Michigan's Top Instagram-Worthy Spots
Michigan is home to spectacular natural views and man-made monuments, so of course we’re going to want to Instagram it! This guide, crafted by Awesome Mitten's Samantha Ward, will give you the scoop on how to take the best photo at these most Instagrammable spots in the state.
It's important to remember, Instagram isn’t just a place for your best photos — it’s a place to show your personality, your adventures, and the ones you love. With that in mind, we’ve created this list containing not just where you should go, but pro-tips on how to get the best shot to match your aesthetic. Your aesthetic is the visual qualities that let your followers know what you are, what you love and what you want to share. Do you prefer featuring people, scenery, or creative artsy shots? We’ve got you covered for all three. Let's get snapping!
You knew we had to start out with the Mackinac Bridge. Probably the most iconic feature in Michigan (it’s on our license plates!) it’s a must for any Instagram account hailing from the Mitten State. But how do you get a photo of the Mighty Mac that really pops?
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: hit up the beaches on the south side of the straits. They’re perfect for hanging out and snapping some posed shots and candids walking on the shores.
If you want to snap the whole scene: take a ferry ride to Mackinac Island, where there are plenty of Instagrammable spots too. While you’re on the ferry, you can snag some incredible shots of the entire bridge from the water that not everyone has the chance of capturing.
- If you want a cool artsy shot: use what you have around you — like your rearview mirror! Bonus points for waiting until sunset. The drive across the bridge is always magically, so you might as well share it with your followers.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Named the Most Beautiful Place in America by ABC’s Good Morning America in 2011, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a given for a Michigan aesthetic.
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: get out on the dunes themselves! There’s nothing better than an action shot to show your adventures, so get down below your friends and snap up the dune for a good representation of your climb. Hike the dunes at Pyramid Point, Sleeping Bear Point Trail, or the classic Dune Trail.
If you want to snap the whole scene: hit up Empire Bluff. It’s one of the highest spots on the Lakeshore and gives you an incredible overlook of the dunes.
- If you want a cool artsy shot: shoot straight down and capture the waves. Then when you’re done head up to Glen Arbor for some classic Michigan cherries or a quick bite at Cherry Republic.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks draws a crowd every summer and it’s easy to see why. Its centuries old rock formations on the shores of Lake Superior are unique only to Michigan and make for a great addition to your adventurous account. Whether you’re on the far east side of the lakeshore in Grand Marais and checking out Au Sable Point Lighthouse and Grand Sable Dunes, or the far west side and seeing the actual rock formations and hitting up all things Munising has to offer, you’re sure to snag incredible pics to upload for weeks to come.
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: pose in front of the Miner’s Castle overlook. It’s classic, simple, and beautiful. The overlook is easy to get to as well, so you can get this shot in any season!
It’s an oldie but a goodie. Tahquamenon Falls consists of two sets of falls, upper and lower, and the upper falls are the third most voluminous vertical waterfall east of the Mississippi River, only after Niagara Falls and Cohoes Falls. Your followers will love any shot of the falls’ notably colored and fast-moving water. After the falls, make sure you stop by Paradise, for a little slice of, well, paradise!
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: head on up to the upper falls. If you get the angle right, the overlook gives you a great shot of you and your counterparts while still focusing on the majestic falls. (Extra points if you bring your dog!)
If you want to snap the whole scene: wander down to the lower falls, get down close to the ground and look up for a stunning view.
- If you want a cool artsy shot: bring your tripod and leave that shutter open. A wonderful trick for beautiful waterfall shots, a little longer exposure time is all you need to create this awesome effect.
Grand Rapids Art Scene
There’s so much you could photograph in Grand Rapids and rake in the likes with. But we’re particularly partial to the art scene. There’s museums, murals all around town, and public sculptures just waiting for you to find them. Of course if you really want to be a professional, you’d fill your friends’ feeds with GR art during the internationally known Art Prize!
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: try out the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and you can snag some Ferris Bueller-like shots in the galleries.
If you want to snap the whole scene: stop by the Angel on Monroe Center, a huge public mural that demands to be Instagrammed. There are dozens of other really cool public murals in Grand Rapids including the Skull Wall on the back of Stella’s Lounge (right near Van Andel Arena!), a Tribute to Michigan on the north wall of The Woods at Grandville and Oakes (it’s on your way to Founder’s!), and the G Rap Map, a funky map of the city on the west side of Sheldon in between the backside of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Library.
- If you want a cool artsy shot: just remember it’s all in the angles. Grand Rapids is filled with amazing art pieces (and shiny buildings) making it perfect for a reflection and a different perspective. Find the perfect shot at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market (and a perfect meal or drink), or at Rosa Parks Circle, which gives a great panoramic look at downtown and the perfect spot to catch a local event.
On the west side of the state there are a ton of incredible places for a photo, especially beach side. Any time of year you can snap an incredible picture of the beaches and shops in towns like Grand Haven, Muskegon, and Saugatuck. But Holland is just a little different. With its Dutch history at the core of its identity, Holland offers unique views you can’t get anywhere else in Michigan — not to mention the legendary Tulip Time Festival it hosts every spring.
