23 Things to Do in West Michigan Before the Summer Ends

West Michigan is home to some of the best kept secrets and awe-inspiring attractions in America. No matter where you go, there’s something new to try right around the corner. To help you get the most out of this summer, we’ve compiled a list of things you’ll want to make sure you do in West Michigan before the summer ends!

1. Climb to the top of one of Lake Michigan’s many lighthouses, or volunteer for one of the keeper programs offered at a handful of the lighthouse museums in northwest Michigan.

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McGulpin Lighthouse, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

2. Complete the tree scavenger hunt on the Nature Trail at Stokes Homestead Farm Market in Grand Junction and get rewarded with a free ice cream cone!

3. Kiss a turkey at Cornwell’s Turkeyville in Marshall.

4. Drive the Tunnel of Trees to the end, where you can enjoy an authentic Polish pierogi overlooking Lake Michigan at Legs Inn in Cross Village.

5. Embrace your inner pirate when you sail on the tall ship “Friends Good Will” in South Haven, and visit the Michigan Maritime Museum when you’re back on land for a look into the past.

6. Hand feed a giraffe at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek or Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto.

7. Hike, swim, and explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with 64 miles of beaches, coves, islands, and hills on the west coast of the Leelanau Peninsula.

8. Hunt for the state stone, the Petoskey Stone, along the shores of Lake Michigan. No license required to pick up the fossilized coral, but what a cool feeling when you find one!

9. Cycle down the paved Leelanau Trail and enjoy a picnic lunch while you visit up to seven wineries just off the trail with Grand Traverse Bike Tours.

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Grand Traverse Bike Tours, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

10. Learn to Fly Fish at the Red Moose Lodge on the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin with their full day trips out on the river & cozy accommodations at night.

11. One of Michigan’s most visited shrines, the 55 foot tall Cross in the Woods in Indian River is a must-see.

12. Peddle your way around town on the self-propelled Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, the first and only “Green Pub” in Michigan, located in Grand Rapids.

13. Ride the Fins of a Windmill on Harry’s Windmill ride at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, which combines a restored 1940 Eli Bridge #5, 45ft high Ferris Wheel matched with a reproduction of a Netherlands windmill.

14. See the Big Yellow Dinosaur on US 31 at Kampvilla RV Park (her name is Sunny!).

15. Stay overnight aboard the USS Silversides Submarine Museum, which is officially credited with sinking 23 major Japanese ships and is considered the U.S. Navy’s most successful surviving World War II submarine.

16. Take a “Paddle n’ Pints” trip with Rockford Brewing Company, where you’ll fill up plastic growlers at the brewery before spending two hours floating down the river and enjoying the outdoors.

17. Take an outdoor adventure with friends and a good book with Outdoor Book Club, which hosts meet-up in various West Michigan cities.

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Outdoor Book Club, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

18. Tour a Coast Guard Ship, dance in the streets of Grand Haven at the yearly street dance, and then settle in to enjoy the fireworks and musical fountain from the waterfront at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival each August.

19. Try your hand at the Sporting Clay course at Blendon Pines Gun Club in Zeeland and see how many clay pigeons you can hit with a shotgun over twelve different shooting stations.

20. View many of Michigan’s remote lighthouses aboard a multi-day boat cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star, based out of Charlevoix.

21. Visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids and marvel at the 24-foot-tall bronze horse statue.

22. Visit the Headlands and the Dark Sky Discovery Trail in Emmet County, which is one of just 13 prestigious International Dark Sky Parks in the United States.

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Emmet County International Dark Sky Park, Photo Courtesy of WMTA

23. Watch a sunset from the middle of Lake Michigan with nothing to obstruct your view on Beaver Island.

Courtney Sheffer considers herself a professional when it comes to exploring all West Michigan has to offer. As Marketing Director for the West Michigan Tourist Association (WMTA), Courtney is always on the lookout for new West Michigan experiences to share with visitors. Whether you live, work, or play in West Michigan, WMTA can help you discover something new that you’ll love!

