Michigan is known as the ‘Lady of the Lake’ because of the 5 Great Lakes of the state and more than 11000 inland lakes flowing through the state. Michigan gets its name from the word ‘Mishigami’, which means ‘large water’ or ‘large lake’. In fact, it is said that you can reach an inland lake every 6 miles in any direction. Further, another interesting fact about Michigan is that it is the only state which has 2 peninsulas, the upper and the lower peninsula. But the state has a lot more to offer, such as dunes, forrests, farmlands, apple trees, and it is a mix of natural beauty and booming city life. So let us explore the Michigan road trip destinations! Simultaneously the nearest state Illinois also offers exciting road trip destinations within budget.
- 1 Michigan Road Trip Destinations: Mackinac & More!
- 2 City Life: Detroit, Frankenmuth, Ann Arbor & More!
Michigan Road Trip Destinations: Mackinac & More!
Michigan is a paradise for nature lovers and those who enjoy the sunshine, but also snowfall…
1. Mackinac Island: Victorian town & Arch Rock
The first of many Michigan Road trip destinations is the Mackinac Island. It is a unique experience of its kind. This place has only 500 permanent residents but scores and scores of temporary ones moving in and out of the place. Since 1898, motor vehicles are not permitted here and so, they have horse-driven carriages & buggies to take you around, even the police and fire trucks are horse-driven. Along with these, there are Victorian cottages to take you back in time. These present great photo opportunities to make your road trip memorable.
You can visit the 150 ft high Arch rock made of limestone, where, if legends are to be believed, God blew breath into humanity. Biking, kayaking, golfing, and going for picnics are common activities here, or you may even visit the butterfly conservatory and be awestruck by more than 2000 butterflies belonging to nearly 300 different species. The Island is situated between the upper and lower peninsula and can be reached by ferries or other water transport. To catch the ferry, you will have to take a 2-hour road trip from Munising or Frankenmuth.
2. Munising: Bridalveil Falls & Pictured Rocks
For a more close to nature experience, Munising is worth the visit. Situated on the shore of Lake Superior, Munising offers something throughout the year. In summers you can take tranquil strolls or visit as many as 15 waterfalls, highest being the Bridalveil Falls with a height of 140ft. Another attraction of the place is the lighthouses, which have helped the sailors in navigation for decades. There are as many as 5 lighthouses here. Mountain biking, fishing, kayaking are activities for summers but when it is winters, skiing and snowmobiling attract a lot of crowd to this place.
The area receives heavy snowfall which averages around 200 inches. One of the most attractive places of Munising is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This area is tremendously hued by mineral stains on the weathered sculpted cliffs including a rainbow of red, orange, blue, green, brown, black, and white occurring from minerals such as iron, copper, limonite, and manganese.
3. Marquette: 5 Biking Trails
A 40-mile road journey from Munising will take you to Marquette, which is one of the top mountain biking destinations in the state. Situated at an elevation of 12,000 ft. There are 5 bike trails, North Trails Loop, Morgan Creek Loop, RAMBA, Iron Ore Heritage Trail & Multi-use path. Along these trails, the bikers can enjoy the miles of scenery full of dams, falls, berms, and bridges, and the Iron Ore Heritage also offers a mix of history and culture. Apart from biking, Marquette’s recreational crown jewel is the Presque Isle Park 323 acre forested lakeside cliff peninsula is known for its natural beauty. It’s a lovely place for a picnic, fishing, among many other attractions.
4. Isle Royale National Park: Flora & Fauna
Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior is the largest island in the state and it comprises 450 smaller islands. It is an escape from civilization and leads you to awe-inspiring natural beauty. It is a remote island, so to reach here, you need to take a four-hour road journey from Marquette to Copper Harbor and then take a sea-plane or a boat, but the trouble is worth it. It is away from the local din and buzz without the internet or phones. But even so, it has 17,000 annual visitors and the highest repeat visitor rate. This is where you can enjoy the solitude and the quiet. But the biggest attraction here is the wildlife with moose, fish, reptile amphibians, and wolves in their most natural and undisturbed habitat. In the past, fishing used to be popular here and so visitors now can see dozens of shipwrecks under the water. This is a park ranger’s heaven with wooden houses and a lot of greenery and thick forests. A well-rounded trip could last for 3-4 days here.
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore & Glen Arbor
In the lower peninsula along Lake Michigan, there is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. As the legend has it, the two islands here were created by the Great Spirit in the memory of the two baby bears who drowned while swimming across the shore as their mother waited for them with great hope and faith. That is how the place gets its name. It can take a 3 hours road journey from Muskegon or Frankenmuth. The sand dunes here are one of the tallest ones towering up to 140 ft high and spreading in an area of approximately square kilometers. Dune climbing is an attractive activity here. Further, there are sandy beaches, where visitors can swim or just relax. The place also offers hiking in Maple and Beech Forests surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Glen Arbor is one of the most popular places here, with its picturesque beaches, jaw-dropping views, and art displays.
