The Ultimate Michigan
Summer Bucket List

Michigan's Summer Bucket List Adventure

#MIAwesomeList is the ultimate summer bucket list in Michigan where you can experience everything that makes Michigan great — from popular destinations to hidden gems to your own discovery of unique parts of the state.

ALL of Michigan is so fun to explore and when the weather warms up and the sun shines bright after a long winter, summer is the perfect time for exploration. Whether you want to check out places in your own backyard or take a trip to visit another part of the state, you really can’t go wrong.

This ultimate summer bucket list includes dozens of ways to explore Michigan and includes links to more detailed guides on each activity to help you plan an unforgettable experience.

So shake off the cabin fever, shed your heavy winter clothes, and get ready to make memories in Michigan this summer!

Click on an item below to zip right down to that adventure!

Bucket List Table of Contents

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Port Huron Bridge - Bridge To Bay Trail

Pedal Your Way Around Michigan's Thumbcoast

Pedal your way to fun this summer along Michigan’s Thumbcoast on the Bridge to Bay Trail through St Clair County!

Extending for 50 miles through St. Clair County, the Bridge to Bay Trail features a diverse system of rail trails, river walks, boardwalks, and bike trails. In particular, the bike trails are ideal for adventurers who want to experience charming Michigan towns, parks, and scenic views on the St. Clair River.

For unique biking excursions to put on your summer bucket list, check out these sections of the Bridge to Bay Trail with points of interest, restaurants, and places to stay along the way. Choose just one or two, or bike all three over a couple of days for the ultimate Michigan summer journey!

Kayaking In Michigan

Paddle the Chippewa River in Central Michigan

Summer is the ideal season for kayaking, and you can find kayaking opportunities in some of the most unexpected places in Michigan. One hidden gem for kayaking is the Chippewa River in Mt. Pleasant and Isabella County.

Flowing through Central Michigan, the Chippewa River is nearly 92 miles. Since the river has no rapids or waves, kayaking it can be fun for the whole family. It runs through woodland habitats and residential neighborhoods and passes by and through several Mt. Pleasant parks.

Couples and families who want to go kayaking not too far from modern conveniences can use these Mt. Pleasant parks as access points to the Chippewa River without having to paddle the entire river.

Crisp Point Lighthouse

Climb to the Top of Crisp Point Lighthouse

If you’re looking for your own slice of peace and tranquility this summer, travel to the northern reaches of the Upper Peninsula to Crisp Point Lighthouse.

This is one of the most remote lighthouses in the U.P. and only recently became accessible. You’ll find it north of Newberry about 40 miles on the Lake Superior shore.

Crisp Point Lighthouse may be a lonely site at first glance, but if you can make the journey, the rewards are rich.

It offers a chance to reconnect with nature, explore the furthest corners of the Upper Peninsula, and get a glimpse of an important and overlooked part of Michigan’s maritime history.

If you love the history and majesty of Michigan’s lighthouses, the Upper Peninsula is home to dozens of them that you can add to your summer bucket list.

One of the state’s oldest lighthouses can be found at the tip of the U.P. in Copper Harbor. The lighthouse was built in 1866 and is a sight to behold on Lake Superior, although there is no public access to it.

Fourteen Mile Point Lighthouse in Octonagon offers access if you’re willing to take a hike. You can cover 12 miles on foot, or you can experience the lighthouse by boat or plane.

The Isle Royle Light Station has been on the island since 1875 and is quite the sight if you see it from a boat. It’s next to impossible to reach the lighthouse, but it still cuts an impressive figure over the water.

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

Journey to the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival

The sight and smell of lilacs are one of the surest signs that spring has finally arrived in Michigan. But this annual 10-day June festival on Mackinac Island is also one of the best things to do in the summer.

A visit to Mackinac Island is always a fun time, but the festival takes the fun to another level. Festival activities include a grand parade, the coronation of a Lilac Queen, and a 10K run/walk.

This is the perfect festival to bring the family to because there’s something for everyone. The activities are fun, the atmosphere is light, and the scenery is colorful with lilacs located all over the island.

Looking for more Michigan summer festival fun? Check out these fantastic Michigan summer celebrations.

Each year, Petoskey celebrates the Michigan state stone at Petoskey Stone Festival, which can be found on the beautiful Lake Michigan shore. The festival includes gem and mineral vendors, a trout fishing pond for kids, and much more.

The Dog Bowl in Frankenmuth is one of several summer festivals in Michigan’s Little Bavaria. This festival of four-legged friends includes Olympic-style events, including diving and retrieving.

