Seeking a quiet escape that still provides plenty of fun for the whole family? You might be interested in our rural road trip through Michigan. This route might not highlight our state’s most bustling cities or most famous attractions, but it offers something especially wonderful: the chance to explore the countryside while spending quality time with the people you love. When you’re ready for a laid-back journey, hop in the car and embark on one of the most delightful road trips in Michigan.

Of course, points of interest and starting navigation will vary based on where you live and how much time you have, so make necessary changes by checking out our adjustable map of the route. If you’re following our route precisely, we recommend splitting your travel time into at least two days to fully appreciate every attraction on the list.

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Now that you’ve checked out our rural road trip through Michigan, you’ve undoubtedly got some inspiration for your next outing. I know that every road trip is a little different, so share your own recommendations and ideas with us by leaving a Facebook comment. Or, if you’d like to suggest an attraction for inclusion in a future piece, be sure to complete our official nomination form.

Searching for even more adventure in our awesome state? Be sure to read about this M-22 towns road trip through Michigan and don’t forget to pack epic road trip snacks!

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More to Explore

Road Trips In Michigan

What is a good road trip from Michigan?

Michigan is centrally located in the Great Lakes region, making it a great starting point for various road trips. The best road trip for you depends on your interests, but here are several options ranging from nature escapes to cultural excursions:

  • Great Lakes Circle Tour: Starting in Michigan, you can navigate the shores of the Great Lakes. Drive around Lake Michigan or venture further to include Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior. You’ll encounter charming beach towns, dunes, lighthouses, and beautiful waterfront views.
  • Upper Peninsula Adventure: If you start in the Lower Peninsula, head north across the Mackinac Bridge into Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Explore Tahquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and the quaint towns of Marquette and Munising.
  • Chicago Getaway: It's a relatively short drive to Chicago, Illinois, from Michigan. Enjoy world-class museums, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan's shoreline, and iconic architecture here.
  • Historic Route to Washington D.C.: Head east through Ohio, stopping in cities like Cleveland or Toledo, and then continue to Pennsylvania, perhaps in Gettysburg. Finally, reach Washington D.C. to explore the nation's capital and its many monuments and museums.
  • Rust Belt Exploration: Drive through cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. This route allows you to witness the revitalization of America's former industrial powerhouses and offers a blend of cultural attractions, historic sites, and local cuisines.
  • Natural Beauty of the Smoky Mountains: Head south through Ohio, Kentucky, and into Tennessee. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. It's especially beautiful in the fall.
  • Head West to the Badlands: If you're up for a longer road trip, drive west through Wisconsin and Minnesota and then into South Dakota to explore the Badlands National Park and the Black Hills.
  • Door County, Wisconsin: Drive around Lake Michigan's western side to Door County. This peninsula is often called the "Cape Cod of the Midwest" due to its charming small towns, lighthouses, and beautiful shoreline.


When planning a road trip from Michigan, consider the season, your preferred travel pace, and your interests. Whether it's nature, history, or urban exploration, a route from Michigan will surely captivate you.

What is Lake Michigan's famous scenic drive?

The M-22, Lake Michigan's renowned scenic drive, winds through the northwest part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, offering a visual feast along its approximately 116-mile stretch. This highway is mainly celebrated for its views of the Lake Michigan shoreline and the spectacular fall foliage. As travelers navigate this route, they're met with iconic landscapes like the towering Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the shimmering waters of Crystal and Torch Lakes. The Leelanau Peninsula adds its charm with numerous vineyards, wineries, and quaint towns like Suttons Bay, Northport, and Leland. Adding to the drive's allure are the historic lighthouses dotting the coast and the preserved fishing shanties of Fishtown in Leland. Beyond the visual beauty, the M-22 provides ample recreation opportunities, from hiking and kayaking to simply basking on Lake Michigan's sandy beaches. This drive encapsulates the best of Michigan's scenic and cultural offerings.