Travel: A Culinary Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago (Photos)

By Alexis Simpson

We left for Traverse City the day after our honeymoon. Our dog didn’t want us to go.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoWe stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort. We got a newly remodeled King Tower room after Paul finagled with the front desk. Yay! The shower was big enough to fit 6 ppl, and the view was amazing. www.grandtraverseresort.com/Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Soon after we checked in, we left to check out the Black Star Farms winery’s restaurant, “Heath and Vine.” The road leading into the winery had lots of photo opportunities. www.blackstarfarms.com/

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe meal at Heath and Vine was so fresh and good. By the time we got to Black Star Farms, we didn’t have time to check out the wine tasting room. Luckily Paul’s family has a cottage in Houghton Lake which means that we will be back to Traverse City before too long to go back to Heath and Wine and to the winery. rillette | spreadable duck leg confit, house crackers, pickled vegetables Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

pickled| farm fresh egg, beets, onions

Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicagoblt salad | house bacon, pea shoots, roasted tomatoes, torn focaccio, fromage blanc buttermilk dressing Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Driving all around the Traverse City area is a blast for photographers and sightsee’ers. Leeland’s ‘Fishtown’ was one of my favorite spots for photography.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoWe found this creepy graveyard on our way back to the resort. Paul got scared so we left. We almost ran out of gas on the way back… Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

The next day we stopped for lunch at the Apache Trout Grill. Nice View. www.apachetroutgrill.com/

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoOne of the things I wanted to do the most on our honeymoon was check out Madonna’s dad’s winery, “Ciccone Winery.” I think we even got to see Madonna’s dad himself:) I couldn’t resist showing them some of the photos I took of Madonna a few back, and they charmingly refer to Madonna as “M.” I made Paul pose in the vineyard, and made sure to take a photo of the cute little house on the property where I assume the Ciccone family lives.  www.cicconevineyard.com/Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe Ciccone Winery suggested we stop at the Willow Vineyards winery which was across the street. www.willowvineyardwine.com/

 A new cider place is coming to the street that Ciccone Winery is on, which is nice because it should help the local businesses on the street stay busy. Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

That day we later drove through town to stop at American Spoon, and noticed that the town was getting prepared for next weekend’s film festival put on by Michael Moore. Our next stop was the old insane asylum that has been converted to a nice shopping and eating area. We had reservations at Trattoria Stella, which we highly recommend! There was a lot of interesting artwork on the walls of the old crazy house:) The shops were closed already by the time we got there:( www.stellatc.com/

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

BURRATA PUGLIESE, house-made, served chilled, Toscano salami,
charred tomato vinaigrette, crostini

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoNaked Cowboy Oysters Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Our new fave thing to eat is octopus: SPANISH OCTOPUS, char-grilled, house Calabrese sausage, rice beans, tomato, smoked shallots. We had scallops too, but I’m not sure where that photo went.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe next day, just like all the other days, we went swimming and laid out at the pool. In the evening, we had managed to snag a reservation at The Cook’s House, which is where I had the best meal I’ve had in awhile. Tip: If you are trying to get a reservation there, ask them to sit at the outside tables. On the way to The Cook’s House, I found this cute purple house with a funny birdcage er ‘cages.’ www.thecookshouse.net/Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

One of the most charming things about The Cook’s House is that is on the end of the street in a neighborhood. The setting gives the restaurant an upscale “down-home” vibe. We were by far the youngest people at the restaurant. Most of the patrons were retirees adorned in their best Lily Pulitzer and Ralph Lauren resort wear.

We ordered the 7-course meal. They provided us with an extra pork rillete entree and two glasses of champagne because we were on our honeymoon. We suspect it might be because I had my huge camera so they might have thought we were journalists or food bloggers:)

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoPork Rillete Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

(This roll comes from an amazing bakery that you will hear more about later on in the post.)

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThis carrot soup was amazing. Carrots seem to be a “thing” now. Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Rabbit
Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoWhitefish Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

This is obviously steak, but the cool thing is check out the little bee on the steak knife!

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoBlurry Tomatoes Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

After Dinner Sunset

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe next day we went back to the old crazy house because we wanted to go to the bakery where the rolls from The Cook’s House came from. Go there!!! They have wonderful sandwiches, torts, breads, spreads, and all sorts of goodies. www.pleasantonbakery.com/

Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe Pleasanton Bakery Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Another fave stop on our trip was Left Foot Charley. At The Cook’s House I had the best cinnamon flavored alcoholic cider, so we wanted to buy some to take home. We ended up buying three bottles of cider, four bottles of wine and a t-shirt! www.leftfootcharley.com/

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

After the bakery at cider-run, we drove towards Empire and the dunes. We saw a lot of ‘hops’ and cherry trees.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHere is a lil beach tucked off the side of a road. Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Keep your swimsuit on!

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

We now headed to Chicago, but made a stop at this asian food truck, and to take a photo of the ferry that goes to Milwaukee in case we ever want to travel to see Melissa Shew from Traverse City:)

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

We decided to go to Chicago for a few days because, Saugatuck was booked and up north hotels were costing around 250-400/night yikes. Who would guess that Chicago was actually cheaper? We found a group on for the Freehand hotel which is a boutique hostel. It has a James Beard nominated tiki-type bar with craft cocktails. Tiki bars are our new obsession, so this fun little hotel and the chance to hang out with Paul’s bud, Jam, convinced us. thefreehand.com/chicago/

The Freehand had a designer made the budget rooms look bohemian and cool.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoAgain we got another huge shower. Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

haha they even gave their chairs an urban bohemian vibe.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHostel rates for the weekend were $300 and up. The Freehand’s bar is called The Broken Shaker, and it definitely had a nice vibe. The bartenders were extra hospitable:) Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe next day we went to eat lunch at Rick Bayless’ restaurant “Frontera Grill,” which is highly regarded, but we must have hit it on an off day. TIP: Make sure to get reservations 3-4 weeks in advance. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/fronteragrill/Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Unknown Fact: Ceviche is one of my fave foods

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoPork Mole Trio Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

After one night at The Freehand, we drove outside of Chicago to a lil hotel with a pool so that we could get one last day of sun before we made the trip home. On the way to our hotel I spotted a large seafood restaurant that looked interesting so we stopped there the next day on our way home. I wish we had this chain in Detroit, but it was so good! We aren’t usually too into chain restaurants, but there is such thing as a good chain such as Ruby Tuesday’s, Morton’s, etc. This place is called Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen which is a Southern themed upscale restaurant with Louisiana-style seafood. The alligator was insanely good!! http://www.pappadeaux.com/

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoThe drink menu was cleverly written.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

I had tuna with crab meat and Paul had Halibut with lemon sauce.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and ChicagoHoneymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

They let us choose a free dessert for our honeymoon, and we chose the key lime pie. It’s the best key lime pie I’ve had so far!Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Our waiter was super young, but he was really good. Another nice feature of the restaurant is their fancy floral patio area.

Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago

Please Pappadeaux come to Detroit!

I was sad for our honeymoon to end. One of the best things about choosing to honeymoon in the state that we live in, is that it won’t be difficult to relive our honeymoon whenever we can get away for the weekend. The Traverse City area is a romantic destination for food lovers and lovers of the outdoors.

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