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MICHIGAN TRAVEL GUIDE

Frankenmuth, Michigan Detroit, Michigan Traverse City, Michigan

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Michigan! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Michigan.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons

OVERVIEW



Michigan is the most underrated state in the U.S.. Much of that is probably due to the highly publicized struggles that Detroit has experienced since the 2008 economic crisis. There is still much to like about Detroit, and a heck of a lot more to love about the rest of the state. Michigan is split into two major regions-the lower and upper peninsula-and both are sensational in their own way. The lower peninsula boasts many beaches and attractive towns along the shores of the Great Lakes. The upper peninsula has some of the best nature preserves and waterfalls in the eastern half of the country. If you love the great outdoors, it won't take long to fall in love with Michigan.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN MICHIGAN



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Michigan? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Michigan, in no particular order:

Wander the lively Bavarian-themed tourist town of Frankenmuth
Visit the excellent Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn
Take a boat tour to visit the cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Marvel at the gardens and art sculptures of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids
Hop on a ferry to explore beautiful Mackinac Island on foot and/or bicycle (bicycle rentals are widely available on the island)
Relax on one of the fine beaches of Lake Michigan in western Michigan
Mountain bike the Copper Harbor Bike Trail System
Hunt for scenic waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula (e.g. Bond Falls, Laughing Whitefish Falls, Tahquamenon Falls, etc.)
Climb the sand dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Go backpacking in Isle Royal National Park

If I could select only one place to visit in Michigan, I would choose the Upper Peninsula. The outdoor activities and nature parks in the "Up" are phenomenal.

For a list of 10 great attractions in each U.S. state, click here.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN MICHIGAN



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Michigan. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Michigan bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Upper Peninsula: West (including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Isle Royale National Park)
Adventure Mining Company, Greenland - guided tours of an underground copper mine
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech, Houghton - features two great mineral and gem collections
Bond Falls, Ontonagon - an impressive 50-foot tall waterfall in Ottawa National Forest
Brockway Mountain Drive - a 9-mile long scenic drive with great views of Lake Superior and the Upper Peninsula
Chutes and Ladders, Houghton - probably the best outdoor children's playground you'll find in Michigan
Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, Ishpeming - a gift shop known for its outdoor roadside attractions; not everyone will appreciate this quirky spot
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, Eagle Harbor - a brick lighthouse located at the rocky entrance of Eagle Harbor
Hiawatha statue, Ironwood - the world's largest Native American statue; one of Michigan's best roadside attractions
Hunter's Point Park, Copper Harbor - features a reddish-colored pebble beach and hiking trails that lead out onto a spit of land
Isle Royale National Park - visit a set of isolated/remote islands that offer fantastic hiking, biking, camping, and boating opportunities
Keweenaw National Historical Park, Calumet - offers mine tours, mining exhibits, and lots of outdoor recreation (e.g. hiking, canoeing, etc.)
Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette - see a free and awesome collection of "junkyard art"; one of Michigan's best roadside attractions
Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park, Rock River Township - includes a short hike to one of Michigan's best waterfalls
Mountain biking the Copper Harbor Bike Trail System - one of the finest mountain biking trail systems in the Great Lakes region
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon - Michigan's largest state park offers 90 miles of trails and many scenic views
Presque Isle Park, Marquette - beautiful nature park along the shores of Lake Superior with sandstone cliffs, hiking trails, and cycling routes

