Are you ready to embark on the most wonderful Great Lakes State road trip imaginable? While you’ve undoubtedly taken short jaunts throughout the region, we think there’s something exciting about an adventure that covers multiple sections of the state. If you’re making plans for upcoming vacations with the family, check out our extensive
Michigan road trip. We recommend setting aside plenty of time to embark on this amazing journey to get the most out of the experience. What better way to spend your next holiday than on one of the best road trips in MI?
Of course, our stops are simply suggestions. If you’d like to add or remove any of these destinations from your own route, check out an adjustable map of this Great Lakes State journey. Remember, every Michigan adventure is one-of-a-kind, and that’s what makes our state so special.
1. William C. Sterling State Park
William C. Sterling State Park, 2800 State Park Rd, Monroe, MI 48162, USA
Our journey begins at Sterling State Park, an underrated gem that sits along the shores of Lake Erie. Most Michiganders prioritize the shores of Lake Michigan, Huron, and Superior when it comes to waterfront exploration throughout the state, but Lake Erie is just as magical – and Sterling State Park features a sandy beach area, seven miles of trails, and a whopping 1,300 acres of beautiful land. You might just want to spend all day at this
lesser-known state park in Michigan
2. Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
After a day at the beach, make the short northward jaunt to Michigan’s largest city, Detroit, for an artistic adventure at the iconic Detroit Institute of Arts. Known locally as the DIA, this incredible museum is home to upwards of 100 galleries that span the ages. From towering murals to historic sculptures to more modern exhibitions, there’s truly something here for everyone to appreciate. It has such a diverse collection that's among the top six in the nation with over 65,000 works. And even more, it's one of six
museums with free admission in Detroit the and surrounding areas
3. Nichols Arboretum
Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
Leave Detroit and make your way to the college town of Ann Arbor, which is home to the University of Michigan. While you’ll find loads of dining and shopping options throughout the city, we recommend visiting Nichols Arboretum for an awesome family experience among the great outdoors. This 123-acre space boasts gorgeous gardens, access to the Huron River, meandering forest trails, and all-season beauty that will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a new world. It's the
greenest spot in Michigan
. Admission is free, but be prepared to pay for parking.
When you’re through experiencing the many wonders of Ann Arbor, hop back in the car and drive to Michigan’s western shoreline for a bit of fun in the tiny community of Saugatuck. As of 2021, its population was a mere 877 residents. Situated just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan, this small town is chock full of art, creativity, great shopping, awesome eateries, and plenty of special events throughout the year. Take a dune ride along the lake, grab a hearty meal at The Southerner, or simply stroll through downtown. You might never want to leave. It's a
picture-perfect weekend getaway in Michigan
5. Ludington State Park
Ludington State Park Beach, 8800 M-116, Ludington, MI 49431, USA
The next portion of our road trip points north, leading adventurers along the shoreline to Ludington State Park. Those who adore both history and nature will be enamored with Ludington State Park, which is home to an 1860s lighthouse known as Big Sable Point Light. If that weren’t enough, the park features soft sand, incredible views of the Lake Michigan waterfront, campsites galore, and easy access to Ludington’s charming downtown area. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, stop and camp for a night or two. And be sure to take the
Big Sable Point Lighthouse walk
while you're there!
6. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor Township, MI 49636, USA
The Lake Michigan wonder continues at Sleeping Bear Dunes, which is next on our expansive Michigan road trip. This brilliant National Lakeshore will make you feel like you’ve landed on another planet – in the best way possible. Experience beauty from the car along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, take in stunning vistas along Empire Bluff Trail, or snap a few photos of the seemingly endless lakefront horizon. You’ll be utterly breathless as you stand atop the sand dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes are quite possibly one of the
world's most beautiful beaches
7. Mackinaw City
Mackinaw City, MI 49701, USA
Before heading into the Upper Peninsula, it’s imperative to make a stop in Mackinaw City. After all, this town serves as the gateway to the U.P. as the home of the Mackinac Bridge, but it’s also a worthwhile attraction in itself. Visitors can walk along the Straits of Mackinac, indulge in fudge from shops downtown, learn about local history at Colonial Michilimackinac, or even catch a ferry across to Mackinac Island. Whether you’re just passing through or spending a full day here, you’ll find lots to love. It's a
fascinating town that feels like a fairytale
8. Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls, McMillan Township, MI 49768, USA
After crossing the Mackinac Bridge and entering the U.P., you’ll find yourself in a wonderful new world of rugged beauty and charm. You’re sure to find plenty of roadside gems and pretty pit stops along the drive, but we maintain that Tahquamenon Falls is the perfect end point for your road trip through the state. Situated within Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the waterfalls themselves are utterly spectacular in every season. After a long stretch of driving, there’s nothing better than strolling through a wooded wonderland and taking in the sights and sounds of a powerful waterfall – and Tahquamenon undoubtedly delivers. They are the
largest waterfall in Michigan
. Spend a night camping or lodging nearby before hopping in the car to head home, happily exhausted.
The next time you’re searching for a varied and exciting adventure, keep our Michigan road trip in mind. Whether you’re a fan of art, history, natural attractions, family-friendly fun, food, or some combination of these, you’ll surely find a new favorite spot during this journey. To get a better feel for the charming town of Saugatuck, check out our video:
If you’ve got another road trip route in Michigan that we should consider covering, fill out our official
Looking for even more adventure? You’ll want to read about seven
free natural wonders in Michigan and take our waterfall road trip in Michigan.
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More to Explore
Michigan Road Trip & Related Info
Is Michigan a great place to live?
Michigan is a great place to live , and some of the best places within Michigan to live are:
Battle Creek - Convenient to both Detroit and Chicago with an affordable cost of living.
Detroit - If you like being in the city, the Motor City offers affordable housing along with its burgeoning creative scene.
Hazel Park - Also close to Detroit with affordable living.
Holland - Enjoy the scenery of the surrounding beaches on Lake Michigan.
Ironwood - Offers a low cost of living, good access to healthy food and medical care and lots of great restaurant options.
Kalamazoo - Immerse yourself in a dynamic arts scene in close proximity to lots of things to do in Grand Rapids.
Menominee - Stay active while enjoying the local foodie scene and low cost of living.
What are the most memorable hotels in Michigan?
Some of the most memorable hotels in Michigan are: