Avoid the heavy road traffic of Labor Day Weekend by taking your well-deserved escape mid-September to mid-October.
The scenery, shops hiking paths and wine trails of the northwestern edge of Michigan from Frankfort and Sleeping Bear Dunes to Leland and Traverse City are snapshot perfect. And they follow state and local Covid protection protocols.
The couch now has a permanent indentation and you’re tired of virtual experiences. You have to go somewhere! But where? You don’t want to worry about where to stay for a destination that lies two days away.
Consider a nearby resort.
Located within walking distance of Lake Forest, Il’s North Line and just a 30-mile drive north of Chicago, is the historic Deer Path Inn.
Travel & Leisure readers just made it the No.1 resort hotel in the Midwest and No. 2 in the United States edging out the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI. For other winning resort hotels visit the July 2020 issue of T&L.
Built in 1929 near its former 1880’s site, Deer Path Inn is a half-timbered, stucco, Tudor-styled taste of Olde England copied from a 1453 Chiddinstone manor house in Kent.
And yes, it has a cozy downstairs pub for a casual dinner. But there is also a wonderful outdoor garden that is great for breakfast or lunch. Its bar is popular with the locals. Seating observes pandemic protocols.
After checking in (masks required) and making meal arrangements, meander north a couple of blocks to the town’s historic Market Square. Designed 1915-1916 by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, it is considered the country’s first planned shopping center.
The Inn’s restaurants are excellent but if staying a few days you might want to try Francesca Intimo (make a reservation) for a change of cuisine. It is just east across the tiny Bank Lane from the Inn. Their calamari is perfect and they have outdoor seating.
For an after dinner treat or afternoon break, stop in at Sweets for yummy ice cream. Don’t forget to get some home-made candy to take home. Sweets is on the Deerpath Street side of Market Square.
BTW, Ravinia Festival in Highland Park has often housed/recommended Deer Path Inn for its performers.
If you go Deer Path Inn is at 255 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest 847-234-2280
They start work midweek when snow is delivered to their stations in the Riviera Plaza , 812 Wrigley Drive abutting Geneva Lake (Yes, that is the lake’s name).
The teams sculpt their creations through Friday night to be ready for the judging after the “tools down” bell at 11 a.m. Saturday. Visitors can vote for the People’s Choice Award, Saturday until 2 p.m.
The snow sculptures are amazing but also stay to see ice sculptures in town. Youngsters may want to stop at a children’s tent at 201 Wrigley Dr. in Flat Iron Park where there are games and the Boy Scouts are selling cider donuts and hot dogs.
There are several inns and resorts that turn a Lake Geneva visit into a getaway.
Visitors who stay over Saturday will want to see the free Laser Light Show on the ski slopes of the Grand Geneva Resort, just south of the downtown at WI7036 Grand Geneva Way.
The light show goes from 8:30 to 10 p.m. For more information call (312) 218-3848 or visit Laser fusion shows. The resort is kid friendly and also has a good spa.
Picture a small town where goats on a restaurant roof can cause a traffic jam in a county where visitors to its scenic towns often gather around huge outdoor pots to watch traditional fish boils.
It is Door County, a peninsula that separates the calm waters of Green Bay from turbulent waves of Lake Michigan and where the must-take-home items are chocolate covered cherries or cherry pies and the must-visit time of year is fall.
An easy drive from Green Bay’s airport, the route on the way to the Sturgeon Bay, the first vacation town on the peninsula, is dotted with the crimsons, golds and pinksm of changing leaves. And, as TV ads say, “But wait.” The colors keep intensifying, driving northwest along curving roads through picturesque villages.
When “The world is too much with us… late and soon, as English poet William Wordsworth said with a poem that continues with “we are out of tune” you know it is time to take a break.
A good place to get back in tune is to plan a girls’ getaway where the view out the balcony door stretches across water and hills, where stress is forgotten over cocktails and delicious food and tension is massaged away by experienced hands.
My sister and I found such a place when we chose Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, WI for our annual spa getaway.
This year, my sister flew into O’Hare from Dallas so we could drive from my home in a northern suburb of Chicago. It took about an hour which is the same amount of time for someone flying into Milwaukee’s airport.
The resort is just on the eastern outskirts of Lake Geneva so we first parked downtown for a bit of boutique shopping then headed to the Grand Geneva to unpack and unwind. FYI, the lake is called Geneva Lake and the town is Lake Geneva.
The resort has lots of accommodation options ranging from deluxe rooms and suites to condos. We loved our deluxe double on the third floor of Building 3 with a view of a lake on the property.
BTW Grand Geneva has 1,300 acres that include ski hills in winter turned into an adventure spot in summer, golf, horseback riding and plenty of paths to hike and bike.
I liked the lap pool in the spa and fitness facility across the lane from our building. My sister liked the fitness center where she could work out with the type of equipment she used back home.
While waiting for our spa services in the women’s locker room, we heard happy chatter from girlfriends enjoying the spa’s whirlpool. Another waiting area open to males and females, was a quiet relaxation space with good fruit juice, crackers and cheeses.
We booked massages for one day and mani-pedi services, the next. Definitely recommend both.
The resort had two top notch dinner restaurants, the Geneva Chop House and Ristorante Brissago. Both have good food and good service. The night we ate at the resort we were in the mood for Italian flavors and loved our choices of a pumpkin bisque, Osso Bucco and eggplant parmigiano.
The resort’s Sunday morning brunch in its Grand Café was tempting but after a weekend of eating we ordered light breakfasts from the menu.
