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Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Sydney
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Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

We're visiting relatives near Lansing in September or October and wanted to go for a drive and have a look around. We have never been to Michigan before. We are hoping to see fall colour, and will probably spend some time in new England or Shenandoah to do this. Our interests are food and history and we love to be outside.

Could you suggest an itinerary for us - we'll have roughly 7 days.

All advice very much appreciated.

East Lansing, MI
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1. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Mackinaw Island is a drive about 3.5 hours from Lansing. You'll see a nice color tour on the drive up. Go across the Mackinaw Bridge (it's really cool) which will put you in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Take the ferry from St. Ignace over to Mackinaw Island. Rich in history, Mackinaw Island is very unique in that it does not allow any automobiles on the island, so once you get there transportation is by walking, horse carriage ride or bicycle. You'll get a great view of the Great Lakes.

As long as you're in the upper peninsular there are some really nice parks to visit with the pictured rocks, or taquannaman falls.

Frankenmuth is about an hour drive north of Lansing. It's famous for its chicken dinners. It's a small town setting with a Bavarian theme. Bronner's Christmas store is located in Frankenmuth and it has almost any kind of home or business type christmas decoration you can possibly think of. Even if you don't buy anything, it's a great place to walk around this huge store and it will probably take a couple hours.

Sydney
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2. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Sounds perfect.

What are 'chicken dinners' - are they something particular or just dinners with chicken in them?

Thanks once again.

Bay City, Michigan
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3. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

There are two main places in town that are famous for their family style chicken dinners - full dinners with chicken as the main ingredient. They are located across the road from each other in the heart of Frankenmuth - The Bavarian Inn and Zehnders.

zehnders.com/dining/zehndersrestaurant.htm

http://www.bavarianinn.com/?page=56366

For all the things to see & do in Frankenmuth, try:

http://www.frankenmuth.org/

There's always something going on, and then there's Bronner's.

http://www.bronners.com/

Bay City, Michigan
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4. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

I did have to smile at your question about chicken dinners. :)

new jersey
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for Charlevoix, Michigan
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5. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Lucky you! You have 7 days to explore one of the most beautiful places on earth! While in Lansing, make sure to visit the Michigan Historical Museum behind the capitol building and the capitol building itself. Both are very interesting.

Day 1: Depart Lansing, heading north. Head to Traverse City. Check into a hotel. Explore charming Traverse City. If you are inclined, go charter fishing or take a tall ship ride on Grand Traverse Bay. Dine along Front Street or head out to Apache Grill and dine on the water.

Day 2: Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and the Leelanau Peninsula. Head west out of Traverse City to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Climb the public climb or, if you are more adventurous, hike some of the more rigorous trails. Visit the Maritime Museum in Glen Haven. Have lunch in either Glen Arbor (our favorite is Boone Docks) or Leland (a quaint town on the peninsula with shops and galleries). From here, either explore the wineries throughout the peninsula or head to Northport and sit on the beach.... Work your way back to Traverse City. Have dinner along the way, perhaps in Omena or Suttons Bay.

Day 3: Head north! Depart Traverse City heading north through Charlevoix. Stop in Charlevoix to watch the boats move from Round Lake into Lake Michigan, shop in the cute little shops and galleries. Depart for Petoskey. Have lunch in Petoskey and explore this quaint town as well. From Petoskey you may head north through Harbor Springs (another quaint town) and the Lane of Trees or head straight north to Mackinaw City. I recommend taking the ferry to the island and staying overnight on Mackinac Island. There is something so special about actually staying on the island. Others prefer to stay in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. The choice is yours.

Day 4: Explore Mackinac Island. Take the horse and carriage ride, watch the merchants make famous Mackinac Island fudge, tour the fort (the northern most fort in the US during the Revolutionary War), visit the longest covered porch on earth at the Grand Hotel. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Day 5: Depart the island, drive across the Mackinaw Bridge and head for Sault St. Marie. Take the boat ride through the locks.

Day 6: Take in Paradise, MI and the shipwreck museum or explore Taquamenon Falls then start heading back down state.

Day 7: Drive back to Lansing. I recommend stopping at Hartwick Pines State Park on your way back. It is a good place to stretch your legs and is very interesting, especially when they have re-enactors showing what life was like in Michigan during pioneering days.

