Category Archives: Travel

Cross Country Skiing-25 Years Later

Trak cross country skis

I’m not sure why, but ever since we moved to Chicago, my cross country skis have been in storage in the basement.  Many years, there just wasn’t enough snow to ski, and then when there was snow, I’d come up with reasons why the conditions were never quite right.  Mostly, it was that I grew up in Buffalo and had great places to cross country ski.  In my mind, nothing here would compare,  so it wasn’t worth the effort.  I realize that’s not entirely rational, nor fair.

We started cross country skiing as a family back when I was maybe around 8 yrs. old. I give my parents a lot of credit for taking 3 young kids out in the cold snow to go cross country skiing.  In those days, the skis required waxing, which was a complicated art, especially for five people.  For fun, I checked out this Swix Waxing Guide to see if it was as complicated as I remember,  It was, so kudos to my dad for figuring it all out.  Thankfully, no-wax skis were invented and made everyone’s lives simpler.  I have fond memories of those trips (except for the frozen feet), but I’m sure we weren’t always happy skiers.

So this weekend, before the next polar vortex arrived, I finally decided to get my skis and poles out of the basement.  I had some cleaning up to do with them, and actually needed to use goo-gone to get the moving tape residue off (mind you, we haven’t moved in 20 years). Then off to find the boots, which are actually my mom’s old boots since mine have long since disintegrated.  I still have the old, 3 pin bindings so when she upgraded her equipment, I luckily inherited her boots. Finally, I had everything together including my original, now vintage, bamboo poles complete with yellow tape markings to distinguish them as mine.

Trak cross country skis

Of course, I had an absolutely wonderful time!  It was cold, but not too windy and the sun was shining.  The snow was just perfect for skiing, either in other skiers trails or blazing my own.

Trak cross country skis

 

cross country skiing

Everything came right back as if I had been out yesterday. I even had the chance to herringbone up a small hill.

cross country skiing

I think my skis will stay in the garage now and get more use. Next up will be to get my husband out there, or, if the weather would ever cooperate, take my skis up to my mom’s and ski with her.

wind blown snow

 

wind blown snow

Stay warm!

Air Plant Terrarium

Air plant terrarium

As I mentioned in a previous post (Blog-Themed Christmas), in addition to my gardening and bird feeding Christmas gifts, I also received a cute little Tillandsia air plant terrarium from my daughter. She went Christmas shopping for me at a very unique garden and gift shop, Alaplash in the North Center area of Chicago. Thank goodness it survived the train ride home with her.

I’ve never owned an air plant before. They seem so easy to take care of that I may be looking for more if this goes well. Tillandsia are in the Bromeliad family and grow natively in South and Central America, and some regions of the southern US. They need bright, but indirect light, and don’t seem to be able to handle direct sun. I thought the kitchen window would be a perfect spot. Now it hangs over the sink and I can look at it and the bird feeders all at the same time.

Air plant terrarium

 

Air plant terrarium

 

Air plant terrarium

The care of air plants seem pretty easy. Sometimes this can be deceiving, but I hope not. The instructions say every 10 days or so, take the plant out of the terrarium, spray it heavily all over with a sprayer or faucet and then let them sit out for a while to dry. They live where it rains, so like to get soaked, but not to stay soaked. For more detailed care instructions, you can visit the Alapash website.

Do you have any experience with air plants or terrariums?

If you are in the area, Alapash was named one of the best gift shops in Chicago by Chicago Magazine in 2013. I can see why.

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It smelled so good in there, I had to buy one of their fig and ginger candles for my house.

Alapash

If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit and there’s lots of other cute shops and great restaurants and pubs in this “off the beaten trail” area of Chicago. I’d recommend The Fountainhead, Glenn’s Diner, and Marmalade if you find yourself hungry around there.

 

Winter Visit to the Morton Arboretum

The other day, before the polar vortex descended into the Chicago area, Steve and I went out for a walk and lunch at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.  The Arboretum is a real local treasure where we can always find something interesting every time we visit.  Today we walked around one of the very snowy and quiet trails, and then took time to walk through the Children’s Garden.  Even though we had no kids with us today, it’s a beautifully laid out garden, easy to explore on a snowy day.

Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum/Bird Nest

You never know what you’ll find when walking around.  I’m still not sure who made these beautiful nests, but I’m leaning towards a Red-Eyed Vireo.  The nest is pretty small, would fit in the palm of my hand, and was about 6 ft off the ground.  Any thoughts?

