25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan
Whether you are looking for outstanding scenery, beaches, fabulous food, great family activities or gracious historic architecture, Michigan ticks all the boxes for discerning vacationers. Popular Michigan weekend destinations include Mackinac Island, Holland, Frankenmuth, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. In spring and summer, you can spend your days exploring the world’s longest freshwater coastline, enjoy outstanding water sports on the many inland lakes. Here are the best places to visit in Michigan. Photo: ehrlif/Fotolia
» Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is an idyllic island vacation destination where time has stood still and motor vehicles are not permitted. Here you can explore 70 miles of walking, hiking, or biking trails or try a variety of water sports on the calm waters of Lake Huron. Equestrians have 40 miles of bridle paths and mounts are available from Jack’s Livery Stables or the Grand Hotel Stable.
Popular activities include exploring the beautiful coastline on a Great Turtle Kayak Tour, seeing the island highlights on a Mackinac Island Carriage Tour, and visiting historic Downtown Mackinac where several historic buildings are open to the public. Mackinac Island is one of the best places to visit in Michigan.
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» Ann Arbor
Vibrant and bustling Ann Arbor is packed with exciting cultural, historic, and outdoor attractions for the entire family. Spend some time visiting a few of the excellent city museums, including UMMA – University of Michigan Museum of Art, the fascinating University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and Planetarium and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Ann Arbor is one of the best places to go in Michigan for couples.
Energetic visitors can go hiking and biking in the Hudson Mills Metropark or canoeing in Argo Park, while bookworms can lose themselves in more than eleven independent book stores. If you love the theater, you can watch a show at Hill Auditorium or the nostalgia-inducing Michigan Theater, and everyone should make time to watch a football game at Michigan Stadium.
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Come and enjoy the distinctly Dutch atmosphere and flavors of Holland, Michigan, where you can tip-toe through the tulips in spring or see a working Dutch windmill on a city walking tour. There are several beaches where you can simply relax on the shores of Lake Michigan or enjoy sailing, kayaking, or paddle boating – rental equipment is available from several outfitters. Holland is one of the top romantic Michigan vacation spots.
If you enjoy art and history, you can visit the Holland Museum or the Kruizenza Art Museum, and music lovers can attend the Holland Chorale and the Holland Symphony Orchestra. Children will enjoy visiting the Critter Barn petting zoo or blueberry picking at Behm Blueberry Farm.
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» Traverse City
Traverse City enjoys an enviable location at the southern tip of Traverse Bay with excellent access to miles and miles of great beaches. The “city” oozes small-town charm and has a plethora of activities on offer for all ages, including a thriving arts scene – you can attend the Traverse City Orchestra at the City Opera House, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and the Dennos Museum Center.
Outdoor enthusiasts can immerse themselves in all kinds of water sports or explore the many hiking and biking trails in the area, while foodies can enjoy brewery and winery tours and fabulous farm-to-fork restaurants. Save some time for museum and lighthouse visits.
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Lansing is an ideal central Michigan getaway destination offering a good variety of attractions for all ages. You could start your tour by visiting the Michigan State Capitol Building in Downtown before moving on to explore the fascinating Impression 5 Science Center, the Michigan Historical Museum, and the R.E. Olds Transport Museum.
Art lovers will enjoy the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum for Contemporary Art at Michigan State University and the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. You can take a steamboat ride or enjoy strolling around Cooley Gardens or the W J Beal Botanical Garden. Save some time to explore over a dozen wineries, breweries, and distilleries on a Makers and Shakers Tour.
