It’s that time of year in The Mitten! All throughout the state people are hitting the road for pleasure. I’ve always been one to go on road trips. Since I started writing for The Awesome Mitten a few years ago, that has gone up a notch. All that additional adventure time on the road has helped me compile Michigan road trip tips to help make your next mitten adventure a memorable one.
Be Orange Barrel Informed
As much you can, that is. The orange construction barrels seem to pop up everywhere this time of the year. The warmer weather brings out Michigan’s construction season. Research beforehand on MDOT. While en route, use the Waze community traffic app. As a bonus, Waze can double as your GPS if you need help.
Staying social is especially important as part of the pre-trip planning process. Head to Pinterest for travel inspiration. Do a search for #PureMichigan and #mittenlove on Instagram and Twitter. Follow and interact with active mitten travelers and CVB’s (Convention and Visitor Bureau) in the state socially. By following them, you might catch an Instagram live story in progress for even more ideas.
Planning is great. However, randomness on any trip is a must. My suggestion would be to stop in a random town along the way. While on a road trip along US-12, I veered slightly north making an unplanned visit to Buchanan. I ended up smelling beautiful flowers at a botanical garden, found a gem in Union Coffee House & Café, and went for a long walk in a local park. I wouldn’t have relaxed and discovered a new place if I just stuck to the script.
Load up on Michigan snacks
If traveling on the weekend, stop and pick up some fresh fruit at a local farmers’ market along the way. Some farmers’ markets I have enjoyed are located in Flint, East Tawas, and Alpena. I took that one step further stopping at a U-pick farm in Galien to pick some fresh peaches. Before embarking, make it a true mitten roadie and load up the car with Michigan-made Faygo pop, Bettermade snacks, and Germack salty treats. Rock N’ Rye pop rules!
Coffee in the Morning, Beer in the Evening
Keeping with the locally-made theme, grab coffee in the morning and a beer in the evening. Being a coffee lover, I always look for an independent coffee shop to explore. I started off a Lake Michigan road trip at Drip Drop Drink in Muskegon. It was a delicious craft coffee experience. End a day’s driving in style as I did at New Holland Brewery in Holland. They serve refreshing beer and great sandwiches. You won’t have any trouble finding a local coffee shop or brewery to explore as they keep popping up everywhere.
Be on the Road Early
You’ll need the aforementioned coffee because you should be on the road early at least one day. This is especially important if you are going on a multi-day trip. You’ll have the road to yourself and you can explore more that day. Who knows? You might even find a spot to catch a lakeside sunrise.
Go on a Great Lake Circle Tour.
Michigan has thousands of miles of scenic coastline along four of the five Great Lakes. Why not take advantage? The Great Lake Circle tours offer signage all along the way to guide you. A recommended and underrated route is the Lake Huron Circle Tour along the Sunrise Coast.
Going on a circle tour will give you plenty of chances to check off another Michigan road trip must; experiencing a lighthouse. Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any US state. We have over 100! Lighthouses contain a story with history. They are on the water and many have beaches nearby. Some allow you to climb up top, too. I try to incorporate one into each roadie. I enjoyed Whitefish Point Lighthouse along Lake Superior and just off the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway.
Take “scenic” breaks
Pull off the road. Many people stop at rest areas, traveler centers, and fast-food chains. Instead, do some planning and stretch in a park or at a scenic spot, many of which have facilities too. I went for a walk and even climbed a lot of stairs at the Arcadia Overlook.
Relax and have fun
The last and most obvious component of road trip tips is to relax and have fun. Follow the speed limit, don’t drive aggressively, and just enjoy the moment. Put on some of your favorite soundtracks. For me, it’s Top Gun and Metallica. Don’t stress having to accomplish every single thing on your list. The randomness mentioned above will make your trip more enjoyable. Just pick a few ‘must dos’ and off you go!
Any other road trip tips or advice for those looking to hit the road in Michigan? Where is your favorite place to take a road trip?