Party buses are surging in popularity across the country, and for good reason. In many ways, a party bus is the perfect transportation solution for bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, birthdays, family reunions, proms, fraternity/sorority formals, office parties, and many other events. But if these so-called “rolling nightclubs” get out of control, they can also be dangerous.
To be fair, any bus with “party” in its name is supposed to be fun. Party buses can and should be an enjoyable part of your event. But when alcohol is part of the celebration equation, a party bus should increase guest safety and reduce your risk – not the other way around.
With fun and safety in mind, we’ve compiled ten common sense do’s and don’ts for your party bus rental:
- Make a clear distinction between what a party bus is and isn’t.
What it is: A party bus is a mode of luxury transportation, to and from a celebratory event, in which the bus ride contributes to the festivities and, at the same time, ensures the safety and comfort of the guests.
What it isn’t: A party bus should NOT be a no-holds-barred drunken bash in which over-intoxication and raucous behavior are condoned and even encouraged.
- Consider renting a party bus when you need to transport people to and from a party, celebration, or other event.
- Rent a bus from a reputable company. Verify that the company has a current permit, license, and insurance. Check references to make sure it has a good reputation.
- Beware of rogue operators. If you are offered a cut-rate price, it could mean that the operator is cutting corners in important areas—such as liability insurance, safety inspections, and properly licensed drivers. Some may be operating illegally—without the necessary Department of Transportation (DOT) authority to transport passengers for hire.
- By all means, enjoy snacks and beverages as part of the hospitality and entertainment while onboard your party bus. Most charter buses—especially those that market themselves as party buses—allow adult passengers to consume alcohol onboard. But use common sense about it. Serve and drink responsibly.
- Alert the charter bus company in advance if you intend to serve alcohol onboard. You may be required to make a refundable deposit to cover any necessary cleaning or repairs. Be sure your guests are prepared to show proof of legal drinking age.
- Find out if the company allows coolers onboard. If they do, keep in mind that coolers must be small enough to fit under your seat or in an overhead bin so they don’t block the aisles.
- Follow all safety rules, listen to the driver’s instructions, and refrain from any behavior that could damage the bus or injure a fellow passenger.
- Clean up after yourself. Motorcoaches provide trash bags and receptacles for the convenience of their passengers; these should be passed around several times during the trip.
- Provide two or more responsible adult chaperones for any party bus carrying minors.
- Never hire a bus company without doing your due diligence. A company’s DOT number, insurance status, safety and inspection record, and accident history are all a matter of public record. Take five minutes and review that record.
- No underage drinking. Period. When minors are onboard, the chaperone is responsible for making sure underage passengers do not drink. The bus driver may ask to see identification, and reserves the right to terminate the charter with no refund if underage drinking is discovered.
- No illegal substances.
- No weapons.
- No smoking. (With rare exception, the majority of charter bus companies have strict no-smoking policies.)
- No standing or dancing on upholstered seats.
- No behavior that distracts the driver.
- No over-intoxication or disorderly conduct such as fighting, verbal abuse, or behavior that could be deemed “indecent.” (Any of these are grounds for the driver to terminate the charter with no refund.)
- No “bus surfing” (i.e., breaking open an emergency exit hatch and climbing onto the roof of the vehicle while in motion or stopped). For that matter, no putting any body part outside of the vehicle’s windows or emergency exits at any time. Not only are these behaviors against the law, they could result in serious injury or death.
- Don’t leave anything behind. Check for your purse, wallet, keys, phone, and jacket before you disembark at the end of the night!
There you have it: Ten do’s and ten don’ts for a party bus experience that’s memorable for all the right reasons.
Long, long ago—in a land before the luxury motorcoach, in an age when private bus rental was but a distant dream—there were no party buses, no limousines. In fact, there were two kinds of buses: the yellow school bus and the Greyhound bus. The former took you to school and back; the latter took you everywhere else you needed to go.
Today, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the charter bus industry accounts for $6 billion in annual sales, with more than 35,000 private charter buses available for hire throughout the United States. But what, exactly, constitutes a charter bus?
To answer that question, we’ve compiled a little “cheat sheet” to familiarize you with all the different kinds of vehicles available for charter.
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Also Known As: Limo Bus, Party Van, Party Ride
Seating Capacity: Party buses come in different sizes, and can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 60 or more guests.
Description: A party bus is a luxury motor vehicle—either a bus, van, or limousine—designed to transport 10 or more people to a party, celebration, or special event. Party buses are sometimes modified to provide wrap-around limousine-style seating and special features like strobe lights, fog machines, dance floors, wet bars, and—brace yourself— stripper poles.
Typical Customer: Party-goers! A party bus is often the ride of choice for bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, proms, office parties, graduations, concerts or any other event where people want to be together and celebrate.
Benefits: Bottom line: Partiers can enjoy themselves and leave the driving to a sober professional. A party bus rental is cheaper, safer, and a lot more fun than driving.
Insider Tip: Get the most out of the multimedia aboard party buses. Load up your iPod, smartphone, or flash drive with your music playlist in advance. If the bus has flat screen TVs, consider setting up a video or slide show for your party.
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Also Known As: Full-size Motorcoach, Luxury Motorcoach, Charter Bus, Tour Bus
Seating Capacity: Full-size motorcoaches are built in a few sizes—all of them large—with seating capacity ranging from 45 to 57.
Description: A full size motorcoach typically has a roomy interior and luxury appointments like reclining seats with footrests and headrests, individual climate and lighting controls, cup holders, overhead parcel racks, an onboard restroom, and plenty of underbody storage space for luggage. Passengers can expect amenities like WiFi, 110V outlets, public address systems, and DVD players, plus safety features like directional and diagnostic GPS. Many charter bus companies have one or more handicap-accessible coaches in their fleets, with wheelchair lifts and flexible seating arrangements to accommodate wheelchairs.
Typical Customer: A motorcoach charter is ideal for sports teams, church groups, social clubs, professional organizations, schools, companies, families, and other groups traveling together out of town. For day trips, overnights, and multi-day excursions, groups appreciate the roominess, cargo space, onboard restrooms, and other amenities found on a charter bus.
