The Ultimate Experience: Great Lakes Fly-Drive

If you would like to see “the entire” Great Lakes Region in one amazing trip, this is the suggested itinerary for you! Although we encourage you to take it a little more leisurely…adding a few days here, a little extra time there…and really enjoy the ultimate experience in an area that is truly the Real America.

  • Great Lakes
  • 16 days/15 nights
  • Chicago
  • 2351 miles / 3762 km

Stages of the trip

  1. Arrive Chicago

    Transfer to your Chicago hotel and spend the afternoon discovering the Windy City. This city offers excellent cultural and sports activities. This evening try a famous Chicago-style pizza and afterwards check out some of the many famous Chicago Blues and Jazz clubs.

    Suggested overnight at Chicago, Illinois

  2. Chicago to Madison

    Begin your morning with a walking tour of Chicago, noted for its architecture including the Loop, shopping the “Magnificent Mile” of Michigan Avenue and walking along the Lakefront of Lake Michigan. Take in one of the best views of the city from the top of the Sears Tower Skydeck. This afternoon drive to Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, with beautiful lakeside views.

    196 miles / 314 km
    Suggested overnight at Madison, Wisconsin

  3. Madison to Minneapolis / St. Paul

    Spend the morning touring Madison including the beautiful Wisconsin State Capitol building. Continue your travels across Wisconsin, America’s freshwater playground, to the Twin Cities. Suggested stops along the way include Baraboo to visit the Circus World Museum, and the resort town of the Wisconsin Dells. Here boat and duck tours of the Wisconsin River offer magnificent views of the sandstone bluffs of the Lower and Upper Dells.

    270 miles / 432 km
    Suggested overnight at St. Paul, Minnesota

  4. Minneapolis / St. Paul

    Enjoy this city of parks and lakes; this morning, take a tour of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and discover the uniqueness of these “twins”. This afternoon, “Shop ‘til you drop” at the famous Mall of America. With over 500 stores, 14 movie theatres, Nickelodeon Universe, and Underwater Adventures, there will be no shortage of activities.

    miles / km
    Suggested overnight at St. Paul, Minnesota

  5. Minneapolis / St. Paul to Grand Rapids

    Today travel north through the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Nestled in tall timber on the western edge of the Mesabi Iron Range, Grand Rapids, the birthplace of Judy Garland, is rich with the dual heritage of iron mining and logging.

    173 miles / 277 km
    Suggested overnight atGrand Rapids, Minnesota

  6. Grand Rapids to Bayfield

    Travel in Wisconsin again to Bayfield, the gateway to the Apostle Island National Lakeshore, a magnificent natural wilderness region. A cruise among the islands of Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water in the world, will give you a memorable and lasting impression of this unspoiled area. Later today, take a ferry to Madeline Island, the largest and only inhabited of the Apostle Islands, to tour the old trading post and Indian burial grounds

    175 miles / 280 km
    Suggested overnight at Bayfield, Wisconsin

  7. Bayfield to Marquette

    Continue into the upper peninsula of Michigan and explore the picturesque Keweenaw Peninsula. See historic Fort Wilkens and visit the Delaware Copper Mine before travelling on, via the L’Ansse Indian Reservation, to Marquette

    185 miles / 296 km
    Suggested overnight at Marquette, Michigan

  8. Marquette to Mackinac Island

    Follow scenic State Road 28 to Munising. Take a cruise into Lake Superior past the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore to view the sandstone cliffs, caves, arches and columns. Afterwards drive to Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Newberry to view two striking waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River. In Paradise, stop by to visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, where the original bell from the shipwrecked Edmund Fitzgerald is on display. The Whitefish Point Lighthouse in this Lake Superior “Graveyard of Ships” is also open for tours. Take State Route 123 to St. Ignace.

    162 miles / 259 km
    Suggested overnight at Mackinac Island area

  9. Mackinac Island

    Take the ferry to spend the day on Mackinac Island, a timeless resort island of the 19th century where no motor vehicles are allowed. Take a horse-drawn carriage or rent bicycles. Visit Fort Mackinac, perched on a bluff overlooking the harbor. Be sure to stop by the Grand Hotel to enjoy the magnificent view from the veranda. Return back to St. Ignace late afternoon.

    miles / km
    Suggested overnight at Mackinac Island area

  10. Mackinac Island to Holland

    Drive along the picturesque Lake Michigan coastline while stopping along the way at quaint towns such as Petosky, Manistee, and Grand Haven also known as Coast Guard City USA. At the beginning of your drive after you have visited Traverse City known as the Cherry Capital of the World, make sure you stop at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and see the 125 metre high sand dunes.

    115 miles / 184 km
    Suggested overnight atHolland

  11. Holland to Detroit

    Start your morning with Holland culture and see the DeZwaan Windmill, the last windmill ever brought to the USA, and also step back in time while visiting the Dutch Village. Journey through Michigan to Detroit, home of Motown and Motor City, USA. Stay in Detroit or nearby Dearborn, home of Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. This living history museum explores the industrial revolution and achievements of famous Americans such as the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison.

    180 miles / 288 km
    Suggested overnight atDetroit

  12. Detroit to Cleveland

    Drive along beautiful Lake Erie towards Cleveland and be sure to stop at Cedar Point, one of the world’s top roller coaster parks. And once you are in Cleveland you can learn all things music at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

    170 miles / 272 km
    Suggested overnight at Cleveland

  13. Cleveland to Columbus

    Discover Ohio’s capital city of Columbus and visit one of the top ranked zoos in the world where Jack Hanna, known as America’s Zookeeper, is still director emeritus. Also make time to visit the Short North Arts District which is Columbus’s premier arts, fashion, dining and shopping district.

    140 miles / 224 km
    Suggested overnight at Columbus

  14. Columbus to Indianapolis

    Illinois’ capital city brings American history to life. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s Home, Lincoln’s Tomb, the Old State Capitol where he gave his famous “House Divided” speech. Also visit New Salem, the historically recreated townsite of Abraham Lincoln’s 19th century frontier village.

    175 miles / 280 km
    Suggested overnight at Indianapolis

  15. Indianapolis to Springfield

    Illinois’ capital city brings American history to life. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s Home, Lincoln’s Tomb, the Old State Capitol where he gave his famous “House Divided” speech. Also visit New Salem, the historically recreated townsite of Abraham Lincoln’s 19th century frontier village.

    220 miles / 336 km
    Suggested overnight atSpringfield

  16. Springfield to Chicago

    On your way back to Chicago, travel along historic Route 66 and see nostalgic memorabilia such as the Polk-A-Dot Drive Inn and the Gemini Giant. Once in Chicago spend your afternoon shopping at the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, just minutes from O’Hare International Airport.

    200 miles / 320 km