Visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Bob and I have visited Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore a handful of times in a few different seasons–it’s so beautiful! It’s less than a 5 hour drive from our house, and the scenery is incredible. It’s far enough away to feel like a trip, but not so far that it requires tons of planning or a really long stay to make it worth it.

A couple of summers ago, we went backpacking (sans baby, as she didn’t exist yet), and hiked on the North Country Trail for half of the park–from the middle to the Munising trail head. If you are new to backpacking, this is a great place to start! The views are phenomenal, the trail is well marked, the campgrounds are great, and it’s relatively flat hiking. And those lakeshore views, man. To die for!

Since Julia joined us last May, traveling by backpack isn’t quite as appealing. I know there are crazy people out there who do it, but I am not one of those crazy people. Kudos if you are! We’ve switched our outdoor adventures to car camping, and no regrets. A cooler full of food, a real (air) bed, and pillows? Twist my arm.

Pictured Rocks

I love adventuring with my people. Whether it’s just the 3 of us or we go with friends, it’s always worth it. Despite all the work of packing and setting up and figuring out food and managing baby schedules…adventures with people you love is always, no matter what, worth the effort. Seeing new places, experiencing new things, and allowing ourselves to unplug for a few days does wonders for our sanity and our happiness levels.

If you live in Michigan, and are looking for an amazing weekend getaway, I can’t recommend Pictured Rocks enough! Here are some tips if you’re planning on car camping in the park.

  1. Get to the campground early–as in 10 am or before. All campsites (there are only 60 or so that you can drive to) don’t have a reservation system and are first come, first served. If you’re there and there’s a site available, it’s yours. If not, you’re up a creek. All campers need to vacate their sites by noon if they aren’t staying, so if everything is full at noon or after, you’re out of luck.
  2. We’ve stayed at 12 Mile Beach twice, and would happily go back again.
  3. Check out Grand Marais! It’s an adorable, little coastal town on the East end of the park. We ate lunch at Lake Superior Brewing Company, and grabbed an ice cream cone at West Bay Diner. Both are worth visiting!
  4. Hit up a National Park Visitor’s Center in either Munising or Grand Marias for a trail map. The park is full of trails–many of them short day hike distances–that will deliver gorgeous views of the cliffs and Lake Superior.

I want to know: What kinds of summer adventures are you looking forward to? Comment below!

In case you’re interested….In defense of the weekend getaway and our week on Isle Royale.

P.S. If you’re not into camping, but still want to check out Pictured Rocks, airbnb.com is absolutely worth looking into Click the link for $40 off your first booking! You can find really fun vacation rentals–rooms, whole houses, cabins, and quaint little bed and breakfasts. This historic home in Grand Marais looks so fancy, and this sweet little cottage near Munising is a bit more budget friendly, but so cozy looking.

In Defense of the Weekend Getaway

Every year, two dear friends and I get together for a weekend getaway. We were lucky enough to live together when we all worked for the same organization in Indiana, and aim to recreate that sweet season for a few days each summer. These weekend trips are a tiny break from reality, a chance for the three of us to reconnect, to talk over coffee in the morning, and to laugh late into the night. For three girls from three different states, it’s pretty much magic.

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Winona Lake Getaway

Last year, our trip was a true walk down memory lane. We got together in the town we used to live in–Winona Lake, Indiana. It’s a tiny, artsy town, full of cute houses, delicious restaurants, and adorable shops. Admittedly, we bring a host of fond memories and nostalgia to our trips to Winona Lake, but if you’re looking for a quaint and quiet weekend destination, look no further! It’s an easy drive from Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, and is about halfway between Fort Wayne and South Bend.

When you visit, you need to get lunch at Cerulean (a bento box!) and then head back in the evening for their beer garden. Coffee and breakfast on the porch at Light Rail Cafe is a must. And make sure to take some time to wander the shops and check out the locally handcrafted goods.

Getaway

 

The guest house we rented (it’s just past the lilies in the photo above) was truly delightful. Our hosts were so kind and helpful. The shower was incredible, and the studio apartment was furnished with everything we needed for our weekend. We booked through airbnb.com, and would stay there again in a heartbeat. When we were locals, we lived in a 3 story duplex with a walk out basement and porches overlooking the park. While we would have loved to stay in our old house for the weekend, we couldn’t. Something about current owners or whatever. The guest house was truly the next best option, and happened to be even closer to the coffee shop than we used to live!

Weekend

Airbnb, if you’ve never heard of it, is this awesome site that allows you to search unique and interesting vacation rentals–rooms in people’s houses, cabins, apartments, flats, entire houses–and rent them for anywhere from a single night to several weeks. I love, love, love staying in vacation rentals, and often find the experience better than a hotel for a much lower price tag.

A bonus for you! If you use my referral link, you’ll get $40 off your first trip! Even if you don’t want to go to Winona Lake, check out the thousands of other rooms and houses available for rent on airbnb. You won’t regret it! Full disclosure: I’ll get a small travel credit on airbnb if you sign up through the link and take advantage of the killer discount.

I want to know: Where are you off to this summer? Where will you stay? In a house or cabin? A tent? A hotel? Do tell!