Five Spots to See in Charlevoix

Five Spots to See in Charlevoix

Tucked between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, the town of Charlevoix is a prime spot for a Northern Michigan summer vacation. Here are five must-see spots you don’t want to miss when you visit.

Earl Young Mushroom Houses

The Mushroom Houses, as they’re affectionately called, were designed and built by artist Earl Young. Made of stone with unusual rooflines and wavy eaves, the houses have a storybook feel to them. A nature lover, Young designed the houses to blend with the landscape and sourced the stone from the beaches of Northern Michigan. The 26 homes are private residences. While they’re not open for inside tours, you can view the Mushroom Houses from the outside. Mushroom House Tours offers a guided tour. You can also take a self-guided walking or driving tour through the neighborhood. Please be considerate of the homeowners and don’t trespass on private property.

Castle Farms

As the name suggests, there is a castle in Northern Michigan! The castle was built in 1918 by the president of Sears and Roebuck, modeled after the stone barns and castles found in France. Today the grounds of Castle Farms are open to the public. You can view the incredible architecture of the castle and outbuildings and the beautiful botanical garden. You’ll also find the world’s largest outdoor model train in the garden. The building that once housed the farm’s blacksmith shop is now a WWI museum filled with memorabilia from the era. You can also see the owner’s private collection of antiques. Stop by the castle’s 1918 Cellars Tasting Room and Bistro to sample the farm’s Northern Michigan-produced wines and grab a bite to eat.

Fisherman’s Island State Park

Fisherman’s Island State Park has six miles of pristine, undeveloped beach along Lake Michigan. With that much sand, it’s easy to find a quiet spot along the water. It’s named for a small island off-shore. When lake levels are low the island can be reached by wading out to it. Currently, the lake is too high for that. A 2.5-mile hiking trail takes you through rolling sand dunes, forests, and bogs. It’s a great spot to take in the natural beauty of Northern Michigan. 

Charlevoix South Pier Light Station and Michigan Beach Park

The Charlevoix South Pier Light Station is an iconic symbol of Northern Michigan. It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the state. The bright red tower makes a striking contrast against the backdrop of Lake Michigan’s blue water. It’s located in Michigan Beach Park where you’ll find a large, white sand beach. There is also a playground and walking trails at the park. The restaurants and shops in downtown Charlevoix are within walking distance from the beach.

Lake Charlevoix

Lake Charlevoix is just inland from Lake Michigan, connected to the big lake by the Pine River Channel. The lake is a favorite spot for water sports, fishing, and swimming. With over 60 miles of shoreline, kayaking is also a popular activity on the lake. Ferry Beach Park, a public beach on Lake Charlevoix, has a playground and a boat launch. For a unique experience ride the Ironton Ferry, a cable-operated car ferry, across the south arm of the lake. 

5 Things to do This Winter Near Traverse City, MI

5 Things to do This Winter Near Traverse City, MI

Traverse City, MI, is a popular place to visit during the summer months, but why wait until then? If you are a lover of winter, Traverse City can be a fun place to stay for a winter vacation. Here are five activities that we think you should try if you visit Traverse City during the winter months.

Skiing and Snowboarding

 There is no shortage of skiing and snowboarding slopes in Northern Michigan! One of Traverse City’s most popular ski areas is Hickory Hills. This ski area has eight downhill runs for skiing fun. There is something for everyone here, whether you are a beginner skier or snowboarder, or experienced enough to conquer the advanced slopes. Head east to try Mt. Holiday Ski & Recreation area, where you can choose from 16 different runs for all different skill levels.

Wine Tour

 Wine tours aren’t just for summertime fun. Visit them during the winter for an entirely different experience! Sit by the fire and sip on some wine while watching the snowfall. The Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail in Traverse City has 10 different wineries you can try all in one day! They all offer tastings and wine by the glass. Bring a group of friends for a great day!


 If you are looking for another outdoor activity other than skiing or snowboarding, why not try snowshoeing? Traverse City has plenty of areas to go snowshoeing, including trails inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. It’s a great way to view the winter scenery on foot. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you can rent them at The Homestead Resort.

Fat Tire Biking

 For those of you who are avid bikers, fat-tire biking might be your thing in the winter! Feel safe on the trails and the road with fat-tire bikes. If you don’t have your own fat tire bike, you can rent one at the Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort.

