There is the cutest little town..

In Northern Michigan that you may not have heard of. It sits along the coast of Little Traverse Bay, not far from it’s better know “Up North” sister city of Petoskey. It is the quaint town of Harbor Springs. You won’t find any big hotel chains or shopping malls. Instead you will take notice of the peaceful and tranquil setting of this charming little town.

Harbor Spring is about a 4 hour drive north of Detroit. If you are flying, there is a regional airport just north of town, Pelleston, that offers daily connections to and from DTW on Delta. You will need a car as there are many places to visit around the area but for now, let’s focus on Harbor Springs. As head down M115 towards town, one of the first things you notice are the beautiful homes that line the streets. Most of them over a 100 years old with large front porches , perfect for sipping lemonade on a hot summer day. Entering into town, you will see a country church at the end of the street, and a Main St with lots of fun little shops, and a harbor with beautiful boats (and yachts) docked for a day or for the season. During the height of season, the Main Street is full of tourists but it is not the hustle and bustle of other resort towns. It is as if everyone knows its ok to slow down, maybe put away the iPhones, and engage in life in a small town.

First stop for me is always Johan’s Pastry shop on the corner of 3rd and Main. The delicious smells of homemade pastries and donuts …and fresh roasted coffee welcome you. You will notice a group of locals sitting at a small table in the corner. They are regulars that have been coming there for years. They know everyone, can share the history (and a little gossip) of the area, offer a recommendation or two on where to eat or what to do.

Once you are fueled up, take a stroll down Main St. It seems rare these days to find a small independent bookstore but there is a great one in town- Between the Covers. A great selection of books (Bestsellers, Fiction and Non, Biographies, cookbooks, and a great children’s section). Each September the town hosts “Festival of the Book”. In 2020, the event will be Friday September 25th- Sunday September 27th. When the tickets go on sale in early July , you will want to get yours right away as some of the events sell out. The festival features nationally published authors and illustrators across a variety of genres. If you are a fellow lover of the published word, you will not want to miss this. This is a great festival for all ages and also includes food, music, and crafts. Fall is such a beautiful time to be in Northern Michigan so you will want to include a trip to the Tunnel of Trees on M115 just outside of town.

If reading isn’t your thing, don’t worry there are plenty of other attractions. For food lovers there are 15 different restaurants with about about half of them all within a block of each other. A favorite of mine is Willow Chefs Chris and Daniel talents have created a very eclectic menu combining local grown ingredients along with delectables from the lakes and farms. The service is impeccable. And, they will even go off menu if you would like to enjoy something special like an Affagato. Another stop that you need to make is at Tom’s Moms Cookies. Nationally recognized and locally made, some of the BEST cookies you will ever have. They open and 10am. There will be a line. But it is worth it.

If you want to enjoy the beautiful weather and spend a bit more time outside. There are plenty of things to do. The Thorne Swift Nature Preserve has over 30 acres of land just off Lake Michigan. You can do a formalized tour or venture out on your own on a choice of 3 hiking trails. The wildlife, flowers, dunes and views are spectacular. Evenings in July and August they offer a Night Walk which is great for viewing the starry sky and the ambiance of the water and the beach in the evening. For beach lovers there is Zoll Street beach, small but a great place to launch a kayak to enjoy the water or hang out a the dog friendly beach with the family. An alternative to Zoll St, is the Zorn Park Beach which has a large sandy beach area, play structure for the kids, and restroom facilities.

There is so much to do that a long weekend or even a week long trip is recommended. There are several great “Up North” towns within a 10-30 drive of Harbor Springs. Petoskey is a big larger and has several more options with shopping, theatre, and dining. There is Bay Harbor, home to the Inn at Bay Harbor (an AC Collection hotel by Marriott)- modeled after the famous Del on Coronado Island. Another favorite spot as they do their famous campfires at night by the water, complete with s’mores. Charlevoix is not much further down M31. Another great town for summer and fall festivals.

My family likes to visit every 4th of July week. We utilize to rent a house for the week in Harbor Springs or a neighboring community. It is great time to visit and partake in classic American traditions of parades down Main St and fireworks. Nothing beats a Michigan summer night – it is light until way after 10pm, there is the smell of camp fires, the sound of laughter from family and friends enjoying time together, and the laid back atmosphere that let’s you take a break from the world. If you have never experienced “Up North”, now is the time to start making plans.

