On Friday, after my run around St. Ignace , my mom and I packed up her car and started the drive south to Watervale, a small “resort” in Arcadia, MI. The drive is only about 3 hours (I think?) but I made sure to drag it out to about 5 hours by nicely demanding we stop in Petoskey (coffee! farmer’s market!) and Charlevoix (lunch! Cherry Republic!). Good thing “up north” is beautiful and the drive was easy!
Growing up, my mom and I would spend a week at Watervale with family friends. We’d all rent one floor of a cottage and play at the lake (Lower Herring) or the beach (Lake Michigan) all day, enjoy dinners at the inn, and then have campfires, play tag, etc. on the beach until night. Once I entered middle school we stopped going for a full week and tried to go for a long weekend every other year or so until the end of high school when we stopped going altogether. When my mom and I were planning our “nostalgia trip” earlier this summer, we knew Watervale had to be on the list of places to go.
We arrived at the inn a little before dinner, “checked in” aka found a sheet of paper with our room numbers on them and put our suitcases in the rooms, and then headed down to the beach to look out at the water.
Dunes for miles.
We had made our reservations on the later side, so we were seated at the earlier dinner and unfortunately didn’t have too much time to spend on the beach that first afternoon. We did make sure to return after dinner to watch the sunset though.
Ian arrived late that night so on Saturday, after I finished my run, Ian, my mom, and I all went down to breakfast at the inn. The weather was gorgeous – low 60′s in the morning expecting to rise to the high 70′s by mid-afternoon – so we decided to hike to Mt. Baldy, a huge dune about a mile down the beach.
However, the hike doesn’t take you down the beach, you actually climb up the dune from the backside, walking along trails, climbing up mini dunes, and hiking through a lot of sand. It’s a fairly short hike (3ish miles) but it’s definitely not easy.
The views from the top though are spectacular and 100% worth it.
We played around for a bit before starting the descent down. The dune is incredibly steep so there are only two ways to make it to the bottom safely – you can walk sideways on an angle or you can “run” down letting your feet catch in the sand which is much more fun but a little scary.
We walked back to Watervale along the shore of Lake Michigan and then headed in to downtown Frankfurt to get some lunch and pick up other necessities from the local grocery chain. Once we got back to Watervale it was finally BEACH TIME!
We walked about a mile down the beach away from Baldy toward “the outlet” where Lower Herring Lake runs into Lake Michigan. This was always my favorite place to play when I was younger and my friends and I would always try to build a dam to keep the water from flowing into Lake Michigan. The water in the outlet is usually a lot warmer than Lake Michigan too which makes swimming much more comfortable. Lake Michigan was freezing this year- I took my obligatory dunk under water and then rushed out to warm up in the sun.
After a few hours, we headed back to Watervale to shower, enjoy a glass of wine, and then have dinner at the inn.
We relaxed for a bit, packed up our rooms, and then headed down to the beach to watch one last Lake Michigan sunset.
It got cold pretty quickly after the sun went down and we were all tired from our busy day so we headed back to the inn and crashed early.
I wish I had more to say about Sunday but I don’t. I got my run in, we all ate breakfast together, walked around Watervale a bit, and then headed out. I actually enjoyed the drive home along the west coast of Michigan but was too tired to appreciate it enough as a tourist. I just wanted to get back to Chicago! Fortunately, we only had to make 2 real stops (ice cream for Ian and then lunch + gas) and we arrived back in Chicago around dinnertime ending my traipse across Michigan.
Have you ever been “up north” in Michigan? Did you go on many family vacations as a child?