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: there’s no place like the beach. Holland is the home of pristine beaches as well as pretty impressive sand dunes, that are perfect for showing off your family trip or your fun-filled getaway.
If you want to snap the whole scene: capture that gorgeous windmill scene. You’ve seen it because it works; there’s nothing like looking up from the tulips at Windmill Island Gardens and seeing the vintage windmill jutting into the sky. If the Dutch-theme isn’t your thing, go on over to downtown for a great view of Holland’s streets and art galleries.
- If you want a cool artsy shot: take the journey to Big Red. Dubbed Michigan's most photographed lighthouse, Big Red and its surrounding beaches make for the perfect ‘gram in any season!
Detroit is the city that fills all our hearts, and it’s home to some of the state’s most recognizable landmarks. Take in the buildings new and old, the sculptures, and the entire skyline to show your love for this Michigan city. If you’re looking for classics, hit up the Fox Theatre, the Fisher and Guardian Buildings, or the Detroit Institute of Art. If you want to go modern don’t miss any of the Eastern Market murals, the Monument to Joe Louis also known as “The Fist,” the RenCen, or the MOCAD.
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: sit yourself down in front of the Spirit of Detroit. An icon in the city and an inspiration for all visitors, this shot is sure to show your love for Detroit.
If you want to snap the whole scene: jump over to Belle Isle where you can capture the entire Detroit skyline. Pros go at night or at sunset and sunrise! And while you’re there check out the Belle Isle Aquarium.
If you want a cool artsy shot: look up. Buildings both old and new around town make for stunning Instagrams if you get down low and look to the sky. The best places to try would be right around downtown at the RenCen or in the lively corridor we know as Greektown.
University of Michigan
The third most Instagrammed spot in Michigan in 2016? The University of Michigan. With the iconic Big House and beautiful campus buildings, all in the midst of the hip and happening Ann Arbor, it’s Instagram heaven.
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: there’s nothing more iconic on U-M’s campus than the Big House. Show your love with a post in front of the stadium before a big game.
If you want to snap the whole scene: go to the parking garages — no, really! They make for a great lookout to see all of Ann Arbor and the campus. Check out all the incredible public art on campus from the top, and don’t forget to stop by their many museums, including the University of Michigan Museum of Modern Art.
If you want a cool artsy shot: look no further than the Law School. Creep quietly into the Law Library for a photo out of a fairy-tale. And while you’re on central campus, hop over to the famous Cube for a quick spin!
An icon on the shores of the thumb, Turnip Rock wows visitors as long as the waters of Lake Huron are open around it, with its topsy-turvy limestone rock formations close to Port Austin. You can only reach this incredible spectacle by kayak or boat, so pack the paddles and your water proof camera! After coming back from your adventure, hit up Port Austin Reef Lighthouse and Port Crescent State Park!
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: get out of the boat! There’s nothing better at showing adventure than leaving the ship. Snap your family and friends in the water, or have your entourage capture a candid of you looking at the formation.
If you want to snap the whole scene: rent your kayak and take to the water. Before you completely reach the rock, capture the scene with the rock, the live (and quite large) trees and vegetation on top of the rock, the pure Huron water backdrop, and of course your colorful kayak in the foreground. It will make for the perfect balance for your most popular pic.
- If you want a cool artsy shot: simply wait until sunset. The best shot of this iconic view comes when the sky is golden, cotton candy pink, or Pure Michigan blue and green.
Michigan State University
MSU was the single most Instagrammed spot in 2016. With tens of thousands calling East Lansing home for school every year, and thousands more pouring in during fall weekends for football games, MSU shares its beauty with a huge amount of Instagrammers.
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: snap a photo on the banks of the Red Cedar! The fight song had it right when it opened with a mention of the river running through campus, and your account will look great with you and the Red Cedar front and center.
If you want to snap the whole scene: run up to the very top of the stadium. After a heart-pumping game of MSU football, take a peek over the edge of the stadium for a great view of campus.
If you want a cool artsy shot: pair the beautiful old trees of north campus with one of the many Hogwarts-like buildings, or head on down to the Beal Botanical Garden or Children’s Garden for amazing blooms and fun props all year long!
Finally, Michigan’s gorgeous Capitol Building will round out a Mitten-filled aesthetic. Modeled after the one in DC, Michigan’s Capitol conveys an epicness and attention to detail unlike most other spots in the state. Take in its grandeur from the outside, and then take a tour of the building’s inside — it’s just as beautiful!
If you want to show yourself or the people you’re with: head inside for a tour, lay down on the glass floor to look up at the incredible domed ceiling, and capture the moment.
If you want to snap the whole scene: walk down Michigan Avenue (grab a bite from Glazed and Confused, take a turn for Lansing Brewing Company, or stop by any of the other fabulous places in downtown) and snag a shot of the iconic building from a far.
If you want a cool artsy shot: just wait until sunset. The capital is gorgeous by itself and with the right light, it will brighten up anyone’s feed. The evening is also great for strolling Lansing’s River Trail and enjoying its whimsical parks and shops in Old Town.
About the Author: Samantha Ward is a Spartan, a proud Michigander, and writer for the Awesome Mitten who loves to hike, eat Superman ice cream, and discuss the validity of Instagram Stories with people.