#MIAwesomeList is the ultimate summer bucket list in Michigan where you can experience Michigan to its fullest – from unique twists on the classics to the hidden gems and haunts known only to the locals.
We believe ALL of Michigan is great and we want to help you experience it to the fullest this season. And, now is the perfect time to explore in your own big, backyard – Michigan all while supporting local businesses and attractions!
The bucket list includes over 25 ways to explore Michigan with links off to more detailed guides to help you plan your experience.
#MIAwesomeList is brought to you by the Awesome Mitten and our partners at Blue Water Area CVB and Explore Flint & Genesee.
We can’t wait to see what memories you create this summer!
Click on an item below to zip right down to that adventure!
#MIAwesomeList wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from our dedicated partners. These organizations truly investing into all that is uniquely Michigan. Learn more about them below and give them your support!
One of the best parts about living in Michigan is that we have so many great options for family vacations – you can cross the bridge and experience the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, you can pack your sunscreen and spend time on the shores of Lake Michigan, or you can get the best of both experiences when you plan a summer family vacation on Michigan’s Thumbcoast.
Michigan’s Thumbcoast, which stretches 140 miles along Lake Huron’s shorelines, features outdoor recreational opportunities for everyone in your family. Furthermore, the area’s beach towns are brimming with indoor activities that will allow you and your children to develop your creative sides on a wet summer day.
The Thumbcoast is the ideal destination to check off your summer bucket list if you want to hike the trail systems, view the northern lights, go to a theater, climb a lighthouse, learn something new at a museum, or do all of the above.
If you live in or near one of Michigan’s big cities, you might be surprised to discover the many unique ways to get out and enjoy nature nearby!
Take for example Flint Michigan. Known for its contributions to the auto industry, most people don’t know that Flint and Genesee County are full of amazing opportunities to hike, bike, kayak, and explore nature.
Some of our favorite Greater Flint summer outdoor things to do include:
Just a few hours outside the Metro Detroit hub are the quieter shores of Lake Huron along Michigan’s Thumbcoast – the perfect place to escape the frantic pace of the big city and slow down with your best friend as you enjoy a nature-lovers paradise.
Michigan’s Thumbcoast features 140 miles of coastline with several beaches, parks, and trails of all types to explore. The Blue Water region is the place to go during the summer if you enjoy hiking, bicycling, paddle boating, motorboating, fishing, swimming, or all of the above.
Summertime is the best time of year to get out and rub shoulders with your friends, family, neighbors, and complete strangers – and summer festivals and events provide the perfect opportunity to do so!
Nothing says summer like the Michigan summer events and festivals that celebrate all facets of life. And Genesee County is an awesome community full of unique summer events and festivals in Flint and beyond to attend that are worthy of adding to your 2022 Michigan summer bucket list.
With two peninsulas and shorelines on four Great Lakes, there’s much to see by visiting any of Michigan’s 101 state parks, from immaculate beaches to forests to historic sites. Some of the best state parks in Michigan include:
No matter your level of expertise, disc golf is an absolute blast. Disc golf courses are all laid out in unique ways, and playing them is a great way to see the best of Michigan. Some fantastic places to play include:
Night glows, launches, and balloons of all shapes and sizes are part of hot air balloon festivals in Michigan. These events are the perfect spots for family-friendly fun. Be sure to check out these festivals this summer:
Lake Michigan’s largest island, Beaver Island is a place you absolutely must visit this summer. There’s something for everyone to see and do.
You can tour the island on a bike, or ferry your car over and go for a scenic drive. On top of that, you can visit some truly unique museums, go for a stroll on the beach, or take in the breathtaking views you won’t see anywhere else.
If you’re looking for the ultimate Pure Michigan experience, head to Glen Arbor and get ready to experience one of the best summer things to do in Michigan!
Climbing the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore can be strenuous, and there’s likely plenty of wind-blown sand in your face. But, the payoff is well worth it!
You’ll get a great view of Lake Michigan and feel a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention, you’ll have a smile on your face as you run back down. If you’re really feeling up for a journey, climb the dunes and then hike part or all of the 27-mile Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
Being surrounded by the Great Lakes, you can’t help but have some fun on the water. One of the best ways to do that is to go sailing & boating. Here are some fun spots to sail to in the Great Lakes State:
The Upper Peninsula is filled with plenty of breathtaking waterfalls that really showcase the wonders of nature in Michigan. If you’re on the western side, Cascade Falls near Ontonagon is a must-see on your journey.
A trail to the falls offers fantastic views and plenty of chances to take nature photos. If you enjoy the gentle sounds of water running over rocks, Cascade Falls is worth stopping to see.
If you’re in the Lower Peninsula, though, check out the bustling scene at Cascade Falls in Jackson Michigan. Within Sparks Foundation County Park — also known as Cascade Park — the 64-foot falls are a manmade beauty that opened in 1932 with 25,000 people in attendance.
Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, there’s more to Cascade Falls than the water. Of the 16 falls, 11 are illuminated with 1,230 lights, and the six fountains are choreographed, offering spectacular performances daily.
One of the best summer activities is a road trip, and a drive along the US-12 Heritage Trail will give you a road trip to remember. Along the way, you’ll see monuments, innovations, wineries, and even some beaches.
Start your journey in Detroit, where there’s no shortage of space to explore.
As you head further west and south, you’ll pass scenic hiking trails, the quaint towns of Lenawee County, historic sites in Hillsdale County, and, eventually, the South Chain of Lakes outside Coldwater. If you keep going, you’ll end up in St. Joseph on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Bottom Line: There’s plenty to experience on the trail, so take time to soak it all in.