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Tecumseh is a small historic Michigan city, one of the three oldest settlements in what was Michigan Territory. It is located on the River Raisin, only about 25 minutes from Ann Arbor and half an hour from Jackson. Most downtown buildings have been converted into businesses, shops, and restaurants, and merchants often participate in the frequent social events, such as Art Walk, the harvest festival, and the ice sculpture festival. Art lovers will enjoy the free Art Trail Tecumseh exhibit of sculptures by local artists, while canoeing on the River Raisin Run is a popular activity during the warm months. Enjoy a taste of local wines on a tour of Pentamere Winery and J. Trees Cellars, spend the day golfing at Raisin Valley Golf Club or let the kids enjoy some minigolf at the Stone Mountain Family Fun Center. 25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan - Photo: Tecumseh/mytecumseh.org
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» Places to Visit in Michigan: Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids offers visitors a great combination of historical architecture, interesting museums, and energetic outdoor activities for the whole family. In Heritage Hill, you can explore an exceptional display of historic architecture dating back to 1844 – take a self-guided walking tour through this huge open-air museum before visiting the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is a must for all art lovers, and energetic visitors can enjoy hiking in Millennium Park, zip-lining in the John Ball Zoo, or paddling the Grand River Heritage Trail before satisfying their thirst on one of several craft brewery tours. 25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan - Photo: Henryk Sadura/Fotolia
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» Places to See in Michigan: Frankenmuth
Frankenmuth owes its distinctive Bavarian character and architecture to the German immigrants who settled in the area in 1845. One of their legacies is Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, where you can find everything you need for a sparking festive season. You can learn about the town’s history at the Frankenmuth Historical Museum and the Lager Mill Brewery Museum.
There are many outdoor activities including riverboat rides, horse-drawn carriage rides, paddle boarding and kayaking on the Cass River, and zip-lining at the Frankenmuth Adventure Center. Younger visitors will enjoy the Frankenmuth Corn Maze (in fall) and the Junction Valley Railroad, while adults can enjoy chocolate and wine tasting on a Frankenmuth Fun Ships Tour.
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»Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is made up of sunlit beaches, towering dunes, inland lakes, and lush forests – the perfect backdrop for a fun-filled back-to-nature vacation. A good place to start your exploration is the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center where you can pick up maps and watch an orientation video.
You can take a scenic drive, go hiking or cycling along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, enjoy some dune climbing, or go kayaking and paddling on the Platte River or beautiful Loon Lake, where there is the added bonus of good wildlife viewing. Save some time to explore historic Glen Haven Village.
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Kalamazoo, MI is situated halfway between Detroit and Chicago and just 45 minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan, making it an ideal weekend getaway destination. City attractions include the Gilmore Car Museum, the Midwest Miniatures Museum and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum for history lovers, and the scintillating Air Zoo, where you can learn all about aviation and enjoy rides and flight simulators.
Cyclists can explore many miles of trails, including the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, while children will love the Binder Park Zoo, Kalamazoo Nature Center, and the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Adults can sample local brews on a West Michigan Brewery Walking Tour or Beer and Bike Tour.
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»Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Over 40 miles of amazing natural beauty along the shores of Lake Superior are waiting to be discovered when you visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You can expect to see a diverse landscape composed of beaches, dunes, waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and beautiful forests and lakes.
Against this backdrop, you can go hiking along 90 miles of trails, some of which offer backcountry camping. Other activities include cycling, swimming, and diving, picnicking, boating, and camping in summer, and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing in winter. You can attend several ranger-led programs and guided tours, including day hikes, evening programs, and boat tours.
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»Mackinac Island State Park
Mackinac Island State Park encompasses more than 80% of Mackinac Island, providing active visitors with a wonderful playground in which to pursue outdoor activities. Motor vehicles are banned on the island, and everyone makes their way around on foot, by bicycle, on horseback, or by horse-drawn carriage.
You can enjoy over 70 miles of interpretive roads and trails that will lead you to many historic sites including Fort Holmes, Fort Mackinac, Mill Creek Discovery Park, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and Colonial Michilimackinac State Park where there are several hands-on exhibits for children to enjoy. Round off your visit at the Treetop Discovery Tower to enjoy a zip-line adventure.
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The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in America, connecting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas over the Straits of Mackinac. The bridge is a marvel of modern engineering, rising an impressive 200 feet above the water at its highest point, and it carries two lanes of traffic in each direction.
You can approach the bridge from northern Michigan along Interstate 75 at St. Ignace or from Mackinaw City on the southern peninsula. If you would like to experience walking over this amazing bridge, you should time your visit to coincide with the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk in September, which attracts hundreds of eager walkers.
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»Places to Visit in Michigan: Sugarloaf Mountain
Standing guard over Lake Superior’s Partridge Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain offers visitors one of the most spectacular views along the Upper Peninsula coastline of Michigan State. You can reach the summit (470 feet above Lake Superior) via a 3,200-foot trail consisting of a cleared pathway and sections of stairway, and although it is quite steep, it is considered an easy hike that will only take you around 20 to 30 minutes.