A Proper Ladies Dinner

I am a very fortunate woman. My travel takes me all over the country and has allowed me to cultivate friendships with some really great woman. Women that lead organizations. Women that care for their families. Women that are making an impact in the communities around them. Women that have challenged me to be better, stronger, and pursue my dreams. It isn’t always possible to spend a much time with them as I would like so when I get the opportunity, I take full advantage of it.

My job often takes me to Richmond , VA. A city with a rich, yet controversial past. Home to a prestigious university. And the setting for a quarterly dinner with some wonderful women. There is no topic that is off the table. Knowing your “walk on” song is a must as well as a love for all music from the 80’s. But it is just a myth that you have to be blonde to attend one of these dinners. Sometimes it is best for other people in the restaurant that we have our own separate room as it can get quite loud with laughter and music.

Richmond has experienced a renaissance over the last few years and has become a great “foodie” town. The setting for this dinner was at the historic Jefferson Hotel, built by tobacco Baron Lewis Winter back in 1892. The restaurant in the hotel is Lemaire. The chef is local to the area and has done a fantastic job incorporating local grown ingredients into fabulous seafood dishes as well as some local favorite beef, pork and chicken selections. Lemaire offers a elegant setting, perfect for the holidays or celebrating a special

If you are a history buff, you will want to spend some time in this city. Former capital for the Confederate south, the museums and Monument Avenue tell the story of the of Richmond’s struggle to find peace in a society that was the center of the Virginia’s slave trade. I found a visit to the Virginia Museum of History & Culture very enlightening and sobering; telling a part of history not taught to this depth in most of our schools. The Museum hosts many special exhibits and collections both historical and current in theme. The museum also offers a program Unknown No Longer ( that houses a collection of resources for researching African American history in Virginia. Giving generations of families their due respect and to ensure they are not forgotten.

The Valentine First Freedom Center, located in the retail and entertainment section known as Shockoe slip (aka Shockoe Bottom), was the site to the secret meetings with Thomas Jefferson and Virginia’s General Assembly to draft and later enact the Religious Freedom Act of 1786; paving the way to the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment ( Walking down the brick paved sidewalks of this area is like a step back in time. This quaint walkable section of the city offers any options for dining. There is a great little bistro called Bistro Bobette on E. Cary St serving up traditional and French nouvelle cuisine by real French waiters. Sine’s Irish Pub is a more lively alternative that offers traditional Irish food, music, and spirit . Looking for a more traditional menu? Check out The Tobacco Company Restaurant, Morton’s Steakhouse, or The Hard Shell for some great steak or seafood. So many options makes this area worth an overnight stay. There are many options including the Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott, which is attached to the First Freedom Center.

As a fan of college campuses, I highly recommend a visit to VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) while in Richmond. The urban setting of the VCU campus encompasses great art, culture, and history…as well as a great bookstore. You can spend a whole afternoon wandering the campus, popping into the gorgeous Cabell Library or stopping for a cupcake at Carytown Cupcakes. Grab a coffee or latte at Lift’s Coffee Shop and for a moment be part of the energy of this vibrate campus. Be sure not to miss the historic Byrd Theatre too. They offers classic movies – a must see for any cinema buff

My trips to Richmond began as trips deemed necessary for work but have quickly become a quarterly trip that I look forward to. Each time I discover something new about this great city. And, I know that I have a great meal in store with some fabulous women whom I admire so much. I invite you to make the trip, you won’t be disappointed.

Just a Small Town Girl

Main Street

Love the towns you see in the Hallmark Christmas movies? Or have you ever wanted to go to Stars Hollow ?  Your search will end here. There is a town in Michigan that still holds monthly town hall meetings, offers a Main Street that hosts not only every holiday parade but also a parade for the local little league teams.During the summer;  there is an Art Festival, sidewalk sales, weekly concerts, and even a local Farmer’s Market.  The Historic Home Tour and Classic Car Show in the Fall highlights this little town’s historic past. Home to authors, poets, chefs, and even once the site for movie. It’s the town I call home. To clarify I travel almost every week for work, so when I have a chance to hang out in Milford, Michigan, it feels like a vacation.  