Morton Arboretum/Bird Nest

Morton Arboretum/Bird Nest

Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum

Once we had enough outdoors, we were lucky enough to get tickets to the last day of the 12th annual Enchanted Railroad Model Train display.  It’s definitely for all ages, no kids are necessary to enjoy.

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Model Railroad/Morton Arboretum

Thanks LGB Model Railroad Club of Chicago for such interesting displays every year.

And of course, the trip was topped off by lunch in the Gingko Cafe and a trip to one of the best gift shops around.  Whenever I stop in there, I am reminded that the book “Man of Salt and Trees: The Life of Joy Morton” by James Ballowe is on my “to read” list.  

A Man of Salt and Trees

Fresh Bread on a Saturday Morning

fresh bread

Over the summer at the Farmer’s Market there was a booth, Katic Breads, that sold the best bread you could imagine.  Everything was delivered warm, fresh and perfect. It also didn’t hurt that the women running the stand were so cheerful week in and week out.   As the market wound down for the winter, customers were asking what to do for the winter months??  We had become used to our focaccia, ciabatta, french breads, harvest breads and, of course, the delicious fresh croissants.  To satisfy their loyal customers, they set up a way to have a standing order delivered to a fabulous local coffee shop, Cafe la Fortuna every other Saturday.  Dusan Katic, the baker, assured us that all their items could be frozen with no problems.  Well, they were right.  Even the croissants that came out of the freezer and reheated just a little, were perfect.

Katic Breads

I just picked up my second order this morning.  Once home, I wrapped everything for freezing, and then enjoyed a fresh croissant with Mammoth Cave Black Cherry Preserves, a specialty of the Mammoth Cave National Park Lodge, and a steaming hot cup of Cafe la Fortuna coffee.  That’s a great way to start a Saturday morning.

Katic Bread

Here’s Dusan Katic’s instructions for storing their fresh breads:

 FREEZING
  If you bought a loaf and are planning on freezing it for later use, place it in a closed plastic bag, in the freezer, as soon as you can. The fresher you freeze it, the fresher it thaws. When you are ready to serve your bread, let it sit out to thaw while the oven is warming up to 350F. To get a crispy crust, wet the surface of the bread with a spray or with your hand. Then, place the thawed/sprayed loaf in the oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the loaf). If you don’t care to crisp the crust, then wrap the loaf in aluminum foil and place it in the oven (especially for rolls).
STORAGE
  Never store bread in the fridge. This actually accelerates staling. Remember that the loaves you receive are pulled out of the oven at 7AM. If you cannot finish the loaf near this peak time, then freezing portions is a much better plan compared to storing in the fridge. Avoid leaving the bread in sunlight. Store bread in a paper bag or wrapped in a kitchen towel in between use.

 
If you have a chance to find them at a farmer’s market or specialty store in the Chicago and Northern IL area, pick some up. You won’t be sorry.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of those places you go to that makes you realize how beautiful and naturally diverse our country is.  On the northwestern shore of Lake Michigan are stunning, glacially formed bluffs that overlook Lake Michigan.  The shoreline is a hilly, varied landscape where you can find rivers, clear lakes, sandy beaches, beech-birch and maple forests and a dune topography that is ever changing.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

The name, Sleeping Bear, comes from an Indian Legend describing how a mother and her two cubs tried to escape a fire raging in Wisconsin and became what is now the Manitou Islands  and the Sleeping Bear Dune.  If you have younger children, the book, The Legend of the Sleeping Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, is a “must-have” before you go or as a souvenir when you’re there.

Sleeping Bear DunesWe stayed at the Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor and you can read about our stay and other things to do in the area in my previous post, Family Trip to Glen Arbor, MI/Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We spent about a day and a half in the National Lakeshore exploring the area.  You could definitely spend more time, as there is so much to explore and enjoy.

First thing to do when you arrive is to visit the Philip Hart Visitor Center on M-72 just East of M-22 in Empire, MI.  As with all National Park visitor centers, it’s a great place to get oriented, ask questions or get advice on your visit, and learn more about the area through exhibits.  You can also pick up great wonderful, inexpensive booklets from the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes that cover things like Hiking Trails, Common Wildflowers and Birding.

