No matter what the season, there’s something wonderful about hopping in the car and embarking on an adventure through the Great Lakes State. After all, Michigan is full to the brim with natural attractions and beautiful destinations, whether you’re keen on waterfront scenery or manmade gems. The next time you’re looking for an extended journey, check out this scenic Michigan road trip. These stops will have you immersed in boundless beauty before you know it.
For an adjustable map of our road trip route, click here.
1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Whether you’re visiting in the middle of summertime or the dead of winter, there are few places more gorgeous than Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and its surrounding areas. Take a gorgeous fall hike through the wooded beauty that leads to an overlook along Empire Bluff Trail, bask in the sunshine along the shorelines of Lake Michigan, or settle in for a romantic weekend at one of the many cottages and resorts that dot nearby inland lakes. There’s really no bad time to visit the dunes and their immediate surroundings.
2. Leelanau Peninsula
For wine enthusiasts, the Leelanau Peninsula feels like something out of a dream. Sprawling vineyards, blue water views, and plenty of manmade marvels make this area stand out above the rest. Stretch your legs at Leelanau State Park, appreciate the charms of Leland and its collection of fishing shanties, or simply bask in the delights of a scenic drive along M-22. You’ll be enchanted by the sights, sounds, and tastes of this area.
3. Mackinaw City
If you appreciate the intersection of history and nature, you’ll have an absolute blast exploring the Mackinaw City area. From military tales to delicious fudge to vibrant views of the mighty Mackinac Bridge, it’s almost impossible not to find something fun to appreciate here. During warmer months, attend a reenactment at Fort Michilimackinac or hop on the ferry to Mackinac Island. When it’s chillier, take time to admire the frozen Straits, snap photos of Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, or stroll through a sleepy off-season downtown.
Once you’ve explored the many wonders of Mackinaw City, cross that towering bridge and enter the Upper Peninsula for an entirely unique experience. Many Michiganders agree that the U.P. sometimes feels like an entirely different world, and with good reason: its sense of rustic beauty, quietude, and rugged nature truly set it apart. Kitch-iti-kipi is one top attraction in the U.P., and with good reason: this breathtaking natural spring offers a sense of magic in the height of summer, the depths of winter, and every time in between.
5. Tahquamenon Falls State Park
You might think that the commanding Tahquamenon Falls are only worth checking out in the summer, but the truth is that this locale is brilliant throughout the year. The broader state park is unbeatable, boasting more than 46,000 acres of space and everything from campgrounds to hiking trails. Bring along your camera when you visit the falls themselves, as they’re always magnificent: when surrounded by fall foliage, when dotted with ice, or when flowing at full capacity under the summer sun.
Have you visited any of the beautiful locations along our scenic Michigan road trip route? Which of your favorites made the list? We love to hear from our readers, so share your thoughts in the Facebook comments or recommend yet another pretty destination in the Great Lakes State by filling out our nomination form here.