Heading to northern Michigan with our best friends, Randy and Ami, and their two kids, Becca and Rob, and our two kids was an experiment in traveling with another family. Would we still be friends when it was over?
The good news is we are. That is thanks to a number of factors—flexibility on the part of both families, kids who get along great and adults who truly enjoy one another’s company. But it helped that our first stop was at the beautiful Crystal Mountain Ski and Golf Resort located between Manistee and Traverse City.
We spent two nights in a spacious five-bedroom townhouse with a deck overlooking the golf course and a lower level perfect for keeping four kids happy. It came complete with ping pong table, foosball table, television and two sets of bunk beds. We sent the kids downstairs and retired to the deck with a bottle of wine, giving all of us important time to bond as we started on our adventure.
Crystal Mountain is a long six- or seven-hour drive from Chicago, but worth it. The spot is idyllic, the resort is high end luxury and the staff is unfailingly helpful and pleasant.
We visited in the summer, but winter brings the skiers. The resort boasts 45 slopes, runs and trails for snowboarders, snowshoers and downhill and cross country skiers, a snow sports school and plenty of non-sports options as well. Pick up the daily activity schedule when you check in. There are some terrific restaurants on site—the buffet breakfast at the Wild Tomato was luscious—but many units have full kitchens.
Resort rates vary widely depending on the accommodations and date of your stay. Check the Web site for deals, including those that allow up to three kids ages 17 and under to stay free.