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Fluffy

Lake Michigan Sailors - Road Trip Ideas

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Looking to plan a road trip around Lake Michigan this summer with my 11 year old daughter.  We've been around Ontario, Erie and Superior with Huron and Michigan still to go.  Michigan is on tap for 2020 with Huron set for 2021.  Already decided that Mackinac Island will be part of the Huron trip.

So where are some places that we should stop on our tour of Lake Michigan?

Some general parameters are;

-At 11 years old, pools, beaches and even possibly a water park are always popular

-Learning about the history of the area is always fun, daughter really liked learning about the shipwrecks, lighthouses and the iron ore industry when going around Superior.

-Generally prefer smaller towns over bigger cities.  Not opposed to stopping in Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago etc, but not the first option.

-Not equipped for camping so hotels, and B&B's are required.

Open to any suggestions, regions or specific places to look into.  Any hidden gems along the shoreline?

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Traverse City, especially during the cherry festival.  Tall ships in traverse city (two are 'teaching' ships where they have day classes to learn about them)

Sleeping Bear Dunes (near traverse city)

Grand Haven - Fountain and Charter Fishing and the Coast Guard Festival

Holland Michigan - Tulip Festival

Those come to mind.

 

 

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It's a little touristy but Mackinac Island will be great for a kid that age. Take a bike ride around the island and eat fudge.  If you can stay overnight there it's a lot of fun and amazingly quiet.

Northeast Wisconsin shore is lots of fun with small towns and fun beaches that are a real contrast to Michigan.

Door County, WI is lots of fun with the ferry trip to the Washington Island lots of fun.  

Check out the Indiana Dunes Park as well. Not in the best part of the state but a very fun place for a kid. 

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1 hour ago, Fluffy said:

-Learning about the history of the area is always fun, daughter really liked learning about the shipwrecks, lighthouses and the iron ore industry when going around Superior.

Both Manitowoc and Sturgeon Bay, WI have maritime museums; Manitowoc has WWII sub you can tour and Sturgeon Bay (Door County Maritime) has permanent exhibits as well as periodic changes in focus/exhibits relating to specific themes.  Both small towns, north of Sturgeon Bay can get pricey for lodging.  As Rum Runner mentioned, Washington Island at tip of Door County is short ferry hop and interesting to visit for at least a day (ferry can take your car across and you can drive around or rent bikes).  You can also take a ferry/day trip from Washington Island to Rock Island (WI state park) that ONLY allows camping and need to pack out all trash when leaving.  But you can get over, hike around and ferry back to Washington Island in a day.

Manitowoc is WI side of the run for SS Badger coal-fired ferry that crosses to Ludington, MI.

Have to think about other possibilities......

 

 

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No sure where you are starting from but the west coast of Michigan could go something like this:

1) off the ferry from Manitowoc at Ludington, then

2) north to pick up M-22 at Manistee,

3) on to Traverse City via M-22 (through Onekema, Arcadia, Frankfort, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Arbor, Leland, Northport, Suttons Bay) then

4) north on US 31 through Petoskey to Harbor Springs

5) grab M-119 at Harbor Springs and  work your way to to Mackinaw City, then

6) hop on US 23 down to to Presque Isle and Alpena 

Start on a ferry trip across Lake Michigan and end up at Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary. Countless small towns, amazing beaches, maritime history, amazing roads and fantastic eating.

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8 hours ago, Fluffy said:

Looking to plan a road trip around Lake Michigan this summer with my 11 year old daughter.  We've been around Ontario, Erie and Superior with Huron and Michigan still to go.  Michigan is on tap for 2020 with Huron set for 2021.  Already decided that Mackinac Island will be part of the Huron trip.

So where are some places that we should stop on our tour of Lake Michigan?

Some general parameters are;

-At 11 years old, pools, beaches and even possibly a water park are always popular

-Learning about the history of the area is always fun, daughter really liked learning about the shipwrecks, lighthouses and the iron ore industry when going around Superior.

-Generally prefer smaller towns over bigger cities.  Not opposed to stopping in Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago etc, but not the first option.

-Not equipped for camping so hotels, and B&B's are required.

Open to any suggestions, regions or specific places to look into.  Any hidden gems along the shoreline?

I can't offer any suggestions but the true gem of that trip is you are spending it with your kid. Good job dad.

