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Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

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Dardenne Prairie...
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Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

I think I was able to reserve one of the last campsites available at Van Buren State Park in July! Can't wait to go camping with our two sons. Have heard amazing things about Southhaven from some Michigan transplants that live nearby. We will probably be camped out after a week. Any nearby areas worth seeing if we take the 'scenic' way home to St. Louis? (Can't really park a popup camper on the Magnificient Mile, ya know?) We are pretty flexible and can extend our 7 day camping trip to 10-14 if its was worth it. I am just in no way familiar with this area. Thanks for any suggestions!

Antrim, New...
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1. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

If you would like to get to Chicago for a day, you could take Amtrak from Bangor (South Haven) at 9:02 AM. Arrive Chicago 10:33AM. Return train is at 5:20PM arriving at Bangor 8:39PM. The train is pretty reasonable. They have reduced fair for children, and AAA discounts. YTou could do that as one of your camping days. Or you could probably arrange to park the camper at the campground or at the train station and stay one or more nights in Chicago. Even with a car, parking in Chicago can be quite expensive.

Antrim, New...
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2. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

Another idea occurred to me. You could drive from Michigan to the Wisconsin Dalls. Beautiful area where the Wisconsin River runns through a pretty dramatic gorge. All sorts of river activities. But also a very tourist friendly place. Plenty of camping. Several very good water parks, including Noah's Ark which claims to be the largest (or did) in the country. It is a popular and busy place, so make reservations ahead. Your kids will probably love it.

Chicago's North...
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3. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

extend your trip to 14 days, if you can....

since you'll be on the other side of the Lake, i would stay there for the duration of your trip... no sense in going there, and back tracking to illinois or wisc.... you could, however, stay in the SH area for a week or whatever (a bit long, IMO....3-4 nights max, then move on, i would think), then move up the coast to charter new territory.... i'd say head up to sleeping bear dunes national park near traverse city for a few nights.... one of the finest gems of the midwest.... lots of nice beachtowns and sand dunes along the way.

www.beachtowns.org

on your way back down, you could take the lake michigan car ferry into wisconsin, then go to door county or wisc dells or whatever.... then head south to home.... or vice versa----go up thru wisc first, cross over, then do your MI portion of your trip....

http://www.ssbadger.com/home.aspx

it will add some $$ to your trip, especially with a trailer, BUT, it adds a nice little adventure to the trip and definitely worth doing at least once in your life....

save chicago for another trip (no camper needed!!)

stuff to do near south haven:

st joe, warren dunes st park, holland st park, saugatuck, wine country.....

=======================================

other links:

http://www.nps.gov/slbe/index.htm

http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com/

http://www.mackinacisland.org/

www.wisconsinhighways.org/other/lmct.html

www.michiganhighways.org/other/lmct.html

www.travelwisconsin.com/Door_County.aspx

michigan.org/Things-to-Do/…

http://www.michiganwines.com/

Caro, Michigan
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4. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

Another idea, which might be more feasible for how you can see Chicago, without worrying about the pop-up.... There is a train station for the Southshore Line http://www.nictd.com/ (you're looking at the Dune Park station) in Chesterton Indiana, right off of I-94, which is actually at the Indiana Dunes National Park. They have a decent sized parking lot, and since they are right next to the park, you can stay there for a night or two and then take the train in to Chicago for under $15 a person. The Randolph station will dump you literally at the corner of Randolph and Michigan Avenue, or the base of Grant Park. Great way to get in to see the city!!! If you're wanting to catch a cubs game, take an EL out to Wrigleyville.

Antrim, New...
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5. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

StrangeTripper makes a good point about enjoying the MI side of the Lake, while you are there. Of course, it depends on what exsperiences you are looking for.

In addition to Tripper's good recommendation of Sleeping Bear Dunes, I would also recommend spending a few days at Mackinac Island. My recommendation would be to spend at least one night staying on the island. There are no cars on the island, so it is great for kids and bicycles. We've been going there with our kids since they were about 8 and 13, and they loved the absence of cars and the freedom of being able to go out and explore on their bikes on their own. You can bring your own bikes or rent by the hour or day on the island.

There is no camping on the island, so you would need to stay in a B&B or hotel. Prices can vary and can get very expensive, but there are many decent and reasonably priced places, too. Yoiu can also camp in Mackinaw City on the mainland or in St. Ignace, across the Mackinac Bridge,on the Upper Peninsula (U.P.). Both cities are very touristy and busy places and have plenty to do, and you can take the ferry over to the island for the day. But a night on the island is nice and leisurely, especially as the day trippers begin to depart around dinner time.

We love staying at the Small Point B&B, which is at the edge of the inhabited part of the island and away from the crowded downtown. After a day of biking and touristing in town, it was great to sit on the porch looking out to the lake, while the kids rode their bikes either under our watchful eyes, or away from the B&B. If you do an overnight on the island, the ferries offer plenty of parking, and I am pretty sure that they can park your camper, too.

Another activity that your kids will enjoy along Lake MI, unrelated to Mackinac, is Mac Woods Dune Rides, at either Saugatuck or Silver Lake. These are the only dune rides available, and are on open topped old Chevy Suburbans that go bounding and bouncing across the dunes on airplane tires. It is both fun and visually engaging.

North Muskegon...
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6. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

Take those boys 80 miles north to Silver Lake while you are in Michigan.

Dardenne Prairie...
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7. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

AWESOME IDEAS! Many many thanks. My only experience in Michigan was when I took some kids in a high school leadership group to Camp Minniwanca near Shelby for about 3 summers and I loved every minute of it. I think we are definitely going to extend our trip another 7 days!

Dardenne Prairie...
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8. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

So after further review...I think we are going to head north! We are going to visit Silver Lake and then go up to Traverse City and Mackinac Island (the Wisconsin Route sounds awesome but it would have been pretty pricey to take the ferry.)

Love the Small Point B&B rec...its reasonable. Is 2 nights a pretty good time frame with the boys?

Any suggestions for places to stay around Silver Lake? Probably one night. Ironically...that is right by the camp I used to go to! I think I might have kayaked on it...

Any suggestions for places to stay in Traverse City? Maybe 1-2 nights? I know I am being lazy and should go on those forums...ya'll just had good suggestions so I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask!

Thanks everyone.

Antrim, New...
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9. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

2 Nights on Mackinac Island will be perfect. Will you bring your bikes? That will be ideal for staying at the Small Point. They may also have some basic bikes available for rent.

Chicago's North...
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10. Re: Ideas for expanding our camping trip...

silver lake is beautiful and the dunes are high quality... just be aware it is an ORV mecca and it gets pretty crazy over the weekends... the campgrounds in the area are nothing special, plus my understanding is they get pretty filled up... still SL, is very worth visiting.... also, when visiting TC, be absolutely sure to spend at LEAST 2 nites in the area and spend much of your time exploring sleeping bear dunes....

if you go up to mackinac, at this point, you might as well drive around the top of lake michigan and drop down into wisc on your way home if you opt not to take the ferry.... but back to that ferry----it IS awesome.... if you don't take it on this trip, then when? despite the extra cost, it's just one of those things you should do at least once in your lives! your kids should love it!