A road trip around Lake Michigan is a journey I doubt I would have taken prior to this year, and what a mistake that would have been. Between Michigan, Wisconsin and a little Illinois, I discovered an array of hidden gems. So if you’d care to share in my discoveries then here we go…
Alright, so starting with Chicago is cheating given that this amazing city is my hometown. Prior to the pandemic, I’d tell you about the underground club scene, the private art shows and the secret music venues that only a local could share. However it’s new times and with them new things to discover. Now I can make ten blogs about Chicago alone, even in pandemic times, but I’ll stick to the quick drive-thru options since this one is all about traveling on the road.
South Haven Versus Saugatuck
Sorry South Haven fans but Saugatuck took the cake. South Haven proved cute and crowded (which was a minus for me), and it’s further north neighbor, Saugatuck, had everything I wanted in a beach town.
- Tasting Rooms ✔
- Art Scene ✔
- Great Coffee Shops ✔
- Brunch Spots ✔
- Waterfront EVERYTHING ✔
Grab your temporary beach house near downtown, start with brunch at Pumpernickels and prepare for a weekend of waterfront small-town fun. Now I would tell you to order the avocado toast or mahi mahi tacos from Pumpernickels, but if I’m being honest the environment, decor and mimosas are the real appeal of this place. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the food, but the vibe was the true treat.
Hopefully food alone isn’t your only goal though because the sights are much more unique. Hit a sand dune similar to those in Dubai OR see a lighthouse as majestical as the ones in the Greek isles. Either way this small town might just surprise you with its own worldly wonders.
Traverse City for the Win
Hello new home!
Traverse City, my favorite stop on this trip, has everything you could ask for.
Beaches. Orchards. Vineyards. Zip Lining. Watersports. Food Trucks.
I could go on, but we’re only halfway through this journey and there is plenty more to see. So for the highlights of some of my favs in one quick swoop:
Get an airbnb about ten minutes from downtown and you’ll get the perfect amount of city and escape. You’ll be within walking distance of endless beaches, minutes from food trucks galore, short drives from breathtaking vineyards, and less than an hour away from everything else imaginable.
Want more sand dunes? They’ve got them.
Ziplining adventure? Take your pick.
Watersports? Of course, but relaxing by the beach is acceptable too.
Meadery. Cherry. Blueberry. And lavender farms… need I say more?
Next-Up Mackinac Island
No vehicles allowed. Read that again if you must, but it’s true. On this beautiful island, accessible by ferry via Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, you will find NO cars. No SUV’s. No Buses. No Trains.
Although taxi’s are available, they are connected to horses – horse drawn carriages to be more precise.
Revisit the simpler things in life as you bike and horse across this picturesque island while rediscovering the outdoors. And for a little added incentive, think of all the good karma from reducing your carbon footprint while enjoying something both old and new.
A Little Door County
Our dash through Wisconsin was short compared to Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. However, outside of Wisconsin Dells – not explored on this trip but a must see for waterpark enthusiasts – Door County is another of the cheese state’s hot spots. Known for its endless outdoor hiking trails and its outdoor activities, Door County is the Cape Cod of the Midwest.
Embark in a little cliff jumping, kayak through a cave or hike an easy trail. No matter your interest, Door County makes it easy. But I will say most activities are weather permitting and in the Midwest where weather is forever changing, great activities might be harder to come by. So be sure to check the forecast before embarking here or you’ll be trading waterfront caves for a more winterous terrain.
Elkhart Lake for the End
Talk about a hidden gem.
Now giving you this location is gift enough. Trust me.
But for those of you who want dinner and dessert handed to them on a silver platter, then I will leave you with this. If you want a more secluded lake, with all the bells and whistles still available but less publicized then I present Elkhart Lake. Choose your resort carefully though, because the perks is in the pick with limited public access outside these hotel areas.
Go paddle boarding or bike ride on the water.
Follow it up with a drink along the shore where you’ll forgot restaurants and bars have changed due to the energy emitting from the space.
And finally play some games in the sand and relish in the fact that you’ve partook in a place within millions of people’s grasp, but that few know about.
Not quite the end…
Sorry, but some secrets are meant to be kept and have not been listed here… yet. Because with Covid-19 not lifting up anytime soon then some areas will need to be further explored and divulged in their entirety.
So whether you want an insider track on the places I shared. A personalized itinerary. Or a list of the crystal clear lakes and adult beverage highlights that didn’t make this blog. Then you’ll just have to stick around to find out more!
And as always feel free to contact me, to give that extra little nudge for more details and information on those hidden spots that just haven’t been revealed yet. And for a more in depth look on these places then check out my video (vlog) below and see if actions truly speak louder than words.