The Great Lakes

15 day Self Drive - from £1482

Enjoy the relaxed lakeside lifestyle as you travel through the beauty and vastness of America’s Great Lakes. This 15-day self drive loop from Chicago will show you nature at its very best.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gaze at Chicago’s Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in America
  • Follow Cherry Orchards Drive along the shores of Lake Michigan
  • Step into a world filled with the charm of a Victorian village
  • Discover Detroit, also known as ‘Motor City’
  • Feel the thundering roar and tremendous power of Niagara Falls
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Your Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Chicago

Welcome to Chicago. Among one of the largest cities in the U.S., Chicago’s unique blend of stunning architecture, attractions and local charm makes it an unforgettable destination. Upon arrival, transfer independently to your hotel.

Hotels: (Standard) The South Loop Hotel or similar (2 nights)

Day 2: Chicago

Step outside today and experience mile after magnificent mile of the Windy City. Stroll the Lakefront. Take an architectural boat tour. Visit the second tallest building in North America, Willis Tower. Check out incredible panoramas from 360 CHICAGO. See mind-bending reflections of the city skyline at ‘the Bean’ (Cloud Gate). Enjoy Buckingham Fountain’s colourful light and music display as it glows against the skyline and lakefront, or indulge in some cheesy goodness at one of Chicago’s famous pizzerias. Whatever you choose, the Windy City will blow you away with the sheer number of things to see and do.

Day 3: Milwaukee (100 miles)

Today your tour through the beautiful Great Lakes area begins with a short stop in Milwaukee, famous for its breweries and beer gardens. Continue to the capital of Wisconsin, Madison, where you will spend the night.

Hotels: (Standard) Hampton Inn Milwaukee/ Brookfield or similar (1 night)

Day 4: Green Bay (120 miles)

Today it’s on to Green Bay, Wisconsin’s oldest community. With Lake Michigan serving THE GREAT LAKES as the city’s north border, Green Bay is defined by its natural surroundings. Explore nature while learning the importance of preserving natural landscapes with a visit to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. Railway buffs will be in seventh heaven when visiting the National Railroad Museum, one of the oldest and largest museums dedicated to the country’s rich railroad heritage. And for those with a passion for NFL football, a visit to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field is a must.

Hotels: (Standard) Aloft Green Bay or similar (1 night)

Day 5: St. Ignace (250 miles)

Offering stunning views of the shoreline, today’s scenic drive along the northwestern coast of Lake Michigan takes you through Hiawatha National Forest and Manistique en route to St. Ignace. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Upper Peninsula’, St. Ignace is where the great waters of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet. Enjoy a stroll along the Huron Boardwalk for a taste of pure Michigan, and savor a slower, simpler lifestyle in this area filled with blue waters, green forests and incredible places of discovery.

Hotels: (Standard) Best Western Harbour Pointe Lakefront or similar (2 nights)

Day 6: Mackinac Island (roundtrip)

Take a ferry to the timeless resort island of Mackinac – the jewel of the Great Lakes – where cars are prohibited, and bicycles and horse-drawn carriages rule the roads. Visit Fort Mackinac, located on a bluff overlooking the entrancing Straits of Mackinac, and enjoy the view from the porch of the Grand Hotel. Drive your own buggy along the shoreline, or rent a bike and explore over 70 miles of natural and paved trails. Whatever you choose, the beauty and history of Mackinac will captivate you. Return to St. Ignace in the late afternoon.

Day 7: Detroit (300 miles)

Crossing the Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula over the Straits of Mackinac, make your way south through Petoskey, one of the most beautiful regions in the state, and Charlevoix, to the Cherry Capital of the U.S – Traverse City. From here it’s on to the ‘Motor City’. Once known as the ‘Paris of the West’, Detroit acquired the nickname ‘Motor City’ as a result of its longstanding recognition as the historic heart of the American automotive industry.

Hotels: (Standard) Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront or similar (2 nights)

Day 8: Detroit

Whether you want to spend your day inside at a museum or play all day on the lake, there’s plenty of things to do in Detroit. At the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, visitors have the opportunity to take a step back in time and gain a first-hand look at the birthplace of the 1909 Model T automobile. At The Henry Ford, you’ll discover America – its culture, inventions, people and can-do spirit. There’s also a Riverwalk, awesome art galleries, Motown’s first recording studio, beautiful beaches, shopping meccas and dining to die for.

