Top 10 Places to Visit in Michigan
Prepare to be amazed by big cities, historic fishing villages, mechanical marvels, natural wonders and more when you're in the Great Lake State.
Photo By: Destination Ann Arbor
Photo By: Vito Palmisano
Photo By: Experience Grand Rapids
Photo By: Pure Michigan courtesy of Brian Hammon
Photo By: Traverse City Tourism
Photo By: Traverse City Tourism
Photo By: US Army Corps of Engineers
Photo By: Pure Michigan
Photo By: Pure Michigan
Photo By: Mackinac Island Tourism
Michigan is one of the most geographically diverse states in the country, with lakes, beaches, sand dunes, mountains, vineyards and farmland all just a car drive away. Though there are many incredible spots to see, these are the places that you'll want to make a priority — starting with Ann Arbor.
You don't have to bleed maize and blue to feel right at home in Ann Arbor, the vibrant college town that surrounds the University of Michigan. Located just 45 minutes west of Detroit, the city prides itself on inclusivity, and attracts millions of visitors each year with its indie bookstores, eclectic coffee shops, theaters and unbeatable Indian, Japanese and Korean restaurants. To get a feel for the area, we suggest wandering by Michigan Theater and along the edge of U of M's campus, then stopping in at Literati Bookstore (named The 2019 Bookstore of the Year by Publishers Weekly) before grabbing a drink nearby at Bill's Beer Garden.
Forget what you've heard about urban decay; these days, Detroit is all hip coffee shops, food halls, specialty hotels and new development projects. In the last six months alone, the city has seen the opening of the Shinola Hotel, the rooftop bar The Monarch Club and plans for the redevelopment of the ever-popular East Riverfront. Come for a ball game at Comerica Park, Ford Field or Little Caesars Arena, then take your pick of museums like The Henry Ford, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Art Institute.
With over 80 craft breweries and hundreds of farm-to-fork restaurants to explore, you're pretty much guaranteed to have a good time in Grand Rapids. Though the city is the second largest in the state, a walkable downtown, clean streets and colorful public art all give Grand Rapids a pleasant, small-town feel. And if you're a history buff? You'll be happy to hear that Grand Rapids is also home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Lighthouses, windmills, tulips and more make Holland one of the most charming towns in Michigan. The city was founded by Dutch settlers in 1847, and continues to celebrate that heritage with the annual Tulip Time Festival in May and various other Dutch-themed attractions, including Nelis' Dutch Village and Windmill Island Gardens. And if you drive just 15 minutes away from the boutique shops to the beach at Holland State Park? You'll find Big Red, one of 130 lighthouses in Michigan.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is; Traverse City is always a good idea. Located on the edge of Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Michigan, this coastal community is best known for its wineries, distilleries, cider houses and microbreweries, as well as its close proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes. We suggest taking a scenic drive from downtown, past farmland and up to Mari Vineyards (pictured) before you stop at Mission Point Lighthouse.
There's something so magical about Leland's Fishtown, a historic fishing village just 45 minutes north of Traverse City. Though its weathered shanties have been converted into clothing boutiques and cafes, Fishtown's smokehouses and long wooden docks give visitors a glimpse of what life would have been like in the 1900s.
Sault Ste. Marie
The Soo Locks alone are worth the trip to Sault Ste. Marie, a city on the northeastern end of Michigan's Upper Penninsula just a stone's throw away from Ontario, Canada. Operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Locks are largely considered a mechanical marvel because they allow thousands of cargo ships to pass between Lake Superior and Lake Huron each year. In Sault Ste. Marie, you can see the freighters up-close from an observation deck, as well as visit the iconic Point Iroquois Lighthouse and historic main strip.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Dramatic, multicolored cliffs and waterfalls make Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore a must-see in Michigan. The park consists of over 40 miles of lakeshore and 100 miles of trails that wind through forests. To visit, head to the Upper Peninsula and pop into the Visitor Center in Munising to pick up a map of the park, then drive about 6.5 miles east and 5 miles north to Miners Castle Road. Here, you'll be able to see some of the rocks that tower over Lake Superior and stretch on for about 15 miles. For an extra special experience, we suggest taking a kayaking tour with Paddling Michigan.
The largest city in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Marquette is home to hip breweries and cafes, as well as hiking trails, ski slopes and mountains like Sugarloaf (pictured above). From up here, you'll be able to take in Michigan's glacier-hewn bluffs, dense hardwood forests and long, secluded beaches—and maybe even spot a bald eagle or the elusive Northern Lights.
Tourists and locals alike just can't get enough of Mackinac Island, the summer colony that sits between Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsulas. In addition to charming, carefully preserved Federalist, Colonial and Victorian-style buildings, Mackinac Island boasts a fort that was used during the Revolutionary War and breathtaking geologic formations like Arch Rock. Because motor vehicles are prohibited, you'll arrive to the Island by either ferry or private boat and then get around on foot, bicycle or via horse-drawn carriage.