Getaway from the Holidays

The Terrace Grille at the Bay Pointe Inn

Just 30 minutes from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, the Bay Pointe Inn on Gun Lake is Dianna Stampfler’s perfect getaway from the frenzy of the holidays.

Trying to cram work, holiday get-togethers and last-minute shopping into the already hectic life of a single mom creates undue stress around what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. By the time I settle into a lakeside deluxe suite, I am ready to relax. The soft nautical blues and greens of the room are peaceful and calming, which sets the tone for my night away. Equipped with a stack of magazines, I draw a bath in the oversized whirlpool tub, light the fireplace and settle in for an afternoon of me-time.

Tempura Asparagus at the Terrace Grille

As it turns out, lounging makes you hungry. Luckily, I don’t have to go far—the Terrace Grille is downstairs. A glass of Michigan Riesling kicks off an amazing meal. The sweet baked Brie and crispy tempura asparagus are delicious. The entree, The Original Bay Pointe Beef Wellington, is a tribute to the former landmark restaurant. The property has welcomed travelers as a resort, summer home, campground and restaurant since the 1880s. The beef Wellington is a delicate blend of flakey pastry crust and a filet so tender that I barely need a knife.

Because I’m on a mini vacation, I don’t feel guilty about ordering dessert. I take the ultimate indulgence—chocolate lava cake—to my suite to enjoy. It seems almost a shame to call it a night so early, but the plush king-size bed lures me under the covers. I am thankful for the solitude and banish all thoughts of work, household chores, parental responsibilities and, yes, even sugarplums.

The sun filters into the room, and I wake eager to start the day. Refreshed and recharged, I want to make the most of the morning. I snag a yogurt and banana from the Continental breakfast buffet and drive about 15 minutes to Yankee Springs State Recreation area for a hike through the forest. One of six hiking trails, the 2-mile Hall Lake trail winds through the woods. I don’t encounter anyone else on the hike—I am alone with my thoughts.

Facing the New Year doesn’t seem all that daunting, having recharged mind, body and spirit without overcharging my budget.

Dianna Stampfler loves Michigan so much that she’s made a career out of it! Her marketing consultant company, Promote Michigan, is just one of the many ways this fourth-generation Michigan resident shows her appreciation for the Great Lakes State.

Fall is a Grape Time for Pure Michigan Wine

With the crisp autumn air and rolling landscapes through the scenic countryside, fall is a great time to visit some of the more than 80 Michigan wineries across the state.

Whether it’s touring individual wineries, hitting one of the Michigan wine trails, checking out an upcoming tasting event or staying at one of the winery bed & breakfast inns in the Grand Traverse Region, there are plenty of activities to make every wine lover feel right at home in Pure Michigan.


  • Join Heather Dean, sommelier for Andiamo restaurants in the Detroit metropolitan area, as she introduces selections available for sampling at the Michigan Wine Tasting on October 27 at Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College in Clinton Township.
  • Try delicious appetizers and desserts from 13 local restaurants that complement Michigan wines and other international sips to be poured at A Taste for the Holidays, on November 2 at Bordine Nursery in Clarkston.
  • Sample food, wine, beer, and spirits and enjoy gastronomic workshops, seminars and cooking demos at the 4th annual Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festivalat DeVos Place on the Grand River, November 17-18.
  • Feast on a Fall Harvest Dinner of country ham, scalloped potatoes, applesauce streusel and wines of Wolcott Winery in Mt. Morris on October 29.
  • Savor the delicacies of two chefs who will create different 5-course menus served with appropriate wines for the November 5 and November 12 Fall Harvest Dinners at Fenn Valley Vineyards in Fennville.


  • Sip and tour the winery while sampling food and wine pairings at the Brys Estate Annual Harvest Tour, on October 29 on the Old Mission Peninsula.
  • Join the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association for the Toast the Season on the weekends of November 5-6 and November 12-13 and visit your choice of 8 of the 18 member wineries each day for a self-guided tour to sample wine and gourmet food pairings geared toward the holidays.


Extend your visit with an overnight stay at wineries that also offer Bed & Breakfast accommodations. Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay has an inn with 8 guest rooms. Overlooking Grand Traverse Bay is Chateau Grand Traverse with its 6 guest rooms, and the 11-room Chateau Chantal. While not a winery, The Grey Hare Inn Vineyard Bed & Breakfast grows grapes and is conveniently located to the wineries of Old Mission and the Grand Traverse region.

Dog Days Inn

Tucker poses beneath the Days Inn & Suites sign

Kath Usitalo, a contributing writer for Michigan Travel Ideas, gives in to her husband’s plea and allows Tucker, the family dog, to be part of a mini getaway.

Traveling with a dog is overrated. Don’t get me wrong—we love Tucker, but his blend of Australian shepherd and terrier translates into lots of energy. His last road trip (one week with two teenagers) convinced my husband, TJ, and I that Tucker and trips just don’t mix.

With the kids in college, however, we decide to give Tucker another try—just a side trip—in what became affectionately known as our Dog Days Inn trip.

On our way home from our cottage in the Upper Peninsula, we detoured to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. After researching the Grand Traverse area, we decide on the Days Inn & Suites. With the 10 percent discount from their ad in Michigan Travel Ideas, we partially recover the $15 fee for Tucker.

We park outside our door, which makes it easy to unload our gear and Tucker. It’s a standard room with simple decor. The room includes a mini fridge, microwave and safe (for Tucker’s treats?). We drop off our bags and set out to find a dog-friendly eatery.

A restaurant meal with our dog is a first for us, but many Traverse City outdoor cafes welcome pups. We sit under an umbrella at a table on the deck at Folgarelli’s, a gourmet market, and tackle fabulous, made-to-order sandwiches. Two of us (sorry, Tucker) share The Mobster, a tower of Italian meat and cheese. It’s so filling that we decide we’ll have to try the luscious smoked salmon sandwich at lunch the next day. Tucker licks a classic vanilla cone from Dairy Lodge.

Too worried about leaving Tucker alone in the hotel, we skip the indoor pool. Next time, maybe. We like the flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi. Did I mention the convenient dog run? Before hitting the road the next morning, we take turns walking Tucker and enjoying the complimentary breakfast bar.

To take Tucker’s mind off food, we head to Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to enjoy the Sleeping Bear Dunes views. Well, TJ and I enjoy the panoramas of water and sand; Tucker barely glances up from the nearest shrub.

D.O.G. Bakery makes yogurt-frosted cookies in dozens of shapes, including the Michigan mitten.

D.O.G. Bakery makes yogurt-frosted cookies in dozens of shapes, including the Michigan mitten

After the drive, Tucker gets free samples of WoofWhomper Dog Cookies at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. While nibbling on cherry cobbler on the deck, we strike up a conversation with a couple who fall for Tucker. Of course, Tucker gives them the look hoping to score a head rub or more treats. In Traverse City, we can’t pass up the all-natural dog snacks from D.O.G. Bakery, a bright inviting shop.

All in all, we had a good weekend. We may give this Dog Days Inn thing another try; the chain has hotels throughout the state.

Kath Usitalo is a freelance magazine writer who is bi-peninsular. She is at home in the Detroit area and at her family’s Lake Michigan getaway, Blue Skies, in the UP. She travels and writes about Michigan—usually without her dog—for a variety of outlets, including Michigan Travel Ideas and her Great Lakes Gazette blog.