Midwest Summer trip--Advice for the road?

<p>I'm taking my D from NY to go see the College of Wooster, Kalamazoo, Beloit, and Lawrence, late June/early July. I'd love to know what to see, eat, do for fun along the way, through Ohio, the bottom of Michigan, and Wisconsin. To add to the mix, my friend is coming and she has to bring her dog. It would be nice to spend a weekend in Chicago, but I don't know if it will work out with the dog.</p>

<p>On the return trip, we are considering taking a ferry from Wisconsin to Michigan rather than going through Chicago. There's a ferry from Manitowoc to Ludington, or a ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon, although they both look kind of expensive. Any thoughts on this would be great.</p>

<p>We are also considering going home via Ontario to Buffalo, and visiting SUNY Binghamton along the way. D is interested in LACs but it wouldn't hurt to see an affordable school that's a bit bigger (we have already visited Geneseo, our public LAC). The reason to do this route is to go home a different way than we came. According to google maps it will just add an hour . . . but maybe it's not worth it? (We've already been to Niagra Falls and don't really need to revisit it, but if there are other sights along the way worth seeing, it would be great to know).</p>

<p>The reason why we are visiting these LACs in particular is they are all interesting small schools where she could be eligible for merit aid. Juniata also could be on the route, if there is reason to get excited about it.</p>

<p>^Remember if you are crossing into and out of Canada that can add time at the borders and you need passports. If the point is just to take a different route but you are staying on the Interstates I wouldn’t bother. That’s just a lot of boring driving one way or the other. I liked Bing, but if you just want to see “affordable school a bit bigger”, is Stony Brook an option?</p>

<p>I can’t offer any advice about those particular schools, but I’ve driven from NY to MI and back through Ontario several times, and it is a really flat, boring drive. Traffic is usually okay, and a number of Tim Hortons (Canada’s answer to Dunkin’ Donuts) on the road, though.</p>

<p>I am not a road trip type person (my philosophy is I will fly and you drive; pick me up at the airport when you get there) so forgive me for saying that the whole thing sounds terrible. However, I actually admire those able to enjoy road trips. </p>

<p>My only advice is to have a contingency plan - and be flexible. Think about number of visits, route, traffic, etc. I have had enough unexpected scenarios on vacations that that’s become my specialty.</p>

<p>Edit: oh, and I am a dog-owner. Board the dog.</p>

<p>Hahah, Kennedy, I see your point, but we are used to road trips. This is actually short for us. What we really want to do is do this leg, and then from Wisconsin drive out to Washington State, but we don’t have enough time.
It would be much simpler if we didn’t have to take the dog!</p>

<p>I agree on boarding the dog. It really limits what you can do away from the car because it is summer and you can’t leave the dog in the car for long at all. </p>

<p>I have taken the ferry from Manitowac to Ludington. It is expensive, and the times are not very convenient (when we took it is was early morning or late evening departures). We usually just drive around Chicago now (using a GPS that also detects traffic delays, that has worked fairly well for us). Although you likely will still hit serious road construction delays regardless, since it is summer.</p>

<p>Mentioned on another thread recently, but Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village are fun near Detroit. There is an amazing ice cream parlour in Jackson, Michigan called The Parlour (just order ice cream for lunch, you might as well). :slight_smile: It is a few miles off 94, but not terribly far (worth the stop). </p>

<p>Near Chicago we really like the Chicago Botanic Garden. Might be on your way if you are going north from Chicago to Lawrence. But pets are not allowed, so this won’t work if the dog has to come. Same with the Henry Ford/Greenfield Village - you won’t be able to do those with a dog in tow.</p>

<p>Red, I really do admire you! Enjoy…</p>

<p>This is a great mix of schools, although as I have stated on another thread today (and at the risk of getting sylvan riled up :)) you won’t get a strong sense of the campus culture at any of them since they are small and don’t have a lot going on in the summer.</p>

