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!

Hit the Water in Michigan with These Extreme Sports

Summertime in Michigan means many things, but typically the most popular and memorable activities happen on the water. Between swimming, boating and fishing, there are countless ways to relax while taking in the Great Lakes state.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, however, check out these five thrilling sports that can serve as the highlight of the season.

1. Shipwreck Diving

Since Michigan is surrounded by large bodies of water, it is one of the best places to explore shipwrecks. Experience history firsthand by visiting one of the many sites where you can visit ships now resting on the lake floor. Even if you aren’t a diver, there are options for charter tours with glass bottoms perfect for making memories while staying dry.

Explore shipwrecks resting at the bottom of the Great Lakes

Suggested locations: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Alpena), Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve (Traverse City) and the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve (Port Sanilac).

 2. Kiteboarding

Want to try something new and exhilarating? Look no further than kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing and paragliding, among others, into one extreme sport. This sport is made possible through a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard.

Kiteboarding lets you harness the water and the air in one great sport

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @thawanderer88

Suggested locations: St. Clair Shores, Traverse City and East Tawas.

 3. Sea (Lake) Kayaking

A “silent sport,” kayaking speaks to our souls. Explore sea caves, channels and coves or travel pristine rivers, enjoying the serenity of a peaceful paddle or the thrill of riding heart-stopping rapids. Kayaking is also your best chance to experience the spectacular seasonal scenery and abundant wildlife of the water’s edge. Sea kayaking is more rigorous than regular kayaking, so expect a healthy arm workout when heading out onto one of the Great Lakes.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P. is an ideal sea kayaking adventure

Photo Courtesy of Courtney Kotewa

Suggested locations: Port Austin and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Munising).

4. Parasailing

This high-flying experience is the thrill of a lifetime. Take in the sights of your surroundings as a giant parachute sends you soaring hundreds of feet above the water. Through parasailing, you’re able to see many unique Michigan destinations from an aerial perspective while being refreshed by the splashing freshwater below.

See the Mackinac Bridge from above through a parasailing adventure

Photo Courtesy of Mackinaw Parasailing

Suggested locations: Mackinaw City and Harbor Springs.

5. Great Lakes surfing

Surf’s up! Though it is believed that Great Lakes breakers were first surfed nearly a century ago, and possibly much earlier by native peoples, the first significant wave of participants arrived in the 1960s. The west coast surf craze was leaking into Middle America, and small surfing communities sprouted across the Great Lakes. Michigan was at the forefront and today, surfing on the ‘Third Coast’ is more popular than ever. The waves are typically small in the summer, which makes it the perfect time to learn to surf. The big waves and prime surfing time is during the fall, winter and spring.

St. Joseph offers great surfing for both beginners and veterans depending on the season

Photo Courtesy of Josh Nowicki

Suggested locations: New Buffalo and St. Joseph.

Which of these extreme water sports have you tried? Share with us by commenting below!

Plan a Pure Michigan Adventure with these August Events

August is fast approaching and summer will be soon ending! While the weather is still warm, it’s the perfect time to explore Pure Michigan. From the Milan Bluegrass Festival to an Annual Rubber Ducky Festival, there are a ton of exciting and unique events happening around the state.

Below is a roundup of August events to help you plan the upcoming month. Visit our events page to see everything going on all month long.

August 1-7

44th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival??????????
August 2, Sault Sainte Marie

The 44th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival, a juried exhibition and sale of fine arts and crafts, displayed by the artists themselves. The festival is held on the grounds of the Sault City Hall, facing the waterfront and the historic walkway.

The wide array of arts and crafts on display includes paintings, photographs and prints, ceramics, jewelry, carvings, games and furniture. Also included are many items for the yard, clothing, toys, stained and fused glass, wallets and purses, the U. P. in Smoke food wagon, maple syrup products, kettle corn, cinnamon roasted nuts and more.

Milan Bluegrass Festival
August 4-6, Milan

Michigan’s premier Bluegrass Festival is back for its 19th annual edition. Check out some of the new acts in addition to the stars everyone looks forward to seeing each year. This year promises to be one of the best.