Benefits: Travel planners say that charter buses are cost-effective, convenient, and very comfortable. Plus, they’re reliable. Everyone gets to the right place, at the right time, as a group. (No one gets a late start, no one gets lost, no one has car trouble, no one runs out of gas …) Having avoided the hassle and expense of driving and parking, your group arrives relaxed, refreshed, and ready for work or play.
Insider tip: You can’t beat the convenience of having your own personal bus and driver at your disposal for local transportation once you’ve arrived at your destination.
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Also Known As: Mini Charter Bus, Mini Coach, Mid Coach
Seating Capacity: 18 – 39 depending on the vehicle.
Description: A lot of minibuses offer the same luxurious amenities as larger motorcoaches, such as reclining seats, climate and lighting controls, tinted windows, free WiFi, and DVD players. Your minibus may or may not be equipped with an onboard restroom. Most have overhead parcel racks; most do not have underbody luggage compartments.
Typical Customer: A minibus is ideal for shorter-distance trips and/or smaller groups. For example, a company’s sales department might use a minibus to transport employees to a meeting or retreat; a social club might book a minibus for an afternoon museum tour, shopping trip, or live performance; a Cub Scout den might charter a minibus for a field trip or cookout; a group of friends or coworkers might rent a minibus to go to a concert or sporting event.
Benefits: A charter takes the stress out of transporting a group. There’s no need for a designated driver, no need for multiple vehicles, and none of the hassles that go along with traffic, parking, and navigating in an unfamiliar area.
Insider tip: Renting a minibus is surprisingly affordable. When a motorcoach is too big and a shuttle bus is too small, a lot of travel planners find minibuses to be “just right.”
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Also Known As: Shuttle bus, Shuttle Van, Passenger Van, Luxury Van, Club Wagon
Seating Capacity: Shuttle vehicles can carry between 7 and 70 passengers.
Description: Shuttle buses can vary in size and scope. The term really applies to the act of shuttling passengers. These vehicles can be anything from full size passenger vans to buses that are 35-40 feet long and carry up to 70 people. Often, vans that are fitted for shuttle service will have extra features like more comfortable seats, tinted windows, central heating and air-conditioning, and an audio system. Some may be fitted with facing seats.
Typical Customer: Large convention groups, shoppers from residence to a mall or store (http://www.indiantrails.com/sites/default/files/wmrt/index.html), corporate, executives, air travelers in need of an airport transfer, party and event planners, and vacationing families are among those who might charter a shuttle bus. When a group of any size needs to get from one location to another within the same vicinity, a shuttle bus is often the best solution. For example: If you were hosting a group of visiting executives or delegates from your parent company, you might charter a shuttle bus to transport them between the airport, your office, a downtown restaurant, and their hotel. If you invited out-of-towners to attend a retirement party or wedding, you might book a shuttle to transport your guests between the airport, hotel, and the reception venue. The shuttle could transport a small group of riders to thousands of riders, as the occasion requires.
Benefits: A shuttle bus is more convenient and cost effective than renting multiple cars or taking taxicabs. Whether using it for simple airport transfer or booking it for multiple days, a shuttle lets your visitors to focus on the meeting, or party, or whatever you’ve planned for them.
Insider Tip: Chartering a shuttle bus with a group of friends (to a concert, ballgame, or festival) could be more efficient than driving and parking separate cars.
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Also Known As: Stretch (or Super Stretch, depending on the size), Limo, Limousine
Seating Capacity: A stretch limo seats up to six passengers; a super-stretch can seat up to 12.
Description: You’ve seen them. They’re those loooooong, glamorous rides that turn heads wherever they go—making everyone wonder who might be sipping champagne behind the tinted windows. A chauffer-driven limousine is considered by many to be the epitome of elegance, luxury, and class on wheels. Expect plush perimeter seating, a wet bar, surround sound, mood lighting, and a privacy divider. There may even be champagne flutes.
Typical Customer: Wedding parties, high school kids going to the prom, celebrities going to a red carpet event, couples celebrating an engagement or anniversary, groups going out for a night on the town, James Bond, and people who live to make their friends and neighbors jealous.
Benefits: A stretch limo makes sense for people who want a luxurious, memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience and don’t want to worry about a designated driver. So, a stretch could make sense for a bachelorette party (where guests may have “a drink or two”) … a wedding party that wants to travel in style and arrive at the venue together … or a night out with an important corporate client.
Insider tip: Limousines can usually be chartered by the hour or the day.
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Also Known As: Luxury Sedan, Black Car, Town Car, Executive Car, or just Car—as in, “I’ll send a car to meet you at the airport.”
Seating Capacity: 1 to 3 passengers
Description: Executive sedans are equipped with luxurious leather seating, tinted privacy windows, individual climate controls, sound system, and WiFi on request.
Typical Customer: Luxury sedans are for executives who prefer to use their travel time for work or relaxation, meeting planners who want to roll out the red carpet for VIP guests, someone who wants to add a touch of class to a special occasion or night on the town, and business travelers who want private transport between airport, hotel, and meetings.
Benefits: An executive car with a private driver is comfortable, convenient, customized transportation that makes a statement.
Insider tip: Executive sedans are usually chartered by the hour, with a minimum of three hours.
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Depending on where you live, there may be other options for vehicles to charter:
- Sleeper buses (also known as Entertainers) are converted motorcoaches with sleeping berths and galleys for touring groups (like rock and roll bands or movie crews).
- Trolleys and double decker buses are popular in cities like Boston and Chicago for sightseeing tours, family reunions, and special events.
- For those who want to feel like Cinderella, you can even rent a horse-drawn carriage for the evening … guaranteed not to turn into a pumpkin at midnight.
There have been seismic shifts in American driving and shopping habits, and retailers are feeling the threatening winds of change. Could shopper shuttles turn the tide?
It’s no secret that American values, attitudes, and behavior have changed dramatically since the turn of the 21st century . . . and they keep changing every day. Name a topic, any topic: diet, exercise, the environment, charitable giving, marriage, smoking, media consumption—whatever it is, our feelings about it have changed. And how we feel affects what we do.