Sleeping Bear DunesAfter the Visitors Center, you’ll want to head out to the Pierce Stocking Drive.  It’s a 7.4 mile scenic drive that takes you to some of the best scenic sites in the park and gives you a great overview of the different forest and dune ecosystems.  It is a seasonal road, so check that it is open when you want to go.  Be sure to pick up your Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive booklet and take it along as you travel to the 12 numbered stops.  Parking can get crowded, so best bet is to go early.  You won’t want to miss the #9 Lake Michigan Overlook.  It’s probably the most photographed spot in the park.  As tempting as it is to run down the dune, remember that you need to get yourself back up and more than a few need to get rescued from the dune each summer.  It’s also been designated a protected area that has been terribly damaged by all the years of climbing, so they’re trying to reduce the environmental impact on this fragile ecosystem by suggesting people stay off and just enjoy the beauty.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

After you’ve enjoyed the scenic drive, continue traveling north on M-109  to the next stop, the 110 ft. Dune Climb.  This is the place to climb to your heart is content.  Once you’ve climbed up, you can hang out and be entertained by people watching and enjoying the view, or you can continue onto a fairly strenuous Dunes Hiking Trail that will take you to Lake Michigan.  Be warned, there is no shade or water and the trail is all sand, which makes for difficult walking.  If you’ve timed it right, this is a great place to have a picnic lunch.  In fact, other than in the towns, there is no food service in the park.  There is a small Camp Store at the Dune Climb, which stocks mostly light snacks, trinkets and souvenirs.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Continuing on M-109, your next destination is the Glen Haven Historical Village.  Hours of the Village Museums and shops vary, so check the Visitor Guide.  Even if things are closed, it’s still a great self guided area and worth stopping at.  We found the Cannery Boat and Maritime Museums to be particularly interesting.  It’s also a great spot to put your feet in the water and skip some rocks.   This is also the starting point for the strenuous Sleeping Bear Point Trail.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Glen Arbor is the next stop on the tour, and more can be found about there in my previous post about our trip the to the area.

Glen Arbor is also an entry point to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.  It’s currently a 4 mile, multi-use paved trail from Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb.  My son used it on our trip for cross country training runs.  But, he had lots of company from bike riders, rollerbladers, walkers and other runners.  The plan is to have an additional 4 miles of trail from the Dune Climb to Empire completed by spring 2014.  When fully completed, the public/privately funded trail will run 27 miles, from the southern edge of the park, north to Good Harbor Bay.

IMG_3069 Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t had enough of beautiful scenery and have the time, a trip to the more northern Point Oneida Historic District and Pyramid Point area is worth the trip.  You can bike or drive through the back roads of the historic agricultural landscape.  While you’re there, be sure to take a quick hike on the moderately difficult Pyramid Point Trail. The views are spectacular.

Two other parts of the park we’ve been to on other trips are the Platte River District, south of Empire, and the Manitou Islands. In the Platte River area are the Platte and Crystal rivers, which are wonderful for canoeing, kayaking or tubing. The Empire Bluff Hiking Trail is often recommended as the best hike in the Park.  The Manitou Islands are accessible via  Manitou Transit, which leaves out of Leland.  You can visit South Manitou Island for the day, or camp overnight, and see preserved beaches, wildlife, shipwrecks, giant cedars, historic farms and even climb the lighthouse.  Be sure to bring everything you need, as no services are on the island.  North Manitou is even more remote and completely undeveloped.  Trips here require an overnight stay, so great for a backpacking experience.

South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island

What else to do?  There’s plenty more!  There’s beautiful sandy  beaches, trails to hike, campgrounds, Star Parties, roads and trails to bike on, and ranger-led activities to participate in.  There’s even plenty to do in the winter.  Check out some of these resources to help plan your trip to this spectacular vacation spot.

Family Trip to Glen Arbor, MI/Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes
This past summer we took a trip up to the Glen Arbor/Sleeping Bear Dunes area of Michigan with our 2 teenage boys.  I’m always amazed with the beautiful and interesting places we have visited all over the US.  Conveniently for us, this one is practically in our backyard.  Sleeping Bear Dunes NL was even voted “America’s Most Beautiful Place” by ABC’s Good Morning America.  On this family vacation, we took time to enjoy the scenery, fly fish, golf, hike, shop and relax!

