The Road to Summer

Warm-Weather Getaways for Fun, Romance, and Adventure

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For many Chicagoans, summer travel isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. As the days grow longer and the temperatures climb, people get the urge to move. They just need to be pointed in the right direction.

That’s where Chicago comes in. Here are more than a dozen destinations, all accessible by car and, in some instances, by plane (there’s even a leisurely Great Lakes cruise). We introduce you to some of the region’s plushest resorts, hotels, and B&B’s, as well as to the plum restaurants, cultural attractions, and recreational activities nearby-inland treasures all. So this year, when summer beckons, you’ll know exactly which road to follow.

Photography by Matthew Gilson

Key to Summer
Where
To Stay
Dining
Amenities
Things
To Do
How To
Get There

Greencrest Manor
Battle Creek, Michigan

Built for the family of George R. Burt, the son of a Michigan lumber baron, Greencrest Manor might be a chateau in Normandy rather than an elegant B&B overlooking the rolling meadows that lead down to St. Mary’s Lake. Of the eight rooms, six have private baths, and one-the VIP Suite-also has a double whirlpool and a fireplace. Rooms start at $95 and include breakfast in the dining room (6174 Halbert Rd.; 269-962-8633).

Guests may just want to kick back and read The Road to Wellville, T. C. Boyle’s hilarious take on Battle Creek’s John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943)-though more energetic visitors may want to check out some of the locations associated with that eccentric health guru. The Historic Adventist Village demonstrates some of Kellogg’s century-old treatments (480 W. Van Buren St.; 269-965-3000). Kellogg’s sanitorium is now the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, named after the three U.S. senators-Philip Hart, Robert Dole, and Daniel Inouye-who recuperated there from their World War II wounds back when the place was an army hospital (74 N. Washington Ave.). Kellogg and his brother, Will Keith Kellogg (1860-1951), the man who invented corn flakes, are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, as are the abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth and the R & B musician Junior Walker (255 South Ave.; 269-964-7321). Kids will enjoy learning how cereal is made at Kellogg’s Cereal City (171 W. Michigan Ave.; 269-962-6230), as well as the city’s annual “world’s longest breakfast table” at June 10th’s Cereal City Festival. Head to Augusta (about ten miles away) and visit either the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary-home to W. K.’s 80-year-old Tudor manor house (12685 E. C Ave.; 269-671-2510)-or the 716-acre Kellogg Experimental Forest (7060 N. 42nd St.; 269-731-4597).

Drop by the Arcadia Brewing Company, take the Saturday tour, and then sample one of its British-style ales, stouts, or porters over lunch in the pub (103 W. Michigan Ave.; 269-963-9690). From atop the 16-story McCamly Plaza Hotel, Porter’s Steakhouse & Cigar Bar serves up Black Angus steaks and a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside (50 Capital Ave. SW; 269-963-9686).

Battle Creek is 176 miles-or about two and three-quarters hours by car-from Chicago.

 

For more information about other area attractions and events-including Battle Creek’s annual air show and balloon festival (June 30th to July 4th)-contact the Battle Creek/Calhoun County Visitor and Convention Bureau at 800-397-2240 or www.battlecreekvisitors.org

The Columbus
The Great Lakes

The largest ship on the Great Lakes, which it has visited almost annually since its 1997 launch, the 472-foot-long Columbus offers its passengers an opportunity to explore several big cities (Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago), to marvel at a variety of manmade wonders (including the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Welland Canal), and to revel in the natural beauty along the shorelines of Lakes Michigan, Superior, Ontario, Erie, and Huron.

What’s more, as you cruise the Midwest’s inland seas, your hotel room travels along with you, eliminating the need to pack and unpack as you move from place to place. Owned by the German company Hapag-Lloyd Cruises-the cruises attract Americans and Germans alike and are fully bilingual-the Columbus has 197 cabins (140 with outside views) and eight suites, in addition to a swimming pool, a fitness center, a sauna and hair salon, bars and a dance lounge, and several different dining options. The ship also offers live entertainment, sports activities, and lectures (both offshore and on), as well as opportunities to visit such destinations as Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Toronto’s sky-high CN Tower, and the Henry Ford Museum near Detroit ( more about Cleveland and Toronto). The Columbus plies international waters for much of the year, returning to the Great Lakes only in early fall-but the time to book a cruise is now. There are three options (and the exact itinerary can vary slightly from cruise to cruise): sail from Toronto to Chicago, September 20th to 30th (starting at $2,139 per person); sail from and return to Chicago, September 30th to October 11th (starting at $2,352 per person); or sail from Chicago to Toronto, October 11th to 21st (starting at $2,210 per person). Airfare to or from Toronto is additional.

For more information about sailing with the Columbus, call 888-891-0203, or go to www.great-lakes-cruises.com

Canoe Bay
Chetek, Wisconsin

A former Chicago TV weatherman who spent parts of his boyhood fishing on Lake Wahdoon, Dan Dobrowolski returned to Wisconsin’s Indianhead region in the early 1990s to open Canoe Bay, the magnificently well appointed resort that is the only Midwestern entry in Relais & Châteaux’s prestigious international lineup of lodgings and restaurants. With his wife, Lisa, Dobrowolski bought the 280-acre property (which had been a Seventh-Day Adventist camp from 1964 to 1979) and reinvented it as a solitary, high-end getaway. Each of the buildings reflects the Prairie-style influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, especially the Rattenbury cottage and the Edgewood house, which were designed by Wright’s protégé John Rattenbury. Other lodging options include guest rooms in the Lodge (where there is also a fitness center and a large library) and a variety of stand-alone cottages, some with private saunas. A two-person whirlpool, a fireplace, a private bath and deck, a mini-fridge, a TV, and DVD and CD players are standard for each unit. Rates range from $325 to $1,800 (for the 2,000-square-foot Edgewood) per night, with a two-day minimum on weekends. Neither children nor pets (nor smoking) are allowed (W16065 Hogsback Rd.; 715-924-4594).