We left on Sunday but heard there was a shuttle that went into Lake Geneva on Monday for a tour of the town that included lunch. Maybe will do it next time.
I’m thinking the resort would be a good place to visit next Valentine’s Day or birthday or anniversary or Mother’s Day.
But regarding our experience, best of all was that everyone at Grand Geneva seemed to really care about the guests.
When needing some getaway time check in at the newly remodeled Marriott Lincolnshire. The resort’s 25 million dollar re-do has the excellent Spa at Lincolnshire, the really good Three Embers restaurant for breakfast and dinner, a nice, casual Wrights Brew& Bistro for lunch or dinner and a convenient Starbucks Café off the Lobby.
BTW, Three Embers replaced The Wharf with a fine menu of locally sourced dishes and a redesigned space that includes a wood-burning grill and a chef’s table. The butter has a wonderful, honey flavor from the chef’s on-site beehive and the pastry’s chef’s yummy rolls to spread it on.
Pack a swim suit to for a dip in the pool or hot tub. The pool entrance is nicely positioned near the rooms’ hallways and elevators so guests don’t have to walk by the lobby.
Don’t forget workout clothes for the redone fitness center or some laps around the resort. Rooms typically have a lake or golf course view.
If interested in good musical theatre and time allows, get tickets for the resort’s famed Marriott Theatre. Currently, “Ragtime,” is playing through March 18. Next is Oklahoma April 11-June 10, 2018, which celebrates the legendary musical’s 75th anniversary.
The theatre is connected to the resort on the main and second levels so it won’t be necessary to brave whatever nature is serving up outdoors.
Now, pick a date to escape. There are special deals for theatre, romance, spa and restaurants.
Before becoming engulfed in everything fall from cool nights to school schedules, take a few days for one last summer break. Within four hours of Chicago there are restaurants and resorts with lake-side views, good spas and shopping, plus scenic boating and biking choices.
Door County, WI
About 3.5 hours north of Chicago is a finger-like peninsula that sticks so far out into Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other that there are almost too many scenic views for one trip.
The Door, as visitors and residents call it, begins halfway up in the fleshier part of the finger but the vacation destination begins at the Sturgeon Bay knuckle and continues up the finger to Gills Rock. Some folks even cross the choppy waters north by ferry to Washington Island, an interesting day trip when time allows.
To make the most of your vacation, first nail down where to stay. The sailing, hiking, biking and the Door’s specialties of art gallery hopping and lighthouse touring can wait. But accommodations fill quickly.
Before deciding, you should know that the Lake Michigan side is known as the “quiet side” because the small towns are nestled further apart among the forests. The Green Bay side is dotted with small bustling villages, restaurants, shops and inns.
But it doesn’t take long to cross The Door’s farmland in between so neither side is a bad choice. Both sides have state parks.
To stay amid the action, look at places on the Bay side from Fish Creek to Ephraim to Sister Bay. For quiet side accommodations, look at Baileys Harbor.
The best way to find lodging is to go to Door County, click Availability or Stay. If still not sure call the bureau at 800-527-3529 because they are very helpful.
“One of our primary things to do is help people find a place to stay,” said Communications Director Jon Jarosh.
The web site lists lots of activities but if you want a map and brochures stop at the Visitors Bureau after where WI Highways 57 and 42 connect at 1015 Green Bay Rd. on the south end of Sturgeon Bay.
Tucked into the northwest corner of Illinois about three hours from Chicago are the scenic rolling hills of the Galena Territory and the historic town of Galena, home to Ulysses S. Grant with tie-ins to Abraham Lincoln.
Indeed more than 80 percent of Galena has historic district designations.
But a trip here isn’t just about going back in time. Situated on the Galena River and near the Mississippi, it’s a picturesque river-town edged with steep, photo-op streets.
Shopping its main street is delicious because there are wine-tasting places and yummy ice cream and candy shops.
Nearby, are the stage coach trail, fort and scenic vistas of Galena’s Jo Davies County. There is usually balloon or Wine or other festival taking place in the area.
Accommodations here range from charming B&Bs and inns to resorts.
If interested in combining golf, spa treatment or hiking, a good place to stay is the Eagle Ridge Resort on the outskirts of town at 444 Eagle Ridge Drive, Galena and at (800) 892-2269.
If interested in a Labor Day Weekend stay check out its special events and guest rate package.
To learn more about the area and find other lodging choices visit Galena.
Lake Geneva, WI
Closer to Chicago is the town and lake where some of the city’s elite used to vacation and where some urbanites still have homes and cottages. It’s Lake Geneva on Geneva Lake and the small towns nearby.
From Chicago’s northern suburbs, the drive is about 1.5 hours but don’t try to make it faster than the posted speed limit. Some of the small towns along the route add to their coffers with speeding tickets.
However, Lake Geneva is an easy, fun getaway for folks who like to hike, bike, golf or enjoy water sports.
A great way to hear about the estates around the lake is to take the mail boat which pauses, sort-of, at some piers for postal deliveries.
Because the Lake Geneva area has been a vacation destination since before the turn of the last century, there are lots of lodging choices from contemporary to vintage and from resorts and B&Bs to inns and condos. To fit in golf or a spa treatment, consider the Grand Geneva outside of town.
For accommodation availability visit Lake Geneva and enter your arrival and departure dates.
So, instead of looking at the calendar with dismay that summer is just about gone, fit in a getaway. You deserve it.