9 Must-See Michigan Destinations for 2017


With so many activities in Michigan, it's easy to find something that suits your ideal vacation. Read on for nine different destinations across the state to visit in 2017 and what makes them worth the trip.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Earlier this fall, you may have noticed a viral video of the beautiful fall foliage in Tahquamenon Falls State Park making the rounds on social media. Fittingly located in Paradise, Michigan, this gorgeous state park is a Michigan-treasure not to be missed. The winter season offers opportunity for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing with miles of marked trails. Warmer weather brings the chance to camp at one of the park’s four campgrounds with both modern and rustic campsites. In addition to being home to one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, the park is home to more than 40 miles of hiking trails, 13 inland lakes, 24 miles of the Tahquamenon River and roughly 20,000 acres of untapped natural area.
 
Tahquamenon Falls State Park in winter
Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Pelton

Port Austin
While Port Austin may not garner the attention of some other Michigan cities, the city is rich in history, small-town charm and gorgeous scenery. Located at the very tip of Michigan’s thumb, the city is known for its family-friendly appeal and laid back atmosphere. The village has four parks including Veterans Waterfront Park and Bird Creek County Park, both located on the shoreline with gorgeous beaches. For those seeking adventure, check out the five-mile long hiking trail at Port Crescent State Park or the “Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail” for scenic kayaking and canoeing. For entertainment, check out Port Austin Community Playhouse which puts on excellent shows all year long. As if that wasn’t enough, the village is home to one of the largest farmers markets in the state along with fine dining and quaint shops. 
 
Thumb Nail Rock and Turnip Rock in Port Austin
Photo Courtesy of Jesse Barcega

Isle Royale
For breathtaking scenery and out-of-this world adventure, check out Isle Royale National Park. A remote island cluster in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is car-free and designated as an official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area. With today’s technology and noise, the island is the perfect place to unplug and appreciate pure, untouched Michigan beauty. For those seeking adventure, the island is home to over 166 miles of hiking trails and wonderful conditions for boating, canoeing, kayaking, and scuba diving as well as guided tours to see all the island has to offer. Visitors can stay at Rock Harbor Lodge, located on the northeast end of Isle Royale National Park, the only full-service lodging facility on the island as well as 36 campgrounds located across the island.
 
Cabin on Isle Royale
Photo Courtesy of Dave Bryan 

Detroit
Between the emerging restaurants scene and the cultural offerings of the city, Detroit is always a must-see destination in Michigan. Must-do Detroit activities include visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)  and exploring the city’s rich music history at the Motown Historical Museum. After you explore, dine at classic Detroit favorites - Buddy’s or Loui’s for Detroit-style pizza or American and Lafayette Coney Island for a Detroit-style Coney. If you’re looking to shake things up, check out the relaxed atmosphere of Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails or old world Italian eatery La Dolce Vita.

In addition to food and culture, Detroit is brimming with activity. With a walkable downtown riverfront is full of activity, nightlife and art culture, there is an abundance of family-themed activities in the motor city. This year, a new arena district is opening in the fall and the Qline train will connect the city’s downtown and midtown communities. Citywide bikeshare is also launching for exploring on two wheels.
 
Downtown Detroit
Photo Courtesy of Mike Boening

Ferndale
With unique dining options and fun activities, Ferndale has quickly become a Michigan hotspot for residents and visitors alike. Take in a delicious brunch at colorful hotspot Toast or enjoy creative Mexican-inspired faire at Imperial Bar. If you’re in the mood to laugh, check out a hilarious show at Go Comedy! Improv Theater, voted “Detroit’s Best Improv and Sketch Comedy” by Channel 4. Ferndale is also home to the Ringwald Theater, featuring thought-provoking plays and fresh interpretations of seasoned classics.
 
Downtown Ferndale
Photo Courtesy of Downtown Ferndale

Chelsea
While neighboring Ann Arbor may get more attention, the picturesque downtown Chelsea should be on your list to visit in 2017. The downtown may be small but it is filled with great restaurants, designer clothing boutiques, wonderful galleries and actor Jeff Daniel’s Purple Rose Theatre. Recently honored as a National Register of Historic Places designation, Chelsea’s historical buildings and Victorian neighborhoods make the city one of the most charming small towns in Michigan.
 
Downtown-Chelsea.jpg

Saugatuck
Just because Saugatuck was named one of USA Today’s “Best Summer Weekend Escapes” doesn’t mean the beach town has lost its small-town charm. Saugatuck is home to one of Michigan’s most beautiful white sand beaches, Oval Beach making the city yet another must-visit beach destination. In addition to housing one of Michigan’s most notable beaches, downtown Saugatuck is brimming with unique shops, fine-dining. Known as the “Art Coast of Michigan,” Saugatuck is home to wonderful art galleries and shops with unique pieces from local artists. Be sure to stop by Saugatuck Drugstore/Soda Fountain for a unique blast from the past.
 
Oval Beach in Saugatuck
Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Boudreau

Gaylord
This Northern Michigan destination offers something for everyone. Because of Gaylord’s prime destination in the center of Northern Lower Michigan’s Snow Best, the city averages over 180 inches of snow, providing perfect conditions for winter sports including snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowshoeing. If winter sports aren’t your forte, visit in the warmer months and hike along one of the many trails in Otsego County to see all that Northern Michigan has to offer. In addition to recreational activities, Gaylord offers a charming downtown with plenty of shopping and dining options including Bennethum's Northern Inn and Alpine Tavern and Eatery. During your visit, be sure to Downtown Gaylord Farmer’s Market.
 
Lake Arrowhead in Gaylord during Fall
Photo Courtesy of Donna Young

Marquette
Home of Northern Michigan University, Marquette is an Upper Peninsula destination that should be on everyone’s Michigan bucket list. Points of interest include the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and Maritime Museum and Presque Isle Point Park, north of town, and the iconic iron ore docks. Marquette has been identified as number seven of the 20 Best Places to Live by Outdoor Life Magazine, but it takes someone to see it for themselves to see why.
 
Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette
Photo Courtesy of Greg Kretovic