What a Panic Attack Feels Like

My story about what a panic attack feels like, to help people understand the severity of the mental illness and how it affects my life. Including the travel limitations it can inflict.
Peru; November 2017; 7 days; 2 panic attacks

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

I wanted to write about what a panic attack feels like to help people understand the severity of the mental illness and how it affects my life. Including the travel limitations it can inflict in addition to the every challenges. Writing this post about what happened to me was difficult, and it brought out a lot of emotions as I was writing. But it’s time to talk about it, I can no longer stay silent and hide my chronic illnesses out of fear of judgement, prejudice, or discrimination. I struggle everyday to win the internal battle my mental illnesses raging within me.

I debated if I should start integrating mental health into my travel blog for over a year, when I was first diagnosed. Times are changing, faster than anyone ever could have predicted. The travel industry has collapsed these past few weeks with the COVID-19 virus wreaking havoc on the world, and the uncertainty of the future has many of us scared. Which is why I think now more than ever, it is so important to start these conversations. Understanding each others differences, and working together to overcome the adversity will lead us into a brighter future. My name is Chelsea, I have Panic Disorder and this is my story.


Hawaii, Feb 2019, 7 days, 3 panic attacks

What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is on the severe end of the anxiety disorder spectrum. But on the severe side… My panic attacks personally happen anywhere, at anytime, unexpectedly, and don’t need a “trigger” for the attack to happen. With no warning of the onset, it makes the disorder extremely difficult to manage. So what exactly is panic disorder? what does a panic attack feel like?

An abrupt feeling of terror washes over you when there is no real danger. It’s the feeling that you are losing control of your mind, your body, and yourself. It feels like you’re dying. Your brain is telling you, you’re dying! But it’s not just “feelings”. A panic attack also has physical symptoms, which fuels the panic that you’re dying, symptoms such as:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Severe chest or stomach pain
  • Breathing difficulty, not being able to breathe
  • Weakness, dizziness, confusion
  • Sweating
  • Feeling hot or a cold chill sometimes going from one to the other and back. Or feeling both hot/cold at the same time.
  • Tingly or numb hands & limbs
North Cascades National Park; July 2019; 2 panic attacks

Quality of Life

Aside from the physical and mental pain that an attack has on your body- after you recover, you’re terrified at what happened. Everyday I fear that another attack will consume me. I often avoid places where past attacks have happened, especially in public places- like an airport. I once sat on an airport bench in LAX for almost an hour during a panic attack. Unable to move, feeling like I would throw up at any minute, with blurred vision. How could I go through TSA like that? I barely made my flight as I pushed through the panic and disconnected mentally from my physical being.

Banff National Park Road trip; September 2019; 7 days; 1 panic attack

For some people, the fear of another attack takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes. The disorder is more common in women than men and can start to develop as a young adult. Most people can get better with cognitive therapy treatment and medication, but there is no cure. So my question to you reader is this-

So i’ll ask you again – on a scale of 1-10 how severe do you consider panic disorder to be?

Not Severe 1 – 10 Disabling

Remember that number.


My Story

The following story, is from my most recent panic attack experience. It was the most severe attack I’ve ever had, lasting for almost 2.5 hours. I woke up the morning after, and wrote down my account as best I could before I no longer remembered. I sat down at my computer with my eyes closed, and went back to the night before, just typing as the words came to me. There were two times where I needed to take a break and stop writing because of the tears that came with it. This is what I wrote, unedited. So … welcome to my head.

**TRIGGER WARNING** The following contains potentially distressing content. Reader discretion is advised.

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

Logan and I had pizza friday, and were watching how to train your dragon we were almost to the end, and there was a scene where the dragons and humans were flying through the clouds, popping in and out of sight. i started to get nauseous, not understanding why, bad pizza? i laid my head back and closed my eyes as i just listened. a few minutes later the nausea got worse, and i began feeling like i was overheating. i had to cool my body temperature down, something wasn’t right. i laid on the bathroom tile, thinking i was going to be sick with food poisoning, still trying to cool down my rapidly growing temperature. it wasn’t working, my nausea and the stomach pain were getting worse.

