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  1. Default Kids 12 and under, start in chicago, loop including WI and a Great Lake

    We have about 12 days and I'd like to try getting a taste of the midwest with not too much more than a three hour drive at a time. I'd consider flying back East from a city other than Chicago. I'd like a little urban, a little country, a lot of Americana. History and science would be cool. Thanks for a great site and any ideas as a starting point.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Lake Michigan Circle

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well, clearly with Chicago as your start/end point, lake Michigan is your Great Lake of choice for this adventure, although you have enough time to throw in some of the best of Lakes Superior and Huron as well. Twelve days is actually quite a lot of time to explore a route that could be driven in one day of hard driving, so I will leave it up to you how to mete out your time, and just list some of the best that a circuit of Lake Michigan has to offer you in the way of your stated goals.

    You can start with all of these sites. In addition, you might be interested in The Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum in Chicago; another urban setting, Milwaukee, with plenty for the family, especially zoological; and as you continue around the lake, head inland a bit for some unique countryside in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, both the southern and northern divisions and in particular the Ice Age Trail. In Green Bay, there is both a Railway Museum and a great little amusement park. Shifting gears and lakes a bit, besides Picture Rocks, another site on Lake Superior (that would entail a boat ride) is Apostle Island National Lakeshore; while Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary would give you a chance to explore shipwrecks and Lake Huron. Finally there are a number of state parks along the Michigan side of Lake Michigan, and just before you'd return to Chicago, one final National Lakeshore in Indiana.

    Yeah, I think you can spend 12 leisurely days circumnavigating Lake Michigan at less than three hours driving each day and still have plenty to do and see.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-15-2007 at 04:42 PM.

  3. Default Thank you! More info or referral, please...

    Sounds great! I have tried to map this on AAA triptik. I don't see how to request ferry routes.
    1a) Can you tell me if there is ferry service from say, Macinaw to Thunder Bay and then on to Apostle Islands?
    1b) Could I travel through Pictured Rocks, get to Apostle, and ferry up to Thunder Bay (and is it worth doing?)
    1c) If none feasible, what is to see/where to stay over in between TB and Macinaw?
    2) Also, what's to see/where to stay over between Indiana Dunes and Traverse City?
    3) I went on the GLT website and got the Circle Tour itinirary, but I couldn't make out what is on the way, where to stop off, what to check out. Any website suggestions?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Ferry Service

    I'm a little puzzled about what you are planning, as you are kind of going all over the place. However, in a nutshell, the reason you aren't finding Ferry service in this area is because none exists.

    There is Ferry service directly from land to the Apostle Islands, but there is no ferry that will take you along Lake Superior, or through the Soo Locks and onto Lake Huron for the Thunder Bay NWR that Buck Mentioned.

    There's also no Ferry Service across Lake Superior, if you were talking about going to the City of Thunder Bay in Ontario. The only thing that is even close in that regard is Ferry Service to Isle Royale, where there are two separate boats, one that will take you to Houghton, Michigan, and the other that will take you to Grand Portage, Minnesota on the Canadian border. Theoretically, you could use those two ferries to cut across cross the lake, but I have not idea the time or cost of such a journey.

    BTW, speaking of Shipwrecks, one place Buck didn't mention that you might consider visiting is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, located at Whitefish Bay, MI, about halfway between Pictured Rocks and Saule St. Marie.

  5. Default Thank you!

    I agree with you and will go back to the drawing board. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Default For those looking for a starting point for planning this trip

    After hours on the AAA website and other websites and considering feedback from RTA gurus, I came up with this sketch of a loop. I haven't done it and our trip is still under construction. Hope it helps someone! I thank RTA for your resources!

    On, to map out the trip and get an idea of hours of driving required, I found addresses of hotels that I might be interested in (from for their top ranked for entered cities), or used as a choice a national park, on the AAA Triptik planner, and entered those as destinations for the trip itinerary.

    1) Day in Chicago
    2) 70 miles to Indian Dunes National Park (NP) in Indiana
    3) Some undetermined stop, like maybe Grand Rapids unless driving for 300 miles after the NP is cool.
    4) Traverse City for a couple of days, including a day trip at Suttons Bay on a three hour Family Science Sail held by the Inland Seas Education Association
    5) 100 miles to Macinaw City, where there is a fort.
    6) 80 miles up to the Shipwreck Museum in Paradise. Stay somewhere nearby?
    7) 113 miles to Pictured Rocks NP. Sleep there??
    8) This Circle Tour Website is where I got some ideas. I think this site is a little confusing, though.
    9) 128 miles to Peshtigo, WI for a historic fire site and then 6 more miles to Marinette per the Circle Tour website suggestion.
    10) Green Bay is on the way to the next stopover at Manitowoc, 100 miles away.
    11) 75 miles to Milwaukee, next. Stay over? 12) 100 miles to Chicago. Stay another night before flying home.

    This is much more like the Circle Tour than the sketch I attempted above.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-23-2007 at 05:05 AM. Reason: Link Format


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