Summer getaways with the family
By Kristi Marcelle
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio (Flickr: Patrick McGarvey)
A Midwestern summer lake vacation is a throwback to simpler times when families spent weeks at the beach. Sand dunes sit on lakes as big as oceans, floating docks beckon swimmers to jump off the pier, and at the end of the day, there are burgers and bratwursts on the grill. Find your way to lazy days and family fun at these midwestern family vacation destinations this summer.
South Bass Island, Ohio
The Lake Erie shoreline begins just an hour north of Cleveland and getting there is half the fun. Take the Jet Express passenger ferry from the mainland to quaint Put-in-Bay where golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. Visit Perry’s Cave for a limestone cave tour or for an unexpected American history lesson, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, which honors a naval battle won on Lake Erie in the War of 1812. For a convenient stay with kids, Put-in-Bay Resort & Conference Center is a block from the downtown and has villas for larger family groups.
Brainerd, Minnesota (Courtesy Visit Brainerd)
A couple of hours north of the Twin Cities, Brainerd is a lake destination with a Paul Bunyan twist. Woods and lakes are home to a variety of family accommodations that range from rustic cabins to full-service resorts like Madden’s on Gull Lake with a kids’ programs and golf courses. Brainerd is a destination where you can escape to the lake or the bike trails or look for more organized activity at the mini-golf course or go-cart track.
Door County, Wisconsin
Cana Island, Door County, WI (Photo: Jon Jarosh)
A long-time favorite of Chicagoland families, Door County is a peninsula surrounded by Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Its Scandinavian history, 300 miles of shoreline, acres of farmland, 11 lighthouses and vibrant arts community provide endless activities for families. Favorites include climbing Cana Island Lighthouse, spotting a goat on the grass roof at Al Johnsons Swedish restaurant or a ferry ride to Washington Island. Stay at Gordon Lodge in Baileys Harbor where use of the kayaks, paddleboats, fishing poles and bicycles are included with your stay.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island (Photo: Visit The USA)
Mackinac Island manages to appease couples and families alike. The no-car island has a downtown where horse-drawn carriages trot down the streets and guests at the Grand Hotel linger in rocking chairs on the world’s longest porch. Don’t sit yet, you’ll need to work off the island’s famous fudge that is a must-try for all ages. Outside of town, Mission Point Resort has a picture-perfect kite-flying lawn dotted with Adirondack chairs and endless activities for kids including a movie theater that was used in a scene from the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve.
Beyond the cornfields, Iowa holds a few surprises including a string of glacier-carved lakes often called the Iowa Great Lakes. Located two hundred miles northwest of Des Moines, West Okoboji is the center piece lake surrounded by thousands of wooded acres filled with traditional midwestern summer fun. Water skiing, biking, boating and fishing are just a few of the reasons why families return every summer.