As unique festivals go, the National Asparagus Festival in Empire has to be near the top of the list. Oceana County is one of the top asparagus-producing regions in the nation and the festival includes delights like the crowning of an asparagus queen, asparagus poetry, and asparagus displays.

Bay City'S Fourth Of July Fireworks

Marvel at Bay City's Fourth of July Fireworks

Fireworks are the perfect family-family event and the booming sounds and bright lights are the perfect end to a summer day in Michigan.

Every year, Bay City in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region celebrates fireworks with three nights of displays over the water. Admission is free and visitors can head to Veterans Memorial Park or Wenonah Park to grab a prime seat.

The festival also includes live entertainment, a family carnival, and pageants, so there’s something here for everyone to have a great time.

If fireworks displays are one of your favorite parts of summer, clear your calendar and plan on watching these magnificent Michigan displays.

The fireworks display at Greenfield Village in Dearborn makes you feel like you’re watching and hearing something out of a movie. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs at dusk and the night includes a display that features the 1812 Overture and cannon fire.

The Cascades inside Sparks Foundation County Park is one of Jackson’s most famous landmarks and it’s also a great place to watch a fireworks display. Admission to the annual July display is very affordable and the colors light up the man-made waterfall even more.

Alpena is one of several great spots on Michigan’s Sunrise Side to enjoy fireworks. Every Fourth of July, thousands of people flock to the city’s waterfront parks and spend the day on the beach in anticipation of awesome fireworks.

Hawk Island Park Splash Pad

Cool Down in the Hawk Island Park Splash Pad

During the dog days of summer, there’s nothing better for a kid than cooling off at one of Michigan’s many splash parks/pads.

The Hawk Island splash pad is the perfect place for youngsters to cool off. The pad has more than a dozen different water features and is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bring your kiddos and allow them to splash and spray and dump water at the splash pad to their heart’s content.

Looking to cool off on hot a Michigan summer day? Try visiting these incredible Mitten State splash pads.

Celebration Park in Saginaw has different splash pad sections tailored to youngsters of different age and activity levels — Discovery Bay, Action Bay, and Adventure Bay. Between the three sections, you’ll find misters, fountains, spray cannons, water soakers, and plenty more for a fun afternoon.

The City of Zeeland Splash Park features multiple tunnels to run through and is barrier-free, meaning kids of all ages can have fun. There are lots of water features and there’s an observation deck; perfect for parents to keep an eye on their kiddos.

Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon is one of the state’s favorite outdoor waterparks and features a lazy river, water slides, a lagoon, and much more at Michigan’s Adventure WildWater Adventure Park.

North Manitou Island

Go Backpacking on North Manitou Island

Whether you’re outdoors-y or not, a trip to North Manitou Islands can be life-changing.

Simply put, the view here is beautiful. The water is crystal clear, the beaches are lined with all kinds of rock, and the tranquility is second to none.

Camping spots on the island are first-come, first-serve, so be prepared for a little bit of a hike. But it’s worth it when you’re able to camp out under the stars with the sound of waves against the beach lulling you to sleep.

If you love a rustic camping experience, you’ll be in heaven camping here. During the day you can stroll along the beach, go for a refreshing swim, or comb the beach for interesting rocks and beach glass.

Looking for more camping experiences this summer? Michigan is full of them and you don’t have to go far to find one!

Did you know you can camp near Mackinac Island? At Straits State Park in St. Ignace, you can enjoy rustic camping right on the beach and have great views of Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac.

Tahquamenon Falls is perfect for visiting any time of year, but this summer you can have a whole new experience there by doing some backcountry camping along the North Country Trail. There are also rustic and upscale camping options.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is another awesome spot in Michigan and Camp Moonshadow offers amazing campsites, a full outdoor kitchen, hot showers, and an intimate camping experience.

Bond Falls

Go Chasing Waterfalls at Bond Falls

The amount of natural beauty in Michigan is downright staggering and Bond Falls in Ontonagon County is definitely one spot worth visiting. Though perhaps not as popular as Tahquamenon Falls, Bond Falls is still popular and eye-catching.

Believe it or not, Bond Falls forms from a nearby dam. It drops about 50 feet and stretches more than 100 feet wide. There are multiple trails to explore and there’s a nearby picnic area, so you can enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by the roar of the falls and beautiful scenery.

Bond Falls is a fantastic place to visit and explore any time of year and in the winter it turns into one of Michigan’s many spectacular frozen waterfalls.

