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Road Trip from Chicago

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Boston
posts: 6
Road Trip from Chicago

Heading on a road trip from Chicago to Mackinaw area... Any suggestions of where to stop along the way to break up the drive a bit?

Michigan
Destination Expert
for South Haven, Saugatuck
posts: 3,475
reviews: 14
1. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

There are a couple ways to go and would make a difference where to stop. Are you intending to get there as fast as possible via Grand Rapids or take the somewhat slower route along Lake Michigan?

Edited: 11:11 am, May 13, 2011
Boston
posts: 6
2. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

Undecided... we're going to leave the Chicago area probably shortly after the morning rush hour and then want to get to mackinaw by that evening. If the coastal route is more scenic and worthwhile for the extra driving time, then we'd definitely consider it! That's part of why I posted the topic to get an idea if that's something worthwhile.

Michigan
Destination Expert
for South Haven, Saugatuck
posts: 3,475
reviews: 14
3. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

It's probably an hour longer taking US 31 rather than US 131 but I also think you'd be more compelled to make stops as the road is much more interesting.

Fast way

I 94 to I 196 to US 131 to Petoskey or some people cut over to I75 on 32. Approximately 7 hours from Chicago

Slow way

If you took what we refer to as "Old US 31" it could take two days so in my opinion in an effort to get you there but still enjoy the scenery I'd take I 94 to I 196 but exit at Holland to the left which is US 31 and that will take you all the way to I 75 just south of Mackinac City. Approximately 8 to 8 1/2 hours but that's without added stops.

Regardless of which route you choose, I'd consider a lunch stop, based on when you leave, in St Joseph, South Haven, or Saugatuck. In South Haven I'd exit I 196 at exit 18 traveling north into town turning left at the third stoplight. This is Phoenix St., one block down on the left is Clementine's (a saloon type restaurant) and only a block farther will give you an excellent view of the harbor and lake. There are several restuarants in town but as a visitor I think Clem's would be good. When you leave just go the opposite direction on Phoenix St and it will take you back to I 196 at exit 20.

The slow route will take you thru many more small towns like Holland, Grand Haven, Ludington, Manistee, Traverse City, Charlevoix, and Petoskey. All of them are nice towns worth a look see but you'll need to choose your stops as for the time. In a perfect world you could take M 22 just north of Manistee and take that to Leland and then over to Traverse City but that may take too long. It's a very pretty road and takes you by Sleeping Bear Dunes.

There are so many variables its hard to say where you should stop but I think the slower route is worth it and I'm just trying to get the conversation started.

Edited: 12:18 pm, May 13, 2011
Boston
posts: 6
4. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

Thanks for the suggestions!

Kansas
Destination Expert
for Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, Kansas
posts: 3,753
reviews: 102
5. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

On the "fast" route, cutting over on 10 at Reed City is a bit quicker.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
posts: 6
6. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

We are traveling from Milwaukee but actually planning on doing a full loop around Lake Michigian (so we'll be traveling through Chicago so our drive might be similar). Between MI to Chicago (non-WI side) we plan on making stops at Silver Lake Sand Dunes (Mears, MI I believe), Big Sable Point Lighthouse (Ludington, MI), Sleeping Bear Dunes, Tahquamenon Falls (Paradise, MI).

Boston
posts: 6
7. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

Thanks so much for the suggestions!

Road trip worked out great - stopped at Clementine's in South Haven on the way up for lunch - nice little town by the lake, then took 131 most of the way, then cut over to 31 near traverse city for a nice scenic drive by the lake as sunset approached. Stopped in Petoskey for dinner (Chandler's - highly recommend the halibut - cooked/seasoned perfectly!)

Mackinaw was great! wish we had more time (only spent 2 days - but saw quite a bit)

return road trip stopped in Saugatuck and lucked out with great weather for memorial day, the downtown area had all of the shops open and restaurants with patio seating

having an idea of which towns to stop in along the way definitely made for an easier drive. hardly felt like we had spent all day in the car both legs of the trip... living my whole life in the northeast, its amazing how relaxing long scenic road trips can be when not dealing with impatient, disrespectful, rude northeast drivers

8. Re: Road Trip from Chicago

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