Bone-humming, hold-your-breath, cotton-in-your-ears quiet: the tonic to the maddening pace of the modern world, and one of the main reasons why city-weary urbanites have journeyed North for decades. There’s infinite quiet to be found here—Sand Lakes Quiet Area, a 3,500-acre Williamsburg preserve that’s part of Pere Marquette State Forest (231-922-5280) is only 10 minutes from Traverse City; a motorless fishing haven, Lake Dubonnet, is off Wildwood Road four miles north of Interlochen (231-922-5280); and the peaceful Pine River Campground (231-862-3471), in Huron-Manistee National Forest, is seven miles from Wellston.

Swimming Holes

Holler away and cannonball in—if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a true blue swimming hole, make it yours for plenty of wading, splashing and playing around. Find these perfect, Mother Nature-made pools along rivers and near falls; we found ours (pictured) on a pal’s property in Lake Country, the hilly, water-logged region south of Traverse City.


It seems to go on and on: In a state comprised of two peninsulas, there are yet more peninsulas, smaller peninsulas, and even those peninsulas have peninsulas, fingers of land jutting out from bigger fingers until the only way you could further surround yourself with water would be to just roll up your pant legs and wade in. These peninsulas have personality, too, so it’s worth getting to know them all—Leelanau and Old Mission are each worth a day to themselves, but don’t overlook Ludington’s Buttersville Peninsula, with its adorable name and beachy vibe, or the Keweenaw Peninsula’s rugged shores, rich mining history and unspoiled wilds, and the Garden Peninsula’s lush, fertile land and daytrip-worthy ghost towns, and …

Cool Crossing Signs

Moose crossing. Bear crossing. Tractor crossing. Tank crossing. (As in military tank crossing—near the Grayling National Guard camp, before the sign vanished a few years ago.) Can’t help but love the novelty of the North’s crossing signs, which speak of all the beasts—natural or not—in our collective backyard.

Deer Paths

Our whitetails blaze their own trails through meadows, woods and, yes, our backyard gardens. But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em—by taking a day-hike detour along one of their narrow, meandering, gently beaten paths.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski