When the seasons shift and the yearning to get out and about hits, there’s nothing like trying something new to get you energized. All around Michigan, there are lodging options to satisfy travelers looking for unusual vacation experiences.
Luxury camping, also known as glamping, has made its way to Michigan, and is a great option for empty nesters looking for a getaway. But there are also more established spots, where you can view wildlife during a carriage ride or be rocked to sleep by the water beneath your boat bed and breakfast.
Here are eight places that should give you cause to hit the road.
FIELDS OF DREAMS
Irene Wood, a South Haven native, bought the blueberry acreage down the road from her family farm and turned it into The Fields, a luxury camping experience that opened last year on the 30-acre farm. It has all the trappings and allure of traditional camping, minus the crick in your neck from sleeping on the ground. Guests can unwind in canvas tents furnished with king-sized beds, fine linens, wood-burning stoves and indoor bathrooms.
Come morning, coffee is brewing early in the communal dining spot, where you’ll find freshly made breakfast that might include a quiche, blueberry pancakes or bacon and eggs.
Another major plus for The Fields is its location. It’s a half- mile from the Kal-Haven Trail, a popular 30-mile bicycle route, and it’s just a 10-minute drive into downtown South Haven, a summer tourist playground with cute shops and restaurants and a string of world-class Lake Michigan beaches. thefieldsofmichigan.com
Location is key to another glamping resort in Michigan, too, but for a very different reason. The Beaver Island Retreat (left) is so remote that getting there requires a two-hour ferry ride or a 15-minute flight from Charlevoix.
At 56 square miles, Beaver Island is Lake Michigan’s largest island and a magnet for nature lovers. It’s a spectacular place for stargazing and, if skies are clear, you can see the Milky Way or (if you’re lucky) the Northern Lights.
The resort has 10 safari-style tents elevated on custom-designed eco platforms and furnished with queen-sized beds with bamboo sheets. Each tent has a private, covered outdoor porch and fire pit, but no bathrooms. Luxurious bath houses with rainfall shower heads and custom vanities are a short stroll from the tents. Gather with other glampers at the pavilion or gently sway in the hammock outside of your tent. Cook at your tent or the communal kitchen, or head to town for a bite at choice restaurants, or a beer at Michigan’s most remote brewery, Beaver Island Brewery Co. beaverislandretreat.com
Around the Tip of the Mitten in the Straits of Mackinac, The Mackinac House is a newly built, 19-room boutique hotel bursting with color, patterns and amenities in a thoroughly modern take on Mackinac Island’s authentic Victorian architecture. Step back in time for relaxation on this car-free island, and spend a few hours on the large front porch. Shops, restaurants, museums and the ferry docks are an easy walk or bicycle ride away.
Innkeepers Rose and Dave Witt caught the island bug while their daughter worked summer jobs on Mackinac, and now the whole family is involved in running The Mackinac House and its sister property, The Cottage Inn. themackinachouse.com
BOAT + BREAKFAST
Another option that might float your boat is the Sea Suites Boat & Breakfast, docked at Tower Marine on Kalamazoo Lake in Douglas.
Put on your captain’s hat and enjoy the 105-foot yacht with its four en-suite staterooms with queen beds, or relax on the top deck with its hot tub, lounge chairs and a covered bar area—all without the hassle and work that comes with boat ownership. Bonus: The heated pool at the marina is open to guests.
Sea Suites is convenient to the many restaurants and shops of both Douglas and Saugatuck, the busy summer towns of Michigan’s Art Coast. seasuites.com
In the northeast corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula near Alpena, Thunder Bay Resort offers a truly unique experience thanks to its 160-acre elk preserve. Guests board a horse-drawn carriage and ride through the woods for elk viewing, followed by a five-course dinner and wine experience at the Elk Antler Cabin.
The golf resort has a variety of lodging options, from suites to villas and chalets, and an RV park. thunderbayresort.com
Outside of Lansing in Williamston, there’s another place that will make animal lovers smile. Willowicke Inn, a renovated 1905 farmhouse with five charming bedrooms for humans to enjoy, sits on a 50-acre farm that has space for llamas to do their thing.
The bed and breakfast has inviting porches for relaxing, a pool, hot tub and fire pits, gardens and woodland trails to stroll, and llamas to visit. willowickeinn.com
Nestledown Bed and Breakfast in Marquette, the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, was specially built to reflect Scandinavian design and comfort, from the traditional red exterior paint to the furnishings in the seven guest accommodations and common areas. In the authentic Finnish sauna, heated Lake Superior rocks create the steam. Cool off by jumping into the lake (175 steps away) in the summer. In the winter, roll around in the plentiful snow. Breakfasts might include a Finnish oven pancake with berries or a Norwegian-baked cheese omelet. nestledownmarquette.com
In Munising—the western gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore—a 19th-century lumber baron’s home is at the heart of the hip, 18-room Roam Inn. Some architectural elements of the former mansion, combined with wood and metal décor, and poster-size photos of the area’s natural scenic wonders, make for a rustic, modern vibe. Stop at the cozy bar before or after indulging in the casual fine dining at Tracey’s. roam-inn.com
Photo: Beaver Island Retreat