After more than a year of pandemic restrictions, many of us feel a pent-up need for travel, but you don’t have to book an extravagant global trek to feel like you’re far away from that home you’ve spent far too much time in. We scoured the state for quirky spots within driving distance where the accommodations themselves are as much a draw as the destination — sometimes even more so. Here are nine Michigan getaways that don’t require airfare.
Getaway from It All
Metro Detroit native Elizabeth Kott lives in Los Angeles, where she’s co-creator and co-host of the wellness podcast That’s So Retrograde. But she misses Michigan and “craves nature,” so she found a trip to a Getaway Outpost in Big Bear, California, to be just the antidote to city life.
Getaway offers what it calls Outposts in about 14 places around the U.S., including Lisbon, Ohio, and as of April 1, Grand Junction, Michigan. Guests can choose to stay in various sizes of tiny cabins scattered around the woods.
The new Getaway Barber Creek in Michigan sits on 79 acres and offers 41 cabins — 31 with one queen-size bed for up to two guests and 10 with queen bunks accommodating up to four people, with big windows for viewing the trees. There’s a small kitchen and bath with shower. Fire pits, firewood, and picnic tables come with each unit. There’s even an opportunity to lock away cell phones upon arrival.
“They’re so fun — tiny cabins with massive windows with this beautiful view,” Kott says. “They really support the unplugging from technology, simplifying, for the duration of the stay.”
Rates at Getaway Barber Creek in Grand Junction start at $129 a night.
Book at getaway.house.
Bring the Outside In
In 2009, Northern Michigan native Kelly Sean Karcher was remodeling a 1900s farmhouse in Northport intending to call it his new home. But then he got called away for his job, so he began renting The Modern Farmhouse through Airbnb instead, and was gratified when guests responded with enthusiasm — not just for the property itself, “but the reasoning behind the choices I made during the renovations and the lifestyle it promoted.”
He describes that lifestyle as “comfortable minimalism in a carefully curated space.” It inspired him to further explore the concept and led him to create another Airbnb rental, The Wayfarer Tree House in Lake Leelanau. From that grew the formation of his kit home company, Hygge Supply, and another rental that is an actual Hygge Supply home: Birch Le Collaboration House, also in Lake Leelanau. All are offered on Airbnb as part of Hygge Stay, the hospitality arm of his company.
Birch Le Collaboration House features floor-to-ceiling windows that look onto the large, covered porch, which also has its own fireplace so it can be used year-round. “The way the home is built and the way the windows are positioned, it feels like you’re floating amongst the trees,” Karcher says.
With three bedrooms and 2.5 baths, the Birch Le Collaboration house accommodates up to seven. Rent ranges from $389 to $589 per night. airbnb.com
Sleep Like Frodo
Charlevoix and Earl Young go together. The insurance agent/realtor/architectural designer left his imprint on the community in the form of some 30 mushroom-like homes made mostly from stone and distinctive for their low, curved, undulating rooflines.
Bill Thom says people love that they get to experience that element of architectural history when they rent his Half House, which Visit Charlevoix describes as one of the most widely photographed places in town. Thom, who grew up in Hazel Park and attended Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, relocated to Texas in 1984. He and his family had a house in Charlevoix, where they spent summers, and when Half House came on the market in 2001, he bought it.
At first, the family used it as their summer getaway.
“Our family of six plus our German shepherd spent summers up there,” he says — all of them packed into the approximately 700-square-foot, 1947 structure.
The house sleeps four, with a queen bed on the main level and two twin beds in a small dormer bedroom upstairs. Rent can range from $99 in the extreme off-season to up to $495 a night on weekends in July and August. “People are just stopped by it — ‘Oh my gosh, look at this little hobbit house,’ ” he says. “I get families who want to bring their children because they’re Lord of the Rings fanatics or Hobbit fanatics. It’s just adorable.”
Find it on vrbo.com.
Glamping Near Coloma
Bruce Powell is one of the few people who can genuinely say that COVID-19 “was one of the best things that ever happened.”
That’s because Powell offers social distancing at its very best at Tipi Camper Glamping near Coloma. Already doing well attracting customers through glampinghub.com and hipcamp.com, he saw business skyrocket when the pandemic hit.
About 19 years ago, he built a three-bedroom, one-bath log home on 15 acres on Harris Lake, a mile from Lake Michigan. Having been offering it for short-term rentals year-round for the past 11 years, he eventually started getting inquiries from groups that were too large for the house.
Four years ago, he added a teepee and 1959 refurbished Mallard camper, which rent together spring to fall. There’s no bathroom; guests use a Porta John and an outdoor shower.
“The teepee is not 100 percent waterproof, so if it rains and it rains hard, you’re getting wet, then it’s time to go into the camper,” says Powell, who last year outfitted a school bus with beds and now offers that to guests as well.
Rates vary depending on the accommodations and time of year.
Book at colomaloghome.com and tipicamperglamping.com.
See the Light on Lake Superior
Nick Korstad has been making some updates at Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast over the winter. COVID prompted him to scale down a common area for guests and create seating space with TVs in the lighthouse’s five bedrooms so that guests trying to socially distance from others aren’t limited to sitting on the bed when they remain in their rooms.
