The U.S. state of Michigan is made up of two major peninsulas. The Upper Peninsula (UP), is the northern of the two.
Locals of the Lower Peninsula will often say I’m going “up north” for the weekend. Which could be anywhere north of their local county. Memorial Day weekend, my boyfriend and I took our fur babies camping up north to Michigan’s UP to welcome the beginning of the summer season. “Up North” for the weekend took us 6 hours north of Detroit straight up I-75 to the central region of The UP.
The summer months (Late May- August) are best for tent camping in The UP. Temperatures range from mid 70’s to low 90’s, depending on how close to the waters you go. Lake Superior touches the northern part of the region, while Lake Michigan/Huron (depending on what side of the Mackinac Bridge you’re on) border the southern region.
Where To Camp
Indian Lake State Campground
We left right after work Friday to make the most of our three-day holiday weekend. Arriving to our campsite at night per usual (we’re getting SO GOOD at setting up camp in the dark). We camped at Indian Lake State campground for the weekend, it was centrally located for all the activities we had planned. Michigan has some INCREDIBLE state campgrounds, I would recommend booking early, as most fill up quickly during the summer. Our camp site for the weekend was right on the lake! Check out my packing guide for what gear I use. *Note* If the state parks are all full, there are private owned campgrounds in the area as well as cabin rentals.
Kitch-iti-kipi known as “The Big Spring” is another gem in The UP’s crown. The 40 ft. deep spring pumps over 10,000 gallons of water a minute! Be sure to ride the self-operated observation raft across the spring, it offers a unique perspective, providing striking views to the bottom.
Big Spring is located inside Palms Book State Park, beautiful all year round… Big Spring doesn’t freeze! Visiting in the winter to see the crystal clear blue waters surrounded by a winter wonderland would be an epic adventure. (Mental note made)
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is 40 miles of breath taking lakeshore along Lake Superior. There are nearly 100 miles of hiking trails winding through dense forest that will take you to waterfalls, pristine beaches and other secluded beauty.
Take A Hike
Deciding which hike to do will be tough, there are so many things to explore! I would recommend doing a couple hikes inside this bubble of national protected land to best see the beauty the UP has to offer. Michigan is so incredible! As we hiked along lakeshore north country trail the trail suddenly went from dirt to boardwalk as we crossed over some swamp lands. As we continued further, I looked around… we were completely surrounded 360 degrees by bright yellow flowers.
Relax at Chapel Beach
Explore the beach area and hike to the waterfall nearby!
Take A Dip
At the end of the hike there was the opportunity to cool off in a bath of crystal clear ABSOLUTELY FREEZING Lake Superior water. I wouldn’t recommend swimming for too long, while the surface temperature of Lake Superior varies seasonally, the temperature below (660 ft; 200 m) is 39 °F (4 °C) I dipped my toes in and decided that was enough for me! 😊
For more on what to do in Michigan’s U.P check out my post on the Eastern Region!
I traveled on 3 international trips with AMAZING people (Thailand, Alberta Canada, and Peru), I camped in 5 new national parks, and I put thousandssss of Michigan road trip miles on the car. 🚙
I’ve worn glasses or contacts since I was in middle school. Every year my eye sight would get worse and worse- I made the decision I would get lasik surgery and ditch the contacts & glasses- and it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. This year my body was challenged in so many ways. From eye surgery to zero gravity flying to hiking into the highest altitude I’ve ever experienced- 2017 had it all. ⛰
In 2017 I knocked some big stuff off the bucket list including white water rafting, rock climbing, and starting a travel blog. 💻
I have so many wonderful amazing things to be thankful for this year. But these two amazing beings here are what I am most grateful for. They came into my life a year ago and I am so excited I get tostart 2018 with them– Happy New Year everyone!
When you work full time- you look forward to a couple days off at the end of the week. I am the queen of utilizing my weekends to their full potential (all the adventures). April 2017 I spent a long weekend over Easter with one of my oldest friends in Seattle. We both live in different states- and I arrived a couple days earlier, giving me time to explore the city solo. We spent a couple days in the city and then ventured off for a day trip to Mount Rainier National Park.
Seattle, is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, and contains thousands of acres of parkland (could you BE any cooler Seattle?!) I gravitate to cities surrounded by nature and scenic getaways close by- Seattle was no different.
Here’s your perfect weekend guide to Seattle!