Homestead resort

On this trip we stayed at The Homestead: America’s Freshwater Resort. We visited the resort many years ago and decided to return on this trip.  There are lots of different types of lodging to choose from; hotel/lodge style rooms and a variety of different condos, villas or homes along the Lake Michigan waterfront or nestled up on the ridges.  We chose to stay in a 2 bedroom townhouse up in the Hawk’s Nest section. It’s a little off the beaten trail, but nothing is too far away and they have a complimentary shuttle if you don’t want to drive (or great if the kids want to do something different).  It was comfortable for the four of us.  We could eat breakfast and lunches in the unit, relax at night, and while we couldn’t see the lake, we could hear it and enjoyed watching the wildlife in the woods.  Our unit didn’t have wi-fi, so that was an issue for us.  The unit amenities (wi-fi, ac) vary, so call to find out before reserving a space if you want to be sure what yours will have.  Our unit was also a mid-priced “classic” unit, meaning it wasn’t the most updated and luxurious, yet definitely not bare bones.  I think that it was accurately described, and was clean, comfortable, decorated nicely, and set beautifully in the ridge high above Lake Michigan.

Homestead Resort, MI

In the summer, the resort has a beach, pool, golf, tennis, a spa, kid’s camp, hiking, dining and shopping.

Resort Dining

Since we drove, we either brought food to have breakfast and lunch in the unit, or packed up a picnic lunch to take with us on the days we were out all day. There is a grocery store in Glen Arbor, not more than 10 minutes away, or there’s Cavanaugh’s, which is a small country store in the resort that carries mostly gourmet type food, snacks and beverages. It also has made to order sandwiches and a coffee shop.

IMG_3023

We arrived pretty late the first night, so we headed to the resort’s casual sports bar, Beppi’s. It’s downstairs from their signature restaurant Nonna’s. The interior decor is a little lacking, but the food was delicious and the service was great! We loved the pizza and even went back another night to have it again.

We also ate at Cafe Manitou, which is right on the beach by the pool and recreation area. For some reason the indoor dining room was closed, so we ate outside on the patio. Service was spotty and the food was very casual. The Fry-Fecta (trio of potato, sweet potato and zucchini fries) was a definitely a hit.

Homestead Resort, MIHomestead Resort, MI

The scenery was amazing and we weren’t in a rush so we were ok. You do need to walk about 10-15 minutes, or take shuttle from the beach/pool parking area, so be sure to take that into account when you make reservations. There is no on-site parking for the restaurant.
We ran out of time to eat at Nonna’s or CQ’s Cabin, but they seemed popular and inviting.

Dining in the Area

If you wanted to venture about 10 minutes to Glen Arbor, you have a lot of other dining options, ranging from casual to fine-dining.  We were looking for casual so Western Avenue GrillArt’s Tavernand Boone Docks were recommended.  We chose Boone Dock’s after checking out the menus.  We dined indoors since the sun was setting and it was getting chilly.  The huge outdoor patio looked very fun and had a live band that evening.  There is a slightly different menu inside and out, so be sure you are seated in the right area if you have your heart set on something specific.  The menu had a good variety of foods, service was ok, and the food decent.

For coffee, you must go to the Leelanau Coffee Roasting Company in Glen Arbor.  We spent a few mornings there, drinking coffee and having a tasty treat while waiting for one of our sons to complete his morning cross country training run on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (trailhead is on S. Forest Haven Dr.).

For more dining options, check out the other restaurants on MyNorth.com, the Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce or Pure Michigan.

IMG_3174If you venture a bit further, we had a great meal at Maddy’s Tavern on US31 near Interlochen MI.  If you’re traveling through, or going to the Interlochen Center for the Arts, this is a great choice for a casual yet delicious meal.

 

Things to Do

There is so much to do in this area, it’s no wonder people spend their whole summer (and lives) here. We, unfortunately, only had a few days. You need to pick you favorites and start there. There’s golf, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing, quaint shopping, beaches, biking, wine tours and lots more in the area. Something for everyone.  We focused on sight-seeing, fly fishing and golf.

On our first day we wanted to fly fish, but we weren’t very familiar with where the best areas to go were. The Homestead is an Orvis Fly Fishing School, so they have teaching ponds and fishing locations there, but for summer trout fishing, you need to head to the Boardman or Upper Manistee Rivers which are about 45-90 minutes away.  Our first stop was to the Streamside Orvis store in Traverse City.  They were tremendously helpful in getting us to the right fishing spots and recommending the right flies to have.   Then it was off to fish after getting some truly delicious donuts at Potter’s Bakery on E. 8th Street in Traverse City.  The fishing was fun, the rivers beautiful, and we even caught a few small catch and release trout in the two days we spent on the water.

