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  1. Default Great Lakes Roadtrip

    My sister and I are planning a Great Lakes Road Trip for late May/ Early June. We leave Indiana, head north through Ste. St Marie to Pancake Bay, ON, travel along the Trans-Canada Highway east to Niagara Falls, and then travel along the south side of Lake Erie, back home to Indiana. We're planning 7 or 8 days for this trip.

    The big question is for our first day of travel - we can either drive along the west coast or the east coast of Lake Michigan. Both have places of interest - the west side takes us through Wisconsin, where we would most likely stop and check out Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Green Bay before hitting Michigan's UP, where we would likely stop at Pictured Rocks and/or Tahquamenon Falls. We would likely stay overnight somewhere in Wisconsin.

    If we take the east coast, which is the shorter route by about 100 miles, we would probably stop at Holland, maybe Sleeping Bear Dunes and Mackinaw, where we would likely stay overnight.

    Has anyone traveled on both sides? Are there other great stops that I am missing, but would make one path better than the other? We are interested in a wide variety of things: most important is probably scenery, parks and natural areas, followed by historical sites and museums, and then off-beat points of interest / roadside attractions. We're not at all into sports or nightlife, so those are of no consequence.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome back to RTA!

    I think I'd be inclined to go up the west side and spend some time in Door County. The only concern I would have, other than how much time you have available, is how much will be open prior to Memorial Day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Routes to Consider

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As a son of Wisconsin, I would normally not hesitate in recommending it as either a destination or en route attraction. However, in your case, I think that following the eastern side of Lake Michigan would be in order for one very big reason: Chicago. While it wouldn't be the end of the world to have to drive through or around the Windy City, it would be a couple of hours of non-fun driving in an otherwise enjoyable RoadTrip. Besides, the parks along the Michigan side of the lake provide better access to the lake. Besides, even though I have family in both Milwaukee and Green Bay, I can't really call either of them tourist destinations. I think Holland and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, as well as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (depending on where in Indiana you're starting from) would make better stops. In addition there is a string of state parks on the eastern shore which is not matched on the western shore. These include Warren Dunes, Grand Mere, PJ Hoffmaster, Muskegon, Van Buren, Duck Lake, Silver Lake, Ludington, Leelanau, Fishermans Island, Petoskey, and Wilderness State Parks. Then just before crossing the Straits of Mackinac, there's a great historical site: Colonial Michilimackinac State Historical Park.

    Another unique route that you might want to consider is to take ON-6 south from the Trans-Canada at Espanola to South Baymouth, and there take the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry over to Tobermory. This would also help you avoid Sudbury (a mining town) and Toronto if you are of a mind to do so.

    Finally, as you work your way west along the southern shore of Lake Erie spend as much time as you can on the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail, a National Scenic Byway.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-02-2014 at 04:55 PM.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for the tip about the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry! That sounds like something right up our alley and saves us a ton of driving time!

    We're definitely leaning more toward the Michigan side, especially as we research more about the parks along the way.

  5. #5

    Default Michigan side

    I have driven both sides of Lake Michigan and agree the Michigan side has more natural features to enjoy, as well as less traffic. Along the way consider stopping by Gwen Frostic's home and studio. She created block prints of natural elements. The property is open to the public and well worth a visit.

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