I knew I had a few weeks of time off, but wasn’t sure where to go. I generally have 7-10 flights in my Hopper app at all times so when I got an alert that I could fly to Chicago round trip (and non-stop) from Tampa for about $100, I knew where my next road trip would be.
I landed at Chicago O’Hare airport and went and got my rental and headed right out of the city. My first stop was supposed to be the Indiana Dunes State Park to do the 3 dune challenge. It’s only an hour outside of Chicago, however, with a flight delay I decided to skip it to avoid driving hours in the dark.
Instead, I drove straight to South Haven to walk around and watch sunset. I stay at Country Inn and Suites by Radisson nearby and was nice to finally rest after a day of travel. Here are some of my South Haven photos:
After breakfast at the hotel it was off to Grand Haven State Park. This area was free (unless you’re camping) but wasn’t too different from the beach area in South Haven (in my opinion). It was a foggy and rainy day, so I just took my time driving up the coast stopping at Grand Haven, Muskegon, Arcadia Dunes.
I stopped for brunch at a dinner called Jolly Plate. This small little diner with delicious food. Then I made a stop at Point Betsie Lighthouse, which is a famous one. Unfortunately it was still foggy and rainy, but still cool to see.
Then it was off to my hotel, which was very close to the Sleeping Bears National Lakeshore. If you have a national park pass you can get in free with that, otherwise it’s $20. I had planned on hiking since there were trails very close to the hotel, but since it was still raining and there was rain in the forecast for the rest of the night, I just decided to relax and call it a night.
The next day I drove to the National Lakeshore and did the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive (got out to take a bunch of pictures at several view points- see pictures below), then drove to the Dune Climb to hike.
So at the Dune Climb you can just go up one dune or hike all the way to Lake Michigan. It wasn’t a far hike, but it was a hard one. All sand, and constant up and down dunes. But, I made it! Here are some pictures from the hike and the lake at the end:
I was beat after that hike! I drove the long way along the National Lakeshore, with a few stops for photos until I got to a cute famous fishing town called Leland were I got a delicious sandwich (cash only) at the Village Cheese Shanty. I order the Lake Effect, which was chicken breast, goat cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pesto-mayo on a baguette. Here are some picture of Leland:
After lunch, I drove to Traverse City, explored the area and then had dinner at Trattoria Stella. I was torn between this restaurant and the Cook’s House which were both high on my list, but since Trattoria was actually built from an old asylum that sold me. It was a really cool looking building with a changing menu. I got the scallops which were amazing!! Here are some pictures of the restaurant:
I then went to explore downtown, taking in the sights, including from the top of the Park Place hotel from the piano bar and I got an ice cream at Milk & Honey (wasn’t all that impressed). Here are some pictures from this cool little city:
I stayed close by at the Parkshore Resort and it was a few miles north of downtown so I didn’t hit traffic on way out of town. It was an early start the next morning to drive over to Torch Lake quickly, and then driving to Starline Ferry (711 S Huron Ave) to buy to get to Mackinac Island. I got really lucky with the weather and I loved this island. It reminded me of Peak’s Island in Maine, but more built up. There were no cars allowed on the island here either. I rented a bike and went for a ride around the island, stopping to see Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac (you can buy a ticket and go inside), British Landing Road, The Grand Hotel, and a few more picturesque spots. Here are some photos of my ride:
After all that riding around it was time for a late lunch. I went to Mary’s Bistro where I had a delicious pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich overlooking the water.
Then I drove Drive to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, but I would say this would be one to skip. It was $9 to get in and not all that exciting. There were two areas to explore: Upper and Lower Falls (Upper Falls being more picturesque):
At Upper Falls parking area there is Tahquamenon Falls Brewery, but I decided to finish my long drive and got dinner at a local place in Munising since it was already a long day of driving and exploring. I went to Dogpatch (wasn’t all that impressed) and then drove to a few more hikes to see some falls and then off to my hotel for the night.
I picked the hotel because it was close to where my tour for the next day began. I booked a tour through Uncle Ducky’s that was an 8 hour tour that included kayaking through Pictured Rocks National Park, lunch, and hiking. The guides were awesome, views were even better, lunch kinda sucked, but can’t have it all. We even kayaked into some sea caves:
I was beat after that and probably should have done another night in Munising. But, since I didn’t it was time to keep driving. I got to my hotel in Hurley, which was a majority of the way to Bayfield where I needed to be the next morning.
The next morning was an early one to get to the Bayfield City Dock for the Grand Tour of Apostle Island for three hours. Then I had breakfast in Bayfield at The Fat Radish, which was pretty tasty, I got the crab egg benedict, then it was off to my boat tour.
Here are some pictures from the boat tour:
I drove to my hotel for night in Black Falls, got quick Culver’s for dinner and watched some tv to relax after two long days in a row.
After having breakfast at my hotel I stopped by Devil’s Lake State Park on my way to Madison. It was an expensive entrance for a state park, but had some pretty cool views:
Then it was off to Madison, exploring downtown, state street, and the Capitol Building:
I finished my visit to Madison by stopping at the The Old Fashioned for lunch. Also on the list but I didn’t get to were: Short Steak Eatery, Tornado Steakhouse, and Ian’s (pizza). I got the Wisconsin burger and upgraded my side to the cheese curds:
Then it was off to Milwaukee where I went exploring. I started at the Public Market, went through other parts of the Historic State Ward area, Kopp’s for icecream, Lakefront Brewery for a beer, and finally the Safe House for dinner….and some more beer.
Safehouse was awesome…it was a spy themed bar with secret rooms, spy artifacts, a magician, and a photobooth. It was a fun experience and the nachos and Spotted Cow beer were awesome on top of it.
After all of the exploring I drove to my hotel and called it a night. and passed out for the night at the hotel.
On my way out of town I stopped by Leon’s Custard to get some famous custard. This place was built in 1942 and is still owned by the same family as when it opened. It was amazing!! And on my way back to dropping off my car I passed a Giordanos, so I figured I should at least get deep dish once on this trip!!
Then it was time for me to return my car and fly back home. Goodbye Michigan and Wisconsin!