Stay in Downtown Seattle
In Seattle, staying in the downtown area is going to be the most convenient. All the prime spots are close by if not walking distance, and staying there will keep you in the center of everything which helps save some cash on transportation.
AirBNB: Before I even look at hotels- I always start with Airbnb. It has some awesome places right in the city center, and you’ll save some cash renting one big house or apartment rather than booking multiple hotel rooms. (Click Here to earn a $40 credit!)
The Edgewater Hotel: Seattle’s only waterfront hotel looking over Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Located in the heart of downtown, you’ll be within walking distance to the city’s favorite sites… or you just might decide to relax there, soaking up the view beside a river-rock fireplace. Search for current prices HERE.
Four Seasons: This five-star stunner is located downtown near Pike Place Market. Reflecting the Hotel’s appreciation of local art, guest rooms display a selection of 16 works by classic Northwest artists, reproduced from the collection of the Seattle Art Museum. Search for current prices HERE.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco: Winner of the 2017 Traveler Readers’ Choice Award- this boutique hotel is PET FRIENDLY (yeyyy fur babies!) and comes with a yoga mat in every room so you can start and end your day with some sun salutations. Search for current prices HERE.
Grab Brunch in Seattle
Brunch is my absolute favorite meal when I travel- and just so happens to be the ideal time for planning your adventures for the day. The hard part will be choosing where to go-Seattle has foodie approved eateries across the city. I didn’t have a bad meal the entire trip.
The Fat Hen: Innovative french low country cuisine made with freshly provided ingredients from their local friends and neighbors in the farming community. (Whittier Heights)
Skillet: This award winning diner has delicious stuff like maple braised pork belly and waffle with a fried egg on top. (Multiple Locations)
Americana: Cozy bistro famous for their diverse brunch menu and mimosas. Bonus: dog friendly patio for your fur babies. (Capitol Hill)
Biscuit Bitch: A coffeehouse as funky as its name that serves southern-inspired foods specializing in biscuits, BITCH. (Pike Place Market))
Citizen: Café and bar with all types of crepes (sweet & savory) that serves Nutella hot chocolate- need I say more? (Queen Anne)
Drink Local in Seattle
Seattle takes it’s beer seriously. The microbrewing scene has been going strong for decades-with over 60 breweries in the city. With so many options- it’s tough to go wrong when deciding which ones to try. If you’re like me and prefer anything other than beer- no worries, you’re also in luck! Washington state is one of the top five cider producing states in the country (victoryyyyy).
Shop at Pike Place Market
Yes- it can be as touristy as you fear… but it’s worth the visit if it’s your first time in Seattle. Pike Place market is WAY bigger than I thought it would be. This nine-acre historic district is filled with local farmers, a crafts market, and over 200 specialty shops- all locally owned. The market was originally established in 1907 to connect citizens and farmers. Farmers markets take place year round with bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands, and FLOWERS! My suggestion would be to buy some of the famous tulips while you’re there to color up your life a bit 😊
Taste Award Winning Chowder
Located within the market, Pike Place Chowder makes the perfect snack while you’re shopping up an appetite. This chowder has earned dozens of wins in regional AND national competitions! Now, I’m not a huge chowder fan, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try this famous chowder, and I’m so glad I did- it was so creamy and delicious! With awards coming out the ass- it’s no wonder there was a line out the door and around the block!
Chew Bubble Gum
I loved the look of the gum colors melting together on the famous gum wall, it almost looked like wax. It wasn’t as gross as I’d imagined it would be, and I found it weirdly fun to look at, while I added my bubble 😊 Grab some bubble gum and make the decision for yourself!
Discovery Park: Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park at 534 acres. The park is in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle, and has around 12 miles of walking trails. It has a lighthouse- and I’m from Michigan (so many lighthouses) so this park was at the top of my list. The West Point Lighthouse was my favorite part of the park. To visit the lighthouse, your best bet is to stop into the Visitor Center- they can direct you to the walking trails that will lead down to the beach of the lighthouse. Warning: The hike back up can be strenuous, there’s a shuttle bus that runs from the Visitor Center down to the beach as well. (Magnolia)
Kerry Park: This park is popular for its incredible view of downtown- the city sky line against the green of the park is just breathtaking. (Queen Anne Hill)
Gas Works Park: What I love about this park, is that it could have been left as a forgotten industrial wasteland, like so many others- but instead was turned into a beautiful park. This park is so unique- the rusting remains of the manufacturing plant that once stood remain. The park has a picture-perfect view across the lake to downtown Seattle that’s worth the visit. (Lake Union)
Olympic Sculpture Park: Take a stroll along the water front and admire the outdoor sculptures. Located right by the Space Needle and Seattle aquarium, the park is in a great location.
