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If Dad is a lover of the outdoors, plan for a day out on the Platte River. Rent kayaks or canoes (it might still be a bit chilly for inner tubes) from Riverside Canoe and opt for the Lower Platte. Compared to the Upper Platte, it is much less intense, only two to three feet deep, and a shorter trip, so better suited for the family. What makes the Lower Platte even more fun is that it spills out into Lake Michigan and basically forces you to spend some time lingering on the beach. Stroll along the water’s edge, where you’ll see the Empire Bluffs in the distance or simply lounge on the wide sandy beach. Depending on the rain this season, swimming against the Platte’s current right before it flows into Lake Michigan is sure to tire out the kids.
Pack a change of clothes, and drive south along scenic M-22 to The Manitou Restaurant (231-882-4761), just north of Empire. Treat Dad to a truly ‘northwoods’ style dinner of local seafood, like Whitefish on the plank, or a succulent rack of lamb. The atmosphere is cozy without being stuffy, and the children’s menu will satisfy picky eaters. We suggest calling ahead for reservations for Father’s Day.