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Lake Michigan Circle Tour

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Lake Michigan Circle Tour

Lake Michigan Circle Tour

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is a designated, signed scenic road system that circumnavigates Lake Michigan. I recently made this drive of 1,315 miles over four days.

The Lake Michigan Circle Tour features excellent roads, plenty of campsites, nature trails for hiking, huge sand dunes, beautiful vistas galore, fabulous beaches, and nearly 100 historic lighthouses.

It is a relaxing drive, Lake Michigan is surrounded by friendly people, and there is no shortage of motels and bed-and-breakfasts in which to lodge. Note that most B&B's require a two-night stay during tourist season.

I have read that the Lake Michigan Circle Tour can be accomplished in 1,150 miles, but I chose to stray from the marked route because I wanted to see every nook and cranny along the way.

When I told my daughter Sarrah I was going on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, she said, "That sounds like fun! Where do you get on?" That is one great part of it; you can get on anywhere around the lake.



Warren Dunes

Warren Dunes

A Place to Begin: Warren Dunes State Park, Indiana

I began the Lake Michigan Circle Tour in my hometowns, the Twin Cities of St Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan. Since I plan to write a future article about from whence I came, I won't get into that now.

Driving south from St. Joseph along the Lake Michigan shoreline, we reach the Indiana state line in 30 miles. Halfway there, we encounter Warren Dunes State Park. With nearly 2,000 acres of large sand dunes and beaches, Warren Dunes receives a million visitors annually. Hang-gliding permits are only $10.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Michigan City, Indiana is the center of the first metropolitan area we enter, home to 100,000 people. Just past the city, we find Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This national park covers 15,000 acres along 25 miles of the Lake Michigan coast.

Baha'i temple in Wilmette, Illinois

Baha'i temple in Wilmette, Illinois

Through Gary to the Gold Coast

On our way west around the bottom of Lake Michigan, we drive through Gary, Indiana. Gary was once the home of the largest steel mill congregation in the world. The labor unions drove the steel industry out of America, and this area is now desolate. Chicago, Illinois, looms ahead.

North of Chicago, we travel through the Gold Coast area, followed by Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka—where we see hundreds of fabulous mansions.

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Kenosha waterfront

Kenosha waterfront

Coast Guard station, Racine, Wisconsin

Coast Guard station, Racine, Wisconsin

Kenosha and Racine, Wisconsin

Kenosha, WI, with a population of 100,000, is the first city we come to after crossing the border from Illinois to Wisconsin. We are now headed straight north. Kenosha is a very nice, growing city with a thriving tourist industry.

Millions of automobiles were manufactured in Kenosha back in the day. Presently, half the workforce commutes to Chicago or Milwaukee.

Farther north a bit, we drive through Racine, Wisconsin. Racine, which means "root" in French, is home to 80,000 souls. Malted milk and the garbage disposal were invented in Racine, Wisconsin.

Racine, Wisconsin claims to have the most Danes of any city in North America. The beautiful Johnson Wax headquarters building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a National Historic Landmark.

Entrance to the historic Third Ward of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Entrance to the historic Third Ward of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin ranks 26th among U.S. cities in population. There are 2,000,000 residents in the Greater Milwaukee Area. The name is a conflation of two American Indian words and means roughly "gathering place on good land near water." Four rivers run through the city. The lakefront is, of course, awesome.

I had not been to Milwaukee in a long time. The downtown area surprised me—it is clean and lively and very cool. Milwaukee is also the proud home of Harley-Davidson.

From its beginnings, Milwaukee drew large numbers of German immigrants, who brought their love for beer with them and made Milwaukee the beer capital of the world. A huge contingent of Poles was attracted to Milwaukee, too; the majority settled on the south side of the city. Milwaukee is therefore heavily populated with Catholics and Lutherans.

38 percent of residents inside the city limits are black. The workforce is more blue-collar than most American cities. I have also read that Milwaukee is a haven for Lesbians. The politics of Milwaukee are decidedly dominated by social liberals.

Lighthouse, Port Washington

Lighthouse, Port Washington

Port Washington

Port Washington

Port Washington, Wisconsin

Now and then during my travels, I see a place on the map that I have had to drive through to get to someplace else that made me stop and sing its praises. Port Washington, Wisconsin is such a place.

This city of 12,000 people sits 25 miles north of Milwaukee and is the cleanest city I saw on my journey.

Port Washington is the original home of Paramount Records, and features the largest collection of pre-Civil War buildings in Wisconsin. It also boasts one of the largest charter fishing fleets on the Great Lakes. One look at its harbor and I could see why.

I could live there.



Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Sheboygan is called home by 115,000 people, many of them of German ancestry. The city is 50 miles north of Milwaukee.

In 2005, the tallest flagpole in the United States was raised in Sheboygan—338 feet high, and weighing 65 tons—to display the American Flag. The Dairyland Surf Classic, the largest lake surfing competition in the world, is held each year at Sheboygan. Sheboygan is also well known for bratwurst, and hosts the World Bratwurst Eating Championship. I believe the record is 58 bratwursts in ten minutes.



