Great Places to Visit in Michigan

A few weeks ago I was talking with a co-worker, who just moved to Michigan, about all the things that you can do with your family and it got me to thinking. I figured that I would share with you some of the places I love to visit and hopefully it will inspire you to come check them out too.

With as much negative that you hear about Michigan, it’s economy and crime in the news, there is little that is said about all the great things that there are to do with your family. You can drive almost anywhere in the state and find something fun for the entire family.

Michigan is a great state to come and explore!

I’ve always lived in Michigan… from Taylor, Lapeer, Flint, Traverse City, and my current home in the Owosso area (there are a few towns I left out to make this post short). And everywhere you go there are tons of things to do but I’m going to share with you some of my favorites.

Now these things are the must do’s in Michigan as far as I’m concerned especially if you live here.

Now on to the list in no particular order either.

Mackinac Island

Two of the modes of transport on Mackinac Isla...

Downtown Mackinac Island


I’ve been to the island and Mackinac City more times that I can count. I absolutely love going to the island and spending the day wandering around the small shops, tasting the amazing fudge, and enjoying the beautiful views of the Grand Hotel and the crystal clear lakes that surround the island. There are no motorized vehicles on the island and everyone walks, uses bikes or horses to get around and this helps to maintain the Victorian charm that the residents have worked so hard at. The only thing that I haven’t done yet is stay over night on the island, but it is definitely on my list of things to do.

Michigan’s Adventure

What better way to spend a sunny summer day than riding the great rides and splashing around the water park! That’s what’s so great about Michigan’s Adventure … you get two parks for the price of one! I was there a few years ago with my two older girls and we had a great time but the only thing that I would suggest it staying the night in the area because after a long day riding the rides, swimming, and playing in the sun a long car ride home isn’t fun.

Sunrise on Lake Huron and Sunset on Lake Michigan

Where else can you go and watch the sunrise over beautiful lake and then drive to the other side of the state and watch the sun set over another lake? I’ve done both of these.. not on the same day… and again the views are gorgeous and something that you can’t miss. Several years ago my daughter wanted to see the sunset so we took a trip over to Holland and spent the weekend there. In the evening we packed up and went to the beach and watched the sun change from yellow, orange, red, and shades of pink as it set over Lake Michigan.

Detroit Zoo

I love going to the zoo and wandering around and checking out all the animals. I know that it doesn’t change all that much but it’s still a lot of fun for kids of any age. From the petting zoo, feeding the giraffes, and watching the penguins dive and swim you won’t be disappointed. This year they have a dinosaur exhibit where they have over 30 animatronic dinosaurs that roar and snarl just like the real ones. We were going to go to the zoo on Mother’s Day weekend but wanted to wait till the new dinosaur exhibit opened this summer.

Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park is a bit different from your regular zoo in that it’s more like an African Safari type zoo. You can walk up and feed the giraffes, see various species of birds fly right in front of you, and watch animals in a  environment that is similar to their natural habitat. Last summer we took a trip down to Binder Park and we really enjoyed it especially feeding the giraffes and being so close that you can touch them.

National Cherry Festival

Like I said before I lived in Traverse City for a while and when I was there I went to the Cherry Festival the first couple of years, but after that the tourists started to get on my nerves. Lots of people driving around lost or just not sure where they want to go. Honestly, I could dedicate this entire post or two to the Cherry Festival to explain all the great things there are to do there. A couple of my favorite things though were the fireworks over the bay and the Blue Angels flying over the bay during the air show. If you ever get the chance go check it out… just know what you want to do & see before you get there!

Children’s Museums (Flint, Lansing, and Grand Rapids)

These places are a great rainy day activity with the kids. I will say that my oldest (a teenager) didn’t enjoy them as much as the younger kids did, regardless there is a lot of hands on activities and fun things to do.

Greenfield Village

The Wright Brother's house. It originally stoo...

The Wright Brother's House

Living history and seeing first hand how things were done so many years ago can be interesting and educational at the same time. I’ve been to Greenfield Village a countless number of times and will always revisit it. Some of the highlights are Noah Websters home, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park labs, and the courthouse where Abe Lincoln practiced law. You can also take a ride through the village in a model T or take a ride on the old fashion carousel.

Henry Ford Museum

If you plan on going to Henry Form Museum make sure you plan on spending the day there! From planes suspended from the ceiling, to giant locomotives, and the car the JFK was in when he was assassinated I’m sure that you’ll find something that will peak your interest. We took the girls there a few years ago and all 3 of them really  liked it and there was something for each of the despite their age differences. I think that they all walked away having learnt something new.

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

These dunes run almost the entire length of the west side of the state along the coast of Lake Michigan. In Frankfort you can do the dune climb and then walk (hike) all the way to the lake. I did this one year and the view was very deceiving … I thought that the lake was much closer than it really was… I think that the walk is close to 2 miles. There are areas along the shoreline where you can walk, hike, or take a ride in a dune buggy. I’ve done it all too! There is legend to the name too.

“Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tried and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear”.

Have you been to any of these places? Are you planning on going? Share your experiences with the rest of us!

21 Responses to Great Places to Visit in Michigan
  1. Angela
    June 6, 2011 | 2:44 am

    There’s a pretty cool hands-on museum in Ann Arbor, too.

