Planning the Most Epic Vacation
December 28, 2010 7:54 PM   Subscribe

You live in Michigan and have two weeks off of work this summer. Where do you go and what do you do?

I anticipate having two weeks off at the end of June/ beginning of July this summer. I live in southwest Michigan. I'll have at least 4 other people to travel with, although components of the trip could be tailored for one or two people to enjoy. We'll have enough car space for all kinds of gear, including bikes (and it would be sweet if part of the trip included a couple-day bike tour). The general interests of the people who'd be going include most any outdoor adventure, running (so, maybe a 10k in there somewhere...), drinking local brews, and general shenanigans (read: doing kinda dumb stuff for the fun of it).

More info:
-Equal mix of guys and girls
-Loads of outdoor experience between us
-We already own a lot of outdoor gear
-Ages 21-28
-Looking to live it up as cheaply as possible
-No flying, stuff's gotta be within driving distance (~10 hours)
-Trying to get a variety of activities in
-NOT trying to stick to a rigid schedule but want sweet experiences
-None of us care for horses
-oh, and none of the people going will see each other in person until maybe 2 weeks before departure, although we all know each other well

How does one begin to plan a trip this big with so many possibilities? What activities/things to see fit those criteria? Are there any events in the area that we shouldn't miss?
posted by thewestinggame to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P. You can hike and/or kayak the whole trail in under a week easily. Have fun!
posted by ista at 8:03 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Head north! There is tons of outdoorsy stuff to do in the UP, and most of it is really affordable. You might want to hike part (or all!) of the trips at Pictured Rocks, or check out Tahquamenon (probably not spelled that way) Falls. Grand Marais has a seaplane convention every year, which I'm still kicking myself for not sticking around to see when I came through.

My fond memories of the UP are all from a solo bike tour in 2008. The roads are mostly pretty good, as the area gets so little traffic. The exceptions are logging roads, which are scary as hell. The Michigan DOT publishes a bike map of the UP which you might find useful.

Another cool place, if Canada is an option, is Manitoulin Island. Tons to do there, especially for folks who are into beautiful places.
posted by yomimono at 8:07 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah - if it's within your radius, the Porcupine Wilderness is supposed to be pretty cool, although I can't vouch for it personally.
posted by yomimono at 8:12 PM on December 28, 2010

You cross the bridge. Whatever happens after awesome. Seriously. You do not need specifics besides a few maps, and outdoor gear. All you have to do is go into any town in the UP--though St. Ignace tends to get more jackhole behavior from tourists, so people aren't always as open--and ask the locals what to do. Nicely. Tahquamenon, Pictured Rocks, Keweenaw, Isle Royale, Porkies, any part of the Superior shoreline (Michigan too, but I'm biased)....hikes near/in the Huron Mountains (the parts not owned by the Huron Mountain Club) the Soo Locks...kayak near Granot Loma. Jump off Black Rocks. See the ghost mining settlements, or...whatever.

I could plan two weeks of awesome in detail right now off the top of my head. But the best way is to go up and ask the locals while you're there. Because the weather and conditions and seasonality affect things drastically. And there are a lot of things that are unmarked and you just...have to know about them. Right now I'm loving Lakanen Land sculpture park off of M28, which is....Tom Lakanen's an interesting guy, and it's free to the public and open all year. go up north with supplies and a kind-of plan, and you stop for lunch and you ask for recommendations. And people will tell you. And you should listen to a lot of them. We are really, really proud of the UP, and we want you to see it.

And bring warm clothes for the nights (you never know), and bug spray. July=blackflies.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:57 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

And if you want to camp over the 4th...then you will want reservations at a campground. It gets busy.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:59 PM on December 28, 2010

Nthing anything Up North. Go to the UP. It is cheap! Go to the Tahquamenon falls, they have the big falls and little falls. Take a boat to the lower falls and spend the time exploring. Also check out pictured rocks and spend some time on Lake Superior.
Get some pasties while you are up in the region.

UP is one of the best treasures of Michigan!
posted by handbanana at 7:24 AM on December 29, 2010

Road trip around the Great Lakes. There are terrific campgrounds to stay at, gorgeous places to see. You can stay somewhere that takes your fancy or move on.
posted by RedEmma at 9:44 AM on December 29, 2010

With that amount of time for a road trip, I would head up the east shore of Lake Mich into the UP and cross into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie. Then essentially circle Lake Superior detouring far enough west to get to Voyaguers National Park in Minnesota. I can't imagine an outdoor activity you wouldn't be able to find. You might be able to squeeze in a night or two in Isle Royal.

Shouldn't be hard to find a 10k. Just check Running in the USA for a start.
posted by dzot at 10:10 AM on December 29, 2010

Go North! Da Yoop (Pictured Rocks, Porcupine Mountains, Keweenaw, etc.) can keep you busy for pretty much as long as you want. Do a waterfalls tour. Do the circle tour of Lake Superior -- including the Canadian side. Voyageur Nat'l Park in MN. There's plenty of campgrounds, most of which have decent tent spaces. (also? If going north, pack for everything from 40F to 90F. and biting bugs.)
posted by jlkr at 1:10 PM on December 29, 2010

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