Driving Chicago - Saugatuck (and beyond)

Old Aug 8th, 2015, 11:28 AM
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Driving Chicago - Saugatuck (and beyond)

Hi, Last minute decision to take 3 days off this coming week (the week of August 11), visit the East side of Lake Michigan. We'll stay 2 night at a lovely B&B in Saint Joseph.

Question is, where to stop on the way to St, Joseph, and what places to visit driving up North from there? Just the common interesting places not to be missed for a couple aged 57-65.

Thanks!
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Old Aug 8th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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I'm confused, you are driving to St Joe and staying 2 days then driving on to Saugatuck? It only takes a couple hours to get to St Joe from Chicago and then another hour on to Saugatuck, you really don't need to stop anywhere. Or have I missed something?
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 09:19 AM
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45 min from Saugatuck to St. Joe.
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 10:08 AM
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We're taking off for 3 leisure days this coming week, and as I mentioned, the B&B I found as our base for the 2 nights is in St. Joseph.

I'm looking for ideas where to stop on our way to St. Joseph on day 1, maybe even beyond (since a direct drive there takes only about 2.5 hours) and then planning day trips going North for the next 2 days.

We've been to that area several years ago, for a single-day trip from Chicago, going as far North as Holland (we could skip it this time), but now we can go further, maybe Grand Haven, maybe even further?

Just looking for places we should not miss... I always prefer driving on smaller roads, rather than the boring highways (though getting from Chicago to Michigan we'll take the toll road, of course), if it makes sense.

Thanks!
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 10:27 AM
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mamamia2 -- check out my trip report on Harbor Country (link below), which is right in the area you are visiting. Of course, the seasonal stuff is a bit different, but you should be able to get some fun ideas!

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...y-michigan.cfm
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 10:41 AM
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If you've not been to Saugatuck, it is a cute little walkable town! Lots to explore and good restaurants, it's been years since we been there so I couldn't recommend one by name.
If you want some beach time: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio..._Michigan.html
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 11:41 AM
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Yes, been to Saugatuck 8 years ago, when we went to that region for a day (taking the interstate highways), strolled thru the streets and really liked it, but that's why, now that we have more time, I'd like to find out more of the specific little, hidden gems in that area...

Thanks, goodheart and cd, I will spend time later reading those links... More ideas are always welcome!...
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 02:53 PM
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...What about Grand Haven and beyond (North)?
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 10:59 AM
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Bumping this since we're leaving tomorrow.... Sorry... Thanks!...
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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You could stop at New Buffalo for lunch, nice sand dunes. Or at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
I would just drive straight through to St. Joe as it is a short drive. We used to go over there for lunch on weekends when we lived in Chicago. And you should visit the towns north of St. Joe such as Saugatuck, Grand Harbor, all of Harbor Country.
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 02:14 PM
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Thanks, HappyTrvlr, Seems like both Grand Harbor and South Harbor have much less to offer than Saugatuck or Holland... Or am I wrong?
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 05:42 PM
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Actually, I think that HappyTrvlr meant Grand Haven and South Haven, not Grand Harbor and South Harbor.

If you haven't stopped at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Indiana Dunes State Park, that would be something really nice to do. Please note that some of the beaches and other sites are closed due to lake bed/beach erosion, so check their website.

What I'd suggest for you is this: You can take the Toll Road to the Chesterton, IN exit (IN S.R. #49), then take #49 NB through Chesterton. Chesterton has a nice little downtown area (to the west of #49 - where you have the sooo unsightly chain restaurants and suburban-type sprawl) - and, particularly, you might wish to visit the Chesterton Art Center, if you do stop there.

If you continue up #49, you will be at the entrance of the State Park.

If you wish to skip this stop (or maybe do it on the return trip). From #49, take U.S. #12 (not U.S. #20) EB - about 2 miles north of Chesterton. You have to turn left to turn east onto #12. You will see the South Shore and South Bend RR's Dune Park station to the north. Continue on #12 about 2.5-3 miles until you see the Kemil Beach sign. Turn left (no stoplight but there is a left turn lane) and follow the road until it makes a sharp right turn (going east). You will be driving along Lake Shore Drive in the Pines/Beverly Shores, IN area. Lake Michigan is immediately to your left.

At any of the given stops, you can turn back to get to U.S. #12 EB. Taking #12 EB will have you driving through the very north end of Michigan City - you'll see the signs for Lighthouse Outlet Mall and the Blue Chip Casino. Continue on #12 through Michigan City.

At the IN/MI state line, U.S. #12 becomes the Red Arrow Highway. If you check the map, you will see that you are roughly following parallel to I94.

New Buffalo is about 10 miles northeast of Michigan City. It is the start of what is advertised as "Harbor Country". These are six teeny, tiny towns that swell with summer resort vacationers. Expect Chicago pricing in that area, as that is their target audience.

Continue up the Red Arrow Highway through these towns.
All along the Red Arrow Highway, you have various access points to I94 - I always take the one around Harbert.

As you are going north, past St. Joseph, you will see the signs for Saugatuck. When you take that exit, you would want to be traveling on the Blue Star Highway.

You can stop if you wish, but, IMHO, the better options are further to the north - past "Harbor Country" - starting in what is advertised as the "Art Coast of Michigan", around Saugatuck/Douglas. The reason why they advertise it in that manner is because of the Ox-Bow School (associated with the Art Institute of Chicago) - and, secondly, because of the galleries in those two adjacent towns.

I also suggest a little foray to Fennville. They have the Fenn Valley Winery, Crain's Pie Pantry (and Orchards), and a couple of really nice eating establishments (such as Salt of the Earth).

I personally bypass Holland and have for years - with the possible exception of visiting Veldheer's Tulip Garden in the spring (NOT during the Tulip Festival, BTW). At one point, I thought they sold all types of bulbs, including day lilies - but not sure what they do now. Up to you what you want to do there. IMHO, there are so many much more interesting things to consider further north of Holland, if you are continuing northwards.

However, I think that with these suggestions, you will have plenty (and more) to fill those three days.

Actually, I think that you might enjoy a visit to Meijer Gardens (in Grand Rapids), if you decided to go that far inland. But, again, I think would have more than enough with just these few suggestions.

P.S. You know, you aren't too far away from the Indiana Amish communities of Shipshewana, Nappanee, Goshen, etc. when you are in Michigan - which are situated to the SSE of South Bend. Perhaps something else to consider.
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 05:51 PM
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Thanks SO MUCH, exiledprincess... Last minute info that's much appreciated (and I'm gonna check those on the map)... Yes, I was planning to take Red Arrow Highway instead of the boring interstate.

What I'm still wondring is — Grand Haven, is it worth the extra drive North?
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 05:59 PM
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Take a look at it: www.grandhaven.org/

Gosh, unfortunately, I haven't been up in Grand Haven for about three years, but I enjoyed the musical fountain.

Note the beach hazard statement on their website - I imagine you would need to be checking any other municipality's (as well as the Indiana Dunes parks') websites about the same, if you were planning on going to the beach.
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 06:43 PM
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exiledprincess, the idea of visiting the Indiana Amish communities is very tempting, especially since that was the very original idea we came up with when planning our 3-day trip... Since we're leaving Chicago (actually the North suburbs of Chicago) very early tomorrow (hopefully at 6-6:30), we certainly can afford going to the Amish country first, before turning back to Lake Michigan...

SO, which of the three places (or any other typical Amish community in that area) would you recommend best that we drive to?

Thanks!
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