Castles in Michigan? Seven Attractions Fit for a King!

Hear ye, hear ye! You are now in the court of Pure Michigan’s kingdom. Surprising to some, Michigan is home to a handful of castles that would draw envy from some of the mightiest medieval rulers. From visiting the tall tower at Curwood castle or sitting down for a chicken dinner fit for a king in Frankenmuth, these Michigan mansions are sure to peak your royal interests.

Castle Rock
CastleRock
Steer your cavalry toward St. Ignace to see some of the most spectacular views of the Straits of Mackinac and Mackinac Island around. This ancient lookout of the Ojibwa Indians, referred to as Pontiac’s outlook, is 195.8 feet above ground level. If you’re an adventurous traveler, climb the 170 steps all the way to the top.  Castle Rock also features a gift barn full of majestic mementos so you’ll never forget your visit.

Learn more about Castle Rock in this video from Under the Radar Michigan.

The Curwood Castle

CurwoodCastleCurwood Castle, located in Curwood Castle Park, hails on the banks of the Shiawassee River. It served as the writing studio of James Oliver Curwood, one of America’s foremost authors of adventure novels and an early advocate of environmental conservation. Set in Owosso, among one of the richest collections of historic homes and buildings in the Midwest, this replica of a Norman chateau was completed in 1923. The beautiful castle was used by Curwood until his death in 1927. It is now a museum and open to the public.

Castle Farms

Built in 1918, this nationally acclaimed French Renaissance Castle offers old world charm and modern day amenities with its soaring stone towers, cobblestone courtyards and magnificent sweeping gardens. Open year round, Castle Farms welcomes weddings, historical tours, private parties, festivals and more! Feed the fish, play giant chess, tour the royal collections, 1918 museum, Garden Railway, Enchanted Forest and whatever else your honorable heart desires.

Castle Museum of Saginaw County HistorySaginawCastle

The Castle Museum in Saginaw stands tall and welcomes all to explore its long and rich history! Designed as a French castle to honor the French heritage of Saginaw, this stronghold is now home to the historical museum, featuring voyageurs, archaeology and exhibits on Saginaw County and state history. Once a federal building, this castle open’s its gate to all curious nobles.

Bavarian Inn Castle Shops

Put the Bavarian Inn Castle Shops on your map to be transported to a German-style castle. Located in the lower level of the world-famous Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Frankenmuth, these shops are worth your voyage. From souvenirs to some of the finest wine and cheeses around, there is something for everyone in this royal bazaar. Don’t forget to try a sample of Frankenmuth’s famous fudge!

Henderson Castle Bed & Breakfast

HendersonCastle

When your noble feet are weary, make your way to the Henderson Castle Bed & Breakfast. Whether you hail from near or far, you’ll be treated like a king or queen minutes away from vibrant Kalamazoo. Situated in the historic West Main Hill neighborhood, you’re minutes away from the theatres, shopping and vibrant night life of downtown Kalamazoo, but secluded enough to enjoy a quiet night free from the noise of the city. Get a massage, facial or manicure in our day spa. Soak in the rooftop hot tub while taking in the best view of downtown Kalamazoo that’s available. If you’re hungry, stay for dinner and indulge in some of the finest French food southwest Michigan has to offer.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer (at)Oni_One_

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer (at)Oni_One_

Miners Castle at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Miners Castle, arguably the most famous formation of the Pictured Rocks, is accessible by vehicle and short trails. A paved footpath winds to the stunning overlook of Lake Superior and Grand Island. Take the stairs and trail (carefully!) to the lower overlook and snap a picture at one of Northern Michigan’s most photographed spots.

Whether you’re a king, queen, prince or jester, you’re sure to find an imperial Michigan castle for the whole family to enjoy! 

Have you visited a castle in Michigan? Do you know of any others to add to the list? 

Try to Pronounce the Names of These 12 Michigan Destinations (#7 is a Tongue Twister!)

Have you ever wondered how Michigan was named Michigan? Before colonization, the now Great Lakes State was home to at least eight Native American tribes throughout the land, one of which being the Ojibwe Indians. The Ojibwe were the first people to openly interact with the French in Michigan, trading furs and knowledge of the area for guns and goods. Through translation, the state of Michigan was named after the Ojibwe Indian word “Michigama,” which means “great lake” or “land surrounded by water.”

With this in mind, we invite you to take a look at some other uniquely-named destinations found across the Great Lakes State.

