A Lake Michigan resort and spa sets the scene for recharging and nurturing yourself with real rest and connection with nature.

My midweek destination: A solo spring getaway at The Homestead, a historic resort on the northwest edge of Lower Michigan’s fabled Leelanau Peninsula.

A petite pocket of vacation homes, villas, rooms and suites tucked into steep hillsides, The Homestead sits between the sparkling blue of Sleeping Bear Bay and the sandy swales and deep forests of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

It’s no wonder that of all the places along Lake Michigan, two Wisconsin-raised sisters and their husbands chose this stunning parcel of land to build a wilderness camp in the 1920s, one where boys could hike, swim, fish, practice Latin, study aeronautics, raise their own food and “camp in the woods all summer and still be real gentlemen.”

I’m here to soak up the same pristine environs those young campers did back then, in what I hope is a modern woman’s self-care break. I’m considering this micro-getaway an essential personal investment to take pause and soak up what makes a person happier, calmer and healthier. I’m a 48-year-old working mom of an 8-year-old girl, 6-year-old boy, and, as of last night, 8-week-old puppy, and what feels like an over-caffeinated hamster sprinting on a wheel in my brain. (Did I mention we also have a cat?)

The Homestead in Glen Arbor

Photo by Tony Demin

With the whole fam in good hands for the next 24 hours, I now enter The Inn, which was the storied summer camp’s first building. The 1929-built structure is stately, serene and cozy. A fireplace crowns its common room, with bronze and milk-glass light fixtures hanging from high ceilings and, to the right of the three-story quarter-turn stairway, a sun-filled breakfast room as intimate as one you’d have at home.

Many rooms—my own included—overlook a shallow stretch of the aptly named Crystal River, which runs through he property. Just a Petoskey stone’s throw from The Inn’s front door, a small bridge leads directly to the lakeshore.

From my window, I can sit by the fire (a fireplace graces every one of The Inn’s one- and two-bedroom suites), and watch seagulls launching up and down in the wind blowing off Lake Michigan’s white-capped waves. But I’m off; I’ve got a one-hour massage waiting at the resort’s Spa Amira.

Twenty minutes later, I’m facedown between a heated massage table and sheets I suspect were spun by angels, breathing in peppermint-scented air and willing my heart rate and hamster wheel to calm. The heck. Down.

My massage therapist, Brenda Albrecht, lays a warm weighted wrap over my shoulders and says the words every mother with young children at home longs to hear: “We can talk if you like, but if you’d prefer to enjoy the quiet, that’s okay, too.”

Photo by Tim Hussey

For the next 50 minutes, she silently untangles the warp and weft of my body, her fingers finding their way to each of my aches and pains by the telltale crunch of stubborn knots. My feet sound like shards of crystal breaking. While Brenda encases each one in hot towels, I wonder when I became so old, so brittle. I resolve to exercise, stretch and drink more water; book monthly massages; do yoga daily.

As I formulate Lynda 2.0, I feel my head’s hamster wheel whirr back to life. I inhale to slow its roll, but before I can exhale, it spins off another thought: What is that delightful scent emanating from my skin?

After presenting me with a hot cup of post-massage turmeric tea, Brenda unveils the scent’s source, Stone Crop hydrating lotion from Eminence, the organic skin care line Spa Amira uses. Every ingredient is all-natural, safe enough to eat, Brenda says, then confesses she once tasted the Strawberry Rhubarb Masque to see if the products tasted as good as they smelled. “Delicious,” she whispers.

I make a mental note to book a facial for tomorrow, then slip into the window-walled serenity room just off the spa lobby.

Like so much of The Homestead, Spa Amira and its summer pool and tranquil gardens are perched atop a narrow bluff. I level my gaze at clouds drifting against a bluebird sky, swaying treetops and the infinite pool of Lake Michigan. North and South Manitou Islands seem to float offshore. I am present. I am grateful.

I am also starving. So I amble down to the resort’s Mountain Village, hub of all the amenities a wellness-wanting gal could want: fine and casual dining options (Nonna’s Italian for dinner; Whiskers for drinks and all-day eats); beer, wine, groceries and freshly made and to-go eats at Cavanaugh’s; the well-appointed New Leaf Fitness Center and luxe Lillyjade Salon; and several indoor and outdoor fireplaces ready to warm winter skiers, spent summer golfers and s’more-seeking kids.

A twitch of guilt ekes into my brain. What kind of a mom doesn’t bring her family to a lakeside resort with blazing bonfires, babbling brooks, ponds and pools (the one at Fiddler’s Pond even boasts a faux-rock waterslide), not to mention all the accessories of a good old-fashioned family vacation utopia: a classic Beach Club, tennis courts, ski hills and a Par 3 golf course, plus opportunities for activities galore, from clay play and kayaking to stargazing, fishing, biking and hiking?

Water view from The Homestead

Photo by Tony Demin

Apparently, one who buys a giant salad, homemade chili and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the name of … well, maybe not self-care but certainly self-love, then squirrels up in her room to sit by the fire and savor each bite slowly, serenely and without interruption.

Though my post-massage body feels pleasantly like a puddle, I ignore the temptation of having two days and a flatscreen TV to myself and set out to seize the sleeping beauty of The Homestead’s springtime surroundings. I stroll to the eastern edge of the property to do something else I haven’t in years: take a long, aimless walk. Alone.

With no goal heart rate in mind or productivity podcast prattling on in my ears, I ascend the Bay View Trail, which wends right into the heart of Sleeping Bear’s northern forest. From here I can stroll a nearly 2-mile loop or connect to a half-dozen more. I choose neither. I simply set one boot in front of the other and decide to meander from trail marker to trail marker until I get tired.

No thoughts about my pace, or what to make for dinner. Instead, I poke at pockets of snow and mud with a stick I found, wonder when the leeks will sprout.

I peer at tree branches, looking for buds. Stare at the streaks of dark sky visible between white paper birch trees and dark hemlocks. As I descend into row after row of red pines, I pause, taking in their rusty hue and the creak and screech of their swaying treetops. For a long moment I stand still, enjoying the icy wind on my cheeks, the blood buzzing through my limbs.

Tonight, I’ll return to Cavanaugh’s for a very self-caring dinner of hot pizza and chilled Prosecco, then do some yoga by the fireplace before bed. In the morning, I’ll walk the beach and get a pedicure at Lillyjade.

And this summer, I promise myself, when Sleeping Bear Bay is warm, the Beach Club is packed and the waterslide is flowing, I’ll bring the kids, and my husband, too. After, of course, I book another couple of days for myself.

Photo(s) by Tony Demin