Six Scenic Drives for Pure Michigan Summer Road Trips

As school and work schedules slow down and temperatures heat up, summer is the perfect time for a road trip in Pure Michigan! Nick Nerbonne of The Awesome Mitten has rounded up a list of some great road trips around the state.

Summer is meant for road trips with the windows down, music up, and good times on the horizon. Fortunately for Michiganders, and for those who visit us here in the Mitten, there are plenty of options for beautiful drives that showcase the beauty of the Great Lakes State.

I’ve had the pleasure of exploring quite a bit of Michigan’s pleasant peninsulas, and when I hop in the car and hit the road from my home in Traverse City, I often find myself heading toward the miles of Great Lakes coastline that are always just a  short drive away, no matter where you are in the state. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph

Head north from New Buffalo on Red Arrow Highway along Lake Michigan to explore the quaint coastal villages of Union Pier, Lakeside and Harbert on your way to St. Joseph. Known for its art galleries and antiques, this popular summer cruise also features numerous Lake Michigan beaches.

The region’s climate is heavily influenced by Lake Michigan, and orchards and vineyards checker the landscape. Sample wines at tasting rooms for over a dozen wineries along the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, and bring a few bottles home to open while sharing the memories.

Don’t miss: Weko Beach

Follow the signs from Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman to this beautiful stretch of Lake Michigan beach. Day passes are available, or reserve a campsite and catch one of Weko Beach’s famous sunsets.

2. M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort

M-22 receives much of its well-deserved notoriety for the many scenic destinations along its northern reaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While these are among my favorite day trips in Michigan, I often look further south along this scenic coastal highway, beginning in the village of Arcadia.

On a hot summer day, the beach at Arcadia is the perfect place for a refreshing swim along the sandy shore. After cooling off in the “Big Lake,” head north along M-22 for scenic vistas from the tops of the wooded hills to the Lake Michigan port city of Frankfort. Grab a Michigan craft beer at newly-opened Stormcloud Brewing Company and stroll along Frankfort’s pier to the very photogenic lighthouse.

Don’t miss: Lake Michigan overlook just north of Arcadia

Head north along M-22 from Arcadia and stop at the scenic turnout just outside of town. Climb the steps for a spectacular view from atop the bluff.

3. M-23 from Tawas City to Alpena

Often overlooked by travelers heading north, Michigan’s “Sunrise Coast” offers a Great Lakes setting with a beauty all its own. From M-55 in Tawas City, M-23 skirts the Lake Huron shoreline through the coastal villages of Oscoda and Harrisville on its way north to Alpena. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery at Alpena’s waterfront park adjacent to the marina on the shores of Thunder Bay.

Harrisville State Park offers campsites directly on Lake Huron. Make your reservation early to get the best view of the beach.

Don’t miss: Sturgeon Point Lighthouse

Constructed in 1870, this classic Lake Huron beacon is a must-stop when traveling along M-23.

4. River Road Scenic Byway

The River Road Scenic Byway leads visitors west along the AuSable River from Oscoda. The drive lives up to its name, with several viewpoints high above the AuSable Valley along the way, but also provides a glimpse into the area’s past as a major hub in Michigan’s timber industry. Hiking trails and elaborate staircases provide access to the water’s edge, so bring your hiking shoes.

Don’t Miss: Lumberman’s Monument

Dedicated in 1932, Lumberman’s Monument recognizes the hard-working lumbermen of Michigan’s early logging industry. Follow the trail northeast from the

Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center for a panoramic view of the AuSable River and surrounding area.

5. US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique

A trip across the “Mighty Mac” always involves breathtaking scenery, and the drive west from St. Ignace on U.S. 2 doesn’t disappoint. After passing the famed Mystery Spot just outside of town, the highway re-joins the Lake Michigan shoreline for several miles. Locals and visitors alike stop along the way for picnics among the dunes and swimming in the Lake Michigan surf.

Any visit to “The Yoop” would not be complete without an authentic Upper Peninsula pasty. Hiawatha Pasties in Naubinway, about 45 minutes west of St. Ignace, is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Don’t miss: Cut River Bridge Overlook

Park at the scenic turnout about 25 miles west of St. Ignace for a view of Lake Michigan and the Cut River 150 feet below; a trail and staircase lead to the valley floor for those looking for a mid-drive adventure.

6. M-134 from Hessel to Drummond Island

Head east on M-134 from I-75 north of St. Ignace for views of Lake Huron and the Les Cheneaux Islands that go undiscovered by many. The classic boathouses of the early-1900s cottages and rocky shorelines of Les Cheneaux’s 36 islands are seen by many as reminiscent of east-coast hideaways found along the coast of Maine. If you’re lucky enough to make the drive early in the morning, keep your camera ready for a photo of a sailboat moored among the morning mist in one of the many natural harbors.

Don’t miss: Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel

Held each August in the Les Cheneaux Islands, the Antique Wooden Boat show is one of the largest gatherings in the country of classic vessels dating back to the early 1900s.

Nick Nerbonne is an online marketing specialist, outdoor adventurer, craft beer drinker, wine enthusiast, and aspiring photographer from Traverse City. 

Pure Michigan Fourth of July 2013 Events Roundup

Across Michigan, fireworks events have already started happening and people will be out and about celebrating the Fourth of July from now through next Thursday! With so many fun events happening across the state, there is still time to plan a great Independence Day adventure. Below is just a sampling of celebrations.

For a complete listing of events in Michigan visit www.michigan.org.

Fourth of July Celebration | Clawson
June 24-July 4, 2013, Clawson
In Clawson the celebration starts June 24. Events include an ice cream social, live music, parade, games and 5K run. The carnival midway opens on July 3 and on July 4 enjoy a pancake breakfast, arts and crafts event, fire department water battle, more entertainment and fireworks.

4th of July Celebration & Fireworks
July 4, 2013, St. Ignace
Combining the nostalgic sentiment of a small-town celebration with the picturesque backdrop of Lake Huron and Mackinac Island makes the 4th of July in St. Ignace something special. Watch the parade at 1 p.m., enjoy kid’s games and a community picnic at 2 p.m., and watch the fireworks over Moran Bay at dusk. Let us show you patriotism, St. Ignace style! For more information, call (888) 878-4462.

Grand Rapids 4th of July Fireworks
July 4, 2013, Grand Rapids
The Amway 4th of July Family Fireworks event is an annual favorite of upwards of 150,000 who come to downtown Grand Rapids to listen to great entertainment and enjoy a fireworks spectacular. The tradition continues on the lawn in front of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Patriotic music, dance and presentations mixed with great entertainment from local and national artists from 6 p.m. until the fireworks start. Fireworks will begin at 10:30. Visit the website for more information.

Fourth of July Celebration
July 4, 2013, Marshall
Celebrate Independence Day in Marshall! Festivities begin with the ‘Celebrate America’ parade at 10 a.m. Then, witness the annual flag rising, listen to the patriotic sounds of the Marshall Community Post Band and enjoy a traditional chicken dinner; it’s a true Independence Day celebration!

Frankfort’s Fourth of July Celebration
July 4, 2013, Elberta
Frankfort’s Annual 4th of July celebration includes: a parade, carnival, art in the park craft fair, sand sculpture contest on the Lake Michigan Beach,  BBQ and fireworks on Frankfort Beach at dusk (Approximately 10:30pm)! For more information, visit the website or call (231) 352-7251.

Traverse City 4th of July Fireworks
July 4, 2013, Traverse City
Enjoy a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display beginning at dark with great viewing from anywhere along the West Bay shoreline in Traverse City. Fireworks are expected to go from 10 p.m.  – 11 p.m.

Grand Haven 4th of July Fireworks
July 4, 2013, Grand Haven
The annual Grand Haven 4th of July Fireworks display lights up the night sky after the evening’s showing of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. For more information call (616) 842-4499.

Fourth of July Celebration
July 4-6, 2013, Cedarville
Enjoy the spectacular view of fireworks over Cedarville Bay from Cedarville’s downtown waterfront park or the lawn of the Great Lakes Boat Building School on July 4. Come earlier in the day for the parade, kids games, hot dogs and burgers, Up in Smoke BBQ, races and contests and more. Wind down into early evening with music on the bay by Dance Commander DJ and a Jersey Mud eating contest. For more information, call (906) 484-3935.

