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Author Topic:   Lake Michigan circle tour, by land
showcs1 posted 08-05-2003 01:28 AM ET (US)   Profile for showcs1   Send Email to showcs1  
We are taking a trip starting from Kingston, Wisconsin (South Central) around Lake Michigan from August 16 to the 23rd. This will be our maiden voyage with our 28' travel trailer so we can't take the Montauk, this time. Our goal is to visit lighthouses, sights of marine interest, and enjoy Lake Michigan from the other side. I would be interested in suggestions for campgrounds and sights to see from the east side of the UP through Macinaw and down to Michigan City.


Buckda posted 08-06-2003 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Showcs1 -

I'm originally from St. Joseph, Michigan and I can give you a couple of great stops for your proposed route.

Be sure to stop in St. Joseph.
1. The range lights on the North pier are beautiful, and the larger of the two was featured on a US Postal stamp in the '90s.
2. A good place to stay in town for a hotel is either the Boulevard (on the bluff in downtown) or the Holiday Inn Express on Lake Shore drive (slightly south of town). There is an excellent bed and breakfast (the South Cliff Inn) that features really great views of the lighthouse.

Important food stops in the area:
1. Clementine's along the river in St. Joseph. This Dockside restaurant (casual dining) has a great view of the boats, and features an excellent Perch dinner ($12.95)
Another casual eating option in St. Joseph is Shu's. This is located right along the bluff (just down from the Boulevard Hotel) and has spectacular sunset views of the lake through the tree-lined, blufftop park. If you eat here, be sure to visit Kilwyn's on State Street for an ice cream cone (just around the corner)....and then stroll along State Street to the riverfront park to watch the boats go by.
2. Tosi's - This is a very nice, upscale italian restaurant just south of town in Stevensville, Michigan. Emil Tosi is from the old country and still oversees the operation of this restaurant. Tosi's also has a "cafe" downtown...a more casual version of the original with less expensive items and not nearly the atmosphere.
3. On your way to Michigan City to get a photo of their lighthouse, take the Red Arrow Highway through New Buffalo and stop at Redamak's for a burger - best burgers in SW Michigan (be careful not to feed the Chicagoans!)

Grand Mere State Park, where you can see the only wild species of cactus in Michigan (Berrien County is home to 6 species of plants that are only found in that county in Michigan)The cactus grows in the dunes along the June and July, they have a really pretty yellow flower...check in the dune grass alongside the paths that lead to the lake.

The "Sunset Coast" of Michigan is really pretty - I hope you guys have a great time.


LKS posted 08-06-2003 06:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for LKS  Send Email to LKS     
As a former resident of SW Michigan (now Chicago), and a current weekender in New Buffalo, I'll second Buckda's recommendations and add a few. In addition to Clementine's on the St. Joe River, there's a bar/restaurant behind Clementine's (relatively new, open a year or so), called Barney's Boathouse. Great finger food and sandwich menu, plus an outside deck at the edge of the Morrison Channel. Limited docking available, if you come by boat.

For more upscale dining, I'd recommend Grand Mere Inn for dinner. Located atop the bluff at I-94 Exit 22, ask for a window table and watch the sun set over Lake Michigan.

In New Buffalo, The Stray Dog just opened a few weeks ago in the location of the former Surf Garden, just before you cros the bridge to the beach. Inexpensive, good eats (sandwiches, salads, and pizza, etc.), plus a roof-top deck for the over-21 crowd. Casey's Bar & Grill reopened last weekend (in downtown New Buffalo), following a remodeling project that took way too long. Great food in previous years. There's also Hannah's and the patio at the Harbour Grand Hotel (overlooking the marina) in New Buffalo. At the hotel, appetizers and cocktails, plus limited entrees. Rooms are pricey in-season ($175+/night, a 2-night minimum stay, and advanced reservations, I believe), but it's a beautiful place with a wonderful view, particularly if you get a lakeside room. Otherwise, you're overlooking the street and parking lot. You'll find Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn, and Best Western at I-94, Exit 1, about 5 minutes from town.

