A Grand Romantic Getaway (Part 2)

Our Pin to Win: Michigan in Love contest was launched in February when we asked fans to create a Pinterest board that represented what an ideal romantic getaway looked like to them. We received a ton of great submissions, but ultimately selected Megan Battaglia of Buffalo, New York randomly as the winner. Megan immediately began planning a romantic getaway for her and her husband to take to Mackinac Island (and beyond!), which they enjoyed last month.

Today Megan tells us about their magical voyage around the state, their favorite stops along the way and even mentions needing to make some return trips to the state in the future!

Read from her below and visit michigan.org to learn more about Michigan vacation destinations.

My husband and I have just returned from our Pure Michigan Romantic Getaway – 2 days in Mackinac Island at Grand Hotel, round trip air from American Airlines, and a Buick rental car. We did the best we could to explore as much of western and northern Michigan as we could and here is how we did:

Day 1

Our first stop in our luxurious Buick Enclave was the Pure Michigan information center in New Buffalo where we grabbed maps and guides for all the beach towns we planned to visit as we drove up the west coast of Michigan.

Next stop, Holland. Beautiful town, plenty of shops and restaurants. We decided to have lunch at the New Holland Brewing Co. and sample some of their craft beers. We then visited the Windmill Island Gardens and toured DeZwann – the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the US! Next, onto Grand Haven where we visited the lighthouse and pier and walked the 2 ½ mile boardwalk which was lined with shops, restaurants, marinas, and shady benches to sit and enjoy the view.

After driving through other beautiful beach towns like Muskegon and Ludington, we finally arrived in Mackinaw City just in time for the sunset and to see the lights on the bridge. We stayed at a beautiful little motel “American Boutique Inn” right next to a waterfront park with a view of the bridge.

Day 2

Megan's view from her room at Grand Hotel

Finally, onto Mackinac Island and Grand Hotel! The town is like a scene from a movie set. Right away you notice the pace slows, people riding bikes, horse drawn carriages clop by, fudge shops offering free samples outside (it is ALL about the fudge here so we decided it was our “duty” to taste as many as we could). After shopping in town, we took Grand Hotel’s carriage up to the hotel to check in. Our driver was a year round resident of the island and shared some fascinating stories about life on the island. As we pulled up to the hotel it was as grand and welcoming as all the pictures you see! We were greeted with smiles and given a quick orientation to all Grand Hotel has to offer. Our room was  breathtaking – blue and green with beautiful antiques and a patio looking out over the lake. We were welcomed with a basket of champagne, roses, cheese, fruit and of course, fudge!

We then decided to tour the grounds of the hotel to learn as much as we could about this amazing place. We had ice cream at the new Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, visited the shops at the hotel, toured the flower gardens and the Esther Williams pool, walked the labyrinth, checked out the golf course, the Jockey Club and the Gate House restaurants,  stopped in at Grand Hotel Outlet Store where they sell discontinued items from the hotel (the manager of the store is a wealth of knowledge about the hotel and the island!) Finally, we settled on the porch (the longest front porch in the US and is as amazing as you would expect with magnificent views of the lake and gardens) for cocktails and then headed in for a wonderful dinner.

Day 3

The next day, we thought we would like to see more of the island and learn more of its history so the concierge at Grand Hotel set us up with our own private horse and carriage tour. Our tour guide took us along the shore up into the state park, to Arch Rock and Fort Mackinac – it was all beautiful and fascinating!

That night, as another part of our prize package, we enjoyed dinner at the Woods Restaurant which is a short horse-drawn carriage ride into the wooded interior of Mackinac Island. The restaurant is in a beautiful, warm, and cozy Tudor mansion and serving Bavarian style food. After dinner we enjoyed drinks in the Audubon Wine Room back at Grand Hotel.

I have to admit we were sad to leave the next day! We did the best we could to take advantage of all Grand Hotel has to offer but we definitely need to come back to spend some more time here! I am already perusing the fall specials!

Day 4

We were back in our beautiful Buick and onto another road trip day! We headed straight down from Mackinaw City to Route 119 and the Tunnel of Trees, a 20 mile one lane road under a canopy of trees along Lake Michigan. It was everything I dreamt it would be! Along the way we stopped at the 70 year-old Good Hart General Store with absolutely amazing homemade baked goods, deli items and famous chicken pot pies.

Megan and her husband stopping for a photo during one of their stops

From there we drove through Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Bay Harbor on our way to our final stop – Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula.

Day 5

Today we toured the Leelanau Peninsula by the way of scenic highway, M22. Our stops included:

  • Glen Arbor (beautiful beaches and home to the Cherry Republic Store and deli! Here it is all about the CHERRIES and we enjoyed them in every form they had!)
  • Empire (one of the best public beaches I have ever seen!)
  • Leland and Fishtown (ate at the Cove Restaurant perched right above the waterfall and looking down over the shops in Fishtown)
  • Wineries along M22 (including Chateau de Leelanau Vineyard, Black Star Farms, Good Neighbor Organic Vineyard, and Good Harbor Vineyards – there are so many more and another wine trail along the Old Mission Peninsula)
  • Suttons Bay (beautiful historic village with gorgeous views of the lake)

Day 6

For our last day, we saved the awe inspiring Sleeping Bear Dunes. This area has fascinated me since I learned a few years back that it had been voted the most beautiful place in America and it truly lives up to its name. Sleeping Bear Dunes is a 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline with immense sand dunes sculpted by years of wind and water.