Berries, Blues & BBQ Dinner on the Farm
August 5, Grand Junction

Relax under a pavilion while being served an appetizer, entrée and dessert, all made from in-season produce, local meats and cheeses. Enjoy a sampling of locally crafted wine and beer from McIntosh Winery and Round Barn Winery. Blues music will accompany your relaxed dinner and can end the night with a wagon ride through  fields just as the sun is setting. The Farm Dinner Menus will be crafted with in-season produce, meats from a local butcher shop and cheese from Evergreen Creamery in Fennville. The menu for the night will be subject to change based on what foods are available locally.

Taste of Michigan
August 5, Manistique

Your campground host will have an array of UP-made goodies to sample, join at the campground host site. Additional details can be obtained by calling the park at 906-341-2355.

Le Concours de Livingston

Le Concours de Livingston
August 6, Howell

Join for one of the preeminent events in Livingston County. Le Concours de Livingston showcases a stunning array of antique automobiles and motorcycles. You can also enjoy live music, delicious appetizers and beverages. In addition, there will be silent and live auctions featuring some one-of-a-kind items.

 August 8-14

Jazz on the Ave- Gregg KarukasJazz on the Ave
August 10, Dearborn

Come and enjoy the 8th annual Jazz on the Ave concert series in City Hall Park!

Gregg Karukas takes the stage from 7pm-9pm. Attendees are encouraged to pick a good spot, bring lawn chairs or blankets, and enjoy an evening of live music. Neighborhood restaurants will be selling food at booths located in the park, or concert goers can grab some carry-out and have a picnic! In addition to some talented musicians, there will be a balloon twister and face painter for those young and young at heart.

Leelanau State Park – Meteors & S’mores
August 10, Northport

Come visit Leelanau State Park during the Persied meteor shower. With your naked eye you will be able to watch potentially hundreds of meteors flash across the sky as they enter our atmosphere. Visitors should meet at the parks day use pavilion where free s’mores will be provided for everyone to enjoy during this star-gazing opportunity. They are best viewed while lying on your back, so it is advised visitors bring a lawn chair or blanket. Also, dress according to the weather and bring bug spray and your own beverages.

The Cowpie Music Festival
cowpieAugust 12-14, Caledonia

Every second weekend in August, Shagbark Farm, a working Angus cattle farm, becomes home to the Cowpie Music Festival. Join the party in the pasture for a unique cultural experience that includes 18 talented local bands, acres of pastoral camping, delicious food, craft beer, hot air balloon rides and more! Western Michigan’s rolling hills create a perfect natural amphitheater and provide great acoustics for fans dancing in the front row or just relaxing on blankets at the top of the hill. Music fans from all over the region come to party ’til the cows come home!

Legends of the Saginaw Sail
August 13, Bay City

Learn the fascinating history of the Saginaw River as the Appledore sails from Downtown Bay City to the Saginaw Bay. Once out on the open water, help the crew set the sails or relax and enjoy the view. A light lunch of a sub sandwich, chips, cookie and soda/water is served onboard.

Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat ShowWooden Boat Show
August 13, Hessel

The Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Boat Show, a judged event, is held each year in Hessel, in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. It has been a major attraction since it began in 1978. The show averages 150 entries and is one of the largest shows featuring antique and classic wooden and non-wooden boats. Restored boats dating back to the early 1900s are registered in this very unique show. The 2016 show will showcase Century Boats. A Festival of Arts is held alongside the boat show, where artists display and sell a variety of fine art & craft. Around 70 of the Midwest’s finest artists participate in this juried show.

August 15-21

Michigan’s State Fair in the Upper PeninsulaMichigan's State Fair in the Upper Peninsula
August 15-21, Escanaba

Come enjoy Michigan’s oldest State Fair in the Upper Peninsula. This week long fair has fun for the whole family with carnival rides, excellent food vendors, agricultural exhibits, livestock shows & auctions, grandstand musical entertainment featuring national acts, stock car races, midway entertainment and much more!

Downtown Tecumseh Classic Car & Bike Show & Music in the Park
August 18, Tecumseh

Get your motor running and head on down the highway to the 2016 Tecumseh Classic Car & Bike Show. Cars & bikes will be displayed in the Old National Bank parking lot located at 205 E. Chicago Blvd. and the adjacent downtown parking lot from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for all to enjoy. Special recognition awards will be given. Enjoy music with family and friends at Adams Park by City Hall.

