Michigan summers are legendary. Vacationers succumb to the lure of blue waters, remote islands, lighthouse lore, beaches, scenic tours, fishing, boating, small towns and harbor resorts and old-fashioned summer fun and adventure. Day trippers and weekend vacationers can enjoy the water from the miles of dunes and beaches, or in watercraft large or small. Interlochen concerts entertain music lovers, and campers and hikers have multitudes of options to explore. Lets go!
The Lure of the Manitous
Chippewa legend tells of two bear cubs that tried swimming across Lake Michigan with their mother to escape a forest fire. The Great Spirit Manitou created North and South Manitou islands where the cubs drowned. Today, ferries take visitors to both of these secluded havens, once busy lumbering and farming settlements. They're part of 70,000-acre Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, extending 37 miles along Lake Michigan.
Cedars and hardwoods shade 5,000-acre South Manitou, with more than 20 miles of hiking trails and three designated sites for backcountry camping (permits required). The Mish Mokwa ferry makes a five-hour layover before it returns, so you can explore South Manitou during a day trip.
North Manitou attracts hikers and backpackers, who camp at walk-in backcountry sites (permits required). The Manitou Isle ferry stops just long enough to unload cargo and passengers. Plan on an overnight stay when you visit. Ferries make the 90-minute trips to both islands daily, June through Labor Day, from the Fishtown Dock in the Leelanau Peninsula town of Leland.
For more information, contact the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau.
On Stage at Interlochen
Don't be surprised if you hear music echoing through the woods as you're traveling in Michigans Green Lake area. You're approaching the 1,200-acre campus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where visitors can attend some 750 performances during the year-round Interlochen Arts Festival.
Amid the clear lakes and whispering pines, Interlochen, established more than 75 years ago, has become a premier location for young musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists and writers to develop their talents.
The festival schedules concerts, theater and dance productions, and visual exhibits of nationally and internationally known artists as well as students, faculty and staff.
For more information, contact the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Exploring the Inland Waterway
For a leisurely day--or longer--on the water, travel Michigan's Inland Waterway between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron via a route Native Americans and French voyageurs once paddled. The scenic 38-mile passage links the towns of Conway and Cheboygan along the Lake Huron shore.
Designated no-wake areas along the route make the Inland Waterway trip easygoing. From Conway on the shore of Crooked Lake, travel northeast through woods and wetlands along the Crooked River. Boats pass through a small lock at Alanson before cruising into Burt Lake. Then its on to the village of Indian River, through Mullett Lake and up the Cheboygan River to Cheboygan and Lake Huron.
Alanson and Indian River, where youll find local motels, also make good lunch stops. In Conway, the Inland House Motel provides boat docks. Boats tie up at the Best Western River Terrace motel in Cheboygan. Campers can choose Burt Lake State Park just south of Indian River or Aloha State Park along Mullett Lake just southwest of Cheboygan.
For more information, contact the Indian River Area Tourist Bureau.
A Scenic Route to Remember
In the northwestern corner of Michigans Lower Peninsula, the Tunnel of Trees drive couldnt be more appropriately named. Thirty miles of State-119, a Michigan Heritage Route, twists and turns beside Lake Michigan between Harbor Springs and Cross Village. Walls of oaks, maples and white birches surround you, their branches linking overhead.
Here and there along the narrow blacktop road little more than a country lane Lake Michigans blue waters peek through the foliage, which camouflages summer cottages and vacation homes. Plan to stop at the Thome Swift Preserve, with its nature center, walkways through the woods and quiet beach.
If you arrive in Cross Village, at the northern end of the route, around lunch or dinner time, stop at Legs Inn, a sprawling stone landmark with upside-down stove legs along its roofline. Enjoy Polish-American dishes in the garden with a view of the lake.
For more information, visit the West Michigan Tourist Association.
A Beaver Island Adventure
Step off the car ferry that pulls into Beaver Islands Paradise Bay, and you know you're away from it all. The two-hour Lake Michigan crossing from Charlevoix in the northwestern corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula transports you to the Great Lakes most remote inhabited island, which once was home to the nations only king.
Many of the 550 residents on the 53-square-mile island claim Irish ancestry, a heritage Beaver wears proudly. Names everywhere recall the Emerald Isle, from Donegal Bay to the Dalwhinnie Bakery and Deli and the Shamrock Restaurant and Bar.
The only town, St. James, hugs the quiet harbor with a handful of tidy clapboard homes and weathered buildings housing small specialty shops, galleries, restaurants and a maritime museum. Country roads and forested trails crisscross the interior, dotted with seven fishing lakes. Pristine beaches edge the shore. Vacationers can hike to windswept Whiskey Point to view the 19th-century lighthouse.
You can bicycle around the island, drive your own car (or rent one) and get acquainted with Beavers past on guided tours. Mormons settled the island in the mid-1800s, but left abruptly a few years later when a dissenter shot their leader, James Strang, whod proclaimed himself king. At the Old Mormon Print Shop Museum in St. James, you'll learn about the wave of Irish immigrants that followed.
Visitors pitch tents at wooded sites and stay at a handful of accommodations (many close during winter), including Beaver Island Lodge on a Lake Michigan bluff in St. James; newer Laurain Lodge motel, with housekeeping units in a wooded setting in St. James; and Emerald Isle Hotel, with efficiencies and suites near the ferry dock.
In addition to the Beaver Island Boat Company car ferry, Island Airways also serves Beaver from Charlevoix.
For more information, contact the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce.