3 Islands Worth Visiting this Summer

With average temps in the upper 70s and low 80s, ample amounts of sunshine, and an abundance of freshwater coastline, you can’t go wrong visiting Michigan in the summertime. It’s my favorite season, favorite place to explore, and (if you aren’t lucky enough to live here) makes a great vacation destination.

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With our 3,000+ miles of coastline, Michigan has many, many islands only a short ferry or plane ride away from the mainland. Last summer, I explored three of the more remote ones, and had a great time on each trip.

To celebrate my 27th birthday, we hopped on a ferry and went to North Manitou Island, off the coast of Sleeping Bear Dunes. We were there for 3 days and 2 nights, and backpacked the perimeter trail. It’s a great first backpacking trip to test your mettle and/or get your body in shape for a longer trip. The views from the West side of the island can’t be beat! Next time we go, we’re making a beeline westward, hanging our hammocks, and staying put for the weekend.

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Later in the summer, I explored Beaver Island with two dear friends. We stayed at Saint James Campground, only a mile walk from the ferry. If camping isn’t your thing, there are a bunch of hotels and vacation rentals on the island. Several homes on airbnb.com look great!

St. James, the town on the North side of the island where the ferry stops, is very walk-able or bike-able. Alternatively, there’s public transportation and cars available for rental. Pay attention to hours of operations–they’re limited! If you’d rather have your own wheels, the ferry will haul your car for a hefty fee. One afternoon, we rented bikes (with baskets!). We pedaled to the beach to sunbathe, did a loop back to town, and then out to the lighthouse.

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Close to the end of summer, Bob and I took a week off, packed our hiking backpacks, and flew (on a sea plane!) to Isle Royale. What an amazing trip! After 7 days of backpacking our way from West to East, we arrived in Rock Harbor, and spent the night at Rock Harbor Lodge. If possible, get a room with a killer view of the water and a balcony. You won’t get bored. There are plenty of hiking routes around Rock Harbor, kayaks and canoes available for rent, and guided tours to different places near Rock Harbor.

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Have you ever explored an island? Where did you go and what did you do?

If you’re interested….Backpacking in Virginia and the Smokies.

Venice, Italy + your travel tips

Our last stop in Italy (after Rome and Florence) was Venice. We just had a day and half there, but it ended up being a perfect amount of time to see the highlights. First stop, lunch and a beer!

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Venice is an interesting town. As you probably know, it’s entirely made up of islands. There are no cars in historic Venice, only boats on the canals.

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In our day and a half, we rode the vapparetto (water taxi) from one end of the grand canal to the other several times, and we spent an inordinate amount of time wandering around on foot, looking at buildings, shops, and homes.

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How cool is that farmer’s market? It’s a boat!

Bob was pretty psyched to find Campo de San Barnaba, which is where the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed.  The inside doesn’t actually look like the library from the movie, unfortunately.

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We capped off our time in Venice with a gondola ride, one last gelato, and a fancy dinner. It was a beautiful evening, and the perfect way to end a great trip.

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Venice tips!

  • Lodging: we stayed in Mestre, where it was much more affordable. There are plenty of buses that run to and from historic Venice on a regular basis–just ask at your hotel, and they will direct you to the closest stop.
  • Transportation: if you’re under 30 years old, buy a Rolling Venice card for 4 euro, and you will get 3 days of unlimited boat and bus rides for only 20 euro. If you’re over 30, there are still transit passes available. They’re a bit more expensive, but still very worth it. You can ride unlimited amounts of Venice transit boats or buses for however many days you purchase (1, 2, or 3). The advantages:
    1. You don’t have to constantly be refilling cards and monitoring your balance.
    2. If you swipe into the wrong stop, no worries! Just leave and find the right one. Without an unlimited transit card, a mistake like that would cost you 7 euro per person–because you already swiped it for one ride.

I wanna hear from YOU. Based on your trips, travels, and vacations, what do you recommend? Where do you like to stay? How do you get around? Any must have shoes or clothes or luggage? Can’t live without beauty products? Favorite way to sleuth out the best restaurant in town? Share in the comments below, and I’ll link to you in my post next week Thursday.