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Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids is known as Beer City, USA, for its large number of breweries, including Founders Brewing Co., Atwater Brewery, and Brewery Vivant. But it’s not all about the beer. Head to the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum to learn about the country’s 38th president, who grew up in the city. Then visit the beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens, a botanical garden and sculpture complex. Walk down Wealthy Street and stop in the numerous boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants, or wander through the Heritage Hill neighborhood to marvel at the gorgeous homes. Don’t miss the Downtown Market, an indoor market full of food purveyors and other sellers of wares such as homemade soaps and jewelry. The locals love their town, as it’s one of the best places to live in the country.
The Amway Grand Plaza is the city’s most historic and grandest hotel, and it’s within walking distance of most attractions.
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Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
The adorable resort town of Lake Geneva was once where wealthy Chicagoans flocked to get away from the city in the summer. Now, it’s an affordable beach destination. Gilded Age mansions still line the lake, many of them now bed-and-breakfasts. In warm-weather months, visitors can walk around the entirety of the lake, rent boats or kayaks, and picnic in the many parks. In the winter, the lake is used for ice skating, and the town hosts a Christmas market. Lake Geneva is also known as a spa and golf getaway, and many of the hotels double as luxurious wellness retreats.
The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa sits on 1,300 acres and has its own ski runs and golf courses. There are also indoor and outdoor pools and, of course, a luxurious spa.
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Best year-round destination
Door County, Wisconsin
The Door County peninsula in northern Wisconsin is one of the prettiest Midwest vacation spots and certainly one of the most gorgeous peninsulas in the United States any time of year. In the winter, you can snowshoe across hundreds of miles of trails or try your hand at ice fishing; in the spring, the wildflowers are in full bloom; in summer, you can truly embrace being on Lake Michigan and Green Bay with water sports and beaches; and in the fall, it’s one of the best places to see colorful leaves. Sister Bay, Fish Creek, and Sturgeon Bay are the most popular towns on the peninsula, each with boutiques, art galleries, historic inns, and plenty of restaurants. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or a weekend of shopping and spa treatments, Door County has something for you.
Stay at White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, a historic bed-and-breakfast with the best fish boil (a Door County tradition) on the peninsula.