Every year on our anniversary we plan a little getaway together. It’s something we’ve done since our very 1st wedding anniversary years ago. With the exception of a year or two (because…babies!) we have always made this tradition a priority of ours.
We’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to some pretty awesome destinations over the years, including Italy, British Columbia, and Mexico…to name a few. Our most recent vacation without the littles was two summers ago to Northern Michigan (we missed last year due to having a newborn, and this year we took a family vacation to the beach). Today I wanted to share a bit more about our trip up to Lake Michigan/Mackinac Island, and why I think it is a fantastic travel destination – with or without kids!
You might be wondering why we chose Northern MI as a travel destination out of all the places to choose from in the US, let alone the world. That’s an easy one for me to answer. First, my hubby is originally from MI. In all the years he lived there though, he never made it “up North”, as they say. Second, have you ever seen the color of the water in these gorgeous lakes?! You basically feel like you’re in a tropical destination, but really, you’re in the good ole’ state of Michigan. Along the lake you’ll find some of the most adorable, quaint little seaside towns. We visited 5 towns in total, and I have highlighted our favorites in this post.
Our first stop on our long weekend getaway was to Traverse City. Unfortunately, it rained pretty much the entire first day, so I didn’t get any great photos from our time there. The next morning the rained had luckily stopped, so we headed out to do some exploring.
The first town we visited was Leland. I’m obsessed with cute signs, so here is my obligatory “cute sign” photo. Leland, also known as “Fishtown”, was one of our favorite places we visited throughout our trip, so it definitely deserves a standalone photo. We actually visited Leland twice during our trip because we loved it so much. It isn’t very big, but there’s just something about this little town along the lake that draws us in. The sailboats. The seafood. The charming little shops. If you ever get a chance to visit Leland, you will not be disappointed.
This is the Leland Harbor. We loved getting Moomers ice cream from the Harbor House Trading Co., and walking down to the boat docks to watch all of the fisherman come in from the lake.
Our next stop on our drive up the western coast of Lake MI was the infamous Sleeping Bear Dunes. This was such a FUN day! We had so much fun climbing the dunes and enjoying the incredible views from the top. I wont lie, because it’s A LOT of work to get to the top, but so, so worth it! The Sleeping Bear Dunes is definitely a must-see! Oh, and check out the color of that water! Pretty gorgeous, right?!
The following day we headed up to Glen Arbor and rented a kayak for the afternoon. I don’t mean to brag, but my selfie-taking-skills-while-kayaking are pretty awesome. My husband can attest to this. While the hubby may have been slightly annoyed with me for running into a tree or two (oops!), we had a blast out on the water together. I’m fairly confident that we can handle pretty much anything thrown at us after conquering this 2.5 hour kayak ride together.
On day 3 of our trip, we made our way up to Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island is a small island located in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas. It is only accessible by ferry, and there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the Island. The only form of transportation is by bicycle or horse & carriage. As soon as we got off of the ferry, we did what any Mackinac tourists would do – headed straight to the local fudge shops to stuff our faces with way too much chocolate peanut butter fudge (Mackinac is famous for their fudge shops). Since we likely ate about a days worth of calories in one sitting, the next obvious choice was to rent bikes and burn all those calories off during a 8 mile bike ride around the Island. Neither of us had ridden a bike in years, but it’s true what they say, you never forget how to ride a bike. That bike ride is one of my favorite memories from our trip.
Life on Mackinac Island is slow-paced. Yet, there is still so much to see and do. We enjoyed walking through the streets and taking in all of the charm that is Mackinac Island. If you ever have a chance to visit, I highly recommend taking the horse & carriage tour around the Island. There is so much incredible history to learn here.
If you’re looking for a fun outdoor destination for a long weekend getaway, I would highly encourage you to consider Northern Lake Michigan/Mackinac Island. We aren’t very “outdoorsy” people; however, we loved every minute of our trip and would love to come back again with the kids someday.
Where was your most recent vacation/weekend getaway without the kids? We are already thinking about next year’s vacation and would love some ideas!