Fantasy Islands: 7 Midwest Getaways
Beaver Island, Michigan
A two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Charlevoix carries visitors northwest across Lake Michigan to an island as relaxed as any in the Caribbean. Bicycles and in-line skaters cruise Main Street in St. James, the only town and home to about a dozen shops. The eight hotel owners learn their guests' names.
Visitors don't need a car, but bringing wheels makes it easier to visit the one-third of Beaver Island that is state-owned and undeveloped. Wherever you go, the sights on this 13x6-mile island are beautiful enough to land in nature calendars. You'll see flocks of sandhill cranes and admire the quiet fishing banks of Fox Lake, where the beavers grow to weigh 60 pounds.
Whitefish stars on every menu here. It's caught in the morning and fried or sauteed that night. If you want to have dinner at a restaurant outside of downtown, most hotels happily offer free shuttle service (typically in the manager's car). In many ways, Beaver Island remains a world apart.