i go outside onto the deck in the 40 degree cool winter night, and sat in a t-shirt, sweatpants, and no socks while I sit there for what felt like just minutes. Today Logan said it was more like 30-45 minutes. Logan came out to check and see if i was cold, or wanted to come inside. I wasn’t. i was enjoying the cool breeze on my face, and the comfort that the darkness was bringing as I stared out into the nothingness.

this is where my memories begin to fade, and i begin to come in and out of consciousness. i lay outside on the deck just repeating over and over to logan that my stomach hurt and something was wrong. he brought me my anti nausea medication upon my request, and sat outside with me in his winter jacket and outdoor clothing. i lay there helpless, in pain, terrified, and unable to move for fear that if i open my eyes, the nausea will return.

now i’m inside on the kitchen floor because I’m freezing and shivering. logan tells me i need to back away from the door because mia (our dog) is outside and she needs to come in. ok i say. nothing happens, i cant open my eyes, all i feel is fear, and pain. something isn’t right i say. on all fours, i drag myself further into the kitchen, trying to make it to the couch.

the pain becomes so bad i collapse and start to cry. just laying there being afraid, of what i didn’t know. i couldn’t get up. it wasn’t safe. my leg started shaking, and it felt as if i was having convulsions from my toes up to my thigh, at the same time the pain in my stomach becomes unbearable and i cry out in pain as i fight through the wave of pain trying not to pass out.

my breathing starts to slow, it’s going slower, slower, more shallow. logan, somethings not right. somethings wrong with me i tell him. i can’t breathe. can you google my symptoms? i think i’m dying. can you find out whats wrong? please, i beg him. the convulsions start again, and i’m gone once more, lost in the pain. the pain of my legs from shaking uncontrollably, the pain of it going up and into my stomach, making it cramp so bad i thought it might be period cramps or kidney stones.

Chels i dont know whats wrong, i dont know whats happening. sheer terror brings a cold chill down my whole body, and i begin to shake, and shiver. what’s wrong with me repeats in my head as a loop. i ask logan again, whats wrong with me? …i don’t know sweetheart, did you google my symptoms? not yet sweetie, i don’t know what you want me to google.

i think i have the coronavirus. i think i’m dying. i cant breathe.. i cant open my eyes, all i feel is pain. everything hurts. i think i’m dying. i tell him. my breathing slows again, and i get a reprieve from the pain coursing through my veins. i’m laying halfway in between the living room and the kitchen now. i open my eyes, and look into his for the first time. i think i’m having a panic attack, i tell him. i need my medicine, i don’t want to die. which medicine? he asks.

chels…chelsea… i feel him touch me…which medicine chels? i don’t remember. why is he asking about medicine? whats happening to me i ask him. i think you’re sick honey, he says. i start to cry again, my time has come, i’m not ready to die i cry. I think we need to take you to the hospital, logan says. whats the hospital? i ask. “the fact that you don’t know what a hospital is, makes me certain we need to take you in, you’re sick sweetheart.”

this is it. my time has come. i didn’t think i’d die this young. they say death sneaks up on us. am i dying? i ask him. no, no you’re not dying, we just need to get you to the hospital. what’s a hospital? i’m so confused. its where people go when they’re sick. but i’m not sick, i’m’ not i tell him. just let me rest here. just let me close my eyes, i just need to go to sleep. did you get my medicine? no…you still need to tell me what one

babe.. i think i’m having a panic attack, i tell him. can you get me my medicine? babe…i beg him, please. please make it go away. something is wrong. something isn’t right. what’s happening to me? you’re sick sweetheart.. xanax i say. i need my xanax, i think i’m having a panic attack. i feel him get up. which cupboard are they in? the cupboard downstairs. where babe, which cupboard, i’m downstairs, open your eyes. i can’t… the light. please turn the light off. i’m not ready. I’m not ready to leave you. I don’t want to die.

the pain starts. i roll into a ball trying to stop it, but i feel it coming, my legs begin shaking again, and it continues up up into my stomach, into my head. im gone. is it ok to take the medicine with the other one you took? i don’t know. i say. i don’t know. i fall asleep. babe…wake up, take your medicine. where is it i ask? its in your hand, its still in your hand. ok. its ok if i take it? yes, he says, go ahead and take it. ok. i fall asleep.

