It is no secret that one of my favorite aspects of traveling is trying new foods and drinks. (Evidence: here.)
This past Fourth of July weekend was no exception.
The huz and I traveled to Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula for a weekend getaway. We actually redeemed a LivingSocial voucher on this trip and scored a great deal at the Thunder Bay Resort in Hillman.
We checked in Friday afternoon, and then drove through the resort to locate our weekend lodging.
Found our room! (Note the abundant flowers and beautiful landscaping throughout the resort property.)
A kitchenette connected the bedroom to the living area.
Off the kitchen were the whirlpool tub (which was great, by the way), and separate vanity area.
No trip recap of mine is complete without a toiletry pic.
In the rear of the suite was a huge living area. The huz is now convinced we need a pair of recliners in our home. NOOOO! I told him maybe in a few decades.
Through the back door of our suite was this fantastic shaded patio overlooking the pristine golf course.
Relaxing on this patio was a huge highlight of our trip. I needed this.
..Relaxing made better by sipping on wine.
Speaking of wine… At this point, I should mention that we visited Thunder Bay Resort this particular weekend in order to partake in the:
Wine Lover’s Weekend!
Included in our stay was this gift basket filled with local edible goodies (including some incredible chocolate truffles from Stoney Acres Winery!).
Eventually we headed to the Clubhouse Grill for dinner at the resort. Margs to get things started, before all the wine.
Obviously we just had to partake in the Friday Night Fish Fry! I mean, wouldn’t you? In fact, I think the huz was more excited for the Fish Fry than any other part of our trip. Bless him.
And I’ll tell you what – it was dang good, too. Tender, flaky fish, with a light, crisp coating – so delicious!
After dinner we went to our first of three wine tastings included in our trip. We got started by checking in and picking up our souvenir wine glasses and wine punch cards.
This first wine tasting was a Dessert Reception. At each of three tastings, we received a punch card that allowed us to try any 6 of the 8 offered wines of the event. All of the wines were from wineries in Northeastern Michigan, which was really cool.
One really unique aspect of the weekend’s wine tastings was that food was included at each event. Friday evening’s Dessert Reception offered a buffet of most sweet offerings (naturally), but also offered some salty, savory bites like cheese and sausage, for wine pairings. This provided a great opportunity to try the wines with different types of food, and the wine lists provided at each event offered suggestions for pairings.
Typically I like Rieslings, (and Northern Michigan does produce some nice ones – I’ve tried plenty at different Michigan wineries), but I don’t love them, nor tend to gravitate toward them on wine menus, but I was gushing over Thunder Bay Winery’s Late Harvest Riesling. This delightful wine was priced right, so we purchased a bottle.
Saturday morning we attended our second tasting at the Sunday Morning Brunch. That’s right – wine for breakfast! Yes! A few people at the event didn’t want some, or all, of their six tastes at that early morning hour (8-10am) [lightweights…] and gave them to the huz and I. How nice! Which means the huz and I must either look like alcoholics, or else must look approachable. Ha. Thanks nice people!
But, we needed to be able to function and drive into town that day, so we couldn’t even manage to use up all the extra tastings we were given, but we did get the chance to try all eight of the offered wines in the morning, which was cool.
Thunder Bay Winery’s Starlite Beach wine was by far my favorite of the morning tastings. Also, I’ve got to say that that is a very sexy name for a bottle of wine. Starlite Beach? Count me in. (A recent Google search reveals that there is an actual beach in Alpena named Starlite Beach. Well then.)
Breakfast was really good, too, by the way! A full, hot buffet and an omelet station were offered. And lots of amazing bacon.
Wine. Cheese. Bacon.
My life is complete.
After that, we drove into Alpena for the day, where we visited the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Went for a lovely, sunny stroll beside the river…
Ate ice cream for lunch because that is what you are supposed to do while vacationing.
(If you don’t, you’re just not vacationing correctly. Just saying.)
Saw a Wolverine (GO BLUE!) at the Besser Museum…
…and checked out a show at the planetarium while we were there.
Then back to the resort for our third and final wine tasting. The hors d’oeuvres were especially enticing at the Saturday Afternoon tasting, including (are you ready for this?!): garlic-stuffed olives, bar cheese and bread, pesto toasts, cheeses, smoked meats and sausage, and chocolate-covered strawberries.
After our wines tastes and food nibbles, we hopped in a horse-drawn carriage for a sleigh ride, of sorts. And my word, the weather was gorgeous. We were so fortunate this weekend! Northern Michigan is stunning in the summertime.
We enjoyed a leisurely ride through the forest and viewed several elk belonging to a herd maintained by the resort.
A charming female elk:
Giant males with their impressive velvet antlers:
Our destination was the resort’s Elk Antler Log Cabin, for dinner.
We were treated to a homemade five-course meal with wine pairings. [Not included in the Wine Lover’s Weekend, by the way; but a fun experience to try if given the chance.]
For the first three courses we had a warm apple pastry and shrimp cocktail, homemade chicken noodle soup, and a crunchy Napa salad with a flaky croissant.
The main course was this beautifully presented roast crown of pork with red skin potatoes. The gravy was divine!
Dessert offered a white chocolate mousse with fresh berries which was a bit too sweet for my taste, though I did enjoy the fresh berries and dessert wines.
Phew – what an exciting day!
The next day we came back home, to reality.
We had an absolutely lovely time at the beautiful Thunder Bay Resort and got in some much-needed fun and relaxation.