Michigan is a unique state as it contains two peninsulas. The upper and lower peninsulas are connected by one of the world’s longest suspension bridges – the Mackinac Bridge.
Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. It has over 50 thousand lakes and ponds within its borders, earning it the nickname of “Great Lakes State”.
Michigan borders four of five great lakes of America’s five great lakes: Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie – giving rise to another name of Michigan, “Great Lakes State”.
Michigan is well known for its lighthouses and for being the birthplace of America’s “Automobile Industry”. Furthermore, Michigan boasts some unique and quirky attractions, like its phallic water tower in Ypsilanti and Mackinac Island, where motorized vehicles are prohibited.
If you are planning a visit to Michigan, this article can assist in your trip planning by covering 15 must-visit beautiful places in Michigan.
Mackinac Island is a city and national treasure in Michigan, United States. Known for its historic Fort Mackinac, world-famous fudge production facilities, and car-free streets lined by horse-drawn carriages, this destination attracts many visitors every year.
Mackinac Island stands out as an island destination due to its longstanding ban on motorized vehicles dating back to 1895. Emergency and service vehicles can be used for transportation purposes as needed. But most transportation is provided on foot, bicycle, horseback or horse-drawn carriage.
Mackinac Island is home to the Grand Hotel, a historic landmark dating back to 1886. It has hosted many illustrious guests, such as five U.S. presidents, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and James Stewart.
While at Mackinac Island, explore its trails, kayak the lake or ride around on your bike; explore museums, forts, churches or lighthouses; sample delicious fudge at one of its shops – there is even something fun just waiting to happen here!
Mackinac Island offers visitors an idyllic escape that provides ample opportunity for rest, recreation and making memories that will stand the test of time. Travel + Leisure even named it their Top Island in North America!
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, USA, is an enchanting natural attraction established in 1970 after an unprecedented private land transfer into public ownership.
The park derives its name from an Ojibwe legend about a mother bear and her two cubs who fled a forest fire by swimming across Lake Superior to safety. Some of the cubs could not make it across and ended up waiting on a high bluff, whereas their mother bear was waiting patiently for them.
Wind and waves filled the cubs’ den with sand, creating two islands known as North and South Manitou. Meanwhile, their mother bear became known as Sleeping Bear Dune, an iconic symbol of love and persistence.
Lake Michigan shoreline park covers 35 miles of waterfront space with towering dunes, lush forests, varied wildlife and historic landmarks that visitors can explore by hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing and scenic drives.
Discover the park’s cultural and historical features, such as its 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse (one of three former Coast Guard stations), maritime museum, and Glen Haven historical village.
In 2014, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park was declared Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness to protect its natural and scenic values.
This city stands out for its museums dedicated to automobile history. Trust me when I say this; Detroit energy is contagious!
Detroit is steeped in the history of the transportation industry. Numerous tourist attractions connected with this past, such as the Henry Ford Museum, Automotive Hall of Fame, Ford Piquette Avenue Plant/Model T Automotive Heritage Complex.
Detroit offers many noteworthy landmarks and experiences, including The Motown Museum and Parade Company, where you can get behind-the-scenes access to observe how costumes and floats were prepared for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade.
Modern Detroit features trendy neighbourhoods for dining out and artistic experiences like Midtown or Rivertown. Eastern Market is a must-do in South Michigan with more than 150 years of history – it stands as America’s largest public marketplace!
The Entertainment District boasts over 50 sports and theatre complexes to offer visitors an unforgettable nightlife experience in the city.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an iconic natural attraction located here. Boasting colourful ancient sandstone formations dating back 500 million years and towering 200-foot cliffs rising out of Lake Superior waters.
Pictured Rocks refer not to paintings or carvings on rock surfaces but to mineral stains that create vibrant hues along cliff sides.
Attractions within the park that are famous landmarks include Miners Castle, Chapel Rock and Grand Portal Point. There are activities suitable for every season at this year-round destination park.
Visitors can enjoy kayaking, boating, fishing, camping, and swimming during summer. In the fall, they can admire vibrant foliage that rivals any other place in the United States. During winter, snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are popular activities.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Established in 1995 and located in Grand Rapids Township, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has quickly become a premier cultural attraction of the Midwest since then.
