Weekenders

Our Quintessential Summer Getaway in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin

Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, the “Musky Capital of the World”. 

To some, that probably doesn’t mean much. To a true Wisconsin native, just the mention of this city (and it’s famed fish) sends nostalgic memories of family vacations and lake-side adventures. It’s a place that might not be on many people’s bucket list, but after experiencing it for ourselves, we believe it absolutely should be. Being born and raised in California, we had no idea what to expect when it came to a “Wisconsin Summer” - and we were amazed at what we discovered. 

Situated in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Boulder Junction has over 225,000 acres of state forest filled with lakes (194 of them, to be exact), rivers, and trails. It’s home to countless adventures,quaint small businesses, unique dining and shopping, family friendly resorts, and more. We spent four days in this All-American slice of paradise, and it’s been awhile that we’ve felt that relaxed and at home. 

Here’s a look into our summertime escapades in Boulder Junction:

LAKEFRONT ACCOMMODATIONS

We stayed at Dillman’s Bay Resort, a classic vacation property located on the shores of the breathtaking and picturesque White Sand Lake. (About 20 miles outside of Boulder Junction.) Beyond their cozy lakeside log cabins, Dillman’s has a full marina, tennis courts, playground, four beaches, picnic grounds, creative workshops, and more. It’s the kind of place that families return year after year, to swim, barbeque, play games, and breathe in that crisp Northwoods air. Oh, and they’re incredibly dog friendly too!

FISHING

It’s no doubt that Boulder Junction has some of the best fishing in Wisconsin. There are 194 lakes within 9 miles of town (pretty crazy, right?), making the fishing options seemingly endless! They’ve been coined the “Musky Capital of the World”, because more musky are caught on Boulder Junction lakes than any other similarly sized location. Beyond the muskies, they’re also home to walleye, bass, panfish, brook trout, and yellow perch, among many others. Boulder Junction is a fisherman's dream! 

HEART OF VILAS COUNTY BIKE TRAIL

With more than 50 miles of paved trails that connect Boulder Junction  to its surrounding cities, the Vilas County Bike Trail System twists and turns along lakes, rivers, and lush landscapes. There are even picnic areas and swimming spots to take a break, and take a dip! The trail is smooth and paved and features rolling terrain that is fun for the whole family… it’s definitely a must-do! (You can rent bikes and e-bikes from Coontail, which is just steps away from the paved trail!)

DOWNTOWN BOULDER JUNCTION

Boulder Junction’s quaint downtown is like something out of a Hallmark movie, it’s cute and charming and perfectly picturesque, brimming with quaint boutiques, antique shops, cafes and restaurants, and local hang outs. You can tell that life moves a little slower in Boulder Junction, and we were perfectly cool with that. One could spend an entire afternoon just perusing and exploring the downtown, grabbing cheese curds at Boulder Beer Bar and ice cream at Mad Dog Jakes, which leads us to...

Cheese Curds for the win!

Cheese Curds for the win!

BOULDER JUNCTION DINING

If there’s one thing we learned, it’s that you won’t go hungry in Boulder Junction. There are food options a’plenty, and we found ourselves planning our days around our meals. (As how every good vacation should be planned!) We dined on woodfired pizzas and fresh salads at Aqualand Ale House, hearty omelettes and waffles at The Granary Restaurant, soups and grilled cheeses at Headwaters Restaurant and Tavern, and had a romantic, intimate date night at the Blue Bayou Inn (which is a little outside of town in Manitowish Waters). From the freshly caught seafood to the classic comfort food, we tried just about every kind of cuisine Boulder Junction had to offer... and let’s just say it was all so good, that our pants were definitely a little tighter when we left!

Love the vibes at Aqualand Ale House!

Aqualand Ale House pizza :)

Summertime in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin did not disappoint. We now know why Wisconsinites are so passionate and loyal to their summers in the Northwoods. It’s a slice of America we never knew existed, and now that we do, we already have the urge to return. The scenic surroundings, cozy log cabins, friendly locals, and fried cheese curds after a long morning of fishing on the lake…  it’s what an American summer is all about. 

God bless the USA, and God bless Boulder Junction. We can’t wait to come back.

