Road Trips, United States

A Luxe, Relaxed Escape in Elk Rapids

Hanging out in the Fernhaus Airbnb living room

Most of the time, it’s a destination that drives me to plan a weekend away. But in this case, late-night scrolling on Airbnb – which revealed one of the most swoon-worthy home rentals I’d seen – was the impetus for a trip to Elk Rapids, just north of Traverse City, Mich.

A quick look at the calendar proved availability for a fall weekend, and how could I pass the opportunity to book? I live for fall, with its cable-knit sweaters, boots and fire pits. Hot drinks and pumpkins and good books read under piles of blankets.

And all my dreamy fall visions seems perfectly suited against the backdrop that is Fernhaus. A compact, but open, two-bedroom cottage that sits right across the road from Elk Rapids Day Park, this rental is just as gorgeous as it is cozy. It offers a good sized yard with a dining table, seating area, two fire pits and bicycles to use during your stay. But most appealing, no surprise, is the convenience of Lake Michigan’s East Bay just across the way.

The home rental’s simple exterior, set for fall

A five-minute walk (if that) through a wooded area with art installations paving its path, unfurls a sand-and-pebble beach with playground equipment and gorgeous water views. During our early October stay, the beach was calm and quiet, and – oh, the luck! – a surprisingly warm 70 degrees.

Given that the main draw for this fall escape was the Fernhaus itself, we were content to limit our excursions. We soaked up the modern home vibes, stocked up on groceries and utilized the kitchen’s vast array of cooking appliances and tools, and popped back and forth to the beach with the little man.

Elk Rapids Day Park, just across the road

Our one afternoon out was spent driving to and hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes, a hilly, sandy trek to Lake Michigan that took us a few hours, with our toddler who refused to be carried in the hiking backpack. (We ended up stashing the pack behind a bush along the way and letting him amble in the sand barefoot when we weren’t lugging him in our arms. It was … a tiring experience ;)

We’d started our weekend with a night and morning in Traverse City, so on our way out of town, we stuck around Elk Rapids for a quick lunch. Casual and kid-friendly was Short’s Brewing Company, with a big sandbox for the little ones to play in while parents sipped a brew and ordered eats from an on-site food truck.

Of course, we couldn’t leave town without one last stop by Farmer White’s Farm Market along MI-31 for a couple speckled and dimpled pumpkins to bring home. (Donuts and apple cider inside, seasonally!)

Our little glimpse into life in Elk Rapids was brief but beautiful. And I’d love to go back in the summer months. If you have suggestions on all the things to see and do that we missed, please drop a comment!

Master bedroom with queen bed
Second bedroom with twin beds
Front door and hallway, and welcome committee
A sweet built-in lounge nook
Bubbles at Sleeping Bear Dunes
Fall 🍁
My best bud

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