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Michigan Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff

Michigan Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff
by Colleen Burcar
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Fall Vacations for Family: 4 Budget-Friendly Options for a Weekend Getaway

by Sherry Diaz

For many families, work priorities, financial worries, and other obligations take precedence over a summer vacation. Fortunately, a quick fall getaway doesn’t have to be expensive. With careful budgeting, a family can sneak away for the weekend for less than $400. Don’t make excuses any longer. Take advantage of gorgeous autumn weather to take that family vacation you hoped for.

From Boston…

Photo by Somone35 via Wikimedia Commons

As the air gets crisper, leaves slowly turn from green to vibrant scarlet, rich gold, and striking orange in New England. If you time your vacation right, you’ll hit peak fall colors for a scenic drive. Vermont, famous for its brilliant colors, puts on a beautiful show from late September through mid-October each year. Check Yankee Foliage, a website that tracks fall color throughout the region. To take full advantage, book a themed cabin at the Casablanca Motel (from $130/night) or the mountain style Palmer House ($150/night) in Manchester, VT. On your drive, plan plenty of breaks to take pictures or grab a special treat (think caramel apples or a slice of pie). Check out Hildene, the mansion owned by the only son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln ($16 for adults, $5 for youth), or hike to Lye Brook Falls to catch the fall colors up close.

From Chicago...

Photo by Counselman Collection via Flickr

Summer is prime time for most theme parks, which attract thousands of visitors per day. Come autumn, water parks in the northern latitudes are winding down for the season. Chicago residents can head up to the Wisconsin Dells for a great getaway at the largest indoor waterpark in the country: the Kalahari Resort ($219/night). For a less expensive hotel, look for Wisconsin Dells packages that include admission to an indoor waterpark such as the Kalahari or Great Wolf Lodge. Then, catch a magic show or mine for gemstones at the Dells Mining Company ($15/mining bucket).

From Atlanta…

Photo by Dougtone via Flickr

Lovely Charleston makes a great getaway for Atlanta residents looking for great food and antebellum charm. Stay in the suburbs for less expensive lodging options; the Hampton Inn in West Ashley ($159/night) or the Hawthorne Suites ($118/night) are good options. If you’re in the mood for sightseeing, go for a stroll through the Charleston Waterfront Park before touring the beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Or, simply head to the beach and watch as your kids play in the sand. Be sure to stop at Andolini’s for pizza — it’s a local favorite.

From Los Angeles…

Photo by Jarek Tuszynski via Wikipedia Commons

This fall, enjoy the beautiful weather to make an excursion to Joshua Tree National Park. Located just a couple of hours outside L.A., Joshua Tree is paradise for a family weekend. Entrance costs just $15, giving you miles of trails to explore. Outdoorsy families can take advantage of several campgrounds ($10-15/night). If you prefer traditional lodging, head to Spin and Margie’s Desert Hideaway ($135/night). The national park is known for its bizarre, otherworldly Joshua trees as well as spectacular night skies. The thinner desert atmosphere and lack of L.A. smog result in unparalleled viewing of the Milky Way. Check the peak viewing for the Orionids meteor shower (typically the third week in October) or Leonids meteor shower (mid-November) for the best opportunities to see shooting stars.

Sherry Diaz Sherry is a freelance writer who enjoys mountain biking.


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