If you are like me, your summer has been busy. But when the calendar rings up August, like me, you might think you about at least one more adventure before Labor Day.
Regardless of where you start, there is still time in the Northern Michigan summer to venture out on that day trip to punctuate what has been an already great summer.
I have a few favorites.
For a casual and quiet beach day, I head about fifteen miles west of St. Ignace along U.S. 2, where the pine and cedar forests open up to a lovely sand beach along the shore of Lake Michigan. There is parking on either side of the highway, and the beach, though narrow, stretches for a few miles, providing an opportunity for some private swimming in sight of other beach goers.
With water temperatures still hovering in the mid-60s, it is warm enough for even the most skittish swimmer in your party. It is a good idea to pack a lunch for this trip, as there are few amenities along the beach. In St. Ignace, stop at Lehto’s and grab a couple pasties to go, or visit the Mackinac Fish Market for some of their delicious whitefish dip.
Rubbing shoulders with others never bothers me, which means August is a great time to visit Mackinac Island. Streets tend to be less crowded than earlier in the summer, with all the same fun waiting. Visit the butterfly houses, spy the harbor from a guard post at Fort Mackinac, or simply bike the perimeter of M-185 and count the cairns along the way.
Grab some goodies at Doud’s Market before heading across the street to Marquette Park, with great harbor views. Just east up the main street, the smoked brisket chili at the Ice House, tucked into a comfortable spot behind The Island House Hotel, really satisfies. Wherever you stop for lunch, the atmosphere is sure to be relaxed in August.
For a more invigorating adventure, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, with 65 miles of shoreline between Leland and Frankfort, is a great choice. With dunes towering more than 400 feet, and more than 100 miles of trails, this historic spot offers something for every adventurer in your party. You can float the Crystal River near Glen Arbor, or hike the Dune Climb just north of Empire to test your stamina and balance.
If you do not want to pack your lunch supplies when visiting, consider Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor for a perch sandwich or some Jalapeno soup (only on Wednesdays). Try one of the Bloody Mary’s as well, almost a meal in itself.
Whatever the destination or the desire, I find plenty of great spots in Northern Michigan for that last summer road trip, and you can too.