Dog Friendly Guide to Kalamazoo

Being the embarrassingly proud dog “pawrents” that we are, we get overly excited when we discover a truly dog-friendly town. It’s probably the same kind of feeling (we imagine) as winning the lottery. 

“Sally (our bernedoodle) can come WITH US?!” 

“There’s MULTIPLE dog parks?!” 

“We can bring Sally to a BASEBALL GAME?!” 

There were multiple times a day that we were overcome with glee - not just because we were falling in love with Kalamazoo (it’s the coolest), but we just couldn’t get over how accommodating and welcoming this city is for dogs. Below is where we stayed, ate, drank, and played with Sally in-tow… and as you’ll see by Sally’s ever-smiling face and droopy pink tongue, she had just as much fun as we did. If not more!

STAY

Kara’s Kottages :: 95% of the time when we travel with Sally, we stay in traditional hotels. Sure, it’s tight and not always the most convenient, but we can always make it work. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when we find a bed and breakfast that’s not only cool, but dog friendly too. We were ECSTATIC to find out about Kara’s Kottages - a cozy, modern, and homey alternative to a standard hotel room. 

We stayed in the Redwood Kottage, on Kalamazoo Avenue, and we loved having so many “at home” amenities at our disposal. It had a full size kitchen (stocked with complimentary breakfast items), a living room, a washer and dryer, and even a quaint covered patio! Sally loved having so much space to roam, and with the pet fee being only $15/night, it’s an incredibly easy and affordable pet-friendly option!

IMG_9702.JPG
IMG_0314.JPG

EAT & DRINK

Walnut & Park :: Summertime in Kalamazoo is magical - the weather was perfect (75 degrees and sunny) the entire time we were there, so we found ourselves sitting outside as much as we could! We loved Walnut & Park because of their relaxed and picturesque outdoor patio - and their specialty coffee and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches weren’t bad either! Plus, Sally was welcome to sit with us outside!

Factory Coffee :: We were anxious to try Factory Coffee, as there was a lot of hype surrounding this hip coffee shop, and it definitely suprassed our expectations. The coffee is strong, the ambiance is cool (it’s located in an old factory), the baristas are friendly, and the puppy-friendly outdoor patio is a great place to relax… for both humans, and pets!

Arcadia Ales :: It’s probably a good thing we didn’t discover Arcadia Ales until our last night in Kalamazoo or we’d have been tempted to come to this waterfront brewery every day! Their pet-friendly beer garden has shuffleboard, cornhole, direct access to the Kalamazoo River, and their extensive beer and food menus are some of the best in town! We highly recommend their famous wood-fired pizza - the crust is incredible. (Even Sally got to try it!)

Wax Wings Brewing :: Have you ever been to a brewery where you walk in and immediately feel like family? That’s how we felt at Wax Wings Brewing, the ambiance is relaxed, the people are friendly, and they serve some amazing beer on tap. Best part is? Dogs are welcome!! We’ll cheers to that! 

Mornings at Walnut & Park

Nice little afternoon at Factory Coffee

Sally wanted her own pizza at Arcadia Ales

PLAY

Fairmont Dog Park :: We know a dog park is a hit when Sally immediately collapses in the back of our car - exhausted, out of breath, and joyously panting for air. After a solid hour of playtime at Fairmont Dog Park, Sally did just that! It’s free to the public from 8am to sunset, and if we were Kalamazoo locals, we’d be there everyday!

Prairie View County Park :: This 210-acre lakeside park has everything from a swimming beach to picnic areas, to a super extensive, lush, and beautiful dog park! The fenced-in dog park spans over 7 acres, with plenty of room for pups to run free - and there’s even a shaded walking trail to enjoy! 

Kalamazoo Growlers Game :: Call us weird, but we’ve always thought it would be fun to bring Sally to a baseball game… and this dream came true at the Kalamazoo Growlers “Bark in the Park” night! Leashed pups of all sizes came out to watch the game with their owners, and Sally had a blast making new friends and trying a bite of Bobby’s hot dog. Check their schedule for Bark in the Park nights, it was a night we’ll never forget!

Beer and a dog. And another dog.

