Michigan is the only American state split into two distinct regions, comprised of its Upper and Lower Peninsulas, which span shoreline along four of the five Great Lakes. More than 11,000 inland lakes are also located throughout the state, ensuring that no state resident or visitor is ever more than six miles from a natural water source. Major cities such as Detroit and Grand Rapids are cultural hubs throughout the American North, home to museums documenting the region's rich automobile production and R&B music legacy.
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Traverse City is located along Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan and is best known as the United States' top producer of tart cherries, home to a weeklong National Cherry Festival each July. The city is a leading center for arts and culture in Michigan, home to the Victorian-style City Opera House, the indigenous-focused Dennos Museum Center, and the Traverse Symphony Orchestra. 47 acres of outdoor recreational opportunities are offered at Traverse City State Park, which features more than 250 overnight campsites. The region is also a noted viticultural area, home to more than 50 wineries offering tastings and tours for visitors.
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is one of western Michigan's largest cities, home to the beautiful University of Michigan campus, which is home to America's largest football stadium, Michigan Stadium. Many of the school's college sports teams are nationally-renowned, offering chances to see top regional football, basketball, and ice hockey games. Family-friendly museums on the college's campus and in the city's downtown include the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, the Ann Arbor Museum of Natural History, and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, which is located within a restored firehouse and features child-friendly interactive exhibits. The city is known nationally as a cultural and liberal social activism hub, home to performing arts groups such as the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, and the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet. It is also a book lover's paradise, home to more book retailers and books sold per capita than any other American city. Annual special events include the nationally-recognized Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Art Fair in July.
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Beaver Island is Lake Michigan's largest island, located within the Beaver Island archipelago approximately 32 miles off the coast of the city of Charlevoix. The island is historically known as the site of a former American religious separatist monarchy, led in 1856 by the Strangite Mormon Church. Since the 1970s, it has become a popular tourist destination in the American Midwest, accessible only via private airplane or ferry service from the mainland Beaver Island Boat Company. It is known as "America's Emerald Isle" due to its high population of Irish-American residents and is home to a biological research outpost operated by Central Michigan University, which offers tours and workshops for students and visitors. Recreational opportunities abound during the summer months, including pristine beaches, nature trails, and an 18-hole golf course and marina.
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Detroit is Michigan's most populous city and the largest city along the Canadian-United States border, home to a metropolitan region population of more than 4.3 million residents, making it the Midwest's second-largest metropolis after Chicago. The Detroit River port city has long been known as a prominent Midwestern center for arts and innovation, hailed internationally for its Big Three automobile manufacturing companies Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors and its R&B music scene in the mid-2oth century, anchored around iconic recording studio Motown Records. Top attractions include the 982-acre Belle Isle Park, the sprawling Henry Ford Museum, and the unique Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team, which features a plethora of tiger statues and a Ferris wheel with baseball-shaped capsules. For travelers with a Canadian passport, the city serves as a convenient gateway to Ontario cities such as Toronto and Hamilton. Things to Do in Detroit
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Escanaba is a Michigan lakefront city along the state's Upper Peninsula along Little Bay de Noc, home to a population of more than 12,000 residents. The city is home to a quaint downtown shopping and dining district, featuring boutique stores, chocolatiers and candy shoppes, and a variety of restaurants serving the region's unique "Yooper" cuisine. 213 miles of beautiful shoreline are showcased throughout the Delta County region, the largest county shoreline within the continental United States. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound in the Hiawatha National Forest, including opportunities for fishing, hiking, swimming, and biking. The region is also known as a major Midwestern brewery and winery hub, offering many tour options for sampling locally-produced wines and beers.
230 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829, Phone: 800-533-4386
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Estivant Pines is a 508-acre nature sanctuary in Keweenaw County, Michigan that is home to the Midwest's final remaining old-growth white pine forest. The preserve's lands were acquired by the Michigan Nature Association in 1973 after a statewide public fundraising campaign and remains one of the state's most popular nature sanctuaries today. Two walking trails loop through the land past towering white pine trees, some of which are more than 300 years old and reach heights of above 100 feet. Within the pine forest, 85 species of birds can be observed, including species of hawks and woodpeckers. During the winter months, the sanctuary offers opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing along its trail system.
