Monday, September 24, 2012

Michigan Road Trip: Benzonia and Traverse City

Day two of our Michigan road trip came with gray skies and a steady drizzle of rain. We headed north on US 31 towards Benzonia, a sleepy little town on the northern coast of Lake Michigan. Despite the rain, the scenery was beautiful - rolling hills and lots of trees the entire way. Northern Michigan is quite beautiful.


We kept ourselves entertained on the 2.5 hour drive by memorizing Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" and taking goofy pictures with the camera's auto timer. Chris doesn't think that last one is very believable because I was looking at the camera. Whoops... now everyone knows that we weren't really involved in a roadside accident.

Our sole destination in Benzonia was Gwen Frostic Studios, the home and workspace of Michigan print maker Gwen Frostic. Frostic has been one of my favorite artists for years and her work, which is heavily influenced Michigan wildlife, never ceases to inspire me. If you're not familiar with her work, I suggest taking a moment to peruse her website.

Although Frostic passed away in 2001, her 1960s home studio is still in operation and is open to the public. A team of artisans use Frostic's original linocuts and woodblocks to reproduce prints, and you can watch them in action from the main floor. After we wandered around the studio space for a while, we picked out a 2013 calendar and a sweet little Michigan print -- perfect tokens of our trip.

Traverse City is a short thirty minute trip from Benzonia, so we were there in no time. We decided to start this city off right with a trip to the Grand Traverse Pie Company for a slice of Michigan cherry pie.

I had a slice of the original cherry and Mr. Christopher ordered the blueberry crumble. Both were absolutely delicious. Totally worthy of those crazy-eyes, too.

After getting our sugar fix, we decided to walk around downtown to take in the sites and do some shopping. Our favorite store was Cherry Republic. It's a fun little foodie stop that sells everything cherry and nothing else. Chocolate dipped cherries, cherry salsa, cherry cola, cherry pancake mix. The best part? You can sample every single one of their products. We also visited The Village boutiques at Grand Traverse Commons, an old state mental hospital that has been converted into shops, restaurants and town houses. The shops were okay and the history of the building was interesting, but we were both a little disappointed. I think it was because we were both hoping to see a ghost.

We caught a late lunch at North Peak Brewing Company (which I found thanks to this post by Cal.) I wish I would have snapped a few more pictures because this place was pretty awesome. Their branding and menu design was enough to make me love the place, and the food was delish. Wonton wrapped mozzarella sticks with sundried tomato, garlic, and a creamy pesto dipping sauce? Oh yes.

On our way out of Traverse City headed towards Mackinac Island, we came across the World's Largest Cherry Pie in Charlevoix. We drove right by it and had to turn the car around in the rain to snap a few pictures with the historically huge pie pan and custom-built oven. It was awesome. The perfect ending to our Northwestern Michigan visit. Onward to Mackinac! 


Sharon Telschow said...

MAJOR ENVY INDUCED DROOL HAPPENING! Gwen Frostic sounds amazing and so very right up your alley. That is so great that folks are continuing her work. What fun times!

Cal said...

I'm so happy you made it to North Peak!! And Cherry Replublic!! Man, I love TC. For our wedding we bought tons of stuff from Cherry Republic and put it in all of our guests rooms. So glad you had fun on your trip :)

Katherine Ross said...

We really loved TC, Cal! We didn't spend as much time there as we would have hoped, but I think we'll definitely visit again, maybe for the Cherry Festival. I'll have to get more recommendations from you when we plan our trip!

Pink Ronnie said...

So awesome. I love the photos of you guys in the car! Made me smile big time.
Ronnie xo

Jamie Bartlett said...

We spent last Christmas visiting family in Traverse City and went to the North Peek Brewing company too! I took tons of pictures because I was so impressed with the branding.