Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vacation Day Trips: Port Austin, Michigan

When our vacation to Port Austin, Michigan fell through this year, we wound up in Lexington instead. We had a great time on our alternate vacation, but we couldn't stay away from our beloved Port Austin. So we took a little day trip.

Ordinarily, the drive from Lexington to Port Austin would be just over an hour and a half (ish). But we ran into a detour that took us away from the scenic M-25 and deep into farm country. Luckily we were not in Detroit, where detours are not typically well-marked, to put it mildly. So we made it to our destination with no trouble, it just took a little longer than we had expected. The farmland drive was pretty too, especially if you enjoy looking at lots and lots of corn, with a few cows thrown in for good measure.

In The Bank's entrance way. Port Austin, Michigan
Our first stop in Port Austin was The Bank for lunch. This used to be one of my favorite restaurants. The food was fantastic. But, I've noticed that in recent years the food has gone way down hill. It isn't cheap either. We had a great waitress, I'll give them that, and the setting (in an actual old bank building) is definitely unique. I ordered vegetarian quiche and it was awful. The roll that came with it tasted like freezer burn, and the grapes had a moldy flavor. My mother-in-law loved her lunch (chicken salad on a croissant), but I was sorely disappointed in mine. Eating vegetarian while traveling has proven to be a bit of a thorn in my side. The options are so limited. 

After lunch we drove all the way to Caseville, 17 miles each way, just to go thrifting at a little resale shop in town. We probably spent a little too much time in there, but it is something my kids look forward to each year. I know, totally weird, right?

When we got back to Port Austin, we stopped at the soda fountain for ice cream. Chris had told the kids to have a cherry soda for him, which was what he liked to order at the very same shop when he was a kid. So Bethany, Connor, and Lucy each had a cherry soda, while Mattie and I had some regular old ice cream. They have really good ice cream, with some flavors you don't see every day - like carrot cake. There is also a gift shop attached. Please note that although the sign on the door says "no public restroom", there actually is a restroom, and if you ask the cashier she will give you a key. Customers only, though.

Beach time! Port Austin, Michigan
By this time it was starting to get late in the afternoon. We headed to the beach to hang out for a few hours. There are two public beaches in Port Austin. One of them is right there in town, at the marina. There is a newer playground too. But construction was going on all around (I'm wondering what they're up to??), and the restrooms were inaccessible. So we drove down the road to the other beach. Just follow East Spring Street east, past the first beach, and you will come to a sign on the left hand side directing you to the beach. You'll have to drive through a neighborhood to get there, but it is a quick five minutes from the other beach. At this beach there is an older playground and a wooden boardwalk that lines the beach, with shaded picnic tables along the way. 

We chose a picnic table, plunked down all our junk, and the kids got busy in the water. One of the things I love about this beach is that I can sit at the picnic table and watch my kids on the beach, without actually going on the beach if I so choose. There are never many people there, which is awesome sauce in my book. The water is very calm at this beach, because there is a break wall, but it is warm and shallow and not rocky. It is full of sea weed though. Kind of icky in parts, and it really scared Mattie. She didn't want to go in the water much at all because of it. Judging from her screams of terror, you might have thought she had encountered a new breed of freshwater sharks, indigenous to the Great Lakes. But she is a beach baby, and was perfectly happy building her sand castles.

Mathilda hated her dress. A lot. The Farm, Port Austin, MI
Although we really didn't want our beach fun to end, we had made reservations at a nearby restaurant. I was in desperate need of a good meal at this point. We got changed and cleaned up a little in the restrooms, which were passably clean. Then we drove a few miles down M-25 (toward Caseville) to Port Crescent Road and The Farm. The Farm is probably the best restaurant in the area. Or maybe I'm just gloating because they provided me with what was, by far, the best meal I had the entire week of our vacation. I had the Spring Vegetable Strudel and it was to die for. Delicious. I want to eat it again, right now. The menu does change from time to time, but everything is delicious - from the bread basket right on down to dessert. Speaking of dessert, Mathilda and I shared the creme brulee. So ridiculously good.

By the time we got back to our Lexington cottage, it was past 11:30. What a long day!

Who is that mysterious stranger lurking at the beach? Port Austin, Michigan
Reading at the beach. Port Austin, Michigan
Kayaks on the beach. Port Austin, Michigan
Cheese smiles at The Farm. Port Austin, Michigan
With dessert fresh in their minds, these are some very happy kids. The Farm, Port Austin, Michigan


Jackie said...

I love that area of Michigan! We go to Caseville a lot because that is where my family is from.
The beach is great in Caseville because there are tons of sandbars and you can walk out forever before it gets deep.

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

I know what you mean about detours in Detroit. Always an adventure :-)