The S. S. Badger sails across Lake Michiigan between Manitowoc and Ludington, Michigan

The S. S. Badger sails across Lake Michiigan between Manitowoc and Ludington, Michigan

Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Manitowoc is a community in which 50,000 souls make their abode. Shipbuilding was the mainstay of the economy in the early years of Manitowoc. The oldest custom yacht builder in America, the Burger Boat Company, still produces a few yachts there each year. Worth a visit is the Smithsonian-affiliated Wisconsin Maritime Museum, one of the largest nautical museums in the United States.

The last coal-fired passenger and vehicle ferry on the Great Lakes, the S.S. Badger (S.S. stands for steamship), still sails 60 miles across Lake Michigan and back (four hours each way) every day between from Manitowoc and Ludington, MI. I've not been on it, but it is on my bucket list.

Egg Harbor in Door County

Egg Harbor in Door County

Door County, Wisconsin

Door County, Wisconsin, is a peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan and a popular family vacation area. While the year-round population is only 28,000, during the summer season the "Cape Cod of the Midwest" plays host to 200,000 visitors daily. Many Door County businesses are only open in season.

The name "Door County" comes from the strait off the tip of the peninsula, that the French nicknamed "Death's Door," because it is littered with shipwrecks. Treacherous shoals and unpredictable wind gusts contribute to the hazard.

Door County is known for its 12 lighthouses, cherry orchards, and fish boils, which feature the locally caught whitefish.

Green Bay

Green Bay

A hot band I saw in Green Bay at IQ's:  Shaker and the Egg

A hot band I saw in Green Bay at IQ's: Shaker and the Egg

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay is the last major stop on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour in Wisconsin. From here, we head north about 55 miles into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Green Bay, population 300,000, is best known as the home of the Green Bay Packers football team, so named because the city is a major center of the meatpacking industry. The Packers have won 12 championships in the National Football League—more than any other team.

The residents are predominantly Catholics, though Lutherans also maintain a strong presence. A major attraction is the National Railroad Museum. I didn't go there, but I did go out to hear a hot, live, avant-garde jazz-reggae band called "Shaker and the Egg" at a dive named IQ's. When I asked the nice girl at my motel how to get to the address, she said, "I've never been to that part of town. It's bad." I thought, "perfect."



Menominee, Michigan

Menominee, Michigan, is across the state border from its twin city, Marinette, Wisconsin. The two cities have a combined population of 65,000, with slightly more on the Wisconsin side. The area population has dropped 50 percent in the last 100 years. The majority of the citizens are of German descent.

Menominee is also the name of an American Indian tribe; it means "Wild Rice." There was a time when Menominee produced more lumber than anyplace in the United States. Manufacturing provides the most jobs today. The local high school consistently turns out excellent athletic teams.

Menominee was the most impressive city I saw in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The historic downtown has been gentrified. It looks like a fine place to live. Now we proceed northbound.

Escanaba Harbor

Escanaba Harbor

Escanaba, Michigan

Escanaba, Michigan, is home to 17,000 souls located in a "Banana Belt," which means it enjoys warmer weather than the region it is in as a whole. The schools close the first day of deer hunting season.

Escanaba is a major center for Great Lakes Shipping. The chief employer is a paper mill. The lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Leaving Escanaba, I drove east 142 miles, through forests mostly, near the Lake Michigan coast of the Upper Peninsula to St Ignace, Michigan. I passed through the towns of Gladstone and Manistique. I saw a lot of small motels and restaurants with few customers. I noticed that these enterprises were very clean, and seemingly all dressed up, as if expecting a crowd.

Fayette Ghost Town

Fayette Ghost Town

Fayette, Michigan

One of the side trips I took off the Lake Michigan Circle Tour was to explore Garden Peninsula. Near the tiny village of Garden was a little store that combined groceries, liquor, gas, and movies. The most remarkable feature is a butcher shop, which produced home-made Slim Jims—easily the best I ever had.

Nearby is Fayette Historic State Park, which features a "ghost town." The town of Fayette once led the Upper Peninsula in iron-smelting. During 24 years of operation, Fayette produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron. 500 people lived there before the blast furnaces closed. Today, the town is preserved so we can see what life was like there from 1867 to 1891.

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

St Ignace and Mackinaw City, Michigan

The most outstanding feature of this area is the magnificent Mackinac Bridge. The bridge connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan; and the little towns of St Ignace and Mackinaw City. The Mackinac Bridge is the third longest total suspension bridge in the world. It is a mile and a half across.

The Mackinac Bridge took four years to build and opened in 1957. The high winds frighten a number of people, and professional drivers are on hand to drive your car, motorcycle, or semi truck across for you. Only one vehicle has ever blown off the bridge to the waters 200 feet below—it was a Yugo.

The waters below are the Straits of Mackinac, which links Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Actually, these two lakes are one lake. An early mistake by geographers declared them separate lakes and by the time it was figured out that Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are one—nobody wanted to change the names.

St Ignace (pop. 3,000) is one of the oldest cities in Michigan. It sits on the site where the French missionary Father Marquette established a mission in 1671—and he is buried there.

