Written by Sandra Lupini.

Sandra recommends perfect vacation destinations for summer and fall that you may not have thought of.

Michigan in Summer

Every year the inevitable question inquires, “where are you vacationing this summer?” Living in the state of Michigan during a time in life where schedules are not dictated by the academic calendar makes a stay-cation the perfect answer. And why not? When the Winter Wonderland turns into the Water Wonderland there are hundreds of reasons to stay.

Let’s just take a road trip up the west side of the lower peninsula and beautiful Lake Michigan…


Michigan City and New Buffalo, with their own lakeside attractions, sit at the lower end of the state and are in striking distance to Chicago for those needing a culture fix. Park for free in Michigan City and take the train to CHI-Town. Heading north, Saugatuck has an artsy appeal and Grand Haven’s a favorite for their State Park. Ludington and Manistee are gaining popularity as resort destinations with their upstate counterparts. Traverse City, “The Cherry Capital of the World”, hosts a cherry festival in July. If you can’t get your hands on these berries for a homemade tart pie, contact Benjamin Twiggs for their mail order catalog and selection of all things cherry. Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs set a standard for summer retreats. Dance with the wind by renting a charter at any of these locations. Take the tunnel of trees on the way to the top of the mitten where the Mackinac Bridge (1957) sits, the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world with Mackinac Island set off to the northeast. You can stay on the mainland or reserve a spot at the historic, one-of-a-kind, Grand Hotel. No cars are allowed on the island, so plan on walking, biking, or horseback riding. Biking around the island makes a perfect traditional family activity for all ages!

Don’t stop with the lower peninsula. Continue driving west along Highway 2 to get a feel for a place that my Dad always referred to as “God’s Country.” There are stops along this lake highway all the way to Manistique and Escanaba. Eat a homemade pastie at the water’s edge. Sit in the sun. Play in the surf. Straight north on Lake Superior find both the port town of Marquette, home of Northern Michigan University and Houghton, named one of the 100 best small towns in the country. Last, but not least with our family, comes Iron Mountain. Papa and Nana grew up here with many immigrant Italians during the 1900’s. Sports fans might recognize the place as the childhood stomping grounds of Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci. Tour the old iron mine and check out one of the world’s largest ski jumps. Delicious food too! Consider eating at Bimbo’s, Greenleaf’s, or Spiro’s.

Italy in Autumn

Italian food, hmm, that leads into the next seasonal travel thought. Italy in Autumn…

The reasons to travel Italy in the fall are numerous. Just for starters – tourist traffic slows, prices drop, and temperatures cool. This season bursts with colorful foliage to delight your eyes along with the harvest of wine and olives to tease other senses. Fresh mushrooms lend themselves to specialty dishes and truffle fairs. A haven for the gourmet food lover.

Picture yourself here, in Tuscany, at Fattoria Maionchi Tofori-Lucca Italia (0583/978194).

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Buon Appetito!