Chicago Scene on the road venturing the entire coast of Lake Michigan on the West Coast and Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Chicago Scene

The Chicago Scene hit the road this summer!  We ventured around Lake Michigan on a socially distant road trip up the West Coast of Michigan.  From the shores of the Warren Dunes to the Upper Peninsula, we traversed the entire East Coast of the lake.  Truly, we had the trip of a lifetime discovering what is “Pure Michigan.”

If you want to follow along the stops around the lake.  Here’s a list below:  Thank you for wathing!

Arrival in South Haven

The charming beach town of South Haven offers lakeside fun for the entire family, a walkable downtown with unique shops and restaurants, and enough maritime history, arts, live music, and culture to keep you coming back time and time again. The surrounding area offers beautiful nature trails, gorgeous golf courses and stunning inland lakes. Just a short drive from South Haven are several more charming lakeshore towns to visit during your trip. 

Activities on the way or in South Haven:

Skellville – Skeleton scenes to amuse and entertain both young and old. 

 Dinosaur Farm – A quarter-acre of skeletal dinosaurs!

Watermark BrewingStevensville – makes unique and sought-after brews, and their taproom has lots of open space outside with fire pits and games.

Weko Beach ParkBridgman – is right next to Warren Dunes State Park. Millicent with the Southwest Michigan Tourism Council recommends parking at Weko and walking along the beach to the Dunes as a way to experience both.

Friends Good Will Tall Ships – Friends Good Will is a replica of a top sail merchant sloop that plied the waters of the Great Lakes in the early 19th century. She is the Museum’s flagship and sails from her home port of South Haven daily in the height of summer. Staff and volunteer crew, dressed in period clothes, offer passengers a glimpse into the life and operations of a Great Lakes sailor. Passengers are even encouraged to help raise and lower sails as they set off on a traditional tall ship adventure on Lake Michigan.

 South Haven to Frankfort

When driving from South Haven to Frankfort be sure to take US-31 N. This will hug Lake Michigan and go through the communities of Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Pentwater, Manistee and Ludington.

Activities on the way or in Frankfort:

Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse – A popular place for Lake Michigan sunsets! Located in Benzie County on the outer end of north breakwater. Visitors can walk out to the lighthouse, fish off the pier or enjoy the sights and sounds of Lake Michigan.

Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide – Ride the Loki Quad chairlift to the top of the mountain, hop on a specially-designed sled, and cruise down one of two parallel 1,700-foot-long curved tracks. You control the speed in this action-packed thrill ride with dips, high-bank turns, and spectacular views. 

Frankfort to Mackinac Island

When driving from Frankfort to Mackinac Island be sure to stay on US-31 N. You’ll go through beachside towns like Traverse City, Charlevoix and Petoskey.

Activities on the way or in Mackinac Island:

Traverse City – Stop to visit the Village at Grand Traverse Commons for a walk around the picturesque grounds or grab a quick snack atHigher Grounds Coffee or Pleasanton Bakery for the ride north.

Downtown Traverse City (the Cherry Capital) is also a great place for a walk. Must stops include:

Cherry Republic – Cherry Republic’s flagship store offers homemade ice cream, cherry pie and a cherry climbing tree with a comfortable lounge area to enjoy your treat and lunch at Little Fleet, a fixed collection of food trucks offering an eclectic array of bites.

The World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan in Traverse City and the Former World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan in Charlevoix. It’s a bit of a battle.

Bay Harbor – Situated along five miles of stunningly beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline between Petoskey and Charlevoix, Bay Harbor is an idyllic destination. Very luxurious and beautiful that may surprise you.

Petoskey Stone ‘Hunt’ – Petoskey – Search for the state stone on the shores of Lake Michigan in Petoskey. Here is a guide to find them.

Arrival on Mackinac Island  

For centuries, visitors have found Mackinac Island to be the ideal vacation spot. No cars. No chain hotels. Just world-famous Mackinac Island Fudge, historic Fort Mackinac, unique shopping and diverse dining. Unforgettable sunsets, awe-inspiring sunrises and extraordinary nightlife befit ranking as a Top 10 Island in the U.S. 

There’s no road to the island, we used Shepler’s for parking and ferry to the island.  Taking this ferry allowed my bags to be delivered to room at Mission Point Resort.

Activity suggestions in or an the way to Mackinac Island:

Tour the island by kayak with the Great Turtle Kayak Tours.

Hit up one of Mackinac Island’s famous fudge shops.

Take a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour around the island.

Fort Mackinac – Founded during the American Revolution, the British captured the Fort in the very first engagement on American soil in the War of 1812. Inside, 14 original buildings, cannon salutes, bugle music, daily reenactments, and interactive displays speak of America’s infancy. Located on a bluff that overlooks the entrancing Straits of Mackinac. Tours, exhibits and demonstrations.

Visit the Mackinac Island State Parks.

Mackinac Revealed Walking Tour – Stroll on magnificent bluffs above Lake Huron, see hidden gems you may not know exist and experience Mackinac the way the locals do.

Mackinac Island to Manistique

After departing the Island, make your way across the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula!

Activities on the way or in Manistique:

US-2 is an official scenic byway with stops ranging from quirky museums like the Mystery Spot, a beloved tourist stop that features two ziplines, an 18-hole mini golf course, a maze, and guided tours of “optical contradictions and physical sensations that are hard to believe” and

Deer Ranch where you can see and pet white tail deer.

Must get a pasty – The U.P.’s signature dish. We tried it at Three Seasons Cafe (Manistique).

Venture off US-2 to Tahquamenon Falls. Checkout a full list of Michigan waterfalls to check out here.

Arrival in Manistique

The harbor town of Manistique is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the beautiful Upper Peninsula and surrounded by state and national forest land for great recreational opportunities.

The harbor town of Manistique is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the beautiful Upper Peninsula and surrounded by state and national forest land for great recreational opportunities.

Activity suggestions:

Stop at the Paul Bunyan statue for a photo opp.  

Kitch-iti-kipi – This natural spring, Michigan’s largest freshwater spring, flows thousands of gallons of water from fissures in the limestone below and is an unbelievable sight to see.

Hiawatha National Forest – Touching Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, its lake shore settings make it unique and there’s truly something for just about everyone.

Historic Water Tower for photo opp. – Built in 1922 and stands 137 feet high, this landmark drew water from the Manistique River and had the storage capacity of 122,000 gallons.

For more information:

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