It’s finally summertime in Michigan! We’re so excited to spend our summer days at Michigan beaches and traveling across the state. Even if you’re on a budget this summer, Michigan has so much to offer. Your next trip could even be just a half an hour away from home. We’ve compiled a list of the best summer staycation ideas by region to show you that summer doesn’t have to be about taking a long, expensive trip.
Spend a day at Kensington Metropark
Kensington Metropark is one of the best summer day trips in Eastern Michigan. Located between South Lyon and Milford, the over 4,000-acre park is easily accessible by those who live in Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit. Along with swimming, fishing, riding the Island Queen pontoon and kayaking on Kent Lake, there’s also a waterpark and golf course in the park.
Visit Port Austin
This small town on Lake Huron is also referred to as the tip of Michigan’s thumb. The main attraction in Port Austin is Turnip Rock. The only way to get up close to this beautiful limestone rock formation is to kayak seven-miles roundtrip through Lake Huron. Along with Turnip Rock, you can also visit the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse, spend a day at the beach and shop at one of Michigan’s largest farmers markets.
Spend a day at Sleepy Hollow State Park
There are so many things to do at this 2,600-acre state park in Laingsburg that you may need to plan a whole weekend here. You can swim, boat and fish on Lake Ovid in the center of the park. Be sure to bring your bike to explore the 16 miles of hiking and biking trails. Sleepy Hollow is also a popular spot in Mid-Michigan for campers and RVers.
Kayak the Red Cedar River
You may see kayakers paddling the Red Cedar River if you’ve ever been on the Lansing River Trail in the summer. If you have your own kayak, there are several launches along the water trail. You can also rent a kayak or take a group tour through River Town Adventures.
See the Big Red Lighthouse
The Big Red Lighthouse is located on the south side of the channel connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa in Holland. You can get a great view of this vibrant lighthouse when you visit Holland State Park on the other side of the channel. If you’re looking to hike the Mount Pisgah Dune Boardwalk while you’re in Holland, you’ll also see a breathtaking view of the lighthouse and Lake Macatawa at the top.
Feed giraffes at Binder Park Zoo
If you live in West Michigan and have never been to Binder Park Zoo, you should definitely put it on your list for this summer. Binder Park Zoo is a family-friendly attraction in Battle Creek that features a variety of animal exhibits and encounters. This includes the zoo’s Twiga Giraffe Experience where you can feed giraffes for just $2.
Swim and see the falls in Rogers City
The beaches in Rogers City have some of the clearest waters you’ll find in Michigan. The Breakwall and P.H. Hoeft State Park are the most popular in the area. Rogers City is also just a 15-minute drive from lower Michigan’s only waterfall. You can camp at the Ocqueoc Falls State Forest Campground and hike the six miles of trails surrounding the falls scenic site.
See a movie at Cherry Bowl Drive-In
The Cherry Bowl Drive-In has been creating summer memories since the 1950s. The drive-in is located in Honor, Michigan just 12 miles east of Frankfort. The movies usually begin in mid-May with double features playing almost every weekend. Get the full experience and stop by the diner and mini-golf course on the property before your movie.
Swim in Kitch-Iti-Kipi
Kitch-Iti-Kipi is Michigan’s largest natural spring located within Palm Books State Park near Manistique. You’ll drive down a forested two-lane road to get to the park. Once you’re there, you can walk to the water where you’ll board a self-guided floating raft to explore the water. The raft has a cut out in the middle where you’ll see fish swimming through the enchanting bright blue-green water.
See the Paulding Light
The Paulding Light is a Michigan mystery that visitors come from far and wide to see. For almost 60 years, visitors to the remote woods surrounding the small town of Paulding have seen a mysterious light appear in the valley almost every night. Local legends involving ghosts, swamp gas and aliens have circulated since the first sighting. Although researchers from Michigan Tech came up with a theory for the light, visitors still flock to the area to see the phenomenon.