It’s summertime in Michigan, and you know what that means: it’s time to get out and appreciate all our state has to offer! If you’re the adventurous type, you’re likely searching for some fantastic destinations throughout Michigan that lend themselves perfectly to a road trip. Well, you’re in luck: our state is home to all sorts of beautiful and fun road trip spots, and you don’t need to be rolling in dough to appreciate them.
It’s Christmas all year long when you head to this delightful town, which houses the famous Bronners Christmas Wonderland — a massive indoor collection of all things Santa and snow. Take a walk through downtown Frankenmuth, where you’ll marvel at unique Bavarian architecture and mingle with friendly locals. Whether you’re window-shopping or imagining that you’ve been swept away to a distant European destination, you’ll have a blast here — without spending all your cash!
2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
If you can afford the drive up north to Munising, you’re in for a truly magical treat. Catch gorgeous views of Lake Superior from along this stunning lakeshore, which boasts everything from hiking trails to swimming spots. You don’t need to pay big bucks to be impressed by views from throughout the area, but If you’re willing to splurge a little, take a cruise along the fantastic formations of Pictured Rocks.
3. Grand Rapids
There’s more to Grand Rapids than just amazing breweries — though the city has plenty of those, too! Take a fun walk through downtown, enjoy some people-watching in Rosa Parks Circle, or peruse the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when it offers select hours of free admission. There’s something here for every member of the family.
4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
It will cost you under ten dollars per person to enter Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and the experiences that await are priceless. Catch breathtaking views from atop the bluffs, marvel at the blue waters of Lake Michigan, or run down the soft, steep sand dunes themselves. Just be forewarned: the trudge back up the hillside is not for the faint of heart!
5. Tahquamenon Falls
There’s a timeless beauty to Michigan’s Tahquamenon Falls, and those who haven’t yet visited are certainly missing out. Load up the car and venture to this natural gem in the Upper Peninsula, which can be accessed by a variety of hiking trails suitable for multiple physical fitness levels. Entrance to the park will cost $6 for Michigan residents and $8 for non-residents, so you certainly don’t have to worry about spending a fortune when you check out this gorgeous attraction.
6. Belle Isle
If your road trip takes you to the Detroit area, Belle Isle is an absolute must-see. This island park in the Motor City offers a wondrous combination of natural beauty and manmade excitement. You’ll need a state park entrance passport (which costs just $11 per year and allows entry to ALL of Michigan’s state parks), but free activities galore await as soon as you’re admitted. Peruse the (totally free) Belle Isle Aquarium or capture snapshots of the Detroit skyline — what’s not to love?
What if we told you that you could access a fairy tale-like natural wonderland for next to nothing? You’re in luck! Check out Kitch-Iti-Kipi within Palms Book State Park in Manistique. These breathtaking natural springs boast impossibly blue waters and can be explored for just a small entrance fee — you’ll wonder if you’ve ventured into a new and exceedingly gorgeous world.
8. Ludington State Park
Grab your camping gear and settle in for a few days at Ludington State Park, which is undoubtedly one of our state’s most gorgeous locales. With multiple campgrounds to choose from, direct access to the stunning shores of Lake Michigan, and close proximity to the charm of downtown Ludington, we can’t imagine a better (or more cost-effective way) to spend a Michigan summer.
9. The Sunrise Coast
Looking for an incredible little road trip that won’t cost a dime? Wake up early and venture to the lovely shores of Lake Huron on Michigan’s eastern coast. It’s here that you’ll see some of the most breathtaking sunrises imaginable — and there’s never a cost to bask in the beauty of Mother Nature. Can’t get enough? Shell out a few dollars for one of many campsites along the lake, from Alpena to Au Gres.
History buffs will be in heaven with a journey to Michigan’s state capital. Take a free walk through the stunning Michigan Capitol Building, admire the architecture of the area’s commanding buildings, or head to neighboring East Lansing for a scenic walk through the campus of Michigan State University. When you’re looking to indulge your inner academic, this is the spot for you.
Do you have a favorite road trip destination here in Michigan that won’t break the bank? We’d love to hear your suggestions! Share your inexpensive recommendations in the comments below — and happy travels!