20 Things to do in Michigan this Summer

 Summer will be here before we know it. From outdoor events and festivals to long days at the beach and much more, summer means something special to everyone. We put together a list of 20 things to do in Pure Michigan that everyone is sure to enjoy! 

1. Get lost in the dunes – See why the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire was named “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America in 2011. Take time this summer to explore the miles of sandy beaches, bluffs and forests located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

2. Experience the Great Lakes Circle Tour – Take a road trip with your family or friends along this scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Cover part of the tour or travel the entire route of 6,500 miles.

3. Visit the Michigan Iron Industry Museum - Discover the story of the state’s rich iron mining history and the significant impact it has made on Michigan’s economy over time.

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

Photo courtesy of Midwest Living/Terri Ketcham

4. Witness stunning waterfalls – Take in the splendor of watching millions of gallons of water from high above plummet to the earth below. There are nearly 200 waterfalls for your choosing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

5. Watch a spectacular water show – The Grand Haven Musical Fountain is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Watching the synchronized water and light show is a great way to spend a summer night.

6. Hit a bike trail – Take your bike for a ride along one of our state’s beautiful bike trails. There are more than 100 to choose from.

7. Jump aboard a warship for movie night – Catch a Friday night cinema on the deck of the USS LST 393, a historic warship located in Muskegon.

8. Go on a garden exploration – Explore the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden at Michigan State University. Don’t let the name fool you. There’s something for everyone at the garden including gorgeous flower displays, dancing wind chimes and Wilbur the peacock.

9. Go to the beach – Go for a swim, build sand castles or soak in the sun at one of hundreds of beaches in the state.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography.

10. Explore Detroit’s past – Walk the streets of old Detroit, cast your eyes on the city’s first automobile and learn about the Underground Railroad at the Detroit Historical Museum.

11. Jam out by the Detroit Riverfront – Listen to jazz artists from the past and present along Detroit’s gorgeous riverfront at the city’s jazz festival in Hart Plaza.

12. Climb Mount Arvon - Pure Michigan’s highest point! Hike to the top of the mountain and leave a note in this famous Michigan mailbox when you reach the peak.

13. Explore Drummond Island Township Park - Go hiking on some truly amazing trails in Pure Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, sure to inspire you to re-visit the U.P. again and again.

14. Celebrate Christmas in the summer heat – Visit Little Bavaria in Frankenmuth where every day is Christmas!

Photo Courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB.

Photo Courtesy of Frankenmuth CVB.

15. Get a history lesson on Michigan politics – Participate in a guided tour of the State Capitol in Lansing. Peer inside the House and Senate galleries to see where laws are made affecting the daily lives of Michiganders.

16. Play disc golf – Show off your throwing skills at one of Michigan’s 286 disc golf courses.

17. Have a sweet time at the Sanders Candy Factory – Indulge in free treats while learning firsthand how chocolate is made at the Sanders Candy Factory Tour in Clinton Township.

18. Visit the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve – Bring your family to learn about the sciences and explore the natural world around them at the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve in Grand Rapids.

19. Visit the Au Sable Light Station - Built in 1874, the Au Sable is truly one of Pure Michigan’s most notable light houses. If you’re closer to Detroit, be sure to check out the William Livingstone Memorial Light, the only lighthouse in the nation constructed from marble and one of only two in Michigan erected as a memorial.

20. Go on a shipwreck tour – Visit Alpena’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center to cast your eyes on a full-size replica shipwreck.

What is one of your favorite summer activities in Michigan?

Take A Summer Lighthouse Tour in Pure Michigan

Did you know that Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state? With the official start of summer just days away, it’s the perfect time to plan a Michigan lighthouse tour. More than 115 lighthouses are scattered up and down the coasts of Pure Michigan, guiding sailors and capturing imaginations. Some still shine for ships, others share their stories with us first-hand as museums, as bed and breakfasts and as Michigan history in the making.

