Must-See Destinations in Michigan

There's no doubt that Pure Michigan is home to a number of diverse, unique and remarkably beautiful locations. The next time you are exploring the Mitten State, be sure to stop by some of these must-see areas.

The upper falls at Tahquamenon falls
Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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1. Paradise

The city of Paradise is home to Tahquamenon Falls State Park which encompasses close to 50,000 acres and stretches over 13 miles. The winter season offers opportunity for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing with miles of marked trails. Warmer weather brings the chance to camp and explore the trails in bloom. Paradise is also known as the Wild Blueberry Capital, which is celebrated each year at the Wild Blueberry Festival.

2. Frankenmuth 

No town epitomizes Christmas and the holidays in Michigan more than Frankenmuth, which is also known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” with its rich German heritage. Visit the world’s largest Christmas Store, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland and shop the stores with German themes like the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus. Grab a flight of beer at Frankenmuth Brewery, Michigan’s oldest brewery or enjoy a family-style dinner at Zehnder's of Frankenmuth and Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

3. Grand Haven

The Lake Michigan coastline in the mitten offers one charming, beautiful resort town after another. The Grand Haven lighthouse and pier is reason enough to choose Grand Haven for a first time visit. Alongside the lighthouse, you will find Grand Haven State Park, which is made up entirely of beach and sand dunes with camping opportunity. Experience hand-crafted coffee at Aldea Coffee in the Armory, where Grand Armory Brewery Company and Righteous BBQ also await. During summer evenings, watch the synchronized Grand Haven Musical Fountain and all its water, lights and music.

4. Sault Ste. Marie

Head to the U.P. and Michigan’s oldest city. Go on a boat tour at the famous Soo Locks and/or watch from the three story observation deck as giant ships pass through the locks and canals of the largest waterway crossing in the world. Next head across W. Portage Ave. to walk along and scope out the tourist traps. For eats, grab a burger with everything on it and hanging out at Clyde’s Drive-In. Before getting into the car watch the ferries head to-and-from Sugar Island while walking around Rotary Park.

5. Traverse City

Michigan's cherry capital is also home to numerous wineries, as it rests on the 45th parallel, the same as famous wine region Bordeaux in France. Enjoy time wandering downtown’s shops with local fares and spend a day climbing the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail perfect for biking. Enjoy views of the dunes and city from the water by taking a ride with the historic Traverse City Tall Ship Sailing Company then head to Moomers Ice Cream for Michigan-made ice cream (they make over 160 flavors).  

6. Alpena 

The eastside city has a combination of interactive history and outdoor activities. Dive into shipwreck history and be awed by the views with a glass bottom boat tour at the Thunder Bay Underwater Preserve. Check out the city’s trails like the Alpena Bi-Path which includes paths and beaches for kids to build plenty of sand castles!

7. Detroit 

With a blend of architecture, arts, culture and automotive history Detroit is always a must-see destination in Michigan. Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)  or explore the city’s rich music history at the Motown Historical Museum. After, dine at classic Detroit favorites like Buddy’s Pizza taste the coney dogs at American and Lafayette Coney Island to decide which one is better. Wander up and down the Detroit Riverwalk for views of Canada, by Mogo (rentable bikes) or down Woodward Avenue where you can shop or take the QLINE up to Midtown.

8. Oscoda

The Sunrise Coast along Lake Huron are stunning, which is were you can find Oscoda. Enjoy a cup of coffee at the colorful Garden View Coffee Mill, then head down the street for a walk on the pier at Oscoda Beach Park. For nature enthusiasts, head west of town along the River Road National Scenic Byway and you will quickly be in the Huron National Forest. Waterfalls, scenic overlooks, hiking trails, monuments, lumberjacks, 300+ step staircases and plenty of camping options await you.

9. Houghton

Located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, Houghton is an outdoor adventure lover’s dream, with a number of outfitters, miles of trails, and number of bike shops. Located about as far north as you can get in the Upper Peninsula, there's plenty of adventure to be had all year long. There are more than 28 miles of world-class cross country ski trails along the outskirts of town, while nearby Mount Bohemia Adventure Resort claims the best ungroomed powder east of the Rocky Mountains, with an annual average of 273 inches and the highest vertical drop. In the summertime, residents and visitors enjoy boating, fishing, surfing, and kiting on Lake Superior. Don't forget to try the Upper Peninsula's delicacy, pasties, at Roy's Pasties downtown. 

10. Isle Royale National Park

A remote island cluster in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is car-free and perfect for enjoying nature’s beauty. For those seeking adventure, the island is home to miles of hiking trails and wonderful conditions for boating, canoeing, kayaking and scuba diving as well as guided tours to see all the island has to offer. Visitors can stay at Rock Harbor Lodge Isle Royale, located on the northeast end of Isle Royale National Park, the only full-service lodging facility on the island as well as 36 campgrounds located across the island.