine and take in the scenery.
The second stop on our wine tour was Brys Estate (just down the road from Chateau Chantal). The Old Mission Peninsula makes wine tasting very easy as many wineries are all located pretty much next to one another. The inside of Brys Estate was my favorite – it had a very classic, homey feel to it. I could have sat in there all day and sipped on their Riesling which was amazing (and I usually don’t like Riesling!) My Mom loved one of their Roses (and she doesn’t like Rose usually!)
The next day we decided to check out some nature that didn’t include vineyards and realized we needed to hike off all the wine and Mexican food that we had consumed the day before. So, I plugged in the address for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park which is located about a 40 minute drive from Traverse City.
We arrived at the Dunes and were pretty shocked! I didn’t realize there were actual dunes for some reason (I thought it was simply a bunch of hiking trails). I climbed up the dunes and was taken aback by the views from the top. It almost felt like I was in a desert and not in Michigan!
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park has a ton of different trails and hikes you can do. I was pretty overwhelmed by the amount and didn’t know which to pick. My Mom also funnily enough forgot tennis shoes (see the boots below) so we needed to do a hike with stabile trails. The ranger at the Dunes recommended the Empire Bluff Trail as it is easy and has incredible views of the coast.
After a morning of hiking, we were ready for some more wine and relaxation. We met a couple of women on the trail who recommended Mari Vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula (I should mention before we went here we ate lunch at Harvest which was delicious and had a few beers at the 7 Monks Taproom). The views, wine, and prices again did not disappoint even if the weather did not want to cooperate.
One our last day, we decided to head to Mackinac Island. We booked a hotel on St. Ignace which is on the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula and which is also where you can catch a ferry to the island. In order to get to St. Ignace, you have to drive over the huge, incredible Mackinac Bridge (I wish I could have gotten a picture) but if you have a fear of bridges like my mom does, it could be pretty scary.
Anyways, we took Shepler’s Ferry over to Mackinac for the afternoon.
The Grand Hotel (it’s about $400 a night to stay here!)
Many of the buildings on Mackinac Island are so cute and well kept. This Inn was my favorite.
The main drag on Mackinac full of touristy souvenir shops, fudge shops (which we had to indulge in of course), restaurants, ice cream, etc.
We decided to follow a trail that lead us to this arch – I can’t remember what it’s called now but it was really cool. The water up here is so clear and blue!
Like after most vacations, I felt sad that it was over and it was hard to watch my Mom drive away after dropping me off in Chicago. We had such a great time, explored a new area, and really got to catch up after almost a year of being apart. What made me feel better though, was the fact that this trip wasn’t even supposed to happen. We weren’t even going to do it initially. I’m so thankful now that we decided to let tradition trump those petty excuses that were previously standing in our way. Here’s to never missing another year!