Maybe you have heard the phrase "Pure Michigan", it is our state department of tourism's tagline. Summer in Michigan is truly beautiful. I should know, I have spent almost 60 years here. People travel from all over the world just to see our lovely mitten state, so I thought it was high time I let you all in on some of our secrets. 🤫
I belong to the Michigan chapter of Travel Massive, which is a global initiative to connect people in the travel industry. I have been lucky enough to have been hosted by two of the city destinations I want to share, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.
The other three destinations are part of our world famous Great Lakes. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are like the ocean, only without the salt and 🦈 sharks. Holland and Grand Haven are quaint towns with beaches on Lake Michigan and Mackinac Island is a unique historical island in Lake Huron.
Below are the five destinations I want to share with you (of course, there are many more, but we'll have to save those for another time) in alphabetical order.
1. Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor is my hometown, so I may have a wee bit of a bias. 😉 The big draw in July is the Ann Arbor Art Fair. This renowned event is composed of four award-winning, juried art fairs held simultaneously throughout the streets of Ann Arbor in July. Half a million visitors come each year.
Ann Arbor is also a foodies paradise with over 300 restaurants in the area: from the world renowned Zingerman's Deli, to the hole in the wall Blimpy Burger, Ann Arbor has something for every palate and price point.
Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan. My dad was a professor of education at U of M and I received my teaching certification there. If you have never had the opportunity to visit the "Big House" (the University of Michigan football stadium), you need to put that on your bucket list. It seats over 100,000+ and it is a thrill to watch an event at.
There is so much more to see and do: Top of the Park, bike trails, museums, the peony gardens in the arboretum...I could go on and on! Follow Destination Ann Arbor on Instagram here.
2. Grand Haven
The last three summers my husband's sister and her family have rented a house near Grand Haven directly on Lake Michigan. We have taken the opportunity each time to spend a long weekend there in August. Every year we walk the boardwalk out to the lighthouses on the pier. It never gets old.
Grand Haven is also home to the Coast Guard and Grand Haven State Park. There is a Coast Guard Festival each year at the end of July - beginning of August.
You can also enjoy the Grand Haven Musical Fountain, built in 1962. This fountain processes 90,000 gallons of water with a synchronized display of water, light and music throughout the summer at dusk.
The best part of this area is its unparalleled sunsets over Lake Michigan.
3. Grand Rapids
In my opinion, any city nicknamed "Beer City" 🍺 is worth exploring. Situated on the Grand River, not far from Lake Michigan, this friendly city offers arts, culture, sports, shopping, restaurants, and more for families, friends and couples.
Experience Grand Rapids (follow here on Instagram) recently hosted a group of travel bloggers. They provided a free night of lodging at the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown for out of town guests and a reception at The Knickerbocker (Holland Brewery). We were offered a tour of the brewery and distillery, along with appetizers and drinks. I also was able to visit Founder's Brewery, ranked one of the top 2 breweries in America (article here) and the Downtown Market, which reminds me of Chicago's Eataly.
Holland holds a special place in my heart. We had our civil marriage here before our destination wedding in Punta Cana. Our friends live here, so we come as often as we can. This Dutch heritage community has so much to offer.
The big draw is in May, the Tulip Time Festival. I have been fortunate enough to attend the last two years. It is a wonderful event for young and old, run by a high school friend of mine.
The downtown was named one of “America’s Prettiest Towns” by Forbes Magazine, and an “All-American City” by the National Civic League. You will find over 100 unique and locally owned shops, restaurants, galleries and brew pubs.
Holland State Park is where you will find the light house and beach. There is also Tunnel Park and beach. A visit to a windmill and the Dutch Village will give you a taste of the Netherlands.
5. Mackinac Island
The iconic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is famous worldwide. The 1980 movie Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer was filmed here. Five United States Presidents have visited here: Presidents Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman.
I have been numerous times over the years. When my own boys were young my parents and I took them to the island. They loved the Fort. They even got to shoot off the canon! Ten years ago six of my high school girlfriends and I had our first girls weekend getaway, on Mackinac Island. We also took our 4th graders to the island in conjunction with our social studies lessons on Michigan history when I was teaching. Last October my niece got married on the island. It is a perfect place for so many memorable experiences.
The island is unique in that there are no cars on the island. People use bikes, horses and walking to get around. The island carriage ride tours are a great way to see the island and get a history and background. Some of the attractions are Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock, the Butterfly Garden and of course, there is fudge!