When it comes to family-friendly fun, our neighbor to the north has a little something for everyone. Whether you prefer action-packed adventure in the big city, a laid-back weekend spent soaking up the sun or something in between, Michigan has you covered. Here are just of our favorite ways to spend time in the Great Lakes State.
Take a step back in time at Mackinac Island
Located off the northern coast of Michigan, Mackinac Island pays homage to the seaside towns of a bygone era. This peaceful island community with a strong Victorian vibe is the ultimate place to get away from it all, thanks largely to its ban on personal vehicles. Get the lay of the land on a self-guided bike tour around the 8.3-mile perimeter of the island. Enjoy stunning views along your path and be sure to bring your camera – jaw-dropping backdrops like Arch Rock and British Landing are ideal for snapping some shareable family photos. Or opt for a scenic ride in a horse-drawn buggy and enjoy a narrated tour of the island’s highlights along the way. Mackinac Island is also a history lesson in the making with forts, museums and historical sites scattered throughout the island. And no trip to Mackinac would be complete without fudge – be sure to stop by one of the many fudge shops to grab your free sample.
RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Reasons to Visit Mackinac Island
Explore the Motor City
Detroit is back, baby, and the town founded on American ingenuity has something for everyone. Comerica Park in the heart of downtown is not only home to the Detroit Tigers, it also offers so many activities – from a Ferris wheel with giant baseball-shape cars to batting cages – you might forget you came there for baseball. At the Motown Museum, stand in Studio A – the very place where the “The Motown Sound” was born. Stroll 125 acres of park-like grounds at the Detroit Zoo and view more than 2,800 animals, including the standard lions, tigers and bears, as well as gorillas, kangaroos, giraffes, pythons, bison and more. The newly opened penguin conservation center is the largest facility of its kind in the country.
Just 20 minutes east in Dearborn, visit Greenfield Village, an 80-acre replica of an early 20th century town complete with brick roads, horses, Model-T cars and a detailed replica of Thomas Edison’s laboratory. Just steps away, the Henry Ford Museum houses an astonishing collection of Americana, including the bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and the limo JFK was sitting in when he was assassinated.
Go Dutch in Holland, Michigan
Get a taste of the Netherlands in Holland, Michigan, a small coastal town settled by a group of Hollanders in 1847 that retains its Dutch influence today. Take a stroll around Windmill Island Garden or shop for klompen (wooden shoes) at Nelis’ Dutch Village. The annual Tulip Time Festival scheduled from May 5-13 in 2018, is not only a treat for the senses, it also brings with it a variety of entertainment options ranging from Dutch dance performances to carnival rides.
You will also find all of the standard beach town essentials. Holland Beach State Park features a white sand beach, bright blue water and a Big Red Lighthouse. Visitors can swim, fish and spend an afternoon soaking up the sun.
Climb the sand dunes
Michigan is home to the largest assemblage of fresh water dunes in the world – some 250,000 acres. From the picturesque town of Saugatuck located just south of Holland, take a scenic drive past coastal cottages and on through a lush forest before emerging at the gorgeous vistas of Saugatuck Dunes State Park. At nearby Mount Baldhead Park, climb the 282 steps to the top of this huge, tree-covered sand dune and then cross the dunes to Oval Beach for a refreshing swim.
Further north, Silver Lake Sand Dunes features a 2,000-acre sand mountain that separates miles of Lake Michigan shoreline from the 690-acre inland Silver Lake. Explore the dunes by hiking, walking and sandboarding, or opt for a ride in a dune buggy. The 130-stair climb to the top of the Little Sable Point Lighthouse is well worth the effort for the views.
On the state’s far northwestern shore, enjoy breathtaking views from the seven-mile-long Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Snake your way through the steeply rolling hills before stopping at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National. There you can explore 35 miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline and 50,000 acres of sand dunes, beaches, forests and rivers.
When it comes to fun in the Great Lakes State, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Take a closer look at all that Michigan has to offer and discover your next great family adventure.