Here Are Michigan’s Top Instagram-Worthy Spots

Here in Michigan, we have countless destinations to visit, which all provide a great opportunity for you to take that perfect Instagram photo. And while we think every Pure Michigan destination is spectacular, there are a few that truly stand out.

Read below for 7 Instagram-worthy destinations across Pure Michigan and remember to follow us on Instagram!

1. Empire Bluffs

Empire, located on the coast of Lake Michigan in Northwest Michigan, defines the term hidden gem. With its soaring bluffs and breathtaking views, Empire is the gateway to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where you’ll find helpful rangers who can help you find all there is to know about the formation of the dunes as well as point you in the right direction for hiking trails, beaches and scenic drives. Empire Bluffs offer an unbeatable view of Lake Michigan, and is a favorite picture-taking spot for Michigan residents and visitors alike. Click here to read more on Empire.

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Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @sarahmurfy

 2. Porcupine Mountains

If you’re looking for an unforgettable camping trip, venture to the western region of the Upper Peninsula. Towering virgin timbers, secluded lakes and miles of wild rivers are what you can expect to find in the rugged Porcupine Mountains. Here, you can camp on the shores of Lake Superior and enjoy sunsets from your site after exploring more than 90 miles of foot trails. During the winter, the area is perfect for Alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.  For animal lovers, the ‘Porkies’ are designated as an official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area and offer a pet-friendly shoreline.

It's hard to find a sight more spectacular than the Porcupine Mountains in Fall

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @catchupandrelish

 3. Turnip Rock

If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing Turnip Rock via Lake Huron, we insist that you head there immediately. This enormous rock received its turnip connotation from thousands of years of erosion from storm waves. Now, it’s an island with a few trees and little other vegetation. The land nearby is all privately owned, so the only way to view it is by kayak or trekking across frozen Lake Huron in the winter. While in the Port Austin area, be sure to check out Port Crescent State Park, one of three dark sky preserves in Michigan, where you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Read more on what it’s like kayaking to Turnip Rock here.

Turnip Rock, located on the shores of Lake Huron, is as iconic as any location in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @forehand67

 4. Silver Lake Sand Dunes

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a beach-lover’s paradise. Nestled along the shore of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, you’ll find massive sand dunes, beach buggies—with the only sand dunes in Michigan where you can drive your own ORV—and miles of pristine shoreline beaches designed for family fun. Encompassing the towns of Hart, Mears, and Pentwater, Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area is the perfect spot for a family vacation with miles of tree-lined bike trails, historic towns, a lighthouse and more. Spend the morning on the dunes, the afternoon in the water and finish your day in one of our charming villages for a relaxing dinner at a locally owned restaurant. Ready to plan your trip? Read more about the Silver Lake Sand Dunes here.

Rev up your engines and head to the iconic Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @Izzca

 5. Tahquamenon Falls

One of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, the Upper Falls has a drop of nearly 50 feet and is more than 200 feet across. If you travel a little farther in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, you’ll discover  the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island.  The State Park offers for four campgrounds with modern & rustic campsites and more than 40 miles of hiking trails, 13 inland lakes and approximately 20,000 acres of natural area. Winter offers opportunity for snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing with miles of marked trails.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is a must-see for residents and visitors alike

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @kammtheguy

 6. Mackinac Bridge

The Mighty Mack. The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere with 7,400 feet of roadway suspended in the air over the straits of Mackinac and unites Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. Total length of the bridge, including its approaches, is approximately five miles. Crossing the Mackinac Bridge should be on everyone’s Pure Michigan bucket list. Want to see some truly breathtaking views from atop the bridge? Click here.

The mighty Mackinac Bridge is the perfect place to snap a photo

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @MikeConnick

7. Detroit Skyline

Detroit is truly on a comeback. Everywhere you look, there are new restaurants, retail and businesses rejuvenating the downtown. Come to Detroit to experience the eclectic nightlife and theater scenes and the high-energy streets with year-round festivals.

The Detroit skyline is beautiful no matter the weather or season

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @AndrewJones111

When in the metro Detroit area, you can take a step back in time and explore the world-famous cultural attraction that is the Henry Ford, the western hemisphere’s largest polar bear exhibit and world’s largest penguin conservation center at the Detroit Zoo or find the kid in you at Lego Land and the Sea Life Michigan aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, which features thousands of aquatic, creates and interactive touch pools. Read more on the revitalization of the Motor City here.

Honorable mention: The Blue Water Bridge, Michigan Theater, Keweenaw Peninsula and the Michigan Capitol Building (and many, many others!).

Where have you taken an awe-inspiring photo in Michigan? Share with us by commenting below!

This Rare 3D View of the Top of Mackinac Bridge Using Google Maps Street View is Mind-Blowing!

Have you ever imagined what it’s like to stand atop one of Michigan’s most recognizable structures, the Mackinac Bridge? Now, using Google Maps Street View, you can. And you can do it from the comfort of your own living room!

Google Trekker at the top of Mackinac Bridge

We’ve partnered with Google to make many of Michigan’s most iconic destinations accessible to the more than one billion people all around the world who use Google Maps each month.  Using Google Trekker technology, attractions such as the Mackinac Bridge – not previously accessible on Google Street View – now have 360 degree, fully navigable imagery that will allow potential travelers to explore these destinations.