Can’t get enough of Michigan’s waterfalls? Get out and explore these other impressive cascades this summer!

A visit to Jacob’s Falls in the Keweenaw Peninsula will net you an incredible view and maybe even some baked goods. The falls are just northeast of Eagle River and drop about 30 feet. Pair a visit here with a stop at the Jampot, a monastery that allows sells baked goods.

Stay in the Western U.P. and visit Agate Falls on the Octonagon River. It’s one of the most beautiful falls in the state and makes for a great view as you watch water topple over sandstone. 

Ocqueoc Falls in Northeast Michigan is small but is one of the country’s only universally accessible falls and has a pool at the bottom of the waterfall that’s perfect for swimming.

Explore Beaver Island

Explore Beaver Island

Known as America’s Emerald Isle, Beaver Island is one of the most unique vacation destinations. It’s actually the largest island in Lake Michigan and offers so much to do.

Each season brings its own special something. Summer is one of the best times to visit the island and is the perfect time for enjoying time on the beach and going swimming. You can also bike around the island or enjoy paddleboarding and kayaking.

So jump aboard the ferry that shuttles people over (tickets are first-come, first-served) or take a 20-minute journey by plane to the island.

Michigan has many awesome islands that are worth exploring, so make time this summer to see some of them up close.

The Les Cheneaux Islands are a group of three dozen islands in the Upper Peninsula and there’s so much to explore, especially if you love boating, sailing, and kayaking. You can also take a lighthouse cruise along the islands.

If you like exploring Michigan’s vast wilderness, you can’t beat a trip to Isle Royale National Park. It offers unparalleled solitude, an exciting array of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and plenty of opportunities for your favorite outdoor activities.

Ann Arbor Scavenger Hunt

Adventure Through an Ann Arbor Scavenger Hunt

As the home of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is often thought of as just a college town. But A2 is more than just a college town and there’s plenty to see and do.

If you plan on spending some time in Ann Arbor this summer, you can participate in a scavenger hunt through the city, including this excellent scavenger hunt.

Whether you’re brand new to A2 or you visit all the time, a scavenger hunt is a good way to mix things up. You can start and stop wherever and whenever you want, have fun with family and friends, and explore more of the city.

Want to have even more fun in and around Ann Arbor? Add these items to your A2 bucket list!

If you’re searching for an outdoor adventure, consider kayaking the Huron River. The river is peaceful and perfect for all levels of kayakers.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, step back in time at Nickels Arcade. It’s a covered shopping district right in downtown Ann Arbor and is home to some of the oldest shops in the city.

If you just want a place to relax and enjoy the day, visit one of Ann Arbor’s awesome parks. Gallup Park is one of the biggest in the city and has three different playgrounds for kids, watercraft rentals, riverfront access, and much more.

Huron Lightship Museum In Port Huron

Tour the Historic Huron Lightship

The Great Lakes state has a rich maritime history and this free attraction in Port Huron is worth stopping to see.

Believe it or not, the Huron Lightship (also known as a floating lighthouse) was the last one remaining on the Great Lakes and features an impressive collection of maritime memorabilia.

After being stationed just north of Port Huron at Corsica Shoals, the Huron is moored at Pine Grove Park on the St. Clair River. The ship’s collection of artifacts includes model ships and a live camera feed that allows interested Michiganders to see the bottom of the river.

Check out this awesome list if you want to explore more of Michigan’s Thumbcoast this summer.

If you’re a big maritime history buff, you’re in luck because Michigan has lots of cool museums to visit.

If you love immersive experiences, head to Michigan’s west coast to South Haven to the Michigan Maritime Museum. Here visitors can board a replica vessel from the 1800s for a thrilling ride, attend boat-building workshops, and explore a variety of great exhibits.

The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena is free and is a one-of-a-kind museum that always makes for an exciting visit. Visitors can see maritime artifacts from Great Lakes wrecks, board a life-size schooner and so much more.

There are so many great reasons to visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point this summer, but the biggest reason may be to see its Shipwreck Museum Gallery.

This exhibit shows visitors exactly what an experience beneath the Lake Superior waves is like and it’s also home to hundreds of carefully preserved artifacts, including the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Capri Drive-In Theater In Coldwater

Plan a Movie Night at the Capri Drive-In Theater in Coldwater

If you seek a blast from the past, then travel to the southern border of Michigan to Coldwater and the Capri Drive In Theater.

The theater is located just outside Coldwater on US-12 and it’s been a mainstay since 1964. It keeps the atmosphere of an old-fashioned theatre alive and visitors can watch two showings with their tickets.

