6 Unique Places to Stay in Michigan on Your Next Trip

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Expedia.com shared some of the best hotels all across the Great Lake State.

A variety of eclectic cities with vivid scenery, cultural attractions, and scrumptious cuisine are sewn into the state of Michigan. We can’t get enough of the Wolverine State, from the islands in the north to the coastal spots overlooking Lake Michigan, so at Expedia.com we compiled some of our favorite hotels across the state. Whether you start in the south and work your way north, or dedicate a separate vacation for each of these cities, Michigan’s fantastic fudge and bubbling brewery scene are sure to impress.

Photo Courtesy of Expedia

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island
If you’ve heard of Mackinac Island, then you’re probably familiar with some of the best fudge on the planet. Venture to this northern island resort, and eat your weight in sugary goodness on the world’s longest front porch, located at Grand Hotel.

The historical 1886 hotel stands pretty like a dollhouse with Americana charm; all it’s missing is a white picket fence. Dive into a five-course meal at the Main Dining Room that overlooks the Straits of Mackinac and splash around in the Esther Williams swimming pool, named after the actress that starred in “This Time for Keeps,” which was filmed at the hotel property.

Photo Courtesy of Traverse City Toursim

Great Wolf Lodge, Traverse City
As one of Michigan’s largest destinations, Traverse City is overflowing with things to do. In the warm months, get some rays and stake a claim at Clinch Park Beach or set sail along West Grand Traverse Bay. But if snowflakes are falling, the ski slopes at Crystal Mountain are only 30 miles southwest of the city.

Regardless of the temperatures outside, it’s always summertime at the Great Wolf Lodge, which features a 38 thousand square foot indoor water park. With water slides, wave pools, and a four-story tree house water fort, this lodge is perfect for the young and young at heart. The family-friendly hotel also provides spacious suites and on-site eateries.

Photo Courtesy of Expedia

The Inn at Harbor Shores, St. Joseph
Who needs France when you’ve got the “Riviera of the Midwest?” Hugging Lake Michigan, St. Joseph is a waterfront town sprinkled with sand dunes along the coast and orchards and vineyards in the countryside.

Once you’ve spent the day shopping at the boutiques and canoeing on the lake, retreat to The Inn at Harbor Shores in time for complimentary happy hour. Showing off views of St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan, the hotel includes an indoor and outdoor pool, spa, and even an art gallery. During your stay, create some friendly competition on the sand volleyball court—loser buys the first round at Plank’s Dockside Bar!

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The H Hotel, Midland
It may not be unchartered territory, but the “City of Modern Explorers” is definitely worth a visit. Home to the immaculate Dow Gardens and Michigan’s oldest brewery, Midland belongs on your travel itinerary. Find some peace and quiet in one of the city’s 72 parks or get tickets to the symphony orchestra at Midland Center for the Arts.

When it’s time to relax, The H Hotel offers a tranquil retreat. Take a dip in the indoor whirlpool and swimming pool, or tempt your taste buds at the hotel’s high-end restaurant, The Table. The inviting accommodation also features a business center, fitness room, and shuttle service.

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Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids had us at “beer.” Local breweries like Founders Brewing Co. and Brewery Vivant entice our hoppy side, but it’s the up-and-coming foodie scene that makes linger in this town.

Loosen your belt buckle after hitting local favorites, such as Grove and Cult Pizza, and then sleep off that food coma at the Amway Grand Plaza. Ready for round two? The hotel has five eateries, including the elegant Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and the Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck. You’ll have access to The Spa and Salon, Lumber Baron Bar, and the Garden Court Lounge, too.

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The Inn on Ferry Street, Detroit
If its automobile history is the only thing that comes to mind when you think of Detroit, then it’s time to broaden your horizons. Weave through the stalls at the Eastern Market, sipping and sampling the local eats. Artwork and fresh flowers brighten the rows, while local musicians color the air with sound.

After scooping up some fresh produce and slipping into the local bars that surround the market, put your feet up at The Inn on Ferry Street. The property is unique in that it spans four Victorian mansions and two carriage houses. Discover the charm and history at this accommodation, which serves as a bed-and-breakfast, hotel hybrid. Wake to up to complimentary breakfast and hop in the free shuttle that services anywhere within 5 miles.

North, south, east, west, and everything in between, Michigan just might surprise you. Set your sights on this state and spend your next vacation exploring it from the bottom of the mitten to the very tip of the UP.

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As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Blue Water Area

Are you looking for a new area to explore in Pure Michigan? The Blue Water Area is a getaway to be discovered along the eastern shores of the Great Lakes state. Guest blogger, Danielle Kreger from the Blue Water Convention & Visitors Bureau shares seven things you didn’t know about the Blue and its 140 miles of shoreline.

1) The Blue has six lighthouses to visit; some locations offer a guided tour and tower climb while others simply pose for great photo opportunities.  The nautical stories and current duties of each light station are different, however they have all stood their ground, placed for the purpose of guiding ships and their crew through rough waters.

Harbor Beach Lighthouse Tour, Blue Water Area CVB

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

2) The Blue has a nationally recognized water trail. The Island Loop Route National Water Trail, is a 10.2-mile looping water trail and is well suited to recreational paddlers, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. It is the first nationally recognized water trail in Michigan and one of only 14 in the nation. The trail navigates through rivers, canals and lake and passes the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse amongst other favored locales.

