Michigan is a nature-lover’s dream. We’ve got a little something for everyone, whether you’re in the mood for a long hike through the shady woods or a relaxing day on one of our gorgeous sunny beaches. Here’s a list of ten must-visit natural destinations in the Great Lakes State — places you simply have to see at least once in your lifetime.
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. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising)
An exploration of Pictured Rocks feels almost surreal, as the cliffs and formations truly look like something out of a painting. A hike along the lakeshore will reveal unparalleled beauty and gorgeous lookouts on Lake Superior. For a closer look at the rock formations themselves, hop on a tour boat and marvel at the natural splendor of our state’s Upper Peninsula.
2. Mackinac Island
As one of Michigan’s most famous attractions, it’s no secret that Mackinac Island is a gorgeous place to visit. Rent a bicycle to circle the island and catch one-of-a-kind waterfront views, or venture inland to the more shaded areas. You can also check out stunning formations like Arch Rock or Devil’s Kitchen, a small cave on the southwest side of the island.
3. The Porcupine Mountains (Ontonagon County)
The “Porkies,” as they’re affectionally called, offer an ideal variety of outdoor activities. From hiking trails to inland lakes to campsites for overnight stays, there’s a little something for every sort of nature enthusiast during a visit the Porcupine Mountains.
4. Torch Lake (Antrim County)
If you’re searching for an inland lake to spend a few days exploring, look no further than Torch Lake. The crystal clear waters of this 18,770 acre lake are ideal for swimming, boating, and sunning on the beach. You certainly won’t find a lovelier spot to relax or an easier way to appreciate Michigan’s natural beauty.
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Empire)
This one is a no-brainer for Michiganders of all ages. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau and Benzie counties is a breathtaking sight to behold. Climb up and down the sandy peaks for stunning views of Lake Michigan or take a trek through the canopy of trees alongside the dunes. No matter how you choose to spend your time, your visit will be unforgettable.
6. Nichols Arboretum (Ann Arbor)
Located along the calm shores of the Huron River, this arboretum is overflowing with stunning scenery. Take a walk through one of the area’s many trails to appreciate the forest shade, enjoy a picnic lunch among a garden of wildflowers, or dip your toes in the cool river water.
7. Isle Royale
Situated in the waters of Lake Superior, Isle Royale is a paradise for those who appreciate the solitude of nature. Kayaking, hiking, and backpacking are popular activities here, and they’re all done among some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Keep your eyes peeled for amazing wildlife, as well — Isle Royale is home to wolves and moose, among other fascinating animals.
Marquette and its surrounding areas are a nature-lover’s playground. A trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula simply isn’t complete without a visit to Marquette, and it’s easy to see why. Take in the scenery from atop Sugarloaf Mountain, jump into the chilly waters of Lake Superior, or wander through Presque Isle Park with a loved one. In the winter, you’ll also find several ideal spots for skiing or snowboarding.
9. Kitch-iti-kipi (Palms Book State Park, Thompson Township)
This incredible natural spring in the Upper Peninsula is a true wonder for outdoor enthusiasts. It stretches 400 feet across and as far as 40 feet deep, with a beautiful turquoise tint. You’ll be mesmerized by the clarity of the water, which maintains a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit year round.
10. Tahquamenon Falls
Located near the aptly-named town of Paradise, these falls are legendary for their strength and beauty. Hikers can enjoy the surrounding trails and the lower falls can even be observed via canoes or row boats. The falls themselves are the real stars of the park, though, and with good reason — they are a truly magical sight to behold.
Which stunning Michigan locations are on your outdoorsy bucket list? We would love to hear about them in the comment section below.