Mackinaw City is a village of only 1,000 people but it is the number one tourist destination in Michigan—due to its proximity to Mackinac Island. Fort Michilimackinac, which dates from 1715, is also popular with tourists.

Downtown Petoskey

Downtown Petoskey

Petoskey sunset

Petoskey sunset

Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey sits next to the deepest natural harbor of the Great Lakes. It is a high-end town, in one of the most beautiful areas of Michigan. 7,000 people call Petoskey home, though the population swells with swells during the summer. It is not dead in winter either, since there are ski resorts nearby.

Because of a flat tire in the middle of nowhere (when I strayed from the marked Lake Michigan Circle Tour), I had to ride 40 miles in a tow truck to Petoskey. The driver, from Cheboygan Towing, was a wonderful and helpful fellow. He stayed with me while his dispatcher called around feverishly to find a room for the night—the entire town was booked.

Due to a last-minute cancellation, the wonderful folks at the Apple Tree Inn— highly recommended—took me in. And they had a van pick me from the Odawa Casino. I'm not a gambler, but it was fun to visit this beautiful place and watch the action. Lord knows that by then I needed a drink.



Ironton car ferry

Ironton car ferry

Charlevoix, Michigan

Charlevoix is 16 miles west of Petoskey. It sits on a strip of land between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix—pretty good sized at over 17,000 acres.

Charlevoix has only 5,000 full-time residents, but it is a major destination for upper-crust vacationers. During prohibition, Charlevoix, MI was a hangout for Chicago gangsters.

Before reaching Charlevoix, I came to a spot on Lake Charlevoix where the road ended. No worries, my car (with me in it) was put aboard the four-car Ironton Ferry. This cable ferry takes ten minutes to cross the south arm of the lake. The cost is $3.25. The Ironton Ferry makes the trip 100 times per day in season.

Traverse City beach

Traverse City beach



Sleeping Bear sand dunes

Sleeping Bear sand dunes

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City is the largest city in northern Michigan, with an area population of 142,000. The Traverse City region is the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States. 500,000 people attend its annual Cherry Festival. Greater Traverse City is also known for its wine production, but tourism is the lifeblood of Traverse City.

The Traverse City area is a great place to live or visit. I drove up and around the Leelanau Peninsula, which is as picturesque as you might want it to be, and home to a thriving organic farming movement. My daughter Sarrah's fiancé, Jerrad Grinstead, told me that I should pick her up a "Petoskey Stone," which I did in the hamlet of Omena.

The Petoskey Stone is the state stone of Michigan; it is a fossilized coral found only in the Traverse City region. I traveled southwest to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. On my way, I stopped at a convenience store that sold delectable home-made sandwiches, produced by a local woman.

For the remainder of our Lake Michigan Circle Tour, we will head straight south, following the Lake Michigan coast. First, we pass through the towns of Empire and Frankfort.

Manistee lighthouse

Manistee lighthouse

North pier, Ludington

North pier, Ludington

Manistee and Ludington, Michigan

Manistee, Michigan, had more millionaires per capita than any city in the United States during the 1880s. From what I have seen, it has fallen on hard times. It is home to 6,000 people today. It was once a center for logging and the manufacture of roofing shingles. Now salt production is king in Manistee.

Ludington, Michigan, has a population of 8,000 people. I was very impressed by Ludington. It is a gorgeous city, with flowers everywhere, and lovely restored Victorian mansions lining its main avenue.

Ludington was a lumber town back in the day, but it is now focused on its wonderful beaches and quaint downtown of art galleries and boutiques.

We continue southbound, passing through a very nice village called Pentwater, and the twin cities of Montague and Whitehall, which also seem to be fine places to dwell.

Harbor, Muskegon

Harbor, Muskegon

Muskegon lighthouse

Muskegon lighthouse

Muskegon, Michigan

Muskegon is the largest city we have seen since Green Bay on our Lake Michigan Circle Tour. 170,000 people live in the Muskegon area. The city has a large black community. Muskegon is the most populous town on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan.

Muskegon means "swamp." I expected to find a cesspool of a place, based on a visit there twenty years ago, but I am pleased to report that Muskegon is being revitalized.

Pere Marquette beach is the largest free public beach on the east side of Lake Michigan. Muskegon Lake is renowned for fishing, particularly Walleye. No city in Michigan boasts more high school football victories than Muskegon. The state's largest amusement park is in Muskegon: Michigan's Adventure, which features seven roller coasters and a water park.

Grand Haven State Park

Grand Haven State Park

Grand Haven

Grand Haven

Musical fountain, Grand Haven

Musical fountain, Grand Haven

Grand Haven, Michigan

Grand Haven, MI, is ten miles south of Muskegon. It was once a trading post, owned by the first millionaire in America, John Jacob Astor, who made his fortune fur trading. Grand Haven was heavy into logging, lumber, and shipbuilding in the old days, later diversifying into manufacturing.

Good Morning America proclaimed Grand Haven State Park as one of the top five beaches in the United States. Grand Haven is called the Midwest Mecca of beach volleyball. The Grand Haven Coast Guard coordinates all Lake Michigan Coast Guard activities.