Don’t see your favorite dog-friendly Kalamazoo spot on our list? Leave a comment and let us know! We can’t wait to return with Sally and visit more puppy-approved places!

Where to Eat (and Drink) in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo is one of those cities where the better question should be, “Where NOT to eat and drink?” … Because we can honestly say that we did not have one bad meal our entire time in Kalamazoo. If anything, we lived in a constant food coma, blitzing from spot to spot to just “try a few things” - because we were repeatedly tempted by the wide array of eateries! 

For the sake of time and efficiency, we’ve narrowed our long foodie list down to our top 3 favorite restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops in Kalamazoo. 

Warning :: this might make you hungry (and thirsty).

DINING

Crow’s Nest Restaurant :: If it’s true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that probably means that Crow’s Nest Restaurant is the most important restaurant in Kalamazoo. Their pro’s at everything breakfast - from their decadent french toasts to their popular eggs benedicts, everything is hearty, fresh, and totally drool-worthy. Don’t be discouraged if there’s a bit of a wait… it’s worth it.

MUST TRY :: The Banana Nut Bread French Toast and the Modern Eggs Benedict

Nonla Burger :: We’re suckers for good branding - and if we’re being honest, that’s exactly what led us to this retro order-at-the-counter burger joint. Nonla Burger serves up juicy burgers, delectable sandwiches, piping hot fries, and specialty shakes, and you better believe that everything on the menu is awesome. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a frosty bottle of Coke!

MUST TRY :: The Cheeseburger and Handcut Fries

Food Dance :: This downtown Kalamazoo restaurant is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, as it was one of the pioneers in the “Farm to Table” culinary movement - and the menu at Food Dance is still as fresh, locally sourced, and delicious as ever! They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and if we’d had more time we would’ve tried all three! 

MUST TRY :: The Food Dance Pad Thai and the Chicken Dance Sandwich

We always start the day with a hearty breakfast - thanks Crow’s Nest!

Nonla will maybe be the main reason we head back to the ‘Zoo

Food Dancing

Delicious lunch at Food Dance!

BREWERIES

Bell’s Brewery :: Arguably the most iconic (and eccentric) brewery in Kalamazoo, Bell’s Brewing is a must-visit. With ample indoor and outdoor seating, an extensive tap beer and food menu, and a welcoming staff, it’s easy to see why Bell’s is so popular. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some live music playing in their beer garden! See their events schedule for more information. 

MUST TRY :: The Official and the Lager of the Lakes

Arcadia Ales :: Located on the banks of the Kalamazoo River, we’re not sure what we love most about http://arcadiaales.com - their stunning riverfront views or their craft beer and gourmet food menu! (Oh, and did we mention their beer garden is dog friendly?!) We suggest rolling up just in time to catch the sunset, enjoy a cold beer (or two), and sample some of their famous BBQ or wood fired pizza. We know you’ll love it just as much as we do!

MUST TRY :: The Cheap Date and the Hop Rocket 

Kalamazoo Beer Exchange ::  If you love games, good beer, a bustling ambiance and cheap prices… go here! Everyday at 6pm the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange rings their opening bell, and up-to-the-minute popularity sways the price for each brew, similar to the stock exchange! (If you’re lucky, you might even experience a Market Crash - where prices plunge ridiculously low!) And don’t forget to venture downstairs to take advantage of their pool tables, pinball games, and more!

MUST TRY :: The River’s Edge Laser Raptor and The Hop Concept Citrus & Piney

The beer at Bell’s is delicious, and the charcuterie board is insane!

Pizza, beer, and Sally at Acadia Ales

Pool time at Kalamazoo Beer Exchange

COFFEE

Factory Coffee ::  Situated in a (surprise, surprise) old factory, Factory Coffee boasts a modern and quirky ambiance and a sophisticated and cultivated coffee menu. It’s a little off the beaten path, and that’s exactly why we like it - it’s quiet and unpretentious. Plus, they have a quaint (and dog friendly) patio that’s perfect for soaking in some Kalamazoo sunshine!