Take a look at the listing below for a sampling of what you can discover while touring Michigan’s lighthouses, and learn more in the following video from the Pure Michigan summer video series.

A complete listing of Michigan’s lighthouses can be found on michigan.org.

Au Sable Light Station
Grand Marais
The AuSable Light Station is listed on the national register of historic places. It was built in 1874 to warn mariners of a dangerous reef off of the AuSable Point. Now automated, the light station is being restored to its 1910 appearance. Guided tours are offered July and August. The grounds are always open, but access is limited by snow from November – April. Visit the website to learn more.

Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast
Big Bay
One of the few surviving resident lighthouses in the country, guests enjoy a half-mile of Lake Superior shore, viewing tower, sauna, library and fireplaces. Enjoy biking, waterfalls, skiing and snowmobiling nearby. Summer lighthouse tours  and booking information are available here.

Point Betsie Lighthouse
The Point Betsie Lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Benzie County. The lighthouse was built in 1858, and marks the all-important entrance to the southern end of the Manitou Passage, a once-vital maritime shipping channel. Learn more on the Point Betsie website.

South Haven Lighthouse
South Haven
An image of maritime heritage, South Haven’s Lighthouse on the south pier still stands today as a vision of seemingly magical qualities. Built in 1903, this distinguished landmark has welcomed travelers for more than 100 years. Start planning your trip here

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse is located five miles north of Harrisville on Lake Huron and was completed in November 1870. The tower is 70 feet, 9 inches tall and is 16 feet in diameter at its base. The light is 3.5 order Fresnel lens made in Paris, France. The light is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The keeper’s house is now a maritime museum which is open to the public from Memorial Day to mid-September. The lighthouse tower and the grounds are also open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Port Huron
The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It was established in 1825 and rebuilt in 1829 and 1861, at the time it was also 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. The 86 ft. light stands above the lake level in a conical stone tower, overlaid with red brick that has been painted white. The keeper’s cottage and fog whistle house are red. Tower climbs and tours are available during business hours, weather permitting. See the Port Huron Museum website for information on tours and group overnights in the restored Duplex building for 20+ people.

How many Michigan lighthouses have you visited? Share with us below!

Explore Michigan’s Golf Courses This Summer

Michigan offers a wide variety of golf courses with something for everyone. Offering over 800 public golf courses (plus the natural beauty of the state and the Great Lakes), Michigan is the perfect summer golf destination. With golf being one of the activities featured in the Pure Michigan summer video series, we spoke with Janina Parrott Jacobs to learn more about the sport.

See her in the video below and read more from Janina in the questions that follow. For more information on golfing in Michigan or to plan your summer vacation, visit michigan.org.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I’m a lucky girl whose parents exposed me to everything, including golf. My amateur competitive ‘career’ began at age 9 and has taken me all over the world. In addition to my work as an international golf/travel/health writer, I own Capers Steakhouse in Detroit, am a professional musician, performer, and motivational speaker.  I hosted ‘Michigan Golf Weekly’ TV show on CBS-Detroit, ‘GolfWrap’ on WJR, wrote golf columns for the Detroit Free Press, and have been a course ratings panelist for Golf Digest for 30 years. I’m an advocate for many organizations involved with mentoring youth, women’s golf, the U.S. Navy and other military, Sea Cadets, veterans’ affairs, and health and nutrition.

Q: What makes Michigan an ideal destination for golfing?

A: Michigan’s climate is perfect for growing golf courses so conditioning on almost anywhere is superb…..and great conditions are one of the main ‘must-haves’ when selecting places to play. With over 850 public and resort courses available, there is no state with a greater inventory to choose from, no matter what price point you seek. Due to Michigan’s varied topography, you can play links-style clubs, courses with major elevation changes, and layouts with lakeside vistas, even some with mountainous granite outcroppings. The golf season usually runs from March until November, but hardy souls play year-round – which some courses allow.

