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Three Great Lakes in eight days?

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Apr 12th, 2014, 11:18 AM
  #1
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Three Great Lakes in eight days?

We are considering a driving trip to explore a bit around the shores of Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan in early June. We will begin or end our circuit at Detroit (baseball, Motown, and Ford museums), driving fastest interstate routes from the east coast, then taking it slowly around Michigan.

We definitely want to spend about 5 days on Mackinac Island and the UP, but could use advice on where to stay on the Lake Michigan shore and if there's a nice shore town on Lake Huron for an overnight between Detroit and Mac City. Mobility limitations keep us pretty close to the car, so we especially like scenic drives and boat tours.

Any Michigan experts out there with a few recommendations for us? Thanks for all your help--Fodorites have never let me down.
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Apr 12th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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Not a Michigan expert but I do know that you can't take your car to Macinac Island. http://www.mackinac.com/about/getting-here
Do you want to go into Canada on the north shore of Lake Superior? Bring your passports just in case.
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Apr 12th, 2014, 09:34 PM
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We have done this trip before but have not stayed on Mackinac Island for 5 days. I don't think you can see much else if most of your trip is spent there. We go up the Lake Huron side of Michigan and have stayed in East Tawas and then gone up to Mackinaw City and then over to Mackinac Island. You cannot take your car to Mackinac Island and get around on horse drawn carriages. We have stayed in both Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City but I don't know if you would really want to stay in either place for a full 5 days. You can go to the Soo at Sault St Marie from Mackinaw city and then go on to the shore of Lake Superior for as far as you'd like to go (we have done that route fast as I grew up on the North Shore of Lake Superior and we just take the route as a quick trip from Minnesota to Michigan. From there you will go back to Mackinaw City and then down the Coast of Lake Michigan. There are tons of cute towns along the Lake Michigan Coast and we have stayed in Harbor City, Charlevoix, Traverse City and Manistee and South Haven. We usually head across Michigan thru Grand Rapids and Lansing as we have been south of there many times and now usually are visiting friends near Traverse City Area. right below Petosky there is an area called Tunnel of Trees which we found very interesting. We also loved all the coastal towns and love seeing lighthouses, piers, etc. If you do plan to go into Canada (and you will be right there at Sault St Marie) you definitely want to have your passport with you. It is a fun trip but I would not find it fun rushing to see everything in 3 days and then spending 5 days in Mackinac Island. Mackinac is definitely great to see but with limited mobility I doubt you will find enough to do for 5 days. Have a fun trip.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 07:53 AM
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Depending how far north you want to end up, Traverse City is a good base for visiting the northern lower peninsula on the Lake Michigan side. You can easily get to Petosky, the Leelanau Pennisula and Sleeping Bear Dunes. Saugatuck is a great spot further south on the shore with good access to Holland to the north and South Haven to the south.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 11:05 AM
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I think five days on Mackinac Island is too long. While I have never stayed on the island, I have visited many times. I think two days would do it. As a previous poster suggested, I would stay in Traverse City for several days and use it as a base location. Lots to do in that area.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 02:35 PM
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Sorry not to make it clear that my initial plan was five days total for UP and Mac Island, probably two nights on the island (one full day plus part of a second) and three on the north shore of UP. Thanks for the suggestions re the Lake Michigan portion--we'll take a good look at the Sleeping Bear Dunes area and Traverse City.
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Apr 14th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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That is enough time to appreciate Mackinac Island.

With all that you want to do, I would skip the Soo (Sault Ste Marie), but if you do, go ahead and take the cruise through the locks.

Heading west from there, drive out the length of Whitefish Point to the lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The Upper Tahqaumenon Falls should not be missed. The Lower Falls is a long walk and (while beautiful) not as impressive as the Upper.

At Seney, you can drive through the National Wildlife Refuge. Then drive on to Munising. Not being able to hike, you can't do everything, but their are two waterfalls that are no walk or a short one, plus you can do the Pictured Rocks cruise and glass bottom shipwreck tour.

I would be tempted to go farther west, but if you want time to see some Lower Peninsula attractions, it is then time to head south to Kitchitikipi (Big Spring), Fayette State Park ghost town and a stop to admire the Cut River Bridge on US2.
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Jun 15th, 2014, 07:57 PM
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Thanks to your advice, we had a fine time in the lower peninsula. Manistee was our first stop, then a full day in the spectacular Sleeping Bear Dunes area and two nights inTraverse City (Mission Point Lighthouse and winery stops on our single day there). We took the Tunnel of Trees route toward Mac City and ate too much Polish food at Legs Inn. After two nights on Mac Island the trip was cut short by family emergency, but we are determined to make it to the U.P. at a later date.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 07:40 AM
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Thank you for the update. I'm sorry about your family emergency.

We are going to the area next week, with a trip timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the launch of the 290' Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw and the one day of the year when visitors can go beyond the fence and tour the Soo Locks.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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So sorry your trip was cut short by a family emergency. Sounds like you did see some of the areas we enjoy. We head to MI in Sept. and will look forward to seeing everywhere in the fall.
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