Peruse a rare book, stay in an historic inn, have lunch at an old-fashioned family tavern, catch a flick at an old theater, there’s so many ways to experience, express and enjoy history—and Michigan has a number of unique opportunities awaiting inquiring minds.
The Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing is the flagship of the Michigan Historical Museum System, which consists of a total of 12 museums throughout the state, each focusing on a theme of Michigan history. The Lansing-based museum surrounds visitors with the state's history from prehistoric times through the late 20th century. Twenty-six permanent galleries and a special exhibit gallery are located on five levels. A three-story, three-dimensional relief map of Michigan greets the visitor in the museum's main atrium. Walk through an Upper Peninsula copper mine, stroll along a 1920s street, marvel as you tour the 1957 Detroit Auto Show–and more.
Michigan has an eclectic selection of art, science, history and children’s museums scattered across the state. Summer provides a great opportunity to load up the kids and set out to explore the stories and faces behind these diverse pages of Michigan history. For a look at the wide-range of history and learning centers across the state, visit the Michigan museum listing on michigan.org.
Below is a sampling of historic structures throughout Michigan that have been repurposed for different uses to continue to attract visitors to admire their history.
We invite you to come along for a tour of 10 great steps into Michigan's past.
5th & Elm Coffee House
Fuel up on favorite coffee and cold drinks and homemade scones and biscotti, sandwiches and soup of the day at this spacious 1929 gas station in Calumet.
Bay View Terrace Inn
The wide porch has welcomed guests to Petoskey’s Bay View area since 1911.
Dripping in Art Deco decor, this Detroit jazz spot has been restored to its 1935 glory and is hopping again with hot sounds and cool drinks.
Opt for weekend fine dining in the 1851 Greek Revival manse or the more casual tavern menu of the home’s original barn, The Main Street Stable.
Historic Webster House
Judge Webster would no doubt rule in favor of the transformation of his 1886 home into a luxurious, seven-room B&B, including the stylish spa and sauna.
Former lumber company hotel near Manistique retains its 1909 charm in B&B guestrooms while earning rave reviews for the innkeeper’s prime rib and Friday fish dinners.
The Peachbelt Studio and Gallery
From the three Rs to art: Dawn Stafford renovated the handsome 1868 one-room schoolhouse near Saugatuck to showcase her paintings and the works of other artists.
Even the popcorn popper dates to the 1940s at this log movie house, now celebrating its 70th anniversary. Massive stone fireplaces and mounted trophy animals share the billing with first-run flicks.
Sleder’s Family Tavern
This old saloon for the working class in Traverse City’s Slabtown still serves from the 1882 bar under original tin ceiling. Be sure to smooch the moose.
Stray Dog Bookshop
Browse the books and sip an espresso on the wide front porch of the 1852 house in downtown Three Rivers, home to 10,000 tomes and a coffee bar.
For a more comprehensive list of Michigan historic attractions, visit our historic sites resources at michigan.org.