Traverse City, MI $89 one-way

Call me biased, but many destinations in my hometown state of Michigan are jewels for summertime visits. One that's always a favorite is Traverse City - situated on the shores of scenic Traverse Bay - and nearby to the protected national lakeshores of Lakes Michigan and Superior.

The city is the self-proclaimed "Cherry Capital of the World" and celebrates for an entire week in July (first full week; cherryfestival.org). The Tuscan-like region also produces fine Midwestern wines.

During a rare airfare sale, this destination is budget-priced at just $89 each way on trips finished on or before Nov. 11. Trips require a ten-day or more advance notice. This rate is valid on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. One-way rates of $109 are offered on other days, except Sundays when regular rates apply (from $258 round-trip). Some blackout dates to avoid: May 22; June 21, 26-28; July 2, 3, 5, 6.

Book tickets before midnight, tonight from either Delta Air Lines or Northwest.

Traverse City State Park is one of more than a dozen state parks participating in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources "First-Time Camper" program. The plan encourages travelers to get back to the basics with a camping experience.

Maybe you never have slept under the stars? A price of $20 gets you a campsite for two nights, vehicle entrance, plus the use of a tent and camping gear (tent, tarp, two camp chairs, a flashlight, a lantern, a stove, four hot dog/marshmallow cookers and two fishing poles) and instruction on how to set up camp.

Valid on stays from Memorial Day weekend through September, participating locations included:

- Baraga State Park (in the Upper Peninsula), Bay City Recreation Area, Bewabic State Park, Cheboygan State Park, Hayes State Park, Hoffmaster State Park, Holly Recreation Area, Muskegon State Park, Pinckney Recreation Area, Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, Port Crescent State Park, Sleeper State Park, Traverse City State Park, Wells State Park and Young State Park.

To qualify, contact the participating park directly; http://www.michigandnr.com