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Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Cleveland, Ohio
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Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

We are spending 9 full days in Michigan Aug 26 - Sept 5, and are so excited about the trip! We had initially contemplated going to the east coast for our beach trip, but we've heard so many wonderful things about MI...and it's right in our backyard. Actually, we're from Ohio, so I suppose it would be our neighbor's backyard. ;-)

The cast of characters are me, my husband, our 2 year old daughter, and my parents. Base camp for first half will be Grand Haven, followed by Traverse City. I've spent quite some time scouring the MI forum, and came up with the following itinerary:

Day 1 Arrive in GH the evening prior. Day-trip to St Josephs. Silver Beach; carousel; musical fountain; tot park; downtown art. Dinner at Silver Beach Pizza.

Day 2 Day-trip to Saugatuck. Oval Beach; Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruise; Mt Baldhead; Dinner at Phil's.

Day 3 GH. Beach, musical fountain.

Day 4 St Josephs again, or South Haven. Or GH.

Day 5 Day-trip to Ludington. Stearns Park Beach. Big Sable Lighthouse. Hit Silver Lake on the way - Little Sable Lighthouse. Ride dune buggy. Drive to Traverse City.

Day 6 Day-trip to Mackinac Island. Rent bikes. Eat fudge.

Day 7 Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire beach. (empire bluffs and pyramid point hikes). Pierce Stocking Drive.

Day 8 Stroll through Charlevoix, Bay Harbor, Petoskey, Harbor Springs.Tunnel of Trees.

Day 9 Stroll through Leland, Suttons Bay, Glen Haven, Glen Arbor. Wine tasting. Crystal River canoe trip.

Day 10 Drive home.

Some questions: husband and father would like to do a little golfing - any course suggestions; are we cramming too much into Days 8 and 9 - what are some must see's in those areas if we need to pare down; husband and I enjoy hiking and biking - I found a couple hikes in Sleeping Bear - what about additional hikes in GH area, or biking trails in either; additional restaurant recommendations, particularly for TC area.

Anything I'm missing, or other recommendations? Thanks a bunch!

Bay City, Michigan
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for Michigan
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1. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Where are you staying during your trip?

Day 9-all can be done, but a canoe trip? How long? That would be a very long, tiring day. Drop a couple towns and do the canoe trip.

Otherwise, you pretty well have it covered. Your two yr old best be a good traveler and not need to be on a schedule for naps??

Day 4-see South Haven. :)

Livonia, MI
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2. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

There is way too much in day 5 as well. I would suggest since you are going to Sleeping Bear Dunes I would skip Silver Lake. You can ride a dune buggy in Saugatuck and it’s very fun. If you are climbing Big Sable Light House – (well worth it by the way and my daughter has been climbing it since she was 2) - then you will have to go to the State Park – Skip Sterns Beach and go to the State Park beach instead in Ludington. Much better beach IMO. It will save time since you will already be in that area. Also there are some fantastic hiking trails in the State Park.

Biking – Kal-Haven Trail in South Haven

To answer your question about day 8 and 9 – WOW that is a lot of stuff! All those towns are nice but I don’t see how you could do all of them in one day. I will let others suggest what their favorite towns are.

As far as wineries go – the wineries in Leland are more spread out then the wineries on Old Mission. Just something to look into.

There are a Zillion really good golf courses in that whole area so I will let the more skilled golfers suggest a course.

MI
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for Ludington
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3. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Little bit more information about Big Sable Light House. Are you aware that to get to the lighthouse after you park at the state park-its about a 2 mile walk each way? I know the 2 track trail is about 1.5 miles each way, but you would have to park in the lot then walk thru the campground to get to the trail that takes you to the lighthouse. There are special days during the summer that transportation is provided to the lighthouse, but I dont have that information.

If I am reading you correctly on day 5 you leave Grand Haven and end up in Traverse City after stopping in route? I agree with the others-way to much scheduled on that day.

Day 8&9 look really busy also even without the canoe trip. Its a lot of driving and looking around.

South of Charlevoix is Fishermans Island State Park. It a great park for looking for Petoskey Stones . We always find nice sized ones. Take the road all the way to the end and there a nice parking area. Our kids use to love to play in the small creek that feeds into Lake MI. Last time we were there, there were even picnic tables on the beach

Manistique, Michigan
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for Manistique, Curtis
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4. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Hello,

Now to the real vacation stuff - Golf

Michigan has many really nice courses. You will not have any problem finding Golf Courses to play.

Here are a few web site about Golf in Michigan

Michigan Golf

http://www.michigangolf.com/

Michigan Golfer

http://www.webgolfer.com/

Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau

http://www.traversecity.com/golf-16/

If you have any more questions about Golf let me know.

Michigan
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for Saint Joseph
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5. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

You must have lodging set up for Grand Haven that fits your family needs? Otherwise it would make sense for you stop in St Joe for a couple of nights on the way north. Way less driving in the long run and an easier schedule. St Joe is really a great place for families with young children and I think you will love it with your 2 yr old. Glad you are including it as a stop.