So load up your friends and family, grab your favorite snacks, and some blankets, and prepare to have a great time. Trust us, this is one bucket list item you don’t want to miss!

Did you know there are so many great drive in theaters through Michigan where you can have adventures under the stars?

The Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor transports visitors back to the 1950s in all the best ways. There’s plenty of family entertainment including a putt-putt golf course and bouncers and tickets are very affordable.

The Highway 2 Community Theater in Manistique is the only drive-in theater in the Upper Peninsula. It reopened in 2016 and has become a hotspot for special events as well as movies.

The Ford Drive-In in Dearborn is one of the state’s biggest and offers a double feature for movie-goers all year round. Take some time to pack all you need for a fun family outing or a romantic date night.

Soo Locks In Sault Ste. Marie

Watch Freighters Travel Through the Soo Locks

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is downright beautiful in the summer and you can make it extra memorable by touring Sault Ste. Marie’s famous Soo Locks.

Situated just an hour north of the Mighty Mac, this is a marvel of engineering that allows big freighters to travel the St. Mary’s River between Lakes Superior and Huron.

Did you know that the Soo Locks date back to the mid-1800s?

Not only can you marvel at the Locks, but you can also go through them yourself! A boat tour will take you through the locks, going through both the upbound and downbound routes on your way to see awesome U.P. lighthouses.

Before (or after) your tour, go up to the top of the Tower of History, where you enjoy a beautiful view of the Locks and Sault Ste. Marie. On the ground floor of the tower, you can learn all about how the locks work as well as Great Lakes history.

Check out these other great U.P. summer activities!

You can make your trip to Sault Ste. Marie even more memorable by booking a trip on the Famous Lighthouse Cruise. This 4.5-hour trip offers a sailor’s view of several U.P. lighthouses and even a trip into Canadian waters to catch a glimpse of Gros Cap Reef Lighthouse.

Of the hundreds of Michigan islands, Drummond Island is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Located on the southeastern tip of the U.P., the island is home to all things a naturalist loves: inland lakes, scenic trails, beautiful sunrises, and so much more.

Calhoun County Fair

Experience the Calhoun County Fair

One of the best summer activities is visiting a local county fair and having an awesome time. The Calhoun County Fair in August in Marshall offers fun for the whole family!

Each year, the fair has a theme and builds activities and events around that theme. Past themes have included “There’s Magic in the Air” and “Youth Future Force.”

Bring the whole family for a fun-filled family outing complete with all your favorite fair foods, live entertainment, activities for the kids and so much more.

Looking for more state fair fun? Travel around the state to these awesome county fairs in Michigan this summer.

In Mid-Michigan, one of the best events of the summer is the Ionia County Fair. It’s typically held in July and features 4-H shows, a community breakfast, a classic car show, and more.

The Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba is a July festival favorite and celebrates Michigan’s heritage and culture while also offerings games, live music, great food, and games. 

The Michigan State Fair over Labor Day weekend is the perfect event to wind down your summer. There are animals, rides, games, delicious food, and much more in one of the biggest celebrations of summer.

Detroit Riverfront

Stroll Along the Detroit Riverfront

Michiganders love being by the water and the award-winning Detroit Riverwalk is a gem you don’t want to miss this summer.

More than three million people visit the Riverwalk each year and on a summer day, you can see fishermen, joggers, bikers, walkers, and those just looking to enjoy a nice day outside.

There’s something for everyone, whether you want to visit one of Detroit’s many plazas, explore the Outdoor Adventure Center, or take the kiddos to one of the parks along the water. Whatever activity you choose, you’re in for a fun-filled day.

Looking for more things to do along the Riverwalk? Take your time and explore these awesome riverfront attractions.

A Michigan summer doesn’t feel complete without a trip to Belle Isle. One of the most beautiful parks in the whole state has a museum, a nature center, a golf course, and so much more.

The Outdoor Adventure Center has been one of the most popular riverfront destinations since 2015 and allows visitors to experience outdoor simulations like fishing on a boat and riding a mountain bike.

If you love parks, visit William G. Milliken State Park, which features both a harbor and a waterfront park. There’s also a lighthouse you can visit, opportunities to fish, picnic areas, and more.

Bike Or Hike Grand Island

Bike or Hike Grand Island at Pictured Rocks

The allure of Lake Superior is strong in the summertime and the Grand Island National Recreation Area is one of the best spots to visit.

Take the Grand Island Ferry over to Grand Island and let your imagination go to work. Discover the sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, go mountain biking or hiking, or walk along the sandy beaches.

