OT: Summer vacationing in Michigan

Submitted by eth2 on May 24th, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Looking to the board for help planning a summer vacation up to Michigan.  My folks live in Michigan and are now in their 70s. Rather than our usual visit which mostly involves me, my wife, and the kids sitting around my parents' home, I'd like to plan something a bit different this year.  

My sister and her kids also have families, so am looking to find a large home or some place with enough room for up 14 people to stay for a weekend.  Some place near the water, beach with lots of family friendly activities for young and old would be ideal. Ideally looking for very specific advice, a town, a place to rent, things we can do.

Thanks in advance for your help. 



May 24th, 2015 at 11:50 AM ^

Lake charlevoix. Charlevoix or boyne city should have plenty available. The water will be a lot warmer than Lake Michigan. There is lots to do around those towns.


May 24th, 2015 at 11:52 AM ^

Go on VRBO, it should have a ton of listings for you. We have a place outside of Traverse City which is great. Best places are Glen Arbor, Empire, Crystal Lake, Lake Ann. Petoskey area and Harbor springs good too but that is a little farther north.

Really hard to go wrong in NW Michigan in the summer.

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May 24th, 2015 at 11:53 AM ^

if you stay In a hotel, You got the lake and entertainment in the city (my favorite being its wide selection of Mini golf courses) . Family should love Sleepy Bear Dunes which is a short drive away. You can sneak off to Turtle Creek Casino once maybe .


May 24th, 2015 at 11:55 AM ^

take the family to silver lake and rent a couple jeeps. hit the dunes. hang out on the beach. cool area to check out for a couple days


May 24th, 2015 at 12:10 PM ^

If you like value with outdoor stuff to do... I basically grew up on my grand parents resort on Houghton lake. Good fishing, shallow lake, and pretty nice resorts. The down side is that there isn't as much to do as there used to be.


May 24th, 2015 at 8:17 PM ^

My family stayed in an awesome waterfront house last summer on Houghton Lake. Beautiful as described, but we found out the hard way that this lake has a serious problem with Swimmer's Itch. It will basically ruin your entire week. Such a shame to have a great lake and not be able to use it.


May 24th, 2015 at 12:18 PM ^

Very simplistic, but I've been saying to out-of-staters for a long time...Lake Huron if you want to chill, Lake Michigan if you want to party. Not saying you can't chill on the Michigan side or that Huron is devoid of people, just saying there are a lot more small resort towns that tend to be busy and may or may not have casinos on the west side (South Haven, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Pentwater, Ludington, Manistee, TC, Charlevoix, Boyne, Petoskey, etc) as opposed to the east. Although it's been years since I've been to Huron so it may have developed more. We typically go to my Dad's place at Higgins Lake to relax, or to somewhere on the Lake Michigan shore. 


May 24th, 2015 at 12:25 PM ^

I actually agree with that though and I have told people similar things in the past. The Lake Huron side is great for plopping down a fishing pole and spending a day polishing off some beer or however you want to take it easy and relax. The Lake Michigan side is much more active and possibly the better side to be if you've got kids. As someone mentioned upthread, there is a nice selection of mini-golf in and around Traverse City and my kids and I have done that tour, but Sleeping Bear Dunes are over there, winery tours and numerous other activities.

A lot of it depends on what you want out of the time. 

Wenham Wolverine

May 24th, 2015 at 12:24 PM ^

Grew up vacationing on Huron between Oscoda and Alpena. Not a ton of activities in the tiny town we'd stay in, but there's not much better than a nice stretch of Huron beach and that beautiful water.


May 24th, 2015 at 12:29 PM ^

On the east side of the state Tawas is pretty nice. But not a ton of hotels. Mostly just cabins to rent. If you like to camp try Tawas point state park. Not sure why there isn't as much to do for tourists on the north east side of the state?

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The Dirty Nil

May 24th, 2015 at 6:52 PM ^

I feel like it's always kind of been that way east of 75. There is obviously a lot more money being put into towns/cities in the northwest part of the state, just look at the differences between Cheboygan or Alpena compared to Petoskey or Charlevoix. That being said, the northeast has some of the best wilderness and backcountry hiking in the Lower Peninsula.


May 24th, 2015 at 8:45 PM ^

Homestead Resort or Grand Traverse Resort may be your best bets for this summer, given how many people you want to house.  I have a big rental property on Crystal Lake that sleeps 10-12 but it's been booked for the entire summer since December.  The resorts can split you up in 2-3 condos and you'll still be near each other.


May 24th, 2015 at 12:38 PM ^

If you are willing to drive further, I would suggest either Marquette or maybe Escanaba or Copper Harbor  in the UP. It will be cheaper and far less crowded. Copper Harbor would also set you up to take a trip to Isle Royale. 


May 24th, 2015 at 8:55 PM ^

Copper Harbor would be swell, but if you or your kids are into swimming, best look for something inland. I can't imagine grandparents or grandkids swimming in the Lake that they call Gitche Gumee.  Isle Royale, for my money, is one of the most beautiful places I can imagine and I've made the trip 3x. That being said, getting 14 people including kids and grandparents up there would be a logistical nightmare and they had all better wear their man-pants (or woman-pants) becuase hiking there in the middle of summer with the heat, black flies, and having to filter and carry your water is gonna wear you out.


I don't have a specific place in mind, but Eminem has a gargantuan place on Torch Lake, I'd touch base with him to see if you could rent it.


May 24th, 2015 at 12:42 PM ^

Agree with what everyone is saying, anything that is northwest of Grand Rapids is great. All the inland lakes are great and the small towns are inviting.


May 24th, 2015 at 1:15 PM ^

This thread is from a week or two ago and will complement nicely what people say here...I personally like Traverse City and Torch Lake (Aden). You will need to drive between places, but SHorts, Old Mission Peninsula wineries, Traverse City, Petoskey, etc are all about 30 to 40 minutes from Aden on the south end of Torch lake.



May 24th, 2015 at 1:28 PM ^

Vacation Rentals By Owner. You can search not only states but regions within states. Homes, condos and resorts are listed with number of bedrooms and bathrooms. I use this site with very good results all over the country.

The Dirty Nil

May 24th, 2015 at 1:43 PM ^

Hiking/backpacking the length of the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore (40 or so miles) is a fantastic experience. It would be quite a task with little ones and older folks though. That might be better suited for a solo or couples vacation. But there are beautiful drive in spots along the route too if hiking it isn't an option.

The Dirty Nil

May 24th, 2015 at 2:41 PM ^

Yes, there are also multiple access points depending on how much of the trail you'd like to do. We started in Grand Marais and hiked to Munising. Almost all of the trail follows Lake Superior, with plenty of side trails and camp sites along the way. It's pretty quiet most of the way as most people stay a little closer to the main roads, so if you're looking for a true wilderness get away, it's for you.



May 24th, 2015 at 2:49 PM ^

Lake leelanau is a great place with plenty of renting options. Last year the wife and I brought both of our families (14 people total) and rented an amazing cabin that included a speed boat, pontoon and three jet skis for $3400.

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