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Lawn Games and Prehistoric Sites in Amish Country

Murphin Ridge Inn - West Union OH

Drive Time: 4 hours south of Cleveland, 3 hours from Indianapolis, a quick 2 hours from Columbus

Deep in the farmlands at the foot of the Appalachian chain is Ohio’s southern Amish Country, and among the fields and woodlands is the wonderfully modern Murphin Ridge Inn. Book one of the airy cabins with their soaring blonde-wood interiors, romantic Jacuzzis, and complete privacy. Tuck into a full country breakfast before hitting the property’s woodland trails and croquet lawn.

The region is filled with finds that speak to Ohio’s Amish roots, including the German Culture Museum and horse-and-buggy rides at Yoder’s Amish Home. On your way to check in, check out the mysterious Serpent Mount, a prehistoric burial ground in the shape of a snake.

 


 

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Sweetly Car-Free in Michigan

Bay View at Mackinac - Mackinac Island, MI

Drive Time: 4 hours (plus a ferry ride) from Detroit

Mackinac Island is a Victorian crown jewel afloat in a Great Lake. Here, find the Bay View, an 1891 mansion with harbor views and true-to-the-era interiors. Snag a box of the island’s old-fashioned fudge, or just sample the Bay View’s bottomless cookies and coffee, as you wile away afternoons on the verandah, free from annoying car noises, seemingly lost in time.

Wind through much of Michigan as you drive north, passing near Saginaw midway. Pop into Russell’s Blueberries & Book Barn for PYO pints of the season’s best berries and a stack of discount summer reads. Visit the Marshall M. Fredericks sculpture museum: It’s the perfect place to stretch your car-cramped legs.

 


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A Breakfast Worth Driving For in Illinois

Farmers Guest House - Galena, IL

Drive Time: Just 90 minutes from the Quad Cities, or 3 hours from Chicago or Milwaukee

There’s no distance too far for an award-winning meal, and in Galena, you’ll find just that, with chef/owner Susan Steffan at the helm. Begin with enough homemade viennoiserie to make Mary Berry blush. Follow with a seasonal frittata or breakfast pizza, and polish it all off with a trip to the mimosa bar. Once blissfully full, bob in your in-room whirlpool or endeavor to leave the property for Galena’s shopping and sightseeing.

Galena is situated right along the Northwest Illinois Antiques Trail. Find treasures galore at the region’s off-the-beaten-track barns, small-town shops, and massive malls like Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co. (Psst — shopping-averse kids can try out the 2,000-foot Alpine Slide at Chestnut Mountain.)

 


 

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Haunted Lighthouses and Cherry Pie

White Lace Inn - Sturgeon Bay, WI

Drive Time: 2.5 from Milwaukee, 3.5 from Chicago, or a quick 45 minutes from Green Bay

Situated on a peninsula practically built for summer vacations, Door County is known for fish boils and tart summer cherries, state parks and waterside fun. Check into the affordable White Lace Inn to experience the area’s best. Filled with bright florals and canopied four-poster beds, this historical and elegant B&B is a peaceful spot to rest muscles made weary by Jet Skis and sun. The gazebo, pond and gardens await.

Seek out a proper fish boil like the one at Rowleys Bay Resort, complete with storytelling over a huge iron cauldron bobbing with whitefish and redskin potatoes. Drive up and down the shoreline to spy Door County’s 11 lighthouses; if you seek the paranormal, a trolley ghost tour can thrill you with spots like the abandoned Chambers Island Lighthouse.

 


 

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The Quieter Side of the Ozarks

White River Lodge - Blue Eye, MO

Drive Time: 3 hours south from Kansas City or Des Moines, 6.5 from Indianapolis

Located just 15 minutes from bustling Branson but feeling like it’s a half a world away is White River Lodge, a sprawling B&B where every room comes with a lake view. It’s perfectly located on the shore of Table Rock Lake, which means the region’s best watersports are literal steps away, while the lodge amenities (like the wood-burning rock fireplace, sauna and theater room) offer plenty of reasons to stay indoors.

This stretch of the Ozarks is bursting with activities, from the glittery Americana of Branson to the vintage-tinged coasters of Silver Dollar City. If you’re coming from points south — or simply need to escape the masses — a one-hour drive brings you the magical glass Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, an architectural wonder hidden deep in the woods.

 


 

—by Dara Continenza