Squeeze the Last Bit of Summer Fun with These 5 Weekend Trips 

Shandra Martinez

| 4 min read

A sailboat rounds the breakwater near sunset on the longest day of the year by the Lighthouses at St. Joseph, Michigan with people fishing from and walking on the pier.
As our calendars count down to the start of school, the beginning of fall and the shift to decidedly cooler weather, it’s time to make some last-minute summer travel plans so you can feel like you’ve gotten the most adventure possible out of this season of sunshine and long daylight hours. We’ll show you some ways you can squeeze the last bit of fun out of summer with five ideas for weekend trips.
The first step is carving out time for a getaway, lengthening your trip into at least a long weekend. In recent years, more than half of workers in the United States did not take all their vacation time. In doing so, they left a record number of days on the table, according to research by the U.S. Travel Association. For example, in 2018 a total of 768 million vacation days went unused in this country, up nearly 10% from the previous year. So decide to make yourself a priority by penciling in at least a short adventure. Here are some ideas for destinations across the state:
St. Joseph. One of the prettiest beach towns along the southern edge of Lake Michigan, St. Joe has a long list of water adventures waiting for visitors. You can rent a kayak or canoe and paddle down the St. Joseph River. For sunbathers and people who like to stroll along the sand, Silver Beach County Park is just a few blocks from downtown. It’s near a kid-friendly fountain and splash pad, with plenty of spots nearby for a bite to eat. For wine lovers, this region in Berrien County is known for its vineyards. It even has a miles-long trail that runs between two popular wineries. For more information, check the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council’s website.
Muskegon. This city that boasts a big inland namesake lake and miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan is known for its relaxed, blue-collar vibe. Fun abounds here, with generous public beach space, easy parking and even a separate dog beach where your four-legged friend can splash in the waves. It offers a mix of waterfront dining with live music and plenty of to-go spots so you can create your own picnic. Want this to be the jumping-off point for your adventure? Book tickets on the Lake Express ferry for a cross-lake trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail. If you love to bike and explore adorable towns, load up your two-wheelers and head toward Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. About 22 miles of this hard-surface, non-motorized trail is currently completed, taking walkers, runners, bikers and in-line skaters past many of Sleeping Bear’s highlights. For a fun ride, try the trek between Empire and Glen Arbor. It is not too strenuous and your trip will be bookended by fun small towns that are welcoming and easy to explore on foot. Find the map and details on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail site.
Detroit’s Eastern Market. As a daytrip or part of a weekend adventure, act like a local and head to Detroit’s iconic Eastern Market. On Saturdays – and Tuesdays during the summer – hundreds of vendors pile up fruits, vegetables and other goods to entice the thousands of visitors who roam the aisles. On Sundays, the space turns into an artisan market offering unique items. Check the market’s website for hours and more details.
Mackinaw City. This city adjacent to Michigan’s famous Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac is often seen as a pass-through spot for the million people each year who hop a ferry boat for the ride to nearby Mackinac Island. But Mackinaw City has its own charm. It features the castle-like Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and the chance to tour a living history archeological dig at Fort Michilimackinac. You can board a boat in the city harbor for a tour of the Straits that will take you under the Mackinac Bridge. And stargazers can pack their camp chairs and take the short drive to Headlands International Dark Sky Park for a gorgeous nighttime view. For more information, check the Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau website.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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