Northern Michigan's wine country is among the diverse travel options right inside our borders. (Chateau Chantal is pictured.)

“Let me outta here!” is what 16-percent of fliers told when asked if they’d be willing to pay up to $20 extra to be first off an airplane upon landing. That’s even after U.S. air carriers collected $816-million in baggage fees during the first three months of 2012. Spirit Airlines even charges $2 now to print a boarding pass. “Wanna get away” (as the Southwest Airlines commercials suggest) without flying the friendly but frugal skies? You can travel the world, in a virtual sense, right here on the highways of Pure Michigan.

            Frankenmuth, founded in 1844 as an exclusively German community, is offering a taste of Oktoberfest during its’ Michigan Bier Celebration Saturday, July 21, from 1-11 p.m. at Harvey Kern Pavilion. For $12, a dozen brewers, many in lederhosen, will offer advance tastes of their Oktoberfest brews while traditional Bavarian oom-pah polkas fill the air. Frankenmuth Brewery first poured in 1862, making it the second oldest in the country. Visit

            Grand Haven City Beach, with its’ bluffs rising behind Harbor Drive, give Lake Michigan a Malibu feel. Want more California? Michigan has its’ own “wine country.” The microclimates on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas, north of Traverse City, allow for expansive vineyards and charming wineries with hilltop tasting rooms to sip Pinot Noir, Riesling, and even champagne. Visit and click on “wine tours.”

Following through at Arcadia Bluffs, Michigan.

  The towering seaside dunes and tumbling terrain of the Emerald Isle spill down not to the Atlantic, but to Lake Michigan, at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club north of Manistee. You needn’t even play golf to enjoy the bracing, natural setting, because you can see entire property from the gourmet restaurant, restful porch, and cozy guestrooms atop the clubhouse, which makes for an Irish inn experience. If you do play golf, Michigan architects Rick Smith and Warren Henderson designed the closest thing to a Ballybunion-style links this side of County Kerry. Visit or call (800) 494-8666.     

            No need for Nevada. FireKeepers Casino, near Battle Creek, was designed to be a Las Vegas-style experience, including the fountain of fire out front. Flamboyant showgirls, entertainment right above the show floor, flat screen televisions, flashing light displays, and a seemingly underwater cocktail lounge-fine dining experience called Nibi set the stage for action. Visit

FireKeepers Casino brings Vegas-style entertainment to Battle Creek.

            There is no political or economic instability to worry about at Greektown, in Detroit, though the bustling block of Monroe Street is lined with Greek restaurants, filled with Greek music, and draped without countless blue and white flags. The Atheneum Suites Hotel and New Parthenon Restaurant have Olympian reputations. Visit

            Michiagan-based travel writer Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at or via

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