Winter Shopping

 Not a fan of the outdoors? Why not spend the day indoors and go shopping? Shop ‘til you drop on Front Street in Traverse City. There are a variety of shops and boutiques to browse, along with restaurants to pop into for a warm beverage. Don’t forget to stop into the Sunglass Shoppe to get your sunglasses for the upcoming spring and summer seasons!


Just because it’s winter in Northern Michigan doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. Traverse City, MI has something for everyone!

Tips for Packing Light for a Winter Trip

Tips for Packing Light for a Winter Trip

With winter in full swing, many people are planning ski trips or other winter trips over the next couple of months. For some people, packing can be a challenging task since there’s a lot to pack to keep you warm. Here is our guide for packing for your upcoming winter vacation.

Pack for layering

 Your thick sweaters will take up a lot of space in your suitcase. Rather than packing your bulky sweaters and sweatshirts, consider packing for layering. Pack thinner long-sleeved shirts and thin sweaters to allow more space in your suitcase. Dressing in layers will help to insulate more to keep you just as warm as a thick sweater would – or maybe even warmer!

Wear your big items

 If you must take some thicker clothing on your winter trip, wear those items. This will allow for more room in your suitcase for other things. If you plan to bring boots, wear those instead of packing them in your bag. Boots take up a lot of space!

Pack your accessories

 Even though you are going on a winter trip, there still are some summer items you will want to pack. If you are going to be outdoors on the slopes or on cross-country trails, you want to prepare yourself for being out in the sun. If you are a skier, don’t forget to pack your goggles. When packing your goggles, wrap them a piece of clothing for protection in your suitcase or stick them in your winter hat!

Carry your sunglasses with you at all times in your purse or around your neck. You always want to have your sunglasses close by when you step outdoors to protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays. Not sure what kind of sunglasses are right for you? Stop into The Sunglass Shoppe, and we can help you find the perfect pair for your winter trip!

Go with travel-size products

 It can be a tedious task to go to the store and pick out all the travel-size items you will need for your trip, but we promise you it is worth it. Using travel-size products such as shampoo, toothpaste, and shaving cream will save you a ton of space and weight when you are packing. Purchase products that you can refill, and you won’t have to be buying new products continuously. You can refill them when they need to be topped off.

Don’t let the stress of packing for a winter trip be complicated. Use these tips, and you might even have enough room to take some souvenirs home with you!

8 Things to Do in the Fall Around Saugatuck

8 Things to Do in the Fall Around Saugatuck

We think Saugatuck, MI is a great summer spot in the state, but did you know it is also a great spot to celebrate the changing of the seasons? There is a lot to do in Saugatuck in the fall; here are a few of our favorites!

Oval Beach

 Enjoy a long walk on Oval Beach with a lot less traffic than you would see in the summer! At times you will have the whole beach to yourself! It is a peaceful place to take in the changing of the seasons. Come in the late afternoon and enjoy one of the most breathtaking sunsets over Lake Michigan.

Eat like a southerner

 Experience a bit of southern home cooking in Saugatuck! The Southern is a family-owned restaurant known for its southern-style meals and a favorite among the locals. Their fried chicken sandwich and homemade biscuits will make you feel like you are in the heart of the south.

Apple picking

 Fall is the perfect time for picking the most delicious apples! Crane’s Orchards is just a 15-minute drive south. Pick your own apples or grab a bushel already selected for you. While you are there, enjoy hayrides and get lost in their 20-acre corn maze. It’s the perfect place for all the traditional autumn activities!

Raspberry picking

 Not only does the fall bring delicious apples, but it is also raspberry picking season! Riverbend Farms has acres of raspberries for you to pick yourself. The season lasts through the end of October.

Walk downtown Saugatuck

 There’s so much to do in downtown Saugatuck! Treat yourself to some homemade ice cream at one of the many ice cream shops, or shop around all the little gift boutiques on Butler Street. You can make a whole day out of it. While you are there, stop in at the Sunglass Shoppe and say hi!

Climb Mount Baldhead

 If you are looking to get in a little more exercise, visit Mount Baldhead. Mount Baldhead has a one-mile loop around it for hiking, biking, or walking. Climb up 302 steps to the top and get a panoramic view of Saugatuck in the fall. It’s a perfect picture opportunity for sure!

Visit the sand dunes

 Saugatuck has over 2 miles of shoreline you can visit, and it’s worth the trip. Walk the shoreline and you will see 200-foot-high dunes that frame the beach! You won’t want to leave once you visit.