A day by the lake is always a good day and you can’t beat the incredible views of Pictured Rocks.

If you’re planning on visiting Pictured Rocks, use our handy guide for traversing this beautiful area.

If you’re looking for the perfect day hike, try the 8-mile trail that runs through Mosquito Beach and Chapel Rock. It runs in a circle, so you can take your time exploring the trail and wind up right back at your car when you’re done.

Kayak Turnip Rock

Kayak to the Iconic Turnip Rock

If you’re looking for an outdoor experience in Michigan with a high “Wow” factor, look no further than Michigan’s thumb area and Turnip Rock.

Located just a few hours from Detroit, this is the perfect activity if you love scenic views and being on the water.

Grab your kayak and paddle out to see Turnip Rock for yourself.

Turnip Rock is located a few yards offshore of a private peninsula known as Pointe aux Barques and is only accessible by boat or kayak. You won’t be able to get on the rock, but you can paddle up close, enjoy a leisurely summer day paddle, and get some great photos.

Depending on your preference, you can book a spot on a boat, rent a kayak, or bring your own kayak to take part in your own Turnip Rock adventure.

Do you love kayaking Michigan’s lakes and rivers during the summer? If you do, add these destinations to your summer bucket list.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan is one of the most breathtaking sites in the state and it’s also the perfect spot to kayak. Moderate to expert-level kayakers will love taking in the dunes from a different view.

The urban canals in Detroit are a great spot to explore because they allow kayakers to see the many natural waterways that connect the Motor City to the Detroit River. Some local kayaking outfitters even offer guided tours of the canals.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula is another awe-inspiring area and an excellent spot for experienced kayakers to take in the majesty of the lakeshore from a water-level view.

Cruise Woodward Ave In Detroit

Admire Classic Cars at the Woodward Dream Cruise

Any Michigander knows that Detroit is the Motor City and the Woodward Dream Cruise is the perfect annual summer showcase of the nation’s automotive center.

Classic car enthusiasts love this event and watching hundreds of classic cars slowly make their way down Woodward Avenue. If you so choose, you can even ride in the cruise in your own classic car!

It’s true that the Dream Cruise brings lots of traffic, but it’s a super cool event that car lovers and casual car aficionados can enjoy. Grab some good food, sit, and enjoy the show!

Looking for more summer fun in Detroit? Add these activities to your summer bucket list!

If you’re looking for a great way to spend a rainy day, visit Garden Bowl in Detroit. It’s the oldest bowling alley in the nation and was built in 1913. Come for Rock n’ Bowl, where DJs spin all your favorite tunes while bowlers take to the lanes for glow bowling.

Enjoying a concert is a great way to spend a summer night. Whether you visit Pine Knob in Clarkston, attend the Detroit Jazz Festival in Hart Plaza or visit the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater, you’ll see a fabulous show in a premier venue.

Detroit also has state-of-the-art museums that are perfect for exploring in the summer. The Wright Museum of African American History explores the history and contributions of African Americans. The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the nation’s best art museums. The Motown Museum is home to a wealth of music history.

Cranbrook House &Amp; Gardens

Wander Through the Picturesque Cranbrook House & Gardens

It doesn’t matter if you enjoy the sight and smell of fresh flowers or you consider yourself an amateur horticulturist, the Cranbrook House and Gardens are one of the many great gardens in Michigan.

Located in Bloomfield Hills, Cranbrook features immaculate arrangements of flowers, fantastic architecture, and picturesque fountains. It offers visitors a peaceful place where they can let their senses come alive.

A summertime visit here will be equally memorable and relaxing, so make plans to make the trip here!

If you love flowers and botantical gardens, consider a visit to these other wonderful Michigan gardens.

The Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens features a replica of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle. You’ll definitely want to visit the open-air conservatory, which showcases seasonal flowers.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is always a treat to visit whether you’ve been there once or a hundred times. Spend time in the Japanese Garden, enjoy the breathtaking flower displays, and take your time admiring the many sculptures.

 The Slayton Arboretum on the campus of Hillsdale College features impressive flower displays, a rock garden, a children’s garden, and much more. It’s a peaceful place and makes for a great summer day trip.

Pick Sunflowers At Spicer Orchards

Pick Sunflowers at Spicer Orchards

Orchards like Spicer Orchards in Fenton are absolutely great places for a summer family adventure.

One of the best things you can do at Spicer is explore its colorful, beautiful sunflower fields. Whether you’re looking for an amazing background for pictures or you want sunflowers to take home, you can pick your own or buy some from Spicer’s market.