The first bank robbery by "Baby Face" Nelson was committed in Grand Haven. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain was built in 1962, at that time the world's largest such fountain. Grand Haven became the first city in America with wireless internet access citywide in 2004—even reaching boats 15 miles offshore.

Holland, Michigan

Holland, Michigan

Holland lighthouse ("Big Red")

Holland lighthouse ("Big Red")

Holland, Michigan

23 miles south of Grand Haven, we come to Holland, MI. These two cities combine to form a "metropolitan statistical area" with 260,000 residents.

Holland—the "Tulip City"—was founded in 1847 by Dutch Calvinists fleeing persecution in The Netherlands. Holland is sometimes called the "City of Churches;" it boasts 170 places of Christian worship, and it is the birthplace of the "What Would Jesus Do?" movement, started by a local church in 1989.

The H. J. Heinz Company has operated the world's largest pickle factory in Holland, MI since 1897. It processes over a million pounds of pickles per day during the green season.

The "Well-being Index" ranks Holland as the second healthiest and happiest city in America. The Tulip Festival is held each May, which involves six million tulips. The Tulip Festival attracts a million visitors, making it the third largest annual town festival in America. Reader's Digest named the Tulip Festival "the best small-town festival in the country."

Oval beach, Saugatuck, Michigan

Oval beach, Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck became a noted art colony over a hundred years ago, during the Arts & Crafts Movement. Today, Saugatuck is a top tourist destination for its lovely harbor, unparalleled beaches, and quaint downtown—full of art galleries and unusual shops. Only a couple thousand people actually live there. The town is well known among men who enjoy homosexual behaviors.

Saugatuck is the last stop on our Lake Michigan Circle Tour. I drove through the lovely hamlet of Pullman and found a great little grocery store, Preferred Market. On my way back to our starting point, I passed through two more nice towns, Fennville and South Haven. And then I found the Hagar Bar & Grill on Lake Michigan Beach, seven miles north of St Joseph, where I stopped and sang a bit of Karaoke. The Hagar Bar & Grill has outstanding food, and the world famous DJ Dale Parsons.

Where the water comes from:  the Lake Michigan drainage basin

Where the water comes from: the Lake Michigan drainage basin

Lake Michigan Facts

The star of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour is Lake Michigan itself. I grew up on Lake Michigan, the only Great Lake located entirely within the United States, and the largest lake on earth entirely within one country.

Lake Michigan is 307 miles long and 118 miles wide at its widest point. The lake's greatest depth reaches 923 feet; its average depth is 279 feet. The Lake Michigan shoreline is 1,640 miles long.

Twelve million people live along the coast of Lake Michigan. The beaches of Lake Michigan, especially those on the Michigan side, are known for their exquisite beauty. The sand is soft and off-white, known as "singing sands," because it squeaks under your feet due to its high content of quartz.

The Milwaukee Reef runs under Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Muskegon and divides the lake into northern and southern pools. Each pool has a clockwise flow of water. The water is five to ten degrees warmer on the Michigan side during summer.

Depth in meters:  Lake Michigan

Depth in meters: Lake Michigan

© 2010 James A Watkins


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 26, 2019:

Addy ~ I am glad you did. We thoroughly enjoyed it, as you could probably tell. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

Addy on October 20, 2016:

I just made this trip, amazing..

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 15, 2015:

melbel~ I thank you and I certainly agree with your assessment of Michigan. Even though I now live in Chicago, I still love Michigan and come over there to Berrien County--where I was born and raised--every chance I get. Nice to hear from you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 15, 2015:

Thank you very much Daddy Paul!

Melanie Shebel from Midwest, USA on July 14, 2015:

Absolutely stunning hub! I love all these amazing Michigan hubs I'm finding on here. I've written a few and I really have to say that Michiganders have the best "state" hubs. I think it's because Michigan really is the best. :P

Daddy Paul from Michigan on October 29, 2013:

Nice. Love your pic of the fountain.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 10, 2012:

cam8510— You are quite welcome. I am so glad you enjoyed the journey. Thank you for coming along and I surely appreciate the "Up, awesome and shared" my friend and fellow Michigander.

You are truly blessed to live in such a magnificent part of our planet. I am glad we have met and I look forward to a long friendship on HubPages.

james :)

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on December 03, 2012:

James, This was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. I suppose what makes it so special is the amount of time I have spent along this route from Menominee to Frankfort, Michigan. I'm sure you've inspired more than a few to put this trip on their list of places to visit. I am currently working on an article about Traverse City and have published one on Sleeping Bear Dunes. What a great place to live. I consider myself very lucky. Thanks again for the marvelous article and valuable traveling information. Up, awesome and shared.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 05, 2012:

PegCole17— You are most welcome. I am glad you enjoyed the trip. Thank you for coming along and for your kind comments. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 04, 2012:

Phyllis Doyle— You are welcome. Thank you so much for sharing this with your friends and family on facebook. That means a lot to me. :-)

I sure appreciate the gracious laudations. I am happy that you enjoyed the journey. I will see you soon!