Visit the Chihuly Garden & Glass
Located next to the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden & Glass is a magical place. The glass wonderland is breathtaking and bursting with colors. The venue combines the glass with the natural beauty of the gardens. The glasshouse occasionally closes for private events, but the rest of the exhibition and the garden remain open, so check the calendar before you’re heading over. If you plan on visiting the Space Needle- save some cash, and buy a combo pass for the Glass Garden + Space Needle.
I’m obsessed with Molly Moon! It has delicious icecream with rotating seasonal flavors. It’s an easy detour where ever you are with 8 various locations spread across the city.
Go Out For Dinner in Seattle
The food scene in Seattle is starting to gain some movement. When you’re there, forget about chain restaurants, and go where the locals go.
Uneeda Burger: Do you need a burger though? Located just .04 miles away from Seattle’s fremont troll, Uneeda Burger is a casual, roadside-style burger shack with seriously delicious burgers, sandwiches, sides and shakes. (Fremont)
The Pink Door: Equal parts Italian-American dining, with eclectic entertainment such as trapeze, cabaret, music and tarot. If it’s a nice day when you visit, opt for outside on the view deck overlooking Elliot Bay. Located on 1919 Post Alley the restaurant has no sign, but look for the pink door on the water side of the Post Alley promenade. (Pike Place Market)
Lola: With cooking styles of Greece; the menu offers modern Mediterranean and North African riffs on local ingredients such as Anderson Valley lamb, Penn Cove shellfish and wild King salmon. (Belltown)
Northlake Tavern – If you crave pizza always like me- then you know where to go. The pizza is an old local favorite, having been around since 1954! The pizza is served with an “old Italian recipe.” Not only is the pizza incredible, but it’s also a local dive bar with cheap pitchers and a laid back Seattle attitude. (North Lake)
How to Cook a Wolf: This rustic Italian-inspired small plates restaurant is sure to impress. Best to go family style and order a couple plates a person to share, that way you get to try a little of everything!
Some of my favorite trips are the ones that happen spontaneously, that being said- I spend a lot of my time on skyscanner. Almost every single day, I’m looking at flights out of Detroit to see what kind of deals are out there (everyone always asks me how I travel so much= skyscanner). So when I found roundtrip tickets to Denver out of Detroit for under $100 ROUNDTRIP per person- I booked Logan and I tickets .0001 seconds later. (Umm sweetheart, we’re going to Denver next weekend ok?) Did I mention the tickets were for Friday to Sunday? Aka 48 hours? The perfect weekend getaway was officially set into motion.
Thoughts of mountains, road trips, and all the good food started taking over. I started thinking about all the amazing things on my Pinterest Board there are to do in Denver and the surrounding areas (I knew we couldn’t go THAT close to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and NOT explore it.) We only had 48 hours from take off to landing back in Detroit. So with so little time and so much to do how do you choose? Two days. Two ways to spend them, one day in the city, one in the mountains = perfect!
We landed in Denver early Friday morning and picked up our rental car. It was 11 a.m. in Denver but we had been up since 5 a.m. Detroit time and this girl hadn’t eaten yet- that made finding food priority #1. I read everywhere that Snooze was THE place for brunch in Denver. This place certainly lived up to the hype. There was a 45 minute wait for a table (still hungry) and the restaurant was located in an old train station full of cute shops and eateries. We set off to explore a bit, and may have done some snacking while we waited…
After what might have been my favorite meal of the trip and some long over due caffeine we headed out to explore Denver. We popped into a couple local dispensaries to see what legal marijuana was all about. The weed dispensaries are everywhere, on every square block, of Denver. You’re usually within walking distance of one in most parts of the city. Since we turned 21 a couple years ago… (ok so it was more then a couple) we could just walk into any that looked cool. One was located in this older abandoned building… it was on the top floor of this old creepy spiral carpeted staircase. We contemplated turning back each step up we took, thinking surely we were in the wrong spot (we weren’t).
We ventured over to Larimer Square to explore the local shops and see the famous lights (we went a little too early, they weren’t turned on yet). It was September, just the beginning of the fall season- and the weather that day was perfect, cloudy and 70 degrees. Perfect for walking around with a delicious cup of coffee. While we walked around the city, I decided Denver was my favorite city. I loved the vibes, the art pieces (even the restaurant signs were creative and artsy), the cleanliness of the city. This mountain town was someplace I must return to someday.
