Savor Summer with These September Vacation Ideas in Northern Michigan

Summer temperatures linger well into the month, offering bonus days of carefree fun. Here are four September vacation ideas in Northern Michigan to extend the sweetness.

TAKE A DIP

Up North regulars know by experience that bay waters are swimmably perfect in September. But how warm are they exactly? For that, we asked the experts at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. While they can’t predict the future, they do have scientific evidence of the past, and that shows September waters to often be as warm as those you find in mid-July.

In Grand Traverse Bay in 2016 (based on NOAA Buoy 45020), water temperatures were 21 degrees Celsius (69.8F), the same temperature they were on July 21 that year. Data from a buoy in Little Traverse Bay (buoy 45022) showed water temperatures at 20 degrees Celsius (68F), Sept. 14, the same temperature as the bay on July 24 that year.

Splash around at Traverse City’s beaches or venture out to these beaches on the Leelanau Peninsula (some aren’t on a protected bay, but they sure are gorgeous).

HOP A FAST BOAT

Munising’s RipTide Ride has two boats now, and both the 20-seater and new 44-seat option do their trademark spins in Lake Superior fueled by 700 hp jet boat power, keeping the summer thrill factor high while you tour the mineral-painted cliffs of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Make it a weekend: Book a shoreline yurt at Paddler’s Village, and you’re just an easy stroll from The Duck Pond’s new outdoor beer garden and their famed Lake Superior whitefish tacos. Enjoy dinner and then go on a Grand Island sunset cruise.

FERRY TO AN ISLAND

The ferry to Mackinac Island gets you that much closer to prime fishing waters (and a gourmet dinner afterward) when you book Mission Point’s Lake to Plate Fishing and Culinary Experience package that runs through mid-September. The $475-a-person rate gives you two nights on the island in summer temperatures but off-season crowds, a five-hour private fishing charter and menu planning input before your Round Island Bar and Grill dinner (with included drinks accented by the cocktail herb garden) based on your catch. Afterward, fly a kite on their waterfront open space and indulge at the new wine bar and spa.

CAMP ON A SHORELINE

A water lullaby makes for camping perfection, but sleeping with a night view of the Mackinac Bridge elevates the experience to an assured spot in the camp highlights memory bank. Set up camp at beachfront sites 3, 4, 5 or 6 at Straits State Park in St. Ignace, where the straight high view was so perfect it was a survey point during bridge construction.

Kim Schneider is a long-time travel writer specializing in Michigan adventures, food and wine. The Midwest Travel Journalist Association has named her Mark Twain Travel Writer of the Year, and she’s the author of the recently-published book, 100 Things to Do in Traverse City Before You Die. 

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Northern Michigan Vacation Ideas