Roads Less Traveled
Sometimes we overlook the treasures of our fair peninsula that are right under our noses. There's no need to travel across the country or around the world to find breathtaking natural beauty, recreation and family fun. You can save gas and be a virtual day tripper courtesy of Mr. Google. Here are a few suggestions.
Fisher’s Lakeside Cottages
Mark and Betsy Fisher own Fisher’s Lakeside Cottages, on the west shore of Lime Lake, in Maple City, 18 miles northwest of Traverse City. It’s right in the middle of Leelanau County, three miles from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and four miles from public beaches on Lake Michigan. There are small, rural towns like Leland, Glen Arbor and Suttons Bay just minutes away, plus parks and playgrounds. Lime Lake is clean and clear, with great swimming, boating and water activities. Fishing on the lake is fun and relaxing.
“Spending your vacation at our cottages on Lime Lake is like stepping back in time. The feel of the cottages, the quiet of the lake and land, and just getting away for the busyness of the cities helps guests to unwind and recharge,” says Mark. “Life these days can be overwhelmingly busy for too many. Take time to slow down; spend a day fishing in the lake, walking the beaches of Lake Michigan or wooded trails, or just sitting by the lakeshore reading a book is healthy for all family members.”
Each cottage comes with its own picnic table, dock and 14-foot Lund aluminum boat. There is a huge grassy lawn between the cottages and the lake deepens gradually, which is safe for children of all ages. There is a large sandbox for the little ones and a fire pit for evening campfires.
The immediate area affords miles of paved bike trails, hiking in the dunes and walks on Lake Michigan beaches looking for Petoskey stones. Dining options include small corner taverns offering burgers and beer, finer dining of French or Italian cuisine, plus many more choices 18 miles away in Traverse City.
Country Home BnB
Just 29 miles from Ann Arbor in Gregory, this charming property includes a massive house on a corner just across the street from a state trail head and two miles from 15 lakes and more state trails. Owner Danny Kokx says, “Nature is our source of life. With out it we cannot survive. Besides, who ever stayed mad on a walk in the woods. I offer a wide range of exciting outdoor activities with your stay or just a day visit, canoeing, camping kayaking and hiking,” There are fall color tours on pontoon, pontoon day trips, horseback riding and chauffeured services, plus weddings and grad parties, hotel-style stays and bed and breakfast stays and horse staging for the trail head. Summer tournament fishing is very popular.
There are 100 bars and restaurants within 30 minutes for all tastes and budgets, from crème de la creme to side-street tacos. In the early 1900s, it was a small, two-bedroom, one-bath farmhouse. The 1980s saw it grow larger and become a farm for animals. In the 1990s, Country Home was a caretaker home for the elderly.
Heritage Park Petting Farm
Guests have the opportunity to experience farm animals up close and personal at Heritage Park Petting Farm with the proper closed-toed shoes. Venture into the stalls with goats, sheep, pigs and large rabbits, and pet the donkeys, horse and miniature cows through the fence. Chickens and ducks wander the yard. Their smaller size and suburban location make it an easy and convenient visit to make.
Heritage Park does birthday parties on the weekends, school tours during the week and a variety of animal- and holiday-themed events throughout the year. The barn is heated in the winter, so they are open year-round.
Learning about farm animals and where our food and resources come from is a huge benefit to any community, especially kids. Most people are quite removed from the process of farming even though we depend on it to sustain us. Having the ability to meet farm animals and learn about farming practices cultivates respect and reverence for the animals and increases the need for sustainability.
Heritage Park Petting Farm is located at 12803 Pardee Rd., in Taylor. For more information, call 734-374-5946 or visit them on Facebook.
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum: Offers weekly virtual workshops with topics such as Exploring Your 5 Senses, Snakes and Wind Turbines. Fun videos on making slime and nature activities with Lannis Smith from the Leslie Science & Nature Center. Children’s STEM activities to do at home.
Leslie Science and Nature Center: Attend the Leslie Science and Nature Center’s Virtual Spring Break for a full week of activities and programming for families that include morning activities, environmental education, STEM education, chillaxation, song time and camp games.
The Creature Conservancy: A must-see for animal-loving families, they host virtual visits with many of the creatures such as Kali, an Eastern indigo snake; Mike, the shire horse; Jerome, the Argentinian black and white tegu; and Poe, the African white-necked raven.
The Yankee Air Museum: This collection of aviation-related online activities for kids is called the Creativity Hangar, with story times, games, crafts and puzzles. In addition to the videos on the Yankee Air Museum’s rich history and their aircraft collection, there are lessons, activities and coloring pages from NASA.
Ann Arbor District Library: A virtual library of fun family activities awaits the whole family. Online content includes story times, trivia, cooking, craft projects and more.