Fishing Boardman river, MI Fishing Boardman river, MI IMG_7379IMG_3060

We spent another whole day in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.  Since that is such a special place, I will write about our time there in its own post.

We did get a chance to get some golf in, both at the Homestead and on a nearby course.  The Homestead’s Mountain Flowers Course is a 9-Hole, Par 3 course that winds around the resort, mostly on the ski slopes. It’s surprisingly challenging, yet fun for the whole family.  It also has some of the most stunning views you’ll find on a golf course. This year, they offered a Family Night on Tuesday’s that is worth looking into to bring down the cost.

Homestead Resort Golf Course, Glen Arbor MI Homestead Resort Golf Course, Glen Arbor MI

We also golfed at the Dunes Golf Course on M-72 in Empire, MI.  It’s a pretty, casual, friendly course that was perfect for a relaxing round of golf.

Dunes Golf Course, Empire MI

For shopping in the area, you can head to the nearby towns of Glen Arbor, Frankfort, Traverse City, Leland and Suttons Bay.  All have lots of cute boutiques, local specialty shops and galleries.

Hope this helps to plan your next trip to the area.  It really is a special place.  What’s your favorite thing to do “Up North”?

 

Brrr, it’s Cold

As expected, we sunk down below freezing Tuesday night. Glad I got the last of the vegetables harvested. Surprisingly, many of the garden plants actually looked pretty good in the morning, but we’ll see after 2 days of below freezing temperatures overnight.

I ended up leaving the single perfect rosebud on the plant. In the morning it was still tightly closed, just half the size as the day before.
Rosebud

The coleus and petunias showed their unhappiness by curling up their leaves and petals like they were trying to stay warm.
image

image

Then later yesterday, I headed up to Michigan for a quick visit to my mom’s. The drive was interesting, both from the quirky weather and the seemingly random changing of the colors. I would have expected a gradual transition as I headed north, but instead, the colors were highly variable, with some places still green, others showing beautiful colors, then still more already bare. This morning, we woke up to this–

image

image

Not sure I’m ready!

Visiting a Glass Pumpkin Patch

This week we visited the third annual Glass Pumpkin Patch at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.

glass pumpkin 10

There are lots of artists, each with their own signature style.  Shannon Jane Morgan, who we had the chance to speak with at the First Pumpkin Patch, comes all the way from California to headline the event and has mentored many of the artists who also display their creativity with glass.  There are over 3000 pumpkins for sale, live glass-blowing demonstrations and workshops.  Enjoy some of these beautiful works of art.

glass pumpkin
glass pumpkin
glass pumpkin
glass pumpkin
glass pumpkin

I found my favorite!

glass pumpkin

 And I added it to my collection…

glass pumpkin
glass pumpkin
glass pumpkin

Photos by Steve

Coleus

I’ve been away from blogging for a few days while my husband and I took a wonderful quick trip to Charleston, SC.  As I mentioned in my Kiawah blog (and also the one on Kiawah dining), we’ve flown to the Charleston airport numerous times with the family to go right out to the beach, but never made a side trip to Charleston.  I am currently writing up that trip for a “Travel to Charleston” post, but in the meantime there were some interesting gardening ideas that I thought I’d write about.

The first is about Coleus.  Seems an odd choice, but I have become quite a fan of this fairly simple and common plant.  I remember back in the old days, we used to have them as indoor houseplants.  As long as they got some sunlight, kept them evenly watered  and kept pinching them, they grew great.  Of course, I did none of those, so I got ugly, leggy plants that I think even got mites or something.

Fast forward to today. I have slowly been using them as annuals in pots around the yard. This year I filled 3 pots that are in dappled shady locations with just coleus seedlings that I picked up cheaply at Home Depot.  I didn’t really plan it out very well, other than something needed to go in those pots. But much to my surprise, my husband has remarked on numerous occasions how much he likes those coleus pots that surround his grill area.  They have turned out to be so colorful and interesting, and have been fun to watch as the summer has progressed.  In fact, they still look great as fall colors starts to settle in around them.

coleus 4

coleus 3

coleus 5

They’ve been simple to keep looking good.  Keep them watered, they definitely let you know when they need it, and pinch the flower stalks periodically to keep them bushy. At this point I have let them flower and that’s added to their prettiness.  I didn’t fertilize them much, but I think like any pot plant, it helps.

