The State of Michigan is a state blessed with the riches of unspoiled nature: the world's longest freshwater coastline, lakes that feel like oceans, shimmering beaches, miles and miles of orchards, glorious sunrises and sunsets, daytime skies of the deepest blue, and nighttime skies scattered with stars.
Home to more than 100 public beaches, some of the highest freshwater sand dunes in the world, stunning multi-colored sandstone cliffs, two National Lakeshores and the only national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes, “Pure Michigan” is a photographer’s dream.
Here are some of the most beautiful places to escape to in the Mitten.
Miner’s Castle / Pictured Rocks
Colorful and bold, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore towers 50 to 200 feet above Lake Superior. Sandstone cliffs streaked with ochre, tan, white, green, orange, and black mineral stains stretch about 15 miles along the lake from Sand Point on the west to just after Spray Falls on the east. Miners Castle is the most famous formation of the Pictured Rocks, and is accessible by vehicle or short trail with the lower overlook providing the most breathtaking views.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Located in Northwestern Lower Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear is the other Nationally Protected Lakeshore region. Powerful earth-moving forces melted the area’s glacier during the Ice Age created the “Perched Dunes” for which the area is famous today, forming hills, dunes, valleys, lakes, and streams in it’s wake. Ripe for photos, the area also encompasses a number of lighthouses, wineries, small islands, and shipwrecks.
Most famous for their delectable cherries, Michigan produces about 75 percent of the tart cherries grown in the United States, primarily in the Traverse City area. With that comes miles of beautiful orchards, sandy soil and historical sites. Ancient glaciers formed the deep lakes and dramatic hills of the region along Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan’s pinky.
One of the most recognized lighthouses in the world, the South Haven lighthouse has guarded the entrance to the Black River for over 100 years and been photographed over 3000 times. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, South Haven began as a resort town in the early 1900s, known as "The Catskills of the Midwest," but has since become a family friendly beach town.
Also called Coast Guard City USA, Grand Haven is another of Michigan’s featured Beach towns. From its roots as a highly commercial port-of-call for ferries and passenger liners, the Grand Haven area has evolved to become a place of serene, family enjoyment, hosting lively outdoor recreation, a thriving downtown, history, culture and festivals on the shores of Lake Michigan and the Grand River.
Home of Pictured Rocks and 17 other waterfalls, these majestic falls range from small unnamed swells on Grand Island to large cascading flows falling down the cliff face. It’s other main draw? The best snowmobiling in Upper Michigan. Boasting over 300 miles of groomed forest trails, Munising is perfect for winter exploration.
Home to Big and Little Glen Lakes and The Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor is one of those small towns that makes it onto almost everyone’s list of most beautiful places in Michigan. A boater’s paradise, it’s the perfect place for a beach getaway during the summer or a winter wonderland of snowshoeing and ice fishing in the colder months.