Planning Your Time
For those who prefer small towns, the solitude of the great outdoors, and winter activities like snowmobiling, Northeast Michigan is an ideal precursor to visiting the even wilder and more isolated U.P.
In summer, it’s also a good spot to avoid the crowded beaches and resort towns along Lake Michigan. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter plenty of folks on the area’s championship golf courses, near inland lakes during summer weekends, and on Mackinac Island throughout the year. You will, however, likely avoid crowds during the off-season, from November to March.
To hit the highlights of Northeast Michigan, you’ll need a minimum of three days, including a day trip to Mackinac Island. A whole week will allow you more opportunity to tour the historic coastline and explore the interior’s impressive forests and lakes.
Two main roads cut through the Huron shore region. U.S. 23 hugs the coastline from Standish to the Straits of Mackinac, offering vistas and villages along the way. I-75 is the quicker, though less scenic, route, heading north from Bay City, through Grayling and Gaylord, to the Mackinac Bridge.
For those not driving to Northeast Michigan (or arriving via private boat), consider taking a Greyhound bus to towns like Cheboygan, Rogers City, Alpena, Grayling, and Gaylord. It’s also possible to fly into the Pellston Regional Airport and Alpena County Regional Airport, both of which are served by Northwest Airlines. If you plan on exploring several areas in this spread-out region, it’s advisable to rent a vehicle as soon as you arrive.
Tourism folks market the Huron shore region as the state’s “Sunrise Side.” For more information about Northeast Michigan, contact Michigan’s Sunrise Side Travel Association (1361 Fletcher St., National City, MI 48748, 800/424-3022, www.visitmichigansunriseside.com) or the Northern Michigan Tourist Association (www.travelnorth.org).
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel