The Siberian American: Road Trip Around Lake Michigan: Seven-Day Itinerary from Chicago

Monday, November 2, 2015

Road Trip Around Lake Michigan: Seven-Day Itinerary from Chicago

Before we went on our Lake Michigan Circle Tour road trip, I was disappointed that I couldn’t take Christopher on a “bigger” vacation this year. Once I started planning, I realized there was so much I wanted to do and wished we had more time. By the time the trip was over, Chris and I were discussing moving to the Midwest someday.

We visited wineries, enjoyed scenic hikes, had amazing meals, and saw three of the Great Lakes. Since we got home, all we can talk about is doing this trip again someday. Like with my California road trip post, I will be linking up the individual posts to this itinerary as I do them.

seven day round trip around lake michigan

Day One: Chicago to Grand Haven, Michigan 

Highlights: Did a chocolate tasting at The Chocolate Garden in Coloma, visited the lighthouse in South Haven, drove through downtown Saugatauk, saw the Holland lighthouse, then spent the afternoon in Grand Haven, eating great food and enjoying the lighthouse and boardwalk. 

Spent the night in: Grand Haven

Michigan lighthouses

Day Two: Grand Haven to Traverse City 

Highlights: Had breakfast at Morning Star Café, drove to Ludington and hiked to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, then headed to Manistee to see the lighthouse. Next, we headed to the Arcadia Inspiration Point for stunning views of Lake Michigan. Spent the afternoon at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with three major stops: Glen Haven, the Pyramid Point Trail, and Pierce Stocking Drive. Finished a great day with an amazing dinner in Traverse City.

Spent the night in: Traverse City

Day Three: Traverse City and Old Mission Peninsula

Highlights: Drove to Leland to see the historic fishing village, then headed to the Leelanau Peninsula for cider tasting at Tandem Ciders. Spent the rest of the day on the Old Mission Peninsula: saw the Old Mission Lighthouse and did wine tastings at two wineries: Chateau Chantal and 2 Lads Winery. Had dinner on Fleet Street and capped off our day with cherry products at the Cherry Republic.

Spent the night in: Traverse City

Old Mission Peninsula

Day Four: Traverse City to Mackinaw City 

Highlights: Drove to Charlevoix to see the lighthouse, then headed to Petoskey to explore the Bayfront Park and the Gas Light District. Took the scenic drive through the Tunnel of Trees (M-22) and had lunch at the famous Legs Inn. Drove to Mackinaw City, dropped off our bags at the hotel, then headed to the beautiful Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Spent the night in: Mackinaw City

Tahquamenon Falls

Day Five: Mackinac Island 

Highlights: Took a ferry from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island with a special ride under the Mackinac Bridge. Took a carriage tour to get an overview of the island. Ended our tour at Fort Mackinac, then spent a few hours trying different fudge shops and exploring the island.

Spent the night in Mackinaw City

Day Six: Mackinaw City to Door County, Wisconsin 

Highlights: Visited the Seule Choix Lighthouse, saw Kitch-iti-Kipi, saw the Wagner Falls, and enjoyed a boat tour on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Spent the night in: Sturgeon Bay

Pictured Rocks

Day Seven: Door County 

Highlights: Went on the Door County Trolley Tour, explored Door County, saw the waves crashing at Cave Point County Park, and capped off our day with a fish boil.

Spent the night in: Sturgeon Bay

Lake Michigan Circle Tour Road Trip Post Directory:


  1. This sounds like a great vacation! I was hooked from the beginning with the chocolate and lighthouses. And the water in that last picture is incredible!

  2. This looks perfect! How much planning verse how much go with the flow did you do on this trip?

  3. I've never thought about traveling around one of the great lakes, but that's such a good idea! So many of the cute little "coastal" towns and sites that I have already found myself loving with visits to cities like Duluth. I'm guessing going the entire way around you definitely stumble upon not as talked about gems.

  4. ohhh fabulous! love the way you do these posts, i hate when i find a post online via pinterest or whatever, and they don't link back and it's hard to find all their travel posts. it seriously looks amazing, and i feel you on the 'bigger' trips, but any trip is better than no trip, right?

  5. That sounds like such a fun trip! Chocolate tasting sounds like my kind of thing :) It's nice to explore your own backyard!

  6. omg, I would LOVE to road trip around Lake Michigan, love, love, love. this all sounds and looks amazing. How have I never heard of the Pictured Rocks?!!? so pretty!

  7. Y'all are turning into road trip champs! I've only ever done one road trip, and that was around Texas growing up, and I didn't enjoy it very much because I think that I was too young. I feel like I would really enjoy doing one now though. Everything about your trip looks beautiful and sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to read about the rest!

  8. I can't believe that water in the last picture is in the midwest and not somewhere tropical! It looks and sounds like an amazing trip!

  9. That sounds so, so great! And so beautiful!

  10. The water in the last photo is unreal!!! You guys really fit a lot into your trip! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  11. What a fun itinerary. I didn't realize how scenic it was- gorgeous!

  12. The water is so blue! I definitely need to get to this part of the country sometime.

  13. Ok, that water doesn't even look real! SO gorgeous! And that waterfall is so pretty! As always, jealous of your travels!

  14. Gorgeous photos and scenery! Sounds like an amazing and productive trip! The water in the last photo is incredible. I thought Barbados' water was pretty ;-)

  15. I am so envious of your travels! That water is beautiful!!

  16. NO, no, no!!!! Everybody stay away. There are sharks and piranhas in Lake Michigan. The waterfalls are ugly and the water color is photo-shopped. As a life long Michigander who has lived on both the east and west coasts (Detroit and Grand Rapids) we try to keep foreigners (out-of-staters) away. Just send your money and we will invest it well.
    Seriously, we are very proud, and a little over protective, of the beauty we enjoy here. If you try a trip to Lake Michigan try to include some of the areas a bit further from the big lake. Grand Rapids has a great deal to offer. Has been voted "Beer City USA" and was recently named the number two city in the world for a foodie vacation. The north half of the lower peninsula is filled with woods, lakes, orchards and vineyards. The Upper Peninsula, across the straights of Mackinaw, is an experience unto itself.


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