This is a very busy itinerary but you will experience some (not all!) of the most wonderful areas of Michigan! Moms

Sydney
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6. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Wow, sounds fantastic!

I can hardly wait. We just love the US - were there in January -Yellowstone NP (moose, bison, otters, coyotes, so much snow, nothing like anything we had ever seen before) Canyonlands NP, drove through Utah to Las Vegas (errgghhh), then flew to Hawaii. Absolutely loved every minute of it - a wonderful country to tour in. My aunt in Michigan recently sent me some aerial photos of Michigan and I was amazed. The cliffs actually look a bit like those of the Sydney Heads - fancy that!!!!

So, back to this trip....I was thinking how a truly American experience would be to have Thanksgiving with the rels in Michigan. However (and this would be at the very end of a three week trip), perhaps this would mean that the weather would be too cold and dark for being outside climbing sand dunes etc? And there would be no colour left,I'm guessing, even if we were to go south toTennesee/similar? I'm also thinking we would definitely want to go to some football games (rels are heavily involved at MSU) - when is the football season?

And then from Lansing, we could fly over to Chicago for a few days....had been planning on doing another area of the US as well this trip, but perhaps we won't do much else except Michigan.

All your advice is so much appreciated. My 22 y.o. son is sitting here with the map tracing your recommendations. So many French names...obviously I will need to swat up on Michigan history.....

Edited: 23 April 2011, 23:40
Bay City, Michigan
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7. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

You'll find many Indian names for places as well, and not just the casinos. :)

Football season for MSU runs from early September to the end of November. You can find their full schedule at: msuspartans.com/sports/m-footbl/sched/msu-m-…

You definitely won't be seeing any color into November, but there is still plenty of things to do.

You might want to think about taking the train to Chicago instead of flying. Very reasonable and you wouldn't have to deal with any airports. A quick search for a random date in May gives prices from East Lansing of $24 to $38 each to Chicago Union Station.

http://www.amtrak.com/

Ann Arbor, MI
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8. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Late November can have some of the least "outdoor friendly" weather for the whole year in Michigan. Cloudy, gray, windy are good words to describe a lot of late November weather. Of course it could be a lucky year of great weather easing into winter, but if exploring outside is important to you and a week in Michigan is all you're likely to ever have, this would not be my time choice. September or October have far nicer weather and the fall colors are wonderful.

Here's a link that shows you (on average) when fall colors are at their peak in different parts of the state if you're interested in timing your trip around seeing the colors:

www.michigan.org/topics/fall/default.aspx

I hear what you're saying about Thanksgiving as an American experience so let your relatives know you're really interested in what that is about and see if they'll do a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner while you're here. I wouldn't bat an eye if I had family coming from half a world away to help them experience something they're interested in. If they did the celebration on a weekend day you'd still have your football on the TV, the bird in the oven, and of course the most important part--family together remembering all they are thankful for (including the rels that come from so far away who love visiting the U.S.).

Sydney
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9. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

Yes, you're absolutely right - living in Oz means it's a long way to Europe/US and we always have to resist the temptation to cram in too much. We will leave Thanksgiving for another time.

Thanks for all the advice - I'm sure we'll be back here to pick your brains as our itinerary shapes up.

new jersey
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10. Re: Itinerary for 7 day driving tour out of Lansing

I think I would try to visit in mid to late September. The weather should still be good, the colors beautiful and football season at MSU should be in full bloom! I hope your relatives plan to take all of you to a game. Make sure to have them prepare a "tailgate" before the game. My sister had a tailgate party before the MSU/Wisconsin game last fall and it convinced my daughter that she must go to a Big Ten school! Football Saturdays are simply the best! Moms

P.S. Don't forget to ride a bike around the only highway in the US that forbids motorized vehicles. You'll find it on Mackinac Island.

Also, you are correct that there are many French spellings of words in Michigan. Please note that Mackinac Island is spelled with a C and Mackinaw City with a W at the end. Both are pronounced the same. North of the lower Peninsula the word is spelled as the French would spell it, South as the British spelled it. Just a bit of trivia on this fine Tuesday morn!