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Northwest Michigan Coast

Road Trip

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flickr/George Thomas
Cool summer breezes, sandy beaches and inviting lakefront resorts draw visitors to Northwest Michigan by the thousands. This route offers a sampling of the best the area has to offer, passing vineyards, cherry orchards, rustic farmland and wooded country lanes with frequent stunning views of Lake Michigan and the islands offshore.
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Traverse City to Charlevoix
Beginning in Traverse City—a resort town popular with tourists thanks to its mild summers, sandy beaches and scenic lakeside setting—this route follows US 31, passing cherry orchards, farmland and vacation homes with frequent glimpses of Grand Traverse Bay's blue waters.
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Wikimedia Commons/Bobak HaEri
Charlevoix to Mackinaw City
The route continues from the charming waterfront resort of Charlevoix to Petoskey, known for Petoskey stones, polished bits of fossilized coral available in souvenir shops and, if you look hard, along the shore. Following the contours of Little Traverse Bay, SR 119 is particularly pretty after Harbor Springs, where it's known as the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route.
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Mackinaw City to Manistique
Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas “meet” at the 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, which raises traffic nearly 200 feet above the water. The resort destinations of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace lie at opposite ends of “Mighty Mac” and nearby, accessible by ferry, beautiful Mackinac Island is known for its historic architecture and relaxing, car-free ambience.