The Athenaeum Hotel is a darling spot located in the Chatauqua Institute, a center of knowledge and learning, music and arts. Open only seasonally, the hotel has a grand porch that looks out over Lake Chatauqua. Many of the rooms also have lake views or open their windows to the Chatauqua Institute's grounds so the air carries the music from the nearby amphitheatre's orchestra or ballet or Friday night concerts. Since most of the grounds are privately owned, the hotel is one of the best places to stay. There is much history to be known about the building as well...be sure to ask a staff member. But most widely known is that your stay includes your meals (wonderful breakfasts, great lunch buffets and fantastic dinners). The majority of the kitchen staff is always seasonal culinary students on their internships, which make for exceptional preparation and presentation.
A weeklong Christian camp located in northern Michigan, Lake Ann is an unforgettable experience for anyone. For children (4th grade-12th) the counseling staff are all from Christian colleges and have about 10 campers each. The food is fantastic and you will only receive letters about the songs they sang when they ate, the million games they played, the tree-top challenge course, the crafts, the lake and of course, the Al Capone legend (the land used to be his private golf course years ago). The camp continues to grow in size and activities each year gathering well-known speakers and helping your children learn about God while having fun. It is a life changing experience by the week end and many share their personal testimonies over a bonfire the last night they are there.
PROS: Well-Known Camp Attracting campers from all over the world
If you enjoy Traverse City but do not want to stay downtown, then Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is the place to be. With a full service spa, tennis courts, 3 golf courses and fantastic restaurants, it will quickly become a home away from home. The resort has both hotel and lodges to choose from for your stay. With a private beach, the resort is quite a special getaway. There are usually fantastic packages to choose from as well or an affordable rate for a standard room. I personally enjoy staying in the "tower" or stay for a full week in one of the lodges or beach front condos. Pool facility is very nice (four pools; two outdoor, two indoor) and gym is always available. I did attend several classes last time I stayed as well, but recently the times weren't that great. Do have dinner in the Trillium if you are celebrating something special (even the rare getaway). Chef Louie (I believe is his name) is so incredible!!
The Bear is by far one of the best golf courses in Michigan. Though the tee times and golf fees may seem to be a bit hard to come by, the course is highly worth it. It is quite challenging with the extra slopes Jack Nicklaus tossed in, so if you want an easier game there are two other courses to choose from (The Wolverine (by Gary Player) and Spruce Run). Lessons were really quite good at the school too and you can learn a lot about your swing and general approach. The hotel just started allowing you to book tee times online too.
A large park located east of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is a fun place for kids as well as many other age groups. The 4-D theater was a fun experience as well, as little props are set up around your seat that make water splash out or air brush your ear. Take a boat tour around the lake and definitely visit during the summer for the laser show. You will truly capture the southern pride from many of the exhibits, but should defnitely enjoy the day. This was also the practice spot before Mt. Rushmore was started.
Assigned seating at an IMAX show makes it feel like it is a big event you are about to attend, but ensures you can sit with friends and family. The screen is so large, you feel quite insignificant and that you can't possibly see everything going on. The sound and seating is all comfortable and I would definitely go back. Our show was a bit delayed in starting, but the staff was quite friendly to keep everyone relaxed.
Though Navy Pier is beyond touristy, the IMAX theatre is a great spot for any age. The price is a bit steep, but the image and theatre are fantastic for any show. A Harry Potter movie was by far one of the most impressive shows I have seen there, but do check their website for upcoming and seasonal events. The theatre is kept quite cool so be sure to bring an extra layer. Great seats anywhere you sit!
Do not expect to come here and sample any Jack Daniels except some homemade lemonade. Located in a dry county, the working distillery is quite difficult to find but a unique spot to learn about one of America's favorite liquors. A tour guide (with a fantastic Tennessee accent! - our guide was Sammy) will take you around the grounds to watch a short movie, explore the vats and the offices and explain the different techniques that make Jack Daniels so unique. The tour starts with a group photo you can go on to their website to check out later on too. The gift shop was closed when I was there but the only liquor you can purchase is a special souveneir bottle.
PROS: Great drive through the countryside
CONS: Difficult to Find
Andrew Jackson's home was so well preserved. He has much land and many unique buildings and gardens to explore. There is also a set of trails that you can take to get an even better feel of how much land was owned by this former president. Owning the largest number of slaves in history, the Hermitage now pays tribute to the loyalty and hard work as well as the family heritage of the people. The house itself is quite large and has beautiful wall paper that Mrs. Jackson chose herself. Good place to take the kids if they are studying this time period in history. There are many recordings that tell the story of how things looked in their present day as well which brings much of the area to life. Good souveneir shop as well.
An almost 3,000 acre park with fantastic hiking trails just off of I-75. You can discover the battle sites or enjoy the park for it's serene qualities and feeling after reaching the top. Good place to bring the dog too though some parts of the trails are narrow. Great spot in the morning or late afternoon. Many locals will come here every day for the exercise as it is hardly crowded for being a tourist spot.