7 Must-See Michigan Destinations for 2016

A new year brings with it a chance to visit places your feet have never taken you before. Guest blogger Aaron Cruz from The Awesome Mitten suggests seven Michigan towns that are worth a look in the New Year.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Plymouth. If your plans this year are taking you to southeastern Michigan, visit this town that, while in the heart of suburbia, gives off the feeling of being in a small town far, far away. With a hand-crafted Espresso Elevado coffee in-hand, walk the downtown streets at the Plymouth Ice Festival in winter and Art in the Park in summer.  Hold hands with a loved one as you stroll through Kellogg Park in the center of town. In the summer road trip, hike or bike the 17-mile continuous park that is Hines Drive. Winter brings with it the chance to sled with the kids at Plymouth Township Park. For food, enjoy some pizza and smoked barbeque at Ironwood Grill, go for a more upscale feel and cocktails at Fiamma Grille or grab the gang and enjoy family-style dining along the railroad tracks at Station 885.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Frankenmuth. No town epitomizes Christmas and the holidays in Michigan more than Frankenmuth. Visit the world’s largest Christmas Store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Shop the stores with German themed names like Cheese Haus along the one-street downtown also known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria. Experience a specialty coffee at The Harvest Coffeehouse & Beanery. Grab a flight of beer at Frankenmuth Brewery to wash down their delicious lobster mac ‘n cheese. Looking for romance? Contact the Frankenmuth Carriage Company about a horse & carriage ride. Those looking for family fun, make a weekend out of it with the kids at the Bavarian Inn of Frankenmuth resort.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Grand Haven. The Lake Michigan coastline in the mitten offers one charming, beautiful resort town after another. The Grand Haven lighthouse and pier is reason enough to choose Grand Haven for a first time visit. Alongside the lighthouse, you will find Grand Haven State Park, which is made up entirely of beach and sand dunes with camping opportunity. As you browse the shops in the cozy downtown, get a freshly-made baked good from the boutique-styled The Bakers Wife. Experience hand-crafted coffee at Aldea Coffee in the Armory, where Grand Armory Brewery Company and Righteous BBQ also await. During summer evenings, watch the synchronized Musical Fountain and all its water, lights and music.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Oscoda. The Lake Michigan coastline gets al lot of love, but the Sunrise Coast and Lake Huron showcase their own beauty like in the resort town of Oscoda. Grab a cup of coffee at the colorful Garden View Coffee Mill, then head down the street for a walk on the pier at Oscoda Beach Park.  Time your visit for the summer and you might run into their Annual Art on the Beach fair. Just north of town sits miles of sugar sand beach fun. For nature enthusiasts, head west of town along the River Road National Scenic Byway and you will quickly be in the Huron National Forest. Waterfalls, scenic overlooks, hiking trails, monuments, lumberjacks, 300+ step staircases and plenty of camping options await you. Eagle’s Nest Overlook is a must visit.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Fenton. Just south of Flint and easily accessible from the Detroit area, Fenton’s motto might as well be go big or go home when it comes to its thriving food scene. Grab a peanut butter and jelly donut that is big enough for two from Crust. Head down the street for a Reuben or one of the other endless selection of humongous sandwiches at The Laundry. During the dinner hour order a large of any pasta dish at Fenton House and you’ll have enough for the whole family, with tons to spare. In autumn, mix in some cider, donuts, wine tasting and family fun at Spicer Orchards and enjoy some carnival food, apple pie and entertainment at one of the biggest fall festivals in Michigan, Apple Fest.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Sault Ste. Marie. The fun as we turn the calendar does not have to be confined to the Lower Peninsula. Head to the U.P. and Michigan’s oldest city. Go on a boat tour at the famous Soo Locks and/or watch from the three story observation deck as giant ships pass through the locks and canals of the largest waterway crossing in the world. Next head across W. Portage Ave. to walk along and scope out the tourist traps. For eats I recommend grabbing a burger with everything on it and hanging out at Clyde’s Drive-In. Before getting into the car watch the ferries head to-and-from Sugar Island while walking around Rotary Park.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Cruz

Port Huron. A lot of people pass through Port Huron as they go into Canada. In the New Year, as you head towards the Blue Water Bridge, get off the interstate and checkout the international crossing from the south along Thomas Edison Parkway. Just north of the bridge visit the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and Lighthouse Park. You’ll find beachfront where you can watch as Lake Huron flows into the St. Clair River while waving over to Canada. Staying in town, grab a sandwich, a specialty coffee and some tunes at Ravens Café. In the warmer months, walk along Quay Street and the docked boats, as well as visit the Vantage Point Farmers’ Market which sits right along the riverfront.

