As a lifelong Michigander, I may be a little bias, but summers in my humble state are unlike anywhere else in the world. However, Michigan doesn’t usually top most people’s summer vacation list. Many associate it with Detroit and as a destination that is less than desirable. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Michigan is the gem of the Midwest; boasting the nickname “The Great Lakes State” for very good reason. Hosting 4 of 5 Great Lakes, the waters surrounding Michigan are pristinely clear, with soft sands, 150 lighthouses (the most in the nation), and the longest freshwater coastline in the United States.
The charming towns that dot the coastline are perfect for a leisurely day of relaxing with a stop off at one of the beaches for a swim. One of my favorites being Traverse City. Located in the Northwest quadrant of the Lower Peninsula, this region is home to Sleepy Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on Good Morning America. The park covers a 35-mile-long stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline and includes forests, beaches, and massive dune formations. Its beauty is unforgettable and is worth the trip alone. In addition, stop by one of the 40+ wineries in the area to sample award-winning wine, check out the area’s burgeoning food scene (it’s not uncommon to see chef Mario Batali strolling around town when he’s there for the summer), or stop for a sweet snack at of the roadside cherry stands.
As you head north and cross into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it feels as if you’ve entered into another land. The peaceful wilderness gives it’s visitors a true escape from everyday life. Sandy shores give way to the dramatic multicolored cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior. The rocks are best seen from the water either by cruise boat or if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a kayak and explore the many caves accessible only by water. This area is also known for it’s numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, and rustic camping. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise.
If nature isn’t your thing, head to Grand Rapids, located in West Michigan. Dubbed one of The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2016,” Lonely Planet’s #1 U.S. travel destination in 2014, and “Beer City USA,” Grand Rapids, oozes with Midwest hospitality and packs all the punch of a big city with a small town feel— all without breaking the bank. It’s one of the only places where you can grab a pint paired with delicious farm to table eats at one of the 30+ breweries, then head over to Lake Michigan for a sunset, only 30 minutes from the city.
Michigan will surprise and delight you with authentic and unforgettable experiences around every corner, where it is worthwhile to take some time explore all it has to offer.
What’s on your summer destination radar?
For more information on where to go and what to do in Michigan, visit Pure Michigan.