MUST TRY :: The Pour Over and Chai Latte with Almond Milk

Civil House Coffee ::  The folks at Civil House Coffee focus on quality and education, and it shows. With every cup they serve, they aim to make the most out of their customers coffee experience, and the baristas are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and eager to chat! Bobby could have spent all day nerding out over pour over techniques with their staff, but we were on a little bit of a time crunch. Next time, Bobby. ;)

MUST TRY :: The Cortado and the Cappuccino

Fido Motors Cafe :: Have you ever been to a coffee shop that specializes in electric scooters too? We hadn’t - until we stopped by Fido Motors Cafe! This industrial coffee shop meets electric scooter warehouse is unconventional in every way, and that’s what makes it so cool! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t leave without one of their vegan no bake cookies!

MUST TRY :: The Cold Brew and the Cafe Miel

Factory Coffee has a great outdoor area!

We loved the coffee at Civil House!

Getting creative at Fido Motors Coffee :)

Did we miss one of your favorite Kalamazoo spots? Leave a comment and let us know!







What You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Zoo" (aka Kalamazoo)

Kalamazoo, Michigan. With a name as fun and quirky as that, how could this city NOT be cool?! 

Located just 45 minutes south of Grand Rapids, this booming and surprisingly urban town doesn’t always get the same recognition of its other neighboring metropolises... but it should. Kalamazoo is hip and trendy in all of the best ways (think cool coffee shops, craft breweries, local boutiques), and yet it’s warm and inviting and unpretentious AND distinctly midwestern. 

We didn’t know much about “The Zoo” (as Kalamazoo locals like to call it) upon arriving, but we left with new friendships, countless memories, and a deep love for this bustling Michigan town. Here’s what we discovered about Kalamazoo, and why we’ll be back:

The Downtown is SWEET

We tend to judge a city based on their downtown. Is it hopping? Are their cool places to eat/drink? Do we immediately want to jump out of the car and go exploring? It was a big YES to all of those questions as soon as we drove into Kalamazoo. The downtown is easily walkable, surprisingly sophisticated, and filled with charming streets, art-filled alleyways, and lively shops and restaurants. 

Bates Alley was a little known alleyway in downtown Kalamazoo that was recently revitalized with a painted pathway, new decks, twinkly lights, and more. The result is breathtaking… even our puppy Sally thought so!

The historic Kalamazoo Walking Mall is not only an incredibly picturesque street to explore, it’s the first outdoor pedestrian mall in the United States! It’s filled with local shops, vibrant restaurants, brewpubs, coffee shops, and more - you could easily spend an entire afternoon here!

In our opinion, it’s not a downtown until you have a trendy rooftop bar - and Kalamazoo has just that! SkyDeck has 360 views of downtown Kalamazoo, plenty of places to sit and hang out, and wide variety of tantalizing mixed drinks. (If you’re feeling really adventurous, we suggest taking the stairs to the top! It’s a great way to get some exercise!)

Sally loves Bates Alley too!

Of course we stopped for ice cream in the Kalamazoo Mall

Best views in town from the SkyDeck

There’s A LOT to see and do

There’s no shortage of fun activities in Kalamazoo, no matter the season! We visited in early August, when the high temperature was 82 degrees, and the low was in the 70’s… absolutely perfect, if you ask us! Now having seen photos of Kalamazoo in the fall, we’re anxious to plan a trip to see the autumn leaves, and the winter looks absolutely dreamy too! But we digress… Even though our time was short, we packed in as many “must see” spots as we could (but there is still SO much more we’ve yet to explore)!

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum shares the history of Kalamazoo in a fun and “hands on” approach, with exhibits focusing on science, technology, and more! It’s fun for the whole family, and we had a great time learning more about Kalamazoo - and the best part is? Admission is FREE! (While we were visiting in the height of summer, this would be a perfect rainy day activity!)

Located in the iconic Kalamazoo Walking Mall, the Kalamazoo Candle Company is a family owned and operated candle shop with walk-in candle making! Visitors are encouraged to walk in anytime during store hours and craft their very own scented candle! The candle making process only takes about 30 minutes, and then they need about 60 minutes to cool. We had so much fun concocting our candle scents, we each made two! (This would also be a great rainy day activity!)

