Here are 10 Northern Michigan vacation ideas in July that celebrate lazy days, lots of play, and celebrations around bonfires, under fireworks, on beaches. Find this article and more in the July 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
Skip stones. Find a stone that’s smooth, flat and round, and most any beach will do for a throw. But you’ll pick up tricks of the wrist from the best skippers around at Mackinac Island’s annual stone skipping competition. 10 am July 4 at Windermere Beach. Good enough to compete? Thirty skips or so can mean a win. mackinacisland.org.
Pick and eat. Fresh from the land, warmed from the sun, is how eating is best done in July, and at Harrietta’s Blueberry Hill U-Pick you can taste the 12 berry varieties starting around mid-July. 1714 11 Mile Road, Harrietta; 231.389.2317
Toss in a line. Every week, at no charge, state park staffers help you pick your bait, cast your pole, even let you off the hook in removing your catch (until you pick up the skill, that is) in the “hook, line and sinker” classes at Boyne City’s Young State Park and other parks around the state. Take a lesson, apply the skills, then cook your catch on an open fire outside your cozy camper cabin. Afterward, head to town for an upscale French take on seafood with a mussel specialty at Cafe Santé. michigan.gov/dnr.
Get July in a cone. If creamy Mooca Java or Chip ’n’ Cherry scoops don’t hook you, the whitewashed wooden signs directing you to “milk and cookies” will. Shetler Dairy near Kalkaska has built a strong fan base for its organic milk products, but even more fun for visitors is meeting the farm’s grass-fed cows, like Flossie. shetlermilk.com.
Watch your movies under the stars. For pure retro fun, the nod for watching films al fresco goes to Honor’s 1950s-era Cherry Bowl Drive-In, where your popcorn’s made the old-fashioned way, the speaker hooks on your car window, and a dancing hot dog introduces the films. cherrybowldrivein.com.
Sleep outside, but not on the ground, with the “glamping” (glamor/camping) option at Sutton’s Bay’s Wild Cherry Resort—a queen bed within a yurt, $135, with wine, cheese, fruit and flowers an extra $50. wildcherry resort.com.
Fireworks. See the shimmery explosions all over the north on the 4th and on any Saturday in July in St. Ignace, where a weekly spectacle lights Moran Bay. Catch the show from your room’s balcony at St. Ignace’s Village Inn—or aboard the weekly Star Line Fireworks Cruise. mackinacferry.com.
Float a river. Let the current set your pace at Big Bear Adventures on the pretty Sturgeon River. Bumper boats and adventure golf pump the kid fun up a notch, or end your nature day at the north-themed lodge with log beds, in the village of Indian River. bigbearadventures.com.
County fair fun, of a sort. A throwback (way back) is what you’ll find throughout your stay at Suttons Bay’s Hillside Homestead, with its focus on how life was lived a century ago. The view from the porch swing includes hens, roosters, a goose, a duck and pigs. Full-on historical immersion can include feeding the critters, gathering eggs, even cleaning stalls—or just watching. hillsidehomestead.com.
Gather ’round a beach bonfire. Ludington’s new Sunset Beach Bonfire Series on Stearns Park Beach means that nature provides the sunset entertainment and the city provides the firewood and a local band. You need only bring your remembered campfire lyrics, a blanket and perhaps some sand toys. Third Thursday of July. pureludington.com.