Upper Peninsula: East (including Grand Marais, Munising, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Boat tours from Munising - e.g. sightseeing tours of Lake Superior and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, shipwreck tours, etc.
Castle Rock, St. Ignace - a tourist attraction that climbs a 195-foot tall limestone stack that offers scenic views
Fayette Historic State Park, Garden - features a historic townsite, beach, hiking/cross-country skiing trails, and scenic limestone cliffs
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Paradise - small but excellent shipwreck and maritime museum
Miners Castle Overlook / Miners Castle Rock, Munising - a famous natural landmark within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Palms Book State Park, Manistique - see the largest freshwater spring in Michigan (Kitch-iti-kipi aka "Big Spring") on an observation raft
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - offers rugged beauty along the Lake Superior shoreline; outstanding hiking, boating, and paddling
Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Seney - a large refuge with excellent birding and a 7-mile long wildlife viewing drive
Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie - take a tour of the "largest waterway traffic system on earth"; the "Panama Canal of North America"
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise - a large state park with several waterfalls, including the 50-foot tall, 200-foot wide Upper Falls
Whitefish Point Lighthouse, Paradise - see the oldest operating lighthouse in the Upper Peninsula

Lower Peninsula: North (including Charlevoix, Mackinac Island, Petosky, Traverse City, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore)
Arch Rock, Mackinac Island - this 50-foot wide natural arch is the most famous geological feature on Mackinac Island
Boat tours from Traverse City - e.g. sightseeing cruises, schooner cruises, sunset cruises, fishing charters, sailing tours, etc.
Canoeing/kayaking the Au Sable River - great day and overnight paddling trips are possible on this river
Colonial Michilimackinac, Mackinaw City - visit a reconstructed 1700s-era French & British fort
Dinosaur Gardens, Sanborn Township - a tourist attraction with dozens of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animal sculptures
Dune Climb, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - a fun hike up some of the biggest sand dunes in the Midwest
Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island - visit an original Revolutionary War fort
Front Street, Traverse City - one of Michigan's most attractive tourist districts; there are many shops and restaurants here
Gaylord's City Elk Park, Gaylord - odds are high that you can spot some elk if you stop at the viewing areas that peer into this park
Giant Crucifix and Nun Doll Museum, Indian River - features a 55-foot tall crucifix and the world's largest collection of nun dolls (525 of them)
Historic Gaslight District, Petoskey - a popular shopping district with shops, art galleries, and restaurants
Jack Pine Lumberjack Show, Mackinaw City - one of the highest-rated lumberjack entertainment performances in the U.S.
Little Traverse Wheelway - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Mackinac Bridge ("Big Mac"), Cross Village - a five-mile beautiful toll bridge that links Michigan's two peninsulas
Mackinac Island - a car-less island with a bustling Main Street, several museums, a grand historic hotel, and outstanding cycling routes/trails
Mackinac Island State Park, Mackinac Island - features hiking and biking trails, a natural arch, historic landmarks, scenic views, and more
Mushroom houses in Charlevoix - this town has more than 20 mushroom-shaped stone structures; at least one company offers guided tours
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City - a brick lighthouse in Fort Michilimackinac State Park
Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House & Insect World, Mackinac Island - features a variety of butterflies and other insects
Petoskey State Park, Petoskey - highlights include a beautiful mile-long beach, two campgrounds, and hiking trails
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive - a 7.4 mile long scenic drive within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - features beaches and towering sand dunes along 35 miles of Lake Michigan's shoreline
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Alpena - this marine sanctuary has more than 100 shipwrecks and offers outstanding scuba diving
Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Traverse City - tours of a historic hospital and asylum

