Vacation with Kids-Summer ’09 Edition
Vacation time is coming and while you’re dreaming and planning of your upcoming travels, I thought this republish from 2009 might be worth another read. Enjoy!
Last week, we did the circle tour. If you’re not from the Midwest, or maybe even Michigan you might not know what that is. The circle tour is the trip around lake Michigan. We start in Chicago, travel up the Michigan coast, cross “the bridge”, traverse the UP, move into Wisconsin and back home to Chicagoland. It’s a long trip. About 19 hours when it’s all said and done (more in traffic and was there EVER traffic).
Let me start off by saying that if you live in the Midwest, Michigan is a fantastic vacation destination. I could go on for weeks about places to go and things to do in Michigan and that’s just on its west coast. Our first destination was a small town about an hour southeast of Traverse City, but you can skip that, though you can Kayak on a lovely little lake were you so inclined, but my first focus is on Traverse City itself. Can I talk about how beautiful it is? And how it’s parent AND kid friendly? Best of both vacation worlds. Here’s why:
1) Tons upon tons of kid friendly activities for varying prices.
- Great Lakes Children’s Museum ($6/person with under 2 free)
- Traverse City Beach Bums Baseball team (ticket prices are $8 and $10 with an “event” happening nearly every night including fireworks
- The Children’s Garden@the TC public library (free)
- Ride the miniature steam train ($3 for adults, $2 for kids two to twelve, free for under 2)
- Cherry Bowl Drive-In
2) There’s that little winery thing for the grown-ups. It’s not kid unfriendly, either, and tastings are either free or super cheap. Most of the tasting rooms have lovely outside areas that you or your partner could entertain the kids in. My favorite winery always has families wandering up and down the rows of grapes. Just make sure you have transportation in place. No good getting tanked and driving with kids in the car.
3. Adorable downtown section with fun little shops. Admittedly, you can find tourist trapesque places where you can get a sweatshirt, but Traverse City is a neat little enclave and the downtown area is full of little botique shops. My favorite is American Spoon. I always leave with a jar of their awesome mango habenero salsa and we love to eat at North Peak Brewing Company, but that’s just one option. You can spend as much or as little as you like (there’s a subway on the main drag) and have the experience of your choice. Additionally, if you go in August, Traverse City hosts a film festival that has a huge turn out.
My point? It’s not really BFE.
And the beaches? Oh the beaches. Michigan has fantastic beaches. Midwestern folks, you do NOT need to drive to the shore in the summer to have a good beach experience with your kids. Michigan boasts so many, they’re lovely, the water is blue (so so SO blue) and you’ll shave 10 hours off of your drive time. My favorite beach in TC is at the end of the Old Mission pennisula. It’s not the prettiest beach in regards to clear sand, but it has the lighthouse…and a lovely state park (with not too icky outhouses). We love to stop along the way and pick up food from the farm stands along the path; usually some fresh fruit and a loaf of fresh baked bread.