 

 

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Going off your criteria, I’d suggest my hometown of Sheboygan for a stop. Blue Harbor has an in indoor water park, and the hotel’s right on the lake. It’s also a twenty minute drive along the coast to Manitowoc’s maritime museum, which is very cool. 

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There is one place in the UP called Fayetville where they made pig iron. The building and furnaces have been restored and they have tours. It's a good 3 - 4 hour tour and nice to break up the long drive from Wisconsin.

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Milwaukee!

More music and ethnic festivals than you can imagine. Virtually all on the lakefront. Great zoo, museums and other fun things to do. More great restaurants than you can ever go to and excellent hotels to stay at in or near downtown/lakefront  

If if you want to sail there are 2 Yacht clubs that have Wednesday night beer can races. Almost a guarantee that you can get on a boat at either club. If you are interested, PM me and I will get the connections done. 

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40 minutes ago, roaming_wayne said:

There is one place in the UP called Fayetville where they made pig iron. The building and furnaces have been restored and they have tours. It's a good 3 - 4 hour tour and nice to break up the long drive from Wisconsin.

Fayette.  It is a MI state park.  On the Garden peninsula on Big Bay de Noc.  It is actually a cool cruising destination, well protected (aka snail shell harbor), seldom crowded.  But you can get there by car as well.

A couple other destinations...…….  White Gull Inn, Fish Creek, WI on bay side of Door peninsula.  Small hotel and restaurant.  www.whitegullinn.com.   Very quaint, old. Few years ago they were featured on one of the USA morning news shows and won award for best breakfast (cherry stuffed French toast).  Also try their traditional fish boil dinner.  Scandinavian heritage, made with whitefish (freshwater variety from Lake Michigan) and potatoes, boiled outside over open fire, which is a sight to see.

Something for you to think about depending on time and how you define loop, maybe EAA aviation museum in Oshkosh, WI, if you are interested in that.  Oshkosh is not on the lake, but is on Lake Winnebago, which is tributary to Lake Michigan.  About an hour and half inland from Manitowoc.  At end of July, airport becomes one of the busiest in the world with the annual EAA convention and fly-in.  While that is an event and spectacle itself, probably don't try to go there that week.

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9 hours ago, Fisher said:

No sure where you are starting from but the west coast of Michigan could go something like this:

2) north to pick up M-22 at Manistee,

3) on to Traverse City via M-22 (through Onekema, Arcadia, Frankfort, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Arbor, Leland, Northport, Suttons Bay) then

GTFO of my yard! :)

My cottage is in 1,

Point Betsie lighthouse is a cool stop on the way to Sleeping Bear dunes. They give tours.

If you come to Onekama, stop for a beer, a swim and some ice cream at Portage Point Inn. PM me if you come in and I'll buy. It's walking distance from my place and we can take the trail, which is fun and peaceful. Maybe bring a fishing rod.

The M-22 Grill in Onekama puts on a decent breakfast. Arcadia Bluffs GC has a bagpiper at sunset where you can sit on the deck or chairs on the lawn. Food's good.

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A couple more:
Bluefish in Manistee has great food. There is an art deck in Onekama by Leslie Scruggs that's cool. http://www.lesliescruggs.com

Then, (you're going north with these directions so reverse this if you're headed south). You'll head up M-22 to Inspiration Point outside of Arcadia. There's a nice hiking trail up there and beautiful views. Going north again, look for Joyfield road to get your mind twisted. Take a right onto Joyfield and look for a church to the right. Take a right there. Drive down the hill to the road sign. Put you car in neutral after stopping and see what happens.

Fishtown in Leeland is a nice stop as well.

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21 hours ago, Fisher said:

No sure where you are starting from but the west coast of Michigan could go something like this:

1) off the ferry from Manitowoc at Ludington, then

2) north to pick up M-22 at Manistee,

3) on to Traverse City via M-22 (through Onekema, Arcadia, Frankfort, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Glen Arbor, Leland, Northport, Suttons Bay) then

4) north on US 31 through Petoskey to Harbor Springs

5) grab M-119 at Harbor Springs and  work your way to to Mackinaw City, then

6) hop on US 23 down to to Presque Isle and Alpena 

Start on a ferry trip across Lake Michigan and end up at Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary. Countless small towns, amazing beaches, maritime history, amazing roads and fantastic eating.

