Great getaways await just a few hours, or less, away from home

Double R Ranch in Belding offers several fun outdoor activities, including horseback riding, which has trails through nearby woods and along the Flat River.

 

With gas prices soaring, it may seem family vacations, or even a quick couples getaways, are a thing of the past, relics of a bygone era when Country Squire station wagons plied the highways of America and Disneyland wasn’t too great a distance for a one-week excursion.

Despite $4 per gallon “pump shock,” it’s still possible to lock in a little R & R in the form of mini-vacations; travel destinations within a few hours’ drive that provide just as much fun as any faraway locale.

Montcalm County residents have a wide choice of mini-vacation destinations. Here are a few of our favorites:

Though more of a late-summer/autumn destination, Klackle’s Orchards in Greenville hosts special events all summer long, including occasional concerts on this rustic stage.

Klackle Orchard — More than “just apples,” Klackle offers year-round fun, with over 300 acres of apple trees, pumpkin patches, a market, gift shop and restaurant. Wagon rides, live music and other events, along with sporting competition round out this venue’s offerings. 11466 W. Carson City Road, Greenville; klackleorchards.com.

Double R Ranch — Located at 4424 Whites Bridge Road in Belding, Double R provides a host of recreational activities. Everything from camping, hayrides, golf, horseback riding and water sports are available. Double R is the perfect destination of non-stop activity, or just kicking back and enjoying nature. doublerranch.com.

Candlestone Golf & Resort — Billed as “West Michigan’s Premier Golf Package, Wedding and Dining Destination,” Candlestone offers a luxurious experience regardless of which activity you might wish to take part in. Overnight guests will want to take advantage of the resort’s on-site, recently-upgraded lodging accomodations. 8100 Storey Road in Belding; candlestone.com.

This lemur is one of many new animals families can see face to face at Anderson Girls and Orchards in Stanton.

Anderson & Girls Orchards — Many of the offerings at Anderson & Girls Orchards, such as the constantly expanding petting zoo, are free of charge. Admission also is free. An on-site farm tour, gift shop, ice cream parlor and cider mill provide something every family member will love. 2985 N. Sheridan Road; andersonandgirls.com.

Grand Traverse wine tours — The Grand Traverse Bay area is home to many fine wineries and several tour companies have sprung up in recent years to provide easy access to all of them. Many of the tours are designed by wine lovers, for wine lovers, and feature knowledgeable staffers ready to help make the most of your time in wine country.

Mackinac Island — When Michiganders talk about “the island,” they’re referring to Mackinac, one of Michigan’s premier vacation destinations. This automobile-free island provides a seemingly limitless variety of food, drink, entertainment and good, family fun. The island offers over 1300 possible guest accommodations. mackinacisland.org.

John Ball Zoo — Grand Rapids is home to one of the state’s most respected zoos that has in recent decades expanded to include many natural habitats, a school and more. New this year is a completely renovated grizzly bear habitat that allows visitors to get “nose-to-nose” with the zoo’s two 600-pound bears. 1300 W. Fulton St.; johnballzoosociety.org.

Lakes and rivers — With over 11,000 inland lakes and eight rivers in Michigan, residents are always close to at least one body of water. Public beaches are found throughout the state and Michigan’s fishing opportunities are nothing short of legendary. Factor in the Great Lakes and its apparent why Michigan claims the slogan “water wonderland.”

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