Grand Haven...
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for Grand Haven, Michigan
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6. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

You're already pretty well prepared and have some great advice from others, so I'll fill you in a bit on the golf. If you'd like I can also help you with ideas for places to stay in G Haven, so just let me know.

I live on Grand Haven Golf Course, which is a very nice course. Honestly though, there are other nearby courses that are even nicer and more reasonably priced. The Meadows at GVSU (http://www.gvsu.edu/meadows/) is a great links style course and very reasonably priced. Stonegate in Muskegon (http://www.stonegategolfclub.com/) is just as nice but set in a more wooded location. Both are within an easy 30 minute drive. Diamond Springs (http://www.diamondspringsgolf.com/) is bit further but an excellent price. My absolute favorite for beauty and price (about 45 minutes away) is Pilgrim's Run (http://www.pilgrimsrun.com/). It's well worth the drive. For a very well kept, easier experience the Fruitport Golf Course (http://www.fruitportgolfclub.com/) is nice and so is Chase Hammond in Muskegon (http://chasehammondgolfclub.com/). On the higher end is the Ravines in Saugatuck (ravinesgolfclub.com/homepage/start_page.php). It's a gorgeous and challenging Arnold Palmer course. If you really want to splurge and play the best, stop at Arcadia Bluffs on your way north and play (or even visit) it (http://arcadiabluffs.com/). It's as beautiful as the photos on their website. Depending on your budget and style of play, you wouldn't be disappointed with any of these. If you have any more questions feel free to send them my way. Enjoy your trip. It sounds great!

Indian River...
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7. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Are you planning on using Traverse City as your base for the nothern part of your trip? Can I encourage you to make just a little change. Why not find a place to stay up near Mackinac Island for one night. That way you can spend a day on the island and then the next day doing the Tunnel of Trees, Harbor Springs, Petoskey & Charlevoix day. It will save you alot of travel time from Traverse City. No sense driving all that way two different days.

Caro, Michigan
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8. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

I'm thinking your plan for Day 6 might be too much as well. It's a good 2 hour drive each way from Traverse to Mackinaw... and you should do the tunnel of trees on the way... otherwise you are backtracking. I suggest you spend 2 days in Traverse then head further north towards Petosky / Harbor Springs and do your day trip to Mackinaw from there....

Cleveland, Ohio
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9. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Thanks for all the feedback! I've tweaked the itinerary a bit, based on the comments. And we are staying in GH for the first half and Traverse City for the second half. I only booked the rentals maybe 10 days ago, so was in a rush to do so before the options dwindled even more. Had I given it more thought, I probably would've made slightly different choices for base camps, similar to what some have suggested.

Also, I've included a few locations for sunset pictures, but I'd love to have other recommendations, too!

Day 1 St Josephs. Silver Beach; carousel; musical fountain; tot park; downtown art. Dinner at Silver Beach Pizza. St Joe lighthouse at sunset.

Day 2 Saugatuck. Oval Beach; Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruise; Ride Dune Buggy. Mt Baldhead; Dinner at Phil's.

Day 3 Grand Haven. Beach, musical fountain. Dinner at Snug Harbor. Temptations ice cream. GH lighthouse at sunset.

Day 4 South Haven. Friends Good Will sail. Sherman's ice cream. Kal-Haven bike trail. Dinner at Maria's. SH lighthouse at sunset.

Day 5 Ludington. Ludington State Park. Big Sable Lighthouse at sunset. Dinner at Blu Moon. Drive to Traverse City.

Day 6 Mackinac Island. Rent bikes. Eat fudge. Dinner at The Yankee Rebel Tavern.

Day 7 Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire bluffs and pyramid point hikes. Pierce Stocking Drive. Point Betsie Lighthouse at sunset. Dinner at Joe's Friendly Tavern.

Day 8 Stroll through Charlevoix, Petoskey. Tunnel of Trees. Dinner at Weathervane.

Day 9 Bike Leelanau Trail. Stroll through Suttons Bay, Leland. Crystal River canoe trip. Dinner at North Peak Brewing Company. Moomers ice cream.

Day 10 Drive home

MI
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for Ludington
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10. Re: Itinerary for Lake Michigan vacation

Day 5-How late are you planning on getting into Traverse City? If you watch the sunset on Lake MI at the state park, that would put you at about 9:30 or so. Its at least a 2 hour drive on 2 lane roads up to Traverse City. There are a couple of different routes you could take, but none of it highway.

Again on Day 6, from Traverse City to the ferries in Mac City is easy another 2+ hours of travel time each way, all 2 lane. I am not sure how realistic it is to get into Traverse City late, then head out again first thing in the morning for another 2+hours car ride to Mackinaw City, catch a ferry to spend a few hours on the Island, ride bikes, then drive back down to Traverse City after a big day. Just my opinion but thats 2 real busy days with a 2 year old and grandparents.