Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Return of the Family Vacation . . . in Pure Michigan's Harbor Country

Remember the days when families would escape for a week, or two, for a true family vacation at a waterfront or woodland cottage? Days filled with beach-combing, roadside stands, bonfires, bike rides, tire swings, slamming screen doors and an evening of catching lightning bugs in jars?

Memories like these are waiting to be made in Harbor Country®, a quaint collection of eight towns stretched out along the Red Arrow Highway and the Lake Michigan shoreline in Southwest Michigan – just 70 miles from downtown Chicago.

For generations, visitors have been retreating to Harbor Country to beat the summer heat and the hustle and bustle of big city life. In a world of iPods, Facebook and smart phones, escaping is more important now than ever before, providing a chance for families to reconnect and recharge.

Whether you’re looking for a beach house, a family-friendly resort, or a deep woods cabin, Harbor Country has it all. Cottages and rental homes are the perfect option for visitors enjoying family vacations, family reunions or even romantic getaways. You’ll find everything from intimate rooms for two at cozy B&Bs to sprawling vacation houses perfect for the entire extended family.

Gintaras Resort is a casual and relaxing "get-away" with a private, uncrowded fresh water beach ideal for sunning, strolling and swimming during the day; with sunsets, stargazing and bonfires at night. These cottages are situated on a private Lake Michigan beachfront estate, offering a tennis court, volleyball and basketball areas, children's playground and game room, all conveniently located on its 5+ acres of wooded beachfront.

Stay in one of five fully-furnished cottages at Sweethaven Resort in Union Pier, each with well-equipped kitchens, big roomy baths, sunny bedrooms and room for the family to spread out for a game of checkers, rummy or cribbage. Cozy up on the screen porch with a classic summer read or follow the moss-covered paths that traverse through nine wooded acres in search of wildlife.

"We welcome families – and their pets – to discover the hidden charm found within our cottage resort," says Liz & Chuck Garasic. "We're confident a memorable time will be had by all."

Historic inns, such as Grand Beach Inn and Warren Woods Inn cater to groups of 30-45 and provide a unique venue for family reunions. In addition, more than a half dozen vacation rental companies – with a collective catalog of more than 200 homes – operate in Harbor Country.

“Vacation rental Agencies are your ideal contact persons in a vacation community,” says John Natsis of Blue Fish vacation Rentals & Sales. “We often have a wide inventory of homes to choose from – from charming small cottages and bungalows, to large, luxury four- and five-bedroom homes.”

Spend your days relaxing on a beach or exploring the hiking trails in Warren Woods and Warren Dunes State Park. Bring your own or rent a bike from Outpost Sports and pedal along the backroads, past orchards and wineries. Try something new, like skim boarding or stand up boarding with Third Coast Surf Shop, which offers rentals, lessons and a full line of gear.

Harbor Country is easily accessible from Exits 1-12 on I-94, or via Amtrak from Chicago, Detroit and other cities along the Wolverine (Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago) and Blue Water (Port Huron-East Lansing-Chicago) lines.

For more information on Harbor Country:

The Harbor Country Convention & Visitors Bureau was established in 1990 as the Harbor Country Lodging Association in accordance with the state of Michigan’s Community Convention or Tourism Marketing Act 59 of 1984.

The mission of the organization is “to promote its members and the assessment district as a major destination for tourism and conventions in southwest Michigan.” The assessment district encompasses the Townships of New Buffalo, Three Oaks, and Chikaming, the city of New Buffalo, the Village of Three Oaks and the Village of Michiana, Michigan.

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