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Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

Fairfax, California
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Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

Daughter and I taking a mid West liberal arts and colleges tour in late July early August. Will drive. Want to travel from Kalamazoo College to Mackinac Island for 2 nights for some pure vacation time.

Next stop Lawrence University in Appleton Wisconsin. Drive time calculator clocks the drive from Mackinac to Appleton at 6 1/2 hours. The route around the northern part of Lake Michigan looks very roundabout. Is 61/2 hours realistic? Is the road mountainous with lots of curves?

Would it be easier to backtrack south from Mackinac to Luddington to take the car ferry across Lake Michigan? Is the extra cost worth it - will we save time and effort? Thanks for any advice!

Chicago, IL
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1. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

There are no mountains in the midwest. Much of the route will be two-lane highway and the portion along Green Bay will be very scenic.

It would be about a 3-4 hour drive from Mackinac to Ludington, then four-hours for the ferry, so time-wise, it's a wash. Would it be worth the $200 to have four hours to relax instead of drive? The auto fare is $74 plus $74 for each person. You'd also have to be in Ludington by 9 am, so it would mean leaving Mackinac very early in the morning or the prior evening.

Little Rock
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2. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

6 hours is about right it's listed at 285 miles, so 6 hours equals an average of 57 mph.

If you like driving,it is very scenic to go along the north coast of Lake Michigan. The roads are mostly 2-lane, but not curvy or mountainous (like the Sierra Nevadas or the Rockies).

Going by ferry will take you longer, as you have 3.5 to 4 hours from Mackinaw City to Luddington plus 4 hours on the ferry then 1:15 from Manitowoc to Appleton. A significant portion of these roads are 2-lane also.

The choice may come down to how much do you enjoy driving? The ferry can be more relaxing and put fewer miles on your car.

Another option, if you want to do the ferry, is to take the scenic route from Mackinaw City to Ludington the day prior to departure ... Cross village to Harbor Springs to Petoskey to Charlavoix to Elk Rapids to Traverse City to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes to Empire to Frankfurt to Manistee and then on to luddington. That would be about 230 miles & 5 hours; not including stops (you can actually spend an entire day making that drive because it is very scenic and there are many nice towns in which to stop and shop and eat).

If you do go the ferry routes, be sure to make your reservations early as there are limited car spaces.

www.ssbadger.com

Edited: 23 February 2012, 23:01
Manistique, Michigan
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3. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

The route from Mackinaw City to Marinette, Michigan - US2 then Highway 35 is two lane with passing lanes mixed in.

From Marinette you go into Menominee, Wisconsin. Just outside of Menominee the road changes to a divided 65 mph highway all the way into Appleton.

Also keep in mind that the time changes to central time before you get to Marinette, MI so you will gain an hour going to Appleton.

Fairfax, California
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4. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

Thanks all!

In Northern California we have lot's of hills and twisty roads. It will be a pleasure to drive on flatter terrain for a change.

Getting to Luddington at 9:00 am from Mackinac promises more hassle than avoiding the drive.

Yooperbacker, thanks for the heads up about gaining an hour. That will help our schedule.

We will drive.

Any suggestions for stops along the route - dining recomendations?

North Muskegon...
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5. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

You will need to stop in Escanaba,MI for lunch because we it will be your last chance for a pasty and you can't leave the UP without having one.

A little over half way on your trip and, as I found out last year, the last chance to have a pasty. : (

Edited: 24 February 2012, 00:36
Chicago's North...
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6. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

stops, as in dining, or sightseeing too?

can't help with dining, but there are a few scenic stops along the way that comes to mind.... big spring near manistique, is a very impressive cold water spring... as mentioned before, the stretch between escanaba and marinette (along green bay) is a very scenic, and relaxing drive... if you could swing an extra half day driving, a detour into door county is worth it....

you can check out the EAA museum in oshkosh, if you like that sort of thing....

Edited: 24 February 2012, 06:33
Ann Arbor, MI
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7. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

My two fav U.P. places to eat are very close to each other so where we eat depends on timing.

Depending on what time of day you leave the island and are making the drive along U.S. 2, you could either grab a couple Lehto's Pasties to go and eat on the beach (about 5 miles west of the bridge) or stop for breakfast/lunch at the Bay View Inn in Epoufette (about 45 miles west on U.S. 2).

Lehto's is one of the original pastie shops and has been around since the 40s. It is just a take out counter, but the pasties are darn good. There are ample places to enjoy your pastie along the beach.

As you drive toward Epoufette you don't even realize you're gradually increasing in elevation so that went you arrive there is a wonderful panoramic view of Lake Michigan. The Bay View Inn sits on a bluff over looking the lake. The food is decent, not gourmet, just diner food, but what really makes the restaurant worth stopping at is the amazing views, the many hummingbird feeders, and if it is a nice day eating out on their deck.

I'd second the rec for stopping at Kitch-iti-kipi spring. It is actually in Palms Book State Park if you're looking on a map. It isn't far out of your way and it is an interesting natural feature. If you're into wildlife at all and your schedule allows for it, a longer jog north to Seney National Wildlife Refuge to take their 7 mile driving tour will yield an opportunity to see many birds including bald eagles and possibly some little critters like mink and beavers.

Best of luck to you and your daughter on her college visits!

Little Rock
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8. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

The USA Skiing Hall of fame is in ishpeming michigan but it would be about 3 hours out of your way (1.5 each way), plus visit time. If your huge skiers or skiing fans it might be worthwhile.

www.skihall.org

Also, on your trip from kalamazoo to mackinaw city, depending on your departure

time, instead of hitting I-75 at Gaylord (the most common route in most computer mapping) go through Charlavoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs then up through the tunnel of trees to Good Heart and on to Mackinaw City. Slower, but very scenic along lake michigan and through some World-renowned resort towns with great shopping and places for lunch.

Edited: 24 February 2012, 15:14
Fairfax, California
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9. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

Now I am looking forward to the drive along the UP. Sounds beautiful.

And I LOVE pasties!

Thanks everyone.

North Muskegon...
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10. Re: Help with driving route - ferry or highway?

Since we are throwing in site suggestions, Fayette State Park was awesome.

michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx…

Old mining town way back when............

Edited: 24 February 2012, 21:34