Meijer Gardens provides visitors with a wonderful opportunity to explore indoor and outdoor gardens, from tropical conservatories (one of the largest conservatories in the U.S., housing over 2,000 plants from across the globe) to an 8-acre Japanese garden, children’s garden, farm garden in Michigan and more.
Visit the Modern and Contemporary Sculpture Gallery to appreciate works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Beverly Pepper, Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Louise Bourgeois and many more.
Meijer Gardens also hosts seasonal exhibitions and events. Visitors can enjoy educational programs, guided tours, and volunteer opportunities here.
Meijer Gardens offers an unforgettable artistic and natural experience that is always evolving, beautiful and fresh. Discover something incredible here!
Henry Ford in Michigan
For an exciting tour through America’s past and future, visit The Henry Ford in Michigan. It features a large indoor/outdoor museum complex which showcases stories of people who made history with their innovations and inventions.
Visit Greenfield Village to experience life from different eras by taking in artefacts such as the Wright brothers’ aeroplane, Thomas Edison’s laboratory, Abraham Lincoln’s chair, and Rosa Parks’ bus, as well as ride in a Model T or watch glassblowing demonstrations or visit historic homes.
And for anyone curious to see how cars are constructed, take a tour of the Ford Rouge Factory, where you’ll witness its assembly line in action and admire its eco-friendly roof.
Henry Ford Museum offers visitors a glimpse into America’s culture, inventions, people, and spirit.
Frankenmuth is known for its Bavarian-style architecture, festive events, and delectable cuisine. Established by German settlers in 1845 in Saginaw County and named for their homeland Franconia.
Frankenmuth has long been recognized as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, offering attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages and interests.
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth is one of the city’s premier attractions, open year-round and offering everything from ornaments and lights to nativity scenes and nutcrackers.
Take in festive displays, visit Santa Claus, and enjoy holiday music while admiring festive displays.
Zehnder’s Snowfest offers visitors an unforgettable winter wonderland with ice and snow sculptures, fireworks displays and entertainment! Don’t miss this festival experience.
Are You Up for Some Dog Bowl? (an Olympic-style event for dogs and their owners). In addition, festivals like Oktoberfest, Balloons Over Bavarian Inn and Summer Music Fest await!
Frankenmuth takes great pride and joy in honouring its heritage and culture. Explore what makes Frankenmuth such an exceptional travel destination!
Holland is a charming Michigan town known for celebrating its Dutch heritage and hosting an annual Tulip Time Festival that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to admire the vibrant flowers.
Holland boasts a rich tradition of craftsmanship and innovation, evident in windmills, wooden shoes, Delft pottery and much more. As an urban centre, it offers museums, parks, beaches, breweries and farmers’ markets for entertainment.
This ski resort, located on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula at Mohawk in Keweenaw Township, has some of the longest runs, with the highest vertical drops and deepest powder in the Midwest.
Michigan boasts the highest snowfall average in the Midwest, with 273 inches of lake effect snow annually.
Mount Bohemia is not suitable for beginners as its runs are not groomed, or snow-making equipment needs to be operating. Only single and double black diamond level runs are offered here – each offering an unforgettable challenge with glades, chutes, cliffs, and backcountry areas to discover!
Mount Bohemia offers one of the only Midwest cat skiing experiences at Voodoo Mountain, giving guests access to powder on their private mountain.
Mount Bohemia is an unparalleled treat for backcountry skiers and riders who wish to discover something truly exciting in the Midwest.
Saugatuck is an exquisite city in Michigan. Situated along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, Saugatuck has plenty of recreational facilities, such as its scenic beaches.
Conde’ Nast Traveler lists Oval Beach among its world-class beaches, where you can relax on its soft sand, swim in its clear water or watch a breathtaking sunset over Lake Ontario.
Explorers can visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park, take a guided tour of the historic Felt Mansion and experience its art scene.
