My summer Fun Club was established in 1977 by a bunch of party-minded 20-somethings who rented a ramshackle bungalow for a week in a sleepy beach town on southeastern Lake Michigan. It was 45 minutes from our work and homes in Kalamazoo, so the next year we rented for two weeks — and later on, a whole summer.

See also: Getaway to the water

We grew up and into lives full of kids and careers in far-flung places, but a group of us continue to make a week in this place a touchstone in our friendships. A flurry of winter phone calls and emails sets the annual date. While snow flies, anticipation builds until, at last, we pile into cars and onto planes and return each July to South Haven.

We grew up and into lives full of kids and careers in far-flung places, but a group of us continue to make a week in this place a touchstone in our friendships. A flurry of winter phone calls and emails sets the annual date. While snow flies, anticipation builds until, at last, we pile into cars and onto planes and return each July to South Haven.

Now in our 50s and 60s, we travel from Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles, enticed by the respite from work and traffic-clogged big cities. Here, main street is two blocks long. We bike or walk and take pleasure in the fact that - without texting a meeting time - we bump into one another while pawing through corn at the farmers market or hauling rented kayaks out of the local sports shop.

This yearly reunion, like many that bring people together in vacation spots from Cape Cod to California, takes on a familiar rhythm as we arrive. We throw open cottage windows to the silky lake air, visit the beach to test the water, and prepare a dish for the opening-night communal dinner, over which plans are made: No question we'll attend the annual blueberry festival. But who's in for golf? Beach yoga? A sunset boat ride?  

We restore ourselves and reconnect in days that seem to stretch forever. For me, however, one week isn't enough. I now rent a place year-round, to enjoy all the seasons and the grounding I get here. Still, summer Saturdays are the best. I watch vacationers whose weeks are up depart in the morning; the next wave arrives in the afternoon. I stay and wait for the Summer Fun Club to commence.

We grew up and into lives full of kids and careers in far-flung places, but a group of us continue to make a week in this place a touchstone in our friendships. A flurry of winter phone calls and emails sets the annual date. While snow flies, anticipation builds until, at last, we pile into cars and onto planes and return each July to South Haven.

Now in our 50s and 60s, we travel from Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles, enticed by the respite from work and traffic-clogged big cities. Here, main street is two blocks long. We bike or walk and take pleasure in the fact that - without texting a meeting time - we bump into one another while pawing through corn at the farmers market or hauling rented kayaks out of the local sports shop.

This yearly reunion, like many that bring people together in vacation spots from Cape Cod to California, takes on a familiar rhythm as we arrive. We throw open cottage windows to the silky lake air, visit the beach to test the water, and prepare a dish for the opening-night communal dinner, over which plans are made: No question we'll attend the annual blueberry festival. But who's in for golf? Beach yoga? A sunset boat ride?  

We restore ourselves and reconnect in days that seem to stretch forever. For me, however, one week isn't enough. I now rent a place year-round, to enjoy all the seasons and the grounding I get here. Still, summer Saturdays are the best. I watch vacationers whose weeks are up depart in the morning; the next wave arrives in the afternoon. I stay and wait for the Summer Fun Club to commence.

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Now in our 50s and 60s, we travel from Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles, enticed by the respite from work and traffic-clogged big cities. Here, Main Street is two blocks long. We bike or walk and take pleasure in the fact that — without texting a meeting time — we bump into one another while pawing through corn at the farmers market or hauling rented kayaks out of the local sports shop.

This yearly reunion, like many that bring people together in vacation spots from Cape Cod to California, takes on a familiar rhythm as we arrive. We throw open cottage windows to the silky lake air, visit the beach to test the water, and prepare a dish for the opening-night communal dinner, over which plans are made: No question we'll attend the annual blueberry festival. But who's in for golf? Beach yoga? A sunset boat ride?  

We restore ourselves and reconnect in days that seem to stretch forever. For me, however, one week isn't enough. I now rent a place year-round, to enjoy all the seasons and the grounding I get here. Still, summer Saturdays are the best. I watch vacationers whose weeks are up depart in the morning; the next wave arrives in the afternoon. I stay and wait for the Summer Fun Club to commence.

See also: Lake vacations on the Great Lakes | Lake vacations not on the Great Lakes

Get to Know Lake Michigan, the 'Third Coast'

Lake Michigan may be the third largest of the Great Lakes, but it boasts 1,661 miles of freshwater shoreline, including islands. Each town on the state's "Sunset Coast" has public beaches and boat launches, plus a unique vibe and special festival. 

Grand Haven

Expert fliers come for the Great Lakes Kite Festival, but it isn't summer's only event. There's also a Salmon Festival and a Coast Guard Festival, the latter with fireworks.

Holland

The city loves to tout its Dutch influence: A spring Tulip Festival has parades, costumes and 6 million flowers in bloom. In summer, sail, hike or take a brewery tour.

Traverse City

This is an outdoorsy and cultural "up north" mecca and also a proud Cherry Capital. It sits on pristine Grand Traverse Bay, near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

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