Oh my friends, it has been a lazy month of blogging for me, but I just needed to pop by and share about my birthday weekend in Detroit! This was my first birthday back in the USA and I really wanted to use it as an excuse to get my friends together in one place. However even among my American friends, we are spread out all over the place! A couple months ago I got my wheels turning about a good location that could be a halfway point for everybody and I settled on…. Detroit! Luckily, when I pitched it to my friends, they were keen too, and the plans for my birthday weekend in Detroit began.
As you guys know, I moved back to my home state of Michigan in December, and since then I have been exploring and appreciating it as much as I can. One thing I’ve wanted to do for years is attend Grand Rapids ArtPrize…but the whole living in another country thing kind of got in the way. Each year my mom would go and then send me photos of her day, and I was just so so jealous! This year, though, I made it happen. We drove over to Grand Rapids for the first full day of ArtPrize and it was really everything I dreamed it would be.
I did a poll on Instagram the other day, and I was so surprised to see that 98% of you want to see more Michigan content! One common thought among Americans, especially those of us hailing from the Midwest, is that you have to travel far away for any kind of excitement. Michigan is certainly a different pace than I experienced living in England, but it is special in its own way, and so close to my heart. Michigan is a stunning state, home to more coastline than any other state in the USA! But so many travelers (both international ones and those who live in MI!) still don’t know what our state has to offer. Which is why I’m bringing you my Michigan bucket list.
This past week I scooped up the last of summer, and witnessed the switch from summer to fall in Old Mission Peninsula Michigan. Seriously. One day it was 95 degrees and sweaty, and when I awoke the next morning to the patter of rain, I had to bundle into my sweater. The leaves outside had bloomed into orange patches.
Mackinac Island is one of the most unique places to visit in Michigan… but it also has all the makings for a gluten free traveler’s nightmare. A remote island, only accessible by ferry, with one main road, no cars, and hours from any large grocery shops? That sounds like the kind of place where a gluten free traveler could waste away on limp salads and cross-contaminated side dishes. Could being the operative word. I am so pleased to say that my gluten free Mackinac Island experience was incredible.
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is a luxurious Victorian-era hotel that hosts the world’s longest front porch. It is verging on legendary in Michigan. I think every little Michigander grows up dreaming of one day staying at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island.
Words are how I remember. Photos are beautiful reminders, but how did it smell? Taste? Feel? These are the impressions that really send me back. When I take a trip that is particularly meaningful, I like to take a small moment to jot down those memories. Maybe in a month or more, I’ll read back and suddenly feel myself return to the place… In this case, that place is a tiny car-less island in Northern Michigan, on a few stunningly blue August weekdays with my mom.
People flock to Stratford, Ontario throughout the summer and autumn for the annual Stratford Theater Festival. And well they should, for this world-famous theater festival has starred the likes of Maggie Smith and the current season’s Martha Henry. The Stratford Festival is unparalleled when it comes to artistic vision. Even so, though… there are so many more things to do in Stratford Ontario Canada than just the festival! My recent trip to Stratford was my fourth, yet it was the first that I actually experienced Stratford to its full extent.
I was perusing hotels in Stratford Ontario for my recent mother-daughter road trip when I realized… of all the times I’ve been to Stratford, I’d never stayed overnight. Stratford Ontario is named after the UK’s Stratford-upon-Avon, and is similarly besotted with Shakespeare, to the point that it hosts its own world famous Shakespeare festival. In fact, it is practically a rite of passage for all those growing up in the vicinity (as I did in Michigan) to do a school field trip to the Shakespeare festival. But Stratford is most definitely worth more than a day trip, least of all for the many wonderful hotels in Stratford Ontario. One hotel, however, rises above the rest, and that is Forest Motel and Woodland Retreat.
When my Mom and I road tripped to Stratford Ontario, we were expecting to see great theatre (thanks to the world-famous Stratford Shakespeare Festival)… what we weren’t expecting was all the great food! Stratford Ontario is a small city but it has a big foodie scene. As always, I was on the hunt for gluten free restaurants, and the gluten free Stratford Ontario restaurants did not disappoint! We truly ate our way around the city. It wasn’t too hard to find gluten free restaurants, but luckily we got even more advice on gluten free Stratford Ontario restaurants from locals, courtesy of Visit Stratford.