Planning for Great Lakes trip

Old Apr 15th, 2024, 11:50 AM
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Planning for Great Lakes trip

Hi all. We're family of three (me, my wife and 9-years old son) are thinking about options for summer vacation in the Great Lakes Area. It could be a 9 to 12 days trip by car. Ideal scenario is to spend 2-3 days at different locations without a huge amount of driving between them. It would be good to find places with nice beaches, beautiful scenery, countryside experiences, etc. 1-2 major attractions could be considered too.

We recently moved to Pittsburgh, PA. Hence Erie (Presque Isle park) is a natural starting point for us. Niagara Falls would also be interesting to visit. Any other recommendations?

Thank you!
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Old Apr 15th, 2024, 01:32 PM
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You might consider Northern Michigan:

Traverse City, MI “Repeatedly declared as one of the best small towns in America, Traverse City has an astounding array of outdoor recreational opportunities and great restaurants. It features on the most beautiful main streets in America. Nearby is the amazing Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with its sky-high dunes, cool forests, inland lakes, picturesque farmsteads and historic maritime village.”

Petoskey, MI. “This friendly resort community, nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan, is steeped in history, Victorian architecture, and breathtaking views. It is an outdoors mecca with recreation opportunities such as biking on the Little Traverse Wheelway along Lake Michigan, sunbathing on one of the many beaches, such as Magnus City Park Beach, hiking in one of the many great trails in the region, or boating in the bay. Downtown is one of the most treasured downtowns in the United States with its famous Gaslight Shopping District.”

Mackinac Island, MI. “Charming Mackinac Island is a throwback to old-timey seaside leisure, from the candy-colored facades of downtown shops to the impressive (record-breaking, in fact) front porch of the Victorian-era Grand Hotel. Mackinac is world-famous for its homemade fudge, available in every flavor you can imagine. Work off your sugar high with a round of golf, a bike ride along a seaside trail, or exploring the limestone bluffs of Mackinac Island State Park.r c
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Old Apr 15th, 2024, 02:00 PM
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Does your son have any special interests you would like to address? (My daughter at that age wanted to learn more about Love Canal so, on that year’s visit to the grandparents in Western New York, we drove up to the city of Niagara Falls and spent some time at the interpretive center. Not sure if it is still there.) Forts and battles of the War of 1812, the Underground Railroad, the Erie Canal, and hydroelectric power are other themes that could be followed in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

Does everyone have a passport? If you go into Canada, he/you might want to see the Welland Canal, the ship passage from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Perhaps best seen after Niagara Falls so he might better understand the need and impact of such engineering!
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Old Apr 15th, 2024, 08:21 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Places you might want to consider are the Cleveland area and visit the Rock & Roll HOF, Presque Isle, Saugatuck MI for the wonderful Oval Beach, and Sleeping Bear Dunes for sure.

Depending on your final route and your dates, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is great -- but several roads and trails are temporarily closed til mid June.

(if someone is quoting other sources they ought to at least tell us what source is being quoted?? )
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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 08:36 AM
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If you do have passports and enter Canada to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, you might want to visit Niagara on the Lake, which is a charming town. There is the summer Shaw Festival, easy to rent bikes and ride around and look at the historic architecture. There are lots of wineries as well as historic War of 1812 forts.
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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 08:43 AM
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re: "you might consider Northern Michigan..."

Thank you for your suggestions. They sound pretty interesting. We'll need to think about logistics. Those towns are almost 9hours drive away from Pittsburgh. We'll need to consider some stays in between.

Last edited by alexeitcherkassov743; Apr 16th, 2024 at 08:46 AM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by k_marie
Does your son have any special interests you would like to address? (My daughter at that age wanted to learn more about Love Canal so, on that year’s visit to the grandparents in Western New York, we drove up to the city of Niagara Falls and spent some time at the interpretive center. Not sure if it is still there.) Forts and battles of the War of 1812, the Underground Railroad, the Erie Canal, and hydroelectric power are other themes that could be followed in the Buffalo-Niagara region.
Does everyone have a passport? If you go into Canada, he/you might want to see the Welland Canal, the ship passage from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Perhaps best seen after Niagara Falls so he might better understand the need and impact of such engineering!
Our son likes interactive exhibitions and experiences. I'm definitely planning to swing by the interpretive center there. We do have passports. So it makes sense to think more about travelling there as well.
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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Madam397
If you do have passports and enter Canada to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, you might want to visit Niagara on the Lake, which is a charming town. There is the summer Shaw Festival, easy to rent bikes and ride around and look at the historic architecture. There are lots of wineries as well as historic War of 1812 forts.
Yep, we do have passports. Canadian side sounds interesting!
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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Welcome to Fodors. Places you might want to consider are the Cleveland area and visit the Rock & Roll HOF, Presque Isle, Saugatuck MI for the wonderful Oval Beach, and Sleeping Bear Dunes for sure.

Depending on your final route and your dates, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is great -- but several roads and trails are temporarily closed til mid June.

(if someone is quoting other sources they ought to at least tell us what source is being quoted?? )
Thanks a lot!
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Old May 13th, 2024, 02:58 PM
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In Erie there’s Waldameer Park & WaterWorld, the beaches at Presque Isle, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the newly renovated ExpERIEnce Children’s museum, and a new indoor climbing facility (the last two attractions both located downtown within two blocks from each other). All family friendly.
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Old May 14th, 2024, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by SeaF
In Erie there’s Waldameer Park & WaterWorld, the beaches at Presque Isle, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the newly renovated ExpERIEnce Children’s museum, and a new indoor climbing facility (the last two attractions both located downtown within two blocks from each other). All family friendly.
Thank you!. We'll be in Erie for sure
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Old May 15th, 2024, 01:20 PM
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Visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes:
Lake Michigan Overlook – one of the highlights of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is stopping at this scenic area that features a viewing platform with amazing views of the dunes. Some brave visitors may wish to make the descent down to Lake Michigan, but as a sign warns, it may take up to an hour to make the trip back up. The overlook is 450 feet above the lake.
22 Things To See at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - Travel the Mitten




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