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 04, 2012:

John Sarkis— Hello there John! Great to "see" you. The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is fabulous and I highly recommend it to all.

Thank you, my friend, for the vote up and the accolades.

Be well!


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 04, 2012:

Peggy W— You are welcome. How wonderful of you to stop by and check out my travelogue. I am thankful that you gave it your stamp of approval and shared it with your friends.

I hope you make this trip one day. It is a hoot and a holler.

I have never been to Mackinaw Island. I will have to rectify that in the near future. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on September 02, 2012:

Such a delightful trip. Thanks so much James. The pictures and the tour was awesome. Road trip!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on September 02, 2012:

OhhhMyyyyGosh !!!! James, this was a wonderful, absolutely beautiful trip you took us on. I feel like I just stepped out of your vehicle, tired yet delightfully inspired and educated about the lovely places you wrote about. Thank you for doing all the driving! Fantastic hub. All votes up!!!! I will definitely share this with family and friends on FB.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on September 02, 2012:

Hi James,

I loved your hub. What a great road trip this must have been for you. Lake Michigan is really gorgeous.

Vote up on your wonderful and well written hub


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 02, 2012:

What a terrific road trip! My parents actually honeymooned in Door County and many years later my husband & I spent only a day driving through it. Some good friends of ours have stayed on Mackinac Island & let me use their great photos when I wrote several hubs about it. I had heard about it from my grandparents who went there years ago. You have definitely awakened a desire to do this same Lake Michigan Circle Tour some day. Thanks for all of your descriptions and photos. Up votes and sharing!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 09, 2012:

theframjak— Welcome once again to HubPages. I appreciate you coming by to read my work.

I agree with you that Traverse City is lovely. I could see myself living in that area.

I noticed on your profile page that you are from South Carolina. I have friends there in Charleston, Columbia, Newberry, Aiken, and Anderson.

Thank you for your kind comments.

theframjak from East Coast on March 08, 2012:

Great article. I lived in Michigan for several years and was luckily able to visit many of the places in your article. The Traverse City area is a hidden gem.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2012:

CJ Sledgehammer— Thank you for taking the time to come over and read my article about the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. I highly recommend the tour.

I sincerely appreciate the voted up and awesome!!! Petoskey is a lovely town in every way. I am sorry to read that you lost it and the girl too! :(

Into every life a little rain must fall, my friend. I don't think I have been to Walloon Lake.

I am well pleased that you enjoyed this Hub. And I appreciate your compliments.

CJ Sledgehammer on February 19, 2012:

James, what can I say? You nailed it!!!

The picture of the sunset over Petoskey brought tears to my eyes - it's just like I remember it.

Petoskey is the first town that I ever "called home" and it didn't hurt that I "fell in love", for the first time, while I lived there.

It really hurt to leave Petoskey, but it hurt even more when my darling left me for another. Ouch!!! :0(

P.S. I know you covered just about everything in this awesome Hub, but I would just like to add that Walloon Lake, just outside of Petoskey, was voted in some big shot magazine as being the fourth most beautiful lake in the world. I should know, because I've been there! :0) Voted up and completely awesome!!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 31, 2012:

stessily— Thank you for your ongoing support of my writing. I appreciate your affirmation and encouragement. God Bless You!


stessily on January 28, 2012:

James, Milwaukee has a special place in my heart, so I'm pleased that you like it as well and that it looks to you "like a cool town", which it definitely is!

How 'bout that, you also liking Sam Adams! Not really a surprise for me because you display excellent taste in your hubs!

I'm also pleased that you'll be reading some of Deedee's (Derdriu) writings. I think that you'll enjoy and be impressed as well!:-)

Kind regards, Stessily

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 27, 2012:

stessily— I like Milwaukee. It looks like a cool town.

Hey! I also prefer Sam Adams!! How about that. :D

I am going to read some of Derdriu's work, probably Sunday. Thanks again.

stessily on January 26, 2012:

James, I've always preferred to think of Milwaukee as "Cream City" because of its architecture rather than as "Brew Town" for its beer. (As an occasional beer sipper, my preference is for Sam Adams!)

I'll patiently await your Lake Mich hub; I can easily relate to "so much I want to write about but not enough time".

That's great that you "met" my sis on HubPages. I hope that you find the time to read her work; it's stunning!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 26, 2012:

stessily— I have made myself a note to write about Lake Michigan. Of course, I have dozens of similar notes. There is so much I want to write about but not enough time.

I never knew Milwaukee was known as the "Cream City" until today. Thank you for the illumination of my mind.

I will do the Lake Michigan Hub soon. That will be real fun. I appreciate your support and encouragement.

ps I "met" your sister on HubPages!

stessily on January 23, 2012:

James, Please write about Lake Michigan. I won't steal the show by listing its fascinating history because I want to see it in print under your byline! Two words connote the mystery and power of Lake Michigan for me: Edmund Fitzgerald.

When Lake Michigan flows into your blood, especially by osmosis, its powerful presence never leaves. Summers in childhood always included swimming in Lake Mich and exploring its beaches --- absolutely halcyon.

As an adult, the lake is the first place I want to go, on visits or in my mind's eyes, in the Windy City or Cream City.

