Six Must-Visit Islands on Michigan’s Great Lakes

You’ve heard of the incredible beauty and fun of Mackinac Island, but what about some other islands found off the shores of Michigan’s four Great Lakes? Between natural and untouched landscapes to a state park not at all far from bustling Detroit, read more as Shalee Blackmer from The Awesome Mitten shares six island destinations to visit this year in Pure Michigan.

1. North & South Manitou
If you remember reading “The Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes” as a child, you’ll know these two islands are the heart of Michigan. Sitting off the coast of Leland, they are serene, beautiful, and disconnected. A ferry drops eager adventurers off once a day, and once you have arrived there are no stores or restaurants to fill any needs. In fact, there are only a couple places on each island where campers have access to water. South Manitou is home to a freighter shipwreck, where snorkelers can swim around the structure and have a true Great Lakes adventure.

Photo Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

The island is also home to some of the biggest and oldest trees in Michigan.The best part about these simple islands is that reality is far off on the horizon, with no way to connect to it. The only reason you’ll ever need a cell phone is for time, which simply fades with every worry.

2. Bois Blanc 

Have you ever heard of this island?  Would you be surprised to learn that it is Mackinac Island’s neighbor? Bois Blanc Island is much bigger than Mackinac Island, and also more desolate. A simple convenience store and old inn are two of the only buildings that stand here. The rest is filled with dense forests and rocky shorelines, beautiful and virtually untouched. The only way to get to the island is through the Plaunt Transportation ferry, which leaves from Cheboygan daily.

3. Isle Royale
Isle Royale is Michigan’s only national park, where roughly 17,000 visitors fall in love with Michigan every year. The small island in the middle of Lake Superior is filled with diverse wildlife and outdoor adventure. And although it is a national park, you won’t find many crowds.

Photo Courtesy of Joshua Nowicki Photography

 Isle Royale is one of the least visited national park in the country, but not for lack of beauty, but lack of accessibility. A five hour boat ride from the Upper Peninsula is the most common way to get to island. Its secluded environment makes it the perfect location for visitors to connect with the beauty around it. So pack up your backpack, lace up your hiking boots, and don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

4. Beaver Island
A couple hundred residents claim Beaver Island as their permanent home, but in the summer thousands flock to the small town of St. James for a one-of-a-kind Michigan vacation. Located some 27 miles off the coast of Charlevoix, the island is home to some of the state’s most beautiful beaches, brilliant stars, and crystal clear waters.  It is the prime vacation for those looking to come back refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated. Residents joke that it is always 3:00pm on the island, because the only reason to keep time here is to make sure you get to Daddy Frank’s Ice Cream Shop before it closes.

5. Belle Isle
The beauty of Belle Isle continues to win the hearts of Michiganders around the state. The southern point offers a near-perfect view of the Detroit skyline, where you can often watch freighters slowly venture up the river or sit next to an old fountain to watch the sunset over the city.

The Detroit skyline seen from Belle Isle, Photo Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

There is never a wrong time to visit Belle Isle. Winter bring ice skating, summer brings picnics, and every day spent here is a day not regretted.

6. Grand Island
Filled with cottages, woods, and ice caves, Grand Island is not to be missed on your next trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. In the summer, it is common for the island to be filled with families renting cottages, bon fires & s’mores, and calming waves against pebbled beaches.

Photo Courtesy of The Awesome Mitten

Winter brings daring adventures, where visitors make expeditions crossing a bay in Lake Superior to find ice caves lining the shore. They are majestic and mighty, each glowing with a tint of blue or green.Whether visiting for relaxing or excitement, Grand Island is always a good idea.

What is your favorite island found along Pure Michigan’s coastlines? Share with us below!

Shalee2

About the author: Shalee Blackmer is a 21 year old college student who grew up in the small town of Mecosta. She currently attends Michigan State University as an advertising student and spends her time exploring the outdoors. Her hobbies include running her own travel blog, which aims to inspire college-age students to see explore on a budget and taking photos to share her story. She enjoys camping, road trips, hiking and cliff jumping and enjoying Pure Michigan beauty.

8 Reasons To Start Your Summer with the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix! (CLOSED – Plus a Giveaway!)

The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is a weekend full of excitement between the four major racing series that are covered in this short time. Of course, some people might not know that the event is actually a complete international festival held on Detroit’s own Belle Isle Park with a range of enticing activities for the family!  Let’s start it off with number eight…

8. The Meijer Fan Zone

Meijer returns as a partner in 2015 to deliver one of the greatest recreational areas in all of Motorsports! The premises will have a plethora of fun activities, cool displays and enticing entertainment for fans of all ages throughout the weekend.  If you’re a huge car enthusiast, (which you should be, given the event!) displays from Chevy Racing and Autopalooza will have a range of unique motor vehicles from cruising or racing. The Detroit professional sports teams will have displays and some of the top Detroit sports legends will also be appearing and signing autographs. Surely you’ll want to get some face paint and show off your glamorous side, or maybe enjoy the simple pleasures of balloon art as you take advantage of the craft areas.  The Meijer Fan Zone is a key element that makes the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix feel less like a few races, and more of a holiday celebrating the jewel that is Belle Isle Park.