Add, interesting county fairs , Manitowoc the weekend before labor day IIRC.  Carnival rides,  food , games.

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Thanks for all the suggestions, keep them coming!  Some really cool suggestions that I would never have found on my own.

I'm coming from Toronto so thinking about driving straight to Holland/Grand Haven and then going counter clockwise from there.  Normally try for about 10 days total but can do a bit more if worthwhile.  Also leaning towards trying to go through Chicago for the start of the Mac.  Despite all my best efforts my daughter has no interest in sailing but seemed to think seeing the start of the race would be cool when I brought it up last night.

Grrr... - Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Dune are definitely on the list now

Rum Runner - Will be doing Door County as well.  We believe that if you say you are going to circumnavigate the lake you need to see it all.  That's why last year when going around Lake Superior we made a point of going to Copper Harbour, which was actually pretty cool.  Any suggestions on places to stay there?

Bay Racer - Maritime museums are right up our alley, will try to squeeze both in

bmiller - 5 years and counting and we both look forward to each one.  Trying to cover off our backyard to start, then when she gets older and doesn't want to go roadtrippin' with dad anymore I'll pull out the big guns - NYC, Pacific Coast Highway, etc.

Monkey - The waterpark should give the rugrat something to look forward to, will likely end up there

roaming_wayne - That place looks very cool, never would have thought of that but will likely be stopping there

arcpix - Think you've sold me on Milwaukee, always wanted to go there anyways.  If we happen to be there on a Wednesday night and have time for a race will reach out

austin1972 - We will be passing through your hood and once I know the day will give you a heads up.  We hit up a bunch of lighthouses on Lake Superior so should give a few on Michigan a look, Fishtown looks pretty cool too.

On a separate note, if anyone is thinking about driving around Lake Superior, I strongly encourage it and feel free to reach out.  Found lots of great places and as mentioned above, it's worth the drive to Copper Harbour for one night.  Drive is beautiful and the town is really quiet and has a truly remote feeling, reminded me of when we went to Moosanee.  The crazy thing about Copper Harbour is it's a tiny little town (pop. 108 according to Wikipedia) and the best motel room was like a step back into the 60's.  But they have a restaurant overlooking Lake Superior that is as good as any I've been to in Toronto - http://www.harborhaus.com/ 

So we typically do only one night at each stop to enable us to see as much as possible.  But it's nice to have a bit of a break midway.  Is there a place on the western shore that would be worthwhile doing 2-3 nights?  Something a bit more resorty where the kid can swim while I nap.

 

 

 

 

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Green Bay does have  Lambeau Field but also an impressive raolroad museum.

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On 2/4/2020 at 8:38 PM, arcpix said:

Milwaukee!

More music and ethnic festivals than you can imagine. Virtually all on the lakefront. Great zoo, museums and other fun things to do. More great restaurants than you can ever go to and excellent hotels to stay at in or near downtown/lakefront  

If if you want to sail there are 2 Yacht clubs that have Wednesday night beer can races. Almost a guarantee that you can get on a boat at either club. If you are interested, PM me and I will get the connections done. 

Agree with this suggestion and you can go just a few miles west to lake pewaukee which is home to Harken. Go by the factory and get a tour. See the last finn they made which is rigged up in the lobby. They also have a nice indoor waterpark next to hotel next to a bike trail to the lake and charming little town.   Nice yacht club there also. I sailed in a finn masters here a few years ago and brought my wife and young daughter, they had a blast. 

Edited by surf nazi
left out a the word club

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If you're going up the east coast of the state, call the Hammond Bay Biological station.  They work with lampreys and it is REALLY cool.  You'll get to play with them, hold them, and even let them start to fasten onto your hand / arm.  Very educational.

Rogers City has a fun little outdoor concert deal that's pretty cool.  Lots of bike trails in Michigan because of the rails to trails program.

Sheboygan has a coast guard cutter / ice breaker tour that's interesting.

Awakon park is pretty cool - Moran Iron Works is near by and the owner does art in steel.  It's not a long walk-through (maybe 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much your kid plays on the sculptures) but quite neat.

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16 hours ago, Fluffy said:

Thanks for all the suggestions, keep them coming!  Some really cool suggestions that I would never have found on my own.

