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Old 07-28-2016, 07:51 AM   #1
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Default 15 Best Days on Lake Michigan... Where to visit?

As an add on to the Must See of the Great Lakes thread, I was hoping to solicit feedback regarding a summer journey from Mackinaw to Chicago. We are about 50', make 10-20 knots and have a 5' draft and a 12' tender RIB. We have 15 days and may never do this trip again.

I've read some of the cruising guides. The itinerary is looking like this, but I need some help / suggestions from those of you who know this area:

Harbor Springs 1-2 nights, with a brief motor through Bay Harbor
Charlevoix 2 nights
Leland 1-2 nights, with a trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes by car (or dinghy?)
Sturgeon Bay - 1 night - visit Palmer Johnson yard?
Green Bay 1-2 nights
....???...Muskegon, wilwaukee,
End in Chicago (we already have days budgeted here)

Thank you to all who offer insight and suggestions. We have kids ages 5-8 on board and a dog. Greatly appreciated!
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Old 07-28-2016, 02:13 PM   #2
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Default Traverse Bay & Petoskey

You might want to see Petoskey the mushroom houses. I would also suggest Traverse Bay area.

Have a great trip!

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Old 07-28-2016, 04:40 PM   #3
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Definitely stop in Door County. Among the best places there are Fish Creek, Sister Bay, and Bailey's Harbor. We just returned from a fabulous 6 day cruise there. If you like fish, experience a fish boil at Pelletiers or the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek. Take in a sunset there at Sunset Park.

Also stop at Fayette State Park on Big Bay de Noc. It is a very interesting historical site with the best natural harbor on all of the great lakes. See and attached picture

Be careful around Door County and Green Bay. These waters were formed by glaciers, the bottom depth can vary suddenly and it is mostly rock. Pay very close attention to channels and depths. There have been many shipwrecks in this area.

You may also want to check out the Indiana Dunes. Bypass Gary and Michigan City, however the coastal towns along SW Michigan are great. Grand Haven, Saugatuck, South Haven, St. Joe, and New Buffalo are all wonderful and have great transient facilities.

PM me if you want more info, we are located in Long Beach, Indiana, near the border of Michigan. We know these waters pretty well.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:02 AM   #4
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Lake Charlevoix is an easily navigable deep water lake worth 3 nights. Spend a night at the new municipal marina in Charlevoix's round lake, with the Village all around you. Spend a day exploring Oyster Bay at anchor with you tender, and just playing in the crystal clear water. Look for the wrecks in the shallows from the 1800's lumber schooners that used to over winter there. Then head across the lake to either Ironton or East Jordan for the night. Then the next day head over to Boyne City for a night, and then you've done lake Charlevoix, one of the prettiest lakes in the world. I've spent years around the area from Mac to Ludington so PM me if you need more info. Give Traverse City a miss. After Harbour Springs, Petoskey and Charlevoix, you don't need it.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:29 AM   #5
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Mushroom houses are in Charlevoix.
Charlevoix is crowded. Isn't the fest this week? I agree with Boyne City. There are a few nice place to eat close to the docks, plus the new 7 monks taproom. Fudge shops, ice cream, etc. Traverse city is very crowded but lots of stuff to do. Instead you could do some wine tasting or hit breweries at Sutton's bay and North Port. Frankfort is worth checking out too. Nice beech and piers. Not as crowded as some harbor towns. Still has a "warf" feel to it. Places to eat on the water and storm cloud Brewery is very nice and has outdoor seating.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:31 AM   #6
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Also, haven't done it myself yet but will. Might consider a stop at beaver island. I hear good things.
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Old 08-01-2016, 05:47 AM   #7
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My two cents on the Michigan side..

Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Bay Harbor, Beaver Island, Sutton's Bay or Northport, Leland are all different and you should find something you like in each.

You can anchor out in Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, and maybe Beaver Island ( known for poor holding)...

I would not feel happy in a 50' at the Boyne City marina in the wrong breeze as it can get rolly. I would skip Petoskey. The town is nice but removed from the marina.

Many of the Michigan marinas are first come. Worth a call in advance though. Bay Harbor does take reservations.

Best spots for fuel are Ward Brothers in Charlevoix and Walstrom in Harbor Springs. Best service if you need it on a boat that size is Walstrom.

In Charlevoix, Sutton's Bay, and Northport you can walk to smaller but serviceable grocery stores.

I can't help south of Leland or in Wisconsin but imagine that Wisconsin in particular is worth some days...

Have fun!!!
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Old 08-04-2016, 01:11 PM   #8
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Harbor Springs and Charlevoix
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Old 08-05-2016, 02:43 PM   #9
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Beaver Island is a nice first stop on the way to Charlevoix, Lake Charlevoix is absolutely worth seeing. If you want to skip Beaver, start at Harbor Springs, it's a boaters paradise too. Leland or Northport are awesome for the first leg S of Charlevoix. Northport has a grocery store with carts 1 block from muni.

Once S of Frankfort you should target Ludington then Saugatuck, Saugatuck is a great resort town, they have a dinghy dock on the East side of the Butler (you'll find it) and Red Dock (South side of harbor) is a hoot on Sunday Afternoon. Saugatuck is full of great restaurants and the Oval Beach is worth walking to.

Saugatuck to Chicago is 80nm, so you can rhumb line it, or stop in South Haven, great Muni, right downtown, easy access to beach.

The lake gets wide, so pick a side, personally I like the Michigan shore better, other than Door county and N, the W side of lake can't hold a candle to Michigan side.
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Old 08-08-2016, 01:25 PM   #10
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On poster mentioned most marinas are first come, first serve.

Actually, many marinas in Michigan are DNR run, and you can get reservations online. The hold some spots back from the online system, but it's even a good check to see where you might want to be to miss the crowds.
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Old 08-10-2016, 10:27 AM   #11
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They did add a few to the reservable list since I last checked.

Here is a link you can figure it out from...

We all laugh about some of the harbormasters that are very adept at " shaking with the right and taking with the left". Occasionally someone will mistakenly mention "their arrangement" on the radio but most of it takes place via cell phone, I imagine..

Once you get past this time year it should not be a problem getting a spot. Mid July is a different story or if they are having whatever festival they host.
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:05 AM   #12
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Default starting the loop

New to this forum..Thanks for all the info,leaving Midland ON july doing the east coast of Michgan,whant to be in Chicago sept 1st
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Old 01-20-2017, 05:20 PM   #13
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If you come across to WI try Sheboygan harbor, nice place. Milwaukee has Great Lake front music festivals all summer and Racine has a beautiful harbor.
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