Mar 29 2010, 09:44 PM
My family and I are planning a month long trip in and around the Great Lakes. We are leaving from Colorado around mid July and returning mid August. We have to make one stop in Northern Minnesota then we are off for the Great Lakes. Any help or ideas would be great on what to see and do, along with which RV parks to stay at and which one to stay away from. We plan on entering the U.P. from Wisconsin and then dropping down into Michigan, then over through Canada to Niagra Falls. We have two boys, 10 and 8, who are anxious to see the lakes and are interested in all kinds of activities. For the most part we were planning on just "winging it" for any kind of reservations unless there are other suggestions. We will be traveling in a 34ft motorhome, pulling a Jeep.
Thanks for all your help and suggestions,
Mar 30 2010, 02:37 PM
I highly recommend stopping of at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio if you love amusement parks and roller coasters. Can't speak much for the Canadian side of the lakes, as I haven't spent much time north of the border.
Mar 30 2010, 06:18 PM
I would recommend taking the locks tour at Saute St Marie. It is about 2 hours, but very informative. The boys would also love the eating spot called "Antlers" which has hundreds of stuffed animal heads from around the world. It is also a great place to eat. There is also a great museum made of an old great lakes boat that is cheap and will be remembered all of their lives.
See links for photos:LocksShipAntlers
Mar 30 2010, 08:55 PM
The best attraction in MIchigan for families is The Henry Ford museum and Greenfield village. Your boys will really enjoy it. Rather than have me try to describe it, just go to http://www.hfmgv.org/
We live nearby and when my kids were your kids' ages, we went there often and they always enjoyed it.
Mar 31 2010, 11:10 PM
For myself and those who are going to be giving you some advice, let me see if I have your route correct. After visiting someplace in northern MN, you will be crossing the northern tip of WI to get from MN to the Upper Penninsula of MI. You will then head east across the UP to I-75 which will take you south across the Mackinac Bridge to the Lower Penninsula of MI. From your original post, I'm guessing that you will be crossing over into Ontario, Canada from MI (at either Port Huron or Detroit). Then, 2-300 miles across southern Ontario to Niagra Falls. If this is your general route, Cedar Point is not on your route and Henry Ford might not be if you cross over into Canada at Port Huron.
As for my suggestions concerning the UP: Places to visit and things to do (from west to east): Porcupine Mountains State Park, Keweenaw Penninsula, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (a nice boat tour), Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the already suggested Soo locks tour, and Mackinaw City at the south end of the Mac Bridge. I'm going to get a little lazy here with my RV park suggestions on the UP - I'm not going to look up the exact names of the parks but will give you the town locations and the name as I recall it without looking it up. Just east of Porcupine Mtns SP in Ontanogan, MI is Tall Pines RV Park. There's a Country something RV Park in Ishpeming which is quite nice and had a pool (a rarity on the UP), Bay Mills casino RV park just north of Brimley, and the KOA a few miles west of St. Ignace.
There are other places and sites on the UP that are interesting and scenic, but I think the places noted above are among the top attractions. I hve also been to several other RV parks on the UP, but I think the ones I mentioned are all good and are conveniently located near the tourist attractions I listed. You may notice I have you going across the UP on MI Hiway 28 rather than US 2. It's just that my choices of sights to see are along this northern route (MI 28) on the UP rather than the southern route (US 2).
I'll stop here rather than go south to the lower penninsula since I don't know if you will be traveling south through the middle of the state, the western (Lake Michigan) side, or the eastern (Lake Huron) side.
Good Luck with your trip.
Apr 3 2010, 09:03 PM
Since nobody else has responded to this since my post of a couple days ago, let me complete my response with the correct names of the RV parks I recommended: the park in Ontonagon is River (not Tall) Pines and the the park in Ishpeming is Country Village.
I didn't make any comment in my original response about your plans to "wing it". I'm all for that when possible, but you have to remember that you will be traveling during peak family vacation season. At the very least, I would call several days ahead for Friday and/or Sat. nights. The more popular parks often fill up on weekends. The further east you come on your trip, the higher the population density is of the areas you will be visiting. The more potential customers there are within a day's drive of a tourist area, the heavier the weekend crowd. Personally , I like to book the weekends at a park with some amenities (pool, activities, cable, etc.) to avoid the potential hassle of having to find 2 different "good" parks for Fri. and Sat. The parks I recommended in my first post would all suffice as a base camp for 2 days if necessary. One place that I didn't mention previously is Munising, MI. I haven't stayed there in a while but there used to be at least one good park (Wagon something, I think) in the area. Munising is the entry town for the aforementioned Pictured Rocks.
Since you only have a month for your entire trip, I would imagine the UP portion would be limited to 3-5 days. If you are on the short side of that guesstimate, I would suggest making the Pictured Rocks boat tour and The Soo Locks as the "must see" items. Once you start adding an additional 1-2 hour of travel and an additional 2-3 hours of touring time going to places like Porcupine Mtn or Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keewenaw Penninsula, you will spend a week just crossing the UP.
Sorry to end this post on a negative.
Apr 9 2010, 09:46 PM
I haved lived in Michigan for 20 years now and here is what I would recommend:
Mackinac Island (the only way to get there is to take the ferry from Mackinaw City on the mainland--no cars allowed on the island, only horses and bikes!!)
Sleeping Bear Dunes, and don't miss the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive while you are there.
Also lots of quaint little beach towns in northern michigan--Leland is my favorite. Traverse City is also great--tons to do, lots of good places to eat and shop.
You could spend an entire summer vacationing in northern michigan and not run out of things to do. Have fun!!
Apr 11 2010, 04:51 PM
I would agree with the last post...Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pierce Stocking is great, the Leland area is beautiful. Mackinac Island is also a great place to visit for the day. I've not camped in this area, so can't offer campground suggestions, other than having read good reviews on the KOA in Petoskey.
As far as in Ontario, on Lake Huron, there are alot of campgrounds north of Sarnia (across the border from Port Huron) and up to Goderich, one of the nicest is probably the provincial park, The Pinery. Although it depends on if you prefer more natural settings to concrete pads, full hook-ups, wifi etc, the sites in provincial parks are usually quite spacious and fairly private (grassy/treed), but often there is no sewer hookup.
Port Burwell Provincial park has a nice campground and the beach (Lake Erie) is beautiful...probably one of the warmest lakes I've been in in Canada. It would be about a 2 hour drive from Port Huron, 3 from Detroit.
If you are wanting to spend anytime in Toronto (there's certainly lots of things to do with the family), then probably your best bet is the KOA in Barrie, however, it's about one hour to downtown Toronto.
Further east, about 1 hour from Toronto (so 5 hrs from Detroit) is Sandbanks Provincial Park (Lake Ontario). I've not been there, but have heard that it's a great spot.
The 1,000 Islands, in the St. Lawrence River (at the end of Lake Ontario) is very nice as well.
Hope you and your family have a great trip.
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