Looking for more places to pick beautiful wildflowers? Plug these locations into your GPS!

Fick Farms in Lapeer County is locally owned and offers a chance for visitors to have fun, buy fresh produce, and, of course, pick flowers. The flower garden usually opens in June and is perfect for putting together your own bouquets for your home, for weddings, and other special occasions.

Michigan has dozens of farmer’s markets in every corner of the state and many of them offer some of the freshest wildflowers you can find anywhere.

Visit a beach, visit a campground, or go for a nature walk and keep your eyes peeled for trillium, butterfly weed, and the many other fantastic wildflowers that grow in Michigan.

Hiking Trail In Traverse City

Explore a Hidden Gem Hiking Trail in Traverse City

Hiking is one of the easiest and most natural ways to explore the greatness of Michigan.

Northern Michigan offers some of the best trails and most beautiful, scenic vistas anywhere in the country. There’s no better place than the Traverse City region to experience the majesty of a rigorous Michigan hike. 

Meadows, forests, and sand dunes all make this area unique. Looking to take in the great outdoors on your next trip Up North? Consider a Traverse City hike.

The Mud Lakes Loops Trail in Northport is a great spot for the whole family. It offers a view of Fox Island and there’s lots of scenery to look at. Or stay close to town and hike the TART Trail System.

If you’re looking to hit the trails this summer, try these other great spots along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Treat Farms in Sleeping Bear Dunes is an easy out-and-back trail that extends for 2.3 miles. Trekkers go through a forest, a farmstead, and a meadow, and end their journey with an overlook above Lake Michigan.

If you love dunes, you’ll love the Green Point Dunes Loop in Frankfort that’s part of Arcadia Dunes. The trail extends two miles over several uphill climbs, but the entire loop is awesome and offers spectacular views.

The North Country Scenic Trail covers more than 4,000 miles and stretches over seven states, including Michigan. You can also explore the Highbanks Railway trailhead between Kingsley and Buckley, which offers a variety of hikes. 

Warren Dunes State Park

Climb Sand Dunes at Warren Dunes State Park

Warren Dunes State Park — a Southwest Michigan gem sits just 20 miles from the Indiana border and offers all the ingredients to be your new favorite getaway. 

More than a million people come here every year because there’s an outdoor activity for everyone.

The dunes here aren’t as big as the ones at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but they are nonetheless impressive and beckon visitors to explore them.

When you’re not exploring the dunes, spend time exploring six miles of trails, biking, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating and so much more.

Looking for more fun around Michigan’s sand dunes? Add these stops to your summer bucket list!

Silver Lake Sand Dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline is perfect for a summer family getaway. Silver Lake Park covers almost 3,000 acres along Lake Michigan and includes an inland lake, boat launches, and a lighthouse.

If you’re looking for a great scenic drive, hop in the car and take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. It’s a seven-mile drive that offers magnificent views of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan.

Kalamazoo'S Balloon Fest

See Colorful Displays at Kalamazoo's Balloon Fest

There’s nothing quite like looking up in the sky and seeing the rich, vibrant colors of a hot air balloon. Each August, Gull Meadow Farms in Kalamazoo hosts a free festival featuring wonderful, kaleidoscopic balloons.

The festival is a cavalcade of fun for all ages and features a car show, live entertainment, local vendors, a nightly balloon glow, and daily fly-ins. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the balloons and see them up close!

Can’t get enough of colorful hot air balloons? You’re in luck because Michigan has a number of excellent hot-air balloon festivals.

Each August, Bellaire in Northern Michigan hosts Balloons over Bellaire. It features more than a dozen balloonists and offers majestic views of the balloons over Torch Lake.

Midland Area River Days & Balloon Festival in August is packed full of fun on the banks of the Tittabawassee River. Visitors can take up positions at one of several launch and landing sites and keep their eyes peeled for the colors in the sky.

The Battle Creek Field of Flight Balloon Festival in the summer takes place at the Battle Creek Executive Airport and features dazzling balloons as well as awe-inspiring air displays.

Lavender Farm In Mattawan

Visit the Shades of Lavender Farm in Mattawan

This village in southwest Michigan is home to a lavish lavender farm with more than 1,800 plants in more than a dozen varieties. During the summer months, you can even visit the farm for the farm’s u-pick opportunities.

If you love lavender you can find so many unique items here including tea, essential oils, all-natural bar soaps, hand soap, wax melts, gift sets, and even salted lavender caramels.