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1. Mackinac Island. This is an easy one. If you’re a native Michigander, you know that this popular Northern Michigan destination is correctly pronounced “Mackinaw Island”. Tourists have visited Mackinac Island in the summers to escape the heat of the cities for hundreds of years. Condé Nast Traveler magazine added Mackinac Island to its “World’s Best” list as one of the top 10 islands in the world. In December 2007 National Geographic Traveler magazine named Mackinac Island as the top island destination in the United States and 8th in the world. Don’t forget the fudge!

2. Tahquamenon. One of Michigan’s most popular waterfalls, Tahquamenon Falls, can be found in the Upper Peninsula in appropriately named Paradise, MI. If you’ve ever wondered how to correctly pronounce the falls, it rhymes with “phenomenon.”

3. Ypsilanti. Ip-sill-ann-tee, or Ypsi to those who know it well, is located just down the road from Ann Arbor. Home to Eastern Michigan University, the city was originally a trading post set up in 1809 and called Woodruff’s Grove after Major Thomas Woodruff. The name was later changed to Ypsilanti in 1829 in honor of Demetrius Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti was a hero in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.

4. Menominee.  Menominee (Men-om-in-e) is located at the gateway between the Upper Peninsula and Northeastern Wisconsin. This Pure Michigan destination gets its name from a regional Native American tribe known as the Menominee, which translates into “Wild Rice.” The area was originally the home of the Menominee Indian Tribe, who now have a reservation along Wolf River in Northern Wisconsin. Visitors can enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, hiking and much more.

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 5. Sault Ste. Marie. The Soo! If you’ve traveled north of the Mackinac Bridge, you’ve probably passed through the town of Soo-Saynt-Ma-Ree. The Soo is home to many Michigan treasures, such as the Soo Locks and Lake Superior State University. If you do venture north, you’ll discover the rushing waterfalls that give way to majestic forests, rocky coastlines leading to picturesque lighthouses and engineering feats of man stand side-by-side with small fishing skiffs and buckets of bait.

 6. Hamtramck. Hamtramck (Ham-tram-ick) grew into a Polish enclave between 1910 and 1920 when large number of Polish laborers arrived seeking employment. Today, Hamtramck includes many different ethnic groups, but maintains its Polish identify as can be found in the shops, restaurants and bakeries in the area with a pierogi and a paczki.

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 7. Kitch-iti-kipi. Pronounced Kitch-i-tee-ki-pee (say that five times fast!) is another U.P. gem located in scenic Palms Book State Park. Known as “The Big Spring”, Michigan’s largest freshwater spring is two hundred feet across and 40 feet deep. Over 10,000 gallons a minute gush from fissures in the underlying limestone as the flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree Fahrenheit. By means of a self-operated observation raft, visitors are guided to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features and fantasies.

8. Dowagiac. The Grand Old City of southwestern Michigan. Dowagiac, pronounced doe-wah-jack, is nestled within the Fruit Belt, the city is surrounded by rolling farmlands and abundant orchards.  Enjoy fishing, canoeing, boating, water skiing and ice fishing.  Be sure to tour the historic train depot, too

9. Charlotte. If you’ve been pronouncing Charlotte like the city in North Carolina, guess again! Shar-lot (Not Char-lit) is located southwest of Lansing and home to some of the most beautiful historical buildings in Michigan. Charlotte annually welcomes visitors to experience the Eaton County Fair in mid-July and the pioneer spirit of the ever-popular Frontier Days in early September.

10. Bete Grise. Beet grease, you say? Not quite! Bay-dee-gree can be found southwest of Copper Harbor on Keweenaw County’s south shore. Bete Grise (French for “Grey Beast”) has a beautiful white sand beach as well as a wetland preserve stretching along Lake Superior.

11. Baraga. Bare-uh-gah is named after Bishop Frederick Baraga, located in Baraga County in the Western Upper Peninsula. Check out the statue of Bishop Baraga, which stands 35 feet tall and weighs four tons, holding a cross (7 feet high) and snowshoes (26 feet long.)  It floats on a cloud of stainless steel, supported by five laminated wood beams representing Baraga’s five major missions.

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12. Isle Royale. Last but not least, Isle Royal (Not roy-ale!) Wolves and moose, the wild North Woods forest, ever-changing weather and a cool climate, and the crystal clear waters and rugged shoreline of Lake Superior characterize Isle Royale’s National Park.  Roadless Isle Royale is accessible only by boat or float plane.  This is a Pure Michigan destination fit for royalty – if you love the outdoors!

Do you have any Michigan tongue-twisters to add to our list? Tell us below!

Top 5 Day Trips To Take From Detroit

Detroit is known for putting the world on wheels and introducing us to Motownmusic , but did you know that there are great day trips just a short drive away from the city? Read more on these quick Pure Michigan getaways, authored by The Awesome Mitten’s Jennifer Bowman.