Burma Rd, Copper Harbor, MI 49918, Phone: 517-655-5655
7.Michigan getaways: Frankenmuth
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Frankenmuth is one of Michigan's top historic tourism destinations, located in Saginaw County. The city was originally founded in 1846 by German immigrants and retains much of its historic German character, named for a term roughly translating to "the courage of the Bavarians." The city's downtown district is acclaimed for its stunning Bavarian-style architecture and historic feel, home to riverboat tours, horse-drawn carriages, and some of the best examples of preserved German architecture in America. Cultural attractions include the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, the Lager Mill Brewing Museum, the aviation-focused Michigan's Military and Space Heroes Museum, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world. For families, the city offers attractions such as Zehnder's Splash Village waterpark and resort and the Frankenmuth Aerial Park ziplining and ropes course attraction. Things to Do in Frankenmuth
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Grand Rapids is one of Michigan's largest cities, located on the banks of the Grand River near Lake Michigan. The city is best known as the childhood home of United States President Gerald Ford, who is honored by the city's Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. It was named as the United States' top tourist destination in 2014 by Lonely Planet and has been ranked as one of The New York Times' top world places to go alongside international tourist destinations such as Mexico City and Abu Dhabi. Cultural attractions abound, including the spectacular Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Van Andel Museum Center. It is also noted as a major national brewing capital, home to acclaimed microbreweries such as Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, and Brewery Vivant. Things to Do in Grand Rapids MI
9.The Great Lakes Bay Region
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The Great Lakes Bay Region spans six cities along the Lake Huron's 1,143-square-mile Saginaw Bay, located along Michigan's eastern coastline. Popular destinations include Bay City, which is home to the expansive Bay City State Park and the newly-redesigned City Market, and family-friendly Birch Run, which offers one of the Midwest's largest outlet malls and outdoor attractions such as the Wilderness Trails Zoo and the Alpine Mountain Adventure Park. Historic Frankenmuth is home to German-themed attractions and historic sites, while Midland is known for outdoor attractions Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest, which are home to the country's longest canopy walk. The city of Chesaning is a great getaway for romantic overnight stays, offering cozy inns and bed and breakfast facilities. In Saginaw, visitors can enjoy attractions such as the Japanese Cultural Center and Tea House, Saginaw Children's Zoo, and SVRC Marketplace.
515 N. Washington Avenue, 2nd Floor, Saginaw, MI 48607, Phone: 800-444-9979
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Holland is Ottawa County's second-largest city, located along the shores of Lake Macatawa near the city of Grand Rapids. The city has a rich Dutch-American heritage and has been named as one of America's top places to retire by CNNMoney. Each year, it is home to the annual Tulip Time Festival in May, which showcases more than six million tulip blossoms planted throughout the city. Cultural attractions include the 250-year-old De Zwaan historic windmill, which was brought to America from the Netherlands and is located on Windmill Island, and the Holland Museum, which chronicles the city's history and Dutch heritage. Outdoor recreational opportunities and public beach access points are plentiful at sites such as Holland State Park and Tunnel Park. Things to Do in Holland, Michigan
11.Isle Royale National Park
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Isle Royale National Park is an 893-square-mile national park along a cluster of islands within Lake Superior, located near the United States-Canada border. The park preserves significant lands that were used throughout the 19th century as copper mines and resort communities, converted back into car-free natural forest and lake ecosystems full of native flora and fauna, including wolves and moose. 165 miles of hiking trails are offered throughout the park, including the Greenstone Ridge Trail, which connects Rock and Windigo Harbors. Backpacking and day hiking trips are visitor favorites, with 36 campground sites offered throughout the island. Other popular activities include fishing, scuba diving, ranger-led talks and hikes, and guided boat tours throughout the region.
800 East Lakeshore Drive , Houghton, MI 49931, Phone: 906-482-0984
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Kalamazoo is a southern Michigan city best known as the home of Western Michigan University and private liberal arts university Kalamazoo College, offering a wide variety of cultural attractions for visitors of all ages. Families will enjoy the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, which offers science and technology-focused exhibits and a planetarium facility, the Gilmore Car Museum, which showcases famed cars used in Disney films, and the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, which displays historic aircraft and offers flight simulators and flight-themed rides. 20th-century American art is on display at the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, which offers permanent and temporary rotating exhibitions. Famed microbrewery Bell's Brewery operates out of nearby Comstock, offering brewery tours and beer tastings. Things to Do in Kalamazoo
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Lansing is Michigan's capital city, known as a major automobile production center throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The city's automobile history is documented at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, which showcases classic Oldsmobile cars produced by the city's Olds Motor Vehicle Company. Family-friendly attractions include the Potter Park Zoo, which houses many endangered and threatened animal species, and the Impression 5 Science Center, which offers interactive exhibits for young visitors. The city is also known as a major cultural hub, home to arts organizations and performance venues such as the Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Lansing Art Gallery, and the Creole Gallery. Each year, the city hosts prominent festivals such as the Lansing JazzFest, the Old Town Oktoberfest, and the Common Ground music festival at the city's Adado Riverfront Park. Things to Do in Lansing
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Mackinac Island is one of Michigan's premiere resort communities, originally used as a prominent fur trading post for French and American colonists in the 16th and 17th centuries. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 3.8-square-mile island transformed into a major Gilded Age resort area, remaining car-free today to preserve its historic character and prominent stretches of natural lands, including the expansive Mackinac Island State Park. Quaint boutiques, fudge shoppes, and casual dining restaurants dot the island's urban districts, which are also home to beautiful Victorian-era structures such as the stunning Victorian Grand Hotel. Early American military history is showcased at Fort Mackinac, which preserves 14 significant military structures used by British and American forces in the 18th century. Things to Do in Mackinac Island
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Manistee is a historic city within Michigan's Manistee County, home to a population of just over 6,000 residents. The town was known in the 19th century as a major logging industry and shingle manufacturing center and formerly headquartered its own railroad throughout the 1880s. Today, it preserves a large number of Victorian-era buildings within its downtown district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Local film studio 10 West Studios has produced major motion pictures starring Hollywood celebrities such as Christopher Lloyd, John Ratzenberger, and Randy Travis, while the city's historic Vogue Theatre has been recently restored as part of a campaign supported by filmmaker Michael Moore. Other historic and cultural attractions include the Arcadia Area Historical Museum, the Brethren Heritage Museum, and the Kaleva Train Depot Museum. Opportunities for outdoor recreation and scenic drives abound throughout the county region, which is home to the beautiful Arcadia Overlook and Manistee National Forest.
