If you haven't been to the 100-year-old waterfront resort town of Harbor Springs, Mich., start planning your trip now-even if you only have a weekend to spare. This quaint, family-friendly spot is loaded with charm and activities that make for a lively yet relaxing vacation. My family, including 5-year-old twins, visited for just 48 hours and recommend the following itinerary:
7 a.m.: Up and at 'em! Get on the road bright and early for the nearly six-hour drive, which you'll find totally worth it upon arrival.
1 p.m.: Arrive at Boyne Highlands Resort (boyne.com), easily the most kid-friendly hotel in the vicinity, with family suites and a bevy of things to do for all ages. Take a scenic ride on the chair lift to get a good lay of the land, then head toward downtown Harbor Springs.
2 p.m.: Grab lunch to go (try the Trainwreck sandwich) at Gurney's Harbor Bottle Shop-a liquor store also known for its exquisite sandwiches-and head to the downtown public beach to catch some sun.
4 p.m.: After lounging on the white sand, browse the unique shops featuring Michigan-made products such as: The American Spoon, specializing in preserves, sauces and salsas; Tom's Mom's Cookies, with 17 varieties of soft, chewy cookies weighing in at 3 ounces each; and the beautiful Boyer Glassworks Studio and Gallery.
6 p.m.: Dine at The New York Restaurant overlooking Little Traverse Bay for dinner, then stop for dessert at Yummies, which has more than 50 flavors of ice cream and gelato.
Dusk: It's Family Movie Night at Boyne on the Main Lodge lawn, where families enjoy kid-friendly flicks and free popcorn.
9 a.m.: Hit downtown Harbor Springs again for breakfast at Mustang Wendy's, a classic serving up Tex-Mex and Western fare. The chili braised beef short rib hash and breakfast burrito are both gems.
Noon: Lunch at the Garden Café at Pondhill Farm where farm-to-plate food is served in a historic barn overlooking the gorgeous property. Afterward the kids can feed pigs, cows, chicken and geese in the Livestock Barn. Don't leave without trying out the Squash Rocket, a giant slingshot, to sling squash out into the fields.
2 p.m.: Cool off at the Boyne pool and chill out at the resort. Practice shooting hoops on the basketball courts, take a tennis lesson or tour the resort by bike or horse.
6:30 p.m.: If your visit is in July or August and the family enjoys live musical shows, The Young Americans Dinner Theatre, featuring hand-picked talent from across the country, is on site at Boyne and an absolute must-see.
Or get ready for a fabulous view and dinner on the water at Stafford's Pier Restaurant, built on original pilings over the harbor.
Dusk: Enjoy dessert and cocktails on the patio of the Slopeside Lounge at the resort while the kids roast marshmallows and make s'mores by the bonfire on the adjacent lawn.
9 a.m.: Breakfast is at Mary Ellen's Place, where locals and tourists peruse their newspaper of choice (they sell out-of-town papers) and munch on hash browns stuffed with sour cream and cheese.
Almost time to pack up and leave: Hit the Little Traverse Bay Restaurant to fuel up for the journey home. Then lament why you didn't plan to stay in Harbor Springs longer.
Linda made it a goal to try out every kid-friendly venue in Chicago, which she chronicles in her Chicago Parent Good-to-Go column.
See more of Linda's stories here.
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