Michigan's newest wine trail hides in the oft-overlooked Irish Hills region between Ann Arbor and Lansing. Seven wineries, including Sandhill Crane Vineyards (left), operate nine tasting rooms along quaint main streets and rural two-lane highways, perfect for a casual weekend tour.
The little towns also hold their own surprises. Jackson has a budding arts scene, while Chelsea is home to Michigan native Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose Theatre. Tecumseh has one of the area's best restaurants, Evans Street Station, where a lovely apple-and-pecan salad tastes as fresh and unexpected as, well, a crisp Michigan white on a hot day.
Click ahead for more details on the Pioneer Wine Trail — plus two more ideas for easy weekend getaways from Detroit.
WHAT TO DO
Hidden Lake Gardens Small (and aptly named) Hidden Lake sits at the heart of a 755-acre botanical garden and arboretum operated by Michigan State University. (517) 431-2060; hiddenlakegardens.msu.edu 
Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail In addition to maps and special event information, the wine trail's website includes a nice rundown of area attractions.pioneerwinetrail.com 
Purple Rose Theatre Intimate seating, reasonably priced tickets and plays highlighting its middle-American roots make this theater a popular regional destination. (734) 433-7673; purplerosetheatre.org 
Walker Tavern Historic Site Visitors to this restored 1800s stagecoach stop near Brooklyn can see how hard travel must have been before the Chicago Road was paved. (517) 467-4401.
WHERE TO EAT
Evans Street Station In Tecumseh, this bright-red onetime fire station offers sophisticated cuisine, made from local and seasonal ingredients. (517) 424-5555; evansstreetstation.com 
ZouZou's In the heart of Chelsea, this small-town coffee bar (pictured at left) serves up hot coffee with an international twist. (734) 433-4226; zouzouscafe.com 
WHERE TO STAY
Brickhouse of Somerset Bed and Breakfast Cross your fingers that owner Sandy Yeager serves her egg-and-prosciutto souffles for breakfast. From $90. (517) 547-5885; brickhousebb.com 
For information: Pure Michigan (888) 784-7328; michigan.org 
Lexington, Michigan: 83 miles northeast of Detroit (pictured at left) Umbrellas dot the sand, Lake Huron twinkles, and the sweet smell of vacation wafts from Oh Fudge Shoppe. Lexington, which calls itself "the first resort north," is a tiny shore town with a nice lineup of cottage rentals and B&Bs. The mood here is decidedly laid-back, with just a handful of businesses, but isn't that what beach vacations are all about? lexingtonmichigan.org 
Monroe, Michigan: 45 miles southwest of Detroit Mellow jazz and happy chatter fill the air during Monroe's biweekly free concert series, which culminates in the River Raisin Jazz Festival in August. Besides an emerging music scene, Michigan's third-oldest city has a new river walk, several restaurants and a surprisingly chic place to crash, the Hotel Sterling. monroeinfo.com