Canoe Bay delivers a continental breakfast to its guests’ rooms each morning, and can prepare a lunch basket on request. The resort’s chef, Scott Johnson-singled out by Esquire magazine as one of the nation’s top-five “rising chefs” in 2004-has over the years established a good working relationship with regional farmers to ensure he has the fresh, mainly organic ingredients for his meals. His prix fixe dinner (which changes nightly) is $65 per person, though guests can also dine in the 4,000-bottle wine cellar ($220 a couple).

If you’re looking for madcap excitement, peaceful Canoe Bay is not the destination for you. Schedule a relaxing in-room massage, or walk down to Lake Wahdoon to swim or boat (the resort provides canoes, kayaks, and rowboats). Anglers can go after largemouth bass and other fish (catch and release only), though they will need a license (buy one in Chetek or at www.wildlifelicense.com). Walleye, northern pike, and other game fish are plentiful in Chetek’s Big Six Chain of Lakes, and the mighty muskie flourishes in Potato Lake, about 12 miles east of Chetek on County Trunk D (for specific locations and timely fishing reports, go to www.chetek.net). Canoe Bay provides a paved, one-mile-long jogging track, as well as miles of hiking trails-and ten miles southeast, near New Auburn, the 3,063-acre Chippewa Moraine Ice Age State Recreation Area has lots of trails, lakes, and wildlife, as well as an interpretive center that explains the area’s geological history and the peculiar topographical features left behind by retreating glaciers (13394 County Hwy. M; 715-967-2800). In Rice Lake (about 20 miles north of Chetek), the 18-hole course at Turtleback Golf, Dining and Conference Center has earned a high rating from Golf Digest (1985 18 1/2 St.; 715-234-6607). The quiet country roads around Canoe Bay make for excellent cycling, but you will have to take your own bike.

Chetek is 365 miles northwest of Chicago, typically about a six-and-a-half-hour drive. To shorten your travel time, consider flying to Minneapolis–St. Paul (about two hours east of Chetek) and renting a car.

 

For more information about Canoe Bay, go to www.canoebay.com

The American Club
Kohler, Wisconsin

One of the Midwest’s most luxurious resorts-it possesses a coveted five-diamond rating from the American Automobile Association-The American Club outside Sheboygan had its origins in 1918 as housing for immigrant workers who made toilets and other bathroom fixtures. Today this posh palace clearly caters to a tonier crowd, with weekend rooms for two starting at $323 a night and soaring to $1,152 for the presidential suite (419 Highland Dr.; 920-457-8000).

Nearby, at the Inn on Woodlake, weekend lodgings start at $197 a night and include a complimentary continental breakfast (705 Woodlake Rd.; 920-452-7800).

 

The American Club may be pricey, but its capacity for pampering visitors and guests is nearly unrivaled. Its 24,000-square-foot Kohler Waters Spa has a waterfall, a pool, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, and 21 treatment rooms, where guests can choose from a tantalizing menu of rejuvenating therapies. In addition to salon services, Sports Core offers tennis, recreational and competitive swimming, and fitness classes, many geared toward families and children. River Wildlife is a private, 500-acre hunting and wilderness club on the Sheboygan River. And Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits tee up 72 holes of challenging golf, including a rugged two-mile-long course on bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

There’s lots to do beyond the environs of The American Club. The 99,000-square-foot John Michael Kohler Arts Center has ten galleries, a lunchtime café, a center for creative family fun (Artery), live theatre-and half a dozen colorful public bathrooms, so imaginatively embellished by six different U.S. artists that women often slip into the men’s rooms (and vice versa) to sneak a peek. This summer, the center’s main gallery ponders visions of utopia with A Better World; build your own model boat for the July 4th Art Armada (materials provided for a fee), or check out the 36th annual outdoor arts festival July 15th and 16th (608 New York Ave., Sheboygan; 920-458-6144). The center also has a gallery called Artspace in Kohler, inside the Shops at Woodlake (725 Woodlake Rd.; 920-452-8602). For a lazy day on a Lake Michigan beach, escape to the 1,000-acre Kohler-Andrae State Park (1020 Beach Park Lane, Sheboygan; 920-451-4080). About 20 miles northwest of Kohler, Elkhart Lake’s Road America Race Track offers a summer-long schedule of motor racing; the Ferrari Challenge (July 7th to 9th) is followed by the Kohler International Challenge (July 13th to 16th), which showcases cars from the 1930s through the ’80s (N7390 Hwy. 67; 920-892-4576). And it’s almost illegal to leave Sheboygan without sampling a bratwurst. Celebrate them, from August 3rd to 5th, during the city’s annual Brat Days (in Kiwanis Park, at 17th St. and Kiwanis Park Rd.), and then buy some for the BBQ back home at Miesfeld’s Triangle Market (4811 Venture Dr.; 920-565-6328).

There are ten different restaurants at The American Club, ranging from the casual Horse & Plow to the award-winning, gourmet-pleasing Immigrant Room & Winery Bar.

 

Kohler is 144 miles north of Chicago, typically a drive of a little more than two hours.

 

For more information about events near Kohler, contact the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitor Bureau at 800-457-9497 or www.sheboygan.org/visitor

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