Light House Day Trip
While we’re starting our trip at the north end and heading south, feel free to visit these iconic structures in any order you like. Starting in Ludington is the still-active Big Sable Point lighthouse in Ludington State Park. At 112 feet tall, it towers above Lake Michigan. The next stop is the Grand Haven lighthouse, which is located somewhat off-shore. You’ll walk the pier for an up-close look at this marvelous lighthouse, which has been a local landmark since 1905. In Holland, you’ll find the Big Red Lighthouse, whose name came from the fact that it’s a large structure painted entirely in bright red. While there are nearly a dozen still operational or restored lighthouses around the state, you can get a taste for three different styles on this short drive.
Grand Rapids River Tour
There’s plenty to do and see in Grand Rapids like the John Ball Zoological Garden, Belknap Hill, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum. Take the Riverwalk along the Grand River and view the reconstructed earthwork burial mounds, which were constructed by the prehistoric Hopewell tribe. On the west banks of the Grand River is the Grand Rapids Museum Center. The museum includes a cafe, a gift shop, and a 1928 Spillman carousel, which is situated in a pavilion over the Grand River. The Museum building also houses the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium.
Holland and Nelis’ Dutch Village
Even if you missed Grand Rapids' annual Tulip Time festival in May, there’s still plenty to see, including Nelis' Dutch Village, a recreation of 1890s Netherlands that covers 10 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, canals and brick walkways. It also features rides for children and plenty of Dutch food to eat. Cap your visit with a trip to Windmill Island, home of the only working Dutch windmill in the U.S.
Covered Bridge Tour
Start your tour at Fallasburg Covered Bridge near Lowell, which spans 100 feet and has been a local attraction since 1871. It's one of just three Michigan covered bridges which remain open to vehicle traffic. Continue your tour in nearby Ada with the Ada Covered Bridge, built in 1867 and now carries foot traffic from Bronson Street across the Thornapple River. A few more miles south is the Langley Covered Bridge Historic Site in Centreville. The covered bridge crosses the St. Joseph River and is the longest of its type in Michigan.
Saugatuck Beach and Mt. Baldhead
Saugatuck is a resort town that looks like it’s been transported directly from Cape Cod, praised for its walkability and its low-key atmosphere. Many come for a taste of the great outdoors, but Saugatuck has plenty of the amenities of civilization, with several well-known restaurants. Don’t miss the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, a hand-cranked vessel that departs from Wick's Park and transports you to the other shore of the river for access to the beach or to climb the 302 stairs at Mt. Baldhead, a 600 foot high dune that offers excellent views of the area.
Kalamazoo Beer and Haunted Houses
Kalamazoo has a strong reputation for great craft beer, as evidenced by breweries like Arcadia Brewing Company, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, and Bell's Brewery. It’s also the site of the former Southwest Michigan Tuberculosis Sanitarium. Situated on a hillside overlooking the city of Kalamazoo, this abandoned tuberculosis asylum served as a highly successful treatment center during the 1950s. Since then the facility was abandoned and fell into disrepair. It’s now considered to be one of the most haunted places in Michigan. Another spooky spot in town is the Henderson Castle, a 19th-century bed & breakfast that has been investigated by paranormal researchers who claim to have made contact with ghosts. Guests have reported sensing unexplained presences and even feeling taps on their bodies while sleeping.
Enjoy your summer driving, and if you need a new vehicle before you head down the road, make sure to stop by Auto Maxx Battle Creek to make certain your travels are safe and trouble-free.