Looking for more lavender? Visit this farm in Michigan’s Oceana County.

Cherry Point Farm and Market is one of the oldest working farms in Oceana County near Silver Lake Sand Dunes. It’s become a must-visit spot in the Silver Lake/Shelby area because it’s home to the Lavender Labyrinth.

The labyrinth is a one-route path that weaves freely until you reach the center. Its spiral layout is thought to represent life’s journey and offers visitors the chance for a calm, peaceful experience. 

Lighthouse And Pier At Pere Marquette Beach In Muskegon Michigan

Swim in Lake Michigan at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon

There’s no doubt about it, the beaches along Lake Michigan are arguably the best in the state. One of the best is Pere Marquette Beach. This stretch of beach is raked every day and is accessible to everyone.

The beach is frequented by kayakers, paddle boarders, kite boarders, swimmers, and so many others who want to spend some time on the water. A day here is definitely a day well spent!

If going to the beach is one of your favorite summer activities, travel to these beautiful Lake Michigan beaches.

Van Cleve Park in Gladstone is home to Gladstone Beach, which is a great family-friend hotspot with a waterslide and a playground, horseshoe pits, a fitness course, and so much more.

Ludington State Park sits between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, offering visitors several miles of beautiful shoreline. The Lake Michigan beach area has a lighthouse, hiking trails, and more.

Tiscornia Park in St. Joe offers a lot to anyone who visits. The dunes here are so fun to explore, the water is warm and shallow and there’s plenty of shoreline to build sandcastles, sunbathe, and enjoy the weather. 

Picking Blueberries At Pleasant Hill Farm In Fennville Michigan

Pick Fresh Blueberries at Pleasant Hill Farm in Fennville

Fruit picking is a great family activity and there are lots of great spots throughout Michigan to do it.

If you love blueberries, Pleasant Hill Farm in Fennville is the place to be. In 1977, Pleasant Hill became one of Michigan’s first certified organic blueberry farms and for decades it has harvested delicious berries from the original bushes that were planted.

Blueberries are an incredibly versatile fruit and the pies, jams, and fruit salads you make will taste even better with berries you picked yourself.

Believe it or not, Michigan has plenty of U-pick fruit spots where you can get some of the freshest produce the state can offer.

Rowe’s Produce Farm in Belleville is one of Michigan’s largest strawberry farms and draws visitors from all over.

Head to Northeast Michigan and AJ’s Berry Farm in Lachine. AJ’s has an organized system where visitors are assigned an area for picking. Once you’re done, a marker is put up indicating that the area has been picked.

Blueberry Lane Farms in Otter Lake is considered one of the best spots in the state for blueberries. There’s also a general store with fresh-made blueberry products, so you can pick your own berries and pick up treats for later.

Grand Haven Musical Fountain

Enjoy the Show at Grand Haven's Musical Fountain

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Michiganders and out-of-town visitors alike can enjoy this popular Grand Haven attraction. Musical fountains are fun for people of all ages and visitors are treated to an amazing spectacle of water, popular music, and light.

The musical fountain in Grand Haven is one of dozens of unique and fun roadside attractions throughout Michigan, so make sure to stop if you’re traveling this summer.

Did you know you can go to Hell in Michigan? Well, you absolutely can and while you’re there you can visit the Locks of Love Bridge, become the mayor of Hell for a day, or treat yourself to some Scream’s Ice Cream.

If you love Michigan history, then you’ll love a visit to one of Michigan’s many Paul Bunyan statues. They’re located in many spots and you can stop and get your picture taken with each of them as well as his famed blue ox Babe.

Gravity Hill in Arcadia is an attraction you have to experience to believe. Near Joyfield Road between M-22 and US-31 is a spot where you can put your vehicle in neutral and watch it roll upward. Don’t think about it too hard; just sit back and enjoy the view.

Captain Sundae'S

Treat Yourself to Ice Cream at Captain Sundae

Ice cream is a perfect treat for cooling off on a hot Michigan summer day. But did you know you can eat ice cream aboard a pirate ship in West Michigan?

Captain Sundae has three locations in the Holland area and invites hungry customers to enjoy an ice cream treat aboard a pirate ship.

Send your tastebuds sailing with one of their delicious offerings, including the signature Tommy Turtle, the cool Mint Mutiny, or the Salty Dog, a combination of vanilla ice cream, pretzels, hot fudge, and peanut butter cups.

No matter what you choose, you’ll enjoy delicious ice cream and add lots of enjoyment to your summer day.

Looking for more places to enjoy ice cream? Try these other excellent spots in West Michigan.