The cottage we were staying at in Estes Park (Dripping Springs Resort) was about an hour an a half drive from the city of Denver. As soon as we pulled into the drive way I knew this place was magical. We parked the car outside the cute entrance way and followed the path into the main house to check in. The dogs of the owners of the B&B greeted us with excited barks. We were shown a tour of the grounds, which included a smoking gazebo, a porch with chairs and hammocks (all overlooking the river) a few nature walking paths through the woods, and our cabin.
I felt like I was living a fairy tale. We stayed in the Canopy Cottage B&B Room. The cabin was meticulously decorated, with a warm and homey feel. We had a private porch with soft outdoor lighting overlooking the river that included a jacuzzi tub and bistro table & chairs. I didn’t think we’d be making it to the RMNP. This place was perfect, and I never wanted to leave. At this point in the night we had been traveling all day and the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the car. There was a mini fridge, teapot and wine glasses- but no food. But because this place is perfect- there was an assortment of menus in the room- and a delivery service ($3.00 usd) for any of the restaurants on the list… I’m sorry what? You’ll deliver me food to my cabin in the middle of no where so I don’t have to leave? Did I mention that I love this place? When the food arrived we ate out on the patio and warmed up in the jacuzzi before bed. The canopy bed was draped in sheers with twinkle lights, covered in a mountain of fluffy pillows- it was a beautiful night so we left the door open, and fell asleep to the sounds of the river.
Breakfast was served at 8:30 a.m. sharp in the main house. We were served a home cooked meal family style- of hot oatmeal, potato pancakes, breakfast meat, fresh fruit, and eggs. It was the perfect meal to get us ready for the long day of exploring we had ahead of us in the Rockies. Before we left we were given our picnic basket (you can picnic baskets, s’mores, and other cute romantics) which we enjoyed later that day on our road trip through the RMNP.
Estes Park is only a 10 minute drive to the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Our plan was to just drive on Trail Ridge Road (highway 34) from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It’s a 48 mile route that connects to east and west side of the rocky mountains. The drive was absolutely beautiful. It was early fall- and the yellow birch trees were in full force everywhere you looked, dotting the green colored mountains.
The drive along Trail Ridge Road (commonly referred to as the highway to the sky) crosses the Continental Divide. Of the 48 miles on this route- 11 of those miles are driven ABOVE the treeline, with elevation near 11,500 feet. The evergreen forest starts to disappear as you climb higher into the windy tundra to the highest point at 12,183 feet in elevation. We parked the car to walk out to the viewing point. With the high winds the clouds and fog made the visibility of the mountains a peep show of peaks popping in and out of view.
A word of caution should you decide to travel the Trail Ridge Road through the park for a few hours- the air is thin at these high altitudes (10,500- 13,000 ft). Traffic is slow- and the blind drop offs along the way make the drive strenuous. The weather is unpredictable- and travel above the tree lines should be accomplished early in the day.
We continued back down in elevation towards the city of Grand Lake to have some dinner. It had started to rain when we arrived, and the temperature had started to drop drastically so we decided to skip the kayaking. Instead we walked around downtown shopping at the little shops and checking out the food scene (not as impressive as Denver) we found a pizza joint and got some coffee for the road trip back.
We headed north on 34 back towards Estes Park. When we arrived at the west entrance of RMNP, the guard informed us that the road to Estes Park was closed due to snow. WHAT. We were just there a couple hours ago and it was beautiful! We had to turn around- we can’t get back home that way… that meant a 4 hour detour AROUND the park- not even through it.
Thankfully Colorado is all gorgeous and the ride home turned out to be more scenic then we anticipated! Despite the turn around- we had an amazing weekend exploring the beautiful Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park. See below for a complete itinerary of our weekend in Denver- what can YOU do in two days?
48 Hours in Denver Itinerary
Friday, Sep. 22 – Sunday, Sep. 24
Friday 9/22: Depart DTW 7:00 am SPIRIT
Arrive Denver 8:00 am
Pick up rental car
Snooze (1701 Wynkoop St #150, Denver, CO 80202)
Tattered Cover Book Store
Ice Cream Riot (1238 E Colfax Ave)
Pig Train Coffee
Milkbox Ice Creamery
Larimer Square (1430 Larimer St)
Drive 1.5 hours to Dripping Springs Resort
Saturday 9/23: Rocky Mountain NP
Trail Ridge Road: The highest continuously paved highway in the U.S., this 48-mile route connects the town of Grand Lake (on Rocky Mountain’s west side) to Estes Park (the eastern gateway). In between, it scales treeless peaks and crosses the Continental Divide. Trail head pull offs are located along the road to explore deeper into the park.
