Traditionally, when a Chicago family wanted to get to northern
Michigan, it meant piling everyone into the car and heading off on
a seven-hour trek around Lake Michigan. But, if you want to ensure
that "getting there" is at least part of your family vacation fun,
try traveling to northern Michigan by plane or boat.
A new charter service called Lakeshore Express operates
Thursday-Monday between Midway and Pellston Regional Airport in
northern Michigan. It offers the kind of personal service the
wealthy are used to (no long security lines, someone else carries
your bags, the flight attendants and even the pilots smile and are
pleasant) at a price regular people can afford-$205 each way at
full price. Check the Web for deals before you book.
The personal service continues onboard, where the airplane is
clean and comfortable, the drinks (even the alcoholic ones) are
free and the pretzels and peanuts come in full-size bags.
Once you arrive in Pellston, you can rent a car at the airport
or, if you're headed to Mackinac Island, take the shuttle service
from the airport to the island ferry dock.
If you prefer to have your own car when you get to northern
Michigan, take one of the car ferries that cross the lake, shaving
300 miles off your travel and adding a little adventure to the
There are two options: the sleek Lake Express that crosses Lake
Michigan in 2 1/2 hours on a northeastern route from Milwaukee to
Muskegon, Mich., and the lumbering S.S. Badger, which takes 4 1/2
hours and crosses from Manitowoc, Wis., to Ludington, Mich.
If you're going for speed, take the Lake Express. But, if you
have the time, opt for the Badger and its multitude of things to
do-from a children's play area to a movie theater, gift shop and
quiet room. Before and after you sail, entertain your kids by
standing around the dock to watch the buzzing hive of activity as
the car deck loads and unloads everything from mini smart cars to
huge 18-wheel semi trucks.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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