Member Monday: Kayaking Adventures in Northern Michigan

Member Stormi M. knows all the hotspots in her home state of Michigan, which makes vacationing in the area so easy. Full of wonderful tips, this Member Monday is set up a little differently, with Stormi giving a day-by-day summary of her time in Northern Michigan.

Northern Michigan offers so many delights, it amazes me how many people have not traveled outside of the Detroit metro. Global Discovery Vacations’ properties are all approximately a four- to five-hour drive from the major Michigan airports and worth the trip.

On the way up to the lakes area in the summer, it is customary to stop at one of the many Fine Art Studios, the orchards (cherry, apple or stone fruit), and/or the bustling farm stands. The road trip from Detroit is an easy drive with a lot to see and do along the way.

During the first week of August, I experienced two trips in one at A-Ga-Ming Resort. About six months out, my girlfriends and I decided to organize a kayak trip in Northern Michigan. I contacted GDV and booked the only property available: A-Ga-Ming. The photos online looked lovely and the price was right so us ladies took the first three nights as a “girls-only” trip.

Day 1

We were pleasantly surprised when we checked into the condo on a sunny Saturday afternoon: five ladies and six kayaks. The living areas and sleeping areas were fantastic. There was plenty of room for everyone.

Day 2

We packed up lunches in our beautifully appointed kitchen and headed to Traverse City 30 minutes away and had our kayaks in the water by 11 a.m. We journeyed down the Boardman Weir River in downtown Traverse City starting at Hull Park. There is one dam that you have to walk yourself and your kayak over, but it isn’t bad. But in no time we were back on the river.

After floating and rowing for a couple of hours, we tied our kayaks up at Front Street and left them for a few hours. No one bothered them at all. We toured the downtown area for some excellent shopping as well as microbreweries, a new distillery and, our favorite, The Firefly. It is a little bit of a walk from the Front Street Bridge but the rice paper wrapped sushi was fantastic as well as the Bloody Marys.

After a great day in town, we paddled all the way to the western bay of Lake Michigan (Grand Traverse Bay) then parked near the Firefly to load up and head back to the condo. We had dinner waiting in the Crock Pot and ate at a table that sat eight people.

That evening we walked down, about a 15-minute walk, to the shore of Torch Lake. Torch Lake is a beautiful blue lake that is noted for being in the top ten of beautiful lakes in the world! It is also the largest inland lake at 22 miles long. If you are boating, there are marinas nearby where you can store your boat or rent a pontoon or speedboat for the day. This popular destination bustles with parties, people and boats from May to September. The large sandbars are one of the highlights. We enjoyed the sunset and some wine after a long and active day.

Day 3

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Sunrise yoga on the huge beautiful patio overlooking Torch Lake. It was energizing and spiritual, then our adventure started again. Accidentally, based on a GPS glitch, we ended up at Elk Lake, just 20 minutes from A-Ga-Ming. We discovered our error as we found a great place to put our kayaks in the water. Elk Lake is a hidden treasure, but due to its close proximity to Torch Lake, most people don’t know about it. We started on the north end of Elk Lake and kayaked eight miles to the Dam fishing Park at Elk Rapids.

Elk Lake boasts many sandbars and a great restaurant on the shore of the harbor overlooking the water: Riverwalk Grill and Tap Room. We had fish tacos and hamburgers at the Tap Room and they were fantastic. The beer selection was quite nice as well. The water was crystal clear blue and with no wind, the seven-hour kayak trip was fantastic. That evening we retired to our condo exhausted and happy.

Day 4

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The transition between friends and family: The ladies packed up and left as my sister, brother-in-law (from Colorado) and my husband joined me for the rest of the week. We ventured up to the clubhouse when they arrived and had drinks overlooking the golf course and Torch Lake. The view is amazing! Maggie, the jack of all trades up there, was wonderful, too.

Day 5

Exhausted from the first four days, I sent my sister and her husband to Traverse City for some shopping while my husband and I chilled on the patio and walked around the resort. Later, we met at Pearl’s Restaurant in Elk Rapids for some authentic and vegan-optioned Cajun fare. It is pricey but the food is fantastic and it was recommended to us by many people, both from the Detroit area as well as locals. We played games and drank wine at the condo that evening for loads of laughs.

Day 6

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Loving Elk Lake so very much, I designed a friendlier kayak trip for my novice family members. We dropped our kayaks in at the dam spot and kayaked all day around the harbor. It was a beautiful day and there were some interesting coves and tree graveyards to explore. Elk Harbor also has a few sandbars too for resting and cooling off.

We ended our day back at the Grill and Tap Room right at the dam. The lakeside restaurant provides a convenient dock for boats and kayaks. They rent kayaks there as well.

Day 7

We sadly packed up and headed back to reality.

About You

How long have you been a Global Discovery Vacations member?
Three years.

How many trips have you taken using your membership?
This was our third trip. We travel constantly and all over the world.

Why do you think traveling is important?
We travel for fun, culture, experience, and life. My husband and I have learned and grown since the day we met in Germany in 1987. Since then, we have been to Norway, Greece, East and West Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, France, Spain, Sicily, Netherlands, Mexico, Jamaica, Bon Aire, Costa Rica and all over the United States.

Travel is life.

Photos courtesy of member Stormi M.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.