Visit the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, take an art class at Ox-Bow School of Art, discover local history at Saugatuck-Douglas History Museum and ride Saugatuck Chain Ferry; you could also climb Mount Baldhead via stairs!
Grand Rapids is a city in Michigan best known for its furniture manufacturing industry, craft beer scene and cultural attractions.
Grand Rapids is situated along the Grand River, about 25 miles east of Lake Michigan. This city holds great history as the home to former President Gerald Ford, who now rests buried here at his presidential museum.
Grand Rapids boasts an exciting downtown with many shops, museums, art galleries and entertainment venues.
Grand Rapids has many notable landmarks and attractions, such as Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Van Andel Arena. Furthermore, Grand Rapids is also a premier destination for food and drink lovers, offering urban amenities, natural beauty, and cultural diversity.
Petoskey is a small city in Michigan situated along the southern shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. Petoskey is a renowned resort town known for its picturesque beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and cultural attractions.
Petoskey stone – a fossilized coral which serves as Michigan’s state stone – can often be found along the beaches or even floating through Lake Michigan waters.
Petoskey boasts a rich history dating back to its original settlers, the Odawa people, who originally named the area where “light shines through the clouds”. Subsequently, it was named for Chief Ignatius Petosega – another leader amongst them.
Enjoy activities like hiking, biking, fishing, boating, golfing, skiing and snowshoeing in the natural areas nearby. Explore downtown with its historic buildings, charming shops, art galleries, museums and restaurants.
Traverse City is a picturesque waterfront city on Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan known for its natural attractions, cultural events and culinary offerings.
One of the main attractions of Traverse City is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, its towering dunes, crystal-clear lakes, and miles of hiking trails.
Traverse City offers another reason to visit. Prime among them is its wine industry. Vineyards and wineries here specialize in Riesling and Pinot Noir wines.
Traverse City is also a cultural centre and hosts various festivals year-round, the most notable being the National Cherry Festival, which honours Traverse City as the world’s cherry capital.
Traverse City Film Festival is another highly acclaimed event showcasing independent and foreign movies at various venues throughout the city.
Michigan’s northern and more elevated portion, known locally as the Upper Peninsula or U.P., is separated from its more lowly Lower Peninsula by Mackinac Straits.
The U.P. of Michigan is home to three Great Lakes: Superior, Huron and Michigan and boasts more than 150 waterfalls – many of which can be reached via hiking trails – that can be reached on hiking trips. Furthermore, Isle Royale National Park serves as its own National Park on this remote island featuring wildlife diversity and stunning landscape.
The Upper Peninsula boasts a diverse history and culture evident through its inhabitants. It is a wonderful getaway for people who loves outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, camping, skiing, and snowmobiling!
U.P. residents enjoy many festivals and events to commemorate its history and seasons, such as Hiawatha Music Festival, Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, U.P. State Fair and U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race.
In northern Michigan, Charlevoix lies on an isthmus between Lakes Michigan and Charlevoix and serves as the county seat and gateway to Beaver Island – one of Lake Michigan’s largest islands. Charlevoix is famed for its natural beauty, historic architecture, and vibrant culture – making it one of the premier tourist spots.
Earl Young designed Charlevoix’s mushroom houses in the early 20th century; these whimsical stone cottages reminiscent of fairy tale dwellings make a statement that’s hard to miss!
Castle Farms is another attraction in Charlevoix that dates back to 1918 when Albert Loeb, Vice President of Sears Roebuck & Company, built it as a French Renaissance-style castle. Initially intended as a dairy farm model farm, Castle Farms soon evolved into a concert venue, art gallery, and museum exhibit space and is now a popular wedding destination.
You can go boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking and golfing during summer. In winter, you can ski, snowshoe or snowmobile on its snow-covered terrain.
You can visit the Charlevoix Historical Society Museum to gain more insight into its past or attend one of many festivals or events held throughout the year, such as the Venetian Festival, Apple Fest or Winter Fest.
I hope you enjoyed knowing about the 15 must visit places in Michigan in 2023. Each of the places mentioned above have their own charm and they are all bustling with very welcoming people. So what are you waiting for, go pack your bags and get going!
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