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Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan

Miami Beach
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Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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Hi all!!

I am trying to plan a trip to see & pick up my oldest son at UMich in AA this summer travel around and then drop him back off in Ann Arbor. We (18 yo son, hubby , &I) will fly into DTW from Miami and rent a car. We want to at least stay one night in Ann Arbor and visit his friends.

We have had Mackinaw Island (is the Grand Hotel worth it $$$?) and the UP on our family list since he started to U-M back in 2018. Trying to plan a route that makes sense, isn't rushed, but isn't more than 9-10 days.

We want to also see Sleeping Bear and Pictured Rocks.

Nature, Hiking, Adventure, Great food & drink, & history.

Wondering if we have the time to come over and down through WI and hit Chicago too? Maybe fly out of Chicago and he can take the train back to AA.

Any advice appreciated!!

Thanks!!

7 replies to this topic
Kansas
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for Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, Kansas
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1. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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I would say it is only worth staying at Grand Hotel if you are staying at a high price level and you are wanting to spend much of your time in and around the hotel.

We stayed in a less expensive Grand Hotel "Category One room." It was small and had a view of the roof of a building on the back of the hotel. It was only relatively less expensive. For the same amount of money. we get a lakefront suite at Chippewa Hotel. For much less money, you can have a lovely room in a B&B.

The downtown hotels are much closer to many things which you walk to. Grand Hotel is several blocks away and up a hill.

You can still do anything you wish at Grand Hotel when you are staying elsewhere.

Minneapolis...
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2. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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You would want a minimum full two weeks to do the Detroit to Chicago horse shoe with stops along the way for a vacation. If it was me planning that trip, I would want a full 3 weeks. We do an epic 6 week trip every summer that includes Mackinac Island, Door County, Wisconsin Dells and Northern MN and that isn’t even enough time to get that done without rushing some things. Plus I fly us to Mackinac Island so that trims time off as well.

I would look at maybe flying out of Green Bay Airport instead of Chicago and you guys could hit Door County as well. I use Green Bay a lot as an Airport to send guests home after our trip. It works pretty well and I’m sure you guys could get a flight back to Miami as well as Detroit for your son from there. You’d miss out on going to Chicago but like I said, if you wanted to not rush through the entire trip, you’d need a lot more time then 10 days. It’s something like 800 miles of driving to do the horse shoe and that’s the most direct and not necessarily the most scenic vacation friendly routes.

Door County is Amazing and worth the trip for us every year as well as heading over to Mackinac Island. Absolutely beautiful scenery, awesome activities and world class wineries and eats along the way. You could put together a pretty epic 10 days covering Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks and Door County. That would be a full itinerary for sure and you guys would definitely be hustling to make it work but I think it’s doable. Ideally I would want more time for this trip as well but it would at least give you a flavor for the area and I think you guys would have an amazing trip! If you would like more info on any of it, please reach out! Happy to help🙂

Edited: April 20, 2021, 4:53 am
Grand Haven...
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for Grand Haven, Michigan
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3. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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I’m going to take a different view of your trip. I’d recommend you head straight west to the Lake Michigan coast, starting around Grand Haven and heading north. It’s a 3 hour drive to GH from A2, and along the coast are many small and beautiful beach towns. Just north of Manistee pick up

M-22 and take it all the way to Sleeping Bear Dunes. The hiking there is great. Then head toward Traverse City, pick up US 31 and follow it toward Harbor Springs and then take M-119 (the Tunnel of Trees) to Cross Village and on to the bridge. You can take the ferry to Mackinac Island from either side of the bridge. I agree with staying someplace other than the Grand. You’ll get much more bang for your bucks elsewhere.

After you visit Pictured Rocks head west to Marquette. They have a great downtown area along the water, there are great hiking trails all over the area, several good breweries, and it’s a college town totally different than A2.

I can’t speak to WI, but if you choose to skip Chicago you could take one of two ferries back across the big lake to MI. The Badger is an older and slower, more traditional ferry that is preferred. Otherwise you can take the Lake Michigan Express from Milwaukee to Muskegon, a faster and modern ferry (nice, but lacks this charm of the Badger).

Whatever your plans end up being, have a great time and GO BLUE,

Miami Beach
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4. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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Would you recommend cutting out Traverse City area? And drive straight from AA to Mackinac?

chicago
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5. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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No. I'd also start in Grand Haven. Then Fishtown to see Sleeping Bear. Skip Traverse City. Stop in Petoskey or Harbor Springs. Then Mackinac. Then UP for Pictures Rocks. Then finish in Chicago.

If it's in your price range you should stay at The Grand. It's an amazing experience. Things are different with covid and new owners but if it's om your list go for it!

Grand Haven...
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for Grand Haven, Michigan
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6. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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Personally, I’m not a fan of TC. Too much traffic and not much beach (although the Old Mission Peninsula is a really pretty drive). But you’re really missing out by not driving to the coast of Lake Michigan.

Chicago's North...
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for Illinois, Chicago
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7. Re: Summer Road Trip - Ann Arbor - UP & around Lake Michigan
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definitely do the coastal drive as described in previous posts.... i would also add silver lake dunes state park to the itinerary... take a dune ride....hike the sugar sand dunes.... on your way to pictured rocks, be sure to take scenic route H-58 from grand marias to munising....

take the full 10 days and explore some of the best scenery the midwest has to offer....

that said, i'd say skip chicago and save it for another trip.... you can take AMTRAK for a future trip...

totally agree with taking the car ferry back across the lake to michigan....and yes, take the ss badger.... even if you don't plan on visiting chicago and just plan to pass thru, traffic is a nightmare..... by taking the ferry you avoid chicago (and milwaukee) traffic.... plus, the ferry ride is an adventure in its own right....

if you do a horseshoe trip, remember, you'll have to pay a drop-off fee for the rental car.... IMO, better to start and leave from the same point....

Edited: April 21, 2021, 3:09 pm
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