We’re giving our readers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how we captured this truly remarkable footage. Get ready – you’re in for the climb of your life!

What did you think? As you search for the words to describe this breathtaking virtual experience, here’s a behind-the-scenes look into how it all came together.

The Street View Trekker is a backpack system with a camera on top that is worn by an operator who walks through pedestrian walkways or trails on foot. The imagery is captured automatically and stitched together to create the 360 degree panorama seen on Google Maps. More than 44,000 panoramic photos were taken by members and volunteers on the Pure Michigan team and the Department of Natural Resources who borrowed the Trekker and traveled for four weeks, capturing some of the most breathtaking scenes around Michigan.

Google Trekker at Mackinac Island looking at Mackinac Bridge

There are 15 lenses at the top of the mast, each pointed in a different direction that enabled us to create a 360-degree panoramic view. As the operator walks, photos are taken every 2.5 seconds. The Trekker weighs approximately 40 lbs, and is the size of a large hiking backpack. It’s about 4 feet in height when set on the ground, and when worn, the camera system extends 2 feet above the operator’s shoulders.  The Trekker battery can last around 6-8 hours on a full charge.

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So, we strapped on the Trekker and made our way to one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. According to Robert Sweeney, executive director of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, the trek to the top of the bridge can be characterized by feelings of anticipation and exhilaration. The climb starts by navigating a series of small openings, similar to what you would expect on a submarine.

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There are 2,500 cells in each tower that range in size from 6 cubic feet to 60 cubic feet. Needless to say, we ran into a bit of trouble getting the Trekker to the top…

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…But we made it. And the view was 100 percent worth it!

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Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps Street View.

Top of the Mackinac Bridge on Google Maps Street View

Top of the Mackinac Briddge

Are you adventurous enough to make the climb? Each year, the Mackinac Bridge Authority donates 25 certificates to charitable organizations. Each certificate enables two people to take a tour of the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

The public can bid on the certificates or buy raffle tickets (depending on how each organization chooses to handle their fundraising campaign). For more information and a list of participating organizations, send an e-mail to powellm1@michigan.gov or call 906 -643-1336.

Other Michigan destinations available on Google Street View are:  Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Island Loop Route National Water Trail in St. Clair County, the State Capitol building in Lansing, Ford Field, the Detroit Riverwalk, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Wagner Falls, Bond Falls, Silver Lake State Park and Sand Dunes, Palms Brook State Park, Brighton State Recreation Area, Pinckney State Recreation Area, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Ocqueoc Falls in Millersburg, Agate Falls in Trout Creek and the Presque Isle River.

These sites join other natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, the Galapagos Islands and many more available in the Street View feature of Google Maps.

For more information and to view other Michigan destinations on Google Maps Street view, visit michigan.org/GoogleTrekker.

Six Reasons to Run the Mighty Mac in September

On September 26, runners, walkers and Michigan adventure seekers can literally run to St. Ignace to take part in an annual pilgrimage across the Mackinac Bridge – better known as the Mighty Mac Bridge Race. Today, guest blogger Mindy Rutgers shares six reasons why you should keep this race on your calendar and lace up on Sept. 26.

1. The Eye-Candy:

Aside from the bragging rights of crossing the infamous Michigan Bridge by foot, you’ll have 11 kilometers to enjoy the stunning picturesque scenes that the route encompasses.  From a view of the Straits of Mackinac at sunrise to the awe-inspiring bridge itself – there’s plenty of  scenic beauty to enjoy. After crossing the bridge, the course takes runners through Straits State Park for more beautiful Michigan landscape.

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Photo courtesy of David Kunze

2. The Bragging Rights

The Mackinac Bridge is one of Michigan’s most notable landmarks and the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. For runners, this is a unique spot to cross off a destination bucket list and remember for years to come.

3. The prize!

Awards will be given to the overall fastest male and female runners, in addition to the top three finishers in all age groups. Aside from the top awards given to 15 different age groupings for each gender, all finishers will receive a medal, T-shirt and post-race refreshments.

Photo Courtesy of David Kunze.

Photo courtesy of David Kunze

4. The Perks from the Top

Besides the awesome race swag, each runner will receive a “time to the top” photo of themselves on the bridge, which is perhaps the coolest souvenir ever. Maybe you will frame it or use it formulate the perfect post for Facebook or Instagram, making your friends wish they were there with you! Don’t worry; they can join you in 2016!

5. The After Party

Afterward, it’s time to celebrate a great race and who better to party with than our sponsors – the Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams. Enjoy refreshments at the post-race gathering between 10am – 5pm. A free shuttle will be available to transport runners around St. Ignace after the race.

Photo Courtesy of David Kunze.

Photo Courtesy of David Kunze

6. The Fall Colors in the Upper Peninsula

Make plans to enjoy the fall foliage in and around St. Ignace before and after the race. Consider staying an extra day and take a drive to the Tahquamenon Falls, which are absolutely stunning surrounded by autumn leaves.

Take your first steps toward the Mighty Mac Bridge Race by visiting stignace.com for registration information and lodging options. Have more questions? Call our office at (800) 338-6660.

About the Author: Mindy Rutgers is an Upper Peninsula native and the Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. She has worked in Michigan’s tourism & hospitality industry since 1996. Like so many U.P. residents, the Mackinac Bridge has served as a symbol of home for her for as long as she can remember.