In 1964, the trio of Joe Balulis, Bill Kater, and Seth Bidwell hung a shingle that read "Marquette Trails Golf Club" amid the dense forest of Manistee National Forest. The nine-hole golf course was their verdant brainchild and source of nutritional fairway grass, but after three years of joint ownership the triumvirate elected to go their separate ways, leaving the family of Joe Balulis to take over. Joe’s sons would go on to oversee the addition of a back nine that opened in 1985, bringing the overall length to 5,847 yards and par to 70. In 1993 a new clubhouse and a restaurant (The View) opened. Today, the Balulis family invites players to venture through the forest groves with clubs in hand, pursuing their golf balls until they’re in the cups and safe from the course's forest-dwelling co-founders.
The sweet chefs at Tasty Cakery whip up a delightful array of fresh-made chocolaty treats within an on-site cocoa workshop. Caramel and chocolate-bathed pecan turtles ($20/pound) frolic amid the airy sugar of sea foam ($20/pound) before napping on dark- and milk-chocolate coconut clusters ($15/pound). A variety of newly dipped gourmet caramel apples ($6.75 each) vies to snare the gazes of onlookers with vibrant, ritualistic displays of peanut-butter-cup and candy-bar plumage, and perfectly round buttercream crèmes give ping-pong champions a challenging practice tool ($15/pound).
Since the bygone age of horse-drawn buggies and telegrams mailed aboard horse-drawn buggies, the hotel on Clifford Lake has been housing wayward travelers and feeding escapees from the hubbub of the Grand Rapids metropolitan area. The building has survived the Great Depression, was reconstructed after a major fire in the 1940s, then was given a stone-floor, wood-fired oven in which new owners Larry and Connie McKeown have perfected many a pizza. Artisan pies ($8.95-$15.95) include the Americana topped with Italian rope sausage, pepperoni, shaved ham, and vegetables, and the Maui, a disk overflowing with shaved ham, apple-wood-smoked bacon, and pineapple. Clifford Lake Inn also serves classic American dishes with inventive, gourmet twists; let the flavors of pan seared walleye (served with apple smoked bacon, wild mushroom hash, fried potatoes, and asparagus, $13.50) come to life on your tongue.
With a name inspired by the idea of a healthy baking revolution, The Flour Uprising’s bakers Annette Pratt and Linda Spyke battle the stereotype that healthy food isn't delicious. Each day, they churn organic and Michigan-farmed ingredients into healthy traditional, vegan, and gluten-free breads and treats. As the rich, energizing aroma of fair-trade coffee fills the café, they roll out and stir up whole-grain breads, gluten-free cupcakes, and vegan brownies. Annette and Linda also cook up weekly lunches that include soups, sandwiches, and fresh buns stuffed with meats, veggies, or Russian nesting buns.
Rosie's Diner's classic pink-neon sign flickered on the first episode of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and the restaurant's throwback environs and savory comfort food continue to entice locals and road-trippers alike. The diverse menu brims with traditional diner delectables and family recipes whipped up from scratch. Greasers can reach for the hand-battered and finger-lickin' onion rings ($3.50 half order, $5 full order) while the Food Network–featured Cobblestone french toast can please sweet teeth with its thick slices of homemade cobblestone bread infused with cinnamon, walnuts, apples, and brown sugar ($7.75 full stack, $6.25 short stack). Long-estranged quintuplets can reunite over the family-recipe meatloaf ($10), simmering seductively alongside mashed potatoes slathered with homemade gravy. Malt-shop memoirists can nostalgify their nourishment by pairing the tasty, fresh Angus Rosie burger ($6) with a perfectly blended milkshake ($4.25).