Travelling the USA, Canada and Australia



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Great Lakes (1)

Wisconsin • Michigan • Indiana • Illinois

Wisconsin • Michigan • Indiana • Illinois

Journey to the Great Lakes

Our journey around Lake Michigan begins at Chicago International Airport. However, we save the city for the end of the trip and go straight to Milwaukee, one of the most beautiful cities we have visited in North America so far. The summer exhibition “Sculpture Milwaukee” on Wisconsin Avenue with around 20 colorful sculptures is great. The modern Riverwalk and the Historic Third Ward District both are absolutely worth seeing, too.

After a short detour to historic Cedarburg we continue to Madison, the capital of Wisconsin. You can’t miss the massive state capitol, and don’t forget to spend some time on the two lakeside terraces. On our journey north we follow Lake Winnebago and find accommodation for another two nights in Green Bay, gateway to the Door Peninsula and home of famous Green Bay Packers. Our trip to the peninsula takes us to Kewaunee to see world’s largest grandfather clock, to Sturgeon Bay on the Michigan Strait and to the small village of Egg Harbor.

The section that follows is relatively uneventful; our next destination – already in the state of Michigan – is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the southern shore of Lake Superior with its picturesque rocks, waterfalls and sand dunes. We follow the great lake to Whitefish Point Lighthouse, whose offshore waters have become known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes”. Next highlight is the Soo Locks in the American-Canadian twin town of Sault Ste. Marie. The huge lock system connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron.

An hour’s drive to the south, the roadside attraction is Castle Rock, a high rock at the foot of which Paul Bunyan and his blue ox invite visitors to take pictures. The now following Mackinac Bridge, called “Mighty Mac”, spans the confluence of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron as an 8-kilometer-long suspension bridge.

From Saint Ignace at the northern end of the bridge, tourists can take a boat to the small car-free paradise of Mackinac Island; in fact, only bicycles and horse-drawn carriages travel on the roads – completely untypical for the United States. The island’s main attraction is the gleaming white Grand Hotel, which claims to be the largest summer hotel in the world.

We follow the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and reach Traverse City after a stop in Petoskey, home to the speckled Petoskey Stones. “The Village of Grand Traverse Commons”, a former mental hospital, is quite interesting and now houses small shops and restaurants. Nevertheless, there’s something creepy about this “underground hospital”.

Next destination is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with its breath-taking dunes. You can explore all of the park’s highlights on the 8-mile-long Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Once again, we head south for a few hours; Ludington halfway is great for a coffee break. In the evening we reach the small city of Holland, where – as the name suggests – everything is about tulips, windmills and wooden shoes.

Another side trip takes us to Grand Rapids, more precisely to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park – another highlight of our trip and a must for anyone who likes sculptures and public art. For the tour of the more than 170 works by Borofsky, Calder or Oldenburg, to name just a few, you should plan at least half a day.

After a final coffee break in Michigan City (which is – quite confusing – in Indiana), we circle the southern shore of Lake Michigan and reach the destination of our tour, America’s third largest city Chicago in the state of Illinois. A guided boat tour on the Chicago River is an excellent experience, since you get to see dozens of skyscrapers from 150 years of architectural history. Grand Park and Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the artworks of Picasso, Chagall and Miro in downtown or Navy Pier amusement park are further destinations – plan at least three days for this great city.

Route Description

01Chicago Airport (ORD)Skokie015 m / 025 km
02SkokieMilwaukee080 m / 130 km
03MilwaukeeCedarburg045 m / 070 km
04MilwaukeeMadison080 m / 130 km
05MadisonGreen Bay140 m / 225 km
06Green BayDoor Peninsula140 m / 225 km
07Green BayMunising170 m / 275 km
08MunisingSault Ste. Marie200 m / 320 km
09Sault Ste. MarieSaint Ignace050 m / 080 km
10Saint IgnaceTraverse City110 m / 180 km
11Traverse CityHolland210 m / 340 km
12HollandGrand Rapids060 m / 100 km
13HollandChicago160 m / 260 km
14ChicagoChicago000 m / 000 km
15ChicagoChicago000 m / 000 km
16ChicagoChicago Airport (ORD)000 m / 000 km
Total1.460 m / 2.360 km

The Journey in Pictures