Fourth of July – Harbor Springs
July 4, 2013, Harbor Springs
Events include a juried art fair, 3-mile and 10-mile run, parade, live music and fireworks. For event information, contact the Chamber at (231) 526-7999. See you on the Fourth and be sure to wear your red, white and blue!

Cadillac Independence Day Celebration

July 4-7, 2013, Cadillac
The event kicks off in the City Park with live evening entertainment. There will be the 2nd Annual Fire on Water (a tribute to our military past, present and future), and a full day of events including the Thunder on the LakeShore Motorcycle Show, Wrestling Extravaganza, children’s bounce houses, food & merchandise vendors, dunk tank, hot air balloon rides, community photo, ‘better than a water park’ event and an evening finale with the fireworks. For more information, visit the website or call (231) 775-0657.

How will you will be spending the 4th of July? Share with us below! For hundreds of more events and festivals happening around the state this month, visit michigan.org

Pure Michigan June 2013 Events Roundup

June means the official start of summer in Pure Michigan! And with school out for the year and warm weather here to stay, it’s the perfect time to experience some of the great things going on around the state.

Below is a roundup of a few of the many events going on around Michigan in June. Please visit michigan.org for a complete listing of things to do across the state.

 

Week of June 2

Art & Orchard Festival
June 6-June 8, 2013, Washington
Washington’s Art & Orchard Festival will be the second weekend in June, June 6-9, 2013. The event will feature a carnival on Friday, live music, an arts & crafts show, fireworks Saturday night, petting zoo, beer tent and food station.

Cereal City Festival
June 7-8, 2013, Battle Creek
The Cereal City Festival is an event celebrating the Battle Creek community and its rich and varied past. A parade kicks off the festival on Friday, June 8th and the fun continues with the Cereal City Classic 5k/10k run and the World’s Longest Breakfast Table on Saturday morning. Throughout the day enjoy exciting events, bands and activities! Click here for more information.

National Asparagus Festival – Hart
June 7-8, 2013, Hart
Salute the shoots with a parade, 5K run, rodeo and crafts fair in downtown Hart. The National Asparagus Festival is held every year during the second weekend of June. For more information, visit the National Asparagus Festival website or call (800) 874-3982 or (231) 861-8110.

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
June 7-16, 2013, Mackinac Island
The idea of the festival was to bring people to the island to enjoy a great horse drawn parade amidst the lovely lilacs that fragrance the island in June. Now this ten day festival includes a comedy show, afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel, music, walking tours, hayrides, arts and crafts, 10K run, Lilac Festival Queen, dancing, wine tasting, bingo, lilac strolls and much more. Visit the website for more information.

Leland Wine & Food Festival
June 8, 2013, Leland
Michigan’s oldest wine festival takes place at the Leland Harbor. Everyone has a chance to go see 17 wineries of the Leelanau & Old Mission Peninsulas on Saturday, enjoy great food and music and kick off the summer festival season in style! No need to purchase advance tickets – just show up rain or shine at the big tent in Leland’s picturesque Fishtown district. Admission is $15 and includes an etched wine glass and two tickets for wine tasting. For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at (877) LELAND1 or (231) 256-0079.

Orion Music + More
June 8-9, 2013, Detroit
Make your way to Detroit June 8-9, 2013, for the Orion Music + More concert event. The lineup includes Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deftones, Rise Against, The Dillinger Escape Plan. The event includes thirty-plus acts over five stages, a custom car and automotive show, Metallica Museum, and more. Two day passes are $150. For tickets, complete lineup details, and more, visit the website link.

Week of June 9

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week
June 9-14, 2013, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor Restaurant Week offers one price dining, one week, several options. Extraordinary three course dinner menus and fixed price fare lunch menus from Ann Arbor’s best restaurants. Experience cuisine that delights your palate and defines the art of dining in Ann Arbor. Now is your chance to discover new restaurants and enjoy favorites at a discounted price. Make reservations early at participating restaurants as tables fill fast during this gastronomically great event. For more information, visit the website link or call (734) 668-7112 ext 22.

