Beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm not a city girl but Grand Rapids is so amazing even I love it. We dropped off our luggage and parked and then went to walk the city for a few hours, stopping for a cup of coffee. The weather was on the warm side (for November in Michigan) so we were comfortable strolling around, crossing the river on one bridge, walking down the streets and crossing back on another one. Finally at about 3:00 we headed back to the Amway Grand Hotel to check in but our room still wasn't ready so....upgrade! They had noted in our reservations that we were celebrating our 25th anniversary so we were given a deluxe suite! This room again had a sitting room, bedroom, two bathrooms, two televisions AND the most amazing view. The room was situated on one end of the 19th floor and three walls were wrap-around windows facing the river. Again, not a city girl, but even I could enjoy the beautiful lights at night shining on the river.
On Tuesday morning awoke before sunrise and watched the city come to life. We walked to a local cafe (The Sunrise Cafe) for a wonderful breakfast. I had granola pancakes, yum. Then a short walk to the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Over the last several years, the Mr. and I have developed a mutual love of art and spent much of our week in galleries admiring (or not) the work of local artists. The GRAM however, is a for-real museum with pieces from artist such as Picasso and Remington. We took our time wandering the rooms with the luxury of having no where else we needed to go. After a few hours at the museum it was off to a local pub for a light lunch and then more wandering around the city. That evening we had a wonderful dinner at Charlie's Crab as we watched the rain fall on the river.On Wednesday morning it was time for check out and off to our next Michigan destination; Holland! We had decided to be particularly adventurous and try a new hotel; City Flats. The hotel is built on the most current environmentally friendly theories and the rooms are different than your average hotel room. I'm glad we had the experience, wouldn't go there again. My greatest complaint, the place was loud. The hallway and rooms are not carpeted so you can hear people stomping about down the halls, over your head and in the rooms around you. Every time the heat kicked on it literally sounded like a monsoon was descending on the town. The open concept of the room is attractive but there are moments in one's day when, despite the romance (or in preservation of it), one needs a little privacy. And can you believe it, no coffee maker in the room! Pishaw!
The crazy City Flats aside, the town is a true treasure. We spent hours and hours as the weather turned from a lovely 65 degrees to a frigid windy wet 35 in the course of the afternoon, walking up and down the streets. Antique shops, galleries, boutiques...all lovely. A late lunch in a local restaurant kept us full all day so for dinner we ordered fruit and cheese for our room and slept soundly after the walking walking walking. Well, the Mr. slept soundly, I listened to people walking about and the furnace rumbling through and I'm quite certain the bamboo based building was letting off some kind of chemical smell.
Thursday it was off for a few hours in Saugatuck, MI after again, breakfast in a local diner. Another day of strolling the streets with snow flurries coming down (which of course I loved.) In store after store we were greeted by the owner's dog, or perhaps the dogs own the stores in Saugatuck. Either way, I love that as much as snow. After a few hours in the chilly little village we stopped for hot cocoa and then headed for our final hotel in St. Joseph.
St. Joseph is a wonderful town on Lake Michigan. It's so beautiful, from the little shops to the historic cottage homes to the larger summer homes of the wealthy to the ultimate eye candy...Lake Michigan. Our room here was in our stand by Holiday Inn Express, always a safe choice. We did some shopping and had dinner at Shu's which faces Lake Michigan (and for you Michiganders, is owned by some branch of the Schuler family of Marshall.) After an early dinner we drove down to the beach and sat in the car to watch the sun set. In the car because it is cold on Lake Michigan in November! Shew! Still, so beautiful. It is no more breathtaking in the summertime than in the winter; majestic in all seasons.
After walking, eating and watching the sunset we returned to our room where we had a jacuzzi and soaked away the shivers because on Friday, it was time to head east and home.
Friday morning we headed back toward Dearbon on I-94 which is, in my opinion, a treat in itself, to drive across the farmlands of some of the prettiest town of the state. We stopped in Marshall, MI to do a little window shopping and stopping at the Mole Hole where we buy a Christmas ornament every year on our anniversary. Then it was home sweet home!
We had a wonderful and relaxing time doing just what we wanted each step of the way. We took some meals in fine restaurants enjoying china and formal service and some in mom & pop joints with place mats advertising the local tractor store. We walked and walked and walked and bought loose tea and hot cocoa and Christmas ornaments. Some mornings we slept late and on others (most others), we awoke in time to watch the sun rise in whatever town we happened to be. Cruises, resorts and all the vacation ideas in between settled into what was the perfect week for us, the Michigan tour 2011! :)