COming from NF, there could be several halfway points, particularly Detroit or Port Huron, MI. I would opt for Port Huron and look for a vacation rental on Lake Huron. In actuality, PH is probably a couple hours closer for your friends, but meeting in central Michigan is not as much fun as being by either of the big lakes.
Bay City would give you each about 5.5 hours drive, and Tawas, probably a
nice place to be, would be a bit over 6. Both of these are on Lake Huron.
Once you go to the shore of Lake Michigan, you have the advantage. Holland is under 3 hours for you but about 6 hours+ for them. Traverse City is 5.5 for you but 7+ for them.
A different possibility is to go to one of the islands in Lake Erie, reachable from Sandusky and other western Lake towns. There are about 5 or 6 islands. I have never been there, but they look quite appealing. Peelee Island is part of Ontario. The other - Put In Bay, Kelley's Island, and a few smaller ones, are all part of Ohio. ALl reachable by ferry. Cars permitted on all of them I believe. Great bicycling. You can Google all of them.
post in the road trips forum... there's a lady out of cleveland that has some good info...
A vacation rental on Lake Huron is a good option. Port Huron is about six hours from Chicago and 3.5 hours plus from Niagara, but hey you could task the Canadian friends with buying groceries and having the cookout prepped. Rentalbug dot com has Michigan-only rentals. Bluewater dot org is the convention and visitors bureau site. VRBO is always good.
September is still a great month on Lake Huron because it takes a long time to cool down that body of water. Fewer crowds, lower prices, no lines at eateries.
Another idea is to look for rentals on inland lakes in the Chelsea/ Pinckney area. You'd be close to lots of good restaurants in Ann Arbor and the Common Grill in Chelsea. That location would make a more even split of the driving.
I think these are all good ideas, and gives you a choice of 4 areas that would make for very different trips, depending on the type of week you are looking for. Obviously Detroit would give you all the attractions of a large city, museums, restaurants, etc. Port Huron with a vacation rental would be much more relaxed and laid back. Ann Arbor has its own charm that recently put in on the list at Frommers (tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g29556-i727-k54661…) and is still close enough to metro Detroit to see some of the must-sees in the metro area. Bay City would make for a good home base (antique shops & riverfront) for some day trips to Frankenmuth, Birch Run (outlet shopping), Tawas. Stay at the Doubletree on the river.
Bay City is another good idea, a sometimes-overlooked destination. If I were going to stay there, my first choice would have to be the Historic Webster House. Short drive to Frankenmuth, which is charming but family-style chicken dinners don't appeal to me. I don't' think Birch Run outlet mall would hold any appeal for Chicago folk, but lots of Canadian visitors go there. The Caseville / Port Austin area northeast of Bay City offers lots of cottage rentals. You could dine at The Farm restaurant in Port Austin.
This probably won't go over well in this forum but how about the Sandusky,Ohio area?
Half way for both of you and no customs issues croosing the border. : )Edited: 02 June 2012, 22:37
Also, Lake Erie can be muggy, where Lake Huron often has refreshing breezes.
And I don't understand the comment about the lack of border issues. The Canadian friends live in Ontario.
"And I don't understand the comment about the lack of border issues. The Canadian friends live in Ontario."
Oops, missed that.
Guess that'll help understand.
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