Road Trip: USA Great Lakes featuring Michigan
When you feel like an escape into nature with a dollop of culture thrown in, perhaps consider an Autumnal road trip to America’s Great Lakes. Nature herself provides you with visual entertainment with an abundance of lushly hued foliage of orange, red, purple, browns and yellows.
It’s a mayhem of colour along miles of well-tended roads that swerve around the Great Lakes from Detroit to Minneapolis. Be assured that the word ‘Great’ is not used lightly as you could fit in the whole of Switzerland into the 300-mile width of Lake Superior. Along the way there are woods with waterfalls, changeable weather, changing time zones and plenty of craft brewed with the fresh clean water of the lakes.
There’s more. Bring your binoculars and wing it at Hawks Ridge to watch the bird migration, then experience the art glass blowing. It all ends with an insightful rendez-vous with Prince (of Purple Rain fame) and if you have shopping legs, a trip to the American Mall.
The gateway to this great adventure is through the city of Detroit whose bedraggled past still haunts its newly regenerated Downtown. The city is well-worth exploring before heading off into Traverse City.
Traverse City, Michigan
It’s a four-and-a-half hour drive to Traverse City, a farming area in Michigan with plenty of cherry trees and, unexpectedly, rows of vineyards. The scenic 65-acre Chateau Chantal Winery is located on top of a ridge on the Old Mission Peninsula. Temptingly there’s a tasting session on offer where a dozen wines jostle for attention. And an outstanding view.
The combo was pretty heady stuff but the day hadn’t ended. We end up having dinner at a brewery in Traverse City and ‘heady’ soon morphed into ‘hazey’. The North Peak Brewing Company located in handsome imposing brick edifice of three floors and a basement, has hearty fare that is perfectly downed with their sometimes unusual craft beer.
Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City
There’s plenty of time to nap during the drive to Mackinaw City in Cheboygan County. It is at the tip of the Lower Peninsula and we stop to stare at the lighthouse before crossing the five-mile long Mackinac suspension bridge. It spans the Straits of Mackinac to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsula. Weirdly Mackinaw and Mackinac are both pronounced Mackinaw.
Munising, Michigan Upper Peninsula
We passed through the town of Christmas and then Marquette a hilly town by Lake Superior. We take route 31 for a 64-mile straight road to Munising in the Upper Peninsula. Maple trees and pine trees straddle the roadside offering a mix of green and shades of burnt red. The pretty harbour towns on the way are great to explore.
Charlevoix and the Mushroom Houses
In Charlevoix the cherry is king and cherry pies are everywhere. The high street is strewn with sweet shops and in The Cherry Republic shop I pick up some cherry soap and cherry chocolate covered malt balls.
This is also home to the Mushroom Houses, a clutch of mushroom-resembling homes designed by Earl A Young who rolled them out in the early 20th century.