Maybe it’s just us or the fact that we’ve been in a pandemic for the past year… but PEOPLE ARE OUT AGAIN! In the Midwest, summers always feel extra special as residents have a unique appreciation for summer. With the winters being so intense, having the opportunity to bask in sunshine is something we never take for granted. It’s as if everyone comes out of their winter hibernation and they’re ready to see the world again with vibrant energy.
As schools are ending and the weather is warming up (at a crazy pace if we might add), summer travel season has officially begun! Ah travel, how we have missed you. With vaccinations increasing, we are over the moon with thoughts of travel endeavors for the months to come. You can feel the incredible energy in the air.
While traveling abroad is such an incredible experience, many lose sight of all the amazing places to visit right here in the Midwest! You don’t need a huge budget or save for months (or years) when there is a cornucopia of stunning sights full of new experiences just hours away.
A family trip that is close to our hearts is our trip to Michigan when the kiddos we’re in elementary school. Some of our most cherished photos of the kids are from this trip. We chose to see a variety of places along the Michigan coast line as we couldn’t choose just one place! Being the planner I am, I had a whole itinerary saved and I can’t wait to share with you the FOR SURE things to do and places to see in Michigan.
1. The SS Badger Ferry
The SS Badger is a Midwest icon! If you have never rode it across Lake Michigan, it’s an experience you must try. The trip is around 4 hours long and so they have live music, activities, food, shopping, and a bar! If you have young kids, I highly recommend getting one of their staterooms to be able to take a little break and have your own space. We promise the kiddos will love peeking through the cute porthole windows (perfect photo op moment!) and cool giant keys.
2. Ludington - Lighthouses + Ice Cream
Ludington is a gorgeous town with stunning beaches that feel like you’re on the ocean, lighthouses with iconic history, and great restaurants for some vacation fun. It’s a great start to your trip as it’s a go-with-the-flow historic town with amazing views. The perfect vacation paradise with relaxed, coastal vibes. We visited the North Breakwater Lighthouse as it is located right in downtown Ludington. There are many lighthouses in the area and if you’re feeling adventurous, Big Sable Point Lighthouse is located within the state park.
3. Sleeping Bear Dunes
Sleeping Bear Dunes is a must see if you’re visiting the coast of Michigan! Words truly don’t do this area justice. It’s no surprise to us that the area has been named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America. Trust me. Dedicate a day to this gorgeous area.
We spent two days in Mackinac and had the most fun. If you’re looking to save some money, I recommend staying off of the island and taking the ferries over to enjoy Mackinac. We did this and the kids loved taking the ferries back and forth. Make sure you have a meal at the Grand Hotel for a super cool experience. And of course, a photo op in the big, white, adirondack chairs. My family would always joke, “We don’t take vacations, we have photo ops.” They’re definitely thanking me now ;)
5. Escanaba River State Forest
One of the final destinations on our Michigan trip was hiking Escanaba River State Forest. If you enjoy the outdoors and hiking adventures, Escanaba is a must! There are many trails with various levels of difficulty perfect for both experienced hikers and beginners (with young kids). After a day of hikes, head over to Gram’s Pasties for the best pastie you’ll ever have. Never heard of a pastie? You’ll have to find out for yourself :)
These five highlights just skim the surface of what Michigan has to offer. It’s a family trip we still reminisce about today. Relaxing with the perfect mixture of adventure and activity. What are some of your favorite spots in Michigan?