Along the way, you will see a beautiful forest canopy formed by century-old trees, and at the summit you will be rewarded by wonderful views of Lake Superior, Marquette, Presque Isle Park, and Hogsback Mountain. 25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan - Photo: Konstiantyn/Fotolia
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»Great Lakes Bay Region
The Great Lakes Bay Region is situated along the southern coastline of Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, and it provides a great getaway destination with varied cultural and outdoor activities. The Midland Art Center, Saginaw Art Museum, Northwood Gallery, and Art Reach of Mid Michigan are sure to please art lovers, while historians can explore Castle Museum, the Japanese Culture Center and the historic Alden B. Dow Home.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there are hiking, biking, and other activities in the Chippewa Nature Center and Midland City Forest. The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, Midland Symphony Orchestra, the State Theatre, Temple Theatre and the Dow Event Center provide endless choices for entertainment.
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»Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is without a doubt one of the highlights of a visit to the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. You can see some of the best vistas of Lake Michigan as you make your way along the seven mile loop, which takes you through Beech-Maple forests and towering sand dunes.
There are several view points along the way where you can spend some time soaking up the atmosphere, including the Glen Lake Overlook and Lake Michigan Overlook, which is perched 450 feet above the lake and is renowned for offering the most amazing sunset views along the shoreline.
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Almost entirely surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan, Manistee Lake, and Manistee River, Downtown Manistee offers the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts. You can launch your boat at the Manistee Municipal Marina and enjoy paddling, tubing, and boating on miles of calm rivers.
You can learn about Manistee’s logging history as you stroll along the Manistee Riverwalk to the bustling Manistee Marina, which is the main shopping, dining, and entertainment hub. History buffs can take a self-guided walking tour through Historic Downtown, which will introduce you to one of the best collections of historic buildings in Michigan, and foodies should not miss the Saturday Farmer’s Market.
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»Michigan Destinations: Petoskey Area
The Petoskey Area in northern Michigan incorporates several charming lakeside communities including Harbor Springs, Petoskey, and Bay Harbor, making this an inviting vacation destination. Fall is the most beautiful season to visit – try one of several scenic drives to make the most of the extravagant color.
In summer you can relax on the beaches or enjoy a wide variety of water sports, take the chairlift up Boyne Mountain, hike the trails in Avalanche Mountain Preserve, or discover the area by bike. For winter fun there are three ski resorts and the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark. There are several museums for rainy days and lots of live entertainment options.
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The Escanaba area on the northern Michigan peninsula includes 211 miles of beautiful shoreline, marshes, beaches, and wetlands, making it a popular vacation destination for nature enthusiasts. You can learn about the history of Escanaba by driving along the Maywood History Trail and the Peninsula Point Interpretive Lighthouse Trail or by visiting the Delta Country Historic Museum and the Fayette Historic Townsite.
Outdoor activities abound, and you can choose from water sports, scuba diving, fishing, hiking, cycling, and ORV trails to ship-wreck hunting from a glass-bottomed boat. In winter, the emphasis changes to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. You can see Escanaba at its colorful best on one of several Fall Colors Scenic Drives. 25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan - Photo: Henryk Sadura/Fotolia
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»Isle Royal National Park
When you feel the urge to escape the city and embrace nature, peace, and solitude far from the beaten track, Isle Royal National Park may be just what you need. Isle Royal is a scenic, isolated, and rugged island in Lake Superior that offers adventurers an exceptional back-to-nature experience.
One way to enjoy the splendor is to go backpacking along over 160 miles of scenic trails, sleeping at one of the 36 campsites dotted across the island. You can also enjoy several less strenuous day hikes, explore the many coves and bays by motorized boat, or take to the calmer inland waters for canoeing and kayaking. Scuba diving, guided tours, and ranger-led programs are also available.
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»Michigan Places to Visit: St. Ignace
St. Ignace is located on an isthmus off the northern shore of the Mackinac Straits and is surrounded by water on three sides, making this little town the perfect destination for anyone interested in water sports. You can parasail over the bay, fish for your dinner, or take a Great Lakes Boat Tour to visit some of the many islands, each of which has its own special charm.