Lower Peninsula: Central (including Frankenmuth, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Saugatuck)
Bavarian Belle Riverboat, Frankenmuth - tour the Cass River on a stern-paddlewheel boat
Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington - see this famous lighthouse within Ludington State Park
Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth - probably the largest Christmas-themed retail establishment in the U.S.
Dow Gardens, Midland - a top-rated botanical garden set on 110-acres
Frankenmuth - a small and very popular Bavarian-themed town with many boutique shops and restaurants (some of which offer "famous chicken dinners"); the town also has an excellent indoor water park and the world's largest Christmas-themed store
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids - has botanical gardens, an art museum, and many impressive outdoor art sculptures
Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids - a famous presidential attraction
Grand Haven Lighthouse and Pier, Grand Haven - a walking pier with a pair of red-painted lighthouses
Holland State Park Beach, Holland - a popular beach in one of Michigan's most popular state parks; views of the Big Red Lighthouse
Ludington State Park, Ludington - includes unspoiled beaches and sand dunes; also has good kayaking and a famous lighthouse
Mac Wood's Dune Rides, Mears - highly-rated guided sand dune tours in/near Silver Lake State Park
Meyer May House, Grand Rapids - tour a historic home designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Michigan's Adventure, Muskegon - the largest amusement park in Michigan; it has more than 35 rides and attractions
Oval Beach, Saugatuck - one of Michigan's best beaches; also features tall sand dunes
Pere Marquette Park, Muskegon - features 2.5 miles of public beach and a pair of lighthouses
Pere Marquette Rail-Trail - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, Bay City - tour the decommissioned USS Edson, a U.S. Navy destroyer
Saugatuck Dune Rides, Saugatuck - a company offering highly-rated guided sand dune tours
Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Saugatuck - features 2.5 miles of shoreline, sand dunes, and 13-miles of hiking trails
Silver Lake State Park, Mears - offers some of the best sand dune ORV-riding in the U.S.; Mac Wood's Dune Rides offers a 40-minute tour
Stearns Park, Ludington - the largest beach in Ludington (about 0.5 miles wide)
USS Silversides Submarine Museum, Muskegon - tour a decommissioned World War II submarine

Lower Peninsula: South (including Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit)
Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center, Portage - has more than 60 historic airplanes & spacecraft on display
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor - an excellent child/family-focused science and technology museum
Comerica Park, Detroit - a famous MLB baseball stadium; home of the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit - one of the best art collections in the U.S.
Detroit RiverFront, Detroit - a popular riverfront park with walking trails, art sculptures, and access to many downtown Detroit attractions
Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak - a good medium-sized zoo with more than 2,000 animals
Ford Field, Detroit - an indoor football stadium; home of the Detroit Lions NFL team
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Detroit - visit the birthplace of the Ford Model T vehicle
Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Dearborn - take a self-guided tour of a Ford production plant; part of the Henry Ford Museum complex
Giant Carrots, Ann Arbor - a roadside attraction featuring eight 10-foot tall carrots
Giant Fist of Joe Louis, Detroit - a roadside attraction of a giant fist near Hart Plaza; this is in a walkable area with several other attractions
Giant Uniroyal Tire, Allen Park - an 80-foot tall tire that you can see from I-94; unfortunately, I don't think you can pull over for a picture
Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners - an auto museum with over 120 classic cars on display
Greenfield Village, Dearborn - an impressive collection of classic American homes spread across seven historic districts
Henry Ford, The / Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn - one of the finest museum complexes in the U.S.; historic signs, vehicles, railroads, etc.
Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, Farmington Hills - a large collection of arcade games, animatronics, and other mechanical items
Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor - a series of lovely indoor and outdoor gardens
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor - a famous college football stadium with nearly 110,000 seats; the largest stadium in the United States
Motown Museum, Detroit - a small museum at the site of where Motown-style music earned its fame
Silver Beach Carousel, St. Joseph - ride a gorgeously restored historic carousel with 48 unique figures
Silver Beach County Park, St. Joseph - a small but popular public beach
South Haven Light, South Haven - a famous red-painted lighthouse at the end of a catwalk
St. Joseph Lighthouses, St. Joseph - see a pair of lighthouses in St. Joseph
Warren Dunes State Park, Bridgman - famous for its lakeshore beaches and large sand dunes; one of Michigan's most popular attractions
Yates Cider Mill, Rochester Hills - a historic cider mill with a variety of baked goods available for purchase; "a Michigan landmark"

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Michigan? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

For a list of 5-star attractions in neighboring states, click on any of these links:  IN  |  OH  |  WI

