Travel to Michigan in Four Hours
By Jackie Reau, Publisher/Editor
Many Cincinnatians take the trip to Michigan for summer vacation, normally an eight hour+ trip to well-known spots like Torch Lake, Leland or Mackinac Island. The road trip up I-75 runs through the beautiful state with 11,000 lakes, small and large. But if you are looking for a shorter trip to Pure Michigan, let me recommend Clarklake.
It’s a four-hour drive from Cincinnati depending on 75 construction (my best time is 3:52). It’s also about a five-mile drive to the lake from Michigan International Speedway, host to two NASCAR races and Faster Horses country concert.
If you are looking for a quick getaway to a charming lake town with big events on tap just a few miles away, Clarklake may be your destination.
Travel to Clarklake is literally two turns: up I-75 North through Toledo to US 23 where you turn west on Michigan 50 (Cabela’s exit for those who love the store like I do) and another 30 miles to Jefferson Road for the last left turn. All told, it’s 232 miles from downtown Cincinnati to Clarklake.
There are a handful of house rentals at Clarklake on Zillow but I would recommend staying at the Eagle Point Marina in one of the lakefront suites.
There are nine suites or rooms from which to choose, all situated right on Clarklake within a stone’s throw of The Pointe Restaurant, the Eagle Point Marina where you can dock your boat or rent a boat and a convenience store for beer and ice. All suites have wi-fi and cable TV for those with teens.
Things to do:
Boating (mostly pontoons), skiing and kayaking are the most popular water sports at Clarklake. For pontoon boat rentals, Jason and Brad will take care of you at the Eagle Point Marina.
There are two restaurants/bars on Clarklake: The Pointe and the Beach Bar. The Pointe offers casual dining with flair by Chef Daryl and live music on weekend evenings. It’s a great place to enjoy dinner on the lake. The Beach Bar is an institution on the lake having just celebrated its 70th anniversary. Run by the Collins Family, the Beach Bar is known for its fresh daily soups and fresh pizza. Live music at the Beach Bar is famously featured on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
After a good meal, you may want to enjoy a stroll around the lake on the Spirit Trail, which winds all the way around the lake, a good hearty eight miles. The Trail is clearly marked and is accessible to walkers, runners and bicyclists.
Michigan International Speedway is a 10-minute drive from Clarklake and located in Brooklyn, Michigan, a small town with antique shops, gift shops along with the Country Market grocery store and the ACE Hardware, two essentials.
The highlight of the Clarklake summer is always the first weekend in August for Raft-o-Rama with a full weekend of festivities. The Clarklake Run is held on Saturday morning with an eight-mile run and a 5K along with a kid’s race. On Sunday, the annual Raft-O-Rama begins at 10 a.m. with a themed boat parade of about 30 boats vying for coveted prizes of pride. This year’s theme is TV shows wherein the past themes have included: Broadway Shows, States and Festivals. After the parade, there is live music and a chicken dinner served by the Lions Club at the Eagle Point Marina.
MIS as the track is affectionately called was built in the 70s hosts two NASCAR races each summer: June 16-18 and August 11-13. MIS also offers a camp ground with bundle packages for race tickets, concerts and accommodations. Many of the drivers and their teams are often spotted staying at Clarklake or enjoying a meal at the Beach Bar.
From July 21-23, the Faster Horses Festival returns to MIS for a three-day country concert with headliner Luke Bryan and more than 30 acts including Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and the Charlie Daniels Band. Festival passes start at $199
Luke Bryan is performing at this year’s Faster Horses Festival at Michigan International Speedway.