Escape to Beaver Island, Michigan
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Relaxed and remote
Bob Banville, owner of Shanoule Bed and Breakfast on Michigan's Beaver Island, describes the allure of this island to visitors. Life here is slower, he says, pointing across Lake Michigan and adding, "It's just not as relaxed in the U.S.A."
A slip of the tongue? Maybe. But given the island's past, you have to wonder. Beaver Island (population: 600, mostly of Irish descent) has a history of independence, beginning with self-declared King James Jesse Strang in 1850. His "reign" ended with his assassination in 1856.
Today, a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Charlevoix carries visitors northwest across the lake 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 and don't fret about a credit card at check-in. "We'll square up in the morning," they offer. "Now, do you want me to drive you around so you know where everything is?"
Click ahead to find out more about Beaver Island, including our top picks for where to eat, what to do, and where to stay.