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN MICHIGAN



These towns and cities in Michigan are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Upper Peninsula
Copper Harbor - a very small lakeshore town that serves as a gateway to Isle Royale National Park; many outdoor activities exist in the area
Grand Marais - a very small lakeshore town close to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; many outdoor activities exist in the area
Marquette - a small city close to many outdoor recreation opportunities (including those found in Presque Isle State Park)
Munising - a small town close to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; there are many outdoor activities, waterfalls, and boat tours in the area

Lower Peninsula
Ann Arbor - a medium-sized city that is home to the huge University of Michigan (and its super popular football team)
Charlevoix - a small lakeshore town on Lake Michigan that offers water sports, harbor views, and boutique shops
Detroit - a major city known for its famous museums, Motown music, professional sports teams, and its automotive industry
Frankenmuth - a small and very popular Bavarian-themed town with many boutique shops and restaurants (some with "famous chicken dinners"); the town also has the world's largest Christmas-themed store
Frankfort - a small lakeshore town on Lake Michigan that has beaches, sand dunes, a lighthouse, boutique stores, and many Victorian homes; it's also very close to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Grand Haven - a small lakeshore city that offers beaches, fishing, golfing, a lighthouse, and water sports
Grayling - a very small town with excellent canoeing, tubing, and fishing on the AuSable River; has a small but attractive downtown area
Holland - a small city with Dutch heritage and several great attractions (e.g. DeZwaan Windmill and Holland State Park)
Ludington - a very small city famous for its beaches and lighthouses on Lake Michigan; good fishing and strong maritime history
Mackinac Island - a lovable island town with a lively but touristy downtown area; there are excellent cycling trails found all over the island
Petoskey - a small lakeshore town on Lake Michigan with a historic shopping district; there is lots of Victorian architecture in the town
Saugatuck/Douglas - a pair of adjacent small towns with beaches on Lake Michigan; the "art coast of Michigan"; popular for dune tours
Traverse City - a small city with lots of attractions, including beaches, water sports, golfing, and wineries/vineyards; it is also very close to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

If you want to visit Mackinac Island, you can either stay on the island itself, Mackinaw City on the Lower Peninsula, or St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula. There are frequent boat ferries from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace to Mackinaw Island. No reservations are current needed for these ferry rides (you can just show up, pay, and ride the ferry that day).

If you want to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, stay in Grand Marais or Munising. Make sure to go for a hike and also take a boat cruise to explore the lakeshore.

If you want to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, stay in Traverse City or Frankfort. Traverse City is a major tourist destination with many shops and restaurants.

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS MICHIGAN FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Michigan is famous or well-known for:

automobile industry / auto manufacturers
beaches
bi-peninsular state
cherries
fly-fishing
fudge
great lakes
lakeshore towns
lighthouses - there are more than 100 lighthouses in Michigan!
mountain biking trails
sand dunes
shipwrecks
shorelines
waterfalls - the upper peninsula of Michigan is packed with scenic waterfalls (including some of the best in the eastern U.S.)

Click here if you'd like to explore what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN MICHIGAN



There is currently only one national park in Michigan. There are also several other federally-managed parks and properties in the state, including:

National Parks
Isle Royale National Park - visit a set of isolated/remote islands with fantastic hiking, biking, camping, and boating opportunities

National Recreation Areas
Grand Island National Recreation Area

National Forests
Hiawatha National Forest
Huron-Manistee National Forest
Ottawa National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks & Properties
Keweenaw National Historical Park
North Country National Scenic Trail
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - offers rugged beauty along the Lake Superior shoreline; outstanding hiking, boating, and paddling
River Raisin National Battlefield Park
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - features beaches and towering sand dunes along 35 miles of Lake Michigan's shoreline

My two favorite national parks in Michigan are Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In fact, I'm surprised they have never been elevated to official "national park" status.