Retailers are among the first to experience the ripple effect when people’s behavior changes. The most successful retailers are those who are willing to change, as well.
First, a little background.
Driving Habits Are Changing
An unprecedented number of young people don’t drive, won’t drive, or wish they didn’t have to drive. It’s true. In 2014, the Global Strategy Group surveyed Millennials in 10 major American cities and found that a majority of 18- to 34-year olds would like to be less reliant on cars. Of those surveyed, 66% said that access to high quality alternative transportation is one of their top three criteria for choosing a place to live, while 80% think it’s important to have a wide range of options for getting around—including public transportation, ride-sharing services, and walkable neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, adults age 65 and up—for whom automobiles have always been an essential part of daily life—are driving less. And the trend is expected to continue. A 2011 study by Transportation for America predicted that rising life expectancies and an aging population will inevitably lead to large numbers of baby boomers who no longer drive. “These millions of older adults will need affordable alternatives to driving in order to maintain their independence as long as possible,” the study said, adding that senior adults who rely on others for transportation make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 65 percent fewer trips to visit friends and family, and 59% fewer trips to shop or eat out.
Shopping Habits Are Changing
Surprise, surprise: Up to half of consumers make online purchases. Internet shopping has surpassed travel, e-books, and music downloads in terms of how people spend their time and money online. And we’re not just buying fashion and jewelry. We’re using our computers, tablets, and smart phones to order health and beauty supplies, electronics, prescription drugs, groceries, wine, and even cars—to the tune of $200 billion a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ever since the slap-in-the-face recession of 2008-’09, customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be. For one thing, people simply don’t shop as much, and when they do shop, they’re more cautious and less likely to spend impulsively. Shoppers who want added value for their retail dollar almost always shop around—online and in stores—before buying big-ticket items like appliances or furniture. And while we don’t have statistics on this, let’s be honest: few of us have any compunction about “show-rooming”—i.e., trying something on in a retail store and then ordering the same product online for less. (So much for customer loyalty.)
Add to these new tendencies the fact that Millennials—the generation on the verge of having some disposable income—seem to value access over ownership, meaning they’d probably rather have a Netflix subscription than a DVD collection.
Retail is Changing, Too
Clearly, brick and mortar retailers need new ways to attract customers and garner customer loyalty. Ernst & Young (EY), in its 2014 report, Digital Retail: Analyzing the Effect on Retailers, warns that customers are migrating away from retail stores and that retailers must respond now. To expand upon EY’s findings:
- Because their customers are shopping online, retailers will need a superlative and multi-faceted digital presence—websites, social media, and even virtual stores—to complement their physical stores.
- By the same token, retailers will have to differentiate the in-store experience from the online experience. In-store incentives like gifts, refreshments, contests, parties—whatever it takes to draw a crowd—will replace the “door buster” sales of yesterday.
- Enhanced customer loyalty programs, irresistible offers, and personalized service will make shopping an “event” and give creative retailers a competitive edge.
And here’s one last, simple idea whose time has come. You’ve heard the expression, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammed, Muhammed must go to the mountain.” Translated for today’s retailer, this means: If your customers won’t come to you, you must go to your customers. Figuratively, yes . . . but also literally: Go to your customers. Go pick them up and bring them to your store. Smart retailers have been doing it for years. Take Walmart, for instance. In communities everywhere, Walmart-branded buses pull up to housing complexes, community centers, and senior adult facilities several times a day for no other reason than to give their customers a lift so they can go shopping.
Shopping at Walmart.
So far, so good. It seems loyalty works both ways.
Walmart Shopper Shuttle services are available in Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing/Okemos, and Muskegon. To see the schedule, click here:
For more information about getting a shopper shuttle for your organization, contact James Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the link below:
Have you ever been out driving and spotted one of those big, sleek charter buses gliding along the highway and thought to yourself: Who’s behind those tinted panoramic windows? Where are they going?
We’re glad you asked.
Who is Onboard?
According to a 2012 survey by the American Bus Association (ABA), there are more than 3,600 motorcoach carriers in the United States, operating some 35,000 motorcoaches, providing 637,442,000 passenger trips per year. Half of those passengers are either students (24.1%) or senior citizens (26.1%). The other half? Business travelers, athletes, shoppers, party-goers, special interest groups ... and others. Read on to learn more.
Where is Everybody Going?
A “typical” carrier offers charter service, shuttles, group tours, and scheduled runs. So, when you spot a charter bus on the road, it could be going just about anywhere. It might be transporting second graders to the MSU Dairy Farm for their spring field trip … or local Red Hatters on their way to a matinee performance of “Pippin” . . . or a college swim team heading to Divisionals . . . or, for that matter, it could be taking a group of strangers to Greektown Casino for the day.
All kinds of groups rent buses for all kinds of reasons. Here are some of the top trips:
School trips. Whether it’s a half-day field trip to a local museum or a three-day visit to Washington D.C., schools hire charter buses for all kinds of transportation needs.
Youth group trips. Boy Scouts on their way to summer camp. Future Farmers of America heading to the national leadership conference. A church youth group going on a weekend retreat. What do these groups have in common? They all travel by charter bus!
Office functions. Companies host summer picnics or staff retreats so coworkers can enjoy each other’s company away from the stress of the workplace. A charter bus is the perfect choice for these get-togethers, so that getting there can be part of the fun.
Corporate travel. For sales meeting, conventions, and training events, more and more businesses are opting for the convenience, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of bus travel.
Shopping excursions. Serious shoppers know that a day at a Premium Outlets mall, or Ikea, or [fill in the blank with your all-time favorite shopping venue] is SO much more than just shopping. It’s an event. They can’t be bothered with traffic, parking, and long walks to the visitors’ lot. But even more important: serious shoppers know that many of the best shopping venues offer discount vouchers, gifts, and free food to bus groups. How great is that?
Team travel. High School, college, and professional sports teams typically take a bus every time they play away from home. (So do robotics and debate teams, for that matter.) When safety and affordability are key, a bus is the best way to move a group.
Casino runs. Lots of charter bus companies offer casino runs on a regular schedule. And casinos offer special packages for bus groups – like free or discounted food, slot vouchers, and players cards.
