As with visiting any state in the U.S., there are a lot of places worth visiting. It’s impossible to fit it all in. Michigan is unique in that it has two independent land masses, connected by a bridge, and it takes nearly 12 hours to drive between its southernmost and northernmost points. To say that Michigan is vast is an understatement. You need to be choosy in what you see during your time in the Mitten State. We offer a few suggestions of cities to visit, each with their own attractions and diversions.

Grand Rapids

Also known as Beer City, USA, for its wide assortment of craft breweries, Grand Rapids has a big city feel while still retaining some Up North vitality and appearance. You have your choice of attractions, including the John Ball Zoo and the Children’s Museum. Another favorite spot to visit is Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, proudly ranked among the top 45 most-visited art museums worldwide. There are both indoor and outdoor gardens and more than 200 sculptures to find across its 158-acre campus. There are plenty of parks to choose from if you need to return to nature, and make sure to check the social calendar for events during the time you’re planning to be in the area. The city is the chosen location for a lot of events throughout every season.

Nearby campgrounds… Woodchip Campground (Byron Center), Indian Valley Campground and Canoe Livery (Middleville), Double R Ranch Resort (Belding)

 

Ste. Sault Marie  

This historic town on the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula is famous for many reasons, primarily the engineering feat, the Soo Locks. You can come view impressively sized freighters navigate the locks from the observation deck, from the St. Mary’s River via ferry, or from one of the riverside parks. Other nearby attractions include Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum as well as Tahquamenon Falls, the largest falls in Michigan.

Nearby campgrounds… Glamping in Paradise (Paradise), Kritters Campground (Newberry)

 

Glen Arbor

Love cherries? Then visit the original Cherry Republic, which has cherry products of all kinds, from the sweet to the savory. You can easily find some delicious snacks to take back to the campsite. The quaint downtown takes on a lively atmosphere in the summer months as visitors dine at establishments such as Boonedocks, Art’s Tavern, and Western Avenue Bar & Grill; or grab an ice cream cone from Pine Cone. While you’re in the area, you can rent a boat to take on Little Glen Lake or Big Glen Lake, or rent a canoe on the pristine Crystal River. But one of the most significant attractions, and why many folks choose this part of Michigan to visit, is to see Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. From the majestic dune climb to the picturesque Pierce Stocking Drive to hiking the trails to rock hounding on the Lake Michigan shoreline, this incredible park is truly a gem for those who love and appreciate the outdoors.

Nearby campgrounds… Indigo Bluffs RV Park and Resort (Empire), Northgate Leelanau Pines (Cedar), Holiday Park Campground (Traverse City), Vacation Trailer Park (Benzonia)

 

Frankenmuth

Bavarian. That is the single-best word to describe this distinctive destination in the crook of Michigan’s thumb.  The town looks like it’s from a picture book of fairy tales. It’s clean and decorated to the nines with flowers. Alpine influence is everywhere, from the structures of the buildings to the types of shops to the local fare. Nearby, visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Even if Christmas is nowhere close, take a walk through the World’s Largest Christmas Store. Visit at night and you can drive through to see the sparkling display of Christmas lights.

Nearby campgrounds… Frankenmuth Jellystone Park Camp Resort (Frankenmuth), Wesleyan Woods Campground (Vassar)

 

Mackinaw City

The town itself is a tourist trap, yet it retains some charm. One of the biggest reasons for visiting is to catch a ferry ride to Mackinac Island. But you can enjoy Mackinaw City shopping, fudge, and restaurants. You should also go down to the park for sunset views of the Mighty Mac. Ferry cruises are also available if you want to get close up to the bridge, which spans five miles long and is at the intersection of two Great Lakes: Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. On the Lake Michigan side you’ll also find Colonial Michilimackinac, a reconstructed 18th-century fort and fur trading village that has a one-of-a-kind experience of early settler days here.

Nearby campgrounds… Tee Pee Campground (Mackinaw City), Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping (Mackinaw)

 

South Haven

This small Michigan town is briming with charm and romance, while offering plenty of diversions fr families. Jutting out into Lake Michigan is an extensive pier, perfect for a stroll, to the South Haven Lighthouse. Then, spend some time at North Beach, South Beach, or one of the smaller beaches along the coast. Stop in at the Michigan Maritime Museum, or talk a walk through town to visit the shops and eateries. If you’re into spending time on the water, in addition to swimming or boating on one of the Great Lakes, you can take a float on the Bangor-South Haven Heritage Water Trail. There are two family friendly sections, according to the website www.michiganwatertrails.org/trail.asp?ait=cv&cid=106. Check the site for details and a map.

Nearby campgrounds… South Haven Sunny Brook RV Resort (South Haven), Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Holiday (Benton Harbor)

 

Petoskey

“Petoskey” comes from the indigenous people who used to inhabit the area meaning “where the light shines through the clouds.” Of course, go to the beach at Bayfront Park and search for the state stone, the Petoskey stone, to take home and remember your time Up North. The stone is fossilized coral with a distinctive pattern. In town, walk through the historic lantern district and take in the unique shops. You can also visit the Bay View Association, located just east of Petoskey, an old Victorian community that is a beautiful National Historic Landmark. There are activities sponsored during the summer for all, including festivals, recreational programs, and more. You can go on a self-guided walking tour of the ornate cottages, halls, and other historic structures.

Nearby campgrounds… Sun Outdoors Petoskey Bay Harbor (Petoskey), Magnus Park Campground (Petoskey), Jellystone Park Petoskey (Petoskey)

 

Detroit

Detroit has a certain reputation: the Motor City, the birthplace of Motown, and, unfortunately, not being the safest destination to visit in Michigan. However, downtown Detroit has been in the midst of a revival these past couple decades. Historic Eastern Market is well worth a visit, and there are craft breweries scattered all over the city. Downtown Detroit, the Renaissance Center, and Belle Isle are also very popular, and safe, destinations to visit. Not to mention, the museums! The Henry Ford is the most well-known and it’ll take you days to experience everything.

Nearby campgrounds… Addison Oaks County Park (Leonard), Horseshoe Lake Campground, Oxford), Camp Lord Willing (Monroe)