I live 40 minutes west of GR near lake Michigan. Been here 25 years. I can recommend:
Traverse City: 7 Monks Taproom and Blue Tractor BBQ
(Take US-31 not US-131 as you head south out of TC - much better access to lake scenery. You can cut over to GR on I-96 and get there in 40 minutes for your Founders stop, then use I-196 to rejoin the lakeshore route for your stop in Saugutuck/Douglas)
Ludington: Bortel's Fisheries - fried to order fresh fish and smoked fish to go. No dining in - picnic tables outside or there's a Township park on Lake Michigan a stone's throw to the south (but poorly signed, Google map it)
Silver Lake: The Chicken Shack - best wings you'll ever eat according to those who like wings around here.
Pentwater or Shelby - two locations of The Brown Bear, a local favorite for burgers & beer
New Era: Country Dairy Farm Store - nice little lunch restaurant, but amazing ice cream, butter, steak, etc. from the company's own herds.
Nearby also near New Era: Lewis' Farm - a gift shop, petting zoo, bakery, produce market. Not much fruit in season yet in this produce-heavy county (cherries, apples, blueberries, asparagus are big here). It's a must-stop in mid-June for strawberries or in the fall for apples.
Montague: Dog N Suds still has car-hop service for well-made drive-in fare - lake perch sandwich and onion rings are my two favorite menu items. Also picnic tables overlooking the White River are pleasant. Guard your french fries from the gulls. There is also a Dog N Suds in Norton Shores to the south, but the location is not scenic AT ALL.
Norton Shores - Whippi-Dip - picnic tables surround this ice cream stand with a pretty big menu - if you haven't had enough lake perch yet, try theirs. Is hugely popular with visitors to Hoffmaster State Park to the west.
Grand Haven - Fricano's pizza. Run out of an old house, very limited topping choices - thin crust only... and the line is always out the door on weekends.
That gets you to about 30 miles from Saugutuck or Grand Rapids. Hope you find something interesting here to try.
post edited by lazycook - 2018/05/18 19:22:53