It’s been said that Michigan is a destination state, and a big attraction for visitors is the natural beauty of the state. The waters have been compared to those of the Caribbean. The vistas unparalleled. For people who live here, it’s easy to know why Michigan takes such a hold on the mind and body.

Now that the warmer months have come along, we’re able to spend more time outside. Sure, we can go for hikes or kayak down a river or go fishing or jump on ATV trail. But we can also learn new skills or develop a sense of history during our outings. Wondering where to go to accomplish this? You have lots of choices.

Historic Sites

Michigan has been a part of the union since 1837, but before that official recognition the land was full of settlements, complete with businesses and industries. The state was a honey hole for minerals and logging, as well as for shipping because of its proximity and access to the Great Lakes. Because of this, history abounds in the state. Thankfully, many people – before us and currently – have sought to help the current generations with recalling this history.  Apart from the hundreds of interesting museums that cover much of this history, you can visit places where history happened – and is so recognized in that very spot. Popular outdoor destinations include:

  • River Raisin National Battlefield
  • Keweenaw National Historical Park
  • Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park
  • Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park
  • Iron Mountain Mine
  • Hardwick Pines Logging Museum
  • Fort Wilkins and Copper Harbor Lighthouse
  • Colonial Michilimackinac

Historical landmarks and monuments are well-marked across the state. There’s a good chance you’ll run into a bit of history unexpectedly!

Nature Programs

State parks love to engage people and teach them about the outdoors. These programs are ideal for families or groups because you can learn together. Locate a state park with nature programs on the Michigan DNR website, and plan your visit based on your camping location. Some state parks host winter events. Programs are free of charge. A Recreation Passport is required to enter state parks.

Nature Centers

Michigan is home to a variety of nature centers from north to south. There are too many to be named here. For a complete list and visual locations, visit the Michigan Greenspaces map. The Michigan DNR also has a fairly comprehensive list available on their website, along with links to each nature center. Nature centers aren’t necessarily managed by the Michigan DNR, although some are.

Outdoor Adventure Center

Located on Atwater Street in Detroit, the Outdoor Adventure Center sits near Milliken State Park and Harbor as well as the mighty Detroit River. In fact, that’s where their outdoor education programs take place June through August. These programs are perfect for young explorers. Each program includes hands-on exploration, activities, and recreation. Most programs are $2 per child. Examples of programs are “Nature’s Colors and Shapes,” “Animal Essentials,” and “Fantastic Fish!” Examples of activities include hiking, learning how to cast, how to identify fish or plants, and many others. “Compass Skills” introduces kids to how to properly use a compass for navigation. There are age recommendations based on the content and activities of each program. Check the Michigan DNR “Outdoor Adventure Center” for more information.