Detroit is a phenomenal hub for entertainment: sporting events, concerts, burgeoning restaurants, and more–if it’s at the forefront of urban renaissance, the Motor City’s got it. When visiting or living in an area with so many things to do, however, it can be easy to miss some the other great places that surround us! Whether you’re in Detroit or the metro area, there are numerous day trip options out there for people of all ages and walks of life. Get away for the day with one of these top five picks, all within  a 90-minute drive of Detroit.

1. For History Buffs: Lansing

If you’re looking for somewhere to learn about Michigan’s history, there’s no better place to start than our state capital! Less than an hour and a half from Detroit, Lansing is home to the Michigan Historical Museum, a collection of artifacts and exhibits that range from our state’s first settlers through 20th century wartime efforts, pop culture influences, and more. After browsing everything the museum has to offer (and there’s a lot, so set aside at least a couple of hours), head next door to the adjoining state library and archives (Michigan’s most comprehensive resource for studying government history and personal genealogy!). Follow up with a trip downtown to the architecturally beautiful State Capitol Building for a lesson in Michigan legislature, then cap off your visit in historic REO Town to see the birthplace of the commercial automobile.

The Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

2. For Creative Types: Ann Arbor
When it comes to an artistic community with a flair for all things creative, Ann Arbor is the place to go. Spend time admiring the work of others at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, get hands-on with a class or art party at the Ann Arbor Art Center, or head to town each summer for the widely-popular Ann Arbor Art Fair. There are also countless resources available for makers, including art and stationery supply shops, resale and thrift stores, and other unique finds like The Scrap Box, which allows artists and teachers to give new life to discarded materials. At the end of your day, stop by Zingerman’s for some local, artisanal food and get your dose of artistic performance with an indie flick or film festival at the Michigan Theater or State Theatre. With a multitude of unique options, Ann Arbor brings together several opportunities that will entertain and inspire.

Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

3. For Those Who Like To Play Tourist: Frankenmuth
You don’t have to venture out of the country (or state, for that matter) to experience a little slice of Bavarian life! German-inspired Frankenmuth allows you to play tourist without the hassle of a passport. Visit downtown for tons of unique shops–clocks, cheese, fudge, and other souvenirs await–and stop by Zehnder’s or the Bavarian Inn Restaurant for authentic German dishes or a famous fried chicken dinner.

Of course, no visit to Frankenmuth would be complete without a trip to Bronner’s, the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Christmas Store.” Finish your holiday shopping early with a few ornaments for family and friends, or pick up a trinket or two for yourself! On the way out of town, stop by one of the local antique stores for an amazing selection of treasures, followed by a trip to Birch Run Outlets for some great deals before hopping back on the interstate.

Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

4. For Nature Lovers: Milford
In addition to a beautiful downtown, Milford provides access to plenty of outdoor trails and water activities. See the best of what this area has to offer at Kensington Metropark, where visitors can explore over 4,400 acres of recreational area by bike, foot, boat, kayak, or canoe. Nature lovers will appreciate fishing, camping, and bird-watching opportunities, while moderate enthusiasts are sure to enjoy picnic and swimming areas, seasonal concerts, paved paths, disc golf, and much more. The best thing about Kensington Metropark, however, is that it’s open all year! In the winter, take part in sledding and cross-country skiing or make the most of frozen water season with ice skating and ice fishing. There’s also a year-round farm center for viewing a slew of cute animals, and educational events such as maple tree tapping tours (complete with live syrup-making demonstrations).

Milford’s Kensington Metropark, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

5. For Your Great Lakes Fix: Lexington
When you’re traveling the Great Lakes State–why not visit a Great Lake? Situated on the shores of Lake Huron, Lexington is an adorable beach town that’s perfect for a day of scenic views and leisure activities. Browse one of several charming shops, grab lunch or dinner at a local eatery, then make your way to one of three public beaches to play in the water. Other attractions include Lexington Park (complete with pavilions, swimming and beach access, restrooms, and playground areas), and Lexington State Harbor, your front seat to boat watching and fantastic sunset viewing. An impressive combination of small town living and the Great Lake “wow” factor, Lexington is a delightful getaway for city and suburban dwellers who need a brief disconnect from the busyness of everyday life.

Calm Waters at Lexington State Harbor, Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

What’s your favorite go-to day trip from the Detroit area? Share in the comments!

JenniferBowman

Jennifer Bowman is a southwest Virginia native who moved to Michigan in 2011 and has been exploring the state ever since. A marketer and online community manager by day, Jennifer is fascinated with discovering new places and spends her free time traveling and writing about her experiences. To learn more about her adventures, you can follow her on Twitter at @JHBowman or on her blog, Wading in Big Shoes.