Any time it comes to vacation planning, every detail surrounding the topic depends upon the answer to one central question: Where are you going to vacate to? And the answers to “where to?” depend on whether the particular vacation is a “Once in a lifetime” journey or more of a “Yay, it’s our vacation time” time. There’s plenty to be said about both types, and in some ways, they can serve the same-ish kind of purposes, but aside from the cost and overall effort to organize and successfully pull off the “Once” vacations, you can do a lot of the same things while you’re at your vacation destination. That is, if the ambiance, terrain, geographical features (and government) are similar. Notwithstanding the vacation spots that are developed around a particular famous, iconic feature, whether naturally formed or manmade, the choices can kind of boil down to three categories: Vacations to significant water sources, vacations to mountainous or forested areas, and citified living hotspots, replete with all the trappings. Now, some of these can combine two or all three components, together, but it’s not necessarily the norm. When it comes to the number one choice among vacationers, you’ll predictably find water destinations at the very top of the list.

Problems at the Beach
When a “waterbound” vacation is imminent, most minds gravitate toward the beach first, and remain there. Then the choice is simply left to pick one, and the vacation is pretty much set. In planning a beach vacation, we can forget the many foibles of oceanic ambiance, like when the beach becomes littered with active jellyfish and Portuguese Man of Wars– the likely pummelling by hurricanes–not to mention the ratcheted up danger of shark attacks just being some of the more prominent “forgettable” considerations. And another one we tend to miss is how crowded most beaches can become whenever the weather becomes “beachgoing-suitable.” Then, there’s just something intensely invasive about the sand, the heat, the sun, the crowds, the seagulls and the waves that can quickly become too much, especially for families with young children. Then, there’s nowhere to go, other than back to your lodging source, in more of a somewhat desperate escape effort than an “up next, fun family activity.”

The Great Lakes
From Minnesota to Ohio, towns along the Midwest’s Great Lakes eloquently capture the best of the year-round vacation spirit. The Great Lakes offers everything enjoyable that you’d get from the beach and more. Massive bodies of water defined horizons, sand and sand dunes, islands, fishing, waves, sun, nature trail exploration, and all these are free. You can even surf the regular 2-4 ft. waves found prevalent among the GL. With a little money in your pocket or iPay on your smartPhone, you can change gears for fine dining experiences, shopping, an incredibly varied nightlife and numerous educational and entertainment-oriented day trips.

Some Don’t-Miss Attractions
Saugatuck Michigan’s Oval Beach is considered to be one of the world’s best beaches, with its wide, sandy shore and clear water, but it’s not the only fabulous beach spot among the many of the GL. There are many amazing inns and cottages that offer first class lodging, with all the amenities and more. St. Joseph is a wonderfully revitalized step back into a vibrant past, with much to do for vacationing families, all day and night. Park Point Beach separates Lake Superior from the Duluth harbor, and here, visitors are able to observe  the wonderfully massive 1,000-foot ore boats come and go, or take a brisk dip in the lake’s always cold water. The Hotel Iroquois, or the Victorian Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island, with its famous 660 feet long front porch both offer sublime, historic lodging to the island’s ferry-shuttled visitors, where you will canvass the entire island without ever seeing a single car. It’s home to Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac Island State Park.

The List of Historically-Themed and Modern Vacation Options Goes On and On…
Visitors to Holland Michigan’s Tulip Time enjoy the nation’s largest flower festival, Windmill Island Gardens, and practically “all things Dutch” ambiance abounds. In Alpena, Michigan, you can take a glass-bottomed boat tour to view actual ship wreckages through the crystal clear water of Thunder Bay.