Festival on the Bay
Festival on the BayAugust 19-20, Petoskey

Petoskey’s signature event – Festival on the Bay is a celebration of summer, life along the water and sunsets that can’t be beat.

Come for the music from awesome performers like The Cookies, the ever-popular Petoskey Steel Drum band, perennial favorite Jelly Roll Blues Band, Pete Kehoe, The Accidentals and more.

Vendors will line the promenade at Petoskey’s waterfront with food and frivolously fun items. Take to the water, take in and arts & crafts show, and maybe even get your color on during a fun run. Appearances by the famous Million Dollar Sunsets Petoskey is so well known for are also on the schedule.

29th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival
August 20, Bellaire

The Bellaire Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the 29th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival. This cool event is a quarter-mile race when 2000 yellow ducks are dumped into the Intermediate River with the finish line at Riverside Marina.

Also join us on Saturday for kids’ activities with face painting, games, bounce houses, slides and water balls, and a matinee movie. Buy treasures at the Fine Arts & Crafts show with over 30 artists, explore downtown Bellaire sidewalk sales and much more. After the finish line, join for “Beatles Forever” at the Bellaire Public Library.

Thunder Over Michigan 2016Thunder Over Michigan 2016
August 20-21, Ypsilanti

Thunder Over Michigan is one of America’s leading airshows and is considered the best “warbird” show in America. Held every summer at Willow Run Airport, the show features world-class entertainment, unique static displays, and fun for the whole family.

August 22-28

Chelsea Community Fair
August 23-27, Chelsea

The Chelsea Community Fair is hosted at the Fairgrounds, which is located just south of downtown Chelsea. The annual fair is organized and run by the Board of Directors and the Daily Activity Fair Committees.

Michigan Paranormal ConventionMichigan paranormal convention
August 26-27, Sault Sainte Marie

The 7th Annual Michigan Paranormal Convention will bring the biggest names of the paranormal industry to Sault Ste. Marie, MI (Michigan’s Oldest City). On August 26th and 27th at Sault Ste Marie Michigan’s Kewadin Casinos Dream Makers Theater, the following experts and television stars will be on hand to cover such topics as paranormal investigating, psychic powers, demonology, UFOlogy and attendees will be able to meet some of their favorite television paranormal investigators.

Margarita Fest
August, 26-27, Lexington

The little town of Lexington is going tropical! Grab your silly hats, leis, blinking anything and head downtown for island music and a Caribbean of fun! Refreshments available all weekend.

Yassou! Greek Cultural Festival
August 26-28, Grand Rapids

Yassou means welcome and we welcome you to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church. We are thrilled to bring Grand Rapids an event celebrating the culture and traditions of the Greek Orthodox people. We look forward to sharing with you our music, dances, gifts and of course our food! We welcome you to visit and tour our beautiful church and ask about our Orthodox faith. Please spend some of your weekend with us and we are sure you will be glad you did. Opa!

German Park BiergartenGerman Park Biergarten
August, 27, Ann Arbor

German Park picnics attract thousands of visitors every year. After 75 years of serving traditional German-American hospitality to the public, we know how to make sure everyone has a good time.

August 29-31

Street Musique
Through August 31, Harbor Springs

Come and enjoy the various sounds and melodies of local area musicians while strolling through Main Street. Musicians will be performing from 7:00-9:00pm every Thursday until Labor Day weekend. With so many different styles of music offered block to block, every member of the family can relish the local rhythms while eating an ice cream with the kids or just enjoying a nice summer evening walk. Activities for the children will be available, ranging from magic shows and balloon animals to face painting and sidewalk chalk throughout town and at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies.

In the Paint: Art and the Spirit of the Games
In the PaintNow through September 6, Detroit

In the Paint: Art and the Spirit of the Games showcases works of art, presented for the modern Olympic and other international games, which were created by African American artists. Guided by the spirit of Olympism, the creations celebrate fair play, human dignity, equality and determination. By placing artists who created these exemplary works alongside the stories of the athletes who helped break down racial and other social barriers, In the Paint fulfills Pierre de Coubertin’s original mission for the Olympic Games to present the combined beauty of art and athletics.

 Did we miss your favorite August event? Name it below!