Bed & Breakfasts and Bicycles: A Michigan Vacation Staple

What is so rare as a bike ride with your best friend in Pure Michigan?
What is so rare as a bike ride with your best friend in Pure Michigan?

One of the best parts of our Great Lakes State is that you can ride bikes almost anywhere you plan to go to get away. You can enjoy beautiful views of Lake Michigan over almost the entire length of the John and Dede Howard Recreation Trail when you stay at Dove Nest B&B in St. Joseph.  Innkeepers Jitka and John Nelson invite you to bring your own bicycles or rent them from Scooter Joe’s, which offers a range from single seaters to a double-bench surrey with a shaded canopy top. Classy! Enjoy the natural beauty of the St. Joseph River as you leisurely ride the trails through Madeline Bertrand County Park. Or combine sport and — wine tasting? When guests ride to any or all of the 10 wineries close to Dove Nest B&B, Jitka promises a free pick up at any point in the journey if the combination of sun and wine gets to be too much.

White Rabbit Bike HCTrailsSign051713
Photo courtesy of White Rabbit Inn B&B.

In the heart of Harbor Country and nestled just south of St Joseph amid the Lake Michigan sand dunes, Jan and A.J. Boggio invite you to enjoy a “wheel” adventure when you stay at White Rabbit Inn, a romantic couples’ getaway in Lakeside. Nearly two dozen self-guided trails meander through lush, rolling countryside. While touring, you can enjoy picturesque lakefront vistas or follow remote and rugged back roads. Didn’t bring your bikes? Don’t despair. Bike rentals, cycling information and a free bicycle museum are all nearby in downtown Three Oaks at the Dewey Cannon Trading Company. Make plans now and register early for this year’s 40th Annual Apple Cider Century Bike Ride on Sunday, September 29.

Connecting the lakeshore from South Haven to inland Kalamazoo, the 34-mile Kal-Haven Trail crosses over bridges and passes through small towns and points of historical interest. The Kalamazoo end of the limestone/slag-surfaced trail links with the 14-mile Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which extends to the Kalamazoo Nature Center featuring miles of hiking trails. Cyclists pedaling through downtown Kalamazoo pass just four blocks from the popular Kalamazoo House B&B. Innkeepers Terry and Laurel Parrott invite you to stop for the night, store your bikes inside, relax in a jetted tub, then walk to all the great restaurants, theaters, galleries, brewpubs and nightspots that make the city’s downtown so vibrant. You wouldn’t be the first: Laurel tells of hosting guests from London who stopped in during a really long ride — a year-long bicycle tour of the entire U.S.

Wherever you ride, Michigan is better on a bike!
Wherever you ride, Michigan is better on a bike!

Continuing eastward and inland, Saravilla B&B is just four blocks from the head of the Meijer Heartland Trail, paved its entire length from Alma to Greenville. Innkeepers Linda and Jon Darrow suggest the perfect trip is to start from Greenville, ride bikes to Alma, spend the night at Saravilla, then return to Greenville the next day. In addition to ample parking for cars, the inn offers overnight bicycle storage. Saravilla is an easy walk to downtown Alma and restaurants, and offers a large front porch and back deck for loafing and a hot tub in the sunroom for soaking. If you prefer to spend an afternoon biking the local trails, arrange rentals with Terry’s Cycle and Sports.

Ann Arbor’s sobriquet is “Tree Town,” and the 50,000 hardwoods that line its streets make it an ideal bicycling destination. Innkeeper Kei Constantinov welcomes bicyclists who come to ride through the leafy neighborhoods and well-tended parks surrounding her near-campus B&B, Vitosha Guest Haus. Come prepared with a City of Ann Arbor Bicycle Map, which shows the various bike lanes, bike routes and shared-use trails available within Ann Arbor and surrounding Washtenaw County. For the more ambitious, Michigan Department of Transportation offers a series of multi-county regional maps showing road surface types, traffic volume ranges, paved/unpaved trails and more. If you don’t want to haul and store your own bikes, the University of Michigan’s Department of Recreational Sports rents “Blue Bikes” by the day or weekend. Regardless where or what you choose to ride, Kei will send you off fortified with a complimentary “To Go” biking luncheon for two.

Sculptures and art pieces like this tribute to wind and sails enhance the ride along the bike path as it passes through Whitehall.
Sculptures and art pieces like this tribute to wind and sails enhance your ride along the White Lake Pathway as it passes through Whitehall.

In another college town at the edge of Michigan’s “up north,” Comstock House B&B is just a quarter mile from the celebrated White Pine Trail in Big Rapids. Innkeepers Jane and John Johansen host bicyclists from all over Michigan who come to ride the trail. They once hosted guests riding from Pennsylvania to the West Coast via the Upper Peninsula. Imagine! A little north of Big Rapids, the north/south White Pine Trail intersects with the east/west Pere Marquette Trail. Comstock House is an ideal place to stay at the start or the end of your adventure, with air spa tubs in every room and great meals at locally-owned restaurants just a short walk away.

Turning west from Big Rapids, White Swan Inn is just a block from the bike path in downtown Whitehall, which is an extension of the 22-mile Hart-Montague Trail — Michigan’s first paved rail trail. It winds through cherry and apple orchards, woodlands and small towns that promise welcome stops for ice cream. In Montague, the trail crosses the White River and becomes the White Lake Pathway through Whitehall, then the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail as it continues south to the village of Dalton. White Swan guests enjoy indoor bike storage in the original carriage house. Innkeepers Ron and Cathy Russell invite you to kick back after a hard day’s ride on their spacious veranda just a block off White Lake and its signature marinas. It’s a short walk to shops and restaurants and right across the street from the acclaimed Howmet Theater.

Where do you most like to bike in Michigan? And what’s your favorite B&B lodging stop when you ride? Tell us: we’ll blog about it.