Again my day starts with coffee. There is a great group of guys at the local Starbucks that gather every morning to discuss politics, family, faith, food, and share tips on how to fix almost anything .They have helped me move, have been present for milestones in my children’s lives and have been so supportive in all my endeavors.  They are very welcoming to all, so if you stop in be sure you say hello and maybe sit down for a chat.

So what is there to do in this little town (village ) of Milford? Let’s start with downtown. A walk through town will take you past a variety of boutiques. There is After the Rain, Hoot, and Nana’s that offer unique or one-of-a-kind type items. If you like to cook or bake, you will want to stop by The Acorn Shop and check out the selection of kitchen and dining items or join a cooking demonstration. Looking to update your wardrobe? There are several women’s clothing shops (The Clothing Cove, Tenacity, and Uptown Threads to name a few) that have an outfit for every occasion.

I know this sounds like a lot of small towns across the country so what makes Milford so special ? It’s the people. People that care about this town and the people in it.  People  that are rooting for Charlie’s new restaurant – Still on Main, to do well.  Kathy at the Milford Feed Store that can help you feed your horses, your chickens, and your average household pet but also there for advice on life, health, and family.  Colleen, owner of Sweet Retreats (aka-the chocolate shop) that never judges me on what is sometimes is “multiple” trips to her store on a stressful day AND remembers that my favorite treat is the milk chocolate peanut butter cup. I was raised here.  I raised my children here. It’s my escape from the vastness of this world.


Milford is a town that is great for a romantic night out – a glass of wine at The Wine Bar followed by dinner prepared by Chef Gary at Gravity. Maybe a walk down Main St. to one of the several jewelry stores the town hosts? 

For families there is an awesome park that offers one of the best playscapes I have ever seen. Central Park offers movies in the park during the summer as well as family friendly concerts in the La Fontaine Amphitheater . We still have a family run movie theater (Milford Cinema)that offers first run movies for only $6 per adult and $5 for children. They won’t start the movie until everyone has what they need from the concession stand so you have time to load up on popcorn and candy without missing a moment of the movie.

Need a girl’s weekend trip?   There is yoga at In Harmony.  A great DIY workshop  A/R where you can paint, build, knit, or sew.  Lunch at Coratti’s on Main followed by some shopping is a great way to spend the day with your besties. Need a new look? There are 5 Hair Salons and a new Blow Dry Bar (JL Styles coming in January). Be sure to stop in and see Paul and Nancy at Milford Nail Spa for a pedi/mani. 

I haven’t even mentioned that we have great bike trails,  Kensington Metro Park, and Camp Dearborn in the area as well. So if you are looking for year round outdoor fun, be sure to add those to your list.

Have I convinced you yet to spend the day, or maybe even stay the night? Our new Opera House Bed & Breakfast is now open. It is nice to take a step back sometimes and enjoy the simple pleasures that Milford, Michigan has to offer. I hope you take the time to come and visit.

Click to access MilfordWalkingMap20112.pdf

Andy, Jackie, and Me

It’s a cold blustery day in Chicago but the sun is out and the town is wide awake. We have already decided that shopping will be incorporated into the day but also want to make sure we take in some culture.

Our first stop , after coffee (those that know me, know I NEED my coffee)is the Chicago Institute of Arts, there is an Andy Warhol exhibit that has been getting great reviews so we wanted to check it out for ourselves. Getting there early is the key, museum gets busy, and I am not a fan of crowds.

I am fascinated by art, but have very limited knowledge of it. So instead, I just experience it through how it makes me feel instead of trying to figure out what the artist is trying to say. To me, Andy Warhol was this interesting character that I heard about in the 80’s (mainly thanks to Duran Duran), so his style reminds me of growing up in Milford, Michigan and hanging out with my friends, and all that is 1980 something.

