Michigan is great. We’ve established it. But sometimes it’s needed to get out and go exploring beyond the boundaries. We all know how busy life can be, and the thought of a reality-escaping adventure can seem far from possible.
Well, let’s say you only have a weekend available. No problem…no problem at all. There are plenty of rad places outside Michigan that you can manage in a weekend. Trust me, I do it all the time.
There may be a lot of driving packed into 3 days or so, but who cares. Road trips are awesome.
But where do we go?
Ever heard of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula? It’s one of my all-time favorite areas. There are massive 70 foot cliffs to jump off of, hiking trails for miles (seriously they don’t end) and the town of Tobermory feels like a mix between Maine and Alaska.
There’s a place called The Grotto. Correction: There’s a kick-ass place called The Grotto. It’s basically a cave swimming hole that you can enter from land…or by swimming in an underwater cave. If you want to swim through it you can dive down about 10 feet, through the cave for about 30 feet and back up another 10. Not for the faint of heart or short of breath.
You can also scuba dive and snorkel ship wrecks. The cliff jumping can range anywhere from 20 feet to the big 70 footer. While visiting, there were only 4 of us who did the 70. I got back to work on Monday with bruises all down my left side and had to explain multiple times that I promised I wasn’t getting abused. I was just stupid and decided to jump off a cliff…twice.
Driving time: 5-7 hours from central Lower Peninsula
Oak Hill, West Virginia
Located in the middle of fricken’ nowhere is a resort known as ACE Adventure Resort. It’s nestled into the Appalachian mountains with more activities than one can possibly imagine.
Rock climbing, zip lining, rappelling, white water rafting…and that’s not even the half of it.
A lake with water trampolines, massive inflatable slides, floating rock climbing walls, and more—makes this area perfect for families.
Away from the lodge is quiet, serene and blissful. When camping you can be completely alone or with only a few other fires flickering around you. At night the lodge restaurant hosts lives bands, good beer, cornhole and a perfect place to socialize with some of the many workers who get to call ACE their summer home.
Driving time: 8 hours from Southern Michigan
I have a whole post dedicated to Put-in-Bay. It’s the Key West of the Midwest with swim up pool bars, tiki hut swim bars, a bar with the longest bar in the world. You get the point. In the summer it’s a never-ending college spring break…that is also about a million times more affordable than Key West.
The island is home to the worlds largest Geode, kayak rentals and it is the perfect place to watch a storm roll across Lake Erie. And don’t forget to climb Perry’s Monument to get a 360 view of the islands and both the United States and Canada.
Kelley’s island is Put-in-Bay’s much quieter neighbor. Here there are no loud bars or tiki huts. This one is for the kids and families who are looking for relaxation and bliss.
Did I mention the islands are only accessible by ferry? And where the ferry is just happens to be pretty darn close to Sandusky and Cedar Point. So after an already killer weekend you can go seek out thrill on a rollercoaster or a parting drink at the Volstead Bar.
Driving time: 2 ½ hours from southern Michigan
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
In the last few years the Apostle Islands have become pretty famous for their winter ice caves. But in the summer it’s also a prime adventure spot. The area surrounding the islands is extremely quiet and non-touristy, which is always a bonus in my book.
The most popular activity is kayaking the islands and having free range to explore them on your own. Some have secret beaches, some have hidden caves and some have small cliffs. There are dozens of islands in this chain, which means there is no way you will get bored exploring them.
Overall, the islands are perfect for a camping weekend away with adventure, peace and quiet.
Driving time 6 hours from the Central Upper Peninsula
Red River Gorge-“The Red”
Is (as I have heard) an adventurers dream. It has some of the best rock climbing in the world, beautifully carved tunnels, a natural bridge and numerous other outdoorsy attractions. Expect to go explore waterfalls and hiking trails through paths away from cars, tourist crowds and reality.
Rock climbing is the specialty in the area. Located in Kentucky, “The Red” has rock formations of every difficulty for every climber.
Accommodation is extremely cheap if you decide to camp. You can pitch a tent for $2 a night behind Miguels Pizza. The unique campground offers showers for $1.50 a person and internet for $2/week. If you are a solo traveler, this place is perfect to be social and meet people who you can share your experience with.
The area has good food, amazing adventures and an awesome atmosphere filled with others who share the love for the outdoors and adventure.
I mean…it doesn’t sound like it could get any better.
Driving time: 7.5 hours from central Michigan
So with summer coming up it means nicer weather and lots of built up energy from the long winter months. So put all the choices in a hat, draw one and head there as soon as weather looks promising. Or go to every destination and you’ll be guaranteed an epic summer.