This hub is a personal favorite for me as well, along with your space hubs. Space, water, and wind convey the magnificence of the universe for me.

With kind regards from one Lake Michigan lover to another, Stessily

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 21, 2012:

stessily— You are most welcome, my dearest friend.

I must say that the Lake Michigan Circle Tour is not only one of the cheapest vacations I have ever had but it is also one the funnest times I have ever had during my time on this earth.

I love Lake Michigan dearly, having grown up on its banks and swam in it countless times. Its beaches are magnificent!

In fact, I think I should write a Hub about Lake Michigan itself, which is more interesting than one might imagine. :-)

Thank you for visiting one of my personal favorite Hubs among those I have published.

stessily on January 19, 2012:

James, Thank you for this entertaining circle tour of Lake Michigan. It is a tour which I have wanted to make for some time. So thank you for this vicarious tour, which solidifies its pre-eminence on my to-do list. Your realistic descriptions and lovely photos make me nostalgic for Lake Michigan, a body of water which I love and used to see almost every year of my life when I visited my paternal grandmother in Milwaukee and my maternal aunt in Chicago: two different perspectives on a magnificent lake which laps gently in Milwaukee and blusters noisily in the Windy City.

This circle tour qualifies as a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Thank you for this sparkling tour!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 05, 2012:

natures47friend— Thank you for the gracious compliments, as well as the voted up and awesome. I am glad you liked the photographs. I highly recommend this trip no matter where you are from.

I will come over and check out your writings. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

natures47friend from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand. on January 02, 2012:

Cool hub...so much interesting info and photos! That sounds like a recommended tour for visitors to the USA. I will ask my Aunties in New York if they have done it...they have been to a lot of places....up and awesome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

And I apologize for not capitalizing the "M" in Merritt.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

Cmerritt— It is a lovely journey and highly recommended. You are welcome and I thank you for the vistation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

TheListLady— Oh yes, we have huge sand dunes. I think they are the largest in the world on water. Thank you ever much for the laudations, the bookmark, and the "rated up." I certainly appreciate it. And you are most welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 29, 2010:

Allan McGregor— I also enjoy the etymology of place names, or words in general. I did include those that I came across during my research. It is a glorious part of the earth. I hope to visit with you one day, Allan. That would be a treat.

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on September 29, 2010:

Just added this to my bucket list.

Thanks for sharing James.

TheListLady from New York City on September 28, 2010:

Sand Dunes? I never ever would have known this if not for your amazing hub. Sand Dunes? How awesome is that. I would love to do this tour - love all the information you provided - these places will all be my landmarks. You've done a tremendous job here because now I want to do this - and soon.

Certainly this is bookmarked and rated up. Thanks a million. Yay!

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on September 28, 2010:

An excellent travelogue in a style as crisp and tidy as the places photographed. - Quite beautiful! - Made me want to go.

As a history and etymology buff, my only suggestion would be that you might like to explain the origins of the many unusual and unfamiliar names.

A very enjoyable read, by the master of appetising prose.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 21, 2010:

hanijane— Thank you! I am from St. Joe, right down the road from your hometown. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community, my fellow Michigander. The Lake Michigan Circle Tour is great fun.

hanijane from Arkansas on September 20, 2010:

Great hub! I am from Holland,MI .... I always heard of the tour, but never really looked into it. Looks like something that would be a lot of fun

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 18, 2010:

Kaie Arwen— You are welcome, Kaie. Believe me, it was my pleasure. I am glad you came.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 17, 2010:

Pollyannalana— I want to have your book. Where can I obtain a copy?

Lake Michigan is magnifique. I love it. Thank you for coming. :)

Kaie Arwen on September 17, 2010:

Thank you for taking me along for the ride............... just beautiful! Kaie

Pollyannalana from US on September 16, 2010:

Wow some lot of work here, very good. I have some cousins that live around there, always wondered why, now I know, but I have never been. I just finished a book of 50 poems over 25,000 words so I haven't had time for much else, not that I think I could outdo you, lol

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 16, 2010:

v_kahleranderson— Well, you need to make this trip then. I would say this journey has more "bang for the buck" than any I have been on. I am glad you liked the pictures. Thank you and you are quite welcome. :D

v_kahleranderson from San Jose, California on September 16, 2010:

Mr. Watkins, your article is full of good stuff - you mention all the places I have never been to. Lol! And you also have presented here some very beautiful pictures. Thank you!

Love and hugs,


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 16, 2010:

jill of alltrades— What a pleasure it is to hear from you! I am well pleased that you enjoyed my article and found it educational to boot. If you love the photos they must be good because I know you have a great eye. Thank you for coming! You are welcome.

jill of alltrades from Philippines on September 16, 2010:

Wow! I enjoyed this virtual tour! I learned so much here James and I love all the photos! Excellent!

All I can say now is I wish I can enjoy it first hand too!

