Are you ready to embrace the wonders of Michigan, both natural and manmade? Our beloved state is home to all sorts of impressive landmarks, whether you’re partial to outdoor attractions, unique buildings, or something in between. If you’re eager to explore a handful of the most iconic and fascinating destinations here in the Great Lakes State, we’ve got you covered. Take a spin along our Michigan landmarks road trip.
Note: for the sake of driving time, we recommend tackling this trip over the course of a long weekend or even extending it into a full vacation to make the most of your adventure. To access an editable version of our route map, click here.
1. Belle Isle
When tourists arrive in Detroit, many are keen to explore Greektown, attend a sporting event, or learn about the history of Motown music. While all these options are absolutely worthwhile, we love spending time on the beautiful Belle Isle. This island park takes visitors on a whimsical adventure with its historic aquarium, Detroit River views, stunning conservatory, hiking spaces, playgrounds, fountain area, and so much more. You’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the park, but the memories you’ll make on Belle Isle are priceless.
2. The Big House
Whether or not you’re a fan of the University of Michigan Wolverines, a trip to Michigan Stadium (“the Big House”) belongs on your bucket list. There’s something inexplicably magical about stepping into this gargantuan stadium, which boasts the title of America’s largest stadium and the third-largest stadium in the entire world. With a capacity of 107,601 people, the Big House is a manmade marvel – and even a drive by its exterior will captivate you.
3. Michigan State Capitol Building
You don’t have to be a political buff to appreciate the sheer architectural beauty of the Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, which has stood since 1878. This gorgeous structure features a Renaissance Revival style and stands 267 feet tall – and you’ll surely want to spend time basking in its splendor. Whether you’re marveling at colorful paintings within the interior dome or simply appreciating the building’s exterior grandeur, you’ll be impressed.
4. Big Red Lighthouse
Known officially as the Holland Harbor Lighthouse, this eye-catching landmark sits along the shores of Lake Michigan and stands out among the surrounding sand and dune grass. Since its initial opening in 1872, “Big Red” has become nothing short of iconic for visitors to the beaches of Holland. While the lighthouse itself is no longer publicly accessible, it can still be viewed and appreciated from Holland State Park, which bustles with activity in the summer and makes for a unique strolling spot in the winter months.
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
No matter how many times you’ve seen Sleeping Bear Dunes, you’ll almost certainly find yourself enchanted by this breathtaking spot. Situated along the impossibly blue waters of Lake Michigan, the dunes themselves tower high above the water and offer everything from hiking trails to overlooks that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. For our favorite view of the shoreline, check out the Empire Bluff Trail.
6. Mackinac Bridge
No tour of Michigan’s iconic landmarks is complete without an experience at the Mackinac Bridge, sometimes referred to as the Mighty Mac. Since its grand opening in 1957, the bridge has enhanced travel between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan and offered drivers the chance to experience the Straits of Mackinac from above. At a whopping 26,372 feet, the bridge is decidedly sprawling – and we firmly believe that every Michigander should cross it at least a few times.
7. Tahquamenon Falls
While we could list dozens upon dozens of iconic spots in the Upper Peninsula, our space is limited for the purposes of this road trip – so we went with a true classic. Tahquamenon Falls, which actually consists of two impressive waterfalls, will sweep you away on a natural adventure unlike any other in the state of Michigan. Whether you drop by in the midst of summer heat, take a stroll when fall colors bloom, or appreciate the frozen falls in all their icy glory, you’ll be overwhelmed by this destination’s beauty.
Have you and your loved ones checked out any of the places on our Michigan landmarks road trip? We know our list only scratches the surface, so let us know what we should include in our future articles. Share your thoughts with us by leaving a Facebook comment or make an official recommendation by completing our nomination form here.