If you’re visiting Kalamazoo in the summer months, like us, we highly suggest attending a Kalamazoo Growler Game! The Growlers play in the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate baseball league, and they’re REALLY fun to watch. They’re very interactive with games, dance cams, contests, and more… And if you’re traveling with your pup, you might even be able to catch a “Bark in the Park” game, where dogs can come too! Check the schedule here

The checker cab started in Kalamazoo! There’s one in the Kalamazoo Valley Museum!

Making candles!

They have a RAD Farmers Market

We can never pass up a good farmers market, and if you’ve been following us for awhile, you’ve seen us hit up dozens across the country. We can easily say that Kalamazoo’s is one of the biggest and the best, as they have over 100 businesses represented! With everything from fresh produce to locally made accessories and wellness products, they truly have something for everyone. Days and hours change based on the time of the year, check the schedule here

It’s REALLY pretty in the Summer

Both of us were born and raised in California, with little (if any) knowledge about Michigan. We knew there were a lot of lakes… but that was about it! We were amazed by the beauty in and around Kalamazoo in early August  - it’s green and lush, the lakes are sparkling, and wildflowers everywhere are blooming. Michigan friends, we understand the hype now

Our first evening in Kalamazoo was spent at the scenic Gull Meadow Farms, where we got to frolick, play, and photograph our way through sunflower fields during their first annual Sunflower Festival. Does it get any dreamier (or more romantic) than this?! 

Located about twenty minutes outside of Kalamazoo is Prairie View County Park, which features 210 acres of lakes, picnic spots, a swimming beach, dog park, and SO much more! The scenery is stunning and the activities are endless (fishing, hiking, disc golf, boating, you name it- they have it), making it fun for the whole family. (Including your pup!)

Even downtown Kalamazoo has some charming parks, our favorite being Bronson Park. It’s grassy lawns, colorful flowers, and striking fountains make it a perfect place to break for lunch. And conveniently enough, during the summer it’s the location of Lunchtime Live! Lunchtime Live! is a seasonal food truck and music festival every Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm during the summer, and it’s just as much fun as it sounds!

While we’re no experts on Kalamazoo by any means, we experienced enough to know that this city is something special. It’s a place that surprised us in so many ways, and we hope that at the very least, we piqued your interest in this vibrant and energetic city. 

We’re not sure when we’ll be back (hopefully soon!), but one thing we know for sure... it’s only going to get better

CENTRAL OREGON & PRONGHORN RESORT’S NEW HUNTINGTON LODGE :: AN ADVENTURE LIKE NO OTHER!

If you’ve been following us closely on Instagram, you probably know all about Pronghorn Resort in Central Oregon by now. You know that it’s beautiful, you know that it has electric scooters, you know that their cocktails are almost too pretty to drink (almost), and you probably know that it’s located right in the heart of picture-perfect Central Oregon.

But there’s only so much we can share through photos and videos on Instagram… so here we are. Dedicating an entire blog post to the beauty of Central Oregon, our stay at the luxe Pronghorn Resort, and the many adventures we had during our 3-night getaway.

Because we’re still not done talking about it.

THE LOCATION

Located about 30 minutes outside of downtown Bend, and set on more than 640 acres, Pronghorn is so much more than a resort, it’s a destination. Not only are you surrounded by Central Oregon’s 1,000-year-old Juniper forest, but you’re also encompassed by the glorious Cascade Mountain Range. No matter where you turn or where you look, the views at Pronghorn Resort will take your breath away… and don’t even get us started on the sunsets!

We loved the location for obvious reasons (it’s a high desert oasis and beautiful), but also because of its convenience to other Central Oregon towns and activities. We were 30 minutes from Bend, 45 minutes from Sunriver, and 30 minutes from Redmond. Pronghorn has that high desert oasis setting and yet there’s an endless amount of adventures and day trips just miles away…

THE CENTRAL OREGON EXPERIENCE

Speaking of adventures, you can’t go to Central Oregon without visiting the Deschutes River. Everyone knows this. (And if you didn’t, now you do!) We’ll take it a step further and say that no trip is complete without an experience ON the Deschutes River - whether that’s floating, kayaking, or white water rafting! This time around, we opted for the latter… and holey moley was it fun!