chels.. c’mon. lets go to the hospital. whats the hospital? what happens there? is it because i’m dying? i have the coronavirus dont i? i start crying, i cant breathe again. Logan tries to calm me, no, no you don’t have the virus. you might have food poisoning. i fade out again. still laying on the floor, i open my eyes not knowing how much time had passed. everything is foggy, but I see his face. chels i think it’s time to go to the hospital. what’s a hospital? i ask him once again. i think i’m having a panic attack. let me sleep. let me just sleep and i’ll be ok.

chels.. you’re sick. this isn’t normal, you can’t tell me what a hospital is. he’s right. what is a hospital. i don’t wanna go there. he gets up and i grab hold of his arm as the terror shoots through me again, begging him to please whatever he does- please don’t leave me. The pain is coming, my eyes water as my legs begin shaking again, i’m so nauseous. he gets up and turns a light on, NOOOO i yell. please no!! please turn it off. It hurts me. Why don’t you try and throw up he says… i cant. i cant do it. why not? its not allowed. i just cant do it. did you get my medicine?

i look into my hand, it’s not there- did you get my medicine? yes chels… you took it awhile ago, it was in your hand. are you sure? I ask. it’s not there. it’s time to go chels. where are we going? the hospital. whats the hospital i ask him again. wait… i’ve asked him this before. i know it. logan- did i ask you that already? yes, a couple times he says. but i don’t remember. am i looping again? i can’t remember anything. it’s just darkness. i try to remember what a hospital is. what it means to be sick. i’m dying. you’re dying, i tell myself. he wants me to go there so they can save me, but it’s too late. i’m fading. i fall asleep.

come on chels, its time. no… no please, let me stay just a little longer. i don’t want to die yet. i open my eyes and all i can see is logan’s face. i look into his eyes, i hear the dogs whining around me, they know too i think. ok.. ok what he says? ok we can go to the hospital. i don’t want to die yet. he helps me get up and i walk for the first time into the living room to put my shoes on. i’m at the door, and the light goes on. panic.

no. no no no no no. turn it off. turn it off i say. i’m on the couch in a ball, with my eyes closed and the pain coming back full force. please shut them off, they’re hurting me. there’s going to be lots of lights at the hospital he says… the lights won’t hurt you. the darkness feels good. whats the hospital? i ask confused. that’s where we’re going he said, put your shoes on ok? ok. i can do that. i get up and put my shoes on. the light turns on. i crumble to the floor right where i stood. crying, begging, please no.. please just please keep the light off. it hurts me. it’s killing me.

that’s why we’re going to the hospital logan says, where are your cards? where are all your medical cards? on my desk. are they all here he asks? yes, those are them. WAIT. no… no i say. we can’t go. i dont have insurance. i can’t go to the emergency. call an ambulance instead. but i can’t go to the hospital. he tries helping me up again to go.

no… no. am i sick? i ask again. yes… you’re sick sweetheart. so this isn’t normal? no.. am i sick like grandma Quida was? i ask him, am i going to be with her now? the light scares me. i’m not ready. i’m not ready to go towards the light. i can’t leave you. no… you’re not sick like grandma Quida he said.. you’re just sick, and need a doctor.

i’ll go upstairs i say. i’ll go upstairs and sleep in the bed. is that normal? yes..that’s normal. but i think we should still go to the hospital, he said. the lights. no… no i’m not sick, i promise. if i make it upstairs, do we have to go to the hospital?

if you make it upstairs and fall asleep/start feeling better, we don’t have to go. ok. ok..ok. i can do that. “can you turn off all the lights?” they’re off sweetheart. no… no there’s still a light i can see it. “that’s a candle, you won’t be able to get upstairs in the dark.

panic. i can’t… i can’t go. please make all the light go away. the blinds too. the windows. the candle. all the light. i won’t make it up there unless it’s gone. i start to fall asleep again. they’re off – he says. it’s dark now.. can i help you upstairs? i open my eyes, its dark. it’s safe now.

yes. yes, can you help me upstairs? i’m in bed now. “is this normal?” i ask him. is what normal? me. me being in bed like this and going to sleep. that’s ok? yes he says. i can go to sleep? yes. What will happen? i won’t wake up will i. panic. i don’t want to die. i want to wake up. “you’ll go to sleep, and then wake up” he says. he’s lying. i know i’m dying, he’s too scared to admit it. “will you stay with me until i fall asleep?” yes. i’ll stay.

