Recently I found a most interesting vacation that does not require going overseas or carrying a passport. It's a seven-day adventure that promises to be interesting, different and relaxing. It is called "A Great Lakes Holiday." The arrangements are put together by a fine tour operator, Train Holidays.
The vacation begins by flying to Chicago on a Saturday where the tour begins. You'll have a one-night stay at the elegant Allerton Crowne Plaza Hotel on North Michigan Avenue. Included is a welcome dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Lawry's The Prime Rib. You won't find better prime rib in the United States.
After experiencing Chicago, depart on Train Holidays own special vintage 1940s streamlined train, the "Great Lakes Limited," seated in the comfort of a club car, with an open bar and all meals. You head for Milwaukee on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The train has art deco interiors, fresh flowers and reminds one of the golden era of train travel.
In Milwaukee, you'll stay at the historic Milwaukee Hilton, the best place in town.
The next day takes you to Manitowoc on the shores of Lake Michigan to board the last steamer on the Great Lakes, the SS Badger. The ship was built for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in 1953 and the six-hour crossing will feel like a mini-ocean voyage. The towering sand dunes will be visible as the steamer approaches the shoreline of Michigan.
After docking, your group will be transferred to Saugatuck, set alongside the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. Here, you'll have four nights in this quaint town with Victorian architecture, interesting shops, fine restaurants, art galleries and friendly people. You can roam in safety, enjoying the sights offered in this Midwest location.
How about a visit to an old-time corner drugstore fountain where you can enjoy homemade candy and milk shakes, which have been a specialty for 82 years? You might even be able to catch an outdoor concert.
Want to swim? Oval Beach has been rated among the top 25 best shorelines in the world by Condé Nast Traveller magazine.
You'll stay at the Ship and Shore Hotel on the harbor, said to be the best location in town. Included is a visit and lunch aboard the historic RMS Keewatin, the last Canadian Pacific Railway steamer and loaded with Edwardian interiors of rich woodwork, Persian carpets, brass and mirrors from the same era as the RMS Titanic.
In Saugatuck, you'll enjoy welcome and farewell dinners, an outdoor barbecue lunch and much more, while still allowing plenty of free time to relax and enjoy the community.
The return to Chicago is aboard the "Great Lakes Limited," which will include a farewell brunch, arriving midday. This is a great ending to a rather different American vacation.
Complete fares for the entire holiday, including all train journeys aboard the "Great Lakes Limited," the hotel stays in Chicago, Milwaukee and Saugatuck, the SS Badger, transfers and most meals, start at only $1,395 per person, based on double occupancy. The tour is fully escorted and very popular. It operates June through October.
Contact Train Holidays for a brochure. Call toll-free 1-800-543-2846 or visit the Web site at www.trainholidays.com.