Day-Tripping

“Perfect Day Michigan” guidebook highlights 29 day-trip destinations covering both peninsulas
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Photos courtesy of Amy S. Eckert

Native Detroiter, author, and travel journalist Amy S. Eckert has been writing about her birthplace — and home state — for more than two decades. People often ask her: “If I had one extra day, what should I see or do?”

Her newest book, “Perfect Day Michigan,” attempts to answer that question with 29 day-trip itineraries designed to help travelers narrow their focus. Eckert says it’s not just a relevant read for first-time visitors to the state or a particular city. “Even if you’re a longtime resident, chances are there are some gems in the state that are new to you,” she says.

Michigan is a big state, with vastly different cultures and characteristics. There are more than 3,300 miles of freshwater coastline, 129 lighthouses, and 103 state parks and recreation areas, and its diverse travel offerings range from remote islands in national parks to trendy breweries and distilleries.

“I really enjoy sharing the hidden gems in the state of Michigan with people,” Eckert says. “I’ve traveled all around the world for varied assignments, and Michigan is a pretty great place to live and explore. It constantly surprises me that there’s something new around every corner.”

Eckert covers urban cities as diverse as Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids, as well as more remote regions such as Copper Harbor and Alpena. Then there are Michigan mainstays: the Porcupine Mountains, Mackinac Island, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Left to right: One of Eckert’s favorite spots, Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. Maps, suggested eateries, and side trips make it easy to plan great getaways.

“The destinations are diverse, from urban centers to national parks,” she says. “Each chapter includes two must-see attractions and one great restaurant. The chapter finishes with three or four alternatives, just in case you can stretch the trip to two days.”

Eckert has wanted to write a book highlighting the whole state for years. She discussed it with her publisher, Reedy Press, and when Reedy announced plans for a new statewide travel series, she happily said yes. “Perfect Day Michigan” is her 20th book.

“I love discovering new places in my home state, and I hope my enjoyment of that discovery comes across on the page to other travelers,” she says. 

Was it tough to narrow the book down to 29 itineraries? Yes. But Eckert’s publisher trusted her judgment and years on the road. The book includes a mix of urban destinations, wilderness areas, romantic getaways, and family-friendly options.

“It was really difficult, honestly,” she says of narrowing down her day-trip ideas. “I tried to pick places that were truly unique or there was enough to do there to merit a full day.”

She always visits the places she writes about, and research for the book took her to a number of locales she’d never visited. One of them was Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, near Alpena. “I had heard how great that place was, that you could go kayaking over shipwrecks,” she says.

Along with “Perfect Day Michigan,” Eckert also updated and revised “100 Things to Do in Detroit Before You Die.” Both books were released by Reedy Press last fall.

In the latest version of “100 Things to Do in Detroit Before You Die,” Eckert explores Detroit’s best attractions, from stylish boutique hotels to fine-dining restaurants, distillery bars, and guided kayaking on the Detroit River. She eliminated outdated entries like the iconic Joe Louis Arena, but added places such as Shinola Hotel Detroit, Sid Gold’s Request Room, and Oudolf Garden Detroit. The book is divided into five sections: food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, culture and history, and shopping and fashion.

Readers also will find oldies but goodies: the Detroit Institute of Arts, Motown Museum, Comerica Park, and The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

“I published the original version of ‘100 Things to Do in Detroit Before You Die’ in 2016 and, at that time, Detroit was less than three years out from bankruptcy,” she says. “The city has a reputation around the country for being a place with really vibrant bars and nightlife, and some of the coolest boutique hotels. A lot has changed in the seven years since that first book came out.”

Born in the Motor City, Eckert’s family moved to the west side of the state when she was in elementary school. She still visits metro Detroit several times a year and has an affinity for the city, even though she lives in Holland. 

“Detroit is a city that’s rapidly developing,” she says. “There are a lot of exciting new places to visit.”

Eckert has worked as a travel journalist for more than 20 years, and has traveled across the globe to write about topics such as Martin Luther’s Germany, Shinto pilgrimage routes in Japan, and gorilla trekking in Rwanda. But she always returns to Michigan, and is happy to live, work, and play in her home state. 

Author and regular BLUE contributor Amy S. Eckert says her book’s featured destinations range from urban centers to national parks.

MORE INFORMATION:
Amy S. Eckert’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, AARP, The Saturday Evening Post, fodors.com, and Backpacker, among others. Copies of her latest titles are available at independent booksellers and online at large retailers. Learn more at amyeckert.com.

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