I had been talking about road trippin’ to my home state’s Upper Peninsula for years. Finally, this summer, I made the decision, come hell or high water, I was going to make it happen. Lucky for me, I also had a few others interested so we made it a girls trip, complete with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two of my nieces. I already knew what I wanted to see, but the biggest question was, where would we stay?!
The first logical choice was Mackinaw City. It’s popular, it’s easily accessible to the island, it has plenty to do for entertainment, the list goes on. But as I was looking at hotel prices, I didn’t feel like spending a ridiculous amount of money on a place that would primarily be used for sleeping. I expanded my search and all of a sudden, the cute town of St. Ignace came on my radar. There were still some pricey hotel options, but as if the heavens opened up, a ray of sunshine lead me to the Bavarian Haus Lakefront Inn.
With the hotel booked, our UP bucket list in tow, we were on our way. My niece, Aubrie, even made us all matching bracelets just for the occasion.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the best parts of a road trip are the snacks and random stops along the way. My ex-sister-in-law (yes, you read that right) made sure there was no chance of us starving. She loaded us up with food galore! Thanks, Amy!
With the food and drink situation handled, we could focus on the trip ahead of us. The weather started out a bit on the dreary side, but the further north we got, the clearer the skies became (not that everyone stayed awake to notice).
It’s good to have an idea of what time you want to arrive and about how long you think your drive is going to take, but if there’s one thing you must do on a road trip – it’s be spontaneous! If you see a scenic view coming up, take the exit! Pull off, stretch your legs, and enjoy the scenery, even if your GPS doesn’t know where you are.
St. Ignace is the first town you come to once you cross the Mighty Mac into the Upper Peninsula, so of course, we wanted to take in the sights from the Lower Peninsula side.
Now, it was time to cross this magnificent 5 mile long suspension bridge to St. Ignace.
First things first, we needed to settle into our room. Now, I will be completely honest, the Bavarian Haus Lakefront Inn has somewhat of a vintage feel. When I checked us in, I was given two keys. Two actual, metal-fit-in-a-lock keys. But as far as our accommodations went, we were not disappointed.
The room, bathroom, hallways, breakfast area – everything was spotless. And my favorite part by far was that every single room has a balcony that faces Lake Huron and Mackinac Island.
I’m not exaggerating. This was the view from our balcony.
After unloading the car, it was time for dinner. We picked Driftwood Restaurant and Sports Bar. There was something for everyone. My nieces had chicken strips, I had the fettucine alfredo, my sister-in-law had soup, and my mother-in-law had the loaded potato skins. The service was fast and friendly, and the food was tasty! On the way out there was even this photo opportunity with a local celebrity.
As day one came to a close, the girls went swimming in the indoor pool and my mother-in-law and I enjoyed the colors of the sunset on the lawn, steps from our room. We even made some friends who had brought in firewood to take the slight chill out of the cool evening.
The next morning, I convinced my neices to get up with me at 5:30 to watch the sunrise. They were good sports about it, despite being on the cold side. We grabbed some grub from the complimentary continental breakfast buffet and enjoyed the view while my mother and sister-in-law slept in.
Once everyone was up, dressed, and fed, we headed to the island. Waiting for the ferry, some intense fog rolled in, but within a few minutes, it completely dissipated. These photos were taken literally 5 minutes apart.
You can read about our day on Mackinac Island by clicking here!
When we returned back to St. Ignace, I guess we didn’t feel like we had put our bodies through enough with all the hiking and over 8 mile bike ride, so we decided to check out Castle Rock. It only cost $1 to climb to the top. The price point was great, the sketchy, uneven stairs were a bit intense. But we made it! Well, most of us. My mother-in-law has a severe fear of heights, but she tried her best. I will say though, we were rewarded well for our trecherous hike. I would love to come back in the fall and check out the insane colors!
After a few hours of rest and relaxation in the hotel, we ventured back to Mackinaw City for a night out on the town. Intrigued by the name, we decided to make Wienerlicious our dinner spot. Unfortunately, we were sorely disappointed. It was around 8:00, but they were completely out of corn dogs, strawberry and chocolate shakes, and forgot to bring half our order out. We weren’t expecting a gourmet experience, but even for being a gimmicky hotdog stand, we weren’t impressed.
Our night continued with some miniature golf and I will say, we are all terrible. We each had a few good shots, but none of our games were worth bragging about. I may have won the WMG (Worst Miniature Golfer) award because of course, I had a green ball and kept hitting it into the unknown. Thankfully, Alicia came to the rescue every time.
Before calling it a night, we made one last stop to check out the bridge in the beautiful darkness. I could have spent hours here, but after being up from sunup to sundown, it was time to say good night to another day.
Our adventures the next day took us to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Only being a 2 hour drive from this bucket list destination was one of the reasons why I chose St. Ignace as our home base for this trip. We spent part of the day chasing waterfalls throughout Munising and the other part exploring Pictured Rocks. This city had been on my bucket list for more years than I can count and now you can check out why!
We arrived “home” after midnight from our whirlwind day. I try to live every day with a grateful attitude, but the following morning, I woke up to the news that the Northern Lights had put on a spectacular show right above our sleeping heads. If there was one thing about this trip that I was saddened by, it was missing the Aurora Borealis. To be so close and completely miss them was a heart break. It just wasn’t meant to be, I suppose – at least on this trip.
Waking up on our final day in St. Ignace was bittersweet. I was ready to see my hubby and pup, but at the same time, I was dreading leaving this view.
We headed out early, with Tahquamenon Falls as our last U.P. must see stop. If I had missed these, my heartbreak would have been x 2. St. Ignace is about an hour and a half drive from Tahquamenon Falls State Park, so again, we were close enough to make the trip before heading home.
As we started our trek home, we stopped in Petosky for lunch. We hit up the Petoskey Brewery – absolutely delicious – and made one final stop for some homemade fudge and other dangerously sweet goodies. We only passed through this beautiful town, but believe me, I will be back!
This trip was one for the books. Perfect weather every single day, incredible views, and awesome experiences. If you are thinking about taking a trip to northern Michigan, don’t hesitate!
Tell me about your bucket list destinations!