Lake Advice from Our Fans: What to Do in West Michigan

For the last month or so, our Facebook fans have been giving us great advice on their favorite things to do all around Pure Michigan. First up on our list is West Michigan, home to fantastic destinations like Traverse City, Ludington and Kalamazoo. Here is a round-up of what to do in the western part of the Great Lakes state.

Find your lake this summer by visiting michigan.org/lakeeffect

Grand Haven, Ludington, Traverse City, Holland, Manistee, Sleeping Bear Dunes all are such wonderful locations to visit. We love the west coast of Michigan most of all. We Buckeyes cannot wait to return.  In any season!” – Sondra Snyder

“Don’t miss Grand Haven! Love the beaches, lighthouses, boardwalk, Musical Fountain, trolley and sunsets!” – Stefanie Herder

Photo Courtesy of Trevor Billinghurst

Grand Haven, Photo Courtesy of Trevor Billinghurst

South Haven anytime of the year; sand dunes, lighthouses and magnificent sunsets.” – Amanda McGauley

“Benzie County in the north and the wineries in the south.” – Steven Lynn

Allegan is a super charming small town in West MI on the Kalamazoo river with a beautiful boardwalk.” – Peg Eileen

Empire Bluff Trail has the most incredible view of Sleeping Bear Dunes.” – Gregg Burian

Photo Courtesy of Tamie Pietrantonio

Empire Bluff Trail, Photo Courtesy of Tamie Pietrantonio

Kalamazoo Air Zoo. Holland and Windmill Island. South Haven Lighthouse. St. Joseph Silver Beach.” – Marvin Darling

“Leelanau Peninsula! Sleeping Bear Dunes!” – Kerri Tang

Leland (fishtown) and Traverse City area and wineries!” – Trudy McLeod

Photo Courtesy of S. Young

Carlson’s Fisheries in Leland, Photo Courtesy of S. Young

“Walking and riding on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes! And laying on anything that floats on Silver Lake.” – The Sand Box

“Go to a concert or performance at Interlochen Center for the Arts!” – Valerie Beth Gilbert

Is there anything we missed? Let us know what you love to do in West Michigan by commenting below!

Behind-the-Scenes of Tulip Time in Holland

From May 7-14, more than 500,000 people from around the world will travel to Holland, Michigan to experience the 2016 Tulip Time Festival. The festival features Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, food, parades and more – all of which take a lot of time and dedication to produce by the staff and a team of more than 800 volunteers.

Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of the festival, gives us a sneak peek at what goes into the making of Tulip Time. 

In Holland, Michigan, we’ve had a cool spring and the tulips love it! The town is being spruced up from a long winter and the Tulip Time Festival staff and interns are busy with the finishing touches on all the great events, entertainment and parades.

Here are just some of the many things that happen behind-the-scenes in Holland as we prepare for the festival.

Prepping Pigs-in-a-Blanket

500 dozen pigs-in-a-blanket – a traditional Dutch food – were made by a group of volunteers from area churches.  “Pigs” as we call them are a sausage roll covered with pastry dough and served to thousands of visitors at Dutch Marktplaats along with the largest selection of traditional Dutch food in the City of Holland.  This is quite a time honored tradition for the churches.

Marching Band Practice

All of the bands are practicing their marching skills for the Saturday GMB Muziekparade, the longest parade in Michigan at 2.4 miles. This year, May 14th is the day of the GMB Muziekparade. The parade will feature over 4,000 participants.

Dutch Dance Rehearsals

Dutch Dance is another signature event during the festival.  The dancers typically learn the dance in high school and can continue dancing as an “alumni dancer” after graduation.  This year, we have 800 dancers who wear clothing representing the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Practices begin in January and the dancers spend 30 hours over the next 4 months learning the dance. This event is a visitor favorite and free!

We couldn’t put together an internationally known flower festival without our beloved volunteers.  It takes over 800 volunteers over an 8 day period to help with trash pickup, ushering at the shows, set-up, deliver potted tulips to the venues around the city, assist with the Tulip Time run, and the three parades.  It is because of the dedication of these volunteers that our city can host over 500,000 guests to Join the Dance!  We hope to see you in beautiful Holland for the 87th Tulip Time Festival.

Gwen Auwerda is the Executive Director of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland.

Are you heading to Tulip Time this year? Share with us below!