Family reunions. For large family reunions, a charter bus is a great way to make sure everyone gets where they’re going, keep the group together, and enjoy each other’s company on the way. Families also like having transportation throughout the reunion for picnics in the park, sightseeing, and other group events.
Weddings and other events. Charter buses are great for local travel whenever people have to travel from out of town, and/or where the ceremony and party(ies) take place in two or more separate locations. Think bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations, baptisms, and other group celebrations.
Rock bands. Or film crews. Or touring theatre groups. You get the idea. When you have a lot of people, plus a lot of equipment, plus a lot of ground to cover, a charter bus makes a lot of sense.
Tour groups. Tourists from out of town ride charter buses to visit monuments, museums, natural wonders, or other area points of interest.
Geek gatherings. This is our affectionate way of describing any event where like-minded aficionados of a given popular culture phenomenon get together to celebrate that phenomenon in their own unique way: Civil War reenactments, Awesome-Con, and Star Trek conventions, to name a few. (After all, until Trekkies figure out a way to beam themselves to their destination, charter buses will still be the safest transport.)
Next time you see one of those big, beautiful luxury motorcoaches gliding down the highway, try to guess where it’s headed. Better yet, book a motorcoach for your group, and see for yourself how affordable, convenient, luxurious, and fun it can be to get from here to there on a bus.
In 2006, Lansing and Ann Arbor Michigan got a wonderful new airport shuttle transportation service, the Michigan Flyer. The Michigan Flyer bus shuttle is such a handy airport shuttle that it sparked the idea to do a blog about airport shuttles. They are one of the best loved services that bus companies provide.
When you think about it, an airport is a lot like a city, with many of the same concerns and priorities a city has: sanitation, utilities, land usage, public safety, and—possibly the most challenging of all—transportation. After all, an airport spans literally thousands of acres of land occupied by terminals, runways, hangars, parking lots, and other facilities—plus countless venues for eating, shopping, socializing, personal care (massage, anyone?), and even prayer. With an estimated 1.7 million passengers flying in and out of U.S. airports every day—under the constraints of rigid departure times and exacting security procedures—airports must make liberal use of moving sidewalks, shuttle buses, mobile lounges, and automated people movers to get passengers to their far-flung terminals, concourses, and gates all day every day.
But before all those people can get around the airport, they first have to get to the airport.
How do you get to the airport?
- You can still get to the airport the old-fashioned way: Somebody (preferably somebody who loves you) drives you there. This scenario comes complete with curbside hugs, an obligatory reminder to check for your boarding pass and photo i.d., and a promise to call or text the moment the plane lands.
- You can take a taxicab. Depending on where you live or where you’re staying, this may be as simple as hailing a cab on the street … or, if you live in the suburbs, it will mean calling a reputable company a day ahead and scheduling a pick-up. Fares range from around $1.80 per mile to around $3.60, plus an initial fee ranging from $1.50 to $3.50.
- You can drive yourself and park in a long-term garage or remote parking lot. Plan to spend anywhere from $8 to $25 per day, and be sure to leave enough time to catch an airport shuttle (typically frequent and free) to your terminal.
Other airport transportation options
Considering what we know about traffic congestion, fuel prices, parking hassles, and carbon emissions, it’s not surprising that travelers want other options for getting to the airport. Across the country, airport authorities—in cooperation with public transit systems, scheduled buses, and private rideshare or charter operators—are responding with airport transportation options in every price range.
Public Transportation: Airport Rail Links
For decades, air travelers in Europe and Asia have been able to hop on public transportation to get from city centers to the airport or from the airport to city centers. Several U.S. cities have taken a cue from their international peers and extended their rapid transit lines to area airports—with onsite stations within walking or shuttle distance to departure gates. The Transportation Research Board ranked 27 airports with rail link systems, on the basis of market share and overall success of the system.
A few of the services the study identified as “best practices”:
- At San Francisco International Airport, a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station is located within the international terminal, offering bus and rail service throughout the Bay area. Domestic passengers transfer to the automated people mover to reach their gates.
- Four miles from downtown Washington D.C., Reagan Washington National Airport was reconfigured in the late 1990s to accommodate an integrated air-rail terminal, built around an existing Metro station.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the nation’s largest airport, has a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) rail station in the arrival area of the main terminal, steps away from baggage claim.
- Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates the SkyRide bus service from six metropolitan locations to Denver International Airport at the baggage claim level, with service from 3:20 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., depending on the route.
- Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is served by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line train service (the “L”) via elevated and subway trains that travel throughout Chicagoland and terminate in the lower level of Terminal 2. From there, passengers can walk or use the Airport Transit System (ATS), which connects all terminals and remote parking lots.
In the world of airport transportation, scheduled bus service refers to a dedicated bus that shuttles passengers between a local airport and one or more regional destinations along a fixed route. These airport shuttles are typically operated by private companies licensed by a regional department of transportation or airport authority. They are cost effective (anywhere from $8 to $30 per one way, flat-rate ticket) and reliable. Passengers can enjoy the deluxe amenities that come with luxury motorcoaches: WiFi, 110V outlets, DVD players, and reclining seats with individual climate and light controls, overhead racks, and room to stow luggage. Typically, scheduled buses drop off and pick up passengers at a designated spot at the airport.
Top performing operators from three U.S. regions (based on criteria established by the Transportation Research Board—including frequency of service, pick-up and drop-off locations, and the availability of express or semi-express service):
Michigan Flyer-AirRide is a public-private partnership between a private motorcoach company, Indian Trails, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (“TheRide”), offering 12 daily round trips between East Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Detroit Metropolitan Airport and one daily trip between Ann Arbor and DTW.
- Los Angeles International Aiport (LAX) – FlyAway
FlyAway is a shuttle bus service established and funded by LA’s airport authority—Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)—as part of a ground transportation initiative to improve traffic congestion, reduce vehicle emissions, and increase passenger convenience. Each year, branded FlyAway buses (operated by private companies under contract with LAWA) transport 1.5 million passengers between LAX and five transit stations, with Union Station routes running every half hour from 12:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week.