For more information on Michigan's national parks, visit the Michigan page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN MICHIGAN



Michigan has more than 100 state parks. I would rank Michigan's state park system among the best in the country. Here is a list of what I believe are Michigan's finest state parks:

Upper Peninsula: West (including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Isle Royale National Park)
Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park, Rock River Township - includes a short hike to one of Michigan's best waterfalls
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon - Michigan's largest state park offers 90 miles of trails and many scenic views

Upper Peninsula: East (including Grand Marais, Munising, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Fayette Historic State Park, Garden - features a historic townsite, beach, hiking/cross-country skiing trails, and scenic limestone cliffs
Palms Book State Park, Manistique - see the largest freshwater spring in Michigan (Kitch-iti-kipi aka "Big Spring") on an observation raft
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise - a large state park with several waterfalls, including the 50-foot tall, 200-foot wide Upper Falls

Lower Peninsula: North (including Charlevoix, Mackinac Island, Petosky, Traverse City, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore)
Mackinac Island State Park, Mackinac Island - features hiking and biking trails, a natural arch, historic landmarks, scenic views, and more
Petoskey State Park, Petoskey - highlights include a beautiful mile-long beach, two campgrounds, and hiking trails

Lower Peninsula: Central (including Frankenmuth, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Saugatuck)
Holland State Park Beach, Holland - a popular beach in one of Michigan's most popular state parks; views of the Big Red Lighthouse
Ludington State Park, Ludington - includes unspoiled beaches and sand dunes; good kayaking and a famous lighthouse
Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Saugatuck - features 2.5 miles of shoreline, sand dunes, and 13-miles of hiking trails
Silver Lake State Park, Mears - offers some of the best sand dune ORV-riding in the U.S.; Mac Wood's Dune Rides offers a 40-minute tour

Lower Peninsula: South (including Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit)
Warren Dunes State Park, Bridgman - famous for its lakeshore beaches and large sand dunes; one of Michigan's most popular attractions

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN MICHIGAN



Michigan has several hundred natural waterfalls, making it one of the very best states for "waterfalling" in the country. Nearly all of its best waterfalls can be found in the Upper Peninsula ("the UP"). Here are many of the best waterfalls in Michigan:

Upper Peninsula: West (including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Isle Royale National Park)
Bond Falls, Ottawa National Forest
Dead River Falls, Marquette
Great Conglomerate Falls, Ottawa National Forest
Laughing Whitefish Falls, Laughing Whitefish Falls State Park - very close to the center of the Upper Peninsula; between Marquette & Munising
Manabezho Falls, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Manido Falls, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Upper Peninsula: East (including Grand Marais, Munising, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)

Miners Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Munising Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Sable Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Spray Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Tahquamenon Falls, Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Wagner Falls, Wagner Falls Scenic Site, Munising

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Michigan, visit the World Waterfall Database.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN MICHIGAN



Here is a list of the best scenic drives in Michigan:

Upper Peninsula
Brockway Mountain Drive - a seasonal 9-mile paved route from Mohawk to Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula
MI-28 from Munising to Marquette - a 43-mile paved route along the shores of Lake Superior (west of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Whitefish Bay National Forest Scenic Byway - a 43-mile paved route along the shores of Lake Superior from Brimley to Paradise

Lower Peninsula
MI-22 from Manistee to Traverse City - a 116-mile paved route along Lake Michigan that begins at the MI-22/US-31 junction in Manistee
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - a seasonal 7-mile paved route off MI-109 with many scenic overlooks
River Road Scenic Byway - a 19-mile paved route from MI-65 near Five Channels Dam in Oscoda east to the shores of Lake Huron
US-23 from Standish to Mackinaw City - a 194-mile paved route along Lake Huron

The Top of the Lake Scenic Byway seems like it would be a decent scenic drive as well. The Tunnel of Trees Drive (M-119) is a pretty drive, but it doesn't really have any significant scenic views (really just trees and great fall foliage).