One of the highlights of the exhibit is centered around the Kennedy’s. The Kennedy’s have long captivated my interest, mainly Jackie. I think it stems from my mom playing the soundtrack from Camelot; and my sister and I dancing and singing along to it. It sounded like a fabulous place to live with lots of romance and adventure. When I discovered that JFK’s Presidency was referred to as the time of “ Camelot” it immediately resonated with me. Did I mention we happen to be there on the 56th anniversary of the assassination of JFK? Not planned, just coincidence but noteworthy. Wire reports, news paper headlines, little bits & pieces of information that chronologically tells the story all the way through to the death of Lee Harvey Oswald. Experiencing this part of the Andy Warhol exhibit brought back all those memories as well an emotional response to the assassination of JFK (yes, I was not actually born until 6 years after this all happened so I don’t remember it in real time)

I have always admired Jackie for her commitment to her children , family values along with her elegance and style. Andy is able to capture her love, her grief, and her strength in nine simple photographs. It evokes many emotions but mainly empathy for what it must have been like for her and her children during such a devastating time in their family. She was admired by millions but it came with so many difficulties that it must have been hard to be Jackie Kennedy. If you are also fan of her, I highly recommend the book “Mrs Kennedy and Me” by Clint Hill. Mr. Hill was the lead agent assigned to her Secret Service detail and was there by her side in the car when JFK was shot. And there during the many hours, weeks, and months that this one moment left behind.

There is much more to the exhibit than just Jackie. His most famous pieces are there but also drawings and artwork from all different stages and mediums of his eclectic career. Worth checking out if you find yourself in Chicago from now through January 26th.

For some more insight to Jackie, I thought I would share this site with you.

A little bit of France…in Chicago

As I sit and write my first “official” post, it is appropriate that it is in the small coffee shop,Le Petit Margeaux in the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago. It encompasses so many things I love. The ease and elegance of the French atmosphere. The sweet and savory taste of the freshly baked croissants accompanied by a rich and creamy cappuccino. The perfect setting for people watching. Artists, designers, business men and women. The old , the young, the up and comers and those enjoying retirement.

This is always my first stop in the morning when I am in Chicago. The peace before entering the hustle and bustle of this great city.

What I love about this hotel are the people that work here. Women and men that share that passion of hospitality that I have. That adrenaline rush that you get from meeting new people, making a difference in someone’s day, and making an impact. Serving others as a way to show love to someone, to make them feel important, to let them know they matter.

I must confess…I came here last night for dinner. The plan was to “stop in” for a drink and then head out to one of the many fine restaurants in the Gold Coast area of Chicago. But once I am in this fabulous hotel, I struggle to leave. We met the fabulous Sommelier for Margeaux Brasserie. She shared her great knowledge of wine to help us better understand the Bordeaux wines and the explain the variety of blends from the right and left bank in the Bordeaux region. Paired with a petite filet and butter lettuce salad, it made for a perfect evening out.

There is always so much to do in Chicago. It’s hard to pack it all in a long weekend. I will be heading to the Chicago Insitute of Arts to visit the Andy Warhol exhibit so watch for more updates.

If you find yourself in Chicago, put The Waldorf Astoria on your list of places to either start or end your day. Or both. Bon Voyage!

This is me

I have always believed that travel; experiencing new places, different cultures, and exploring the “non touristy” places in a city is the best education one can get. I fell in love with this kind of life very early on. Growing up in a home, where my mother worked in the travel industry, gave me the opportunity to do things that were not typical of a daughter of a single parent. Caribbean Cruises, long weekend trips to Bed & Breakfasts across the country, and international trips to Canada, Mexico, and France.

My plan when I was in high school was to be a travel writer. Back in the late 80’s though, people really didn’t care what an 18 year old had to say about a weekend in Toronto or Chicago. There were no travel blogs…there was no internet access yet for the average person. So instead I went to travel school, became a travel agent and took advantage of the benefits that came with it. Putting my dream on the back burner.

Life changes came. Marriage, children, divorce. Travel remained a passion but funds were limited. I moved through the travel industry working for a large travel agency in Detroit, than later Norwegian Cruise Line and then Costa Cruise Line. In 2002, I found what would be come my career path…hospitality. It was in my DNA. Hosting people, taking care or anticipating their needs, good food and drink..all right up my alley. I was hooked. I now work for one of the largest hotel management companies in the US and can honestly say I love my job.

Which now brings me to today. I have the time now that my kids are grown and living on their own. I have the resources and benefits of being in the industry to indulge a bit more. And I have my desire to write again.

This blog will be to share my travel experiences to help fuel your passion to travel. To highlight great destinations for singles, for couples, for women , and for families. I hope that you all fall in love with the destinations I have on my list for the next 12 months.

My blog will not be perfect. Technology is not always my friend (which makes me sound so old). My name is Jennifer and I am a writer.