Sun Country Tours does an EPIC one-and-a-half hour white water rafting trip called “The Big Eddy Thriller” that includes class III white water rapids and picture-perfect scenery. Not only did we master the Big Eddy rapids (like total champs), but we had the time of our lives rafting along the Deschutes. HIGHLY recommend!

We will for sure be floating the river next time!

The calm before the chaos on the Big Eddy Thriller!

We couldn’t get pictures during the rapids, but we survived!

THE PRONGHORN EXPERIENCE

Whether you decide to spend your days exploring outside of Pronghorn, or whether you decide to relax and enjoy the resort is up to you. There’s no doubt that Pronghorn Resort is a destination in and of itself. You name it, they have it.
Pronghorn has two Top 100 18-hole golf courses, a newly renovated spa, several restaurants, outdoor pools, biking trails, a fitness center, daily activities, and SO much more. If you feel like kicking back and taking it easy, you don’t have to ever leave the property!

Everyday we spent time swimming in Huntington Lodge’s new adults only pool, that’s complete with cabanas and poolside beverage service. Pair that with the stunning mountain views, and it truly felt like paradise!

We spent a morning perfecting our swings at their world-class driving range, where we “ooed and awed” over the way they stack the golf balls. The folks at Pronghorn go above and beyond to make your experience special, even in the little things!

One day we decided to rent their motorized scooters (which are available hourly or for the full day) and we had the time of our lives! The bike trail that winds around the Pronghorn property is beautiful, and the scooters are SO much fun - they go up to 20mph!! (Now I know what I’m asking Bobby for this Christmas…) ;)

THE HUNTINGTON LODGE

We have to take a minute and talk about Pronghorn’s new Huntington Lodge, which made its debut just over two months ago. It’s EVERYTHING. The chic, modern decor, the welcoming lobby bar, the warm textiles, the spacious rooms and panoramic views of the Cascades… we could go on and on. It’s luxurious and grand without feeling stuffy or pretentious, and the stylish touches don’t go unnoticed. The guest rooms are perfectly appointed with modern architecture, wood furnishings, elegant bedding,the comfiest bathrobes, private terraces, and in-room fireplaces. And let’s just say, if/when we ever buy a home, the Huntington Lodge will be our inspiration.

We’re juuuuust a tad obsessed.

THE DINING

There’s no denying that some of the best restaurants in Bend are at Pronghorn Resort. We sipped on craft cocktails and ate farm-to-table cuisine at their luxurious culinary experience, Cascada. We enjoyed the fresh, healthy breakfasts at the Trailhead Grill each morning (we’re still dreaming about their Power Green Smoothie), and we spent as much time as possible relaxing at The Coyote, the new lobby bar inside the Huntington Lodge. We’d go back to Pronghorn Resort just for another round of their signature cocktails!

Delicious oyster starter at Cascada - and off course an Old Fashioned to pair with it.

Bobby’s breakfast feast at the Trailhead Grill

The Coyote has a good vibe :)

Yummy cocktails at The Coyote

Took this Coyote treat back to our room to enjoy the sunset from our balcony

Outside of the resort, Bend happens to be one of our favorite “foodie cities” in America. We like to joke that we go to Bend solely for the restaurants! Some of our favorites include:

  • McKay’s Cottage: Mouth-watering breakfasts, set in a 1916 craftsman bungalow. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

  • The Sparrow Bakery: Come for the “Ocean Roll” (their famous pastry), stay for the breakfast sandwich (SO good!) and the iced coffee. This bakery is a must-visit every time we’re in Bend!

  • Spork: Latin American-Asian-African fusion (quite the combo, right?!) that almost always has a line out of the door. It’s well worth the wait.

  • Crux Fermentation Project: One of the best places in Bend (in our opinion) to have a beer (or two) and watch the sunset. Their on-site food trucks are all great, too!

  • Spoken Moto: We love this brewery for three reasons: they have an extensive drink menu that includes coffee, they have live music on the weekends, and everyone is so friendly. Plus, the beer is outstanding, too!

Packing your bags yet? We sure hope so. Central Oregon is one of those places that we’ll keep coming back to. And now that we’ve become obsessed with the Pronghorn Resort, we REALLY won’t be able to stay away for long… who’s joining us next time?