8 outstanding off-the-beaten-path adventures
- Last Updated: 6:20 PM, June 8, 2011
- Posted: 7:14 PM, June 6, 2011
THERE is a reason they call them the Great Lakes, and it’s not just because they’re big. From New York’s Thousand Islands to the furthest shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota, it just doesn’t get much better than this part of the world during the summer months. Tired of the crowds at the beach? Here are eight great off-the-beaten-path itineraries for a perfect getaway.
#1 STAY IN A YURT Minnesota
Way, way up north in Minnesota, at the end of the famous Highway 61 written about by native son Bob Dylan, winters go on for a really long time. So long, that the tiny harbor town of Grand Marais, offering the closest you’ll get to city life around here, goes into hyperdrive these next couple of months, attracting visitors to a series of festivals and arts events. But the best reason to come up here is to get out into nature — hop on to the Gunflint Trail, a 57-mile-long road that leads from Lake Superior up into the Boundary Waters region. Along the trail, a series of cozy and friendly lodges cater to outdoor types —Boundary Country Trekking offers the opportunity to sleep in a comfortable yurt ($75 per night, double), located directly on some excellent bike trails.
Don’t miss There’s nothing like freshly-caught trout. Even if you need to book a guide to teach you how, definitely plan to catch your own dinner at least one night.
#2 TAKE A HIKE Ontario
Most people forget there’s a Lake Huron (it’s shared by Michigan and Ontario), let alone a Georgian Bay (at 5,800 miles square, it’s bigger than Lake Titicaca). But they're both up here, just a couple hours north of Buffalo. The narrow Bruce Peninsula runs straight between the two and boasts some of the best-looking territory in the entire Great Lakes region; up here you're at the end of the rugged Niagara Escarpment, the famous outcropping that gave us those famous falls.
Don’t miss Drive out the peninsula to the small town of Tobermory; from here plan a day hike out along the impressive coastline and into pristine Bruce Peninsula National Park. In summer time, everything's either blue or green (or blue-green). Don't be afraid to get jump in!
#3 SUDS AND SAND Indiana
Northwest Indiana is to Chicago as New Jersey is to New York, except take away anything that’s nice and keep, say, the oil refineries and the city of Elizabeth. (Actually, Gary should be so lucky to be as nice as Elizabeth.) Yes, this patch of the Hoosier State sometimes feels like a dumping ground for all the crap that Chicago didn’t want. Except we bet that Chicago wishes it could claim the 2,182-acre Indiana Dunes State Park, a place that looks a lot more like the Caribbean in summer than you'd expect from a state park located just down the road from one of the largest industrial complexes in The Americas. Just an hour or so from the Chicago Loop (you can take the train from Union Station) and you're scrambling down some of the biggest freshwater dunes in the world. On a steamy day, there's nothing like it.