Michigan — Attractions
Most people believe Michigan is nothing more than a frigid winter wasteland. While the area does experience an intense hibernation period December to March, it’s attractions are absolutely magical the rest of the year. The Great Lakes play a huge role in this state’s recreation and natural attractions, boasting 3,200 miles of shoreline dotted with beautiful beaches, sand dunes, psychedelic rock formations, and cool coastal towns. The Upper Peninsula is a vast wild land of flora and fauna, while Detroit is rebuilding and enjoying a music and industrial revival. In between are some classic gems like Mackinac Island, a throwback to the glory days of old Victorian living.
As one of the states hit hardest by the recession, the home of Motown and automobiles was knocked down and almost out with the collapse of the economy. Today, Motor City is on the rise with a surprisingly deep selection of amenities, attractions, and things to do. Downtown is undergoing a renaissance, with shiny new sports arenas, casinos, restaurants, and bars to keep visitors entertained. Detroit is an incredible value for the and best enjoyed in the summer and fall. Catch a professional sports game, play at the Campus Martius Park, or learn about the Titanic in the Henry Ford Museum.
Address: Southern Michigan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Michigan’s vast wilderness is the place to go if you want to experience the wild beauty of this state. One of the highlights is Pictured Rocks, a stretch of multi-color cliffs that run for 17 miles along the north coast of the Upper Peninsula. Hike on the North Country Trail to get to the thick of it or take a chartered boat cruise from Munising City Pier for a better glimpse of the striking rock formations. There are giant sand dunes to play on and 12 miles of sandy beach to wander.
Address: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Burt Township, MI 49839
Bridging the cultural gap between the Upper Peninsula and the rest of Michigan is Mackinac Island, an enchanting place where cars are forbidden and time seems stopped in the 19th century. A longtime summer getaway for the wealthy, the island is packed with stunning Victorian mansions that are now romantic bed and breakfasts, bars, restaurants, or some lucky soul’s home. Get around on foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage, and be sure and check out Fort Mackinac, one of the only Revolutionary War-era structures left in America.
Address: Northern Michigan
Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village
The cultural gem of Michigan is found in Detroit, the one-time home of Henry Ford, the father of automobiles. His legacy is a repository of American industrial heritage, a 12-acre site with dozens of fascinating vintage aircraft, cars, and other motorized vehicles. Visitors can see the actual production and evolution of the F-150 truck in the Ford Rouge Factory Tour or catch an IMAX movie in the state-of-the-art theater. A real highlight is Greenfield Village, a collection of 100 original historic homes and shops of famous inventors from around the US and the world. Ford himself transported structures like Thomas Edison’s laboratory and a bike shop used by the Wright Brothers.
Address: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124
One of the finest zoos in America, the facility is modern and the setting lush and clean. It contains all the expected creatures from around the world in well-designed habitats, as well as some unexpected delights such as the world’s largest polar bear exhibit, called the Arctic Ring of Life. A free-flying bird aviary and butterfly garden are other highlights at this family-friendly attraction in Detroit.
Address: Detroit Zoo, 8450 W. 10-Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 49067
Western Michigan Beaches
With its huge coastline, you can bet there are some nice beaches in Michigan. The western shore is the cream of the crop, with lovely options from Mackinaw City to Warren Dunes. State parks provide cheap, easy access to the beaches and the natural highlights, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Ludington State Park. The dunes along the coast are sensational, and the sand sugary soft. Towns like Traverse City, Holland, and Ludington are a charming, historic place to base yourself if you don’t go the camping route.
Address: Western Michigan
Home to the University of Michigan and its huge student population, Ann Arbor is a lively college town. The pedestrian-friendly downtown has a strong artistic inclination and endless places to eat, drink, and shop. There are 147 public parks in the city, as well as though the campus, offering an ideal blend of nature and society. Ann Arbor is particularly active in the fall when football season is in full swing and the weather is at its finest.
Address: Southern Michigan