When it comes to exploring Michigan, there seem to be endless opportunities. Whether you’re a lover of the great outdoors, a craft beer enthusiast, or a self-proclaimed beach bum, there’s something here for everyone. But not all of Michigan’s attractions get the attention they deserve. Here are eleven spots in the Great Lakes State that remain underrated despite their awesome appeal.
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. Belle Isle (Detroit)
This island park in Detroit is overflowing with things to do and see, whether you’re interested in history, nature, or a combination of the two. Explore marine life at Belle Isle Aquarium, take a walk through the gorgeous Whitcomb Conservancy, or simply gaze at marvelous views of the Motor City skyline.
2. Kitch-iti-Kipi (Manistique)
You’ve never seen anything quite like this before. Venture to Manistique and visit the gorgeous turquoise waters of this natural spring, which truly must be experienced in person to be believed. Watch as fish swim below the viewing platform and bask in the shade of the surrounding forest — simply beautiful!
3. Meyer May House (Grand Rapids)
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the world’s most iconic architects and designers, but did you know that one of his creations sits right in the historic Heritage Hill district of Grand Rapids? That’s right: schedule a visit to this beautiful home to learn about its history, construction, and current use.
4. Porcupine Mountains (Ontanagon)
Michigan certainly isn’t known for being exceptionally mountainous, but we’ve got a beautiful range all our own — and you’ll want to check it out! The Porcupine Mountains, often called "the Porkies," are certainly one of Michigan’s most lovely hidden gems. Whether you’re hiking the Escarpment Trail or admiring Lake of the Clouds, you’re sure to have a beautiful journey through this region.
5. Air Zoo (Portage)
Explore this Portage aeronautics museum when you’re looking for a truly out-of-this-world experience. Step onto a flight simulator, peruse a wide array of historical airplanes, or simply marvel at the many artifacts and exhibits that make this locale so unique. No matter what your age, you’ll be impressed!
6. Turnip Rock (Port Austin)
If you’re looking to explore a unique geological formation, Turnip Rock is the spot for you! Grab your kayak and paddle out from the charming town of Port Austin, which sits just meters from this one-of-a-kind rock. Be sure to bring your (waterproof) camera — this is one of the most visually interesting spots in the entire state of Michigan.
7. Motown Museum and Hitsville, USA (Detroit)
If you’re a fan of Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, or Aretha Franklin, you can thank the Great Lakes State — particularly Detroit — for giving rise to your favorite artists. Music fans will absolutely adore a tour of this studio in the Motor City, which highlights the timeline of Motown in Detroit and gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the history of so many beloved musical groups.
8. Soo Locks (Sault Ste. Marie)
This fascinating destination in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is vitally important, as it allows passage for ships traveling from Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes. Take a tour of the locks by boat and learn more about this incredible manmade wonder, which has been operational since 1837. Talk about history!
9. Fort Mackinac (Mackinac Island)
Mackinac Island is a famous destination here in Michigan, but many visitors go straight for the fudge and forget to dig into the island’s incredible past. Step back in time with a journey to Fort Mackinac, which originally served as a British military outpost following its founding in 1782. Explore soldiers’ barracks, witness historical re-enactments, and stare out at the gorgeous Straits of Mackinac.
10. Whitefish Bay (Paradise)
Few spots here in the Great Lakes State are quite as peaceful as Whitefish Bay, which boasts gorgeous access to Lake Superior and contains the breathtaking Whitefish Point. Do some birdwatching, dip your toes in the cool water, or explore the multiple lighthouses that make this area near the community of Paradise so unique. What’s not to love?
11. Ocqueoc Falls State Forest Campground (Presque Isle County)
On a hot summer afternoon, a trip to Ocqueoc Falls is just what the doctor ordered. Take a swim near the falls themselves, explore the surrounding wildnerness, or settle in for a weekend camping trip at one of the area’s many sites. This beautiful locale is sorely underrated, and you might never want to leave once you set up camp.
Tell us, Michiganders: did we leave any of your favorite underrated destinations off our list? Share your Great Lakes State recommendations in the comment section below.