Say Yes! to Michigan! (and Wisconsin, and maybe a bit of Indiana too)
April 17, 2014 9:47 AM Subscribe
What are the must see spots, best time of year, and best route on a road trip around Lake Michigan?
Despite living in the Chicagoland area most of our lives, my boyfriend and I haven't seen nearly enough of our neighbors to the North. We're starting to plan a roadtrip around Lake Michigan and trying to decide our route and where we should stop along the way. I've read through the green and seen some suggestions, but not quite for an entire tour of the lake.
When is the best time of year to go? We're thinking earlier spring/summer rather than August (hot) or September (so far away), but open to suggestions. We would like to avoid nasty bugs as much as possible, hot HOT weather, and huge crowds of families. We both work for ourselves so we're flexible with time, but will be renting a car for the trip.
What route should we take? For some reason I was assuming we'd head to Michigan first, and travel counter clockwise. Now that I think of it though, there's no reason for that decision. How many days would you allot for a decent, but not exhaustive tour? One week, two weeks?
Where should we stop and what are the best towns to sleep in? We are city people and tend to walk or bike everywhere day-to-day, so cute little towns are much more desirable than a highway Motel 6. Our interests are architecture, art, casual biking, beer, whiskey, music, boutique-type lodging, sailing, and kitsch (world's biggest ball of string attractions). We're not naturally outdoorsy-types, but a walk in the woods, easy hike, and pretty surroundings would be nice. For instance, if there is an adorable private cabin in the woods we could read books in for a few days next to a fire we'd happily add that to our itinerary.
Our "possibilities" list so far includes: Milwaukee Art Museum, House on the Rock (maybe - I've been already), New Glarus, Some sand dunes somewhere, Mackinac Island (he's always wanted to stay in that fancy old hotel), and camping somewhere. He has never camped, so I would like to borrow equipment form friends and stay in a tent one night. All of the camp grounds I've looked at seem huge and not very private. What site would you recommend for a newbie to get a feel for it? During my cursory look at camp sites and cabin rentals not much has seemed especially nice. My camping is limited to scouts and camping on big hikes (Nepal, Peru, etc.) with porters.
Our typical travel style would be to stay in a boutique hotel (say, a Kimpton, or a small modern place), get up in the morning and go to a nice cafe for coffee, walk around interesting neighborhoods most of the day, stop at a museum or maybe do some shopping or search out an unusual or unique store to visit. If we're tired we may find a nice lookout spot to read a book or sketch for an hour. Then we'd have a drink and find an inexpensive but tasty non-chain place to eat. Naturally, we tend to explore cities and understand that this isn't going to be the schedule around Lake Michigan and are hoping to broaden our horizons a bit. I'm used to roughing it traveling by packed buses in Central Asia, for example, whereas he loves places like Chateau Marmont. We're trying to compromise our travel styles but willing to splurge on something really special or unique.