A couple of years ago, we took a long vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine. What I remember most vividly is visiting Acadia National Park, hiking, looking for shells, eating lobster and the world’s best blueberry pie.
I recall staying at a cute cottage situated on an inlet, where the kids played in the yard and on the tiny rocky beach.
In my mind, it was definitely one of the best trips we ever took. Ever.
It shouldn’t have been. There were some unforeseen hitches in our master plan. We punctured a tire with a huge, rusty nail somewhere in New York. A stomach virus latched onto us, so we coped with diarrhea and nausea throughout our stay. We had to curtail some of the activities we really wanted to do because there were days no one could be terribly far from the facilities.
But we rolled with the punches. Instead of feeling like we were missing out on our vacation, we decided to take it easy. Sleep late. Teach the kids how to play poker. Listen to episodes of “Prairie Home Companion” on NPR. When everyone was feeling better, we ventured out, shortening our hikes and planning for extra rest.
What we learned from that trip was that vacation is what you make of it. And spending time with our family was the priority — not hiking a certain mountain or jumping on a whale-watching tour. If someone wasn’t feeling up to a long day out, we didn’t do it. We shifted our plans to a different day or time and didn’t worry about it. That attitude alone made all the difference; it changed what could have been a washed-up, stressed-out vacation into the best week ever.
We’ve recently began mulling over places to go in the next few months. The realization that we have limited summers left for vacationing with our kids hit us hard (only 4 more with our oldest son — if we’re lucky enough to find time in his schedule and ours to go somewhere), and we want to conjure up that sense of zen we found in Maine. Just closer to home.
We’ve been looking at the western shores of Michigan, specifically the area up around Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Since you guys had some of the best recommendations about things to do, places to see, and restaurants to eat in Milwaukee (fantastic ideas, really, and you can see them in the comments in this post), I thought I’d come back and ask:
Have you ever been to Traverse City, Michigan? Seen anything amazing on the western shores of Lake Michigan? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Any recommendations would be most welcome!
If you haven’t been to Traverse City, tell me: where is your favorite place to vacation with your kids in the good ol’ summertime?