Grand Lake: Paddle a kayak or SUP across Colorado’s largest natural lake, which affords wide-open panoramas of the surrounding peaks.
When we arrived in Peru- it was late, it was dark, and we’d been traveling for over 14 hours. Fortunately for me, I had slept the entire flight like I do most flights, so I was awake and ready to take on this new city! We made our way through the crowd (I say crowd but it was more like a sea of sweaty humans) of cab drivers to the exit.
Lima is the capital of Peru, and the airport was bustling at 9:30 p.m. like you would expect to see at 7:00 a.m. back in the states. We were immediately approached by several men screaming TAXI! My travel partner spoke about 3 words of spanish- but looks like he could be of Latin American decent- so as I responded to them in broken but decent spanish- they answered back in spanish… to my partner, completely ignoring me, despite his attempt at “no hablo espanol”. The whole interaction was frustrating and humorous at the same time. Eventually we “bargained a deal” (we totally got hosed) and we were loading our backpacks into the cab to check in at our AirBnb in Miraflores (along with a Swedish backpacker hitching a cab with us). Take it from a couple travelers that learned the hard way- DO NOT pay more than 50 soles for a cab from the airport, I’m not even going to tell you how much we paid because it will just upset me. Thank goodness we had an incredible AirBnb waiting for us to do some cheering up 🙂
You can do A LOT in 24 hours, and when you’re traveling on a roundtrip ticket-you make sure you do as much as you can in the time that you have. So whether you’re in Lima as a stopover until you head to Macchu Picchu like we were, or this is your final destination … here’s how I spent MY 24 hours in Lima.
PAN DE LA CHOLA
Starting my morning with coffee is a must, so the first stop of the day is almost always somewhere with coffee. This adorable shop was a perfect first stop to fuel up for the day. From tasty treats to savory sandwiches, Pan de la Chola of Miraflores is said to be Lima’s best panaderia. The sandwich breads are baked from local grown grains like kiwicha and my personal favorite- quinoa! Get anything with avocado- you can’t go wrong, I’m pretty sure the avocados in Peru are all magical. I had this sugary, soft croissant type pastry and a Peruvian latte (I also sampled off my friends plates) everything I had was delicious.
This is a six mile stretch of parks that winds along the coastline with breathtaking views the entire way. The parks are so pretty, and the fitness vibes of the city are abundant along here- there’s paved running and biking paths surrounded by beautiful flower gardens and built in workout equipment. People everywhere were either working out or walking their dogs (the dog watching of pure breds is more fun then people watching). We watched locals playing soccer in one park, while we made our way to the lighthouse. As we passed through the parque del amor i’m not sure what I liked more, the colorful mosaic walls, or the romantic love quotes they were covered in?
MAC MUSEO DE ARTE CONTEMPORANEO
My love for contemporary art grows with each new museum I visit. Located just at the entrance of the Barranco district, MAC was my first international contemporary art museum visit. It was a little on the small side- with bright, colorful pieces, the artists were all Peruvian or Latin American. I’m an amateur photographer, and i’m always looking for unique opportunities to practice, this was a perfect opportunity! For 10 soles ($3 USD) it was time to take a break from the crazy city and better yet- support the local community.
Barranco was my favorite district for many reasons, and the food was just one of them. Amoramar has an outdoor bar and dining area with a mix of peruvian and mediterranean type dishes (yes they have Ceviche and pisco sours). Dine like royalty, for an affordable price. We went family style- and just ordered a ton of random dishes to pass around the table so everyone could try a little bit of everything. It’s a little on the fancier side so I wouldn’t recommend showing up in your yoga pants (even though you’ll eat so much you’ll wish you had). In the order in which we ate them, check out all the deliciousness we ate.
What better way to wrap up your day then a stunning oceanfront sunset? There’s really no bad spot along the coast to watch the day come to an end. We walked off our food babies down to the beach a little early and watched the surfers catch the waves as the sun went down behind them for a 2 for 1 show. And I gave Dan a new photo tradition of me running away from the waves before they get me (which puts me up to 3 total photos (all different trips)).