Northern Michigan is Fun for the Whole family

"Sailing into the sunset @arnoldtransit" (CC BY 2.0) by mackinacislandgal

School is out and families are planning summer travel. Up North is a special place. Anyone familiar with Northern Michigan knows what I’m talking about. My family has been going Up North since I was a boy, and to this day I cherish trips to this special region. From the Great Lakes to the vast forests, trout streams to the endless trails, Northern Michigan has something for every outdoor enthusiast. Here are three Up North destinations you should consider visiting.

Mackinac Island
The name appears as both Mackinaw and Mackinac on the map. Mackinaw is the town and Mackinac is the bridge and island. The proper way to pronounce the name is always Mackinaw. The last letter of the name varies due to different Indian and British spellings. Reaching the island is simple with multiple ferries operating.

Mackinac Island is a 3.5 square mile landmass sitting close to the mainland in Lake Huron. The island surely has a tourist feel, but the surrounding natural world is incredible. So are many of the shops and restaurants. The term “fudgie” comes from the number of tourists who devour the world famous fudge found all over the island. I eat my share every time I visit, and recommend the maple and cherry.

Grayling
Grayling is quaint little community with a strong outdoor ambience. The Au Sable River is one of America’s special waters. This beautiful trout stream flows right through Grayling, and is where Trout Unlimited was founded. The history of the river combined with excellent fly fishing for brown trout, makes the Au Sable in and around Grayling a must fish river for every trout angler.

Fred Bear is one of the all time great archers. He was an innovator in the production of modern archery. His company, Bear Archery, was founded in Grayling. Even though the company moved to Florida in the late 1970s, there is a remaining Fred Bear connection to Grayling. Hunters recognize the contribution the town and its residents made to the growth of modern hunting.

Beaver Island
Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan is one of my absolute favorite destinations for outdoor adventure. I’ve been there a number of times to fly fish for carp and smallmouth bass.

Situated approximately 16 miles off the Michigan mainland, Beaver Island awaits those looking to get away from it all. There are no fudge shops, no horse drawn carriages and no suit jackets at dinner. Beaver Island is rustic and remote, yet completely satisfying. There is one grocery store, a few restaurant and bars, and endless expanses of pristine north woods wilderness teeming with wildlife.

There is no shortage of lodging on Beaver Island. You can rent a remote cabin off the grid, but I prefer to stay in town within walking distance of the local amenities. Fiddler’s Green offers very nice condos right downtown for affordable rates, and the owners are sportsmen friendly. And no trip to the island is complete without dining at the Shamrock. I eat the whitefish basket at least once a day for lunch or dinner. It’s that good, and the atmosphere is fun, friendly and down to earth. Hang out and enjoy some spirits, and within a couple of hours you’ll feel like a local.

Beaver Island is accessed through the town of Charlevoix. From there, you can either fly out to the island in 10 minutes with Island Airways or you can take a two-and-a-half hour ferry ride with Beaver Island Boat Company. To learn more about this incredible wilderness retreat visit: www.beaverisland.org or contact the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce at 231-448-2505.

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Brandon Butler
Long-time outdoor writer and native Hoosier Brandon Butler lives in Missouri and serves as the Executive Director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Previously, he worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as Governor Mitch Daniels’ liaison to the department, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dominator365 and as the Marketing Manager Battenfeld Technologies, Inc.

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