Hope you enjoy your stay!

PS: Anyone know if the Eidler is still open in South Haven?

kingfish posted 08-07-2003 09:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
The "Idler" - and yes, last I knew. Be sure and order the fresh perch at Clementines.


sportroyalwulf posted 08-07-2003 10:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for sportroyalwulf  Send Email to sportroyalwulf     
A very good campground especially for large travel trailers can be found at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. About 25 miles south and west of traverse city. The campground is just off of M-22 in the park. It is a modern improved site with a good number of spaces for the larger rigs. You are on a nice river. Although sometimes the canoe hatches can be a bit much. But you are also close to some of the best beaches to be found on lake michigan. Near by Places to eat: Manitou Inn, nearby. Art's in Empire. Things to see: Don't miss pierce stocking drive in the NL. Much more.
lhg posted 08-07-2003 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Beginning just north of Manistee on US 31, take M-22 north along the shoreline. This is a terrific auto ride, with the BEST Lake Michigan scenery of the entire Circle tour. You will first go by Portage Lake, where you can take a quick detour over to Portage Point Inn and see the magnificent beaches and shoreline up there. Then it continues up past Frankfort and Sleeping Bear dunes to Leland. Do not miss M-22!

Charlevoix and Harbor Springs are not to be missed, either.

PS. If you go to St Joseph, avoid Benton Harbor. Not much there any more.

home Aside posted 08-07-2003 07:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Another good place to dine is Leggs Inn overlooking Lake Michigan in Cross Village, Mi, about 20 miles North of Harbor Springs, Specialty "Polish Food", magnificant view / of Sunsets from large patio/ Lawn overlooking the lake...enjoy

Pat Henahan

jimh posted 08-07-2003 11:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Bring your GPS along and you can compare its readings to the many signs that alert you when crossing the 45th Parallel of Latitude on various highways.

From Elk Rapids head north on Cairn Highway (or from Charlevoix head south). Cairn Highway is named for an interesting stone cairn on the east side of the road just a few miles above Kewadin.

Hugh J. Gray was the founder of the Michigan Tourist Bureau, which apparently erected the cairn as a monument to him. It consists of 83 large stones, one from each of the counties of the state of Michigan. A plaque there attests to the site being halfway between the equator and the North Pole. You might think this would imply it being at the 45th Parallel of Latitude, but it is not. The site of the cairn appears (from a Chart) to be closer to 44 57' North. Further, neither of these positions (again, according to the collateral material in the Chart) represent equidistance from pole and equator. By one reckoning, that position would lie at 45 08' 41" North latitude, the difference being due to variation in the shape of the earth's surface as you go from equator to North Pole. Next time I go by there, I'll take my $99 GPS and let you know what it reads.

The State of Michigan has build many fine marinas along this route, and these harbors of refuge are spaced about 20-40 miles apart along the shoreline. When we are boat-less, we enjoy looking at other people's boats. You will see thousands of interesting boats in these state-run marinas.

Irish Boat Shop in Charlevoix has many Boston Whaler models on display, unless they sold out already this year.

showcs1 posted 08-12-2003 02:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for showcs1  Send Email to showcs1     
Thanks for all the tips and places to stop. I will plan the trip accordingly. We usually don't make too many reservations when it comes to camping but at Mackinaw City we'll have a site at Mill Creek. We never know how far we will go or what we will stop to do.

We want to camp as close to the lake as possible. Our dog, Schroeder, loves to swim in the big lake. I have never seen an Airedale Terrier fetch anything, but if you throw a stick in Lake Michigan he'll dive for it an actually bring it back. He likes to fetch rocks too, maybe he'll bring back a "Petoskey".

My GPS will be on the dash to check locations and speed. I want to make sure the new tires don't throw off my speedometer and highway M22 sounds like a must!

We are going to have a great trip, no kids. We can do what we want, lighthouses, shoreline views, Mackinaw Island, and maritime museums.


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