Grand Rapids, Michigan
Have Company: A amazing little shop and fantastic artists’ space. Everything in here was beautiful and the owner Marlee was a wonderful host. Amalia and I thoroughly enjoyed our time here. Living in the shop was like living at home.
The Pyramid Scheme: A funky bar and concert venue with great beer and lots of pinball. Make sure to order a Shorts beer and ask if Julius Hayes is bartending. If he is, ask him to mix you a drink – you won’t be disappointed.
Three Carrots: We drove into Indianapolis just to have lunch at this small vegan café in the downtown market. The traffic was terrible, but the food was delicious.
West Sixth: A small brewing company with really great beer. For seafood lovers, there is a seafood place next door where you can grab dinner and bring it back to the bar. Thanks again to Steve for taking us here.
Berea, Kentucky: About 45 minutes south of Lexington, Berea is a cute college/artist community. Lots of local crafts and beautiful walks, plus bell hooks lives here!
Asheville, North Carolina
The East Tennessee Crossing: We took the Crossing to get to Asheville and it was an absolutely gorgeous drive. It begins when you exit the Cumberland Gap tunnel out of Kentucky, and ends when you hit North Carolina (the remaining 45 minutes to Asheville is also beautiful).
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway: Another stunning drive. This one is not for the feint of heart as it winds through the Pisgah National Forest up to the top of a mountain with sharp turns and steep inclines. Unfortunately, it was a pretty overcast and foggy day when we did it. On the south side you’ll find Sliding Rock, and all-natural waterslide that’s very popular in the summer months. Next time I’d love to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs across the crest of these mountains.
French Broad Food Co-op: A great little grocery store that reminded us fondly of Herb and Spice in Ottawa.
Battery Park Book Exchange: Now, we weren’t ready for a drink and aren’t allowed to buy more books for a while (not until we finish some of the ones we brought with us) but this bookshop plus champagne bar was pretty exceptional. It is all nooks and crannies. The shelves are arranged more like a maze than a library, and there are little reservable tables available everywhere for intimate drinks with friends.
Bonus: The downtown is a really lovely place to walk around, with lots of nice shops and restaurants.