Michigan is home to some beautiful and unique places. Any Michigander knows that Michigan is broken up into several regions–West Michigan, Mid-Michigan, Southeast Michigan, Tri-Cities around the Greater Detroit Area, and lastly but certainly not least, Northern Michigan.
It’s almost unheard of for families not to take a trip “up north” every once in a while, and for some, almost every weekend. Even a day trip to Grand Haven is an adventure–great shops, art districts, delicious finds like Pronto Pups, and museums.
Here are the top 10 cities in Michigan that are worth a visit:
Manistee has a little bit of something for everybody. Manistee National Forest is home to over hundreds of miles in hiking trails, rivers and fishing venues. Here you can kayak, bike, camp and even water raft in the same park. There are also lighthouse tours, Championship Golfing, and some of Lake Michigan’s best beaches. If you’re the outdoorsy type, Manistee should be high up on your list.
Voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America should speak for itself right? Traverse City is where some people say Up North truly begins and has turned into one of Michigan’s hot spots for tourism. Popular events like the Cherry Festival and the Wine & Art Festival bring in people from all over the country. The city also hosts spas, casinos and a number of area attraction tours for fall foliage, Sleeping Bear Dunes and more.
Sault Ste. Marie
One of Michigan’s most northern cities nestled in the Upper Peninsula, Sault Ste. Marie is famous for its Soo Locks on the St. Mary’s River. Visitors can see 1,000ft freighters up close, get tours of Lake Superior and some of the Locks most famous shipwrecks, including the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s also a twin city with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in Canada and tourists (with a passport) can visit the Canadian side as well.
Empire, Michigan is at the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes where visitors can hike, buggy and even surf the world famous sand dunes. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is also a must-see attraction. The route overlooks the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan in a breathtaking drive around forests, Glen Lake and historic bridges. The route is also season-friendly offering skiing and skimobiling trails in the winter months.
Also known as Michigan’s little Bavaria, Frankenmuth is Michigan’s little slice of Germany and offers a number of rich cultural festivals, great food and of course, the world’s largest Christmas store: Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Frankenmuth is extremely family-friendly and comes with some of the best indoor water parks in Michigan, riverboat cruises (and chocolate boat cruises!), and famous chicken dinners provided by Zehnder’s.
Grand Haven has been voted one of Michigan’s best Golden Coast cities and is another tourism hotspot. The beach town has plenty of attractions year round and is in a perfect central location (almost directly across from Milwaukee) on the shoreline for lighthouse views, barge tours and simply lounging by the lake. Grand Haven’s week-long Coast Guard Festival has fireworks, ship tours and carnivals that attract all ages.
Also known as Beer City, USA, Grand Rapids has recently become the place to be for food, beer and art. Major festivals like ArtPrize and Oktoberfest bring in thousands of people. The city alone has the big city feel without the big city burdens like traffic, congestion and chaos. The city has a number of attractions including Frederik Meijer Gardens, John Ball Zoo and 3 major museums to choose from.
If you’ve never seen or heard of the Pictured Rocks, then you’re in for a real treat. These sandstone cliffs can rise up to 200ft over the surface of Lake Superior, exposing waterfalls, ice caves and underwater coves to swim, kayak and hike through. Located just a ½ mile north of Musing is Grand Island which has a great view over sandy beaches, deep woods to hike through and cultural history to learn about.
Tucked away in Grand Traverse Bay, this small northern Michigan city is known for its charm, relaxation and a place to get back to the little things. Smithsonian Magazine called Petoskey “charm central” with its concerts, historical architecture, art galleries and nighttime festivities. With a little something for everyone, Petoskey is a northern must. The downtown district is full of great restaurants, hotels and museums. On the outskirts of town are beautiful golf courses and the town is just up the road from Boyne Mountain where people can get their winter fix.