I'm coming from Toronto so thinking about driving straight to Holland/Grand Haven and then going counter clockwise from there.  Normally try for about 10 days total but can do a bit more if worthwhile.  Also leaning towards trying to go through Chicago for the start of the Mac.  Despite all my best efforts my daughter has no interest in sailing but seemed to think seeing the start of the race would be cool when I brought it up last night.

Grrr... - Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Dune are definitely on the list now

Rum Runner - Will be doing Door County as well.  We believe that if you say you are going to circumnavigate the lake you need to see it all.  That's why last year when going around Lake Superior we made a point of going to Copper Harbour, which was actually pretty cool.  Any suggestions on places to stay there?

Bay Racer - Maritime museums are right up our alley, will try to squeeze both in

bmiller - 5 years and counting and we both look forward to each one.  Trying to cover off our backyard to start, then when she gets older and doesn't want to go roadtrippin' with dad anymore I'll pull out the big guns - NYC, Pacific Coast Highway, etc.

Monkey - The waterpark should give the rugrat something to look forward to, will likely end up there

roaming_wayne - That place looks very cool, never would have thought of that but will likely be stopping there

arcpix - Think you've sold me on Milwaukee, always wanted to go there anyways.  If we happen to be there on a Wednesday night and have time for a race will reach out

austin1972 - We will be passing through your hood and once I know the day will give you a heads up.  We hit up a bunch of lighthouses on Lake Superior so should give a few on Michigan a look, Fishtown looks pretty cool too.

On a separate note, if anyone is thinking about driving around Lake Superior, I strongly encourage it and feel free to reach out.  Found lots of great places and as mentioned above, it's worth the drive to Copper Harbour for one night.  Drive is beautiful and the town is really quiet and has a truly remote feeling, reminded me of when we went to Moosanee.  The crazy thing about Copper Harbour is it's a tiny little town (pop. 108 according to Wikipedia) and the best motel room was like a step back into the 60's.  But they have a restaurant overlooking Lake Superior that is as good as any I've been to in Toronto - http://www.harborhaus.com/

So we typically do only one night at each stop to enable us to see as much as possible.  But it's nice to have a bit of a break midway.  Is there a place on the western shore that would be worthwhile doing 2-3 nights?  Something a bit more resorty where the kid can swim while I nap.

 

 

 

 

Door county!!!!  Wisconsin Dells(worth the drive, whole town is a water park/summer amusement park for kids with lots o entertainment for adults).  Lake Geneva is magic in summer (though pricy in places).  Point is that You don't need to stick to the lake (it's actually kind o big and can get nasty with the right wind).  Not so much access south of Milwaukee/Racine aside from national parks and/or marinas (lots o private beaches and cliffs with houses all the way down to Chicago).  The Wisconsin side has some magical kid places within about 50 mi of the border though.  Remember, all the bigwigs from Chicago and Rockford went north and created some really really cool vacation spots not so far from home, Most on lakes.  The bottom half of Wisconsin is/was basically the playground for the Ill Rich.....  

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https://saugatuck.com/realtoreel/

Large film festival, Mount Baldy to climb, good food, beach walks and nice bars.  7 miles south of Holland.  Bike trails from Saugatuck to Holland and all the way to Grand Haven.  Climb the sand dunes at Laketown Township beach.  You can rent a jet ski in Holland and they will include wet suits.

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I've sailed several times around Lake Michigan (pre-kids) and once did a road trip around with the kids. 

It's been a lot of years but here's what I remember of the road trip -

Mackinac Island was the kid's favorite.  We took the hydro plane over there and back.  They loved that.  Seeing horses traverse the streets got them talking, so did the smell. :rolleyes:  And the fudge.  Can't forget the fudge.  Did the tourist tours including the Grand Hotel and took a hay ride around the island.  I had sailed to Mac 8 times but this was the first time I got around the Island.  It's away from the crowds and pretty relaxing.  Crossing the bridge was a thrill.

On the way up, we stopped at Frankenmuth, MI.  You'd think you were in Switzerland.  Pretty cool.  We visited the lighthouses in Ludington, MI and saw a car ferry leave when we were there.  We also stopped in Leland to eat at a restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan that had a waterfall right next to it.  That was a hit.  They really liked Charlevoix, MI.  It's kind of an old world sort of town.