What other Michigan towns would you like to visit and explore for the first time in the New Year?

aaron cruz

Aaron Cruz is a lover and long time resident of The Mitten. When he is not out on the open road, he’s probably drinking coffee in a random indie coffee shop. He loves taking photos and road trips, along with checking out skylines, the seasons, shorelines and hanging around water which makes Michigan the perfect place to live. You can find him on TwitterInstagram and on his personal travel blog.

These 8 Stunning Google Maps Street View Images Will Make You Want to Visit Michigan Immediately

From Monroe to Houghton and Niles to Bad Axe, there are endless opportunities to see the incredible beauty and splendor Pure Michigan offers all year long. With some help from Google Trekker, we’ve collected some of our favorite views from around the Great Lakes state. Explore the eight pictures below and start planning your next Pure Michigan getaway.

Lake of the Clouds, located in Ontonagon, Mich, allows visitors the unique ability to see for miles around. This Northern Michigan treasure is a favorite for hikers because of it’s beautiful views and untouched landscapes.

Lake of the Clouds

The Detroit Riverwalk spans 5 ½ miles, from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Belle Isle Bridge. Visitors often walk along the river and enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown Detroit.Detroit River Walk

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers multicolored sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, inland lakes, streams, forests and wildlife. This iconic Pure Michigan spot is known for its beautiful colors across the nation.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Step back into the Victorian era with a visit to Michigan’s award-winning Capitol Building. This 143-year-old building has stood the test of time hosted some of the state’s most notable leaders.

Lansing State Capitol

The Agate Falls is a 39-foot-high waterfall of the Ontonagon River. These powerful falls are a great place to unwind as you take in the fresh air around you.

Agate Falls

Sugar Loaf Rock is a unique Mackinac Island must see. Sugar Loaf is the largest post-glacial erosion feature in the Straits of Mackinac.

Sugar Loaf Rock

Ocqueoc Falls serves as an ideal spot for a hike or camping trip. Can you pronounce Ocqueoc?

Ocqueoc Falls

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in the Great Lakes, established in 1825 and rebuilt in 1829 and 1861. It was the first lighthouse on Lake Huron and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan. It helps keep watch over Lake Huron at the entrance to the St. Clair River.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

Travel by horse-drawn carriage, sample famous Mackinac Island fudge or peddle your way around the island as you stop along the way and watch for freighters. Sit in the rocking chair on the Victorian-style Grand Hotel’s 660 foot long porch. Time is at a standstill on Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island - Main Street

For more information and to view other Michigan destinations on Google Maps Street view, visit michigan.org/GoogleTrekker. What are some of your favorite places in Michigan?

You’re Invited: #AskPureMichigan Your Winter Travel Questions on Twitter

Twitter Graphic

Are you on Twitter? Are you planning a winter getaway this year?

If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, be sure join us for our #AskPureMichigan Twitter Chat on Monday, December 15th at 12:00 noon EST!

Get your questions ready! We’ll be chatting about winter travel ideas, featured deals and new activities and attractions to try out during the 2015 season.

Our partners from popular winter travel destinations across the state will also be on hand to answer your location-specific questions, including Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and many other Michigan cities and ski resorts.

Here’s how to participate in 5 simple steps: 

1. Follow @PureMichigan on Twitter.

2. Sign in to Twitter on December 15th from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. You can join us for just few minutes or stay for the hour!

3. Tweet your winter travel questions to @PureMichigan. Make sure to use #AskPureMichigan in your tweet.

4.  Look out for six giveaway questions from @PureMichigan during the chat.  Tweet your answer using #AskPureMichigan for a chance to win winter-inspired prizes from the Pure Michigan online store.

5. Follow the #AskPureMichigan conversation on Twitter for tips, tricks and suggestions for planning a winter getaway that’s perfect for you.

Not able to join us? No worries. Leave your questions in the comments below and we’ll answer them during the chat.

See you on Twitter!