West Michiganders, how sweet it is!
The sixth-largest freshwater lake on Earth is right in your own front yard. Savor all of its glory by traveling to the northern coastline of Lake Michigan, where there are plenty of hot spots and cool gems to make your vacation sizzle.
Photo courtesy of Ludington Area CVB.
Love Pure Ludington
What's better about this Mason County marvel: its charming, walkable downtown or its expansive stretch of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan? We'd say it's a tie! Stearns Park Beach is beloved for its family-friendly activities and late-evening sunset gazing, while Ludington State Park draws outdoor enthusiasts with a blend of dunes, marshlands, wooded areas, and waters. With 10 additional parks in the vicinity, there's no shortage of waterfront enjoyment for all. Shops, boutiques, and eateries line James Street and Ludington Avenue downtown. Stops at Biercamp Market for supplies and House of Flavors for a sweet treat are musts. There are events and festivals all summer long, including the Sunset Beach Bonfire Series, S.S. Badger Shoreline Cruises, and Friday Night Live—to name a few.
Photo courtesy of Drew Smith.
Make It Benzie
Benzie County is ideal for boating, fishing, kayaking, or simply sunning and splashing around. Crystal Mountain is a favorite, with activities for singles, couples and families. For kids, there's an outdoor pool and water playground, alpine slide, adventure course, and rock-climbing wall. Adults could enjoy a round of golf, get pampered at the award-winning Crystal Spa, or sip wine, spirits, brews, and meads from local artisans. There's fun for all at Michigan Legacy Art Park and along the many hiking and biking trails. Venture into Benzonia to visit the iconic Hill Top Soda Shop or into Beulah and State of the Art Gallery, for Ann Loveless' ArtPrize-winning quilts. Don't miss Myers Granary Antiques Market and Point Betsie Lighthouse—and definitely take part in Benzie Treasure Trove: a special package available when you stay two consecutive nights at participating hotels.
Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism.
Check Out Traverse City
While making your way up the Third Coast, a stay in the Traverse City Wine Coast is absolutely in order. Comprising two peninsulas and 40-plus wineries and tasting rooms, the region is bursting with fruit-forward varietals to excite your palate, whether you favor a riesling or cabernet franc. Along scenic M-22 on the Leelanau Peninsula, you'll find nearly 20 wineries, from Suttons Bay to Northport and Leland to Glen Arbor. Take M-37 up the middle of Old Mission Peninsula, where even more reds, whites and bubbles await. While any season is wine-tasting season, summer in Traverse City welcomes vacationers with warm, extended evenings on the patios, outdoor live music, and a host of tours, special events, and festivals.
Photo courtesy of Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.
Hunting for fossils at the breakwall or mooning at the stars at Headlands International Dark Sky Park aren't the Petoskey area's only draws. Entertainment abounds throughout summer, from Concerts in the Park in Petoskey and Evenings at the Gazebo in Boyne City to Street Musique in Harbor Springs and The Series at Lavender Hill Farm. Among festivals are the Bay View Music Festival, 20th Bay Harbor Arts Festival, 39th Annual Blissfest Music Festival, Bay Harbor Vintage Car & Boat Festival, Boyne City PirateFest, and more. Take a cooking class, wander arts and crafts fairs, or shop for antiques. Food and beverage aficionados could enjoy the Petoskey Wine Region or Petoskey Area Culinary Trail.
Get Up and Go!
Photo courtesy of Grand Travers Resort.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
Whether it's a girlfriends' weekend, a family getaway, or one-on-one time with your partner, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa delivers. Discover the next level of self-care at the freshly remodeled Spa Grand Traverse, including a new, transformational HydraFacial system. Dine at the ever-popular Aerie Restaurant, boasting an eclectic menu and the best views of Grand Traverse Bay; for more casual fare, visit Jack's Taproom. If a taste of true Northern Michigan fresh air is in order, tee up at one of the resort's three championship golf courses or relax on its exclusive beach frontage. For kiddos, there's the pool; an arcade; shops with toys, candy, and ice cream; and Friday and Saturday Beach Club activities.
Allison Kay Bannister, a West Michigan resident since 1987, professional writer since 2002 and GVSU alumna, recently launched her own freelance writing business. Allison enjoys travel, art, dance, food and exploring world cultures—and, of course, writing about all these and more.
This article originally appeared in West Michigan Woman.
Main photo courtesy of Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.