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Great Lakes Shoreline Tour – Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana

| Updated Nov 6, 2021

The one thing we have learned on this Verizon Great Lakes Shoreline Roadtreking Tour is that very often, a surprise is literally around the next corner.

So it was when we got off the car ferry in Manitowoc, WI, directly across Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI

As we made a right turn out of the parking lot, we spotted a submarine. What on earth is a submarine doing in Manitowoc, WS? We had to find out. The sub is docked out front of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, a fascinating place dedicated to the maritime history of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region.

The city of Manitowoc, WI built 28 submarines during World War II and has a great maritime museum
The city of Manitowoc, WI built 28 submarines during World War II and has a great maritime museum

It turns out that the city of Manitowoc, WI built 28 sumarines for service in World War II.  In all, more than 7,000 men and women worked around the clock, 365 days a year to build some of the best submarines in the Navy. Of the 28 submarines, 25 were built in time to see action during the war. Together they sank 132 Japanese ships.

Just up the shoreline in Two Rivers, WI, we found another place of great historical significance about something very near and dear to us. Twi Rivers is recognized by the Wisconsin State Historical Society as the REAL birthplace of the ice cream sundae.

The city of Two Rivers, WI bills itself as the place where the ice cream sundae was invented in 1881.
The city of Two Rivers, WI bills itself as the place where the ice cream sundae was invented in 1881.

I stress REAL because lots of other communities around the country have tried to claim that title. But well-known American language authority, columnist and author H.L. Mencken identified Two Rivers as the birthplace of the sundae. The claim is also supported by a 1929 newspaper interview in which the inventor recalls how the sundae came about.

For me, it was a chance to visit the Ice Cream Sundae Museum there and order one. It was a piece of art. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream with caramel and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.

I love my job.

Heading south, we came to Wisconsin Cheese country. Called America’s dairy state, Wisconsin has a rich tradition of cheese making. In the crossroads town of Gibbsville, the VanTatenhove family has owned place and been making cheese for generations. I sampled the extra sharp cheddar.

Have I told you I love my job?

Here's the video we put together for this:


A lot of folks have emailed me asking how we find all the interesting spots we’ve been visiting. Many times, it’s just a roadside sign or an email suggestion from a reader or our curiosity. But I have some apps on my smartphone that we use. Thanks to the solid Verizon 4g LTE signal we’ve had for most of the tour, those apps have really helped.

Here are the three apps I’ve used the most:

Roadtrippers– Search along a route or plan a road trip with their online trip planner for free, then sync it with your smartphone for turn-by-turn navigation. Roadtrippers is a powerful route planner, perfect as a RV trip planner or family trip planner, listing all the cool, offbeat and major tourist events for you to visit on your roadtrip.

Field Trip – This is a very handy and totally free app from Google for the iPhone and Android devices. The app bills itself as a tool to find cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you. And that it does, Field Trip give you inside info on everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk or drive. When you get close to something interesting, it will notify you and if you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.
Around Me App. It is all about providing local info. Whatever you’re looking for -grocery stores, banks, hospitals, gas stations, movie theatres. This is really handy when you travel, but surprisingly useful locally, where I always seem to find cool things nearby that I didn’t know about. It’s free for Apple, Android and Windows devices and smartphones.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2014-07-17

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

19 Responses to “Great Lakes Shoreline Tour – Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana”

November 28, 2014at10:26 am, Terry Childers said:

Can’t afford the Illinois ride due to tole costs !

November 28, 2014at5:54 am, Melissa Roller said:

Wisconsin Jeremiah Roller
Lucinda Morgan
Margaret Cindy O
Michele Baker
Jami Oleksy
Tabitha Johnson

November 26, 2014at10:11 am, Raymond Ruediger said:

We drove the shoreline of lake Michigan visiting every lighthouse in IN, IL, and WI including loading the class B on the ferry at the tip of Door County. Fantastic drive and had a great time.

November 20, 2014at7:44 pm, Shawn Cummings said:

What town is this taken from? Whiting, or Gary?

November 20, 2014at7:37 am, Pl Blackman said:

Or through giant snowdrifts! LOL

November 19, 2014at10:26 pm, Wayne Seebach said:

Can your RVs travel on water now!!

July 22, 2014at10:36 am, Rachel said:

Just a slight correction from a Chicagoan….it’s Lake Shore Drive, rather than Lake Side Drive! Beautiful drive, beautiful views of the city!

July 20, 2014at8:08 pm, Nicholas Piotrowski said:

Glad you found the Maritime Museum!

Did you also find the Courthouse Pub for dining? I hope so.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed your time in my home State.


July 17, 2014at10:51 pm, Jennifer Wendland said:

Next time we will try to see Door Country. We’ve heard good things about the area. I don’t doubt that the little bit of Wisconsin shore line that we missed was beautiful. I love the Great Lakes and am happy to live in Michigan where we can easily visit them.

July 17, 2014at5:54 pm, Campskunk said:

it makes sense to build submarines way inland – otherwise you’re vulnerable to attack. the whole Atlantic coast was a giant shooting gallery during the war, with u-boats right offshore, and ships being sunk within sight of land. they had to put anti-submarine nets in the harbors to keep them out.

July 17, 2014at2:13 pm, Myrna Bowman said:

Also was wondering what people did with their dogs on the 4hr ferry trip.

July 17, 2014at10:47 pm, Jennifer Wendland said:

Everyone kept their dog in their car for the 4 hour trip except for one poor old dog who was put in a crate. There were several crates available for your pet. We were told the dogs were happier in the security of their car. The one crated dog was so scared. I tried to calm her by talking to her, but she was trembling.

July 17, 2014at12:39 pm, Annette DeRosia Chmiel said:

Were you able to take your dog on this trip. We want to do this but not sure we can get our pet into all of these places. Thanks.

July 17, 2014at10:40 pm, Jennifer Wendland said:

Tai was with us. He stayed in the Roadtrek when we crossed Lake Michigan.

July 17, 2014at12:31 pm, Ron MacDonald said:

You missed Door County ! Oh you really missed out. Should have gone North around, much more beautiful.

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