Hamburg Family Fun Fest
June 12-15, 2013, Hamburg
The Hamburg Family Fun Fest brings family fun to the park like never before, attracting more than 50,000 attendees. Feature attractions include amusement rides, circus, petting zoo, talent competition, classic car show and arts & crafts just to name a few. A variety of concerts will also be held throughout the weekend on two stages. Click here for more information.

Heritage Coast Grand Prix
June 13-26, 2013, Tawas
Head to the Heritage Coast Grand Prix in Tawas for beautiful beaches, family fun and revved up racing. The event includes four fun-filled and family-oriented days of activities. Check out the boats, meet the drivers and experience the thrill of the races. Visit the website for more information.

Jazzin on Jefferson
June 14-15, 2013, Detroit
Jazzin’ on Jefferson is a free street music festival organized by the Jefferson East Business Association. For a schedule of main stage performances, visit the website link.

Pinconning CheeseTown Festival
June 14-15, 2013, Pinconning
Highlights of the festival include a mac & cheese dinner contest, the ultimate wine & cheese party, the cheesy CheeseTown parade, a teen concert, arts & crafts, fireworks, a beer tent with lots of live music, and in honor of Father’s Day weekend, a CheeseTown dad contest. The event is held at Doc Letchfield Park on M-13 in Pinconning. The event is in conjunction with the 30th Annual CheeseTown Challenge Race (5 mile race, 2 mile fun run/walk, and Little Meeces Race). For more information on this event, call (989) 879-2816.

Week of June 16

Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
June 16, 2013, Brooklyn
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the Irish Hills on Father’s Day with the running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400. NASCAR stars, such as former MIS winners Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Jimmy Johnson return to MIS for another action-packed day of side-by-side racing. Forty-three drivers, 200 laps. Call (800) 354-1010 or visit the website for ticket and camping information.

East Jordan Freedom Festival
June 19-23, 2013, East Jordan
The East Jordan Freedom Festival is a family friendly festival with something for everyone including live music, parades, kids games, carnival, block party and fireworks over the south arm of Lake Charlevoix. For more information, call (231) 536-7351 or visit the website link here.

FinnFest USA 2013
June 19-23, 2013, Hancock
Hear the music, feel the summer breezes, smell the birch wood of the kokko and be where every Finn needs to be in June of 2013. For five days the Copper Country will host FinnFest USA 2013 – a festival spread across the region, with a variety of programming sure to interest everyone! Tori market, concerts, performances, dances, exhibits and gallery shows, local tours, sports and games, a parade, midsummer bonfires, street theatre, special guests and VIPs and much, much more! For more information, visit the website or call (906) 487-7205.

Kalamazoo Island Fest
June 20-22, 2013, Kalamazoo
Get ready for some good times with three days and nights of reggae music rocking downtown Kalamazoo. A great variety of quality Jamaican and Caribbean-inspired cuisine will be served. Food, drinks, beer and wine will be available. The live reggae music line-up runs all day and ranges from the top local talent to well-known regional and national headliners presented outdoors throughout the day. For more information visit the website or contact (269) 385-6200.

Summer Solstice Jazz Festival
June 21-22, 2013, East Lansing
This free two day jazz festival in the heart of downtown East Lansing features high-caliber local, regional, and national talent presented by the City of East Lansing, Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, and the Michigan State University College of Music. For additional event information, visit the web link or call (517) 319-6927.

Detroit River Days
June 21-23, 2013, Detroit
The 2013 festival will continue to celebrate Detroit’s maritime, ecological and culinary culture while again featuring many proven crowd-favorite, family-friendly activities and programming elements from previous festivals. Interactive exhibits, large-scale sand sculptures, strolling entertainers, eco-friendly kids’ zones, carnival rides, and live concerts with performances featuring more than 50 local, national and international music acts will be back this year. More information is available online.

