Winter is no joke in Michigan, but even though the state sees significant cold and snowfall, spring comes a little bit sooner to the southern portion of the Lower Peninsula.

Take a break from the winter chill and welcome in spring by exploring what this region of Michigan has to offer outside of the high travel and tourist season. Here are a few spots you should look into visiting in late winter and early spring.

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Detroit

Visit the birthplace of the Model T, the automotive that started a transportation revolution. Considered one of the most significant automotive heritage sites in the world, the plant was built in 1904 as a late Victorian style brick building. A separate powerhouse was also constructed. The very first 12,000 Model Ts were assembled here and shipped by rail – but don’t forget the popular Model N, which was the best-selling car of the time. You can visit Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with optional guided tours taking place at 10, noon, and 2. There is a modest ticket fee, and they can be purchase online. For more information visit

Waterloo state Recreation Area, Chelsea

This is the third largest state park in the state and the largest in the Lower Peninsula. Apart from a plethora of camping options, there are 11 inland lakes and a wide network of trails that mountain bikers and horseback riders tend to favor. But there are lots of trails on which to simply walk and enjoy the switch to spring. You may even see some early wildflowers. The Gerald Eddy Discovery Center introduces local geology and the area’s natural habitats. In the summer, you can visit the stables and go on a guided group horseback ride. Nearby historic Chelsea, home of Jiffy-Mix, is worth a visit as well.

Maple Syrup Festival, Vermontville

The location of the original Michigan maple syrup festival takes place in – ironically – a town with “Vermont” included. Held in April (the 22nd in 2022) this friendly village not far from Battle Creek and Lansing is one most people have never heard of. But come syrup season, it can see 30,000 visitors. During the days of the festival, you can find lots to do downtown: a petting zoo, syrup demonstrations, BBQ, a craft show, a parade, and the crowning of the Maple Syrup Queen. There’s even a 5k walk/run for folks who want to burn off some extra calories before or after indulging in nature’s liquid sunshine.

Jean Klock Park, Benton Harbor

You won’t be getting a suntan and sipping a pina colada, but you can enjoy a beautiful beach alongside one of the greatest bodies of fresh water in the world. It’s one of the lesser known beaches, making it a nice spot to return to in the busy summer months, and you will find dunes, marshland, wetlands, and an observation trail. The wind can be brisk, though on an early spring day, it brings along the promise of spring. Enjoy the view, peruse the beach for natural keepsakes, and perhaps stay until sunset. Say goodbye to winter.

Saugatuck History Museum, Saugatuck

This bustling summer town turns quiet in the winter, but that doesn’t mean it loses any of its charm or history. This beautiful little museum is one of the most visited during the high travel season, seeing thousands of visitors. The main gallery has alternating exhibits. Past exhibits have been about dancing, shipwrecks, artists, and even gangsters. The museum is open noon to 4 p.m. from Labor Day through October on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Visit While you’re in Saugatuck, stop in an antique shop or two and pick up some local treats, such as from Crane’s Pie Pantry.


Just one more…

Irish Festival, Clare

A little farther north but worth a visit this time of year, Clare is a paradise for those who love the outdoors, with plenty of trails for all types of recreation throughout the seasons. Shopping isn’t a mega mall affair. You’ll find quaint, locally owned shops that have their own flavor. You can shop at a leisurely pace. Visit the shops during or after visiting the annual Irish Festival, which typically takes place the week of St. Patrick’s Day – of course! Wear a little green so you won’t get pinched and join in the revelry of the Irish for a day or two.