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  1. #1
    DebS Guest

    Default Lake Michigan Circle Tour

    Hi everyone. I'm new here. I just wanted to say how much I like this website and reading about everyone's adventures. I wish I had more time to spend road-tripping... :-(
    I was wondering if anyone has driven the Lake Michigan Circle tour? I would be starting and finishing in Chicago and I would like to do it in 3 nights/4 days. My tentative plans include a night in Mackinac Island and a night in the Crivitz (~30 miles N of Green Bay) area of Wisconsin as there is some decent whitewater rafting in that area.
    I have no plans for the first night. I'll be somewhere along Lake Michigan in Michigan. I would prefer to camp that night. Any suggestions? I would also love suggestions regarding dining, sights to see along way, alternate routes, etc. Thanks a lot everyone! I appreciate any suggestions at all. Deb

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    I've never travelled in that area so I have no suggestions. I just wanted to welcome you aboard. Also, I suggest that you do a search using the search function and/or check out the links at the bottom of this thread. You might find some good info there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I've been around much of Lake Michigan, but unfortuantly the part of Michigan you're looking at staying the first night is about the only area I really don't have any experience with.

    I have camped along the Lakeshore in the UP and there were plenty of small campgrounds along the way. I did take a quick look at the Michigan DNR website and it looks like there are lots state parks along the shore that would work pretty well.

    If you have time, make sure to spend a little time in Door County, WI, I'm told its very nice, although I haven't been there myself.

  4. #4


    I drove around Lake Michigan last September--I keep meaning to write up a trip log, but I never seem to quite get around to it.

    Anyway: it's certainly possible to do it in 4 days. However, I'd recommend taking as much time as you can afford. I took 6 nights/6.5 days to do it (I was only along Lake Michigan itself for a few hours on the first day, so I only count that as .5 days), and wish I could have taken twice as long--there was so much that I would have liked to have seen that I had to pass up. But then, I was eager to drive into every nook and cranny along the lake--I could have easily trimmed a full day off the trip if I didn't insist on going all the way to the tip of the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin and back.

    Can't help you with the camping and the whitewater rafting, as those aren't really my thing. Some things I did particularly enjoy were:

    The two National Lakeshore areas along the lake: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The latter of which I visited twice as it was my designated start/finish point.

    Several of the state parks around the lake, which offered plenty of hiking. I enjoy hiking very much as long as it's not too difficult (I'm not in that great shape) and it's only for a few hours (I'm no all-day, let alone multi-day hiker). The state parks offered plenty of this. I can now say I've walked on dunes in all four states bordering Lake Michigan. (Yes, surprisingly there is still undeveloped land on the Illinois shore of Lake Michigan, in Illinois Beach State Park.)

    In the upper peninsula I went into both Stonington Peninsula and Garden Peninsula.

    You can drive all the way out to the tip of the Stonington Peninsula, where there's a small park and lighthouse. (The lighthouse itself is not all that special; the "house" part is long since gone, leaving only the tower, and the lens and light are no longer there; but you can climb the tower and have a nice view of the lake from there.) The best part of this, though, is the drive to the lighthouse itself; the last mile is a gravel road, closely bordered and covered by trees, such that in most places it's only wide enough for one car to pass. Every few hundred yards it widens so that cars going in opposite directions can pass each other; but if two cars meet outside of these spots, someone has to back up!

    On the Garden Peninsula I visited Fayette Historic State Park, which features a former iron smelting town which has been turned into something of a historic museum and park--see how people lived in a late 19th century company town. Very neat. (The website calls it a "Ghost Town," but I don't think that's appropriate, as "Ghost Town" conjures up images of a completely abandoned and decaying town. While no one lives here anymore, the buildings are mostly well-kept and several of them have exhibits inside--more "Museum Town" than "Ghost Town" to me.)

    However, I would note that it's not worth driving all the way to the tip of the Garden Peninsula--there's not much to see there, all privately owned land, and not even really a good place to stop and take a picture.

    If you're into wines, you can find wineries all over Wisconsin and Michigan, but the best ones (and also the highest concentration of them) are the ones on the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas.

    There's a lighthouse and beach at the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula. The waters around the beach are very shallow and you can go quite a ways out into the lake here; there's even a sandbar stretching out from the beach (a bit east of the lighthouse) where you can walk quite a ways out into the lake (at least 1500 feet, I estimate) without ever going in water deeper than a few inches. When I was there, someone had made a large pile of rocks (6 or 7 feet tall) near the end of the sandbar.

    The highlight of my trip was walking across the Mackinac Bridge, but you can only do that on Labor Day.
    Last edited by Tom_H007; 10-01-2022 at 01:56 AM. Reason: removed reference to no-longer-valid image

  5. Default Thanks!

    Great post, Chuck! Don't know if the info helped DebS, but it sure helped ME (Welcome, DebS!). Makes me want to head up there for a nice long weekend.

    I spent a summer at age 11 on the Keeweenaw Peninsula (near Houghton/Hancock, UP) in a little town called Dollar Bay and I've been wanting to go back up that way all my adult life. Bob

  6. #6
    DebS Guest

    Default Wow!

    Thanks for all the fantastic ideas. You guys are great. It's hard for me to get more than 4 days off in a row so what I may do is go back to Door County for a seperate long weekend, as I've been wanting to go there for some time. I would also like to spend more than one night on Mackinac Island. That may have to be a seperate trip as well. Decisions, decisions... Thanks again. Deb

  7. #7


    Just a P.S. to my earlier post: in this satellite image from Google you can actually see the sandbar extending out from the end of Old Mission Peninsula--it's the rightmost of the two wispy white things extending out from the land. (I didn't even know about the other one when I was there, as it's about half a mile west of the lighthouse, but if I ever go back I'll have to see if that one's accessible.) You can zoom out to verify that it is, in fact, the Old Mission Peninsula.

  8. Default

    Hey, you're thinking the same thing as mine, I was driving from chicago along sheridan up to milwaukee, the scenery is just terrific, especially in Racine(WI). Since then, I have been thinking about doing it in a complete circle. It would be a memorable trip. !

  9. #9

    Default Circle Tour

    Hi Guys - I just joined today and your posts are awesome. My brother and I will be doing the circle tour in August from IL north to WI and on. Any advise on where to stay that's biker friendly and bike safe?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default No Place is 'Perfectly Safe', But..

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Although I've never biked this area (or at all, for that matter), I did have a cousin in Green Bay who used to bike this area all the time and had great tales to tell. Remember that you're in 'salt of the earth' country and that Milwaukee is the birthplace of Harleys, and Michigan is home to the American auto industry, all of which bodes well for a generally accepting if not downright friendly reception. In particular, keep an eye out for the small local taverns in the northwoods of both Wisconsin and Michigan, hoist a few with the inhabitants, swap tales, and mine their local knowledge. Another good source of short, off the main highway type rides is the Wisconsin Rustic Roads program.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-17-2009 at 08:23 PM.

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