i woke up this morning and every inch of my body hurt. an aching hurt, like when you over do it at the gym. something bad happened last night, and i just want to sleep. i’m so tired. i’m exhausted. i can’t keep my eyes open. logan brought me some coffee, and laid with me, rubbed my back – and i began to relax again, falling back to sleep. i’m awake now, fully alert. remembering and recounting what happened. i think it’s important to write this down. it needs to be shared.

it wasn’t just me that was terrified, and cold with fear. Logan watched me, helped me, took care of me, and saw what happened to me. he watched for hours, as the loops, pain, terror, and death consumed me. he watched, and could do nothing to stop it. i can only imagine what it must have been like for him. its not fair. its not fair to either of us. for me to live with these brain diseases. this was one of the worst panic attacks i’ve had in months. it came out of nowhere – blindsiding me. slowly taking over control of not just my body, but my mind. until eventually, i wasn’t there anymore. me. chelsea. my essence. it just wasn’t there.


So i’ll ask you again – on a scale of 1-10 how severe do you consider panic disorder to be?

Not Severe 1 – 10 Disabling



If you or someone you know struggles with Panic Disorder, or other mental health illnesses- talk about it. Don’t be afraid, it’s time.

My younger sister is reaching the same age that I was when my mental health illnesses took a decline, and became unbearable. I recognize the pain in her eyes, the confusion, and the desperate need for help. I sought help, but it would be 7 years before I received the correct diagnosis, and treatment.

Working for GM; 7 years; 30+ panic attacks; 3 hospital visits

A month before my panic attack, my sister was in the hospital, when I spoke with her partner he explained what happened. Memory loss. Unable to speak. Unable to move. Pain. Paralysis. She was cleared from the hospital a few hours after her arrival. Diagnosis? Panic attack. She is now receiving the help she needs, and her mental health is improving as we fight this hereditary illness together.

Don’t keep the pain locked inside to consume you.

Being sick is not your fault. It doesn’t matter if it’s the flu, depression, panic disorder, or cancer- you did not choose this, to be sick. Don’t let others make you feel ashamed, or like “it’s all in your head”. Those people are ignorant, and you know the truth. Keep fighting, it won’t be this bad forever, and the world needs you.

xx

Nevada; February 2020; 5 days; 0 panic attacks

Pin this post to help others struggling & help create awareness for those that don’t understand the struggle that is mental illness.



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Drone Shot Big Sky Montana The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Big Sky is home to epic ski resorts, a historic dude ranch, and incredible outdoor adventures. All bringing plenty of excitement to this friendly community year round.

Winter Snow Covered Cabin Montana The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

This winter I set out to explore the community and its surrounding area with some girlfriends. We spent the perfect winter weekend exploring the high summits and beautiful surrounding nature. Here’s my tips and recommendations for the perfect Big Sky Montana winter adventure!

Getting to Big Sky

Plane window at sunset The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel

The nearest airport to Big Sky Montana is Bozeman Yellowstone International airport (BZN). The quaint airport is warm and welcoming with beautiful stone fireplaces and wood accents throughout the halls.

Where to Stay & Get Cozy After Adventures

AirBnb Condo Fireplace Montana The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel  #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

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Another AirBnb for the win for Big Sky. Our condo was super cozy with a warm stone fireplace in the group gathering area. The condo was in an alpine valley surrounded by rivers and panoramic mountain views named the “Meadow” area of Big Sky.

Winter Adventures in Big Sky

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Snowboard Big Sky!

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Shop for my favorite winter boots for hiking and your outdoor adventures!

The Best Winter Hiking Boots - Sorel
The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Snowshoe to a Frozen Ousel Falls

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
Snow Shoeing Big Sky Montana The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
Montana Snow Pile The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Snow Shoe Up Ski Slopes

snow shoe big sky Montana The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Go On A Winter Adventure to Frozen Waterfalls

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
Frozen Waterfall rock wall The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

If you run out of water, just eat icicles like Lenka.

