For those who love the great outdoors, Michigan is nothing short of a wonderland. After all, our state offers a little something for every natural interest, whether you’re partial to skiing or obsessed with swimming in freshwater lakes. No matter what your age or athletic ability, it’s easy to find ways to appreciate the splendor of the Great Lakes State. If you’re looking for essential nature-based experiences, check out our bucket list for Michiganders who simply can’t get enough fresh air.
1. See the waters of Kitch-iti-kipi
When you want to visit a fairy tale-like spot, Kitch-iti-kipi is so worth checking out. This natural spring in the Upper Peninsula features some of the clearest turquoise waters you’ve ever seen - and it’s easy to reach via a simple hike to the viewing platform. There’s a real sense of magic here that’s difficult to deny.
2. Gaze at Lake Michigan from Sleeping Bear Dunes
Whether you embark on a trip along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive or hike Empire Bluffs Trail, the views from atop Sleeping Bear Dunes are simply iconic here in the Great Lakes State. Non-Michiganders are often blown away when they see photos of this area, which features bright blue waters and an endless shoreline.
3. Paddle to Turnip Rock
Make your way to Port Austin for a kayaking adventure at Turnip Rock, a quirky natural destination that juts out of Lake Huron and makes for a unique experience. If you kayak off the Point Aux Barques hiking trail, you’ll enjoy a seven-mile round-trip paddle that will help keep you in shape while offering amazing views.
4. Get up-close and personal with Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls can be reached via a hiking path within the surrounding state park, which consists of 40 miles of trails in total - so you can certainly extend your trip after checking out the falls themselves. During your trek, you’ll enjoy some of the prettiest woodland scenery in Michigan and plenty of fresh air.
5. Stroll along Lake Huron at dawn
Many of us have experienced lovely sunsets along Lake Michigan, but have you considered getting up early to catch a sunrise on Lake Huron? Michigan’s "Sunrise Coast" is often overlooked in favor of the West Michigan shoreline, but the views you’ll enjoy at dawn are simply magnificent. See for yourself!
6. Take a boat tour at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an absolute must-see for nature lovers in Michigan. This Munising spot is truly spectacular, home to everything from waterfalls to towering trees to quaint hiking trails. If you’re interested in seeing the colorful cliffs themselves, there’s nothing better than hopping onto a tour boat and enjoying a guided jaunt along the shoreline.
7. Get lost in one of Southeast Michigan’s metroparks
The Huron-Clinton Metropark system consists of 13 incredible outdoor areas where visitors of all ages can appreciate natural beauty throughout the year. From waterparks to sledding hills to peaceful picnic spaces, there’s an endless array of activities and attractions to appreciate throughout the system. No matter which park you visit, you’ll find a rejuvenating way to connect with the great outdoors.
8. Dip your toes in the Straits of Mackinac
Whether you’re visiting Mackinac Island or standing on the shoreline in Mackinaw City, the Straits of Mackinac are both powerful and calm. There’s nothing more amazing than gazing at the Mackinac Bridge while breathing in the simple beauty of the straits themselves, which hold endless history and charm.
9. Explore the rugged beauty of Presque Isle Park
If you find yourself in Marquette, you simply must check out Presque Isle Park. This beautiful peninsula is home to more than 300 acres of rugged land and shoreline scenery to explore, including a popular spot called Black Rocks where brave locals patake in cliff-diving. It’s easy to fall in love with the Lake Superior region when you spend time perusing Presque Isle.
10. Camp within Newberry State Forest Area
Nothing says "connecting with nature" quite like embarking on a camping trip. While Michigan is home to hundreds of camping spots, we’re partial to the delights of Newberry State Forest Area. This locale features a plethora of campgrounds and convenient access to waterfalls, hiking trails, and wildlife spotting. Whether you’re a fan of modern camping or something more rustic, there’s an option here to suit your needs.
11. Gaze out at Lake of the Clouds
Many Michiganders are wholly unaware of the many wonders found within our state’s Porcupine Mountains, including Lake of the Clouds. If you’re a true nature lover, you simply must head northward for a hiking journey through this rugged, mountainous region - and stop to catch views of its most beautiful inland lake.
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