Sunday: Traverse City, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, and home
Sunday is another big driving day, a touch longer in mileage and time than Saturday, so don’t wait too long after that sunrise to head over the Mackinaw Bridge (pronounce the “aw” like “ack” and you’ll save yourself a gentle scolding from a local) to Michigan’s mitten.
Where day two of this trip is along the lake but still has more of a forest feel, day three is a tour of some of the prettiest and most quaint beach towns in the nation.
This may sound like heresy to coastal dwellers, but Bay View, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Eastport, and Elk Rapids are all strikingly similar in all the best ways to spots along the oceanside highways of Massachusetts and Oregon.
But there are miles to go before you sleep, and much more coastal highway to cover. So continue on US-31 through Beulah to Manistee, where the town’s riverwalk and sleepy charm will have you making plans for retirement near its beautiful and nearly always empty beaches.
Unfortunately US-31 merges with I-196 here, so grin and bear it until you can exit to MI-63 in Lake Michigan Beach. From here you’ll notice things are definitely getting more city-like, so take advantage of Benton Harbor’s many waterfront dining spots before steeling yourself for the re-entry into Chicago’s sprawl.
And make sure to rest up during the week, for Friday we drive again!