Northern Lake Michigan Loop
Buckle up: This Midwestern route travels through two states and one island, and gets you on the water via vintage ferry.
Music: See the Lake Michigan Loop Playlist
Route: Manitowoc to Ludington
Distance: 507 miles
Start: Manitowoc, WI
Drive Interestate 43 through the idyllic rural eastern part of of the state. Exiting at Green Bay (39 miles), stop for a tempura lobster roll with Thai volcano sauce at Chefusion, then follow U.S. Highway 41 north along the bay.
Cross into Michigan, where Hiawatha National Forest offers excellent lakeshore hikes. Maywood Historic Trail near Rapid River (124 miles) meanders through a 200-year-old hemlock forest along the shores of Little Bay de Noc.
Continue along the north shore to St. Ignace (127 miles), and then take the ferry over to Mackinac Island to spend a cozy evening enjoying views of the water from your private balcony at Hotel Iroquois (rates start at $225).
Finish by following U.S. Highway 31 along the eastern edge of Lake Michigan. There's boutique shopping on Front Street in Traverse City (110 miles) and dramatic dunes and wide beaches at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (shown here, 26 miles). Reaching Ludington (81 miles), catch the S.S. ferry Badger back to the Wisconsin shore.