City Life: Detroit, Frankenmuth, Ann Arbor & More!
Nature is one aspect of the state, but Michigan is also the Auto capital of the world! So let’s look at this set of Michigan Road Trip Destinations.
1. Detroit: Automotive History & Museums
Detroit is the largest city of the state, known for its booming automotive industry. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is one of the national historic landmarks in the city because this is where the revolution of the auto industry began! It is a museum with models from the past.
Henry Ford Museum is a great attraction of the city for visitors, and finally, the Head-quarters of General Motors and the GM Renaissance Center are also here. The Renaissance center is known for its high skyscrapers, shopping centers, and restaurants. Fox Theatre, Detroit Historical Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum are the tourist spots of the city.
2. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan & Kerrytown
A 40-mile road journey to the west of Detroit will take you to Ann Arbour. This is where the University of Michigan is. In the 1800s during the Toledo Strip war between Ohio and Michigan, the people of Michigan were nicknamed as wolverines because they were difficult to deal with. Later, Michigan University adopted Wolverines as its mascot and this is how the state got its name as the Wolverine State. Ann Arbor is perfect for a weekend trip and is abundant with museums for the history buffs with displays based on natural history, technology, engineering, and arts and works of the greats such as Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet.
Kerrytown is the shopper’s dreamland with vibrant markets and stores for fashionable clothes, jewelry, vintage arts, and treasures. There are also farmer’s markets that sell locally produced fruits, vegetables, and many other delicacies.
3. Frankenmuth: The Christmas wonderland
Or you may take the road towards the north and in one hour you will be in Frankenmuth, the Christmas wonderland of Michigan. It has the largest Christmas store, and you can feel the Christmas spirit 365 days a year! You can take a tour around the town in a horse-driven carriage and visit the Old Christmas Station, where you can find handmade figures and Christmas ornaments of German Origin. At the Bronner’s, you can find 300 trees decorated throughout the year with 6,000 styles of ornaments, all round the year! Frankenmuth is also known as ‘Little Bavaria’ because of its German history and Franconian and Bavarian Architecture. Kayaking, golfing, go-karting, and ziplining are the fun activities to engage in at the Aerial Park and the Alpine Mountain Golf course. If you are bored of
Christmas, you can get the feel of Halloween at Johnson’s Giant Pumpkins, spread across 40 acres, or you may witness the Bavarian fest, Oktoberfest, or the Snowfest.
4. Muskegeon: All Michigan in one place
Close to 3 hours road trip from Ann Arbor or Frankenmuth will take you to Muskegon, a culmination of nature and city life and it is where you can experience all of Michigan in a single place. It is situated along the Lake Michigan. It has 26 miles of sandy beach known as the Pere Marquette Beach, with volleyball courts, restaurants, bars, and much more. This is where you enjoy the much-talked-about Michigan Sunsets. Hoffmaster State Park and the Muskegon State Park give the opportunities for hiking, swimming, skiing, snowboarding depending upon which season you visit. These parks are surrounded by jaw-dropping beauty of woods and hills. There are Maple groves, Cherry parks, Monet gardens, and whatnot!
Museums and art are an important part of the city. Including the USS Silverside Submarine Museum, hosting the submarines from the WWII era being one of the many museums you will find here. And last but not the least, the 250-acre amusement park by the name of Michigan’s Adventure is located here and is the largest amusement park in the entire state. As their tag line says, “It’s Amazing in here” because it has 52 different rides, including 7 roller coasters and 4 water rides, golf courses, and go-karting.
5. Microbreweries: Michigan’s Specialty
Microbreweries are also one of the common attractions of the state of Michigan. There are close to 120 breweries producing a variety of beer. Breweries and its supply chain form a $900 million industry in the state. Whichever city you go, you will find at least one brewery there. The oldest one is in Frankenmuth, well you know, what’s Christmas without beer, huh! Also to top it all, Grand Rapids, the Beer City USA, is also situated in Michigan!
So whether it is a spring break or a family trip, Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, All you have to do is drive to The Wolverine State, The Water Wonderland, The Auto State, Michigan, to have a wonderful time! Simply enjoy the grand sunsets, placid lake Michigan, go skiing, have a Bavarian Christmas and much more, all in one state. These are only ten places you just can’t miss but the state has a lot of tours, museums and fun waiting for you. You may even enjoy going to the Traverse City and check out an Opera or visit the downtown. So take your first of many trip to Michigan.
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