    Oh, and Frankenmuth is fun (with a shopping trip to Birch Run included).

    I live near the Detroit Zoo and go all. the. time.  We love, love, love it and think it must rank up there with some of the best zoos in the country.

    And Lake Michigan is so gorgeous, so I second the sunset on LM :)

    • Jackie
      June 6, 2011 | 12:31 pm

      You know what… the other day when I started this post there was another place that I wanted to add to the list and couldn’t remember what it was. It was Frankenmuth!

      I’ve never been to the museum in Ann Arbor so we’ll have to check that one out soon!

  2. blueviolet
    June 6, 2011 | 4:30 am

    Mackinac Island is wonderful! I think Binder Park Zoo makes a fine substitute for the Detroit Zoo. They have a pretty spectacular area where you can get up close with the giraffes. I love that!

    Traverse City is also really wonderful! Of course, where I lived down on Lake Michigan was absolutely gorgeous as well.

    • Jackie
      June 6, 2011 | 12:21 pm

      Are you from Michigan???

  3. Mom on a Line
    June 6, 2011 | 12:19 pm

    There is a children’s museum in Ann Arbor also, but your forgot the best place of all in Michigan–the U.P. I’m partial to the Keweenaw Peninsula and Lake Superior, Brockway Mountain, Douglas Houghton Falls, the Breakers, Manganese Falls, all of the trails, beaches, and beauty, all year.

    Also, for younger people looking for fun, there are tons of great restaurants and theaters in the metro-Detroit area, a great local art scene. One of the best places to shop is Eastern Market in Detroit.

    • Jackie
      June 6, 2011 | 6:36 pm

      I don’t get to the Detroit area all that much so I don’t know what kinds of things there are to do. Same with the UP… the only places I’ve been (that I remember.. used to go alot when I was a kid) are the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Tahquamenon Falls, and a brief walk near the pictured rocks.

  4. Elena @NaynaDub
    June 6, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    I love the Sleeping Bear Dunes. One of my favorite places. I’m proud to say I’ve done this whole list, except for Michigan’s Adventure, which I hope to take the kids to this summer.

    • Jackie
      June 6, 2011 | 6:34 pm

      They will love it!!

  5. Kmama
    June 6, 2011 | 12:45 pm

    Great list!!  I would have to say that I much prefer Lake Michigan for anything over Lake Huron.  The beaches are just so much nicer.

    • Jackie
      June 6, 2011 | 6:33 pm

      Lake Huron is nice if you go north to Tawas. In the Saginaw Bay area they aren’t that nice anymore.

  6. Mrs. Weber
    June 6, 2011 | 1:13 pm

    I love this list too. I need to go to Binder Park and Michigan Adventures – those are the only two I haven’t been to. I am hitting up the Detroit Zoo today :) Thanks for being such a great ambassador for our state…it surely does rock, eh?!

    • Jackie
      June 6, 2011 | 6:33 pm

      It really is a pretty decent place! Binder Park is fun … my kids loved it! Have a great day at the zoo!

  7. Cori Benson
    June 6, 2011 | 10:18 pm

    I just learned all about Flint in my documentary film class when we watched and analyzed Roger & Me :D

    I’ve never been to Michigan, but it looks like a fantastic list of places and things to do!

    • Jackie
      June 7, 2011 | 1:36 pm

      Okay… let me say that I would not put Flint at the top of my places to visit in Michigan list. The only place that is really worth visiting in Flint is Crossroads Village and the museums. Other than that Flint has had a huge increase in crime….
      On the bright side.. if you come to Flint you can see me! Because I’m only 30 minutes away.

  8. midwestguest
    June 7, 2011 | 1:04 pm

    I do love both the Sleeping Bear Dunes (where we’ve gone nearly yearly for, well, years!) area and the Keweenaw (some favorites up there include Hunters Point Trail out of Copper Harbor, the numerous waterfalls and Manganese Lake). ArtPrize in Grand Rapids and the galleries/art fairs in Kalamazoo are particularly nice for art lovers. Vintage car lovers will like the ever-expanding Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo, too.

    • Jackie
      June 7, 2011 | 1:34 pm

      There are so many great things to do around this state and if you look many of them are free!

  9. MommieDaze
    June 8, 2011 | 2:31 am

    I love the giraffes at Binder Park Zoo. We live about 30 minutes from there. Mackinac is a favorite too. I always tell people Michigan is a nice place to visit when it’s not snowing.

    • Jackie
      June 8, 2011 | 3:16 pm

      Wow! That is close! Michigan isn’t bad when it snows if you like to ski or snowmobile. Which I don’t but my husband loves it.

  10. Mara @ Super Savings
    June 8, 2011 | 3:13 am

    This is a great list Jackie! And I wholeheartedly agree!  =)   Just tonight we sat on the beach here in Muskegon and watched the sunset – b.e.a.utiful!  We currently live about 15 minutes from Michigan’s Adventure and really need to take the kids!   If anyone lives near or will be traveling to Muskegon, we also have some amazing festivals (Unity Music Fest, Summer Celebration, Bike Time…etc.)!

    • Jackie
      June 8, 2011 | 3:18 pm

      That’s close! Can you get a season pass? That would be the way to go.

  11. [...] like there are a large number of things to do with your family in Michigan there are also just as many things that you can do with your significant other. Whether it’s [...]

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