A stop at the bridge: How breaking the long drive through Michigan can change your perspective
I’ve done the 8-10 hour drive many times – as a college student, on a tour of family when I lived in AZ, and now a few times since I’m living between Detroit and Ann Arbor, and my family still resides in the UP. Here’s the thing – getting to the bridge is about half way through the drive. The drive can get long, especially with kids! So, on this last trip, we decided to take a stop at the bridge and we stayed overnight in a St. Ignace hotel and enjoyed life on the Yooper side before making the rest of our drive.
About St. Ignace:
St. Ignace is located just north of the Mackinaw Bridge and is a first stop after paying the toll. While US-2 and I-75 pass through, many on their way north, find it as a place to fill up on gas and maybe grab a pasty from Lehto’s or another shop. (I’m not working with any of the businesses listed here, just giving my honest experience.) St. Ignace has a year-round population of under 3,000, but is one of the economic hubs of the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula. It has Lake Huron and Lake Michigan views and is a must visit place for any Michigander – seriously.
Where we stayed: St. Ignace Hotel Options
I decided to not prebook our hotel because it was pre-season, and if my son sleeping I planned to drive straight through. However, he doesn’t sleep – in fact both kids usually stay up the entire 525 mile trip (that’s one way, Michigan is big!) So we crossed the bridge, stopped to pee and I used a search engine to find a hotel. I chose the K Royale Lakefront Motor Inn because the photos showed a park with swings and they are a St. Ignace Hotel located on the lake. It also was one of the least expensive stays at around $65 with taxes. Can’t beat beach front for that price!
One benefit of finding last minute deals off season is that you can definitely book last minute. If you’re looking to visit the UP in the summer, do try to book in advance because that is tourist season in the UP!
The UP is home to many fun places to stop, and it is important to understand that even during tourist season, expect to see some restaurants closed on Sundays and dinner being served only until 7 pm. You may need to find a bowling alley (they’re popular in the UP still!) or a bar to find food if you arrive late in the evening.
Of course most UP towns have a pizza place, but only the larger areas have drive throughs, so keep that in mind as you plan your places to visit in the UP.
Where we ate in St. Ignace
Being pre-season, unfortunately,very few hotels were open when we rolled in after “early dinner” time. Plus, my son had to play with his remote control boat in the lake first. Priorities people, priorities. For dinner, we went with a local pizza chain and it was good. I had wine in the cooler and pulled some out, but didn’t finish it. I prefer Red and Pink Moscato wine to white.
Things to do in St. Ignace
St. Ignace, located along the Mackinaw Straights is a fun place to stay, but often is a stopover. Check out this post on things to do in St. Ignace.
I’ve also posted about ways to help make road trips go smoothly, and honestly, if you need to, take that extra day, relax and get to know the area, just like we did on our trip to the UP!
8 to 10 hours for me is nothing… but with kids, it can be a VERY long trip. Stopping along the way is a great idea.
Good advice! long drive was really worst. I’m so glad that you share some ideas. Michigan place is also beautiful.
We like to take breaks, too. Long drives are exhausting!
I have never driven thorough Michigan… but it looks beautiful! I love being able to enjoy my roadtrips!
The first time I took my kids to Michigan they asked what ocean that was. Growing up in chicago we had the other view.
So true! I have had people say that Lake Superior was too big to be a lake 🙂
Staying in budget motels certainly leaves more money for other things. When we vacation, we only come back to a room long enough to shower and crash anyway.
My son doesn’t sleep in cars either, so we break our trips up. That town looks gorgeous and a perfect spot to relax for a night.
It’s good for the drive to rest as well as the kids. Looks like you found quite a deal! $65 for the night is a bargain! Pizza is always a hit. One type of food that the whole family likes!
I really don’t like to drive longer than 8 hours. It is just too much for most places to go to.