Eat icicles frozen waterfall The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Explore the Trails of Callatin National Forest Montana

Callatin National Forest in Winter The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Go For A Sleigh Ride 

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Go Sledding Down a Hill

Snow Shoe Bridge Big Sky Montana Winter The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel
Snow Shoe Bridge Big Sky Montana Winter The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

The adventure guide to Big Sky Montana in the winter. | herlifeadventures.blog | #traveldestinations #travelideas #northamericatravel #traveltips #usdestinations #travelhacks #travelguide #adventuretravel #roadtrip #bigsky #montana #adventureguide #winteractivities #wintertravel

Looking for more inspiration to plan your getaway?

The Perfect Weekend Camping in Michigan’s UP Eastern Region

The U.S. state of Michigan is made up of two major peninsulas. The Upper Peninsula (UP), is the northern of the two. My favorite time to visit the UP is the fall season, when the trees are bursting with bright colors. A year ago, my boyfriend Logan and I went camping in the eastern region of the UP.

Lake Superior Fall Colors

It was the end of the season in late October, we had JUST made it to see the fall colors. It was the last weekend the campground was open, and we were the only ones crazy enough to be camping there.

Find out why, in this edition of THE PERFECT WEEKEND featuring Michigan’s UP Eastern Region!

Tahquamenon Falls Michigan

Where To Camp

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

We camped directly on Lake Superior at Brimley State Park, one of the oldest parks in the UP. In typical Logan/Chelsea fashion we arrived at our campsite in the dark. Setting up at night was never a concern of mine, in fact I kind of like it… waking up in a new place, really seeing it for the first time that morning. It’s like a surprise, or a present waiting to be unwrapped.

Lake Superior

Our gift the first morning was waking up to a snow-covered tent… in October. Really neither of us were surprised…welcome to The UP. 

Brimley State Park

Take a Drive

Tunnel of Trees Michigan

Freezing and in desperate need of caffeine we went in search of coffee. We fueled up and hit the road, enjoying the views as we sipped our way back to warmth.

Michigan Fall Colors

Pro Tip: Take the scenic route along W Lakeshore Dr on your way to Tahquamenon Falls. This route will take you along Whitefish Bay giving you gorgeous lake views and the opportunity to see a lighthouse! 

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Just a short 15 minute drive from Brimley, this historic lighthouse is worth the stop. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic back in 1975. Its name meaning “Place of Iroquois Bones” derived from a battle fought back in 1662 by local Native American’s of the Chippewa and Iroquois. The lighthouse was closed for the season so we couldn’t climb the tower but we were able to explore the grounds.

Logan Fall Colors

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls

Located in Paradise, Michigan- this state park is one you won’t want to miss. Experience one of the largest waterfalls this side of the Mississippi- Tahquamenon Falls. It’s beautiful rust colored falls are caused from leached tannins of the cedar swamps which the river drains. Explore the park, and stop into the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub for some local made beer!

Go on a Hike

Prayer of the Woods

There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails throughout the eastern region of the UP. Hiking in the fall is my ideal hiking conditions- beautiful fall colors, crisp air, lower temperatures.

Trailhead

UP NEXT: What to do in Michigan’s UP Central Region!

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The Perfect Weekend Camping Michigan’s West Coast

Lake Michigan touches four US states- Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Around 12 million people reside on this magnificent great lake. It’s crystal clear turquoise waters are lined with 275,000 acres of sand dunes, making it the largest freshwater dune system in the world! Lake Michigan has so many beaches it’s often referred to as “The Third Coast” of the United States. In my completely unbiased opinion, it’s the best of the coasts. The fresh water lake comes shark and salt free!


The Perfect Weekend Along Michigan’s West Coast

This past weekend Logan and I explored a new part of Michigan with his family, complete with fur babies and adorable nephews. We headed to the west coast over to Warren Dunes State Park where we camped for the weekend. The west side of the state is so beautiful, and just a short drive from Detroit or Chicago.

happy women, looking out over the beach

Where to Camp

As if setting up in the dark isn’t bad enough, it started to monsoon type rain as soon as we pulled into our campsite (and every weekend we camp, ever). Once again Logan and I questioned if tent camping was still our best option. We’ve been debating all summer if we should bite the bullet and buy a used camper to keep us dry on the rainy weekends (all in favor, say “i”). There are state campgrounds all up the coastline, here’s some of my favorites I’ve camped at along Lake Michigan.