16.Palms Book State Park
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Palms Book State Park is a 388-acre public nature preserve within Thompson Township in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, originally established in 1926 by John I. Bellaire and stocked with visitor amenities during the 1930s as part of a development project by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The park is the site of the Upper Peninsula's famed Kitch-iti-kipi "Big Spring," the state's largest freshwater spring, which runs 40 feet deep and gushes more than 10,000 gallons per minute. Self-operated observation rafting opportunities are offered for up-close exploration of the spring, showcasing giant trout within the spring's waters.
Sawmill Rd, Manistique, MI, Phone: 906-341-2355
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The Petoskey Area is home to six waterfront resort communities centered around the city of Petoskey, a northern Michigan community located on the Little Traverse Bay. The region is best known for its inclusion in Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams stories and is home to large deposits of Devonian Period deposits called the Petoskey Stone, which are the official state stone of Michigan. Petoskey's Gaslight Shopping District downtown hub is home to a wide variety of quaint stores and restaurants, including several local wineries and breweries. Nearby, the waterfront resort areas of Bay Harbor, Harbor Springs, Boyne City, Alanson, and Walloon Lake offer rental properties and opportunities for shoreline recreation.
18.Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a 42-mile preserved lakeshore along Michigan's Lake Superior coastline, spanning a total land area of more than 73,000 acres throughout the state's Upper Peninsula region. It was originally preserved in 1966, becoming America's first national lakeshore, and welcomes more than 475,000 annual visitors each year for ample outdoor recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, and swimming along its beautiful beachfront areas. Unique natural environments are preserved, including its namesake colorful Pictured Rocks cliffs and the Miners Castle and Chapel Rock sandstone formations. More than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails are offered throughout the lakeshore, along with opportunities for backcountry camping and hunting in several areas. Preserved historic attractions include the 19th-century Au Sable Point Lighthouse, which is famously surrounded by the remnants of a number of historic shipwrecks.
P.O. Box 40 , Munising, MI 49862, Phone: 906-387-3700
19.Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been called "America's Most Beautiful Place" by Good Morning America, spanning more than 35 miles of beachfront area throughout the state's eastern coastline along Lake Michigan. The lakeshore was originally established in 1970 for its significant dune and glacial natural formations and showcases stunning 450-foot bluffs along its coastline, along with a number of forested ecosystems and inland lakes. In addition to its mainland areas, the lakeshore also encompasses land on nearby North and South Manitou Islands. Cultural attractions throughout the lakeshore include preserved United States Lifesaving Service stations and the historic South Manitou Island Lighthouse, originally constructed in 1871. Loon Lake offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, and kayaking, while the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail provides hiking and biking routes. For visitors looking for a less wild experience, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive loops for 7.4 miles, offering chances to see the park's famed sand dunes from inside vehicles.
9922 Front Street , Empire, MI 49630, Phone: 231-326-4700
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St. Ignace is an Upper Peninsula city located along the northern end of the Straits of Mackinac, home to a population of more than 2,400 residents. The historic community dates back more than three centuries, connected to the Lower Peninsula via the Mackinac Bridge, which links it to Mackinaw City. Cultural attractions include the Wawatam Lighthouse, overlooking the city's harbor, and the Museum of Ojibwa Culture, which preserves the region's rich indigenous history and former Jesuit mission. The city is home to a large Chippewa indigenous population, including the Sault Tribe, which operates the Vegas-style Kewadin Casinos. Prominent natural wonders include the Castle Rock limestone stack and the Rabbit's Back promontory, which overlooks Lake Huron. Downtown transportation service is provided by the St. Ignace Trolley, while connecting ferry service is offered to nearby Mackinac Island.