So how does this relate to Charleston? As we wandered around this very wanderable city, coleus was everywhere. In pots, in window boxes and in gardens. I was so surprised to see it so many places, and I came to realize what a great mixer it was in the garden arrangements, both as a mass of one color, or a colorful mixture of varieties.

coleus 1

coleus 2

Seeing these beautiful garden spaces has definitely encouraged me to to think about how I can use coleus better in my own garden spaces.   They are so easy to grow and versatile in their uses, I’ve already been researching varieties and seed sources for next spring.  I will probably grow my own so that I can really plan out the right varieties for the colors, height and sun conditions better.  Unfortunately in Zone 5 where I live, coleus is definitely an annual so it needs to be grown each year or plant cuttings overwintered indoors.  If I can find a location to overwinter a few, I might do that.  But I better hurry, it’s getting close to that first frost here.

So if you’re looking for ideas as to how to grow and use coleus in your garden, check out these sites that I’ve started collecting for next spring. Does anyone have any more recommendations or ideas? Do you have coleus in your garden?

Southern Living-Colorful Coleus
Fine Gardening-Designing with Coleus
Fine Gardening-Sizing up Coleus
Tribtoday.com-Start Coleus Seeds Now for Spring
 Swallowtail Gardens Seeds
Burpee Seeds

Travel Tips: Kiawah Island Dining

In a previous post, I talked about all the wonderful things to do on Kiawah Island.  This time, I’ll talk about the dining options on the island and nearby.  While Kiawah does not have as many food options as other popular islands such as Hilton Head, it has a unique array of restaurants and cafes that make up for the lack of options. When people think of Kiawah, they first think of the highly rated Ocean Room and Jasmine Porch at the Sanctuary Hotel. Our trips to Kiawah have always been a bit more laid back, so we have not eaten at these restaurants. However, from everything I’ve read and heard, these are exquisite dining options and should not be missed if they fit in your budget.

When our family visits Kiawah, we stay in a villa with a kitchen that allows us to eat breakfast and lunch at home. Then, we treat ourselves to a dinner out on the town!  Food can be easily bought in a pinch at the Town Market in East Beach. For a more substantial shopping, head to The Village Market by Harris Teeter in Freshfields Village.  They are conveniently open from 6 am-midnight every day, with the deli and hot bar open 8-8.  So no matter when you arrive, you can head over to pick up some supplies.  They have a nice selection of prepared foods such as salads, sandwiches, pizza, dinners and sides and baked goods. There is even a Starbucks inside, so if you’re in need of your special coffee drink, you can get one right there.

Dining on Kiawah Island  

There are a lot of dining options right on the island ranging from super casual beer and hot dogs at Oak Point clubhouse, to a Four Star restaurant at the Ocean Room. I will review the places we have eaten at.

One of our family favorites is the Ryder Cup Bar located in the Ocean Course clubhouse.  It’s well worth the drive for the food, the scenery, and the experience.  It also has one of the best mojitos around.  They don’t take reservations, but we never have to wait too long.  And even if you do have to wait, it’s a great time to enjoy the pro shop, use the practice putting green and get some great photos.   For appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the Warm Carolina Crab Dip, Mussels Diavola or Charcuterie Plate.  We’ve loved the Fish Taco’s, BBQ pork Sliders, Bagger Burger and Shrimp Provencal.  They don’t have a traditional children’s menu, but our kids have always found something delicious to eat off the menu.

You can't beat the view.
Shrimp Provençal

The Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House is another favorite.  It’s located at the Osprey Point clubhouse and there really are osprey nesting right in view of the clubhouse.   If you’re able to get one of the porch tables (and be lucky enough to be there when the gnats aren’t), you also have a good chance of seeing one of the resident alligators.   It is a traditional southern BBQ, so some of the sauces are a bit new to northerners like us.  Nevertheless, we found everything absolutely delicious.  I had the savory brisket, while the rest of the family had the free range chicken, smoked St. Louis Style ribs and the Triple Grind Dinner Burger.  At first glance, that seemed like an awfully expensive hamburger, but my son just kept saying it was the best burger he had ever had!  That was a mighty high compliment, so we all had to try a bit and we all had to agree.  The sides were all tasty, and the beer list is fabulous, too.

