Sparkling lakes. Stunning forests. Sleepy hamlets that beg to be explored. Ever since she was a girl growing up in Michigan, Schumacher’s national sales director, Whitney Rogers, has relished her time “going up north.” She gives us the scoop on why, plus an insider’s itinerary.
DAYS 1 & 2
TRAVERSE CITY AND SURROUNDINGS
I spent many days as a kid racing up and down the huge hills at Sleeping Bear Dunes, but it wasn’t until my college years that I got to know Traverse City, when we’d gallivant around town, It’s a great place to get your bearings before heading farther afield, and centrally located to many fun sites.
Start in Traverse City, the area’s hub. Don’t miss Warehouse MRKT, recently converted into a bevy of cafes and boutiques. About 25 miles west is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which has incredible beaches and hiking—some of the climbs are not for the faint of heart! Wander up into the Leelanau Peninsula to check out the dozens of wineries, and on your way back hit the working burg of Fishtown, full of quaint cottages and tugs.
WHERE TO EAT: The cozy bistro Amical never disappoints—I love their salad dressing so much, I make it at home! Don’s Drive In is an old-school diner with carhops. Mission Table focuses on local ingredients, and is in a building said to be haunted by a ghost.
DAYS 3, 4 & 5
CHARLEVOIX, PETOSKEY, AND HARBOR SPRINGS
This region is loaded with inland lakes, and my family would often rent a house here during the summer. Catching fireflies and hitting up the local fudge shops were annual traditions that I always looked forward to. It’s also where my husband and I spent our honeymoon.
Drive north through Charlevoix and marvel at the whimsical houses built by self-taught local architect Earl Young, then continue to Petoskey and Harbor Springs, which sit facing one another on opposite sides of Little Traverse Bay. Both have adorable downtowns with shops ranging from the upscale Huzza to the funky, decades-old Symons General Store. It’s worth a toodle along scenic Highway M-119, also known as the Tunnel of Trees, with a stop at Pond Hill Farm for brewed-on-site beers and pick-your-own berries. And get out onto the water! There are great beaches at Sturgeon Bay and Zorn Park, and paddle boards and kayaks available for rent from local outfitters.
WHERE TO STAY: The intimate Hotel Walloon has impeccable guest rooms and service. The Victorian-style Inn at Bay Harbor occupies a majestic lakeside spot. Boyne Mountain Resort offers ziplines, wakeboarding and more.
WHERE TO EAT: Gurney’s, in the back of a liquor store, has the best sandwiches—cash only, no tomatoes! The Pier is the place for just-caught whitefish and perch, and Chandler’s has sophisticated dishes and a relaxed vibe. City Park Grill was an Ernest Hemingway haunt and still fits the bill for delicious hearty fare, and Bar Harbor (231-526-2671, no website) is a must-do—their olive burger is legendary.
A trip to Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) is a must, even if you just pop over for the day. It’s like going back in time. When I was a kid, we’d visit when my dad sailed in the Chicago-Mackinac race, which has been going strong since 1898, then spend the rest of the weekend having adventures.
Take a ferry from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace to Mackinac Island. There are no cars on the island, and it’s laced with trails. Rent a bike to cycle around the whole circumference, or visit colonial-era Fort Mackinac, which boasts Michigan’s oldest building. Downtown, you’ll find more fudge shops!
WHERE TO STAY: The iconic Grand Hotel is a National Historic Landmark, and was most recently decorated by Carleton Varney in the exuberant style of Dorothy Draper—no two of the 393 rooms are the same.
WHERE TO EAT: Mary’s Bistro Draught House has excellent pub grub and craft beers. The Pink Pony, a go-to since 1948, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner on its gorgeous deck and hosts live music daily.