The Great Lakes escape

By Web Master

By LINA AMENT

Staff Intern

When thinking of a summer getaway, places like Hawaii, Florida and Alaska can come to mind. But aren’t there any other options?

Michigan offers many venues that are budget friendly and right around the corner.

If gas prices are getting you down, you can park your car and your worries outside Mackinac Island.

According to Mary McGuire-Slevin, the Executive Director for the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, the island is entirely hose drawn.

“No cars are allowed on the island. We have horse drawn carriage tours, horseback riding,

and bicycling around the island,” McGuire-Slevin said.

McGuire-Slevin added that Mackinac Island was voted among the top 10 most sustainable islands in the world by National Geographic Traveler.

“The island is 80 percent state park and has 300 years of American architecture. There are no chain hotels, only a few franchises. The Grand Hotel is one of the only Grand Hotels left in the world, and is known for its long porch,” McGuire-Slevin said. “The island is also known for its Victorian Era fudge.”

Maria Provenzano, a senior at OU, has traveled many times to Mackinac Island.

“I visited Fort Mackinac. They gave tours of the fort which was very interesting,”

Provenzano said. “I did horseback riding and road my bike on the trails. The island also has great restaurants.”

Frankenmuth, also known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” offers a unique cultural experience. According to Herb Zeilinger, motorcoach and group travel manager, Frankenmuth is known for its shopping and dining.

“Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland is the world’s largest Christmas store and has almost two acres worth of retail shopping,” Zeilinger said. “Main Street is also lined with a hundred different shops.”

Frankenmuth is famous for its chicken dinners, served at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Zehnder’s Restaurant.

“Zehnder’s is Americas largest independently owned family restaurant,” Zeilinger said. “It can seat up to 16,000 people. The Bavarian Inn is totally decorated in German Alpine style and all of the servers dress in German attire.”

Zeilinger added that right outside of the Bavarian Inn is a 30 foot tower called the Glockenspiel. The tower has 35 bells that play seven times a day.

Frankenmuth offers many activities enjoyable for all ages. Alycia St. Angelo, a senior at OU, visited the attraction this past June.

“I like the relaxed atmosphere of Frankenmuth,” St. Angelo said. We [played miniature golf] and visited the Cheese Haus. The food at the Bavarian Inn was delicious. Also, Birch Run is close by and great for shopping.”

If its water sports and outdoor recreations you’re after, Traverse City is a great destination for just that. You can take your pick from swimming, sailing, boating, hiking or kayaking. According to visittraversecity.com, it is known for over 150 clear inland lakes and rivers.

Also in Traverse City, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers views of Lake Michigan, several hiking trails and fresh water beaches.

Another one of Traverse City’s main attractions is the National Cherry Festival. The festival, according to cherryfestival.org, was designed to celebrate cherries, tourism and community involvement. Its annual attendance is over 500,000 during the eight day festival.

OU senior Danielle Katner spent many summers at this prime location.

“Traverse City has very nice beaches and public access for boats,” Katner said. “Downtown has many small shops, tons of restaurants and great ice cream parlors.”

Other hiking destinations can be found just north of Traverse City. Robert Black, a senior at OU, has spent ample amount of time hiking at North and South Manitou Island.

“[The islands] are national parks off of Leland Michigan. North Manitou is more desolate of the two. It has a lot of well marked trails and is great for hiking and camping.”

Sterling, Michigan hosts another great site for camping and water adventures. Riverview Campground on the Rifle River offers a 120 acre campground.  Take your pick of tubing, kayaking or canoeing for two hours at a time or more.

For more information on Michigan getaways, visit michigan.org or travelmichigan.com.