Thanks very much for sharing my friend!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 15, 2010:

vballkel— Thank you so much! I love road trips too. You just moved to Michigan!? Well, that's my home state. It is pretty there. I hope you make this trip sometime. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

vballkel from Michigan on September 14, 2010:

This is a great page. I love going on roadtrips like this and seeing all the different sites. I just moved to Michigan from the west and this looks like it would be a great trip to take some time!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

Anna Marie Bowman— It is highly enjoyable. I shared this journey because I want to spread the word. It is good; and relatively inexpensive. Thank you for coming. :D

Anna Marie Bowman from Florida on September 13, 2010:

I grew up in IL, and loved going down to Lake Michigan! Though I had never heard of this before! Maybe I can make a trip back up north to do this! It sounds like fun!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

nifty@50— Maybe they will give me a job! :D

Thank you for that fine compliment, friend. I appreciate you for visiting me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

stars439— Hello Leon, my old friend. It's nice to hear from you again. We are truly blessed to live in a beautiful country. I did enjoy the journey. Thank you for coming by to visit and leaving your nice note.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

allpurposeguru— I'm glad you and your wife got to see much of this country. I do love lighthouses. If you have a collection of photographs of them, maybe you should do a Hub with a gallery. Thank you for your kind compliments.

nifty@50 on September 13, 2010:

You made me want to go to Michigan,something their department of tourism hasn't done! Great hub!

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on September 13, 2010:

A wonderful hub, and I am very happy that you enjoyed the lovely tour. The pictures are so beautiful, and the cities look like wonderful dreams. This makes me so very proud to know how beautiful our country is. God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

jvhirniak— The Sleeping Bear Dunes are an awesome sight. I hope you get to make this journey one day. Thank you, my friend, for visiting and commenting.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

fred allen— Thank you for the accolades, my friend. I enjoyed this relaxing drive very much. It makes for an excellent car trip. I appreciate this visitation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

Tamarajo— I wish I had Rick Steeves job. I just watched one of his videos yesterday. Thank you for taking the time to peruse my Hub. I appreciate your kind compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

reddog1027— You are quite welcome. I enjoyed your comments and I agree with them wholeheartedly. Thank you for visiting my Hub. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

dosters— You're welcome. Warren Dunes is near my hometown. If I do the Lake Michigan Circle Tour again, I think I'll do it counterclockwise too, just to make it different. I haven't been on the island, but everybody raves about it. This is a great trip for a family. Thank you for coming by and leaving word.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

ahorseback— Thank you very much. I did try to be thorough. There is a lot to see. Lighthouses are cool. I may do another Hub just about them. That's why I only included a few here.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

ama83— Good! As well you should. It is highly recommended. Thank you for taking the time to read my article, and view the gallery. I apprciate your comments.

David Guion from North Carolina on September 13, 2010:

My wife and I have been on portions of this circle, but on two different trips. Most of my photos are lighthouses. It would probably require more time than we spent on both trips combined (including time in the UP) to do every thing you documented. Very well done.

jvhirniak on September 13, 2010:

James - this is great. I would love to see the Sleeping Bear Dunes one day and eveything along the way too.

fred allen from Myrtle Beach SC on September 13, 2010:

Fantastic! I felt like I was on the road when I was reading this. Though I may never have opportunity to do that trip, your hub has made me aware of a part of the world that I knew very little of. I love how you marked each stop with an overview. Great pics!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

Robert— You are living the good life in Clearwater, my friend: but there's no place like home. Thank you for coming by and recognizing my work here. It's always good to hear your voice.

Tamarajo on September 13, 2010:

This makes for a great vacation idea. It was kind of like a "Rick Steve's Europe" in hub form. A pre tour guide. I was surprised about that dunes and sandy beaches. Good first hand information well presented.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

Estan Fuller— Hello my friend!! It is me that is in awe of you Captain Fuller. You've flown airliners and charter jets what, 50,000 hours? And you are among the best ever at your profession. I honored just to be in the same room with you.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

Joni Douglas— Thank you very much for your gracious remarks. I saw a couple groups of bikers making the Circle Tour during my journey. I'd say Hubby is right: this would be a fun way to do it. Great to hear from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

kimh039— You're welcome. Traverse City or Grand Haven are top tier choices. Not much of a wanderer, eh? Thank you for your kind compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

advisor4qb— Thank you for the applause! I am glad to hear from you. I hope all is well in your world. I've never been to Mackinac Island, but I intend to make there one day.

reddog1027 from Atlanta, GA on September 13, 2010:

This is a great family road trip. I made it many years ago when my oldest was still an only child. The Great Lakes region is one of the most beautiful places in this country. Now I know where to stop. Thanks for the memories and the pictures.

dosters from Chicago on September 13, 2010:

I have actually taken this vacation, except counter-clockwise. Starting and ending in the chicago area. My favorite places were the Warren and Indiana Dunes and Macinac Island. It was a really fun time with my family (I was 13 years old at the time) and I'll never forget it. Thanks for taking me back!

ahorseback on September 13, 2010:

Holly Cow James , did you ever cover this hub, I have always been intrigued by the lighthouses of this area , But you covered about everything here. Great job.

ama83 from San Jose, CA on September 13, 2010:

