Northern Michigan Vacation: Come March, everyone’s ready for a break. And whether that means kicking back or kicking it into gear, these Northern resorts are making spring vacay affordable for the whole family.
Whether there’s snow or sun, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is an out-of-this-world family destination. Forget the sugar rush of theme parks; get your kids hiking the hills of the country’s most beautiful place (per Good Morning America voters—google it for a cool clip that’ll get your family pumped). Stay in the heart of the dunes at the Lakeshore Inn in Glen Arbor, simple and easy, with two doubles in each room (from $79, 231.334.3773, lakeshoreinnmotel.com). Treat the kids to free nibbles at everyone’s favorite nosh stop, Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. With more than 100 samples, the kids will think they’ve hit a sweet jackpot (800.206.6949, cherryrepublic.com).
Thinking about a relaxing weekend with the fam? Set up base camp at the Whaleback Inn in Leland, where a deluxe continental breakfast is free, and the nearby hiking is both easy and dramatic. Overlooking Lake Leelanau and situated at the base of Whaleback Sand Dune, the views are lovely (from $109, 800.WHALEBACK, whalebackinn.com). Wander the docks of Leland’s Fishtown and head up the hill to the rest of the enchanting little burg. Hit the Stone House Bread Cafe, where you can feed your crew a hearty homemade lunch (800.252.3218, stonehousebread.com).
The kids will sleep like logs after a day spent jumping geysers, leaping lily pads and ducking drenches at Avalanche Bay at Boyne Mountain. While the grownups might profess to prefer the spa (it’s just down the hall), there’s a good chance Michigan’s largest indoor water park will have them surfing, sliding and splashing, alongside the little ones. With the resort’s Spring Break package, everyone sleeps and plays for $173 (family of four per night, 800.GO.BOYNE, Boyne.com). Grab a meal at one of the water park restaurants or cruise into Boyne City for the Red Mesa Grill, where kids can nosh Mexican hot dogs and the ’rents will find liberal libations. It’s celiac friendly, too (231.582.0049, redmesagrill.com).
Find Traverse City’s contribution to the water park realm at the Great Wolf Lodge, where, in addition to a bounty of wet frolic, kids can enjoy wolf mascots leading indoor nature walks, telling stories and even delivering bedtime snacks. Enter the code DINNER for savings up to 40 percent on a dining and lodging bundle—prices include the water park (until March 23, 866.478.9653, greatwolf.com).
Get the March 2012 "Best Eats" issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine for this article and more, accompanied with gorgeous photography of Northern Michigan. With 42 of the most delicious Up North food finds, the March issue can be your Spring Break dining guide!