<p>Milwaukee is a great city. Definitely visit the Third Ward and the art museum–the Calatrava-designed wing extending into Lake Michigan is breathtaking. If you go up to Manitowoc for the ferry it will deposit you along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where there are many quaint towns.</p>

<p>I honestly don’t know how you will be able to do this trip with a dog, though. You can’t leave him/her in the car in the summer while you are exploring colleges, eating in restaurants, visiting museums and so on. And if you are covering a lot of ground it’s not like you will always be near the hotel you stayed in the night before and can leave the dog there. Don’t want to sound harsh but why is the dog a mandatory when it isn’t even yours, but your friend’s?</p>

<p>I am also a big fan of not retracing my steps and would recommend the Ontario route. I just drove 1800 miles to pick up my son at college and successfully avoided the entire state of Illinois on the way back by varying my return route.</p>

<p>Wisconsin Dells, Brewers and Cubs games, and a rodeo are a few of the things we did during our road trip. We did not cross into Canada because D and I were the only ones with valid passports at the time.</p>

<p>What about Marquette in Milwaukee? S started there (and flunked out, but I still like the school) and I really think it is a great mid size school for those who want to be in a city but want a smaller school.</p>

<p>You’ll need to take a little detour from Beloit…but…look into visiting The House on the Rock and Spring Green/Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright.) Do you like Christmas stuff? Another place that might be a detour is Frankenmuth MI…a Bavarian-themed town with Bronners, the biggest Christmas store in the world (or so they say…)</p>

<p>Chicago deep dish pizza.Giordanos or Ginos east.</p>

<p>We have taken the Ferry from Manitowoc to Luddington a few times. It was interesting from a historical standpoint, as my H is related to the ship builders, but not terribly convenient for travel home. It did not save us any time to avoid driving through Chicago, we decided it was better to just pick a less busy time to do that. Plus Lake Michigan can be rough at times! It’s been a few years, but we stopped at the Indiana Dunes once on our way home from Chicago.</p>

<p>If you are going to visit Taliesin you should stop and spend some time in Madison on the way. It’s an hour and a half west of Milwaukee and an hour north of Beloit. If you time it so you are in town on a Saturday you can go to the biggest and best farmers’ market in the country. There’s so much to do…summer in Madison is hard to beat.</p>

<p>The ferries take a long time and should not be taken to save time. Milwaukee is great and Marquette would be a nice walk-through to see an urban campus. House on the Rock and the Dells are well out of your way. The water parks at the Dells are fun if you have time but will take a while to drive to and from, without much in between (though Madison is fabulous if you take a detour). There’s really no way to drive to Beloit that’s not boring (imo!), you just have to do it. Pretty rolling hills, etc. </p>

<p>I have to agree that taking the dog is going to add a huge hassle factor…</p>

<p>So… if the friend won’t board the dog… you really should consider not taking the friend after all. A car trip from point to point with a dog works okay if you are just driving from one location to another (moving, going to the cabin, etc.). But a dog really limits your ability to do a lot of stuff in the summer on a road trip where your goal is to see stuff and enjoy yourself. If it were fall or spring you could crate it in the car for a few hours. That is not a choice in July or August in that part of the country.</p>

<p>Why can’t you guys board the dog?</p>

<p>Board the dog and the friend. You will be severly limited in what you can do with the dog.
Cleveland - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum; Canton - Pro Football Hall of Fame; Sandusky - Cedar Point - the Roller Coaster Capital of the World and one of the top parks in the country; Put-in-Bay Island in western Lake Erie for some down time - take the Jet Express from Port Clinton; Toledo - Tony Packos for hot dogs (from MASH tv show fame).</p>

<p>The ferry from Manitowoc to Ludington is really slow and operates at inconvenient hours. The ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon is fast, conveniently scheduled, and really does save time and wear and tear on the driver, depending on where you’re going. Getting through Chicago traffic can be a real grind. Only downside of the Milwaukee-Muskegon ferry is that it’s pricey.</p>

