If you’re from the Great Lakes State, we’re sure you’ve had the chance to explore many of Michigan’s most gorgeous destinations. From our shorelines to our rolling dunes, there’s truly something here for everyone, and it’s no surprise that tourism remains a key component of our economy. While we don’t mind welcoming tourists to our state, we’re just as eager to explore some of Michigan’s most brilliant locales for ourselves. Here are 12 spots that excite Michiganders just as much as they excite newcomers.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Sleeping Bear Dunes
Each year, thousands of eager visitors marvel at the beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and it’s easy to understand why. With sweeping views of Lake Michigan, impossibly blue waters, and some of the most gorgeous sandy hills imaginable, this spot is genuinely magical. While you’ll find plenty of out-of-towners at Sleeping Bear Dunes, many of its annual visitors are Michiganders themselves.
2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Few spots are more stunning than Pictured Rocks. When you hop aboard a guided tour from the town of Munising, you’ll likely find a solid combination of out-of-state visitors and Michiganders, all of whom are drawn to the beauty of this natural wonderland. No matter how many times you’ve seen Pictured Rocks, it’s always worth revisiting.
3. Detroit Institute of Arts
Art enthusiasts from across the world come to the Motor City for a look at the DIA’s many exhibits, including its famous murals by Diego Rivera. But you don’t have to be a tourist to appreciate the gorgeous artwork that calls this institute home. In fact, plenty of Detroiters and other Michiganders flock to the museum each day in an effort to experience art up-close and personal.
4. Turnip Rock
If you’re a fan of kayaking, Turnip Rock in Port Austin might just be the perfect destination for you. Thumb Region tourists and area residents alike can be found paddling their way out to this unique geological formation when the weather warms up each year. There’s something undeniably fascinating about such a bizarrely shaped rock, and it’s nearly impossible to visit just once.
5. Holland State Park
When summer rolls around, Holland State Park becomes a hotbed for activity in West Michigan. This gorgeous beach features everything from a small ice cream shop to lovely views of the Big Red lighthouse. While tourists certainly come from all over for a classic beach day in Holland, plenty of the sunbathers you’ll spot at this park are from right here in the Great Lakes State.
6. Mackinac Island
No matter how many times we’ve visited, Michiganders just can’t seem to get enough of Mackinac Island. After all, life seems to move a bit more slowly and peacefully in this car-free oasis, which serves as a traditional destination of sorts for many residents of Michigan. You’ll have to compete with plenty of tourists for lodging, bikes, and fudge, but the beauty and charm of the island are well worth it.
7. Tahquamenon Falls
Is there anything more breathtakingly powerful than a massive waterfall? We think not, and many Michiganders seem to agree. Each year, rain or shine, countless visitors make their way to Tahquamenon Falls. Plenty of out-of-staters stop to snap photos, but we Michiganders can’t seem to stay away from this destination. The strength of the falls makes us proud of our state.
8. Greenfield Village
History buffs from across the country can be found perusing the unique atmosphere at Greenfield Village, which sits within the Henry Ford complex in Dearborn. This fascinating, historically accurate outdoor museum brings days of old to life with everything from real Model T cars to an on-site blacksmith studio. There’s always something new to discover, which makes Greenfield Village a favorite for Michiganders.
9. Frederik Meijer Gardens
With seasonal exhibits, plenty of fun-filled events throughout the year, and one of the most gorgeous botanical collections imaginable, Frederik Meijer Gardens is a destination that should certainly be visited at least once or twice per year. After all, who can resist its annual butterfly garden? This is one spot that draws in Michiganders and new visitors on a daily basis.
For Michiganders who are delighted by the beauty of nature, Kitch-iti-kipi is the ultimate destination. Boasting bright turquoise waters and an overall whimsical atmosphere, this natural spring never fails to impress. When you arrive on-site and make your way to the viewing platform, you’ll feel grateful to play tourist in your very own home state.
Ah, Ludington. With its natural charm, friendly faces, and peaceful atmosphere, this town is a major player in the summer tourism game for the state of Michigan. While the beaches are often filled with newcomers, Ludington also hosts a massive amount of native Michiganders each year, who load up their cars and rent out camping spaces right on the shores of Lake Michigan. What’s not to love?
Sure, you’ll find your fair share of tourists on the streets of Saugatuck, but that never deters Michiganders from returning time and time again. After all, it’s nearly impossible not to be charmed by the quaint boutiques, delicious eateries, and lovely ambiance that accompany Saugatuck. Whether you’re stopping in after dark for a few drinks or walking along the Kalamazoo River, you’ll be eager to return.
Tell us, Michiganders: are there any destinations in the Great Lakes State that continue to draw you in, regardless of the presence of tourists? We sure are proud of our state, and we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comment section below.