Featured in Pure Michigan 2013 Spring/Summer Issue, beginning on page 44.
What a Deal!
Forget clipping coupons and signing up for daily specials. We found year-round bargains and almost all are free!
Cheap trip to Hell
Halloween is a daily normal for the small town of Hell. The locals have embraced the towns name and lined the streets with spooky themed shops and restaurants. Tour the town at no cost to feel the fear.
DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory
Authentic Dutch goods are sold in the DeKlomp gift shop in Holland, but the real treat is in the factory. Watch the Dutch Artists hand-paint delft pottery and carve wooden shoes for free.
GM Renaissance Center Tour
A free, guided one-hour tour gives an insiders look of the Detroit Riverfront landmark. The hour ends with a ride on a glass elevator to the 72nd floor of the hotel for a panoramic view of the city.
Grand Haven Musical Fountain
About one hour after sunset (9-10 p.m.), this free show combines spraying water, colorful lights and retro music along the Grand Haven Channel. Each show incorporates a different theme such as ABBA and Jimmy Buffet.
The Harbor Trolley travels all over Grand Haven while narrating the towns history. Put down $1.50 and head to Chinook Pier State Park for some beach time, then downtown to the Pfaff Pharmacy for an old fashioned soda fountain treat.
Interlochen Center for the Arts
A boarding high school and art college collide at the center for the arts in Northwest Lower Michigan. The center hosts more than 600 annual events for the public each year including concert and theatrical performances, some of which are free.
Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen Tour
Sample from-scratch treats at the end of a free, guided tour through the Petoskey chocolate factory. Kilwins has been making their own caramels and chocolates among other convections since 1947 and wants to share how its done.
Labor Day Bridge Walk
Join 45,000 pedestrians on a walk across the third longest suspension bridge in the world. Travel 5 miles from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City on foot without fees or registration.
LST 393 Friday Night Movies on Deck, Muskegon
Near downtown Muskegon, board the LST 393, one of the only two LSTs remaining in the world, for screenings of old favorites and new releases. The ship was used in WWII to bring soldiers and tanks to battle in the United Kingdom.
Meyer May House
Docents provide free, guided tours of a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Grand Rapids. See the house restored to Wrights original design while hearing the guides insights on Wright. www.meyermayhouse.steelcase.com
Michigan State University Museums
Two museums on Michigan States campus in East Lansing welcome visitors daily for free. A Smithsonian affiliate, the MSU Museum focuses on natural science and culture while the Broad Art Museum, opened November 2012, features modern works.
River Country Amish Meandering
A free self-guided drive though River Country near Sturgis and Three Rivers, offers a glimpse into Amish life. See a horse and buggy trot by as you drive through Michigan's longest covered bridge, the Langley Covered Bridge, before stopping in the gas-lit Millers Discount Store for Amish goods.
Second Sunday Folk Dance Series
For $5 for each adult (children are free) bring the family together for folk dancing lessons in Crystal Falls in the Upper Peninsula. Each session features a folk artist performing live music to dance along to (906/875-3212).
See 1,000 foot freighters move through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. The largest waterway traffic system in the world link lakes Huron and Superior.
University of Michigan Museums
The University of Michigan houses two free, public museums in Ann Arbor. The Museum of Natural History focuses on looking into research done at the University including Michigan's most extensive dinosaur exhibit. The Museum of Arts features artwork that has been collected for more than 150 years at the University.
Wadhams to Avoca Trail
The Thumbs free trail uses historical railroad previously owned by CSX Company to allow pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters a place to explore. The Mill Creek Trestle acts as the headliner of the Wadhams to Avoca Trail offering scenic views from 60 feet in the air.
Ways to Stretch Your Travel Cash
Eye restaurant week
Cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids dedicate one week to have the deals at the top restaurants in the area. Participating restaurants offer three-course meals for as little as $30.
Planning a trip at the same time as a local festival provides plenty of entertainment without spending much money. Most attractions at festivals are free, just be wary of pricey food vendors.
Grab your cards
Memberships to a specific city's zoo, museum or amusement park may not be good at that location exclusively. Many membership cards offer discounts at other similar establishments across the country.
Meet the CVB
Seek out the Convention and Visitors Bureau online or in town. They know all about deals on attractions, hotels and restaurants. Ask about coupons or newsletters you can sign up to receive.
Pick up the phone
Looking online isn't a bad idea. Take all the information you find online (the best deals, competitor prices, etc.) and call to negotiate the price for the best deal possible.
Estimate the cost of each item included in a package before deciding if that is the best deal. It may be less expensive to bring some of the items and just pay for the room while other times the package offers real savings.
Try social media
Many businesses use Facebook and Twitter to promote special deals and rates. Follow the local attractions, restaurants and hotels to find deals.