A few weeks ago I made my first adventure to Michigan and it was everything I had hoped it would be, and more! Having friends spread across the country means that I can hop over to visit just about any one, any time and have a wild adventure, doing what the locals do, and immersing myself entirely, reveling in it.

Every year, some of my dearest girlfriends get together in each other’s hometowns, rotating through. With 7 of us total, we have a wide range of places to visit, from Austin, to here in Seattle, and even the Twin Cities! Next year, we are hitting up Wisconsin!

Read on for my first timer’s Traverse City Michigan summer travel guide! Michigan, you stole my heart.

First Timer's Summer Travel Guide to Traverse City Michigan Ice Cream Barns Doughnuts and Shopping!

But this year, I left Emmett behind for the first time and headed east to the Cherry Capital, of Traverse City. My dear friend Kirsten, of Comfortably Domestic, hosted all us girls at her house and we lived it up like locals. Too get to TVC I had to red-eye it to Chicago, and then take a puddle jumper from there across the Lakes. The added benefit of that was that landing at 10:30 in the morning meant I got to spend practically a whole day in town, not missing out on a minute. When you land at TVC, the airport is small, with five gates and a few flights. There is definitely no need to worry about major lines, and arrivals 2-3 hours early like we have here at Sea-Tac.

Kirsten picked me up, and our friend Kat, as well, and we headed off for our first priority of the day – coffee. We popped into the local Aroma’s Coffee Shop for a pick me up. Just what we needed. But even with that, the red eye was catching up with me, and as soon as I was able, I hit the hay for a quick nap until the rest of the girl’s arrived. Being a nursing mom also meant that I had to do a pump sesh, too. Balancing pumping and activities was definitely the most challenging part of the whole trip. You want to be apart of every moment, but spending 30 minutes every few hours attached to a machine is not exactly a highlight and it does restrict some of your abilities to let loose, uninhibited.

Boss Mouse Cheese Red Barn dogs

When everyone arrived, and were rested up, we all hopped in the car for a visit over to Sue of Boss Mouse Cheese. Sue is a local cheese maker who has developed a cult following for her incredible high quality cheeses. We met with her and did a cheese tasting, where we broke out the wine, had cheese and crackers, and got a soup to nuts tour of her entire operation, farm, and farmhouse! She is an exciting woman to know who is so deeply passionate about what she does, and you can hear the love in her voice when she talks about it. Sue rescues bunnies from poor living conditions, has two adopted farm dogs (Cozy and Max), and the chickens! Sue decided after living the life of an executive secretary to some big NYC CEO she wanted to leave it all behind and find her calling – making cheese. I admire her so much for her resiliance, tenacity, and steadfastness in doing what she loves and devoting herself to a craft. We spent over three hours talking with her, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. Being a lover of a slow country life, meeting her was what I needed to reawaken my purpose and zeal. I left complete. And completely full of cheese.

One of our biggest priorities with the trip, was to have as much Moomer’s ice cream as humanly possible. Nightly we went to Moomers for their local ice cream, which was indeed out of this world. The raspberry chocolate chip was a crowd favorite. You completely get why there is a constant line snaking around outside! Even the local nuns and postulants got in on it! Can we say that it is a religious experience?! HA!

beer and ice ream

The following day we headed up to Glen Arbor to do some kayaking down the Crystal River! It was a lolling, gentle river, that was indeed crystal clear the entire way. We loaded up in the vans, and made our way to the launch point. Lunches were packed, water at the ready and our life jackets on. Beka and I teamed up in a double kayak since she hadn’t done it before, and we worked our way through 2 1/2 miles of water with me yelling “no, right paddle forward! Too much!”, and us getting spun around, grounded and having to schlep our kayak across a few low points. It was a BLAST!! I was wondering why we don’t have more of this in the Seattle area, but our creeks and rivers are just too rapid for this type of relaxing experience. But we do have lakes and water a plenty in the Sound. I grew up kayaking off of our front porch at the weekend beach house in the briny waters of the south Puget Sound. It was nice to do it again somewhere else and enjoy it just as much. We used Crystal River Outfitters for our journey, and they do a lot more than just kayaking! Check them out for all your Glen Arbor adventuring.

Lots of selfies and barn swing

Glen Arbor is the perfect little tourist town, with lots of quaint shops, boutiques, and little eateries. We tucked in for post-kayaking lunch and beers at Art’s Tavern. We were told it was the perfect place to go by several people, and Kirsten was all for it. After that we did a little shopping and wandering. We dipped our toes into Lake Michigan and it was just as clear, and freezing! We popped into Cherry Republic for a post lunch slice of pie, and it was kitchy and fun! I grabbed a slice of classic cherry pie, which was delicious! I decided to skip the ala mode so I could save room for more Moomer’s for dessert.

Crystal river, selfie and kayaks

Saturday we opted for a low key day kicking around the house, after making a farmer’s market in downtown Traverse City. We had doughnuts, cookies (like we needed more…), and more Boss Mouse Cheese, when we stopped in again to see Sue at her stand. We even got to meet her mom! Sue beamed with love for her mom and it was just darling to meet the woman behind the woman.

butterfly bicycle fries and selfie

We ended our downtown adventure with tacos at Mama Lu’s. There were margaritas, too. We all got tacos, of all different varieties, me opting for shrimp, pork and beef street tacos. They had tank tops for sale, and I walked away with an epic Taco Belle tank that is officially my most favoritest work out tank ever. Too big, too cozy, and super sassy.

The rest of our day was spent relaxing, cooking, eating, and chatting, like ya do on a girl’s weekend. Balancing the pumping schedule with our activities was a big challenge, and I had to pump in some pretty unfavorable places along the way, but always made sure to keep up with it. I’ll be writing a post about pumping and travel later.

Going home meant another super early flight to get home at a reasonable hour. One the way home I had a pitstop to change plans in Chicago again, and had enough time to pump between flights. In that regard it worked out really well on timing. The flight was uneventful, and as I watched the terrain below I watched as the midwest became the pacific northwest as the trees became more prevalent along the Idaho panhandle, and the rolling wheatfields of the Palouse were seen through the distance. Hills turned to crop circles and then to the mountains of the Cascade range.

When I got home, I tried to remain calm as I got all my bags inside and put my keys down so I didn’t rush to emmett and scoop him up, only to have to put him down and unload my bags when I arrived. It was the hardest few minutes of my weekend. But the moment he saw me and realized it was me standing in front of him again, his face lit up, he squealed, and I rushed to him. He crawled up the stair from the living room to our entry way like it wasn’t even there, and his little slappy hands hit the hard wood as he rushed as fast as his chubby hands and knees could get him to me. I just hugged him, and for the first time all weekend cried – even if they were tears of joy. For the rest of the day we were inseparable.

So as good as it is to go somewhere, relax and spend time on your own, it is even more special to come home. It is my vision of heaven on earth.