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Weekend Wonders of the Midwest

Too often, people forget that travel doesn’t have to mean taking time off for two-week trips. After a long week of work and responsibilities, sometimes a quick trip is in order, and sometimes that’s all it takes to feel restored.

These Midwest weekend getaway destinations allow groups to get out of town and get away from it all, and they’re all within easy driving distance of major cities.

Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck sits on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, a two-hour drive from Chicago and three hours from Detroit. The Michigan beach city prides itself on its “retro vibe that really sort of allows you to relax and recharge,” said Josh Albrecht, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The city is built around Kalamazoo Lake; from there, the Kalamazoo River makes a quick jaunt to Lake Michigan. In the downtown harbor district, visitors will find art galleries, specialty shops, tasting rooms and renowned restaurants. The Southerner is headed by two-time James Beard Award finalist Matthew Millar, and Julee Rosso, author of “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” owns Wickwood Inn Bed and Breakfast. Also downtown, visitors can ride the hand-cranked Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the harbor to Mount Baldhead Park.

Groups can board the 150-passenger Star of Saugutuck II paddle wheeler for a daytime sightseeing tour or to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan.

Oval Beach on Lake Michigan has landed on many best-beach lists. A few miles north, groups can explore Saugatuck Dunes State Park on hiking trails or during a narrated tour in an 18-person, open-air dune schooner.

About 10 miles south of downtown, Fenn Valley Vineyards offers groups tours, tastings and special dinner events. Next to the winery, Virtue Cider takes groups through the process of making farmhouse cider, from the on-site orchard to cider houses, and the guided tour includes a tasting.