Where to Vacation in Michigan? 10 Places to Visit in 2023 – Getting to Know the Great Lakes State

Michigan, a place where each destination is a story waiting to be told, invites tourists with an open heart. This vibrant state provides its visitors with its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and thriving cultural scenes.

From the quiet, sandy beaches of its Great Lakes shores to the lush, rolling vineyards, and from the peaceful countryside to lively urban centers, Michigan offers a mosaic of experiences. Today, we want to address must-visit places in Michigan, each offering a unique combination of adventure, relaxation, and discovery.

Without further ado, let us explore the hidden corners and celebrated gems of the Wolverine State.

1. Mackinac Island

Fort Mackinac

Mackinac Island, a timeless retreat nestled in Lake Huron, stands as a testament to Michigan’s historical charm and natural beauty. Known for its ban on motor vehicles, the island invites visitors to step back in time, exploring its scenic landscapes and historic sites at a leisurely pace.

The streets, lined with quaint shops and eateries, buzz with the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages, offering a unique experience that sets Mackinac Island apart from any other destination. Highlights:

  • Historic Fort Mackinac: This well-preserved fort offers a glimpse into 18th-century military life, complete with reenactments and stunning views of the island.
  • Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours: A signature experience of Mackinac Island, these tours provide a relaxed and informative way to see the island’s landmarks.
  • Mackinac Island Fudge: No visit to the island is complete without trying its famous fudge, a sweet treat that has been a staple here for over a century.

2. Traverse City

National Cherry Festival in Traverse City

Traverse City, often hailed as the culinary capital of Michigan, is a paradise for foodies and wine enthusiasts. Located on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, this vibrant city is not only renowned for its culinary delights but also its picturesque landscapes and lively arts scene.

The surrounding vineyards and cherry orchards add to the city’s charm, making it a perfect destination for those who appreciate the finer things in life.


  • Winery Tours in the Old Mission Peninsula: Traverse City is surrounded by numerous vineyards, offering tours and tastings of some of Michigan’s finest wines.
  • The National Cherry Festival: Celebrating Traverse City’s cherry harvest, this festival is a week-long extravaganza of parades, music, and cherries in every form.
  • Scenic Views of Grand Traverse Bay: The bay offers stunning waterfront views and a plethora of water activities, from sailing to kayaking.

3. Detroit

Detroit, the historic heart of the American automotive industry, is a city reborn. It’s a place where industrial grit meets innovative art, music, and culture. The city’s rich history is evident in its impressive architecture and museums, while its resurgence is marked by vibrant street art, bustling markets, and a dynamic food scene.

Detroit is a city that both honors its past and embraces its future, making it an intriguing destination for all.


  • The Detroit Institute of Arts: Home to one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States, it’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
  • Motown Museum: This iconic music museum celebrates the legacy of Motown Records, where visitors can stand in Studio A, where legends like Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross recorded their hits.
  • Historic Eastern Market: One of the oldest and largest year-round markets in the U.S., known for its fresh produce, vibrant murals, and lively atmosphere.

4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with its majestic dunes and crystal-clear waters, is a natural wonder that epitomizes the beauty of Michigan’s Great Lakes region.  This breathtaking stretch of coastline offers not only spectacular views but also a plethora of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts.

The dunes themselves, towering high above the lake, provide a unique landscape that is both challenging and awe-inspiring.


  • Dune Climbing and Hiking Trails: The dunes offer a unique adventure, with trails leading to panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding landscapes.
  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: A must-do for visitors, this drive offers stunning vistas and access to key points within the park.
  • Beaches and Water Activities on Lake Michigan: The lakeshore’s pristine beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, making it an ideal spot for a summer getaway.

5. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, known for its dramatic cliffs and colorful rock formations, is a testament to nature’s artistry.  This unique geological area along Lake Superior’s southern shore offers visitors a chance to explore its natural beauty through hiking, boating, and photography.

The striking colors of the mineral-stained cliffs, combined with the clear blue waters of the lake, create a picturesque setting that is both serene and spectacular.


  • Kayaking and Boat Tours: Exploring the Pictured Rocks by water offers a unique perspective of the cliffs and hidden coves.
  • Miners Castle Rock Formations: One of the most iconic landmarks, these formations are a must-see for their unique shapes and stunning views.
  • Hiking Along the Lakeshore: Miles of trails wind through the park, offering scenic views and access to secluded beaches and waterfalls.

6. Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, a vibrant university town, is a hub of cultural and intellectual activity. Home to the University of Michigan, the city is bustling with youthful energy, diverse cuisine, and an impressive array of cultural offerings.  From art galleries to live music venues, Ann Arbor provides a rich cultural experience, complemented by the natural beauty of its parks and rivers.


  • University of Michigan Campus and Museums: The campus is renowned for its beautiful architecture and world-class museums, including the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
  • Art Galleries and Theaters: Ann Arbor’s thriving arts scene is evident in its numerous galleries and theaters, showcasing both local and international talent.
  • The Ann Arbor Art Fair: This annual event is one of the largest outdoor art fairs in the nation, attracting artists and visitors from around the globe.

