photography by Hannah Schweiss
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Planning a Day Trip to Western Michigan
The stars rarely align, and when they do it’s best to take advantage…
After feeling incredibly cooped up for the past 6 weeks recovering from my leg surgery earlier this month, I had a serious itch to get out of town, if only for the day. With perfect weekend weather on tap (78 and no humidity) and nothing on the schedule, we decided to pack up the car and made the short 2 hour drive from home to Western Michigan. Better yet, some friends were able to caravan along.
I honestly feel so fortunate to live within a short drive from this beautiful part of the country. Western Michigan is like Napa meets Cape Cod. From the rolling green hills of the winery and orchards to the charming lakeside towns, filled with shops and restaurants, there is truly something for everyone.
It was super last minute, but sometimes those kinds of trips end up being the most memorable.
We had such an amazing 12 hours and crammed in so much, in a nearly seamless fashion (save for the left behind credit cards at the brewery), that I decided to share my tips on planning a day trip to Western Michigan. And the best part? There is virtually no planning required😉
First, don’t rush.
We started the day easy. Woke up and had coffee and breakfast at home before packing up a bag and small cooler, getting dressed and heading out.
What we packed:
- cooler with snacks and waters (we planned to eat out so we packed pretty light)
- a beach umbrella, towels and a beach blanket
- sunscreen and bug spray
- sweatshirts and flip flops
The leisurely start took the stress out of the entire day!
We left around 9am and headed straight to Starbuck’s Blueberry Farm. There are countless farms, orchards and wineries where you can pick your own fruit. Depending on the time of year that you visit, berries, cherries, peaches, apples and other fruits are ripe and available for the picking. This is a great family friendly activity! We brought home pounds of blueberries. We’ve been eating them by the handful, but I also plan to make a tart, muffins, pancakes and smoothies, as well as freezing some. I also highly recommend Lemon Creek Orchard and Winery.
After all of the berry picking, we were starving and headed for lunch.
After leaving the fruit farm we stumbled across Haymarket Pub and Brewery in Bridgman, MI. I’ve since learned that they have a Chicago outpost as well, but it would be hard to beat this location. From wood-fired pizza, sandwiches and pretzels to fresh salads, ingredients are locally sourced & sustainable. And 99% of the menu is made from scratch. I had the BLT pizza, topped with bacon, arugula, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and spicy mayo. The beer flights weren’t bad either😉
Western Michigan Wineries
Our next stop was Tabor Hill Winery where we felt like we had been transported to Napa. Planning a day trip to Western Michigan with just your significant other? Take the tour and enjoy lunch at the gorgeous Tabor Hill restaurant. Since we had the kiddos, we skipped the tour and just drove the ground and enjoyed a tasting. I was introduced to a new wine, Cabernet Franc, which is new favorite. The Sparkling Cherry Moscato was also a highlight for me. Another winery we’ve visited and loved is Lemon Creek Orchard and Winery.
Warren Dunes State Park
We capped the experience with a trip to Warren Dunes State Park. If planning a day trip to Western Michigan, you cannot skip the beach. Warren Dunes is a three mile stretch of shoreline, with six miles of hiking trails. It also has a dune formation that rises 260 feet above the lake with spectacular views. The kids climbed the dunes and played in the water and the adults more or less did the same. It was a gorgeous day, not too hot, and the water, while refreshing, wasn’t too chilly, even for a wimp like me!
The Secret to a Smooth Day Trip
My biggest recommendation when taking a family day trip, or any vacation, is not to become overly attached to your “plan”, as things always seem come up (weather changes, meltdowns, etc.). It’s much easier to enjoy yourself if you can go with the flow and not be too hard on yourself if everything doesn’t go according to plan.