What’s better than spending time in the great outdoors? Spending time in the great outdoors without spending a single penny! While many of the top natural attractions in the Great Lakes State require a recreation passport or entry fee, there are plenty of completely cost-free destinations to explore. We’ve compiled a list of our seven favorite free natural wonders in Michigan, so read on to start planning your family’s next great adventure.
1. Laketown Beach
Lake Michigan as a whole is an incredible place to spend time, but there’s something special about Laketown Beach in Holland. This totally free destination combines so many of Michigan’s most marvelous natural features: dunes, a sandy shoreline, and waterfront views that seem to extend forever into the horizon. When you spend time here, be prepared to climb a significant number of stairs to get over the dune – but trust us when we say that the extra steps are well worth the beauty that awaits.
2. Arch Rock
If you find yourself on Mackinac Island, Arch Rock is a must-visit natural wonder that will both impress and intrigue you. This unique rock creation is approximately 50 feet wide and stands high above the surrounding shoreline. While there are boat tours and bikes available for those who want to spot the rock, it can also be experienced completely free of cost via a two-mile out and back trail. Don’t forget your camera!
3. Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary
Michigan’s forests are absolutely spectacular, no matter which region of the state you’re exploring. If you’re keen on lush greenery, wildlife, and gorgeous blooms, you absolutely must explore Dowagiac Woods by way of its stunning nature sanctuary. Admission is free, so you can take the whole family for a stroll through this 3840-acre wonderland without breaking the bank. Does it get much better than this?
4. Lexington State Harbor
Experience the rugged yet decidedly enchanting shores of Lake Huron at Lexington State Harbor, where you can easily explore both the beach and accompanying boardwalk on foot without spending a dime. During your visit, you’ll spot everything from boats dotting the water to fishermen reeling in their daily catches. When the weather is warm, this is an especially wonderful spot to enjoy a picnic or simply bask in the marvelous Michigan sunshine.
5. Galien River County Park
Head to New Buffalo and catch an unbeatable view of the sprawling New Buffalo Marsh, which is accessible via Galien River County Park. This awesome spot features a towering canopy walk and a boardwalk trail that winds through wondrous wetlands. Entry to the park is free, but you should bear in mind that it is open seasonally between early March and late fall – so plan your trip accordingly.
6. The Detroit River
Because of its location near such a bustling metropolis, the Detroit River is often overlooked when it comes to natural wonders. We’d like to correct this, though, as the river has long added beauty and charm to the Motor City and its neighbors across the shores in Ontario. Whether you’re gazing at freighters or simply appreciating the waterfront breeze, you can experience it all for free along the sprawling Detroit Riverfront.
7. The Straits of Mackinac
There’s something truly magical about venturing to Mackinaw City and experiencing the union of Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. One of the main draws of this area is the eye-catching Straits of Mackinac, which feature a glittering blue hue that perfectly complements the Mackinac Bridge. Check it out for free when you stroll at Wawatam Park in Mackinaw City, which offers complimentary on-site parking and the chance to bask in incredible vistas.
So, there you have it: seven of the best free natural wonders in Michigan. Have you and your loved ones spent time at these cost-conscious locales during previous adventures? Which of your favorites made (or didn’t make) the list? Share your experiences with us by leaving a Facebook comment or recommend another affordable outdoor destination in Michigan by completing our nomination form.