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Sugarloaf Mountain is a 470-foot granite peak near the city of Marquette, located along the Upper Peninsula's Lake Superior coastline. The mountain is the most popular of three regional overlook sites, maintained as a visitor site by Marquette County. It is accessible via a series of 304 wooden stairs that embark from the site's parking lot, with three lookout platforms available at the peak for stunning views of the region's Great Lakes shoreline and landmarks such as Ore Dock, the Superior Dome, and Presque Isle Park. Visitors may also hike up the mountain's backside using a moderately-strenuous several-mile hiking route that is accessible from a parking lot near Wetmore Landing.
Big Bay Rd, Marquette, MI 49855
22.Tahquamenon Falls State Park
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Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the second-largest state park in Michigan, spanning more than 46,000 acres throughout McMillan and Whitefish Townships along the path of the Tahquamenon River to its output at Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior. The park receives more than half a million annual visitors and is named for its gorgeous Tahquamenon Falls, which features a spectacular 50-foot drop and is the second-largest waterfall in the eastern United States after Niagara Falls. 22 miles of hiking and biking trails are offered throughout the park, providing visitor access to undeveloped ecosystems filled with native flora and fauna. Other outdoor recreational opportunities include canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling, with a seasonal restaurant and four campgrounds operated on park property.
1382 West M-123, Paradise, MI 49768, Phone: 906-492-3415
23.Thorne Swift Nature Preserve
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Thorne Swift Nature Preserve is a 30-acre nature preserve located along the banks of Lake Michigan near the city of Harbor Springs, open to the public daily from dawn to dusk between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The preserve was established in 1981 following the donation of lands by Elizabeth Kennedy to the Little Traverse Conservancy. A mile and a half of visitor trails are offered, including the half-mile Balsam Trail and the Beach Trail, which leads to the preserve's Kennedy Nature Center. Bird watching is a popular activity at the Dune Observation Deck, including opportunities to spot nesting gulls, warblers, and chickadees. Naturalist-led programming is offered throughout the season, including nature crafting classes and themed group hikes.
6696 Lower Shore Dr, Harbor Springs, MI 49740, Phone: 231-526-6401
24.Bond Falls Scenic Site
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Bond Falls Scenic Site is one of Michigan's most spectacular natural wonders, located in southern Ontonagon County near the city of Paulding. The site showcases a stunning 50-foot waterfall drop divided into a number of beautiful cascades along the Ontonagon River, which are viewable from a 600-foot ADA-accessible visitor boardwalk. Three viewing platforms and six overlooks are offered along the boardwalk, creating perfect opportunities for stunning photographs of the falls. Hiking opportunities are also available along a number of nature trails near the site. Roadside picnic tables are offered at the site, along with a number of overnight camping sites at Bond Falls Flowage.
Bond Falls Road, Paulding MI, 49912, Phone: 906-353-6558
25 Best Weekend Getaway in Michigan
- Traverse City, Photo: Courtesy of digidreamgrafix - Fotolia.com
- Ann Arbor, Photo: Courtesy of mattkaz - Fotolia.com
- Beaver Island, Photo: Courtesy of Robert Gubbins - Fotolia.com
- Detroit, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Escanaba, Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Boswell - Fotolia.com
- Estivant Pines, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Michigan getaways: Frankenmuth, Photo: Courtesy of helgidinson - Fotolia.com
- Grand Rapids, Photo: Courtesy of soupstock - Fotolia.com
- The Great Lakes Bay Region, Photo: Courtesy of Chris - Fotolia.com
- Holland, Photo: Courtesy of csterken - Fotolia.com
- Isle Royale National Park, Photo: Courtesy of sschremp - Fotolia.com
- Kalamazoo, Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Kilander - Fotolia.com
- Lansing, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Mackinac Island, Photo: Courtesy of csterken - Fotolia.com
- Manistee, Photo: Courtesy of digidreamgrafix - Fotolia.com
- Palms Book State Park, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Petoskey Area, Photo: Courtesy of Paul Retherford - Fotolia.com
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Photo: Courtesy of baluzek - Fotolia.com
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- St. Ignace, Photo: Courtesy of leftwinger - Fotolia.com
- Sugarloaf Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of Yanukit - Fotolia.com
- Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Angela - Fotolia.com
- Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Kilander - Fotolia.com
- Bond Falls Scenic Site, Photo: Courtesy of ehrlif - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Michael - Fotolia.com