Upper Michigan Road Trip

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Arrived at the Mackinaw Bridge

So about every 2 years, we’ve been road-tripping with my husband’s side of the family. The first roadtrip, we went out west to Yellowstone. This year, we decided to stick nearby the Midwest because we had very young babies going with us and we had my in-laws going to. So we decided on traveling to Mackinaw City and the Sleeping Bear Dunes in upper Michigan. It was about a 4.5 hour drive from Green Bay to Mackinaw City which was not bad at all. We had pretty amazing weather except the first night we were camping- we got rained on and my in-laws tent got flooded. Other than that, it was warm but breezy and the water in Upper Michigan is so clear that we felt really rejuvenated. After the trip ended, we wanted to go back again at least one more time to Mackinaw City since we felt like half a day was not enough time. Which it definitely wasn’t. There was just so much to do and see on Mackinac Island that hardly 1 day would be enough! It was kind of expensive though staying in that tourist city so we will have to budget really good or find a different alternative to lodging like camping or lodging out of town and just drive into the city for the day.


My kids loved our hotel room in Mackinaw City.


We got the lakeside balcony view!

We only stayed 1 night in Mackinaw City and then journeyed down south about a 2.5 hour drive to our next lodging site which was a campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes vicinity. This campground was really really rugged and not ideal for families with small children. It was called the D.H. Day Group campsite and although it was secluded, there was only a pit toilet, no running water so we couldn’t even wash our hands, and there was a water pump outside but it only produced yellow murky water. Not very sanitized at all. On the 2nd day of camping, we drove down south about a 30 minute drive to Platte River Group campgrounds and that site was more modern with running water and toilets and even hot showers! The campsite itself was clean with paved sidewalks and padded area for tents. It was a very nice group campsite and I will only stay there from now on. You need to reserve these sites though as soon as possible because they fill up quick for the Summer. We were lucky some group cancelled and we were able to book for 1 night on Sunday night.

I enjoyed this area so much! There was just so much to do for every one. If you have small children, you can take them to the beaches nearby Lake Michigan or go hiking on the many trails they have. The Dunes were also so breathtaking and the waters so clear compared to our side of Lake Michigan (Wisconsin side). I’m already planning for next year’s roadtrip here. There was just so much to do and so little time! Here are my top 3 recommendations for you if you plan to stay here for a couple of nights.

1. Platte River Point beach. This is an inlet lake that flows right into Lake Michigan. If you have small children, they will enjoy the warm, clear swimming waters of Platte River. The sandy beaches are nice too near the tip. If you have older kids, they will enjoy the big waves that Lake Michigan produces at the tip of the river. If you’re not tied down with children. I suggest renting a kayak or tube in one of the shops nearby the park and kayaking or tubing the Platte River.

2. Sleeping Bear Dunes. We didn’t have a chance to climb the dunes but some people in our party did and they said it was an easy hike to the top and worth it!

3. Pierce Stocking scenic drive. We did this 7.4 mile drive that loops around forests. There are about 10 or 12 scenic stops where you can park and venture out to look at the view and take some breathtaking pictures.

We really enjoyed our time here and could not believe that such a beautiful place existed in the Midwest within a short drive away. We’ll be visiting again for sure!


First night camping… roughing it out!
DH Day Group Campsite
Platte River Point Beach


One of the stops on the Pierce Stocking scenic drive


Second night camping at Platte River Group Campsite



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