If we’ve learned anything over this past year, it’s that simple can be just as special. Sure, we’re still looking ahead to that two-week European vacay, but in the meantime and luckily for us, there’s no shortage of gems closer to home.
Where to Grub
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Dubbed Beer City, USA, you can’t visit GR and not swing through a brewery. Add this “beer castle’’ opened in 2015 to your list. Enjoy house brews, sausages, burgers and more – sourced from local ingredients – in this boisterous, 100-year-old brick house modeled after a German beer hall.
Start your day of sightseeing off right with a hot cup of tea and a quick breakfast bite. This café has two locations owned by Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings and specializes in loose leaf tea including black, green, oolong, herbal and white. Get it by the mug or sign up for a subscription.
Rub elbows with the stylish crowd at this hip and trendy Black-owned restaurant and bar. Browse the extensive cocktail and wine list while you decide between elevated American fare like a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye, shrimp and grits, or roasted halibut.
Elevated Southern food is the greatest marriage, where comfort meets spontaneity. Add handcrafted cocktails to the mix and you’ve got the perfect throuple. Join in at this Black-owned spot where tea smoked lamb chops, chicken and waffles, and a tower of seafood are on the dinner menu.
Looking for a meal that’ll please the kids and the grandparents? Pizza is a cheesy and crispy crusted no brainer. This place boasts authentic Neapolitan pizza cooked in just 90 seconds in a 900-degree, wood-fired oven. Or go for other Italian classics like rotisserie chicken or tiramisu.
Where to Rest
Mackinac Island, Michigan
After you’ve gorged yourself on fudge and soaked in the scenic views from the waterfront, retire at this accolade-draped historic hotel. This lodge has been checking in guests since 1887 and welcomes you to enjoy individually decorated sleeping rooms, golf, a spa and afternoon tea in the parlor.
Situated and stylish in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, and just minutes from key attractions, this boutique hotel offers onsite car rental and an award-winning restaurant.
If you need a place to crash during a girls’ trip or family reunion, this three-bedroom, two-bedroom Airbnb sleeps nine and is being offered from a highly rated “superhost.” It boasts a pool table, exposed brick, 20-foot ceilings and is walkable to downtown must-sees.
Rent the upper level of this charming 1870s Polish flat in the heart of Bay View. It’s the perfect getaway for two. Rented by a “superhost,” it boasts plenty of light, eclectic art and an efficiency kitchenette, all just steps away from Milwaukee’s best restaurants and shopping.
Lake Forest, Illinois
Off the beaten path and 45 minutes north of Chicago, this lodge is chock-full of rustic charm. Named the No. 1 Midwest resort hotel by Travel + Leisure magazine, guests have been lounging in front of the property’s fireplaces since 1929. After you wake in one of the English country estate-themed rooms, enjoy Sunday brunch in the English room.
What to Do
Young and grown-up science lovers alike will appreciate this interactive, educational museum just two hours from Detroit and halfway to Chicago. Make a day of learning about what makes an aircraft go, getting up close and personal with space artifacts, and testing your skills in flight simulators.
This seductive spot recalls the heyday of Cincinnati’s own Cotton Club of the 1940s and ‘50s. Uncork a bottle of red from one of the women- and minority-owned options in stock, and sit back and settle in for a series of live traditional and contemporary jazz sets happening three nights a week.
More than 50% larger than any other presidential library, this 200,000-square-foot complex built in 2005 includes archives, a library, museum, theater and galleries. View artifacts and get into immersive technologies that tell the story of the 16th president.
Get lost in the lights, and the bells and whistles, as you try your luck at slots, blackjack, poker and bingo at the country’s first off-reservation gaming operation and one of the Midwest’s largest entertainment destinations.
If you like your holidays a little haunted, then walk the 20,000 square feet of passageways that wind beneath the city featuring brick archways and limestone columns belonging to Tomlinson Hall, a building opened in 1886 and destroyed by fire in 1958. Book at 30-minute tour of the dilapidated remains.
Next to Nature
Encompassing close to 50,000 acres and stretching across 13 miles of the Upper Peninsula, this park is home to the Tahquamenon River and its waterfalls. Camping is an option year-long if you’d like to see one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi up close.
Take it back, way back, and go on the hunt for fossils at one of only two prime Devonian era (416 million to 358 million years ago) sites on Earth. Nearly 375 million years ago Northern Ohio was a great sea teeming with life. Now, this park is rich in fossilized brachiopods, coral and more than 200 species of prehistoric life. Take home what you find, and also enjoy the bike and walking trails while you’re there.
Camp, lodge and explore the caverns at Indiana’s most visited natural attraction and a site on the U.S. National Natural Landmark list. Discover a wide variety of speleothems (cave formations) and a sophisticated ecosystem. When you emerge from the cool darkness, let the kids sift through the dirt and see if they can unearth any gemstones.
Looking to get one with nature but not willing to give up your nighttime skin care routine? Then this soon-to-open glamping destination is for you. Launching this summer just 90 minutes south of Chicago, this is where nature meeting luxury. The campgrounds boast 96 acres of lavish safari-style tents with all the amenities of a hotel room, elevated cuisine and curated activities.
Door County, Wisconsin
Door County is nestled between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. A kayak makes for the perfect vehicle by which to explore the thousand-year-old cave systems and scenic waterways of Cave Point County Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park.