For a list of great scenic drives in each U.S. state, click here.

BEST GREAT LAKES BEACHES IN MICHIGAN



Michigan has the best collection of Great Lakes beaches of any state. you'll find most of the best beaches in the southern and central sections of the western coast of the lower peninsula. Here is a list of many of the best Great Lakes beaches in Michigan:

Lake Michigan (western side of the Lower Peninsula)
1st Street Beach, Manistee
Buttersville Park, Ludington
Cherry Beach, Three Oaks
Duck Lake Beach, Whitehall
Esch Beach, Honor
Fifth Avenue Beach, Manistee
Grand Haven City Beach, Grand Haven
Grand Haven State Park, Grand Haven
Hagar Park/Beach, Coloma
Ludington State Park, Ludington
New Buffalo Beach, New Buffalo
North Beach, South Haven
Oval Beach, Saugatuck
Peterson Beach Sleeping Bear Recreation Area, Honor
Silver Beach, Bridman
South Beach, South Haven
Stearns Park, Ludington
Weko Beach, Bridgman

Lake Huron (eastern side of the Lower Peninsula)
McGraw County Park, Austin
Mich-e-ke-wis Park / Starlite Beach, Alpena
Oscoda Beach Park, Oscoda

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN MICHIGAN



Michigan has many outstanding rail trails, specially in the lower peninsula. Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Michigan:

Upper Peninsula
Iron Ore Heritage Trail

Lower Peninsula
Fred Meijer Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trail
Fred Meijer Heartland Trail
Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Little Traverse Wheelway - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park
North Central State Trail
Pere Marquette Rail-Trail - often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Michigan, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN MICHIGAN



There are a few notable amusement parks in Michigan, including:

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, Boyne Falls
Bavarian Inn and Lodge Water Park, Frankenmuth
Cedar Valley's Wild Frontier Fun Park, Comins
Great Wolf Lodge Water Park, Traverse City
Michigan's Adventure, Muskegon - this is Michigan's largest theme park
Wildwater Adventure, Muskegon
Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel and Water Park, Frankenmuth

BEST MUSEUMS IN MICHIGAN



Michigan has many great museums. The best museums in Michigan include:

Upper Peninsula: West (including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Isle Royale National Park)
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech, Houghton
Keweenaw National Historical Park, Calumet

Upper Peninsula: East (including Grand Marais, Munising, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Paradise

Lower Peninsula: North (including Charlevoix, Mackinac Island, Petosky, Traverse City, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore)
Call of the Wild Museum, Gaylord
Colonial Michilimackinac, Mackinaw City
Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island
Giant Crucifix and Nun Doll Museum
Music House Museum, Williamsburg

Lower Peninsula: Central (including Frankenmuth, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Saugatuck)
Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids
Impression 5 Science Center, Lansing
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Lansing
Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, Bay City
USS Silversides Submarine Museum, Muskegon

Lower Peninsula: South (including Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit)
Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center, Portage
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor
Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit
Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners
Greenfield Village, Dearborn
Henry Ford, The / Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn
Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, Farmington Hills
Motown Museum, Detroit
University of Michigan Museum of Art
University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

BEST DAY HIKES IN MICHIGAN



Michigan has many excellent hiking trails. Much of the best hiking is found in the Upper Peninsula, but there's a lot along the western shoreline of the Lower Peninsula too. Here are many of the best day hikes in Michigan:

Upper Peninsula: West (including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Isle Royale National Park)
Clark Lake, Sylvania Wilderness Area
Craig Lake State Park trails
Escarpment Trail, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Hogback Mountain, Various Property Owners / Managers
Lake of the Clouds Overlook, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Lake Superior Trail, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Presque Isle Park Loop, Presque Isle Park
Sugarloaf Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain Natural Area