<p>Lots of people are nixing the dog. I’m not going to express an opinion one way or the other, except to say that traveling with a dog creates a lot of restrictions on where you can stay, what you can do, even where you can eat. But I assume you know that.</p>

<p>If I were making this trip, here are some things I’d try to include:

  1. Between Wooster, OH and Kalamazoo, MI, stop for lunch in Ann Arbor, truly a charming town, especially in summer.
  2. West of Kalamazoo, do a winery tour. Some of the Michigan wines are surprisingly good, and coming on strong. Many of the best are further north in the Leelanau area, but there are some decent ones in s.w. Michigan as well.
  3. Stop at one of Michigan’s many gorgeous Lake Michigan beaches. Because of the prevailing winds, the beaches are much better on the Michigan side, lots of sand, in some places incredible dune environments. Best of the best is further north at Sleeping Bear Dunes, but Warren Dunes in the southwest corner of the state is pretty nice, too, and just off I-94 between Kalamazoo and Chicago. If you have an extra half-day, there are other charming beach towns just north of there. Also great fruit stands; depending on when you go, the seasonal fruit grown in Michigan is spectacular due to ideal soils and microclimate along Lake Michigan. You might be a little early for Michigan cherries and peaches, but keep an eye out for what’s local and seasonal.
  4. Great ethnic eateries in Chicago of every variety imaginable. Or get take-out and have a lunch or dinner in Lincoln Park on the North Side, along the lake. Great beaches, running/walking/biking paths, places to romp with a dog. There is, of course, so much more to do in Chicago without a dog: theater, music, comedy, museums, outstanding restaurants, the Cubs playing day baseball in iconic Wrigley Field. Your call.
  5. Not so much to see or do in or near Beloit, but Milwaukee’s an interesting and underappreciated city. Again, lots of good ethnic dining. Brewers baseball. Beer and bratwurst. Somehow a trip to Wisconsin isn’t complete without a beer experience and a cheese experience–or you could combine them, as with a good beer-cheese soup, a local specialty. But don’t forget the bratwurst. Johnsonville brats, made in Sheboygan, are an American classic.
  6. Not much to see or do in or near Appleton, where Lawrence is located, but from there it’s a fairly short hop to Door County, the part of Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan. This is a favorite resort destination for people in Milwaukee and Chicago (though Chicagoans also make use of the Michigan side, all the way up to Charlevoix and Harbor Springs).
  7. Once I was as far north as Appleton, I’d be tempted to swing through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and cross back at Mackinac. There’s some spectacular scenery along the Lake Michigan shore, and the Mackinac area is rich in history–Native American, French, British, and American. Mackinac Island State Park is a charming step back in time.
  8. Whether you take the northern (Mackinac) or southern (Chicago) route, cutting back across southern Ontario isn’t a bad option. Yes, much of the route is flat and boring, but no more so than Ohio, and there are some things to see and do along the way. If you like theater, both the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Stratford Festival at (you guessed it) Stratford, Ontario put on some top-quality professional productions. Niagara Falls (especially the Canadian side) is not to be missed. And the whole Niagara region just drips with charm, with intriguing (if still slightly unpolished) wineries, extraordinary seasonal fruit (but don’t try to take it across the border back into the U.S.; they’ll make you throw it all out), and lovely Lake Ontario vistas. Or you can take a short detour to Toronto, a dynamic and exciting cosmopolitan city just slightly out of your way.
    I’d do a lot of investigating before trying to take a dog through Canada, however; I’ve never done it, but I’ve heard you need extensive documentation and even if all your papers are in order, it can really slow you down.</p>

<p>Mackinac Island is lovely, but probably deserving of at least an overnight, and I doubt it would be much fun with a dog. You can certainly do one of the MI lakeside resort towns in an afternoon. If you’re passing by Ann Arbor, you might as well take a look at UMich, if nothing else as a point of contrast!</p>

<p>Toronto is a fabulous city, but again, not a place I’d want to go for a few hours with a dog.</p>