If you prefer to stay on land you can go hiking along the North Country Trail or in the Hiawatha National Forest, visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point Light Station, the Fort De Buade Museum, the Carlyn Zoological Park, or Indian Village.
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“Motor City” Detroit has a host of diverse attractions to make sure that visitors of all ages have an action-packed vacation. You can get an overview of Downtown Detroit on the People Mover automated railway before moving on to visit museums such as the Automotive Hall of Fame, The Henry Ford Museum, the Detroit Historical Museum, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and Dossin Great Lakes Museum (which documents shipping and maritime history).
There are dozens of family activities, including a riverboat cruise on the Detroit Princess and visits to the fabulous Detroit Zoo and the Legoland Discovery Center. Plant lovers should not miss the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle Park.
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»Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary
The Estivant Pines are considered to be the last remaining stand of old-growth white pines in Michigan, some of which have managed to escape the saws of the loggers for over 600 years. The entire forest is like a pristine living nature museum featuring 125 feet tall trees and a dense undergrowth containing many other plants, including orchids and ferns.
The forest is home to over 85 species of birds and many small animals you can observe as you hike along the three trail loops. Cathedral Trail Loop is where the largest of the trees are found, but Memorial Trail Loop is just as rewarding – combine both trails to make the most of your visit. 25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan - Photo: Gary Saxe/Fotolia
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»Thorne Swift Nature Preserve
The Thorne Swift Nature Preserve is a 30-acre wildlife sanctuary situated along the shores of Lake Michigan, just three and a half miles outside Harbor Springs. The preserve is a great place to spend a sunny day and boasts a 300-foot sandy public beach along the lakeshore, hiking trails, and other recreational activities.
You can spend some time observing aquatic creatures from the pond-observation platform and admire the protected dunes from the dune-observation platform, which is also a wonderful place to watch the sunset. The Elizabeth Kennedy Nature Center offers hands-on nature programs for children and guided hikes in summer, or you can make your own way along the Beach Trail and Balsam Trail.
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»Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
In the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge you can explore more than 9,800 acres of marshes, forest, and grasslands that form a U.S. Important Birding Area, which has global significance to over 270 species of migratory water birds. There are several activities you can enjoy in the refuge including hunting, fishing, hiking, environmental studies, wildlife viewing, and photography.
You can make your way along the Ferguson Bayou Trail and the Woodland Trail on foot, bicycle, or skis, or choose the Wildlife Drive auto route. The Green Point Environmental Learning Center offers a further two and a half miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails and seasonal educational programs.
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25 Best Places to Visit in Michigan
- Mackinac Island, Photo: Courtesy of Paul Lemke - Fotolia.com
- Ann Arbor, Photo: Courtesy of tinyal - Fotolia.com
- Holland, Photo: Courtesy of 14ktgold - Fotolia.com
- Traverse City, Photo: Courtesy of Rex Wholster - Fotolia.com
- Lansing, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Tecumseh, Photo: Tecumseh/mytecumseh.org
- Places to Visit in Michigan: Grand Rapids, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Places to See in Michigan: Frankenmuth, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Kalamazoo, Photo: Courtesy of Sean - Fotolia.com
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Photo: Courtesy of baluzek - Fotolia.com
- Mackinac Island State Park, Photo: Courtesy of dantien - Fotolia.com
- Mackinac Bridge, Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Keifer - Fotolia.com
- Places to Visit in Michigan: Sugarloaf Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of Konstiantyn - Fotolia.com
- Great Lakes Bay Region, Photo: Courtesy of james_pintar - Fotolia.com
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Photo: Courtesy of csterken - Fotolia.com
- Manistee, Photo: Courtesy of Jim Parkin - Fotolia.com
- Michigan Destinations: Petoskey Area, Photo: Courtesy of Konstiantyn - Fotolia.com
- Escanaba, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Isle Royal National Park, Photo: Courtesy of sschremp - Fotolia.com
- Michigan Places to Visit: St. Ignace, Photo: Courtesy of Mark Herreid - Fotolia.com
- Detroit, Photo: Courtesy of Chris Boswell - Fotolia.com
- Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary, Photo: Courtesy of Gary Saxe - Fotolia.com
- Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of watcherfox - Fotolia.com
- Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Courtesy of olgatroy1 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
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