As zoos go, the Detroit Zoo is a mecca in the Mitten State. There’s no better way to spend a day, and a visit to the Detroit Zoo offers fun for the whole family. Whatever your favorite animal is, there’s a good chance that the Detroit Zoo has it.
You can take the zoo’s train to the farthest points of the zoo, and then take your time exploring as you work your way back to the entrance. The Penguin Conservation Center, the Arctic Ring of Life, and the African Grasslands are just a few of the most popular habitats at the zoo.
There’s nothing that will make your inner child come to life more than seeing all the wonderful animals. A day here is definitely a day well spent.
If you’re looking for waterfront fun and activity, few spots beat the Detroit RiverWalk. It spans more than 3 miles in the Motor City, and there’s plenty to do.
You can keep it simple and go for a walk or a bike ride, or take in some great views of both Detroit and Canada across the river. You can also splash in several fountains to cool off on hot days or take your kids to one of the splash parks located along the RiverWalk.
It’s also a great place to stretch your legs after catching a Tigers game at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit!
When springtime turns to summer and the weather gets even nicer, there’s no better place to spend a summer day than at one of Michigan’s botanical gardens. They’re the perfect spots to see the work of master gardeners brighten landscapes with foliage and flowers. Some of the best gardens include:
Kayaking and canoeing are some of the most relaxing activities you can do in Michigan when the weather is just right. Some of the best spots for kayaking in Michigan include:
Nothing screams summer more than a fireworks display, especially around the Fourth of July. Some of the best spots to watch fireworks in Michigan include:
Whether you want to get away for the day or take the family on vacation, Michigan has plenty of cool water parks to visit. They’re not only great places to cool off but also great places where everyone in the family can find something to do. Here are a few of our favorite spots to splash and play!
If you’re traveling in the Upper Peninsula this summer, you absolutely have to stop for a pasty. These delicacies are simple — a mix of beef, potatoes, and rutabagas that’s baked in a flaky golden crust of dough. Some of the best pasty shops in Michigan include:
Few things signal that summer is here quite like a county fair. Regardless of where you go in Michigan, there are lots of great county fairs where you can soak up the atmosphere and have some fun. Keep cool with a beverage, and grab your favorite fair food — hot dogs, cotton candy, and french fries.
You can take part in some fun activities you won’t find every day too, such as pie-eating contests, rubber chicken throwing contests, song and dance contests, and even animal judging. No matter where you are, you’ll definitely have fun experiencing one of the best summer things to do in Michigan.
In the last several decades, Michigan has become a major player in the U.S. wine scene. In fact, there are more than 100 wineries in the state. Here are some of the best Michigan wineries you must visit this summer:
In the summertime, there are so many great fruit-picking places to visit in Michigan. It’s fun for the whole family and a wonderful way to stock up on homemade fruit. Some of the best Michigan fruit picking spots include:
There are lots of great berry farms, but another fun summer activity is foraging for wild berries. Juneberries can be found in June and usually on the edges of forests.
In August, take a walk in the woods to see if you can find huckleberries or wild blueberries. Keep your eyes peeled for wild strawberries as well, which grow in midsummer on runners low to the ground.
Stretching more than 30 miles between Kalamazoo and South Haven, the Kal-Haven Trail offers a little bit of everything for those who love being outside. It’s perfect for bikers, hikers, and runners alike and winds through woods, farmland, rivers, and streams.
Along the way, you can stop at exhibit panels that discuss the history of the area. Midway down the trail is the village of Bloomingdale, which is a great place to stop, rest, and get a meal. If you love traversing trails in the summer, the Kal-Haven Trail is one you need to put on your bucket list this year.
Located in Paradise, Tahquamenon Falls State Park is home to what are arguably Michigan’s most famous waterfalls and one of the state’s most awesome natural wonders. The centerpiece of the state park is the waterfalls, which are split into the Upper and Lower Falls.
The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the Midwest and water cascades at a rate of 50,000 gallons per second. Four miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls that cascade around an island.
If you love Michigan waterfalls, this should be in the top spot on your summer bucket list. They’re really something to behold, and you’ll be in awe of their raw power.
Rafting in raging rapids can be quite the experience and is a great way to stay cool during the summer season. Two of Michigan’s best whitewater rafting spots are:
If whitewater rafting is too intense for you, check out these other rafting spots in Michigan:
Mackinac Island is the ultimate summer destination in Michigan with so much to see and do. But if you really want a unique experience, hop on a bike and get ready for 8.2 miles of the most scenic bike ride you’ll ever take.
When you hear the waves crashing, see the vastness that is Lake Huron, and behold the Mackinac Bridge, you’ll realize how magnificent this ride is. Make your way through downtown Mackinac Island and hear the clip-clap of horse hoofs.
You can also stop at British Landing to take in the views of the bridge, bike along Pontiac Trail, and visit one of the many scenic parks to see wonders like Arch Rock. This is a great way to make some unforgettable summer memories.
If you had to pick one thing to do on your summer bucket list, it’s hard to pick against this Muskegon wonderland. You’ll find more than 60 attractions, rides, and slides, as well as seven roller coaster rides and tons of other fun for the family.
From the time you arrive at Michigan’s Adventure, you’ll have a permanent smile. If you’re looking to beat the summer heat, head to Wildwater Adventure, which features plenty of waterslides, three wave pools, and the Funnel of Fear, one of the most beloved attractions that sends riders in a raft spinning and twirling around a funnel.
Lake Michigan’s beaches are arguably the most beautiful in the state. With its shorelines reaching from the Upper Peninsula’s southwest corner to the southwest state line of the Lower Peninsula, every Lake Michigan beach town offers great views and plenty of activity.