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  1. #1
    joblogle Guest

    Default 3 weeks around Great Lakes this summer

    Hi everyone

    My boyfriend and I are just planning our second USA road trip (our first we drove from Albuquerque, NM to Seattle, WA along the coast and then some) and because he has family in Toronto we are starting and ending there.

    The route we are taking is over three weeks in June and goes from Toronto into the USA at Niagara-on-the-Lake (staying to taste some wine of course!) and hugging the bottom of Lake Erie through the tops of NY, PA, OH and into IN and IL (staying at Chicago for a couple of days is a must) then up along the side of Lake Michigan through WI and MI and then back into the MI peninsula (maybe coming down on the Lake Huron side if possible) crossing back into Ontario at Detroit/Windsor.

    I would really appreciate advice from you road trippers out there on which (smallish) lakeside towns would be best to stop at along the way (either for a browse/lunch en route or for the night) and which areas of natural beauty are really worth exploring (particularly in upper MI). Also, we are serial brewpubbers so recommendations for local brewpubs/breweries along that route would be adored!

    P.s. love this forum!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Few Spots Worth Stopping For

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    That general route has been discussed a few times on these forums, so have a look around for what other people have chosen to see and do along it. For my own part, some of the places that I'd recommend that you look into as worthwhile places to spend some time at. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Bass Islands, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Colonial Michilimackinac State Historical Park, and Mackinac Island State Park. As for brew pubs, many are listed here.


  3. #3
    joblogle Guest


    Thanks. I had read all the other threads that I could find on here before posting but there is not much mention of good towns to stop off in - hence my question! I am going to add these to the list for exploring - thanks!

    Any other suggestions of good towns very much welcomed. For us it is not only about the driving but the places you can explore (and the people you can meet!)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Serendipity (By Definition) Can't Be Planned For

    I applaud your effort to find friendly, scenic towns. But such places are both everywhere and impossible to pinpoint. I have had great experiences in places and at times where I would have least expected it which only added to the enjoyment (including one very memorable, but only half-remembered, night in an Irish pub at a not terribly inviting crossroads outside Cork). I have had terrible experiences at highly recommended locales. The trick is to be open and friendly yourselves. The scenery will certainly be there as you work your way around and through the Great Lakes. So will wonderful people. Full disclosure: there's a fair chance that you may run into one of my thirty-odd first cousins who inhabit northern Wisconsin, but I've run into many more open and friendly people in that neck of the woods than just my family, and I think you're in for a great time.


  5. Default

    As a Michigan native, I have some advice for you! In terms of scenic, cute towns, I think you should spend a lot more time on the West/Northern side of our lovely state! Grand Haven, MI is a beautiful area and they have some cool fireworks in the summer. I stayed at Yogi Bear campgrounds with some friends in a rustic site which is near the beach and it was super fun! Traverse City farther up north is GORGEOUS and they have awesome scenery and are known for their cherries there, seriously put Traverse City on your list. I've also been to Pentwater which is a bit north of Grand Haven and that is a cute town as well, they also have some great sand dunes and you can walk on them or rent sand buggies to drive on them.

    I also think that since you'll be nearby, you should go to Mackinac Island. It is such a beautiful place, and you can only get there by ferry from Mackinac City, they don't allow cars on the island. Needless to say, you must use horses or bikes to get around! It's very charming. The whole island is about 8 miles around and it's really fun to rent a bike and ride around it... some beautiful scenery! Hotels there tend to be a bit pricey but they have some cute B&Bs and you can also stay in Mackinac City much more cheaply and just take the ferry in every day to visit the island. Port Huron on lake Huron is also a nice place as well, but I've only been there in a relative's cottage so I'm not sure about accommodations there or anything. But anywho.. I suggest you spend much more time on Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior... they are farrrr better lakes than Erie.. it seems kind of gross to me. Grand Bend on the Canadian side of Lake Huron is very nice as well, and there is a beautiful campground called The Pinery which I camped at last June and it was VERY awesome!

    Oh also...I'm not sure where it is but I've heard that Torch Lake has been rated the most beautiful lake in the world by national geographic multiple times.. if you can find out where it is and it works with your route, you should check that out too!

    Hope that helps! Enjoy your visit to The Mitten :-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Great Lakes Towns

    Thanks very much for the local Michigan input!

    As an aside, we've published a couple of articles about some of our favorite Great Lakes road trips. Here is the directory list.

    Here are some of the local towns...that Harry Kline liked.

  7. #7
    joblogle Guest


    Thanks so much both!

    We planned the loose route for our trip last night and are planning on making a fair amount of stops on the Mitten now! I really appreciate the tips. We have also ear-marked Torch Lake.

    I am getting incredibly excited now!

  8. #8


    i live on the "coast" of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin - Sheboygan to be exact, so i can offer a little help.

    I would avoid I-43 from Milwaukee to Sheboygan. a very boring, bland, two lane highway drive with no real views of the lake. while country roads aren't much better for views, they are more enjoyable imo.

    Port Washington, WI. between Sheboygan and Milwaukee is Port Washington, a city of 11,000 and is a very neat little city. GREAT downtown / lakefront areas with some good restaurants with some neat sights, all within walking distance.

    more north passed Sheboygan is the tourist attraction county of Door County. lots of fair grounds, parks and neat mom and pop shops. the city itself has only 30,000 or so residents but tourists of course make it seem like more. but in all the time i've spent there it's always been a pleasant little place to be. if you are REALLY following around the Great Lakes you will spend quite some time here as the "eastern edge" of Wisconsin that sticks out is all Door County, so if you literally want to drive all around Lake Michigan, you will see plenty of Door County.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-26-2012 at 04:46 PM. Reason: Good Neighbor Rules

  9. #9
    joblogle Guest

    Default South shore of Lake Erie?

    Thanks! That is really helpful.

    I have one more specific question, about the south shore of Lake Erie. We have to stay about halfway along it (somewhere in the region of Cleveland) but are struggling to find information about what towns might be good for a stopover. We could just wing it (and probably will) but any shouts for good places would be really appreciated!

  10. #10


    If you plan to visit Door County in Wisconsin, Fish Creek, Ephraim and Sister Bay are all great places to spend some time. If you go, be sure and try a "Fish Boil," a fun and unique dining experience.

    In Traverse City, a drive out the Old Mission Peninsula on Route 37 is a great drive and you could visit several winerys.

    It may not fit in to your schedule but I think you are missing one of the two most scenic areas of the Great Lakes, Minnesota's North Shore Drive from Duluth to Thunder Bay, Canada along the north shore of Lake Superior (Route 61). The sheer 100 plus foot cliffs are spectacular and Split Rock Lighthouse is a great stop. There are also a number of beautiful water falls. The other is Pictured Rocks which can only be seen by means of a boat tour.

    If you should decide to do Minnesota, Bayfield, Wisconsin is a very nice, quaint little town. From there you can also visit Madeline Island.

    Have A Great Trip!!

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