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As the mother of three young boys, I had long feared any type of road trip, but when the opportunity to visit Traverse City, Mich., came up during spring break, we faced our fears and made the five-hour trek.
The "Bear Crossing: Next 5 Miles" sign was only one of many rewards.
I’d forgotten that the Midwest has rolling hills, stands of birch trees and majestic dunes. Sure we saw the standard farms with horses, cows and sheep, but alpaca and elk? Who knew my sons would voluntarily turn away from the portable DVD player to ask me about the energy-harnessing windmill we found on our way to the area’s greatest natural attraction, Sleeping Bear Dunes. Although it was too cold for us to take full advantage of the lakes and bays, we could certainly appreciate the amazing views and landscape of the dunes.
Like any great lake town, Traverse City has accommodations to fit any family’s interests and budget. We stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge, a great choice considering the indoor water park and family-friendly atmosphere. Between swimming, multiple food options, an arcade and the very cool MagiQuest adventure game, we had no real need to leave the hotel. But we didn’t road trip just for a hotel stay.
Instead, we scratched the surface of Traverse City, primarily Front Street where you can walk from shop to shop. We discovered a great toy store (Harbor Toys), an old-fashioned movie theater (State Theatre) with matinees, a bookstore (Horizon Books) with room for the kids to read and coffee for me and a market (Burritt’s) with soups, salads and fresh meat and fish. With plenty more stores, cafes and restaurants, it would be easy to spend a day just on these five blocks.
In fact, two days was hardly enough time to completely experience Traverse City, especially considering that we didn’t try any of the water-based fun—pirate-themed boat trips would be a big hit with my family. We did make time to visit the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, whose exhibits are all based on water and weather.
Luckily our first road trip was a grand success because Traverse City is one of those places you can return to time after time only to discover new treasures.
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