Jump to content
  • Sign Up
0
mimommy

Traverse City, Mi

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

We have just returned from our 3-night mini-vacation in Traverse City, MI and had a truly wonderful experience. Mommy, Daddy, and our 9-year old daughter stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge and visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and took a driving tour up the peninsula through the cherry farms and wineries to the Old Mission lighthouse. I have some thoughts about this that I'd like to share, both about travelling gluten free with a family and about visiting northern Michigan in general.

I am MI born and raised and remember the literally hundreds of driving/camping trips with my family growing up. I am a true lover of Great Lakes history and culture and have dreamed for years of sharing the beauty of our state's natural landscape and making memories with my own child. Bad economy aside, we found an excellent bargain on a room at the Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City and closed our eyes while swiping our Mastercard to make it happen.

However, being the parent of a Celiac child I had to do a lot of research before making the final leap. I spent days on-line and on the phone with the lodge and many local restaurants to ensure that my daughter would have sufficient gluten-free dining while away. I spoke at length with the restaurant staff at Great Wolf and the manager of the local Outback Steakhouse, all of whom have been through intense allergy/sensitivity training and knew what to do. I also found a local organic eatery who promised me they would have gluten-free pizza and other items upon our arrival. I packed a cooler full of breakfast, lunch and snack items to save money and eat on the road--chex cereal, milk, yogurt, gluten-free bagels and bread, peanut butter and jelly, juice, water, fresh fruit, etc. with paper plates and bowls and plastic silverware. Thank goodness!! This actually saved us a ton of money and made it less time consuming and avoided some pretty risky dining choices.

Great Wolf went way out of their way to accomodate us and the chef sat down with us personally and 'interviewed' my daughter to offer interesting food choices, but in the end she settled on a burger one night, a steak the next. Outback Steakhouse had a seperate gluten-free menu and a dessert to die for--the chocolate thunder from down under. Both of those venues couldn't do enough to help and for that we are eternally grateful. While offering our 'advice' on gluten-free food prep, we were ever so humbled by the education level already in place. I give both places an A+ for creating delicious meals and NOT glutening my child. The organic eatery? Let's just say they 'ran out' of gluten-free pizza 2 days before we arrived, even though I had telephoned them twice before coming...hmmmm. To their credit, they did offer alternative choices, none of which my 9 year old would eat.

All in all, it was a spectacular vacation experience. The entire northern west coast area was amazingly clean, breathtakingly beautiful, and my baby only had one very minor and short lived stomach issue. The Great Wolf Lodge was a BLAST! The Sleeping Bear Dunes were a truly unforgettable, awe-inspiring place whose vistas rival any Carribean island or Rocky Mountain view I have had the great fortune of witnessing in the past. We climbed the dune (in spite of my bad knees), we climbed the Old Mission Lighthouse and were treated to mind boggling heights and beauty beyond measure. We bought freshed picked cherries and ate them in the car. We drove through what is left of our Manistee Forest coming home and had a better trip than I ever could have hoped for.

So, now it's all over but the credit card payments and I just have this to say to any family planning a gluten-free road trip:

1) Research...

Call ahead. Then call again.

2) Have a plan 'b', even if it means PBJ for dinner or microwaving a gluten-free mac-n-cheese in your hotel room.

3) Do not expect even the most highly trained staff to be completely aware of your every need--they simply won't be. Do not be afraid to read the ingredient labels on their food service items--you know better than anybody what is safe to eat and what isn't. Ask about broths and sauces and seasonings--take nothing for granted!

4) Finally, don't make food the center of the vacation. Yes, eating the local grub is part of the fun but at a place like Great Wolf we were too busy playing on the water roller coaster and enjoying it all to really care.

Lastly, I am just grateful that so much national awarenenss has been brought to the needs of those with food sensitivities and I give Great Wolf and Outback big kudos for their efforts. I admit that at one point while trying to order dinner for our girl the second night I was near tears with frustration, it all came out just fine and was forgotten immediately because their was no glutening. And, the one staff member in particular was so educated on the subject that she saved us from disaster when I forget about CC and almost ordered Edy's ice cream from the front counter. This angel in a food service cap corrected me and scooped my girl's dessert from a new freezer container in an air-tight freezer using a freshly sterilized utensil. :wub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For all the bad experiences most of us have had, it's really nice to hear about the good ones!

Our local Outback is fabulous, too. And several restaurants that are not chains now have small gluten free menus. Things are improving.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
one staff member in particular was so educated on the subject that she saved us from disaster when I forget about CC and almost ordered Edy's ice cream from the front counter. This angel in a food service cap corrected me and scooped my girl's dessert from a new freezer container in an air-tight freezer using a freshly sterilized utensil. :wub:

Thank goodness! Sounds like you all had a great time--thanks for sharing :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
0

×