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) – NYC Airporter
NYC Airporter is the official shuttle bus operator for the Department of Transportation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, offering shuttles between Manhattan and New York City airports (JFK and LGA). Privately operated buses transport passengers from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.
Shared Rides and Charter Buses
Shared-ride vans and charter buses offer pre-arranged door-to-door ground transportation service for a set price (either a per-passenger price or a flat rate for the vehicle). The most common shared-ride vehicle is an eight-passenger van, but transportation companies also use SUVs, station wagons, executive limousines, and motorcoaches. Typically door-to-door, shared-ride vans and charter buses are pricier than the other options (somewhere between the cost of public transportation and a private taxi cab) but can be surprisingly affordable if you have a large group. This is the transportation of choice for conference planners, executives, and special event coordinators who want to oversee all the travel details and transport their people in style. This is the airport transportation mode you might select if you were entertaining out-of-town guests for a wedding, or hosting visiting executives for a factory tour.
Next time you’re planning airport transportation for yourself or a group, consider one of the many options—public transit, scheduled buses, or shared rides—for getting from here to there.
If you belong to a professional, social, or special interest club, you’ve done the golf outings. You’ve done the luncheons with guest speakers. Maybe you even went a little crazy one year and did a garden tour or attended a fashion show. (Yawn.) Sorry, but isn’t it time for your group to do something completely different? With a bus charter, planning a memorable day trip is easy, affordable, and fun.
Start by choosing a destination that is friendly to charter bus groups – like Frankenmuth, Michigan, 75 miles northeast of Lansing.
When your bus pulls into the quaint and picturesque downtown, you’ll think you’ve stumbled upon a Bavarian theme park. The Alpine architecture and gingerbread houses; the giant Glockenspiel on Main Street; the shopkeepers and restaurant servers dressed in lederhosen and dirndl dresses — everything you encounter here makes you feel like a character in a German fairytale.
This is Frankenmuth—also known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria”—where Bavarian tradition is more than just a gimmick. The folks in this proud town take their wiener schnitzel seriously. Most Frankenmuth residents trace their roots to the German Lutheran missionaries who settled here in 1845 intent on converting the area’s Chippewa Indians to Christianity. The Chippewa moved on; the missionaries stayed. Soon, Frankenmuth began to focus its attention on the tourist trade, attracting visitors with its special brand of old world hospitality and the chicken dinners that have been the town’s mainstay since 1895.
Make no mistake about it: This town is a tourist town. Some might even call it a tourist trap. But it’s a fun day trip by charter bus: easy to get to, clean and friendly, with lots to see, do, buy, and eat. What more can you ask of a day trip?
Shopping in Frankenmuth
With 60 billboards in seven states advertising the world’s largest Christmas store, chances are you’ve heard of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. But you have to see it to believe it. Charter buses are commonplace here. Your driver can drop you off at a canopy-covered entrance and park in one of the 50 spots designated just for buses. But he or she will want to come in: bus drivers get a free Christmas ornament. Give yourself anywhere from one to two-and-a-half hours for what can only be described as an experience. This store occupies 320,000 square feet (try to picture five and a half football fields) with 12 departments filled to the rafters with ornaments, trims, nativity scenes, Christmas trees, decorations, nutcrackers, toys, Christmas stockings, collectables, animated characters, and people—throngs of people. Two million people come to Bronner’s from near and far every year just to marvel at the sight. There’s nothing quite like it. Actually, there’s not anything like it: 100,000 ornaments, 50,000 trims, 500 nativity scenes, 300 decorated Christmas trees, hundreds of wreaths . . . and many partridges in many pear trees. If someone in your group is fainthearted (or lightheaded), there is an alternative activity, made possible by a stroke of marketing genius on the part of the wildly successful Bronner family: In the lobby of the world’s largest Christmas store is a giant flat screen TV, perpetually tuned to a major sporting event, with rows and rows of spectators’ chairs. Let ‘em shop ’til they drop. The Redwings just scored.
Back on the bus, your next stop is Main Street, where your driver will find plenty of parking close to the Visitor Information Center (635 S. Main Street), a great resource for maps, brochures, and advice on local attractions.
There are all kinds of interesting stores in the vicinity of Main Street, many of them offering demonstrations, displays, and tours. At the Frankenmuth Cheesehaus, home of 140 cheeses and specialty foods, you can watch the making of chocolate cheese and cheese spread. At the Covered Bridge and Leather Gift Shop, you can watch a video showing the construction of Frankenmuth’s covered bridge or catch a leather tooling demonstration. The Frankenmuth Clock Company has a huge collection of German cuckoo clocks. Rau’s Country Store is famous for “nostalgic candy” plus every imaginable dollhouse miniature, including some one-of-a-kind items. Family-owned and operated since 1949, Kern’s Sausages, at the corner of Jefferson and Main, sells 34 varieties of homemade Bavarian sausages, along with cheese, bakery goods, and German food items. And there are dozens more.
Dining in Frankenmuth
There are also dozens of places to eat in Frankenmuth. But if your group is having only one meal in town, forget about all of those other places and sit yourselves down for an all-you-can-eat, family style chicken dinner at Zehnders or the Bavarian Inn (separately owned and operated by members of the Zehnder family). Make a reservation, and either historic eatery will accommodate your large group effortlessly (the Bavarian Inn can seat up to 1,200 in its 12 dining rooms; Zehnders seats 1,500). For around $20 per person, you get platter after platter of homemade, hot, tasty fried chicken—all you can eat, no questions asked—plus chicken noodle soup, coleslaw, fresh baked bread, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, buttered noodles, a hot vegetable (such as locally grown squash), and ice cream. While family style chicken dinners are the specialty of the house, both restaurants offer other selections, as well as children’s menus.
May through October, the Bavarian Belle Riverboat offers relaxing one-hour narrated tours of the Cass River on a paddlewheel riverboat ($9 per person for groups of 20 or more). Or you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of historic Frankenmuth ($40 per person for a 15 minute ride). You may want to end your evening with an award-winning beer at Michigan’s oldest brewery, Frankenmuth Brewery.
