There’s nothing more refreshing than heading outside to appreciate the beauty of nature in Michigan, regardless of the season. Our state is home to some of the most stunning outdoor attractions in the country, from rocky shorelines to inland lakes and everything in between. As you continue your quest to see all our region has to offer, keep these nine breathtaking parks in Michigan on your must-visit list. From sprawling state parks to smaller gems, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
1. Palms Book State Park
It’s no surprise that several of our favorite parks are located in the brilliant Upper Peninsula, and Palms Book State Park truly steals the show. After all, this unique destination is home to Kitch-iti-kipi, an otherworldly freshwater spring that boasts vibrant blue waters and a sense of timeless magic that’s tough to ignore. It’s easy to see why the area’s indigenous people were so enchanted by Kitch-iti-kipi, also known as “the Big Spring.” You’ll fall in love as soon as you arrive.
2. Galien River County Park
Situated in New Buffalo, this underrated park is a real wonderland for those who love to stroll and explore – particularly those who appreciate experiencing nature from new vantage points. Galien River County Park is home to marvelous wetlands and 86 wondrous acres of land, much of which can be viewed from atop a 60-foot-high canopy walk that extends for 300 feet to a lookout tower. Be sure to bring along your camera when you visit this gorgeous locale.
3. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks is another Michigan classic and with good reason. While it’s technically a national lakeshore instead of a national park, its brilliance is second to none and its attractions are seemingly endless: waterfalls, hiking trails, Lake Superior views, and so much more abound throughout this colorful area. From wintertime snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to lush waterfall hikes and shoreline camping, the natural attractions are absolutely endless.
4. Ludington Park (Escanaba)
Don’t let its name fool you: Ludington Park can actually be found in Escanaba instead of Ludington itself. This charming outdoor space is tucked away along the shores of the Little Bay de Noc, rendering it an unbeatable waterfront destination for families who want to stretch their legs and appreciate both natural and manmade attractions. From a fishing pier to a swimming beach to a playground, there’s so much to discover at Ludington Park.
5. Veterans Waterfront Park
Port Austin offers convenient access to larger destinations like Port Crescent State Park, but we’re partial to Veterans Waterfront Park. This memorial park features a relaxing atmosphere along the shores of Lake Huron and invites visitors to launch kayaks, take a dip in the water, walk along the breakwater pathway, or simply appreciate a picnic lunch atop the green grass. You’ll feel right at home as you settle in here.
6. Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Of course, no list of Michigan’s prettiest parks is complete without a mention of Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This treasure near the town of Paradise features a whopping 50,000 acres and is home to our state’s most famous waterfall, which is actually split into Upper and Lower Falls. While the falls themselves are a main attraction, guests also enjoy camping, hiking, boating, and simply reconnecting with the seemingly untouched nature that sets this area apart.
7. Milliken State Park and Harbor
You might be surprised to learn that there’s a state park smack dab in the middle of Michigan’s largest city, but Milliken State Park and Harbor is here to impress! This Motor City gem features amazing views of the Detroit River and can be easily accessed by adventurers along the iconic Detroit RiverWalk. Take time to appreciate the on-site lighthouse, walk through lush gardens during the warmer months, and watch boats make their way along the water. What’s not to appreciate?
8. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Much like Pictured Rocks, Sleeping Bear Dunes is a national lakeshore as opposed to a traditional national park. When you visit, you’ll be happily overwhelmed by the outdoor recreation options that await: everything from trails with far-reaching views of Lake Michigan to a lovely scenic drive to forested hiking trails and rustic campsites. You could visit Sleeping Bear Dunes every year and never see everything it has to offer, so you’ll want to start exploring as soon as possible.
9. Sanctuary Woods Preserve
Make your way to West Michigan for an utterly spectacular and serene experience at Sanctuary Woods Preserve, which features a foliage-laden dune stairway and features views of Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa alike. Whether you drop by when autumn colors abound or stop in to experience the flourishing greenery of summertime along the forested shoreline, you’ll find true peace at Sanctuary Woods.
Have you spent time visiting any of these breathtaking parks in Michigan? Which of your absolute favorites did (or didn’t) make the final list? Share your experiences with us by leaving a Facebook comment or recommend another beautiful natural attraction in Michigan by completing our official nomination form.