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Family Seaside Buffet At Loggerhead Grill is a real treat, weather permitting.  The Loggerhead Grill is poolside at The Sanctuary.  We went a few times when the kids were not yet teenagers and could eat for the child price.  They still ask to go every year, and one of these years we will have to splurge and really treat ourselves.  It has a little bit of everything for the seafood lover, or for the person willing to try new things, as our kids did.  Everything was super fresh and tasty.  There’s festive music, great service and a great setting.   Just wonderful to eat poolside at sunset.

The Southern Kitchen is over at Straw Market in West beach.  The location has gone through a few changes.  Back when we first were going it was called Shrimper’s, then it was still Shrimper’s but with a new menu, and now it is Southern Kitchen with a whole new look and menu.   Southern Kitchen serves breakfast all day from 7-9 and a dinner menu from 11-9.  We went for breakfast on the day we checked out.  They were having some kitchen issues that day that seemed to be throwing everything off a bit, so I’m glad we weren’t in a hurry.  From the reaction of the wait staff, this seemed to not be normal.  In any case, the food was worth the wait. Especially delicious was the Wadmalaw Shrinp Omelet with local and very fresh ingredients.  The Praline French Toast totally satisfied one of the boys’ breakfast sweet tooth.  But unfortunately, I think the SK Eggs Benedict suffered from the kitchen issues and was not as good as we expected.  Overall, a good way to send us on our way, and we’d give it another try.

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The Market at Town Center turned out to be the place for us this year.  They offer dine-in or take-out items all day from 7 am-9pm.  We had their pizzas the first night after we checked in and they made for a perfect first night meal.  Later in the week, we needed a quick meal before heading out for an evening kayaking trip, so we called in a sandwich order which were just perfect a casual, quick dinner.  Not sure why we didn’t make more use of this before, but we’ll be back.  They do have a nice dining area if you choose to eat in, rather than taking it back home.  The ordering/paying system is a little confusing, but once you figure it out, it works just fine.

Ice Cream at Beaches and Cream and Inn Side Scoop (which for some reason we just call Scoopers).  Beaches and Cream is located inside The Sanctuary and is a decadent treat, both for the price and its sweet treats.  Inn Side Scoop is located in the Straw Market in West Beach.  They offer a nice selection of ice cream and candy.  It is nice on those hot summer days.

For drinks, The Sanctuary’s Lobby Bar is not to be missed. My husband and I try to make it a point to go over at least once a visit for a relaxing drink in an absolutely beautiful, very Southern room. We never tire of walking through the lobby, seeing the stunning and huge low country murals before entering the Lobby Bar. In this oversized parlor, you are surrounded by warm walnut, comfortable furniture, and of course, a view of the gardens and ocean. They have an extensive drink list, but hands-down my favorite is the Mojito.

There are a number of other dining options that we haven’t tried, including the Mingo Point Oyster Roast, The Atlantic Room, Tomasso’s at Turtle Point and Night Heron Grill.  Maybe next trip.

Off Island Dining

The closest place to find dining off Kiawah island is at Bohicket’s Marina, located right between Kiawah and Seabrook islands.  It’s a cute market area with shopping, dining and of course, the marina.  Rosebank Farms Cafe and Red’s Icehouse are located there.  

The closest place to find dining off Kiawah island is at Bohicket’s Marina, located right between Kiawah and Seabrook islands.  It’s a cute market area with shopping, dining and of course, the marina.  Red’s Icehouse and Nacha Mama’s Taqueria are located there.  

We ventured over to Bohickets one night to enjoy the sunset and dinner at the marina.  We went to Red’s Icehouse  where the wait time very reasonable.  We just wandered out front and enjoyed the scenery of the river and the marina at sunset.  They have a pretty extensive food and drink menu, evening specials and certainly something for everyone.  It’s a fun, festive kind of place and we enjoyed our burgers, fish and chips and tacos (all with a side of shrimp).

A lot of people will venture to Charleston for dinner, but when we’re on Kiawah, we stay on Kiawah.  The fabulous places everyone keeps telling me about will have to be visited in a separate trip to Charleston someday.

 

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