And there you have it. A little shopping, a little eating, a little sightseeing, a couple of beers, people you enjoy and a seat that reclines for your bus ride home. Not a bad way to spend the day.
There is something about buses—especially tour buses—that captures our collective imagination.
Throughout history, literature, and popular culture, buses have always held the elusive possibility of adventure, romance, even magic—a symbol of the American spirit. In fact, if you want to sum up the American experience, just take a look at some of our buses.
The “Trip” of a Generation
In the summer of 1964, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey, along with his band of “Merry Pranksters,” drove a customized school bus—painted in psychedelic colors and filled with (then-legal) LSD and other hallucinogens—cross-country from San Mateo, California to the New York World’s Fair. Their drug-infused road trip inspired journalist Tom Wolfe’s classic book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the definitive chronicle of 1960s American counterculture.
“C’mon, Get Happy”
Who can forget “The Partridge Family”—the primetime TV hit show about a widowed mom (Shirley Jones) and her five kids (including teen idol David Cassidy) who form a pop music group and tour the country in a 1957 Chevy bus painted in Mondrian-inspired color blocks. The sitcom aired from 1970 through 1974 and spawned such unforgettable hits as “I Think I Love You” and “I Woke Up in Love This Morning.” The bus was featured in every episode—with lots of dreamy musical montages on board.
“On the Road Again”
When Willie Nelson crooned, “On the road again -- like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway,” you can bet he was referring to life on his rock star tour bus, Honeysuckle Rose. Never mind that Willie Nelson is a country music star; his home away from home is the quintessential rock star bus nevertheless, a legend on wheels, a rolling party. The bus logs 135,000 miles a year, all of them powered by BioWillie, a proprietary biodiesel fuel blend of soybean and other vegetable oils. Now, if that’s not a “rock star” bus, we don’t know what is.
“Bus, do your stuff!”
That’s what science teacher Ms. Frizzle would say every time her shape-shifting school bus was getting ready to transform itself into something like a space ship, or submarine, or time machine. “The Magic School Bus,” which began as a series of children’s books, became a popular animated PBS children’s program in the 1990s, featuring the voices of Lily Tomlin (as the kooky Ms. Frizzle), Little Richard (on theme song vocals), and guest stars Ed Asner, Dolly Parton, Tom Cruise, Carol Channing and dozens more. Each episode featured a wildly adventurous field trip aboard a magic bus that transported students into the solar system, to the depths of the ocean, inside the human body, and even to prehistoric times.
“When Momma Parks sat down, the whole world stood up.”
You might say the civil rights movement began on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus. It was the evening of December 1, 1955, when a 42-year-old African American seamstress, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat in the “Whites Only” section and stand at the back of the bus to make way for white passengers. She was arrested, sparking a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery city bus system and, ultimately, the 1956 Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional. The actual bus that Rosa Parks rode is on display at the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/rosaparks/home.asp
“We shall not be moved”
The Freedom Riders were a racially mixed group of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated south in 1961 to protest rampant non-compliance with anti-segregation laws there. The further south they rode, the more violence they encountered at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, angry mobs, and even the police. Hundreds of freedom riders were arrested and jailed in maximum-security prisons for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violation of local Jim Crow laws. One of the buses was firebombed in Anniston, Alabama; another made it to Birmingham, where it was met by a vicious mob and brutal attacks.
The Campaign Bus
Like the whistle stop train tours of 20th century presidential campaigns, today’s campaign buses serve as a mode of transportation and a mobile campaign office for candidates making brief appearances in towns all over the country. Road trips with would-be presidents have become the stuff of legend. We know them by their names—like John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express,” or Mitt Romney’s “Every Town Counts” tour, or John Edwards’ “Main Street Express.” Then there are the parodies, like “Driving Miss Crazy” (the name liberal democrats gave to Sarah Palin’s bus tour) or the “Blame the Other Guy” tour, a Republican nickname for President Obama’s 2012 campaign bus tour. The Obama administration drew criticism in 2011 for spending $1.1 million to purchase a state-of-the-art armored bus—made in Canada—for the president’s re-election campaign.
• • •
These are buses that helped to define a whole generation, buses that changed the world. But buses also touch us on a personal level. Think about a significant bus in your own life. Maybe it was your first trip away from home, or the beginning of a great adventure, or a bittersweet journey toward a new life. Whatever the connection, buses seem to mean something to almost everyone. What do they mean to you?
If this is your first foray into the world of shuttle bus contracts, please rest assured: This is not rocket science. (Unless, of course, you’re talking about space shuttles, which we’re guessing would require a certain amount of rocket science.) But this post is all about Earthbound shuttles – of the bus and van variety.
Not unlike a space shuttle (which transports people from Earth to space and back again), a shuttle bus transports people back and forth between two designated points, typically at regular intervals. And while it’s clearly not rocket science, there is an art to seamless shuttle bus service.
Who needs shuttle bus transportation? Convention planners, residential communities, retailers, and entertainment venues, to name a few.
Let’s break it down:
Convention planners often need to shuttle attendees from one location to another—from a headquarters hotel to an exhibit hall or meeting venue, for instance. To accomplish this, planners hire a reliable company to provide shuttle buses or vans to get their people where they need to go—no small feat, especially at a large convention. For example: When 93,000 convention goers descend upon Las Vegas to attend the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in 2015, they’ll pick up their badges at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, attend sessions and visit exhibits at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and stay at any one of 30 NAB-approved lodging establishments in the bustling resort town. Shuttle buses must run seamlessly between these venues, at 20 minute intervals, all day, every day, throughout the event—a magic act to rival anything attendees might see at a Las Vegas floorshow.
Residential communities. Large apartment and condo complexes—especially those specializing in senior adult or student housing—may provide shuttle service as a selling point for the convenience of their population. Look at Century Village, for example. Residents of this sprawling south Florida condo community (which houses 10,000+ senior citizens in four locations) can take a free shuttle bus, daily, to area shopping centers, libraries, medical buildings, golf courses, and grocery stores—an essential service for people who want to remain active and independent but no longer drive.
