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  1. Default Great Lakes Roadtrip help needed

    Hi

    I always find this forum really helpful when planning a road trip and as I'm struggling a bit with this one, I'm hoping some of you can help me out.

    We have flights booked in July, flying in and out of Chicago where we are going to spend a few days with family at the start and end of the trip. Then we have around 14 days, possibly 1 or 2 more, to explore the area. So far we are thinking of a loop through Wisconsin and Michigan with a bit of Indiana but really don't know where are the best places to stop off or base ourselves to explore.

    We are a family of 4 - 2 adults and 2 older teenagers - and we really enjoy National Parks and getting into the outdoors. We don't enjoy big cities all that much and I think Chicago will be quite enough city time for us. We want to spend some time on the lakes and do some water activities and we don't mind some longer drives if they are broken up with shorter drives or days off driving. We like small towns and quirky places as well. We would like a few days in a cabin at some point with plenty of hiking and other activities nearby but I don't know where the best place is for that.

    So far, we have recommendations of Door County and the Upper Peninsula but that's about it. Any ideas would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,396

    Default

    There are a ton of places to explore and get outdoors in this area. I could easily spend 2 weeks or more just in the UP!

    Just focusing on National Parks, you could head to the Apostle Island, off of Wisconsin's Lake Superior Shore, make your way east to Copper Country around Houghton and Calumet, MI and explore the Keeweenaw National Historic Park. Continuing through the UP would take you to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and you could round out the UP with Tahquamenon Falls, the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, and the Locks at Sault Ste Marie.

    Then you could head back south, perhaps visiting Mackinac Island before crossing the Bridge and heading down the Lake Michigan shore, which includes Sleeping Bear Dunes and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshores, as well as several state parks and other interesting stops along the way to Chicago.

    There are a lot of resources, routes, maps and other ideas on RTA focusing on the Great Lakes that you can find on our Great Lakes Routes page.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,578

    Default Some More Small Towns and Quirky Places

    I whole heartedly endorse every recommendation that Michael has given you. I'd like to just offer a couple of other off-the-beaten-path possibilities that might fit into your route/itinerary. The first is the Circus World Museum in Baraboo WI. This is a bit inland from the lake, but might be a possibility if you want to really bypass Milwaukee. Other nearby attractions that might be more to your liking would include Horicon Marsh NWR and a boat ride through Wisconsin Dells (although the town itself is a bit honkey-tonk).

    If you're into magic or collecting boyhood homes, Harry Houdini called Appleton WI home, at least for a while.

    Another possibility is the Peshtigo Fire Museum. On the night of the 'Great' Chicago Fire, a larger and far more deadly fire ravaged this northern Wisconsin town, and almost no one has ever heard of it. And Peshtigo lies on the main road, US-41, along the Green Bay arm of Lake Michigan just before you cross the state line into the UP.

    Finally, I haven't spent a lot of time in the lower portion of Michigan, but some cousins of mine who lived in Holland have nice things to say about it.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-01-2018 at 08:36 PM. Reason: Added link to RTA article on Houdini in WI

  4. Default

    Here is an option you might not have considered. Take your car across Lake Michigan.

    https://www.lake-express.com

    https://www.ssbadger.com

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    There are a ton of places to explore and get outdoors in this area. I could easily spend 2 weeks or more just in the UP!

    Just focusing on National Parks, you could head to the Apostle Island, off of Wisconsin's Lake Superior Shore, make your way east to Copper Country around Houghton and Calumet, MI and explore the Keeweenaw National Historic Park. Continuing through the UP would take you to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and you could round out the UP with Tahquamenon Falls, the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, and the Locks at Sault Ste Marie.

    Then you could head back south, perhaps visiting Mackinac Island before crossing the Bridge and heading down the Lake Michigan shore, which includes Sleeping Bear Dunes and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshores, as well as several state parks and other interesting stops along the way to Chicago.

    There are a lot of resources, routes, maps and other ideas on RTA focusing on the Great Lakes that you can find on our Great Lakes Routes page.
    Thanks for this, those suggestions are really helpful. The UP looks great - is there anywhere that would be a good base for a few days for exploring or would we end up doing too much driving to various places to visit. I've seen one suggestion of Marquette as a base - do you think that would work?

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    I whole heartedly endorse every recommendation that Michael has given you. I'd like to just offer a couple of other off-the-beaten-path possibilities that might fit into your route/itinerary. The first is the Circus World Museum in Baraboo WI. This is a bit inland from the lake, but might be a possibility if you want to really bypass Milwaukee. Other nearby attractions that might be more to your liking would include Horicon Marsh NWR and a boat ride through Wisconsin Dells (although the town itself is a bit honkey-tonk).

    If you're into magic or collecting boyhood homes, Harry Houdini called Appleton WI home, at least for a while.

    Another possibility is the Peshtigo Fire Museum. On the night of the 'Great' Chicago Fire, a larger and far more deadly fire ravaged this northern Wisconsin town, and almost no one has ever heard of it. And Peshtigo lies on the main road, US-41, along the Green Bay arm of Lake Michigan just before you cross the state line into the UP.

    Finally, I haven't spent a lot of time in the lower portion of Michigan, but some cousins of mine who lived in Holland have nice things to say about it.

    AZBuck
    Thanks for this. We've been wavering about Wisconsin Dells - not sure whether the other attractions are more for little kids than older teens. Is the town a bit like Pigeon Forge? I think it might be a bit out of the way if we are going to spend more time in the UP.

    Peshtigo and Baraboo sound interesting - thanks for the suggestions as I wouldn't have known about them otherwise. Holland sounds good for a beach option.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by travelingman View Post
    Here is an option you might not have considered. Take your car across Lake Michigan.

    https://www.lake-express.com

    https://www.ssbadger.com
    I hadn't even realised that was an option. Thank you!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,162

    Default Looks really fun

    I wasn't aware of these services either. Have to go back to the UP, obviously!

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,162

    Default Look at the RTA Maps Attractions in the UP!

    I am like Michael, I could spend a month or two exploring the UP.

    The last time I was able to spend some time was a couple of years ago, but I really enjoyed traveling some of the back roads. In particular, County Road 602 (South River Road) along the Au Sable River.

    One thing I would recommend, go to the RTA Advanced Map page and use the vicinity search set for 100 miles and click in the center of the UP to see some of the places that the semi-pro roadtrippers found when crusing around the UP. Click on the icons and read the descriptions -- Some of them you'll see in other guide books, but most are pretty darn unique to RTA.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,536

    Default

    Those ferry prices are definitely not cheap.

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