Q: What are some of your favorite courses around the state?

A: That’s a loaded question….there are so many! Here’s a partial list: Elk Ridge in Atlanta, Greywalls in Marquette, Forest Dunes in Roscommon, True North in Harbor Springs, The Bear near Traverse City, Tullymore and Bucks Run in Mt. Pleasant, Pilgrim’s Run in Pierson, Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, The Grande Golf Club in Jackson, Island Hills in Centerville, Shepherd’s Hollow in Clarkston, Pine Trace in Rochester Hills, and any course at Treetops (Gaylord), Shanty Creek (Mancelona), Gull Lake View (Augusta), Fox Hills (Plymouth), Lakewood Shores (Oscoda) or Boyne.

Q: Are there courses in Michigan that appeal to people of different ages and skill levels?

A: The Huron-Clinton Metroparks and most municipal and county courses are very family friendly, affordable, and welcoming for any age and skill level.

Q: When would you say is the best time of year to golf?

A: Fall golf in Michigan is unsurpassed. After Labor Day, the courses are in the best condition, the crowds have lessened and if you wait until October, the leaves are exploding with color.  That, coupled with emerald green fairways, bright blue skies and bluer water on many courses along Great Lakes shores, makes for an artist’s palette sure to delight the eyes.  I don’t know why play drops off so significantly at that time, though ‘back-to-school’ applies to parents as well as kids; still, golfers are missing the absolute best playing conditions and weather.

Q: The Masters is happening this month in Augusta, GA. Which golfers are you cheering for?

A: Defending champion Bubba Watson is a feel-good choice but probably won’t repeat.  I’d love if he did because he’s simply an all-around nice guy with that go-for-broke style of Arnold Palmer and the late Seve Ballesteros.  Rory McIlroy is due for a green jacket, but Tiger Woods has had an early taste of victory at Bay Hill so he’ll be hungering for another major after a ‘Major’ drought.  Brandt ‘Sneds’ Snedeker, as winner of both the Tour Championship and Fed Ex Cup, is primed for a stellar 2013. Acclaimed as the best putter on tour, Augusta’s greens may prove to separate him from the pack.  Nostalgic favorite Ernie Els, who has never won a Masters, and Phil Mickelson are popular with the patrons.

Q: Are there any tournaments coming up this year in Michigan?

A: Here’s where great golf can be seen around the state this year: the SYMETRA (LPGA preparatory Tour) 2013 Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass, June 28-30; Sweetgrass is both a Golf Digest and Golfweek top-rated course in the UP; the Michigan PGA Championship is at Katke-Cousins/R&S Sharf Courses at Oakland University August 19-21; the Michigan Amateur will be contested at Muskegon CC June 18-21; The Legends Tour (LPGA Senior Tour) ‘Wendy’s Charity Challenge’ on August 11-12 at CC of Jackson; the Women’s Amateur is at Walnut Hills CC in Lansing August 12-16; all are free to watch except at Sweetgrass, where affordable packages can be purchased at sweetgrassgolfclub.com.

Q: Where can people go to learn more about golf in Michigan?

A: Consider joining the Golf Association of Michigan at gam.org.  Besides conducting amateur tournaments and events for both adults and juniors, GAM provides handicapping services, Swing-n-Save discounts, a ‘clearinghouse’ listing for charity golf events and associations, golf days with affordable access to private clubs, and much more.

Which Michigan golf course is your favorite? Share with us below!

Janina Parrott Jacobs is a lifelong Michigan resident but her passion as a multi-media golf and business specialist and international golf and travel writer takes her all over the world.  Her website, www.janinajacobs.com, features many other entrepreneurial adventures as a motivational speaker, professional musician and performer, owning Capers Steakhouse in Detroit, and volunteer efforts with the U.S. Navy where she advocates for and mentors young people concerning health, nutrition, and fitness issues. Contact Janina at Jjacobs2456@gmail.com.