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Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

Michigan
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203 posts
15 reviews
Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

I'm thinking of taking a 13 year old boy who's from Detroit and never really been outside the city to see Lake Michigan, but just for a day trip. We'd be going on a weekday. Hoping for nothing further than a 3 hr drive from Detroit, if possible.

We probably won't swim; I just want him to see it and maybe walk along the beach for the experience. Hoping for somewhere that's not too crowded. Would also be great if there was something else nearby that we could do when we're done with that.

Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions!

6 replies to this topic
chicago
Level Contributor
9,396 posts
25 reviews
1. Re: Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

St. Joe has a free splash park. It's great for kids. Grand Haven is great for teens. Those are my two favorite beaches.

Grand Rapids...
Level Contributor
2,848 posts
8 reviews
2. Re: Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

As a household we have did many three to four (or more) hour daytrips. Just be prepared to be tired. The above response probably hit on the two most popular beachtowns. Around three hours covers from Saint Joseph, MI up to Muskegon, MI. For age 13, New Buffalo, MI (3:15) has a speedboat ride. Saugatuck, MI has dune rides, boat rides, and Duck rides. Nearby Grand Haven, MI is Muskegon, MI which has Michigan Adventure but that might be a bit too long of a day. Check www.beachtowns.org for more info.

Another option is Port Clinton, OH and Put In Bay, OH shoresandislands.com/things-to-do/beaches…

Their beaches may not be quite the same but Port Clinton is under two hours away. And the area has more than plenty to do.

Hell, Michigan
Level Contributor
1,400 posts
994 reviews
3. Re: Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

Not crowded and a shorter drive = a drive to see Lake Huron by Port Sanilac. You might want to consider doing this since it's half the travel time of going to Lake Michigan (depending on your starting point in Detroit)

Muskegon County...
Level Contributor
1,117 posts
102 reviews
4. Re: Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

Take I-96 to Muskegon and enjoy the beach, walk the pier, tour the lighthouse, and perhaps even visit a submarine.

Chicago's North...
Destination Expert
for Illinois, Chicago
Level Contributor
8,254 posts
327 reviews
5. Re: Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

st joseph would be my vote...

also, i heard the airzoo in k-zoo is pretty good. perhaps a stop there along the way?

Rensselaer, Indiana
Level Contributor
9,101 posts
6. Re: Best day trip from Detroit to visit Lake Michigan...

I know this isn't what you really want to hear, but sometimes you have to save those longer trips for when you have a little more time available. There's quite a bit to see and do, as you can see from the above suggestions. You and the boy would probably enjoy it much better if you give yourself a little time, instead of being tired from doing a lot of driving in a short period of time.

It's going to be about at least a 3.5 hour drive each way across Michigan to the western side, even to the closest spots. Probably either St. Joseph or South Haven.

If you didn't want to drive, Amtrak's Wolverine route runs from Detroit all the way west to Chicago Union Station. They do have a stop in New Buffalo, too - and you can walk to the beach from the depot there. But that would certainly not be my first choice for a Lake Michigan beach town.

Maybe in the future, you could even do an overnighter in Chicago. It has 24 beaches on Lake Michigan. See the Lake from the other side. But it's certainly not a day trip. Don't see the logic of being on a train 10+ hours to spend 6, maybe a little more, at a destination.

Or perhaps, when you have more time, you could go up to Mackinaw City, over the bridge into the UP. See Lake Michigan *and* Lake Superior.

Edited: 03 August 2018, 16:24
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