Thinking about your next vacation or weekend getaway? Consider the great state of Michigan! The same state that’s home to large industrial cities also features some of the country’s most beautiful natural wonders. There really is something for everyone in Michigan, from nature enthusiasts to history buffs.
Water, water, everywhere
With two peninsulas reaching deep into the Great Lakes, Michigan proudly boasts the longest freshwater coastline in the United States. In addition to these large bodies of water, Michigan has 11,000 inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles of streams. With all this water, it’s no surprise that fishing, boating, diving, and beachcombing are popular activities.
The abundance of water inspires tons of additional fun throughout the state. For example, Tahquamenon Falls State Park features one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River among its 52,000 acres of gorgeous natural woodlands. Along the coast, another water feature, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is just as stunning. With 35 miles of waterfront, spectacular views of pristine waters, large sand dunes, and lush forests, it’s no wonder that viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America unanimously voted Sleeping Bear “The Most Beautiful Place in America”.
In addition to inland activities, incredible surprises await you in the lakes themselves. Hundreds of islands populate the waterscape, including Isle Royale National Park, a remote, rugged island retreat that’s home to free-roaming wolves and moose. It’s the perfect destination for hikers, backpackers, kayakers, canoers, and anyone who wants to get away from it all (just be careful around the wolves and moose).
For an island getaway with a few more amenities, consider Mackinac Island. A throwback to a more primitive era, Mackinac doesn’t allow cars — bikes and horse-drawn carriages are the preferred modes of transportation. Fudge shops using 19th century recipes and Mackinac Island vacation rentals owned by families, not corporations, signify the old-fashioned feel, but an active bar scene at night keeps the island connected to the 21st century.
History beyond Henry Ford
Speaking of historical eras, Mackinac Island is home to one of many key forts from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Fort Mackinac, Fort Wayne in Detroit, and Fort Michilimackinac are just a few of the sites that allow visitors to explore authentic structures, artillery, and artifacts directly related to major battles on Michigan soil.
Thunder Bay National Maritime Sanctuary blends the protection of marine life and the environment by ensuring that the hundreds of shipwrecks in its Lake Huron vicinity are respected by divers and visitors as historic treasures. Other lake-related features, like lighthouses, lifesaving stations, ports, docks, and fishing camps, are also preserved for a unique snapshot of maritime life throughout the years.
Further inland, the cities of Detroit and Lansing boast their own historical claims to fame. “Motor City” Detroit is home to the Henry Ford Museum and the MotorCities National Heritage Area, a national park which tells the story of Michigan’s role in motorizing the world. Detroit is also known as the home of “Hitsville, USA,” where the Motown Museum pays tribute to the incredibly talented members of The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Jackson 5.
To explore even more historical buildings and monuments, you should visit Lansing, MI, where the Turner-Dodge House and Historical Museum offer a fine example of Classical Revival architecture. The state capital is also home to the charming Meridian Historical Village, the Malcolm X homesite, and the humbling and heroic Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Another unique aspect of Michigan is its rich Native American heritage, which the state honors with a variety of historical and contemporary sites, including the 55 mile Old Indian Trail from Cadillac to Traverse City, which commemorates the journeys of Michigan’s Native Americans with 33 historical markers.