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Michigan Travel Guide: Travel Tips for Visiting

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Are you ready to plan your next vacation? Michigan is one of the best places to visit in the U.S. With 3,200 miles of shoreline, lighthouses guide the way for sailors along the Great Lakes.

Uniquely, Michigan has a total of 129 lighthouses, which is more than any other state in the U.S. In addition to many maritime museums and lighthouses, attractions like the Henry Ford Museum and the Motown Museum are some of the best places to visit in Michigan.

Be sure to make time to explore the Grand Rapids Public Museum, discover the art culture in Detroit, and learn about the Dutch Heritage of the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.

Visit the downtown area of Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Bay City to experience public art scenes. This Michigan travel guide will surely help you plan your next trip.

Places to Visit in Michigan

1. Learn About Michigan’s Lighthouses

Big Sable Lighthouse

Big Sable Lighthouse in Michigan

Located along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Au Sable Light Station offers visitors a first-hand experience of an authentic 87-foot lighthouse. Built-in 1874, the original lightkeeper’s home and museum are popular attractions in Pictured Rocks.B

esides, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan is a beautiful tourist destination in winter, spring, summer, or fall.

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

Big Bay Point Lighthouse On Lake Superior
Paul Lemke / Adobe Stock

This 1896 lighthouse is now a bed and breakfast overlooking Lake Superior. With 7 guestrooms, this bed and breakfast has authentic furnishings and a beautiful view of the hardwood pine forest and Huron Mountains in the distance. The Big Bay Point Lighthouse has a 60-foot tower and a white lantern to climb and discover the history behind the bay.

Granite Island Lighthouse

Granite Island Lighthouse in Michigan
Ben Harris / Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0

The Granite Island Lighthouse was built in 1869 but deteriorated after decommissioning. After an essential renovation completed in 2011, the Granite Island Lighthouse is now an event space available for rent in Marquette, Michigan.

Crisp Point Lighthouse

Lake Superior Beach and Crisp Point Light in the Upper Peninsula
csterken / Adobe Stock

Built in 1904, the Crisp Point Lighthouse is in Paradise, Michigan, on Lake Superior. The breathtaking scenery in Michigan surrounds this destination near Shipwreck Alley on the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Mackinac Island Lighthouse

Historic Round Island Lighthouse near Mackinac Island, Michigan
ricardoreitmeyer / Adobe Stock

Between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsula, Mackinac Island is one of the best places to visit in the summer and is famous for its fudge. The Mackinac Island Lighthouse was built in 1899 and was an essential safety element until 1957.

The construction of the Mackinac Bridge became the better navigator, and the lighthouse was no longer needed. A maritime museum of nautical history, Mackinac Island is another one of the best places to visit in Michigan. Visitors can walk to the top of the lighthouse tower, the keeper’s home, and the Straights Shipwreck Museum.

Tawas Point Lighthouse

Tawas point lighthouse and skyline
shrirampatki / Adobe Stock

In East Tawas, the Tawas Point Lighthouse lit the Tawas Port on Lake Huron in 1876. However, the shoreline’s constant changes due to erosion eventually rendered the lighthouse useless.

The 67-foot white tower is open to the public. Visitors can climb the tower and view the lighthouse keeper’s house, now a museum.

Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse

Thunder Bay Island in Michigan

In Alpena, Michigan, Thunder Bay Island is a limestone island. The nearby waters were infamous for sinking ships. In 1832, the Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse was constructed to protect ships and sailors.

Similar to other lighthouses, this lighthouse showcases the original keeper’s house. However, you can only access Thunder Bay Island by boat.

The McGulpin Lighthouse

McGulpin Lighthouse in Michigan

Like a dozen other lighthouses, the McGulpin Lighthouse was built in 1869 to protect ships from sinking in the Straits of Mackinac. This lighthouse has been restored to its original glory and is open for tourists.

Mission Point Lighthouse

Mission Point Lighthouse exterior in Michigan
Richard / Adobe Stock

Built in 1870, this 45-foot-tall historic lighthouse in Traverse City is located on the Old Mission Peninsula. The Mission Point Lighthouse stands on top of a dune and has a museum to share the lighthouse’s rare history of Sarah Lane, a female lighthouse keeper.

2. Experience Life on the Great Lakes

Exceptional nature trails surround the Great Lakes and offer countless fun outdoor attractions for families and travelers of all ages. The Great Lakes let travelers experience lake life with breathtaking views, camping, hiking, fishing, and fun outdoor recreation.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is one of the best places to visit and discover Michigan’s upper peninsula sand dunes and unique ecosystems.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan and Michigan skyline

On Lake Michigan, Indian Dunes State Park is best known for its scenic sand dunes and water recreation like sailing, scuba diving, skiing and fishing.

The second-largest of the five Great Lakes, this Michigan lake covers an area of 22,406 square miles. Michigan has diverse fish species like trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bowfin, and yellow perch.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron at Cape Croker Autumn Fall Forest Trees landscape
Viktorus / Adobe Stock

The only Great Lake located solely across four states in the U.S., Lake Michigan joins this lake and empties into the Straits of Mackinac. A paradise for freshwater anglers, Huron is home to walleye, trout, pumpkinseed, alewife, and whitefish.

Lake Superior

As clouds build over Lake Superior, the fall colors of the Minnesota northwoods shine bright against the rugged coast.
Riverwalker / Adobe Stock

The largest freshwater lake in the world, this Great Lake covers 31,700 square miles. Another freshwater angler’s dream, this lake holds 10% of the world’s freshwater.

