K.B. asks from Chicago, IL on August 23, 2009
Need Help Planning a Last Minute Trip to Michigan
My husband & I are taking our kids (ages 9 & 11) on a last minute trip to Mackinac Island next week. We are planning on staying on the Island for two nights. Does anyone have suggestions on where we can visit over Labor Day Weekend on our way back to Chicago? There are so many great places-it is very overwhelming and hard to decide where to go! If possible, can you please give me specific names of places you would recommend. I need everything-lodging, restaurants, fun things to do...! Thanks so much for your help!
2 moms found this helpful
D.L. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
Mackinac Island is awesome, we go up there every summer. The best fudge is Joann's Fudge; I've tasted all of them & it was by far the yummiest & has over 24 different flavors to choose from. The highest ranking hotel according to Trip Advisor is The Main Street Inn & Suites ###-###-####). We have stayed there the past 2 years & we love it. Our favorite restaurants are the Harborview dining room at the Chippewa Hotel (right on the harbor with a great view of the water) & The Woods Restaurant (in the middle of the woods). I think the Grand Hotel is over priced & stuffy. The Fort is wonderful & my kids can spend all day there. Try & get out of the downtown area & spend some time hiking in the interior of the island. It's really lovely & there are some great views the higher you go up. The highest point is Fort Holmes & is worth the hike up there. As far as night life, I love The Pink Pony located in the Chippewa Hotel. They have live entertainment as well as an awesome outside bar area. I hope you have a great trip.
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V.S. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
If you're going to be passing near the lakeshore, Saugatuck has an awesome sand dune ride! It's like riding a roller coster on the sand dunes. It's lots of fun. There's also a really nice ferry boat ride, Star of Saugatuck, that goes out on Lake Michigan and gives a historical tour of the area. The beaches there are beautiful as well.
There are SO many beautiful places in Michigan. Check out michigan.org or I always use tripadvisor.com when planning a trip. Have fun!
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N.P. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
I have a pass to the fort on the island, the fort on the mainland and Discovery Park at Mill Creek. I can mail it to you, for free. It's a family membership good till October, but they never once checked id's with it. For Discovery Park you can do the treetop thing with zip line and rock wall for $5 a person more, but otherwise the membership covers admission.
We just went at the start of August.
Go into any hotel and ask if they have coupons for one of the ferries. You can use the coupon at any ferry, they all take competitor coupons.
Do not eat the Dixie Saloon. Way overpriced. Poor selection, smoke filled and crowded.
Buy fudge on the main land, it's half the price. We got our at Petoskey Stone Creamery.
If you want a nice day trip head North into the Upper Penisula and go about an hour or two north to the Oswald Bear Ranch. It was great, I got my picture taken with the male bears right behind me - I was inside the cage and they were about 10 ft away eating. We also did a family picture with a bear cub, I fed him fruit loops while the owner took our picture. That day we also did Tahquamenon Falls - the upper falls are very pretty but the lower falls are really neat. You rent a row boat and row over to the island which is surrounded by the falls. Bring towels and wear swimsuits and water shoes. You can walk right IN the waterfalls and it is so neat. Very memorable. The resturant at the Upper Falls was very good.
Mackinaw Island - we ate at Village Inn. That was a great meal and not overpriced. We also went to the butterfly house and honestly the one at Brookfield Zoo is much better so I would skip it. Also all the town is owned by just a few people, so don't listen to recommendations. All the people working are basically paid to recommend set places. We did a horse drawn carriage ride around the island. I wish we could have done actual horse riding but you had to be 9 I think and Elise is only 6. I think renting a buggy on your own would be neat too, but the guides were great on the carriage ride. We had burgers and great BLT's at Mighty Mac Hamburgers. The BLT's was enough for both my kids to share.
Mackinac City - we liked the food and atmosphere at the Historic Depot. We also ate at the Pancake Chef and it was good food.
On the way home we stopped at Empire and did the Sleeping Bear Dunes. AMAZING. This is a must do. The scenic drive is neat too, worth doing as well.
We headed south along Lake Michigan trying to find a beach and finally found one off of Lake Michigan Road off of 22. This had a nice parking lot and a river that ran along the lake so that you had warm swimming water as well as the lake. There were Petosky stones all along there and my 10 yr old loved finding them. Take a look in the gift shops in Mackinaw so you know what they look like unfinished (look at the unpolished side).
We also stopped in Muskegon on the way back home and they had a great public beack by the submarine museum down by the lake. My husband went to the sub while I took the kids to the beach. (This was the second sub tour of the trip after all).
If you want any more info or want that membership ticket, let me know.
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P.K. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
Hi K.- you should check out Petosky & Harbor Springs. They are probably only 30-40 min. from Mackinac City and are only about 10 minutes away from each other. Both have cute "downtown" areas filled with boutique-type shops, fudge, antiques, restaurants, put-put-golf, and both are also on Lake Michigan. Petosky is slightly bigger. Petosky State Park has a beautiful beach with giant sand dunes- kids love climbing them. There is also a great organic farm in Harbor Springs called Pond Hill Farms (they have a website) that offers fun things for the family like hay rides, you can feed the animals, hike, they have a trout pond and a nice cafe & shop featuring their yummy produce. There is so much to do in that area- it's a good place for both kids and adults.
Have fun on Mackinaw Island! If you check out the "Woods" restaurant in the middle of the island, their little bar features a tiny one lane bowling alley (you set up the pins). It's really quiet there in the afternoon and kids love it! I recommend the restaurant too.
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J.S. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
Your children will love The Call of the Wild Museum in Gaylord. Also spend time at Hardwick Pines State Park in Grayling. It has the only virgin pines left in Michigan as well as a nice logging museum. Very worthwhile. Grand Rapids has a nice zoo as well as the Gerald Ford Museum. Kalamazoo has a wonderful nature center. How about the beaches on the lake? Warren Dunes is the best. Your children will love climbing the dunes. All along the Red Arrow Highway there are fruit stands to bring home yummy fruit for school lunches. :-)
M.G. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
How close/far from Chicago are you looking? There is a fun amusement park also in Muskegon called Michigan Adventure. It's a little less pricey than Great America. We actually stayed in Grand Rapids when we went so I wouldn't be much help on lodging. Someone else mentioned Saugatuck which is really nice and family friendly. South Haven is a few minutes South of there and is also a really family friendly beach town. You might be able to get a good deal on a last minute house/cottage in any of those towns at vrbo.com. The rental market has been down w/the economy so if someplace has availability you might be able to get a great deal.
J.L. answers from Chicago on August 24, 2009
My husband and sons ages 14 and 9 went camping at Bear Creek Dunes in Northern Michigan, while you may not want to camp, my boys really enjoyed playing on the dunes