Ice Cream Garage in Standale is a walk-up style ice cream shop that serves Hudsonville Ice Cream and usually carries Superman Ice Cream. With lots of flavors and lots of toppings, everyone can find something they enjoy.

Moo-ville in Nashville (or visit its Ionia location) makes its own ice cream from the milk its dairy cows produce onsite. A trip to this ice cream shop is a visit to the farm, too!

A visit to Rocky’s in Rockford will leave you anything but disappointed. Rockys serves Hudsonville and United Dairy Farmers ice cream, so that means there are plenty of flavors to choose from. 

Feeding Parakeets At Lewis Adventure Farm &Amp; Zoo

Spend the Day at the Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo

This New Era farm offers something for everyone and the hardest choice you may have to make is where to start when you get here.

One of the best attractions at this seasonal farm/zoo is the petting zoo with goats, peacocks, mini horses, and more.

Lewis’ summer lineup includes a hillbilly giant slide, a barrel train, a carousel, gem mining, a rope course, photo ops, and plenty more.

There’s also an on-site farmer’s market and a bakery, so you can get some tasty treats to take home. So come hungry and come ready to have a ton of fun!

Did you know Michigan has lots of great zoos and aquariums that are ready to be added to your summer travel plans?

The John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids is a perfect venue for the whole family and offers plenty of opportunities for education and conservation. The zoo offers guided tours and also has an aquarium.

The Roscommon Zoo is home to more than 100 animals, including tigers and kangaroos and prices here are less expensive than you may find in bigger cities. Keep in mind the zoo is protective of its animals and has strict rules for visitors.

Belle Isle is a wonderland in itself, but one of the many cool things about it is its aquarium. The aquarium opened in 1904 and is one of the nation’s oldest. Visitors will delight in seeing all manner of sea life in one of Michigan’s crown jewels.

Fayette Historic State Park

Explore Ruins at Fayette Historic State Park

The Upper Peninsula is wonderful to visit in the summer, and Fayette Historic State Park is the perfect blend of the past and the present.

The park, which is situated in Delta County in the southern U.P., has a harbor, a beach, five miles of trails, and a campground. This once bustling iron town is a one-of-a-kind state park that sits on a scenic stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The park is open year-round, but the historic townsite is open during the summer. You can take guided or unguided tours. Once you’ve seen the historic buildings, make some time to explore the miles of trails around the park. You’ll get great panoramic views and you’ll get to experience the national scenery around you.

On the hunt for more great scenery and unforgettable panoramic views? Take these hikes to make your summer even more memorable!

The Manistee River Trail is one of many great hikes in Northwest Michigan. It covers 11 miles and is linked to a section of the North Country Scenic Trail in Manistee County. It’s a nice easy hike and offers great views of the Manistee River.

Trekking up Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette should be on every hiker’s bucket list. It offers both an easy trail and stairs to get to the top and treat hikers to stunning views of Lake Superior.

The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is one of several great hiking trails around Kalamazoo. It’s paved and is perfect for hikers of all skill levels. It also connects with the popular Kal-Haven Trail.

Blackrocks Brewery

Taste Craft Beers at Blackrocks Brewery

Michigan beer aficionados are spoiled by the sheer amount of breweries in the Mitten State. In the Upper Peninsula, one of the best is Blackrocks Brewery near Marquette.

Grab a drink and pick out a seat on the patio, which wraps around the brewery, and enjoy a live music performance.

The most popular offering here is the 51K IPA, an American IPA that blends the sweetness and tartness of grapefruit and apricot with piney hops. Depending on when you visit, you may get to try a seasonal special or a tasty lager.

If you’re looking for watering holes to quench your thirst, visit these other breweries around Marquette.

Barrel + Beam, offers barrel-aged and farmhouse ales and uses Michigan-grown fruits to create delicious flavors and seasonal beverages.

Drifa Brewing Company is located right on the Lake Superior shoreline and is one of several cooperatively owned craft breweries in the United States. It’s committed to creativity and quality, so you won’t be disappointed with whatever you order.

Lake Superior Smokehouse Pub is located in Harvey, just outside Marquette, and offers many in-house brews you can only get here. There’s also a delicious food menu that includes ribs and pulled pork.

"This list was amazing. We haven't taken a trip together in the ten years we've known each other... We decided life was too short and there were too many great places we were missing because we weren't making adventures a priority. I’m sure this sounds super cheesy, but having this list was a true blessing for us.”
Love On Lake Michigan.
Past #MIAwesomeList Participant