Go for a boat ride

 A boat ride in the fall is the perfect way to say goodbye to the warm weather. Rent a boat from Retro Boat Rentals, and you can enjoy a slow cruise on the Kalamazoo River, which leads into Lake Michigan. Choose from a variety of boats to rent. They are open through October, but it’s recommended to book ahead.  

Saugatuck is not just a beach town. There is plenty to do during the other seasons, so be sure to add it to your list of places to visit for some fall fun! 

Our Friends at The Butler

Our Friends at The Butler

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting Saugatuck, MI, there is a good chance you walked down Butler Street, which is right around the corner from the Sunglass Shoppe’s newest location. If you did and made it to the end of the road by the water, you were confronted with a restaurant called The Butler, located at 40 Butler St. The Butler brings a mix of Saugatuck living and family tradition to the small town of Saugatuck.

The Butler Restaurant

The Butler first opened in 1961 as a two-story hotel with a restaurant on the bottom floor. In 1971, the top floors were removed, leaving only the restaurant standing. For 58 years, the restaurant has been run year-round, including during a global pandemic, by three generations of family.

The Butler is the perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day. Choose from sitting either inside or outside patio seating for lunch or dinner. Listen to live entertainment on the patio while you take in views of the Kalamazoo Harbor. After lunch, take a dip in the pool! If you are a boater and like to spend your summers on Lake Michigan, The Butler can rent one of its 58 dock slips to you for the summer.

Butler Boat Slips are available for rent during the summer.

The Butler restaurant is known for its famous Butler burger! The Butler burger is a ½ pound of ground Angus sirloin topped with grilled ham, American cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise. If you are looking for a twist on the Butler burger, try the Tucson burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, and chipotle mayonnaise. While the Butler is known for its burgers, there are numerous other delicious meals on the menu. Some of my favorites are the Cherry Chicken and Walnut Salad, the Reuben Sandwich, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Pan Fried Great Lakes Walleye, which is a Butler specialty!

When you walk through The Butler, you will see 58 years of family history. You can learn about the history of the White and Phelps families who started the Butler. Sit at the table with the names of the family’s boats through the years. Spell your name out with the nautical flags they use around the restaurant. Before you leave, purchase a Butler t-shirt on your way out!

If you are visiting Saugatuck, MI, any time during the year, I highly recommend including a stop at The Butler. When you walk through the door, you will instantly feel like family here and leave with a belly full of delicious home cooking. Once you leave, walk off your meal by heading down to the Sunglass Shoppe, which is just around the corner!

5 Places to Visit in or Around Traverse City This Summer

5 Places to Visit in or Around Traverse City This Summer

Now that summer is in full swing in Northern Michigan, it’s time to get outdoors and explore! Here are some great places to visit in Traverse City that we think you will love!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
 Visit the dunes for a hike and beautiful scenery. The scenery is gorgeous and goes for miles with stunning views of the lake. Plan a camping trip or spend the day hiking the trails. If you decide to visit at night when the stars are out, you won’t be disappointed with the views up above. Sometimes you can even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights!

The Little Fleet
 During the day, the Little Fleet is a great place to take the family. You can always find a slew of food trucks there. We guarantee you will have a hard time trying to choose what to eat! During the evening hours, you can often find events happening. It’s a great place to wind down and let loose on the weekends after a long week of working!

Front Street Shopping
 Front Street in downtown Traverse City has over 150 shops, boutiques, and restaurants to visit. If you are looking for a shopping adventure, you won’t be disappointed here. Stop into the Sunglass Shoppe and say hi and check out the variety of glasses we carry!

Boardman Lake Trail
 If you are a lover of the outdoors and enjoy hiking, Boardman Lake Trail is a must-visit! This two-mile heavily wooded trail runs along the east side of Boardman Lake. Part of the trail is paved, and part of it is crushed limestone and boardwalks. There is something for every hiker on this trail!

Leelanau Wine Trail
 This trail is a must-go if you are a wine lover! The trail is divided into three smaller trails for touring. Stop in to various wine tasting rooms along the trail while getting a different experience in each one. Enjoy breathtaking views along the trail as an added bonus! These are just a few of the things you can do in Traverse City, MI. There are plenty of areas to go if you are looking to fish, boat, or bike, too. There is something for everyone in Traverse City!