Warren Dunes State Park Pet Friendly beach

Warren Dunes State Park: Three miles of rare PET FRIENDLY shoreline along gorgeous Lake Michigan. The park also includes around six miles of hiking trails through forest and sand dunes. Modern & rustic sites available.

Ludington State Park: My favorite Michigan state park has everything- a lighthouse, hiking trails, lakes, sand dunes, dense forest, adventure activities and so much more. This is a must visit park! Check out my post on 5 Reason’s to Love Ludington. Modern & rustic sites.

Leelanau State Park: Another park home to a magnificent lighthouse. The drive up the peninsula to Leelanau State Park takes you through Michigan’s wine country with water views on both sides. Rustic campground.

Wilderness State Park: This park is a night photographers dream spot, as it’s just a few minutes’ drive from Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Modern & rustic sites.

Drone shot of Lake Michigan colors

Lighthouse Hunting

Take a drive along the coast and explore the waterfront towns while looking for lighthouses. The western coast of Michigan is dotted with around 35 lighthouses. Two of those reside side by side in the town of St. Joseph. It was about a 30 minute drive from our campground, 80 f degrees and the sun was shining. Perfect lighthouse hunting weather!

Lighthouse hunting on Lake Michigan
South Haven Lighthouse, Michigan

St. Joseph North Pier

Each lighthouse is unique and has its own fascinating history, road tripping around the shorelines of Michigan you’re bound to run into a lighthouse or two.

Saint Joseph Lighthouses, Michigan

South Haven South Pier

South Haven Lighthouse, Michigan

Go for a Swim

Like I mentioned earlier, Lake Michigan is a freshwater lake that comes salt and shark free. Immerse yourself in the crystal clear blue waters to cool down from the summer sun and Michigan humidity.

Lake Michigan Swim

Search for Petoskey Stones

Searching for stones as you walk along the beach shore was a tradition growing up. If you were lucky, you would find a Petoskey stone- the Michigan state stone. The stones are unique to the Great Lakes, and can only be found along the shores of Michigan’s lower peninsula.

Petoskey stone, Michigan state stone

The lake temperatures range from 60s in early summer to high 70s in late summer. The beach entrance at Warren Dunes State park has a sign showing the water temp each day so you can plan accordingly.

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Relax on the Beach

Pack a beach bag, your furry friend or adorable nephew, and a picnic lunch- then head to the beach. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can hike to the beach on one of the many trails that runs through Warren Dunes State Park.

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Hike a Sand Dune

Enjoy the world’s largest dune system, and go for a hike! At 400 ft the highest dune resides in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The dune formation pictured above was the largest at Warren Dunes State park. The dune rises 260 feet above the water with Lake Michigan views from the top.

Sand dunes at Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan

Drink Local

We stopped at the local Three Blonde’s Brewing for lunch and a drink to cool down. Michigan’s west coast is crawling with local watering holes. Beer, Wine, Cider. We do them all impeccably well. The craft beer craze has swept through the state like wildfire, with hundreds of local breweries statewide. Just as Michigan has its own west coast, we have our own wine country, much of which resides on the beautiful Lake Michigan. You haven’t tasted anything like the sweet nectar Michigan’s cideries create. Cider is easily my beverage of choice, and I would highly recommend any produced locally, a few of my favorites include Blakes, JK Scrumpys, and Vandermill.

three blondes brewery.jpg


Treat Yourself

After our boozy lunch we decided dessert was a must. Good thing icecream is yet another thing Michigan is awesome at. There was a local dairy farm mere seconds away from the brewery we ate lunch at. Sherman’s Dairy Bar didn’t disappoint. I had a hard time deciding between the yellow cake batter flavor and the birthday cake. With over 70 different flavors of homemade recipes featuring all the Michigan classics, can you blame me? (I went with yellow cake batter 😊)

Spend your weekend getaway road tripping along the Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan. Beautiful lighthouses, pristine beaches, and no salt or sharks. #michigan #travel #roadtrip #destinations #weekend #getaways #thingstodo #summer #winter
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