Day 9: Toronto (250 miles)

Today, crossing the U.S./Canada border into Ontario, your destination is Toronto. The capital of Ontario and the country’s largest city, Toronto sits at the tip of Lake Ontario, the most eastern of the Great Lakes. Home to a dynamic mix of attractions – from museums and galleries to the world famous CN Tower and, just off shore, Toronto Islands – Toronto has everything you would expect from a world class city.

Hotels: (Standard) Chelsea Hotel or similar (2 nights)

Day 10: Toronto

Spend the day exploring Toronto’s top attractions. Enjoy spectacular views from the top of the CN Tower. Delve into the depths of The Royal Ontario Museum, the biggest museum of world cultures and natural history in Canada, or stroll through The Distillery Historic District. Step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendor with a visit to Casa Loma, or hop on a ferry and embark on a journey to the Toronto Islands where along the water you’ll find awesome beaches, summer cottages from the 1920s, a maze to test your wits, a haunted lighthouse that tests your courage and much more.

Day 11: Niagara Falls (100 miles)

Just an hour-and-a half drive from Toronto one of the Seven Wonders of the World awaits. Packed with attractions, dining and adventure, Niagara Falls offers a vast array of activities. Zip to the top of Skylon Tower for the best view around, and in the evening get a different view of the Falls with the nightly illumination and seasonal fireworks.

Hotels: (Standard) The Falls View Hotel & Inn or similar (2 nights)

Day 12: Niagara Falls

Spend a full day experiencing the mighty Falls themselves. See the American and Horseshoe Falls from the sidelines, or get up close with a boat ride to the foot of the Falls for a wet and wild view from below. For a completely different sensation, journey behind the Falls where you’ll hear sounds like thunder as you descend to observation decks literally behind the Falls. The sheer array of adventures that await you makes any visit to Niagara a memorable one.

Day 13: Cleveland (200 miles)

If you a want little beach while en route to Cleveland, we recommend stopping at Presque Isle State Park. As Pennsylvania’s only ‘seashore’, this 3,200-acre sandy peninsula offers beautiful coastline views and nearly 14 miles of scenic trail along Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. A culturally diverse city on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland has all the attractions and excitement needed for a fun-filled adventure. Rock and Roll with legends of music, allow your imagination to flourish at the Great Lakes Science Centre, and enjoy the culinary delicacies of cultures from around the world at one of the city’s amazing restaurants.

Hotels: (Standard) DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cleveland Downtown or similar (1 night)

Day 14: Chicago (350 miles)

Leaving Cleveland, you can choose to add a few hours to your day by driving along two different Great Lake shores, stopping at Marblehead Lighthouse along the Lake Erie Coastal Trail and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan, or you can drive straight through miles of cornfield back to Chicago. The choice is yours, but we recommend taking the scenic route. Upon arrival in Chicago, head to Navy Pier for an evening of dining and entertainment. This is the perfect spot to spend your last evening overlooking Lake Michigan.

Hotels:(Standard) The South Loop Hotel or similar (1 night)

Day 15: Depart Chicago

Enjoy the last view on Chicago’s skyline on your relatively short drive along the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Your trip ends with the rental car return and flight back home.

15 day Self Drive - from £1482

With flights from £1882

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Price is per person, based on 2 sharing a double or twin room and include pre-booked accommodation, air-conditioned car and unlimited mileage. One-way fees charged locally. Hotels specified are subject to availability and may be substituted by one of a similar or higher standard.

SELF DRIVE TOURING

Enjoy independent touring at its very best. Book our self drives as they are or add extra days in the places you choose. Normally available in both directions.

Your self drive includes:

  • Well planned, easy to follow route
  • Travel guide and maps
  • 14 nights pre-booked hotel accommodation
  • The choice of standard or budget hotels
  • Modern air-conditioned car
  • Unlimited mileage
  • Roadside assistance
  • Car upgrades available upon request

See more self drives in the USA…

For advice or to start planning your holiday

talk to an America Expert on 0333 234 0922