Escapes: The Shores of Lake Huron

Escapes: The Shores of Lake Huron

Heather Blaha
Aug 22, 2007

"MAK" sent in a rich account of a recent midwest Michigan's Upper Penninsula, a place we've never been but have heard so much about. Take it away, MAK:

We just returned from the summer cottage we have owned for 15 years. It is located 20 min. north of the Mackinac Bridge on the shores of Lake Huron. Two tiny towns nearby are Hessel and Cedarville and the lovely Les Cheneaux Island chain. Hessel boasts the first franchise of wooden Chris Craft boats and still maintains the marina there.

There is an annual Antique Wooden Boat Show with events for boaters and crafts in Hessel, the second weekend every August. It also has a great bar called the Islander with entertainment on the weekends and the Harbor Inn Restaurant with an outside seating facing the harbor.. And for the more private, a shop to rent a bike or kayak and a local used bookstore for the readers are just a short walk from the harbor in Hessel. On the highway north of Hessel a shop called Katydids that sells everything from Vera Bradly to childrens wood toys and bags of candies.

Cedarville has one IGA grocery store that closes on Sundays. The local banks still call if your balance is low and you are about to bounce a check! It's like a walk back in time, as locals stop to chat as if they had known you forever.

Several real estate offices there can help you hunt for your perfect residence. There is a former Comfort Inn locally owned that has an indoor pool. Also there are lakeside cottages for rent. The truly rich cannot be told from the others as it's casual living.

An author of a local cookbook, from a wealthy American family, told me that her grandfather for years made them go out into the lake for a swim in the mornings before returning to their island home for breakfast. Many families from the Chicago area used to spend their time in summer homes on the islands, complete with a dancehall, dancebands and maids who came ahead of families to prepare the cottages. Now living is less formal.

The local Ace Hardware carries paint, tools and a variety of household items with a big Moosehead above the checkout counter. There is a local restaurant named Angio's near Cedarville that still serves the best breakfast and pizza you've ever had...Pammi's restaurant carries specialty items and has a screened porch. Another locally run place there is the Cedar Pantry where you can gas up and rent a video or buy some light groceries and liquor or a Shell Station with a Penne sandwich bar. The Creekside Gardens north of Cedarville host gardening and local arts. And of course the Indian owned casinos for the gammers...a small one is north of Hessel and larger ones are a half hour away.

There are many points that can be driven onto as well as the islands reachable by boats. Our point has about 120 homes and cottages. It is so calm and soothing that I feel like I am in heaven while there and when back home in Ohio it all seems like a dream until we return.
Like the other Wisconsin vacationer, I hesitate in sharing this info as the area is almost a closely guarded secret compared to other resort preppy towns nearby in northern Michigan. The well-known Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island and Mackinaw City, Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix are a short distance away.

This gem nestled in the Upper Peninsula is worth a try if you want to forget about the stress of the work world and be one with nature. It's a real get away from it all area. The only downside is that you need to get used to priorities there...First is Fishing and Hunting, 2nd Family and third Work. So if you need cottage repairs, or are in a hurry for a meal or anything, you will have to learn to be patient. Funny learn to slow down and enjoy life again!!!

Anyone else have great stories, details, and images of a favorite escape? Send them our way!

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