For a true America lover, a visit to Michigan is a must! Although we mainly associate her with the “The Great Lakes”, there are other authentic American cultural products that originated in Michigan. How about Motown or Ford Motor Company, for example? During a city trip Detroit or The Great Lakes car tour you can visit Michigan.
10 Michigan Attractions
If you’re looking for the feeling of home, you’re in the right place. According to growtheology, a significant part of the population of Michigan has Dutch roots: the town of Holland is the best example of this. Would you rather see something completely different? In Detroit, the Canadian border is on the other side of the water. In short, something for everyone to see in Michigan!
1. Upper Peninsula
Do you like to be active outside? The upper peninsula, Upper Peninsula (UP in the vernacular), offers a variety of options. The surroundings alone are beautiful. There are more than 300 waterfalls, high forested mountains and numerous small islands. And of course, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan offer plenty of options for swimming, boating, canoeing and even scuba diving to your heart’s content. Prefer to stay on land? Then take a walk or bike ride through the woods. Who knows, you might spot a moose! Would you like to take it a little easier? On the Upper Peninsula, it’s as if time has stood still. Be enchanted by historic villages and old lighthouses. After all, there is plenty to see and do here for young and old!
2. University of Michigan
If you’re in the area, Ann Arbor is a fun place to visit. The town owes its fame to the presence of the University of Michigan. The university has been located here since 1837, making it the oldest university in the state. No fewer than 39,000 students study here! Extra nice: due to the large number of Americans with Dutch roots in the state, the university offers the possibility to study Dutch Studies. When you are there, be sure to visit Matthaei Botanical Garden; this one is very beautiful. Madonna, President Ford and Iggy Pop, among others, have studied at this university. Go Wolverines!
3. Front Street
Front Street, in the town of Traverse City, in the north of the Lower Island, is known in Michigan as one of the most beautiful streets in the state. Why? Although it may sound crazy, they take great pride in the layout of the street here. This street has a specially constructed bike path, something that is very unusual in America. In addition, the wide sidewalks on both sides of the road also give pedestrians enough space. This means that every road user is equal. The street itself contains a number of Victorian buildings, including the Opera House, which dates back to 1891. The street runs parallel to the Boardwalk, from where you have a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.
4. Soo Locks
Are you interested in shipping? Then Soo Locks is a special case that you should definitely see! These are five locks in St. Marys River, located north of the Upper Peninsula. Four of the locks are on US soil and are operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The four of them are good for up to 10,000 surprises a year. All four are over 150 meters long. The Canadian lock, which is a lot smaller, is only used for pleasure craft. The locks separate the twin city of Sault Ste. Marie in two parts: a large northern Canadian part and a smaller American part. Sault Ste. Mary International Bridge. If you drive over it, you can take a good look at the locks!
5. Mushroom House Tours of Charlevoix
Are you looking for something really special to do? Then drive to Charlevoix, a town in the north of the lower peninsula. Once you arrive, it seems like you’ve ended up in a fairytale. Charlevoix is known for its ‘Mushroom Houses’, which indeed resemble small gnome houses, in the shape of a mushroom. The town has no less than 28 such houses and they were all designed by Earl Young in the early twentieth century. For the exterior of the houses, he was inspired by the environment, and indeed: the stone houses with their wooden roofs fit right into the picture. You can take part in a shuttle tour along all the houses, but you can also walk around at your own pace.
6. Windmill Island Gardens
Are you homesick for home? Visit Holland, Michigan, and – as the name says – it will feel just like home. This town was founded in the nineteenth century by Dutch Calvinists and those influences can still be found. In Windmill Island Gardens even a Dutch village has been completely recreated. You will not only find DeZwaan here, the oldest Dutch windmill in the United States, but also a ‘real’ merry-go-round and an Amsterdam barrel organ. Do you want to see “Little Netherlands” in America? The best time to go is the months of April and May; then the bulb fields are completely in bloom.
7. Mission Point Lighthouse
Mission Point Lighthouse is a tourist attraction in Traverse City, Michigan. The lighthouse is known to North Michigan as the figurehead of the region. And that is understandable, because the surroundings alone are beautiful. The woods lend themselves to a nice walk, but the beach is also close by. The lighthouse was already in use in 1870 to prevent ships from sailing on the cliffs more often. Inside you can learn more about what it takes to be a lighthouse keeper through a self-guided tour. Admission is about $6 for anyone 13+.
8. Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse
The Great Lakes State has many lighthouses because of shipping. Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse is located in the town of Manistee, located on Lake Michigan. This lighthouse, built in Victorian style, reminds residents and tourists of this time when shipping was extremely important to the city. While you’re at the lighthouse, take a walk along the Manistee Riverwalk. This path runs along the water and along the way you will find stairs that lead you to the center of the town with cozy shops and nice restaurants.
9. Butler Street
Feel like shopping? Then head to Butler Street in Saugatuck, Michigan. This authentic American street is named after the founder of the town, William Gay Butler. The street is very popular among the local residents because of the huge number of shops and boutiques. You will find clothing, souvenirs, toys, snacks and garden equipment here. Not only is it very clean and tidy everywhere, it is also easy to walk. The town itself is also known for its ‘art scene’; so be sure to visit one of the galleries or take part in an ‘art class’!
10. Lumberman’s Monument
If you’re exploring Michigan’s wildlife, be sure to stop by the Lumberman’s Monument. This memorial is dedicated to Michigan’s loggers and logging industry. It stands in the middle of the Huron-Manistee woods and it was built in 1931. The road into the woods is a National Scenic Byway; that is, the environment around the road is very beautiful. The forests themselves are also very worthwhile: you can go hiking here, but also cycling, canoeing, fishing, bird watching, cross country skiing and even camping. Access to the forest is free, but reservations are recommended for a camping spot.
What can you do in Michigan?
Michigan is of course best known for its “Great Lakes”, so you can find plenty of activities on and around the water. However, the state also has beautiful nature, so you can do plenty of walking and cycling. What makes Michigan special is the relatively large group of Dutch Americans, so you can still find a lot of Dutch influences in certain parts.
How many days do you need in Michigan?
In terms of surface area, the state is quite large: it is therefore wise to determine in advance which parts you want to see. For example, if you want to go to the Upper Peninsula, it is wise to allow at least a week for this, because it takes some time to get there.