Category Archives: Lodging

Ludington State Park, Ludington, MI

Photo by Rachel Kramer,
Photo by Rachel Kramer,

Ludington State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, Ludington State Park offers a second beach along Hamlin Lake, sand dunes, hiking trails, an amphitheater, three campgrounds and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

The Lake Michigan beach stretches seven miles along the Great Lake, and features a beach house with a store, a restaurant and concessions. The beach has an accessible walkway to make getting down to the water’s edge easier.

For variety, warmer water temperatures (sometimes), or when the waves on Lake Michigan are too rough, try the Lake Hamlin Beach. The playground and calmer waters makes this beach a favorite with families. There’s a picnic area with grills nearby so you can grill up lunch or grab something to eat at the concession stand.

There’s a boat launch on Hamlin Lake to enjoy a day of water skiing or relaxing with your fishing pole. If you didn’t bring a boat, paddleboat, rowboat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at the concession stand. One of Ludington State Park’s unique features is a picturesque, marked, 4 -mile long canoe trail that winds along the edge of Hamlin Lake and wanders through bayous not accessible from the hiking trails.

Ludington State Park boasts 8 hiking and biking trails meandering a combined 18 miles through the park; there are options for those seeking a pleasant stroll as well as those who like a bigger challenge.

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse has illuminated the shores of Ludington since 1867. In 1949 it became the last Great Lakes lighthouse to be electrified. The lighthouse is open to visitors from May through October, but is situated 1.8 miles from the the parking lot so be prepared for a little hike!

Ludington State Park features not one but four campgrounds. Pines, Cedar and Beechwood all feature modern restrooms and electrical hookups. Pines is situated near Lake Michigan and offers 99 campsites, mostly shady. Beechwood is located near Hamlin Lake and has 147 mostly shady campsites. Cedar lies between Pines and Beechwood and features 106 mostly sunny campsites. There are three mini-cabins for rent for those traveling without a camper or tent.

For those who like a more rustic camping experience, the fourth campsite, Jack Pines, might be just the thing. It is not accessible by road and no vehicles are allowed, so all equipment, gear and supplies must be walked in. It is located in the dunes near Lake Michigan, about a mile north of Pines Campground. Vault toilets and hand pump are provided.

Ludington State Park
8800 W. M-116
Ludington, MI 49431
(231) 843-2423

Chicago Hotels

Whether you’re looking for luxury or you’re on a budget, there’s a hotel for you in or around Chicago.

Sitting room off the Talbott lobby

My family’s go-to hotel in Chicago is The Talbott – when we can get a good deal. Great location, spacious rooms, tons of charm, superb staff – it even has a ladybug cow. It’s a winner.

Check out the links below for other Chicago hotel recommendations.

Tripadvisor: Chicago Hotels – I always check out the reviews on this site when I’m booking a hotel sight unseen. I find that if I read enough of them, I form a fairly accurate perception of a hotel’s pros and cons.

Travelpod: Chicago Hotels – This is another site with reviews by people who have stayed at hotels in the Chicago area.

Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City, IN

Just a few blocks from Michigan City’s popular Lake Michigan beach lies the town’s hotel and casino, Blue Chip Casino.

The casino is open all day every day, with 65,000 square feet of gaming space. Like slots? Blue Chip offers more than 1,900 slot machines in denominations from one cent to $100. The casino also boasts 42 table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps, 21+3 and mini baccarat as well as a poker room with eight tables.

Dining options at Michigan City’s Blue Chip Casino run from sandwiches to fine steaks.

  • At William B’s Steakhouse guests can savor such dishes as chicken and crab francaise, Thai style Chilean sea bass and center cut aged filet mignon.
  • Enjoy live entertainment at It’s Vegas Baby while dining on entrees like hand-tossed pizzas or short rib sandwiches.
  • At The Game, patrons keep track of scores and watch the latest sports matches while munching on burgers & wings.
  • Just looking for a quick bite? Nelson’s Deli offers breakfast & sandwiches that won’t break the bank.
  • What’s a casino without a buffet? Blue Chip’s offering in the buffet category is Options, featuring specialties like Seafood Sundays and Barbeque Thursdays.

Entertainment options at Blue Chip include live bands playing at The Rocks cocktail lounge or It’s Vegas Baby Bar & Restaurant. Blue Chip Casino is also home to the Stardust Event Center, featuring a 1200 seat theater that hosts some of the more famous acts coming to Michigan City, Indiana. Check the casino’s website for a list of upcoming events.

Guests can choose to spend the night at the Casino’s hotel, which boasts 468 rooms, a fitness center, spa and pool, as well as access to all the casino dining mentioned above.

Blue Chip Casino Hotel
777 Blue Chip Drive
Michigan City, IN 46360
Phone: 219-879-7711
Toll Free: 888-879-7711

Hotels in Grand Haven, MI & Spring Lake

Grand Haven hotels are an ideal base from which visitors in town can explore the lovely Lake Michigan beach and other local attractions. Three well-known area chain hotels are the Best Western and Days Inn in Grand Haven and the Holiday Inn located in Spring Lake.

Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn is located on the shores of the Grand River in Spring Lake, just across the drawbridge from Grand Haven. Many of the hotels rooms have water views, patios and balconies, and guest can access free wifi from all rooms. Amenities include both indoor and heated outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center and game room. For dining, head to Jack’s, the Holiday Inn’s in-house restaurant, where you can enjoy a dishes like a grilled chicken & brie sandwich, pecan encrusted whitefish or a bleu cheese bacon burger. Afterwards relax with a cocktail at Jack’s Lounge.

Holiday Inn
940 W. Savidge Street
Spring Lake, MI 49456

Best Western Beacon Inn
The Best Western Beacon Inn is located right on US 31 – very convenient and easy to find. Rooms are equipped with free wifi, a DVD player, microwave and fridge. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool & hot tub and a fitness center. The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast each morning, is walking distance from several fast food restaurants and a short drive to downtown eateries. The Best Western is less than 2 miles from the beach.

Best Western Beacon Inn
1525 South Beacon Boulevard
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Days Inn
The Days Inn Grand Haven is located right across the boulevard from the Best Western on US 31. It offers rooms with free wifi, microwave and refrigerator. Guests can enjoy the Days Inn’s indoor swimming pool and whirlpool or head down to the game room. Days Inn provides a free breakfast each morning, or guests can head to the Tim Horton’s adjacent or other dining options in walking distance.

Days Inn Grand Haven
1500 S Beacon Blvd
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Rental Cottages in Grand Haven, MI

Summer rental homes abound in Grand Haven and are your best bet for lodging right on the water, though a few bed & breakfasts are awfully close.

A range of Grand Haven summer rental properties are available, from cottages on the shore to small houses in town, downtown condos to 5000 square-foot beachfront mcmansions.

Vacation Rentals by Owner, or is a good source for Grand Haven summer rental listings (and no, I don’t get a commission for saying that, but I should probably look into it 😉 )

Great Wolf Lodge, Traverse City, Michigan

If you’re looking for a fun place to stay with the family in Traverse City, Great Wolf Lodge may be just the hotel for you. Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel / indoor waterpark perched on the outskirts of Traverse City, right by the Grand Traverse Mall.

The huge waterpark has activities for all ages, from a splash pad for the ankle biters, a play structure for older kids to explore, thrilling water slides for the big kids and a hot tub just for adults. Guests can grab a tube and take a relaxing float around the lazy river, or play a game of water basketball. The temperature inside Great Wolf Lodge’s water park is kept at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, so that it’s comfortable even when the Michigan snow is blowing outside.

There is so much to do at Great Wolf Lodge, my family rarely makes it outside of the hotel to see the rest of Traverse City. When not in the waterpark, kids can hang out at the arcade or play a round of minigolf outside in the warmer months. A kid’s club keeps kids occupied with stories and crafts. There’s a spa with treatments for adults and kids, and a gift shop to browse through.

My kids’ favorite activity at Great Wolf Lodge outside of the waterpark is the Magiquest game. Kids head to the Magiquest store to pay for the game and purchase a magic wand if they don’t already have one from a previous visit. They then head out to a grove of trees in the hall by the elevators, where they are given a quest. They then walk up and down between the floors of the hotels, searching for symbols in paintings, opening treasure chests and activating talking video screens. When they’ve completed enough quests they can move on to challenges like helping a princess or battling a dragon. The game takes several hours to complete, but kids have a few days to finish it, so they can spread play out throughout their visit.

The hotel has standard hotel rooms, but also family suites. In the suites +the kids have their own area, with a camp or wolf den theme, with bunk beds and their own television set.

There’s a snack bar in the waterpark, with choices like pizza, fries, ice cream and alcoholic drinks for adults who just want to kick back on a lounge chair and mellow out. There’s also a sit down restaurant in the lobby that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kids can bring their Magiquest wands in there and make a tree light up and squirrels swing. The ice cream shop outside the waterpark sells milk and cereal in the mornings for those who don’t want the full sit down breakfast at the restaurant.

If you’re traveling to Great Wolf Lodge in the winter, don’t forget to bring flip flops for walking to park from your room – so much more comfortable than snow boots!

Contact Info:
Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City
3575 N US Highway 31 S
Traverse City, MI 49684
Hotel Direct:


Campgrounds in Grand Haven

Grand Haven offers several camping options, but the favorite by far is the Grand Haven State Park campground, where you’ll fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the shore.  There’s barely a tree in sight, but who cares when the Lake Michigan beach is literally right outside your door?Eat breakfast outside and enjoy views of the sand, the glistening water and Grand Haven’s cheerful red lighthouse, rising like a rocket from a pier that juts out into the lake. There’s a pavilion serving goodies like burgers, hot dogs and ice cream, and a shop selling all the beach things you might have left at home, like suncreen and beach balls.   What’s more, guests can enjoy sand & sun all day long, then walk the boardwalk along the Grand River into lively downtown Grand Haven.  If long walks aren’t your thing, take your car or use the trolley service that runs between the beach and downtown.

Families traveling with children or grandchildren might also enjoy staying at the Grand Haven Campground situated just south of town.  The Grand Haven location of this popular chain features amenities kids love, like mini-golf, heated pool and more.

Another Grand Haven option is the

Click for Contact Info:

Grand Haven State Park

Grand Haven Campground