Retailers. With internet shopping at an all-time high, the idea of using shuttle buses to attract customers to physical stores may be a promising concept for big box retailers (like Walmart), specialty stores (like Ikea), and outlet malls. Michigan Walmart stores are already doing it, with impressive results. Several times a week, a free shuttle bus stops at senior facilities, apartment complexes, and community centers to take customers to a local Walmart; a few hours later, the bus takes them back home. Not only does the Walmart shuttle bus provide an essential community service for people who don’t drive; it also builds customer loyalty, enhances Walmart’s visibility in the community, and boosts sales.
Entertainment and Festival Venues. Anyone who’s ever attended a concert, art fair, sporting event, or festival of any kind knows that traffic and parking at events can be a nightmare. The coordinators of these events hire shuttle buses to take guests from remote parking lots (sometimes miles away) to the event.
Shuttle buses are commonplace on college campuses—especially sprawling ones, where students may have to cover several miles on any given day. Even high school honors convocations and swim meets need them sometimes. And when church and synagogue parking lots mysteriously overflow during Easter or Yom Kippur … a shuttle bus is often pressed into duty.
Any time people need to get from here to there and back again (and again and again), a shuttle bus makes a lot of sense.
For more information about getting a shopper shuttle for your organization, contact James Sawyer at email@example.com or follow the link below:
Art fairs are at the top of everyone’s list of tour bus rental ideas for summer in Michigan.
Around the time when the first daffodils and hyacinths start popping up, so do the rows of little white tents. You know the ones: those unassuming 10’ x 10’ booths that line a city’s downtown streets for one glorious weekend every summer, revealing—like Ali Baba’s cave—a treasure trove to all who enter. Inside, you’ll find colorful displays of jewelry, textiles, sculpture, glass, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, photographs, even toys. Outside, familiar streets are transformed: overflowing with pedestrians, food vendors, children’s activities, and live entertainment.
Michiganders flock to these fairs (with visions of waffle cones, painted-faced toddlers, and the perfect garden sculpture dancing in their heads). But along with the magic, art fairs also portend street closures, traffic detours, and the inevitable trudge (with aching feet and oversized packages) to a remote parking garage or muddy field at the end of the day.
There is a better way.
Charter a bus! Art fairs offer something for everyone, so they make an ideal day trip—or even a weekend getaway—for all kinds of groups. And when you’re traveling with a group, chartering a motorcoach is affordable, convenient, and fun. Consider the benefits:
- You can enjoy a comfortable air-conditioned ride with luxurious amenities;
- Your group gets to spend time together in transit instead of driving to the destination in separate cars.
- You won’t have to negotiate street closures, event traffic, or parking. It’s taken care of.
- Art fairs are staged in interesting places (like Ann Arbor or Charlevoix); a bus at your disposable gives you the freedom to explore the area’s dining, scenery, and other attractions (maybe even an overnight stay in a B & B) in conjunction with your art fair visit.
- If (when) the beer tent beckons, you won’t have to worry about a designated driver. You already have one.
Here, in brief, are some of the top art fairs this summer in Michigan.
Royal Oak, Michigan
Saturday, June 14 – Sunday, June 15, 2014
The Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the 20th annual Clay, Glass & Metal Show in June, bringing 125 artists to Washington Avenue where they will display fine jewelry, decorative art, pottery, beads, and architectural pieces that share one thing in common: All of the art featured at the show “is manipulated by heat and comes from the earth.” Visitors can watch demonstrations in metal work, glass, and pottery; participate in family-friendly hands-on activities; and enjoy specialty foods.
St. Joseph, Michigan
Saturday, July 12 – Sunday, July 13, 2014
For 53 years, the Krasl Art Center has sponsored the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff, one of the nation’s top-rated juried art fairs. This year, 200 artists will draw an estimated 70,000 visitors to St. Joseph, the southernmost west Michigan lakeshore towns designated as “Michigan Beachtowns.” Along with the art, festival guests can sample local, organic, and farm-to-table food items and listen to Smooth Jazz at Sunset, a Saturday night concert featuring saxophonist Jessy J.
Ann Arbor Michigan
Wednesday, July 16 – Saturday, July 19, 2014
The granddaddy of all art fairs, the Ann Arbor Art Fair is actually four distinct art fairs, making this annual event the largest outdoor art experience in the country. That means a virtually endless selection of fine art and crafts—from decorative to functional, from wearable to collectible. It also means 600,000 visitors descend upon Ann Arbor over a four day period in July. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is notoriously crowded. Pull up in your private motorcoach and you will be the envy of the throngs. Here’s a quick rundown of the four fairs. Check out the official website for details.
- The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original (the oldest of the art fairs, established in 1960) is located on the University of Michigan’s central campus in the shadow of the Burton Memorial Tower. Featuring 200 artists, hands-on activities, and live performances, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair consistently ranks on AmericanStyle magazine’s “Top 25 Fairs & Festivals” list.
- The State Street Area Art Fair (produced by the State Street Area Association since 1970), offers a mix of contemporary art, traditional crafts, and area merchant displays in the university’s downtown area.
- The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair (established in 1972 by the Guild of Artists and Artisans) transforms Ann Arbor’s Main Street business district into a festival showcasing fine art, crafts, entertainment, artist demonstrations, and children’s activities. The Summer Art Fair also has a campus location on State Street.
- Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair (established in 2002), is the venue for emerging artists (local and international) with a hip and quirky vibe all its own.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Every August, this juried and invitational show draws 25,000 art lovers to the northern Michigan resort town of Charlevoix, bordering Round Lake, Lake Charlevoix, and Lake Michigan. For your quintessential “up north” vacation, check out the area’s golf courses, sailing, bike trails, dining, shopping, performance pavilions, and beautiful beaches.
Rochester Park, Rochester, Michigan
Friday, September 5 – Sunday, September 7, 2014
An annual production of Paint Creek Center for the Arts, the Art & Apples Festival is the second largest juried fine art fair in Michigan, with 290 artists and 125,000 art lovers converging in downtown Rochester every September. There’s art, live performances, an Art Zone and Activity Zone for kids, three food courts and – you guessed it – lots of apple treats, including homemade apple pies.