Week of June 23

Ford Fireworks
June 24, 2013, Detroit
The Parade Company is excited to pump up the City of Detroit, on June 24th as we produce the 55th Ford Fireworks presented by Target, along the Detroit River. This event attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators for one of the most anticipated summer nights in Detroit and one of the nation’s largest fireworks displays. Visit the website here.

St. Ignace Car Show Weekend
June 26-27, 2013, St. Ignace
This annual event is one of the largest all-make, all-model shows in the country. Hundreds of antique, custom, and celebrity automobiles are on display all day Saturday. Car enthusiasts can examine vehicles up close and see them in action during Kewadin Casino Cruise Night on Thursday evening, and the Down Memory Lane Parade on Friday evening. Contests, exhibits, vendor booths and more make this a fun, family event. For more information call (906) 643-8087 or visit the website.

Michigan Challenge Balloonfest 2013
June 28-30, 2013, Howell
Join us for the state championship of hot-air ballooning, June 28-30 in Howell. It’s a weekend full of high-flying fun for the whole family. Enjoy thrilling skydiving jumps, music, carnival, family entertainment, downtown activities and more. Don’t miss the fun including Play 1st Mobile Gaming, SmashZone and five scheduled balloon launches, Annabelle Road and the fabulous balloon glow on Saturday evening and the MediLodge Fireworks on Friday night. For more information on this event, visit the website link or call us at (517) 546-3920.

Grand Haven Art Festival & Fun Day
June 29-30, 2013, Grand Haven
The work of 150 of the finest artists in the country will be on display and for sale during the 51st Annual Grand Haven Art Festival & Family Fun Day, June 29 – 30, 2013. The festival will take place along Washington Avenue in downtown Grand Haven, transforming the area into an outdoor art gallery. Admission and parking are free and open to the public. Presented by The Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg. (616) 842-4910.

National Cherry Festival 2013
June 29–July 6, 2013, Traverse City
Get your planner out and write down the dates for a great week or family fun when you attend the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City on June 29–July 6. There will be colorful parades, marching bands, music shows, sporting events, amusement rides along with carnival games on the midway and food items, pie eating contests and loads of luscious cherries prepared every way you can think of. For more information, visit the website link or call the Cherry Festival office at (800) 968-3380.

Week of June 30

Log Cabin Days & Antique Car Show
June 30, 2013, Michigamme
Tour the museum and the Dompierre House and walk around to see all the antique cars on display from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information contact (906) 323-9016.

Coast West Music Fest
July 1-6, 2013, Muskegon
This event is a multi-day music festival with three stages, fireworks on July 4, food and refreshments. Acts announced so far: O.A.R., Josh Turner, Leann Rimes, Cheap Trick, Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, Allen Stone, Chicago and Foghat! For more information visit the website link.

Light up the Lake Fireworks & Parade
July 3-4, 2013, South Haven
At the south pier over Lake Michigan, watch a spectacular fireworks display July 3 and listen to the Light Up The Lake soundtrack LIVE on SuperHits 103.7 COSY-FM! The fireworks shoot off synchronized to the music! Parade will be held July 4 at 11am through downtown featuring local marching bands, pageant winners, patriotic floats, fire trucks, & lots of candy! Questions, call (269) 637-5252 or (800) SO-HAVEN.

Fourth of July Celebration
July 4-6, 2013, Cedarville
Enjoy the spectacular view of fireworks over Cedarville Bay from the Cedarville’s downtown waterfront park or the lawn of the Great Lakes Boat Building School on July 4. Earlier that day, our parade, kids games, hot dogs and burgers, Up in Smoke BBQ, races and contests, and more wind down into early evening with music on the bay by Dance Commander DJ and a Jersey Mud eating contest. For more information, call (906) 484-3935

Cedar Polka Fest
July 4-7 2013, Cedar
The Cedar Polka Fest is held yearly in Cedar, Michigan, under the big tent on the tennis courts. Highlights include a parade on Saturday at noon, softball tournament, a polka mass and polka under the big, big tent with the big names of polka. For more information on this event call (231) 228-3378 or visit the website.

These are just a few of the many events happening next month in Pure Michigan. Please visit michigan.org for a complete listing.