One Tank Trip - Northeast Michigan
The “Sunrise Side” of Michigan starts on the northeast coast of Lake Huron at Mackinaw City. At the “Tip of the Mitt” watch Redcoats fire muskets and cannons at Colonial Michilimackinac. Climb the tower and enjoy the spectacular view from Old Mackinaw Point Lighthouse. Watch a lumberjack show where rival camps compete. Tour the Icebreaker Mackinaw and discover why she is the "Queen of the Great Lakes." Walk the multi-block downtown district offering a variety of retail shops and restaurants. Watch the sun slowly sink below the horizon on a sunset cruise across the Straits of Mackinac.
Leave the car behind and hop a ferry to Mackinac Island. Voted “One of the Top 10 Islands in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, Mackinac Island is suspended in time—no motorized vehicles are allowed. Explore Michigan's first state park, Mackinac Island State Park, with more than 70 miles of natural and paved trails. Take a photo at Arch Rock. Tour the Island by horse-drawn carriage or rent a bicycle. Take the kids to the Butterfly House or watch rifle firing at historic Fort Mackinac. Breathe in the panoramic view of the Straits from a rocking chair on Grand Hotel’s porch, the largest in the world. And no Mackinac Island trip is complete without everyone’s favorite souvenir—home-made fudge.
Cheboygan is the “Gateway to the Waterways.” With more than 40 miles of inland boating, steer your outboard through its lock system and rev it up on the open water. Dive more than 50 world-class shipwrecks. Imagine you're the harbor master from one of seven area lighthouses. Bike and hike the intersection of the North Central State and North Eastern State rail-trails. Off-road through Black Mountain Recreational Area, only one of three sanctioned ATV areas in Michigan. Look out from behind bars inside a turn-of-the century cell at the Cheboygan Historical Jail. Take in a performance at the restored Cheboygan Opera House. After a day of adventures, raise a pint at Cheboygan Brewing Company or dock your boat to dine along the river.
Alpena is rich in maritime heritage. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects more than 200 area shipwrecks, attracting scuba divers, snorkelers and kayakers. The free Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center explores the wrecks history and archaeology. Don’t dive? Explore the wrecks aboard the glass-bottom boat Lady Michigan.For land-bound activities stop at Bessemer Museum of Northeast Michigan; dig for Devonian fossils in its Lafarge Fossil Park.
Moving inland, Gaylord and Grayling include the world-class fly fishing rivers of AuSable and Manistee, famous for their trout. Gaylord boasts 17 premier golf courses imagined by America’s top designers. Grab your binoculars to look for Michigan’s rarest bird, the Kirtland Warbler. The Logging Museum at Hartwick Pines State Park preserves a virgin stand of white pine trees while describing Michigan’s early lumbering industry. A long-time family favorite, roadside museum displays more than 60 woodland creatures in natural settings.
East Tawas and Tawas City were voted “One of the Top 25 Coolest Midwest Lake Vacation Spots” by Midwest Living magazine. With their retro chic vibe, the Tawas area teems with souvenir and gift shops, a 60-year-old ice cream parlor and the 1910 Family Theatre, which still shows movies. Kids can build sand castles at Tawas Point State Park. Tawas Point Lighthouse is the only working model of Victorian-era light stations still in operation on the Great Lakes. The towns sit along the 22-mile River Road National Scenic Byway paralleling the fabled Au Sable River. A stunning stop along the Byway is Iargo Springs, featuring a series of springs forming small waterfalls. Stop and pay tribute to the men that harvested Michigan’s giant white pine at Lumberman’s Monument.