Here are 4 fun Northern Michigan travel ideas that will take you through Northern Michigan’s outdoors. Camp, kayak, ride or fly—these ideas will have you vacationing across all of Northern Michigan, from the Upper Peninsula to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The following content was first featured in the July 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
Beyond the Cell Signal
USA Today called Michigan’s Isle Royale one of the country’s top five places to unwind and unplug; Laptop Magazine called the isle one of the 10 best places to disconnect. Besides the fact there’s no cell signal or WiFi, the Lake Superior outpost is gorgeous. By the time you’ve driven to Copper Harbor at the tip of Michigan’s northernmost point, caught the three-hour ferry ride and disembarked near the Rock Harbor Lodge, you’ll be happy to trade in the laptop for loons. The Instagram posts of moose can wait till you’re back on the mainland; there were more than 1,000 moose on the island at last count. Pitch a tent or book at the island’s only motel—Rock Harbor Lodge, where you can also rent a boat, kayak or fishing charter. Lodge chefs will cook up your catch and perhaps even clean your berries; strawberry season runs through mid-July, and leisurely picking’s encouraged. 866.644.2003; RockHarborLodge.com.
Soar Down a Sandy Dune
Trudging up 130 feet of soft sand to the top of the first hill at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s storied dune climb, another 130 feet to the second, may not at first feel like freedom. But running down will—and that’s true if you’re reliving a childhood tradition or are a true first-timer. Book a room at the 1901-built Maple Lane Resort, and you’re free to play kid-style all day at the resort’s private Little Glen Lake beach, building sand castles, singing by the campfire, or gliding around in a provided kayak or bicycle (from $148/night with breakfast, maplelaneresort.com). Biking’s a breeze on the nearby Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, a flat but winding route from Empire to Glen Arbor, by way of Lake Michigan’s Glen Haven beach—a local favorite. Liberate your chocolate desires with comparative tasting at Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in nearby Empire, or try your chocolate atop cherries at Glen Moor’s Cherry Republic, where souvenir shirts bear your perfect vacation theme motto: “Life, Liberty, Beaches and Pie.” Rent bikes in Empire at Empire Outdoors, EmpireMiOutdoors.com; In Glen Arbor at Crystal River Outfitters, CrystalRiverOutfitters.com.
Ride into the sunset (well, at least the woods), even play wrangler in a new hands-on working vacation program that lets you help with daily horse chores, at Traverse City’s Ranch Rudolf. There’s freedom in the ride—and the fact that your whole weekend of fun’s at this one stop. Your room at the lodge is right here, as is kayaking the Boardman, fly-fishing lessons, table tennis, swimming and more. 231.947.9529; RanchRudolf.com.
Sail Through the Air
If flying’s the ultimate sense of freedom, parasailing is a pretty close second. Book a campsite or cabin at Young State Park in Boyne City, or a condo or hotel room at nearby Boyne Mountain, and you can sail easily over Lake Charlevoix through Boyne Parasail, where the evening sunset flight over Lake Charlevoix is the specialty (from $59). The heights-challenged can get in on the fun with a paddleboard, kayak or pontoon. For more flying freedom, try Boyne Mountain’s 2 ½ hour Zipline Adventure Tour, where you’re zipping (safely tethered to the line) at about 25 mph, 50 feet in the air. If you miss Boyne City’s big Independence Day weekend fun, there’s still a street party every summer Friday. Boyne.com, BoyneChamber.com and BoyneParasail.com.