Any one of these art fairs can be the centerpiece of a day trip or weekend getaway to an interesting area you’ve been meaning to explore. Whatever your destination this summer, a luxury motorcoach can take you there.
For more ideas about Michigan art fairs, check out the Art Fair Calendar.
If you’re looking for bus group ideas this summer, we’ve got you covered.
Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of summer in Michigan? Aw, c’mon … did you really just say “road construction”? Isn’t it time to think outside the traffic cones? Everyone knows summer is festival season in Michigan! “If you seek a pleasant peninsula …” well, you already know where to look. But if you seek a celebration of fishflies, baby food, magic, bologna, or llamas … scroll down. There’s a festival for that. (And a motorcoach to get you there.)
Wednesday, July 16 – Saturday, July 19, 2014
Fremont, Michigan, population 4,400, is home to the Gerber Products Company—beloved producer of pureed peas, strained squash, and those little pink hotdogs in a jar—making it the Baby Food Capital of the World and site of the annual National Baby Food Festival, a four-day celebration of all things baby. There are the usual baby-oriented events, like “Rock and Rest,” the “Baby Crawl,” and a baby photo contest to find the cutest babies in west Michigan and crown them the “prince and princess” of the National Baby Food Festival. There’s a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, a midway, and all kinds of friendly competitions: hula hoop, bubble gum blowing, and pie-eating contests; bicycle and rolling bed races; and an adult baby food eating contest, in which blindfolded contestants attempt to feed each other baby food—a surefire way to invoke their inner babies (and get sweet potatoes in their hair).
Fremont is in Newaygo County, between Muskegon and Ludington, with 356 river miles, 256 inland lakes, and proximity to Lake Michigan beaches and the Manistee National Forest. If you attend the National Baby Food Festival, be sure to spend some time window shopping in Fremont’s charming Main Street district, sample a local brew at one or more of the areas breweries, and don’t miss the Saturday night Public Star Party at the Stephan F. Wessling Observatory.
Friday, July 25 – Sunday, July 27, 2014
“It’s all about the bologna!” That’s this year’s catchy slogan for the Yale Bologna Festival, an annual tradition since 1989. Yale, Michigan (population 2,000), located at the bottom of the thumb region in St. Clair County, is the unofficial bologna capital of world. So, as you can imagine, the townspeople take their bologna and its festival pretty seriously (if your idea of “seriously” includes an outhouse race, bologna sandwich eating contest, and the crowning of a King and Queen of Bologna). Along with these solemn events, the festival also features crafts, a cardboard boat race, a car show, fireworks, food vendors, live music, and a parade down Main Street.
If you visit Yale this summer, stick around to explore the Blue Water Area—140 miles of shoreline on Michigan’s eastern shore—famous for its lighthouses, museums, wineries, beaches, trails, water sports, and many of the state’s berry farms, wineries, and apple orchards.
Wednesday, July 23 – Saturday, July 26, 2014
Wednesday, August 6 – Saturday, August 9, 2014
Colon, Michigan (named after the punctuation mark, not the large intestine, in case you were wondering) is the burial place of illusionist Harry Blackstone (aka “The Great Blackstone”), home to three magic shops, and, not surprisingly, the self-proclaimed “Magic Capital of the World.” Prepare to be amazed this July and August as villagers say “abracadabra” and make their small town’s population double right before your very eyes for two big events:
- July 23-25: the 11th Annual MagiCelebration Magic Festival, sponsored by Colon’s own FAB Magic Company. Organizers promise spectacular comedy magic shows every night, two family fun nights, magic contests with cash prizes, and more.
- August 6-9: Colon Magic Week and Abbott Get-Together Convention, sponsored by Abbott’s Magic Company in celebration its 80th anniversary. The get-together is a gathering of professional magicians and a profusion of magical events: shows, lectures, street performances, fireworks, talent contests, and even an arts and crafts fair sponsored by the Friends of the Colon Library.
If you visit Colon this summer for one or both festivals, stay a while and make a little magic of your own. Situated in southwest Michigan on the Indiana border, Colon Township's 1,000 acres of water (eight lakes and the St. Joseph River) offer boating, swimming, fishing, beaches, and every imaginable water sport (from tubing to water-skiing). There are campgrounds, picnic areas, historic walking tours, and shopping.
Friday, August 29 – Sunday, August 31, 2014
Michigan State University Pavilion, East Lansing, Michigan
If you are a “llama person,” you already know fact from fiction when it comes to these cuddly, smiley-faced members of the camel family. For example, you know that llamas are social animals that live in herds, within a family group, and that they only spit and kick when they feel threatened or need to discipline a lower-ranking member of the herd. If you are a breeder or owner, terms like “get of sire,” “kush,” and “pronking” roll right off your tongue. You probably even know why llamas hum. For the rest of us, the cool thing about the annual Lama Fest—the largest show of its kind and one of the longest-running in the country—is that it caters both to owners and the general public. Along with watching llamas and alpacas strut their stuff in the ring, visitors to the Lamafest can participate in a scavenger hunt, enter a costume contest, and shop for unique llama- and alpaca-themed gifts.
If you go to Michigan State University for the Lamafest, you really owe it to yourself to take a tour of the nation’s first land grant university. Beaumont Tower, with its 47-bell carillon, marks the site of College Hall, the first building in America erected for the teaching of scientific agriculture, and is a must-see. The MSU Museum, the Abrams Planetarium, Beal Botanical Gardens, MSU Farms, the Kresge Art Center, the MSU Dairy Store (for homemade ice cream), the MSU Union Building, and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory are among the most popular campus attractions.
There you have it: all the ingredients for a memorable getaway for your group this summer. And here is the recipe:
- Start with a Michigan festival—the quirkier the better.
- Mix with an interesting location in a beautiful part of the state.
- Add a group of people who enjoy being together.
- Fold in any combination of festival-going, shopping, dining, sightseeing, exploring, relaxing, and playing in the great outdoors.
- Top it off with a luxury motorcoach to get you and your group everywhere you want to go—safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
Try it. Tweak it. Tell us about it. And be sure to file it with your favorite recipes for quintessential summer fun in Michigan.