Unique Places to Visit in Michigan
Michigan offers something for just about everyone, from exciting cities to unspoiled wilderness destinations. While it’s home to plenty of famous towns like Detroit, known for its Motown music and long ties to the automobile industry, you’ll find quite a few unique places to visit in Michigan.
Whether you want to be immersed in nature, explore intriguing museums, or something else, there’s bound to be something on this list to enjoy while on assignment in this state.
Copper Harbor and Isle Royale National Park
One of the best things to do in Upper Peninsula Michigan is to visit the tiny and secluded town of Copper Harbor. Located at the base of Brockway Mountain along Lake Superior, it’s the state’s northernmost community. Ferries depart from the harbor to Isle Royale National Park, which sits on uninhabited Isle Royale in the middle of the lake. Open from April through October, there are hiking trails that wind along the shoreline and through forests, bringing opportunities to spot everything from moose to wolves. Camping, kayaking, fishing, boating, and even scuba diving to view sunken shipwrecks are all possible here.
Visitors to Copper Harbor can also drive to the top of Brockway Mountain for a jaw-dropping panorama of Lake Superior and hike miles and miles of scenic trails. There are several outstanding eateries and fun shops to browse, while Jamsen’s Fish Market & Bakery is famous for its thimbleberry doughnuts.
Munising and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Munising is a gateway to one of the most beautiful places in Michigan, Pictured Rocks National Seashore. It offers small-town charms and access to waterfalls, beaches, lighthouses, and a myriad of outdoor adventures. One of the most popular things to do here is to take a Munising Bay Shipwreck Tour via a glass-bottom boat. Available from Memorial Day weekend through September, you’ll discover two shipwrecks in a natural underwater museum which can be seen by looking down through the glass viewing wells. Marvel at the historic lighthouse, caves, and rock cliffs from the perspective of the water while watching for bald eagles that are frequently spotted along the shoreline. Back in town, look forward to meals featuring fresh-caught fish and homemade pastries.
One of the best things to do in Michigan for those who love all things Bavaria is to visit Frankenmuth. Known as the “Little Bavaria of Michigan,” it offers a bit of Germany right in the Midwest, including traditional Bavarian hospitality, festivals, restaurants, and more. It hosts one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the region, complete with German beer and cuisine, polka dancing, and weiner dog races. For the Christmas holidays, there’s a Christkindlmarkt open in November and December that includes appearances by Santa Claus, handmade gifts and other items for sale, live music, and hot spiced wine to warm up with. The warmer months are ideal for an electric boat tour, with a variety of options for cruising the Cass River, including a Wine & Chocolate River Tour.
Glen Haven and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
The small historical village of Glen Haven offers a trip back to a time when steamers plowed the Great Lakes. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors can visit a fully restored general store, a blacksmith shop, and the Cannery Boat Museum.
As Glen Haven sits within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, it’s also convenient for accessing the area’s unspoiled natural beauty. One of the best things to do in Southern Michigan can be enjoyed here: climbing the huge, scalable dunes that rise up to 450 feet above the lake. Other options include cycling along the shoreline, hiking countless trails, viewing lighthouses, kayaking, swimming, and kayaking.
While Mackinac Island is well-known to Michiganders, not many are aware that it was the country’s second national park. That might be because it only existed as a national park for 20 years between 1875 and 1895 when it was transferred to the state, becoming Michigan’s first state park. Accessible by ferry, departing from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, it’s the perfect spot to destress and slow down, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.
The island hosts the Grand Hotel, which overlooks the water from the world’s longest front porch that was featured in the romantic 1980 film “Somewhere in Time.” Even if you don’t stay here, you can relax on the porch and enjoy the picturesque views. One of the most popular things to do is to explore Mackinac on two wheels as there are no cars allowed here, making it especially enjoyable. Horse-drawn carriage rides offer a romantic way to explore, while a variety of other activities, including hiking over 70 trails, can be enjoyed, too.
Located on the western shoreline of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is one of the most charming towns in the state, filled with striking natural beauty and enticing attractions. Those seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure can embark on a thrilling, high-speed buggy ride across the sand dunes via Saugatuck Dune Rides.
Old-school hand-cranked rides on the Saugatuck Chain Ferry will bring you across the Kalamazoo River to Mount Baldhead Park and Oval Beach, one of the most idyllic beaches in the region. Visitors can also head to the top of Mount Baldhead for one of the best bird’s-eye views around. in the artsy town itself, historic buildings house many galleries, shops, cafes, and other eateries.
If you like tulips, you don’t have to travel all the way to the Netherlands as millions of the flowers await in Holland, Michigan. This town offers Dutch culture right in the U.S. and the opportunity to see an endless landscape of colorful blooms in May when the Tulip Time Festival takes place. There are many other things to do throughout the year, including learning about the town’s history at the Holland Museum and visiting Windmill Island, which hosts a traditional old windmill. Downtown is photogenic with many historic buildings, sculptures, and statues, as well as offering a myriad of eateries for sampling authentic Dutch dishes.
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