Korstad bought the 1896 lighthouse in 2018. Isolated on a sandstone cliff overlooking Lake Superior, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country, it’s still functioning, with a rotating beacon that still shines brightly for the ships that pass through the channel below.
The lighthouse was actually built as a duplex; Korstad lives in half, and the B&B is housed in the other side. It’s like a normal house on the inside until you get to the second level, where the Fresnel lens is; then, the metal stairways that are part of a traditional lighthouse begin.
Korstad has updated the furnishings, drawing on his background in hotels to create a more intimate and less kitschy experience for guests. “There is not one doily,” he notes.
He offers tours and gladly shares the lighthouse’s history and lore with guests.
“When they stay here, they get to learn what lighthouse keepers did,” he says. “And they get to see interesting architecture that isn’t necessarily used anymore.”
Rates start around $189 per night, depending on the room and season. bigbaylighthouse.com.
Float This Idea
Peter Morrison grew up in Redford; his wife Sally Coder-Morrison was raised in Walled Lake. After they married, she worked as a school bus driver and he drove a semi. Then they got an idea.
They had always loved being on the water. So, after their kids rented a houseboat during a trip to Kentucky, they were inspired to build a 105-foot yacht, moor it near Saugatuck, and run it like a bed and breakfast.
They live on a 40-foot cabin cruiser next to the yacht in the summer and make the larger boat their home in the wintertime. The vessel never comes out of the water.
For 11 years, Sea Suites Boat and Breakfast has been welcoming guests to its four staterooms, each with its own bath, from around May 1 to September or mid-October, depending on the weather.
Each room accommodates two adults and has a queen bed. The couple provides guests with breakfast; after that, they’re on their own to explore the area. Guests come from all over and many are repeat customers.
“We’ve had a ball,” Sally says. “We’ve met people from all over the world.”
Each room accommodates two adults. Rates range from $125 to $195, depending on the day and month. Call 269-426-0381 for reservations or visit seasuites.com.
Midcentury, Modernized Michigan Getaway
Frank Lloyd Wright is a big draw for those who rent the Eppstein House in Galesburg. Wright designed the Midcentury Modern home, built in 1953. It was completely restored by current owners Marika Broere and Tony Hillebrandt, Canadians who fell in love with the property at first sight and bought it in 2016. It was one of several Wright designs commissioned by a group of Upjohn research scientists who built their homes in The Acres, a 70-acre enclave near Kalamazoo.
“It’s the only neighborhood [Wright] designed that actually didn’t get overdeveloped,” says Fred Taber, the real estate agent who sold the Eppstein House to its current owners and now serves as its caretaker. “He built four, and one of his students built one. And that was it.”
Taber says the house was in “pretty bad shape” when Broere and Hillebrandt bought it. In addition to restoring its original finishes and updating the HVAC, bathrooms, and kitchen, they’ve furnished it with many original Frank Lloyd Wright pieces and other art and collectibles from the time period.
“Renting out the house gives us the opportunity to share it with design and architecture enthusiasts from all over the world,” Broere said via email while traveling in India. “The income from it helps us keep up the house and gain back some of the money we put into restoration.”
The couple has purchased another nearby Wright creation, Pratt House, and plan to restore and then rent that one as well, Faber notes.
Eppstein House rents for around $420 to $450 per night for two people and can be reserved at airbnb.com.
Park It Above the Garage
A stay at the Mott Park Carriage House in Flint offers a glimpse into the city’s auto industry past.
In 2014, Chad Schlosser and his family bought a 1928 brick Tudor-style home that was designed by Norbert Doughterty, who was hired by General Motors to develop the neighborhood. At the time it was built, “so many people were moving to the cities that there were housing shortages,” Schlosser says. “Workers were living in tents in parks and things of that sort [and GM] hired Norbert Dougherty to design and lay out the whole neighborhood.”
The Schlossers’ home, which Doughterty designed for his own family, came with the original loft above the garage. Both were in bad shape and took months to renovate.
Sleeping two comfortably, the approximately 300-square-foot loft space has been rented nearly every night for the past four years. Guests range from medical students to people traveling on nearby I-75 and others who come to visit Frankenmuth — about 25 minutes away.
Schlosser says there’s lots to do nearby, including arts and cultural attractions, bike trails, and a disc golf course right next door. And it’s hard to beat the price — $58 a night.
Book a stay at airbnb.com.
Groove to Motown
Motown BnB officially opened in September 2019 following three years of renovation. Momentum was just starting to build when COVID struck. That put a damper on business early in 2020, but people started booking again in the summer, and owner David King says the place has been busy ever since.
Housed in a restored 1911 mansion, the home offers a balance of modern amenities and Motown-themed touches, including working Wurlitzer jukeboxes, lots of pictures and artwork, rooms named after Motown artists, and a one-of-a-kind dance floor in the basement that’s made out of records sealed under epoxy.
Many guests come as part of a trip that includes taking in the nearby Motown Museum. The home is also available for parties and corporate retreats. “The museum is really a draw,” King says. “People love the experience of going there … they feel like they connected with the city, with the music. … Music connects us as humans — and everybody loves Motown.”
Rent for the entire home, with a capacity of 16 people, is $800 per night. Bookings are available at airbnb.com and vrbo.com. Guests may also book by contacting King directly at motownbnb.com.