Upper Peninsula: East (including Grand Marais, Munising, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Miners Castle Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Miners Falls Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Mosquito & Chapel Falls / Chapel Loop, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
North Country National Scenic Trail-Pictured Rocks section, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pyramid Point Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Upper and Lower Tahquamenon Falls, Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Lower Peninsula: North (including Charlevoix, Mackinac Island, Petosky, Traverse City, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore)
Chippewa Trail, Negwegon State Park
Dunes Trail-Dune Climb, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Dunes Trail to Sleeping Bear Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Empire Bluff Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Highbanks Trail, Huron National Forest
South Manitou Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Lower Peninsula: Central (including Frankenmuth, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Saugatuck)
Ledges Trail, Fitzgerald County Park
Lighthouse Trail / Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington State Park
Livingston Trail Loop, Saugatuck Dunes State Park
Rosy Mound Natural Area, Rosy Mound Natural Area
Saugatuck Dunes South Trail, Saugatuck Dunes State Park

The highpoint of Michigan is Mt. Arvon (1,979'). A moderate hike is required to reach the top.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN MICHIGAN



Michigan offers many excellent backpacking opportunities. Some of premier backpacking routes in Michigan include the following:

Upper Peninsula: West (including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Isle Royale National Park)
Greenstone Ridge Trail, Isle Royale National Park
McCargoe Cove Trail to Rock Harbor, Isle Royale National Park
North Country National Scenic Trail
Porky Loop, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Upper Peninsula: East (including Grand Marais, Munising, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Lakeshore Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Mosquito & Chapel Falls / Chapel Loop, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
North Country National Scenic Trail

Lower Peninsula
Jordan Valley Pathway, Mackinaw State Forest
Manistee River Trail / North Country Trail loop, Huron-Manistee National Forests
North Country National Scenic Trail
North Manitou Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Shore-To-Shore Trail
South Manitou Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN MICHIGAN



Michigan offers many excellent outdoor adventures, including these classics:

Upper Peninsula
Backpacking the Greenstone Ridge Trail in Isle Royale National Park
Backpacking the North Country National Scenic Trail
Backpacking in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Backpacking in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Bouldering in/around the Marquette area
Canoeing/kayaking the Paint River
Cycling the Iron Ore Heritage Trail
Day hiking in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Day hiking in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Dog-sledding in McMillan or Shingleton
Ice climbing in/around the Munising area (e.g. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)
Kayaking in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Mountain biking the Copper Harbor Bike Trail System
Mountain biking the Munising Mountain Bike Park
Mountain biking the Noquemanon Trail Network (aka South Marquette trails)
Rock climbing on Silver Mountain in Ottawa National Forest
Snowmobiling in/around Munising

Lower Peninsula
ATV/ORVing in South Haven
Backpacking the North Country National Scenic Trail
Canoeing/kayaking the Au Sable River
Canoeing/kayaking the Crystal River
Canoeing/kayaking the Huron River
Canoeing/kayaking the Lower Platte River
Canoeing/kayaking the Manistee River
Canoeing/kayaking the Pine River
Cross-country skiing the Big M Cross-Country and Mountain Bike Trail in Huron-Manisttee National Forests
Cycling Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park
Cycling Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park
Cycling the Little Traverse Wheelway
Cycling Mike Levine Lakelands Trail State Park
Cycling the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail
Day hiking in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Kayaking Mackinac Island
Mountain biking the Big M Cross-Country and Mountain Bike Trail in Huron-Manisttee National Forests
Parasailing in Traverse City or Mackinaw City
Rock climbing in Oak Park/Grand Ledge
Scuba diving in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Skydiving in Allegan, Charlevoix, Fowlerville, Grand Haven, Jackson, or Ray
Tubing the Au Sable River
Tubing the Chippewa River
Tubing the Horn River
Tubing the Lower Platte River
Tubing the Manistee River
Tubing the Muskegon River
Tubing the Rifle River
Tubing the Thornapple River
Tubing the White River