Well, during my short travels I have yet to make it to Michigan. But, with all of the quaint towns and beautiful beaches you describe, I think I have to put the tour of lake Michigan on my "to-travel" list. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

akirchner— It was on my wish list for many years. I finally did it, and I am very happy that I did. A week would provide a good pace. Thank you for coming. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

James Mark— Thank you for your kind comments, my friend. I didn't realize that Lake Michigan was nearly as big as England. Excellent comment. Great to hear from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

G L Strout— Thank you very much for telling me about this. I had never met anyone who had been across. I want to go. Maybe I'll find a way to do it soon. I appreciate the visitation friend.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

DiamonnRN— No kidding!? In Holland, Michigan . . . well, then we were once neighbors. I am from Benton Harbor/St Joseph. Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate the visit, too.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

Partisan Patriot— I may well take your advice on that. I would like to drive around them to see the sites personally first. So you are from Chicago, eh? Great city, and one in which I have spent a fair amount of time over years. Thank you for coming by to visit.

Robert on September 12, 2010:


Our home will be proud of the work you have done here. I have never done the circle tour but have visited many of the places you mentioned. Saugatuck is one of my favorites as well as Grand Haven. Makes me homesick and I am never homesick.

ESTAN FULLER on September 12, 2010:

James; You continue to amaze me with all your many talents,all I can do is fly airplanes and not much of that anymore. I think next summer I will take the same route around MI as you starting in Indpls.to Auburn,In.take in the car musuenms there and then to Gary and follow your route. I want to sweeze in an Alaska trip also. Estan F.

Joni Douglas on September 12, 2010:

Been there done that!! We took this route as a family in the trailer, when I was a girl. Probably not near as built up as it is now, but still an amazing trip. Hubby wants to take this on the bike some time. Fantastic job James and of course the pics are wonderful.

Kim Harris on September 12, 2010:

Breathtaking and beautiful, James. I'd be more inclined to pick a point on the circle and settle, rather than drive all around it. Traverse City or Grand Haven look like good spots. Thanks for sharing.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

Tom Whitworth— I've not yet been to Wheeling. I had a good friend who was from there that I've lost track of by the name of Dave Welsh. I had been all up and down the Michigan side of the lake many times but not in many years. This was my first time in the Upper Peninsula and on the Wisconsin side (except Milwaukee—I played music there before). It's good to hear from you, my friend.

advisor4qb from On New Footing on September 12, 2010:

What an awesome guided tour! I used to work for a company based in Mackinac Island. Also, that movie, "Somewhere in Time," with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was filmed there at the Grand Hotel.

You always create such wonderfully interesting hubs, James! Hope all is well with you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

Pamela99— Gary was a prosperous place. The folks there didn't know how good they had it. I've been in and around Lake Erie a bit—the shallowest of the Great Lakes. I appreciate your nice compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

Hello, hello,— You are welcome. I love that word "splendid." I enjoy your Hubs too. Thank you for your warm words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

pcoach— I am well pleased that you enjoy my Hubs. If I spur you on to greater heights, even the better. I appreciate your laudatory remarks. Thank you for visiting.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

H P Roychoudhury— You are welcome, my genteel friend. Thank you for your kind regards.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

saleheensblog— You are right it could use a map. I made one of my trip with the stops on Mapquest but when I tried to embed the map into the Hub it didn't work.

Thank you very much for the accolades. I'll be over to see your Hubs soon.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

Wanderlust— It was a great trip. And I agree with you that Sleeping Bear Dunes is unbelievable. I don't if you noticed, it's hard to see, but there is a person on that huge dune—that looks like an ant. And the beach at Traverse City is magnifique. Thank you for the comments. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 12, 2010:

drbj— You are quite welcome. I do know what you mean about Chicago—it is one of the best cities on earth. Still, I like to explore. I enjoy seeing how people of different locales live and do business. On this drive the scenary is fantastic. Thank you for visiting.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on September 12, 2010:

What a great thing to do - I will have to add that to my wish list of places to go and things to do.

James Mark from York, England on September 12, 2010:

A very informative hub about this great inland sea which would cover most of England! It is very interesting to read about the different waves of European immigration to the States.

G L Strout from Ohio, USA on September 12, 2010:

Great article. I have taken the SS Badger across Lake Michigan and I recommend it. After a long road trip, it is a nice break and the people are very nice.

Bob Diamond RPh from Charlotte, NC USA on September 12, 2010:

Over the years I have caught several Chinook and Coho salmon while casting from the pier that the "Big Red" lighthouse sits on, in Holland, MI., James.

Partisan Patriot on September 12, 2010:

Great hub as usual James; often I have walked along the shore line around the Navy Pier area and wondered what was across those many miles of water. You should do similar hubs for the other Great Lakes

Tom Whitworth from Moundsville, WV on September 12, 2010:

Wow James,

You really took a sentimental journey. The city of Manitowoc, Wisconsin really reminds me of Wheeling, West Virginia. They are similar in population, and that picture of the Capitol Theater looks identical to Main Street in Wheeling.

I took my own sentimental journey around Moundsville to every house I ever lived in during my life. The round trip only took about 1-1/2 hours, but it was great fun as I'm sure your journey was also!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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