Itinerary – On the Shores of the Great Lakes
Illinois | Wisconsin | Minnesota | Michigan

Regional Experiences Chicago | Madison | Minneapolis/St. Paul | Bayfield
Grand Rapids | St. Ignace | Marquette | Detroit | Saugatuck | Milwaukee

About this itinerary

Driving distance: 1,867 Miles
Recommended travelling time: 21 Days
Recommended travel season: Summer
A self-drive tour that takes in the thriving metropolises and dramatic scenery of America's Great Lakes. From kayaking to brewery tours to live music and everything in between.

Chicago, Illinois


Chicago, the capital of the Midwest, has plenty to offer. Take in the iconic skyline from a boat cruise along the Chicago River or from the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center with spectacular panoramic views before delving into the city's thriving craft-brewery scene. Visit some of Chicago's famous attractions such as the Cloud Gate sculpture (aka, 'The Bean'), Millennium Park and Navy Pier and don't forget to enjoy a deep-dish pizza or a Chicago hot dog.
Length of leg: 0 miles| Total distance travelled: 0 miles


Chicago Illinois to Madison, Wisconsin

Drive to Madison, Wisconsin's state capital, which offers a plethora of outdoor activities in both winter and summer; from hiking and biking to skiing and a choice of watersports on Lake Mendota or Lake Monona. Visit Taliesin, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, in Spring Green before joining a tour at one of Madison's breweries and savouring a meal at a waterfront restaurant on one of the stunning lakes.
Length of leg: 147 miles | Total distance travelled: 147 miles

Madison, Wisconsin to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

Head to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota for a couple of days, exploring the Wisconsin Dells and the Wisconsin River en route. Enjoy the wealth of attractions here from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Walker Art Center, to a baseball game at Target Field or some retail therapy at the Mall of America, which also has an aquarium and indoor amusement park. In St. Paul see the golden horses on Minnesota's Capitol Building; exhibitions in the Science Museum; and the city's historic mansions. If you have time, explore the stunning Chain of Lakes area, too!
Length of leg: 273 miles | Total distance travelled: 420 miles


Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota to Bayfield, Wisconsin
via Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Today head north through the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' and on up through Minnesota to Grand Rapids, a quintessentially American town nestled in nature. Here you can explore the stunning woods either on foot or for the more adventurous there is an abundance of outdoor activities to choose from as well as a wide range of entertainment, restaurants, bars and shops to pass the time. Continue your outdoor activities on the way to Bayfield, Wisconsin and explore the stunning Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior on a boat or paddling tour.
Length of leg: 342 miles | Total distance travelled: 762 miles

Bayfield, Wisconsin to St. Ignace, Michigan via Marquette, Michigan

Over several days continue along the shores of Lake Superior to Michigan, stopping along the way at the picturesque Keweenaw Peninsula and the Delaware Mine before following scenic State Road 28 from Marquette, Michigan. Explore the unusual Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan from a kayak excursion, so called because of the colourful streaks in the sandstone cliffs and spend the night in the picturesque St. Ignace. Take the ferry to explore Mackinac Island, nestled between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. A pristine pocket of the past, the island allows no cars and so visitors explore on foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage.
Length of leg: 364 miles | Total distance travelled: 1,126 miles


St. Ignace, Michigan to Saugatuck, Michigan
via Detroit, Michigan

Head south to Detroit, a hub of American history and music. The birthplace of Motown and the Ford Model T, both the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and the Motown Museum are must-visits! Don't miss the Detroit Institute of Arts, the cool street art, aquarium, zoo, and beach before you leave the city to visit the artistic coastal city of Saugatuck via Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids for small town charm and more than 40 breweries, respectively.
Length of leg: 514 miles | Total distance travelled: 1,640 miles

Saugatuck Michigan to Chicago, Illinois
via Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Finish your journey by taking the Lake Express Ferry across Lake Michigan to the vibrant and bustling city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to experience brewery tours; history, such as the Harley-Davidson Museum; art; and a great culinary scene. It is also home to many festivals, including Summerfest, the world's largest music festival. Head home from Chicago.
Length of leg: 227 miles | Total distance travelled: 1,867 miles

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Some map icons by Scott de Jonge, used under CC 3.0 BY  Train vector by Freepik

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