SKI RESORTS IN MICHIGAN



There are more than 25 ski resorts in Michigan. While the vertical drop is limited, you can still have some serious fun skiing there. These ski resorts are generally considered the best in Michigan:

Premier Ski/Snowboard Resorts:
Boyne Mountain Resort - 60 trails; 500ft vertical drop; 1,120ft summit
Crystal Mountain - 45 trails; 375ft vertical drop; 1,132ft summit
Highlands, The - 54 trails; 552ft vertical drop; 1,290ft summit
Mount Bohemia - 81 trails; 900ft vertical drop; 1,440ft summit

Other Notable Ski/Snowboard Resorts:
Big Powderhorn
Caberfae Peaks
Indianhead
Marquette Mountain
Nubs Nob
Shanty Creek

MICHIGAN TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Michigan attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN MICHIGAN



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Michigan:

almond boneless chicken (warr shu gai)
cheese curds
cherries / cherry pie
chicken dinner (e.g. Frankenmuth restaurants)
chipati
coney dog / coney island
cudighi
Detroit-style pizza
fudge (e.g. Mackinac Island)
pasty / pasties
smelt
Vernors Ginger Ale (soda)
walleye
whitefish

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Michigan (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Michigan (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY MICHIGAN INFORMATION



State Capital:
Lansing

Major Airports:
Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) and Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) near Grand Rapids

Largest Cities:
Detroit (624,177), Grand Rapids (201,093), Warren (140,453), Sterling Heights (135,276), Ann Arbor (125,835), Dearborn (112,340)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-69, I-75, I-94, I-96

State Highpoint:
Mt. Arvon (1,979') in the western region of the Upper Peninsula; a moderate day hike is required to reach the top

Professional Sports Teams:
MLB: Detroit Tigers
NBA: Detroit Pistons
NFL: Detroit Lions
NHL: Detroit Red Wings

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Bad Axe, Climax, Colon, Hell, Maybee, and Paradise

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.



Giant Santa at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan
Giant Santa at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan

downtown Detroit, Michigan
downtown Detroit, Michigan

World's Former Largest Cherry Pie Pan in Charlevoix, Michigan
World's Former Largest Cherry Pie Pan in Charlevoix, Michigan

famous sign in Frankenmuth, Michigan
famous sign in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Gearhead in Lansing, Michigan
Gearhead in Lansing, Michigan

Giant Carrots in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Giant Carrots in Ann Arbor, Michigan

hot dog restaurant in Mackinaw City, Michigan
hot dog restaurant in Mackinaw City, Michigan

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan
Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan

Lakenenland Sculpture Park in Marquette , Michigan
Lakenenland Sculpture Park in Marquette , Michigan

Miner's Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Miner's Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Ice Age National Scenic Trail sign in Michigan
Ice Age National Scenic Trail sign in Michigan

Big Gus, Day Yoopers Tourist Trap in Ishpeming, Michigan
Big Gus, Day Yoopers Tourist Trap in Ishpeming, Michigan

Uniroyal Giant Tire in Allen Park, Michigan
Uniroyal Giant Tire in Allen Park, Michigan

Awakon Park in Onaway, Michigan
Awakon Park in Onaway, Michigan

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan
Mackinac Bridge, Michigan

downtown area of Mackinac Island, Michigan
downtown area of Mackinac Island, Michigan

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, Michigan
Arch Rock on Mackinac Island, Michigan

Smiley Face Water Tower in West Branch, Michigan
Smiley Face Water Tower in West Branch, Michigan

the Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island, Michigan
the Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island, Michigan

sign in Gaylord, Michigan
45th parallel sign in Gaylord, Michigan

Traverse City sign, Michigan
Traverse City sign, Michigan


ROAD TRIP GUIDEBOOKS



In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any book cover to read reviews and/or purchase these books on Amazon.com.

        


MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Arkansas Michigan Rhode Island
California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

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