Our trip has come to an end and here are some of the things we learned:

  • Everyone we met in Michigan was kind to us
  • Everyone we met also dreamed of staying at Grand Hotel
  • Lake Michigan is a vast, pure, and beautiful lake. The colors of the lake in some spots look like the Caribbean (turquoise, teal and navy blue) Now, I understand the T-shirt slogan “Lake Michigan Unsalted” – it looks like an ocean!
  • Northern Michigan’s wines are delicious and rival those of any other state
  • The beaches of western and northern Michigan are some of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen
  • We need MANY trips back to discover more. I don’t think we even scratched the surface of all there is to see and do.
  • I have become a “Pure Michigan Ambassador” and thanks to this wonderful prize trip, I have peaked the interest of so many people who have never thought of Michigan as a vacation spot – and many of them are already planning their trips to Michigan!

Thank you Pure Michigan, Grand Hotel, American Airlines and Buick for the trip of a lifetime – and we will be back!

Congrats again to Megan on being the winner of our Pinterest contest! We are thrilled that she and her husband enjoyed their trip to Michigan.

What would your perfect Pure Michigan trip entail? Tell us in the comments below.

A Grand Romantic Getaway to Pure Michigan

Earlier this year, we launched a contest titled Pin to Win: Michigan in Love where we asked fans to create a Pinterest board that represented what an ideal romantic getaway looked like to them. We were blown away by the response and truly enjoyed looking through the submitted boards.

In early March, Megan Battaglia of Buffalo, NY was randomly selected as the winner and began planning a romantic getaway for her and her husband to take to Mackinac Island this month. Today, she tells us what they’re most looking forward to doing during their visit to Pure Michigan.

Photo taken during Megan's trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes in 2012

I have always loved road trips! From the moment I got my driver’s license I would get in my car and drive aimlessly for hours discovering new places and areas I hadn’t seen before. Living in Buffalo, NY, I explored all I could in New York State and Ontario, Canada and eventually New England and the northeast coast.

Back in 2012, an article caught my eye. It said that ABC Good Morning America’s viewers had chosen Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan as the most beautiful place in America. Why had I never heard of this place? Now I was intrigued! After all, Michigan is an easy road trip from my home (in my definition, an easy road trip is anything 8 hours or less).

As luck would have it, in fall 2012, I was scheduled to go to a conference in Ann Arbor. This was my chance to take a side trip and see these Sleeping Bear Dunes. I found the Pure Michigan website which provided me with all the information I needed to plan my trip. As soon as I arrived at the National Lakeshore Park, I was enthralled! The dunes were everything I hoped they would be. I took dozens of pictures, climbed the dunes, and discovered as much of Northern Michigan as I could in a day.  

There was so much more in Michigan I wanted to see. So I followed Pure Michigan on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to learn more and see what other places there were to discover. Then this past winter, I saw a contest on Pinterest for “Pin to Win: Michigan in Love”. The prize was described as a Pure Michigan Romantic Getaway – two days on Mackinac Island at Grand Hotel, dinner at the Woods restaurant, round trip air, and a Buick rental car. Since my husband and I had just celebrated our 25th anniversary, I couldn’t have imagined a better trip for us! Mackinac Island was definitely on my list of must see places – seemingly untouched by time, no cars allowed, surrounded by the deepest of the great lakes, beautiful homes and deep history.

So – here I am – the grand prize winner of the Pin to Win: Michigan in Love contest! My husband and I are scheduled to leave for our anniversary trip on Friday, June 7. But I couldn’t help but think that 2 days was not enough. So, we have decided to extend the trip and see as much as we can of Western and Northern Michigan.

Here’s our itinerary so far.

Friday: Head up the coast of Lake Michigan from Chicago stopping along the way at places such as Holland, Grand Haven, the Tunnel of Trees, Mackinaw City.

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island - where Megan and her husband will spend two nights as part of their prize package

Saturday: Catch the first ferry to Mackinac Island, spend two nights at Grand Hotel, enjoy the Lilac Festival and see as much as we can of the island.

Monday: Take The Mackinac Bridge over to the Upper Peninsula and see where our Buick leads us (maybe St. Ignace, Sault St. Marie, Pictured Rocks, DeTour Village – I would love to see Lake Superior!).

Tuesday and Wednesday: Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City, the wineries and anywhere else along Leelanau Peninsula our Buick may lead us!

Stay tuned – Michigan here we come!

Are there any other must-sees that you’d recommend to Megan while she’s in town? Share your suggestions below!