7. Grand Rapids

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Grand Rapids, often referred to as the cultural heart of West Michigan, is a city where art, history, and nature converge. Known for its dynamic art scene and as the craft beer capital of the U.S., Grand Rapids offers a blend of urban sophistication and small-town charm.

The city’s commitment to the arts is visible in its vibrant street murals, world-class museums, and the famous ArtPrize competition.


  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: This unique attraction combines art and nature, featuring a stunning sculpture park and beautiful botanical gardens.
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum: A centerpiece of the city’s cultural life, showcasing a range of historical and contemporary art.
  • Beer City USA’s Brewery Tours: With a reputation as the craft beer capital, the city offers numerous brewery tours and tastings for beer enthusiasts.

8. Holland, Michigan

Holland, Michigan, is a charming city that brings a taste of the Netherlands to the Midwest. Known for its Dutch heritage, Holland is famous for its tulip gardens, windmills, and Dutch architecture.  The city’s unique cultural identity is celebrated annually in the Tulip Time Festival, making it a vibrant and colorful destination in the spring.


  • Tulip Time Festival: This renowned festival features millions of tulips in bloom, Dutch dance performances, and parades.
  • Dutch Village and Windmill Island Gardens: Experience a slice of the Netherlands with authentic Dutch architecture, a working windmill, and beautiful gardens.
  • Holland State Park and Big Red Lighthouse: Enjoy the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan and the iconic Big Red Lighthouse, a favorite spot for photographers.

9. The Upper Peninsula

Upper Peninsula - Tahquamenon Falls State Park

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, often simply called “the U.P.,” is a region of pristine natural beauty and rugged wilderness. It’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering everything from hiking and fishing to snowmobiling and skiing.

The U.P. is also rich in history, with its mining towns and indigenous culture, providing a unique blend of natural and historical exploration.


  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park: Home to one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, offering stunning views and hiking trails.
  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: Known as the “Porkies,” this park is a haven for hikers, with untouched forests and scenic overlooks.
  • Historic Mining Towns and Museums: Explore the region’s mining history through its preserved towns and interactive museums.

10. Saugatuck

Saugatuck, often referred to as the ‘Art Coast of Michigan,’ is a picturesque small town nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan. Known for its vibrant arts community, Saugatuck is a haven for artists, art enthusiasts, and anyone looking to immerse themselves in a creative and relaxing environment.

The town’s charming downtown area, filled with galleries, boutiques, and cozy cafes, perfectly complements its scenic natural surroundings.


  • Art Galleries and Boutiques: Saugatuck is home to numerous art galleries showcasing works from local and national artists, making it a perfect destination for art lovers.
  • Oval Beach and Dune Rides: Recognized as one of the best beaches in the U.S., Oval Beach offers beautiful sandy shores, while nearby dune rides provide an exciting way to explore the area’s unique landscape.
  • Saugatuck Dune State Park: This state park offers hiking trails through picturesque dunes, providing stunning views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area.


What are the best places in Michigan for food and wine enthusiasts?

Michigan, particularly the Traverse City area, is a paradise for food and wine lovers. The city is known for its vibrant culinary scene, featuring fresh, local ingredients. The Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula, close to Traverse City, are home to numerous vineyards and wineries. Near Lake Orion, you can taste dishes made from local fish.

What are the top choices for a relaxing spa or wellness retreat in Michigan?

For a relaxing getaway, Michigan offers several excellent spa and wellness retreats. The Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville is renowned for its Crystal Spa, offering a range of treatments and wellness programs. The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City provides luxurious spa services with a view of Grand Traverse Bay.

Which areas in Michigan offer the best fall foliage views?

Michigan’s fall foliage is spectacular, with several areas offering stunning views. The Tunnel of Trees, a scenic route on M-119 near Harbor Springs, provides a breathtaking drive through colorful forests. The Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula are another fantastic location for fall colors, especially around Lake of the Clouds.

Where in Michigan can travelers experience local festivals or events?

Michigan is rich in festivals and events throughout the year. The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City celebrates the region’s cherry harvest in July with parades, concerts, and cherry-tasting events. The Detroit Jazz Festival, held during Labor Day weekend, is a must-visit for music enthusiasts.

Are there any unique accommodations in Michigan?

Michigan offers unique accommodations for a memorable stay. In the Upper Peninsula, the Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast provides a chance to stay in a working lighthouse. For a rustic experience, the Treehouse at The Fields in South Haven offers luxurious amenities amidst nature.

Closing Thoughts

Discovering Michigan’s top destinations reveals a state rich in contrast and character. Each location, from the tranquil islands to the energetic city streets, tells a part of Michigan’s diverse story.  When you travels conclude, you’re left with not just memories but an invitation to return and explore even more of what this remarkable state has to offer.

Michigan, with its endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment, is a destination where you can do just that; create some beautiful memories.

If you are interested in learning more about the state of Michigan and what it has to offer, be sure to pay a visit to our site.