Photo courtesy of Jim Tocco Photography

Photo courtesy of Jim Tocco Photography

7. The Leinenkugel Biergarten

It’s hard to start your summer without considering refreshments… much less that picturesque condensation dripping off an ice cold bottle of your favorite drink.  Don’t worry, The Grand Prix team partnered up with Leinenkugel to give our 21 and over fans what they deserve: The Leinenkugel Biergarten (and yes that is “beer garden”).  Strategically placed between the Meijer Fan Zone, FirstMerit Bank Bridge and a relevant first-aid center, you won’t have issues finding something to quench your thirst or satiate your hunger.

Photo courtesy of Jim Tocco Photography

Photo courtesy of Jim Tocco Photography

6. Pirelli World Challenge Series

One of the four major racing series held at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is the Pirelli World Challenge Series.  The goal of this series is to gather a host of manufacturers, teams, and aftermarket suppliers to show off what’s under the hood.  Enjoy these beautiful, powerful metal stallions on the road.  Where else can you go to see a Bentley and a Ford racing alongside a Ferrari and a Honda? Better yet, there will be two races…with one on Saturday and one on Sunday so you can’t make up excuses to miss out.  Go to World-Challenge.com to check out the different classes, and get more information on the series!

Photo courtesy of Cadillac Racing

Photo courtesy of Cadillac Racing

5. Concerts

On a race track one can expect the powerful roar of an engine, the enticing squeal of tires on pavement and the fizzes and hums of the vehicles bolting by.  What you probably don’t expect is for some truly epic musical entertainment.  The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is taking it to the next level as the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage will rock Saturday night with 3 Doors Down and Sunday with Smash Mouth. Top local bands will also perform during the course of the weekend as well. Check out the full lineup of entertainment at DetroitGP.com.

Photo courtesy of Smash Mouth

Photo courtesy of Smash Mouth

4. SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road presented by TRAXXAS

Legend speaks of magical flying crafts, soaring through the air in constant battle with each other, in the shape of human trucks.  Okay so maybe that’s just slightly over the top, but not by much. Enter SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS. The idea here is to take a select group of high-class drivers and  put them in some super powered trucks to race. My guess is that one of them figured, “hey why not add some massive jumps to send us a solid two stories high?” This event is something you have to see to believe!

Photo courtesy of Rock Media Photography

Photo courtesy of Rock Media Photography

3. TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

Last year, two major races decided to get together and spawn one coolest racing series on the planet.  Again things can be a bit confusing with the four different classes driving alongside each other at the same time, but understand that these drivers are world-class.  Some of the best on the planet, right here in your back yard. A few of the races in this series go for 12 and even 24 hours straight!  Can you believe that? But Detroit is a  bustling city, so we decided to give the crowd a couple of super intensive, shorter races instead. Don’t miss it! Check out IMSA.com for more information.

Photo courtesy of LAT Photography

Photo courtesy of LAT Photography

2. Autograph Session

Muster up some courage and get an autograph from your favorite driver! Throughout the weekend, there will be occasions where drivers from each series will come out and relax to hang, shoot the breeze, and sign some goodies.  Not often do opportunities come by where professional athletes take the time to get to know their admirers, so be sure to take advantage of the autograph sessions.  This is a true, “for the fans” moment and selfies are not frowned upon.

Photo courtesy of Oxygen Photography

Photo courtesy of Oxygen Photography

1. Verizon IndyCar Series

So you come to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, and you have that craving.  You’re not really sure what it is… You already stopped by The Leinenkugel Biergarten so your stomach is satisfied.  You heard some awesome performances by some legendary musicians, so you have a good vibe. But something is missing. Here at the Grand Prix, we cater to every need. We will personally deliver two heaping portions of pure, unadulterated, furious speed. The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans is back, and it’s going to be exactly what you waited for. Experienced IndyCar fans know that this is some of the fastest, most intense racing in the world with IndyCar legends and can be a lot to handle. But I say indulge. Dig in. It’s race time. Shoot over to indycar.com to keep up with your favorite IndyCar racer or receive all other relevant IndyCar needs.

 

Photo courtesy of LAT Photography

Photo courtesy of LAT Photography

GIVEAWAY: Do you want to score a pair of tickets to this year’s Grand Prix? Simply tell us what events you would attend by commenting below!  We’ll then select two lucky winners at random to win a pair of tickets to the race. To be eligible, simply submit your comments (along with your email address) by Thursday, May 28 at 2:00 p.m. EST. We’ll contact the winners Friday morning using the email address provided (we won’t share it or sell it to anybody).

UPDATE: This contest has ended and the winners have been contacted via email. Thank you to all those who participated!

Profile Picture - Tyler HTyler Hoornstra, 23, is currently a public relations intern for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. He graduated in 2014 from Michigan State University and James Madison College.