Lake Erie

Cleveland, Ohio and  Lake Erie
Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes and shares similar fish species for anglers to catch. Exceptional nature trails surround the Great Lakes and offer countless fun outdoor attractions for families and travelers of all ages.

The Great Lakes let travelers experience lake life with breathtaking views, camping, hiking, fishing and fun outdoor recreation. Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is one of the best places to visit and discover Michigan’s upper peninsula sand dunes and unique ecosystems.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park

On Lake Michigan, Indian Dunes State Park is best known for its scenic sand dunes and water recreation like sailing, scuba diving, skiing and fishing.

The second-largest of the five Great Lakes, this Michigan lake covers an area 22,406 square miles. Michigan is full of diverse fish species like trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bowfin and yellow perch.

Lake Huron

Sunset view at Lake Huron

The only Great Lake located solely across four states in the U.S., Lake Michigan joins this lake and empties into the Straits of Mackinac. A paradise for freshwater anglers, Huron is home to walleye, trout, pumpkinseed, alewife, and whitefish.

Lake Superior

View of Lake Superior during the day

The largest freshwater lake in the world, this Great Lake covers 31,700 square miles. Another freshwater angler’s dream, this lake holds 10% of the world’s freshwater.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie sunset view

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes and shares similar fish species for anglers to catch.

Where to Stay in Michigan

When you visit Michigan, state parks give visitors a break from the city and a fun experience with nature centers, hiking trails, and lake fishing activities.

For the outdoor enthusiast, visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park, one of Michigan’s most popular places for camping and hiking trails. This state park is one of the best places to visit for outdoor recreation.

Another popular place near Paradise, Michigan, is Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Found in the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls is the second-largest park in the state of Michigan. Check out these destinations for accommodations when you vacation in Michigan.

How to Get Around in Michigan

A great way to sightsee is via car. Take a captivating scenic drive for a memorable experience in Michigan.

In northern Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City is where you will discover the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This almost 8-mile loop is a fun experience open to the public to allow you to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your car!

See Michigan’s panoramic views near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Sleeping Bear Dunes has miles of sandy beaches encompassed by maritime forests, pristine lakes, and fascinating flora and fauna.

Drive through a Beech-Maple forest and see dunes as you learn about the area’s history. Travelers can view sensational scenery with a dune hike on the Cottonwood Trail and relish snacks from local farmers’ markets for a perfect picnic.

Where to Eat in Michigan

Popular cuisines in Michigan include Seafood, Mexican, Italian, and BBQ. When you visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, shop in the “World’s Largest Christmas Store.” Before you leave Frankenmuth, this Michigan travel guide suggests you dine at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

Whether you are in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, or Traverse City, there are delicious restaurants for all you foodies. Check out these spots when visiting Michigan.

  • MeXo Tequila & Mezcal Bar and Restaurant in Grand Rapids. This prehispanic cuisine showcases dishes from before the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 1500s.
  • Daddy Pete’s BBQ is another place you must try when visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Sinbad’s Restaurant & Marina is famous for the Campeche Bay fried shrimp in Detroit.
  • El Barzon’s Mexican/Italian cuisine is another Detroit favorite.
  • Weston’s mouthwatering Kewpee Burger in Lansing is sure to satisfy your tastebuds.
  • Comensoli’s Italian Bistro & Bar in Kalamazoo is another must-have.

Travel Tips for Visiting Michigan

Choose the Right Travel Insurance

No matter where you plan a trip, travelers of all ages should consider investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance is a responsible decision in case of an emergency. Stay safe when traveling with travel insurance options like VisitorsCoverage and SafetyWing.

See Related: Pros and Cons of Travel Insurance

Pack the Perfect Wardrobe

Packing a suitcase for vacation

In Michigan, the winter weather is extreme but bearable with the appropriate gear and outerwear. For those who love winter sports, Michigan is an excellent choice for a trip. During any season, outdoorsmen choose brands for outdoor activities like Columbia and Patagonia.

Whether you are hiking on trails or cross-country skiing, be sure to pack accordingly for the weather you will encounter on your Michigan trip.

Lighthouse in Michigan during winter

Reserve Accommodations in Advance

Hotel Room with Wine Glasses

As with most popular travel destinations, it is important to plan your trip. However, Michigan does provide its visitors with a variety of places to stay throughout the state. When you plan your next adventure, be sure to book the best vacation spots in advance.

Lookout for Local Wildlife

Face of an eagle

While you are planning your Michigan trip, you should take note of the local flora and fauna. For any outdoor vacation, you must be aware of your surroundings. Most importantly, any outdoor enthusiast must know what kind of wildlife lives in the area.

In Michigan, local wildlife includes bald eagles, coyotes, cougars, foxes, beavers, porcupines, moose, gray wolves and black bears.

Face of a wolf

Vacation in Michigan

Detroit Skyline from Detroit River
icholakov / Adobe Stock

With more than 3,000 miles of lakeshores and 129 lighthouses, destinations like this are priceless. From the beautiful scenery of the Great Lakes and national wildlife refuges to the surrounding forests full of wildlife, Michigan offers visitors various activities.

Shorebird sanctuaries and state parks give visitors bird-watching meccas. For history buffs, art connoisseurs, winter sports enthusiasts, foodies, and sailors, there is something to do for travelers of all ages in Michigan.

You can camp on the lakefront, fish on the Great Lakes, and hike along scenic trails for an unforgettable outdoor adventure. But do not discount the culture and arts found in the cities. Destinations like Detroit are famous for the arts. One thing is for sure: Michigan is a beautiful place to visit.

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