We toured the Palmer Johnson facility in Sturgeon Bay, WI.  I loved it but the kids were so-so.  There is a cabin on the water in, I think, Ephraim in Door County where visitors have carved their names on the exterior walls.  My kid's wanted their name on it.  Luckily, I had a pen knife.   Don't remember much more about the Wisconsin side, outside of our stop in Milwaukee.

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Depending when you are visiting there is fruit. West Michigan is the land of muck farms, black soil.  There are apples, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, pears...  You can pick your own on one of the many farms that cater to such.

Windmill Island in Holland is worth a visit.  Windmill was imported from the Netherlands.

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Fluffy - since the west side start and coast route clockwise is in play, I’ll spill some more ideas. Gotta use your spidey sense for a couple.

South Haven

USS Silversides Submarine Museum, Muskegon

Torrenson Marine and Pere Marquette Park, Muskegon

Arcadia Dunes Old Badly Trail, Arcadia

Elberta beach

Point Betsie

mouth of the Platte River

North Bar Lake, Empire

Pierce Stocking Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes

Fishtown, Leland

beach off Giles Pier  

beach at Norwood 

Leg’s Inn, Cross Village

When in Traverse City, stroll downtown and the Open Space, stop at Folgarelli’s for a Rueben or Rachel, drive Old Mission Peninsula and visit Lighthouse Park at the tip and Haserot Beach at Old Mission. Eat ice cream at the general store.

Finally, stop at farm stands and always have the perch. 

High water could impact beach access and closures at some locations no matter your plan.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/4/2020 at 10:49 AM, Fluffy said:

Looking to plan a road trip around Lake Michigan this summer with my 11 year old daughter.  We've been around Ontario, Erie and Superior with Huron and Michigan still to go.  Michigan is on tap for 2020 with Huron set for 2021.  Already decided that Mackinac Island will be part of the Huron trip.

So where are some places that we should stop on our tour of Lake Michigan?

Some general parameters are;

-At 11 years old, pools, beaches and even possibly a water park are always popular

-Learning about the history of the area is always fun, daughter really liked learning about the shipwrecks, lighthouses and the iron ore industry when going around Superior.

-Generally prefer smaller towns over bigger cities.  Not opposed to stopping in Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago etc, but not the first option.

-Not equipped for camping so hotels, and B&B's are required.

Open to any suggestions, regions or specific places to look into.  Any hidden gems along the shoreline?

When I lived in Traverse City we used to do a cool Leelenau circle tour a few times a year.  We started in Traverse City, but if you are coming from the South it works too.  Our first stop was Empire and then up to North Bar Lake.  It was really cool, super deep lake that is separated from Lake Michigan by a small dune.  Occasionally the water would be high enough and the dune low enough that the lake would be connected to Lake Michigan.  It has been years but you used to be able to dive in off the edge and not touch the bottom.  Next up was Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to the top of the dunes.   From there we would stop for a beer in Glen Arbor and then on to Pyramid Point.  A beer in Leeland and then all the way up to Leelanau State Park.  A stop for a beer and couple games of pool in Northport before heading to Suttons Bay for dinner and some more beer before heading back home.  You can obviously adjust your alcohol intake accordingly, but it is a nice full day in a beautiful part of the state of Michigan.

MS

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Well the pinky finger of Michigan is worth a month of exploring. To add to Squirrels comments. M22 is a "stop and enjoy and explore" routine. Lots of local flavor and bars. Lots of Tourist stuff too. Glen Arbor is too crowded now with traffic jams and no traffic lights. However, still wonderful. Go north to roads like Gills Pier and just explore. Cats Head Pt. , Woolsey Airport, Leeland State park and then down the bay side to  Northport and Omena. Heaven on earth anytime of the year. (Winter is not for the faint of heart). The rest of the shore of Lk MI going south is wonderful. Stay on M22 as long as possible until Manistee. I would suggest Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness area south of Manistee. West Forest Trail road to the picnic area or one of the campground loops. Hike the shore south. Back to civilization heading south go to  Muskegon state park, then Kirk Park, then PJ Hoffmaster, then Saugatuck Dunes State park.  I'm pointing out the parks and not the cities. Each port has a great history. Ludington is a wonderful area as is Manistee. 

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Fluffy, Head from Toronto like planed but go to Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven up to Muskegon and take the ferry across to Milwaukee. Unless you want Chicago and people and traffic? I would avoid the south half and explore the northern part. 10days is minimum amount of time for doing it right. Unless you are a road nazi and just want to get there.

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