We are so fortunate in Michigan to have so many great destinations, attractions and natural resources to be discovered and explored! From the Great Lakes to the rivers and streams, from the islands to the forests, from the rural countryside to the urban centers. We’ve got it all, right in the palm of our hands! As the summer travel season approaches, I begin to think about all the Michigan places I want to visit (or revisit) – and I invite you to do the same. Here, I’ve picked 12 of my favorite “Uniquely Michigan” places and things. What are your favorites? Share them at facebook.com/PromoteMichigan2!
1. Mackinac Bridge. Built in 1957 to connect Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, it was at the time the longest suspension bridge in the world. On Labor Day, thousands walk the bridge (north to south)…and this year will be a first for me to do so. Have you ever taken part in the Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk?
2. Petoskey Stones. Fossilized coral, these treasures can be found in Northern Michigan as you beachcomb Grand Traverse or Little Traverse Bay. It’s the ideal Michigan souvenir!
3. Tahquamenon Falls. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve paid the falls a visit…and hopefully this year I can return during the glorious fall season. The Upper Peninsula is home to dozens of waterfalls of all sizes, one of our greatest natural wonders!
4. Greenfield Village. Ever since I was a kid, this has been among my favorite places, yet sadly I don’t get there often. It’s such a great trip back in time to explore Michigan and American history, through the eyes of Henry Ford.
5. Alden B. Dow Home & Studio. In my adult years, I’ve discovered a fascination for architecture and Alden B. Dow is among my favorites. I never tire of visiting his home and studio in Midland, yet I’ve never had the chance to check out the nearby Dow Gardens. This year, that is on my to-do-list for sure!
6. Windmill Island. May is Tulip Time in Holland, home to the historic DeZwaan windmill and Windmill Island. I think it’s safe to say that no Michigan city embraces its ethnic heritage quite like Holland.
7. Amish Country. There are two notable regions of Michigan where the slow-paced Amish lifestyle is celebrated – where unparalleled hand-crafted wares can be found. One is in the Clare area, in the center of the state, and the other is in an area known as River Country – near Mendon. Please, be mindful of the privacy that the Amish require (no photos of them, especially their faces) and always be watchful for their trademark horse-drawn buggies.
8. Thunder Bay Shipwreck Alley. I’ve always been fascinated with Michigan’s maritime history, its lighthouses and shipwrecks. Near Alpena is the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a 448-square-mile area protecting one of the country’s best preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks (200+) along one of the most treacherous stretches of Lake Huron shoreline.
9. Isle Royale. Ever since reading Vic Foerester’s book, Naked In The Stream: Isle Royale Stories, I’ve wanted to explore this remote national park in the Upper Peninsula. Surrounded by Lake Superior, this isolated island offers unparalleled experiences for viewing nature – wolves, moose, flora, fauna. It’s a haven for recreational opportunities, such as backpacking, hiking, boating, kayaking, camping and even scuba diving.
10. Soo Locks. A “Modern Marvel” dating back 155 years! These parallel locks on the St. Marys River, allows ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. An astounding 10,000 ships per year travel through the locks, April through December. Standing on the observation deck and watching the ships pass through is quite an experience. The Soo Locks Visitors Center is open from Mid-May through Mid-October, 9 am to 9 pm.
11. Beaver Island. I think I’ve been to the Emerald Isle at least a dozen times in my adult life – it’s a place like no other in Michigan (reminds me of the TV show Northern Exposure). Steeped in rich history (Mormon and Irish), it’s a paradise for natural resources. It’s the largest inhabited island in Lake Michigan, the largest in the archipelago. A kayak trip out to the outer islands I hear is quite an experience! Access Beaver Island via plane or the Beaver Island Boat Company, out of Charlevoix.
12. Silver Lake Sand Dunes. One of the most magnificent beaches and dune areas in Michigan is found in Oceana County. Here, the dunes are a sandy playground, where buggies can zip up and over the hills unlike anywhere else in the state. More than a million visitors make a pilgrimage to this area each year, exploring the sun, sand and sparkling waters. You can drive your own vehicle on the dunes, or settle back with Mac Woods Dune Rides, which has been offering excursions for more than 80 years!
For more travel destinations and ideas, visit the award-winning Pure Michigan website at www.michigan.org.