Besides its world-class reputation as “MoTown” and the “Motor Industry,” Michigan is also a haven for tourism and some exceptional natural sight-seeing that needs to be experienced first hand. Even if you are on a tight or shoe string budget, there are many hidden gems worth visiting and within reach in The Great Lakes Region.
1) Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is indeed a gem in Michigan, known for its picturesque landscapes and old-world charm. Here are more details about the attractions and activities you can enjoy on the island:
- Fort Mackinac: This historic military outpost offers a glimpse into Mackinac Island’s past. Visitors can explore the fort, watch historical reenactments, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding lakes.
- Historic Downtown: The downtown area of Mackinac Island is like stepping back in time. It’s filled with quaint shops, art galleries, and charming restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll and indulge in some local treats like fudge, a specialty of the island.
- Mackinac Island State Park: Covering about 80% of the island, the state park is a haven for nature lovers. It offers hiking and biking trails, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for birdwatching. Arch Rock, a natural limestone arch towering 146 feet above the ground, is a must-see attraction within the park.
- Grand Hotel: One of the island’s most iconic landmarks, the Grand Hotel is a luxurious resort known for its stunning architecture and gardens. While staying guests-only, visitors can still admire the hotel’s exterior and the manicured grounds.
- Butterfly House: Mackinac Island Butterfly House is Michigan’s first live butterfly exhibit. It’s a tropical paradise filled with hundreds of colorful butterflies. It’s both educational and visually delightful.
Mackinac Island’s charm lies in its timeless appeal and the opportunity it provides to experience nature, history, and leisure in a unique, car-free environment. It’s a destination that captures the hearts of all who visit.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is truly a natural wonder in Michigan, offering visitors a diverse range of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery. Here’s more information about what you can experience in this stunning national park:
- Dune Climb: The Dune Climb is a popular activity where visitors can climb the towering sand dunes. It’s a challenging but rewarding experience, and reaching the top provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including Glen Lake. Many visitors enjoy running or rolling down the dunes afterward.
- Dunes Trail: The Dunes Trail is a scenic 3.5-mile hike that leads to the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by diverse flora and fauna. The trail culminates in stunning views of the Manitou Islands, which are situated in Lake Michigan, making it a must-do hike for nature enthusiasts.
- Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: This 7.4-mile scenic drive takes you through the park’s diverse landscapes, including forests, dunes, and lakeshores. There are several stops along the way, offering viewpoints where you can capture mesmerizing photographs of the dunes, Glen Lake, and Lake Michigan.
Overall, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers a mix of outdoor adventures, educational experiences, and serene natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
3) Ann Arbor
Often referred to as the “City of Trees,” or “ Tree Town,” is indeed a vibrant and culturally rich city in Michigan. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, one of the leading public research universities in the United States and features an impressive collection of artworks.
Kerrytown is a charming district in Ann Arbor known for its unique shops, boutiques, and galleries. Ann Arbor boasts several historic districts with beautifully preserved homes and buildings, showcasing the city’s architectural heritage.
4) Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this national lakeshore offers stunning sandstone cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and hiking trails. It’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers.
Known as “Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth is a charming town with a strong German heritage. Visitors can enjoy traditional German cuisine, shop for souvenirs, and explore attractions like Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store.
6) Hollywood Casino at Greektown
Located in the heart of Detroit, Greektown Casino offers a wide variety of gaming options, including slot machines, table games like blackjack, craps, and roulette, as well as poker rooms for enthusiasts of the game. The casino provides a vibrant atmosphere, luxurious amenities, and entertainment options, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists looking for a night of excitement.
But if getting to Greektown isn’t in the budget or you can’t wait, legal online gambling platforms provide a diverse array of options, including slots, card games like poker and blackjack, roulette, and even live dealer games where players can interact with real dealers through video streaming, from the comfort of your homes.
A popular resort town, Saugatuck is located on Lake Michigan and offers beautiful beaches, art galleries, boutique shops, and scenic boat rides. It’s a picturesque destination for relaxation and outdoor activities.
8) Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Located in Grand Rapids, this botanical garden and sculpture park features a wide variety of plants, flowers, and impressive sculptures by renowned artists. It’s a serene place to appreciate art and nature.
9) Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Home to the Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River, this state park in the Upper Peninsula offers hiking trails, camping, and breathtaking views of the falls.
10) Grand Rapids Art Museum
This museum features an impressive collection of artwork, including pieces by regional, national, and international artists. It’s a hub for art enthusiasts and cultural explorers.
These attractions showcase Michigan’s diverse offerings, from natural wonders to cultural landmarks, making it a state rich in experiences for travelers.