3) The Blue has a dark sky preserve.  Port Crescent State Park, in Port Austin, has a designated area where no electric light exists for miles, giving star-gazers an unobstructed view of the night sky.  The dark sky preserve is located in the day-use area where there’s a charge for parking, but no overnight reservations are needed.  Sit back and enjoy the wonders of the universe right in the Blue.

4) The Blue hosts an incredible amount of festivals, free waterfront concerts and summertime events to enjoy like when 300 or more sailboats gather in the marinas of Port Huron to compete in the Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  On race day, it is a continuous flow of sailboats as they pilot into Lake Huron in a race to Mackinac Island.

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

5) The Blue has a 54-mile paved pedestrian/bike path that runs along the water’s edge as well as a bit inland, winding around parks and neighborhoods.  The Bridge to Bay Trail begins north of the Blue Water Bridge and extends to Anchor Bay in Algonac.  Where some of the trail links are still being developed, helpful signage will lead you to the next path.

6) The Blue has seven ADA accessible kayak launches.  These launches provide an easier and safer way for people with physical disabilities to launch a kayak.  They are located along waterways throughout the Blue.

St. Clair River, Blue Water Area CVB, credit Harry  Burkholder, Liaa

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

7) The Blue is the terminus of U.S. Bicycle Route 20, which is a cross-country bike trail that runs along M-29 into downtown Marine City. From there, riders have the ability to take the car/pedestrian ferry to Canada for a cross-continental journey.

Discover these things about the Blue Water Area and let them lead you on an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.  For more details and info about the Blue, visit the website and Facebook page.

Danielle Kreger lives and works in the Blue Water Area.  Though it is her home, she still sees the Blue as her getaway spot, loving the true-blue water and quaint hometown ambiance of each shoreline community.  She gets her kicks photographing her family as they make their own ventures every day.

Have you ever visited the Blue Water area? Comment with your experience below!

Snowshoe Your Way Through a Pure Michigan Snow Day

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is an ideal destination to snowshoe, whether you are trying it for the first time or are looking for someplace new to explore. Theresa Neal with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, sells readers on why snowshoeing is a great way to get outside this winter season.

Winter can be a tough time for people to stay active. It’s cold outside, it gets dark early, and curling up in a blanket with a tablet or book sounds SO good! But if you are feeling a bit dreary, maybe gained a few pounds over the holidays, or find yourself in a routine that is getting a bit old, I would suggest giving snowshoeing a try. Many people are intimidated to strap giant paddles to their feet and try walking around, understandably so. I find that once people are outfitted correctly, and given a few pointers, the majority are amazed at how easy it is to snowshoe.

Photo Courtesy of D. Kenyon

Photo Courtesy of D. Kenyon

Snowshoeing Tips:

  1. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! You may need to adjust your stride slightly, and many people find poles helpful in the beginning.
  2. Aluminum snowshoes are best for icy or hard-packed snow conditions. The crampons (pokey-grips on the bottom) will give you traction, but can trip you up if you drag your feet.
  3. Traditional wooden snowshoes are great for deep, fluffy snow conditions. They are very quiet (no squeaky noises) compared to aluminum, and they leave beautiful tracks in the snow where you have walked!
  4. Used cross-country ski poles from a second-hand store or garage sale work great for snowshoeing.
  5. Expect to sweat! Avoid cotton base layers, as they soak up moisture and can make you cold. Fleece, polyester and wool are good options. Dress in thin layers so you can easily adjust your body temperature while snowshoeing.
Photo Courtesy of T. Neal

Photo Courtesy of T. Neal

Benefits of snowshoeing:

  1. You burn twice as many calories snowshoeing versus walking!
  2. You can be outside WITHOUT getting cold!
  3. After the initial investment of purchasing snowshoes, it’s free! Many state parks offer free snowshoe rental, including Tahquamenon Falls, Ludington, Hartwick Pines and Porcupine Mountains.
  4. You can explore places that are inaccessible during the summer. At Tahquamenon we hike ‘off-trail’, across marshes and through forests that are usually too wet or thick with vegetation to get through.
Bonfire

Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

My favorite part of winter is snowshoeing at night. The cold, crisp air seems so clean and refreshing, forcing the fog from my head and waking up my senses. The light from my headlamp glistens off the snow, and I enjoy scanning the trail for animal tracks to see who has been out since my last hike. Red fox, coyote, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse and deer mouse tracks are most common. The best nights are those without cloud cover, when the moon is shining and the sky is filled with stars, lighting my path without needing a headlamp.

With an average annual snowfall of over 15 feet, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a great place to explore winter on snowshoes. The park is open year-round, with two main destinations for snowshoeing (Upper Falls and Lower Falls). Check our website to print winter maps and join us on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date on current conditions and events.

Have you ever been snowshoeing? Comment on your experience below!

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Theresa has served as the park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls since 2005. She began her career as a naturalist with the DNR at Holland State Park as an Adventure Ranger, delivering nature programs and leading hikes for park visitors. She was then hired as a naturalist for DeGraaf Nature Center in Holland, designing and presenting programs for children and school groups. During the summer of 2005, she again worked for the DNR Explorer Program as a mentor for the Explorer Guides in southeast Michigan. Theresa is a proud graduate of Michigan State University.