What’s Good in the Great Lakes State? A Tourist’s Guide

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From the tranquil shores of the Great Lakes to the inner-city industriousness of Detroit, the state of Michigan offers a gigantic amount of rich, diverse experiences for everyone.

No matter where you land across the state, you can find activities at any pace. And with the changing of the seasons, there’s always something new to explore. If you want a day full of memorable moments, check out any of these seven Michigan attractions on your next trip.

1. Mackinac Island

Take a trip back to a simpler time on Mackinac Island. With no cars to be found on its 4.35 square miles, visitors have to take to carriages, bikes, or their own two feet to explore the unique culture and economy of this national historic landmark.

Mackinac Island rests right between the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan, nearly connecting the two. Accessible only by ferry, the island transports visitors to a singular experience at every turn, with everything from the dining to the lodging being exclusive to the resort.

Once on the island, you’ll have a slew of hiking and biking opportunities to fill out an entire trip. For one-of-a-kind experiences, you can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides around the island, take in its war-torn history at Fort Mackinac, or indulge in its world-famous fudge at one of 14 shops.

2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Michigan is a haven of picturesque landscapes across all four corners of the state, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is arguably the best example of that fact.

Located just outside Munising on the shore of Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks is a perfect escape for nature lovers. It’s America’s premier national lakeshore, full of beautiful landscape features all across its 100 miles of hiking trails. Explore a range of rushing waterfalls, rocky cliffs, flowing dunes, and endless shorelines.

The seasonal activities are as diverse as the landscape in Pictured Rocks. In the summer, swimming and boating are popular among tourists, while winter brings cross-country skiers, ice climbers, and snowmobilers. In between, it all is the vibrant fall foliage that’s sure to delight any photography hobbyist.

3. Midtown Detroit

Midtown and downtown Detroit are home to countless hotspots that are bound to show up on any list of Michigan attractions. On Woodward Ave. alone, you can check out the Detroit Institute of Arts before heading down the street to the historical museum. If you find yourself in the city, both are definitely worth your time.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) follows the evolution of art from the earliest civilizations to modern trendsetters. With over 100 galleries to explore, you’ll have hours to discover unique media and global favorites like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Cezanne.

The Detroit Historical Museum is just down the street from the DIA. Should you have a few hours left in the day, stop in to discover how Detroit became the Motor City. If you have the kids, you can stop into the Michigan Science Center for interactive fun instead.

For even more Detroit culture, a quick stroll down Woodward Ave. brings you to its lively downtown scene. Take in popular entertainment venues and eateries, or catch a Tigers game at Comerica Park. 

4. Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale is a secluded island far north of mainland Michigan, located at the very edge of Lake Superior bordering Canada. Like Mackinac Island, Isle Royale is only reached by boats or planes, and there are no permanent residents anywhere in the park.

The relatively untouched natural splendor of the island has made it a haven for diverse wildlife. As you hike, kayak, or paddle around, you’ll be greeted by moose, foxes, eagles, and many more reclusive American beasts.

The island is so secluded that it is America’s least-visited national park. And although you can get lodging at Rock Harbor, you’ll need to plan your visit ahead of time because the island is closed from November through mid-April.

5. Muskegon

Muskegon sports 26 long miles of immaculate beaches overlooking Lake Michigan. The relaxing shores of Hoffmaster State Park and Pere Marquette Park are some of the more well-known attractions for water lovers. But although the beaches get the most press, Muskegon features something for everyone.

For fun interactive history lessons, there are attractions like the USS Silversides Museum. Tourists get to explore and experience the cramped quarters of an authentic WWII submarine first-hand. And for all-around family excitement, nothing beats Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement park.

6. Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is a great time whether you want an art and history experience, casual family fun, or a dive into its renowned brewery scene. As Beer City USA, the community has built an economy around all things craft, including tours, tastings, and entire beer-centric vacation packages.

In between pints, you can take in museum trips, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and more. When you want to make some fun for the whole family, there are tons of thrilling experiences to choose from, like the TreeRunner Adventure Park or the Great Escape Room.

7. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The tall dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are a sight to behold and a challenging ascent, rising over 400 feet above sea level. A trip to the top is difficult, but you’ll be handsomely rewarded in one of the more gorgeous vistas to be found in Michigan.

There are 100 miles of hiking trails stretched across the park, available for exploration at all times of the year. Sleeping Bear is one of the most accessible travel options for those trying to reconnect with nature and get in some amazing snapshots.

Which Michigan Attractions Will You Explore?

The list of worthwhile Michigan attractions goes on and on. Whether you’re intrigued by the dynamic urban pace of Detroit, the placid stretches of America’s second-longest state coastline, or a small-town experience somewhere in between, there are hundreds of activities just for you.

Exploring Michigan can get you itching for more adventure. Follow us for more awesome travel insights to take on your next trip.

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