Fort Michilimackinac
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13+ Top Summer Things to Do in Northern Michigan | Michigan Summer Bucket List Ideas

Are you looking for the best summer things to do in Northern Michigan? Here are a few of our favorite Michigan summer bucket list ideas for your consideration…

Downtownmanistee Meaghankennedy
photo courtesy of @meaghankennedy

Discover Unique Experiences in Downtown Manistee

Manistee, Michigan, is a one-of-a-kind town that combines beauty, nature, and history. The Big Manistee River flows through Manistee Lake and into Lake Michigan, and the downtown area lies directly on the water’s edge.

Locals and visitors alike agree that Downtown Manistee is a fantastic spot to spend the summer, thanks to the Manistee Riverwalk, which provides the community with a variety of unique activities.

5Thavenuebeach Alexandramichelini 1
photo courtesy of @alexandramichelini

Plan a Beach Day & Walk the Pier at 5th Avenue Beach

While the beaches along the Great Lakes are not as large as those along the nation’s coastline, they are often more scenic and gorgeous. When you visit Manistee’s 5th Avenue Beach, you’ll understand what we mean.

This city contains more than 130 acres of parks along Lake Michigan’s and the Manistee River Channel’s shorelines. They’re less well-known than beaches in Ludington or nearby places, but they’re never crowded, and the sugar sand makes swimming and other beach activities a breeze.

The Awesome Mitten (Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theater)
Photo Courtesy of Cherry Bowl Drive-In

Catch a Family-Friendly Movie at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre

Summers in Honor, Michigan, have been defined by the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre since the 1950s. This iconic drive-in movie theater is proud to show family-friendly movies at dusk on summer weekends.

The movie line-up changes weekly, but patrons can count on G, PG, or occasional PG-13 movies that everyone can enjoy together. One of the best parts about buying a ticket to this drive-in theatre is that every night is a double feature, so you can get two movies for the price of one.

The Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre is the perfect place to take a step back in time and make summer memories together as a family.

Lakecadillac Rickyodette
photo courtesy of @rickyodette

Take a Walk on the Keith McKellop Walkway Along Lake Cadillac

In Cadillac, Michigan, Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell provide excellent options for playing in and around the water. The Keith McKellop Walkway is roughly 1.5 miles long and wraps around Lake Cadillac’s northeast curve.

The walkway is 4 feet wide and composed of concrete, making it suitable for walking, in-line skating, and jogging. You’ll pass informational signs, playgrounds, parks, gardens, sculptures, and more as you stroll along the path.

Mitchellstatepark Fallen231
photo courtesy of @fallen231

Hike the Heritage Nature Trail in Cadillac’s William Mitchell State Park

The city of Cadillac in Wexford County is home to a variety of lakes, rolling hills, flowing rivers, and hiking paths. The Heritage Nature Trail is an important part of William Mitchell State Park that you should not miss.

The nature trail is unpaved but rather flat, and the further into the marsh you walk, the more likely you are to observe the unique northern Michigan wildlife who call the park home.

Fortmichilimackinac Jenny Shen198
photo courtesy of @jenny_shen_198

Step Into the Past at Michilimackinac State Park

Just outside of Mackinaw City and on the Straits of Mackinac lies one of the most beautiful state parks in Michigan. Michilimackinac State Park is dedicated to not only preserving the natural beauty of Northern Michigan but also showcasing the state’s rich and storied past.

Many visitors prefer to purchase tickets to visit the park’s main attractions — Colonial Michilimackinac and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

After you have toured these historic points of interest you can then picnic at Alexander Henry Park and soak up the beautiful views. 

Sevenbridges Bluskye.jpeg
photo courtesy of @bluskye.jpeg

Experience the Fairy Tale Setting of Seven Bridges Nature Area

Seven Bridges Nature Area has earned a reputation of being the “Jewel of Kalkaska County,” and for good reason. This pristine natural preserve looks like something out of a storybook, with its charming bridges and babbling brooks.

While its name indicates that you will cross over seven distinct bridges as you traverse along the mile-long trail, there actually are only four bridges. Nevertheless, people of all ages enjoy strolling this gentle trail that is perfect for all skill levels.

Don’t forget to bring your fishing rod along for the adventure, because after you have finished the trail you may want to sit back, relax and try to catch a trout. 

Mari Vineyards Tasting

Sip Wine at Mari Vineyards

Northern Michigan has become a haven for wine lovers, with people from around the country traveling to the Traverse City area to explore the wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula. However, no wine tour of this region is complete without a stop at Mari Vineyards.

This Old Mission Peninsula winery looks like a villa straight out of Tuscany. Known for its red wines, Mari Vineyards is proud that every wine that it sells is created from grapes grown on the estate.

Hansonhills Borkini3
photo courtesy of @borkini3

Play a Round of Disc Golf at Hanson Hills

The Hanson Hills Recreation Area is a favorite spot among locals and visitors alike in Grayling. In addition to having playgrounds and picnic areas for visitors who are looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, this recreation area boasts two disc golf courses for those who want to play a round.

The Hill Course is a Professional Disc Golf Association course with 24 holes and is ideal for experienced players. The Pine Knoll Course is a flat course with 18 holes and is the best option for players who are new to the sport or who are looking for a more relaxed game.

Oldpresqueislelight Krexplorecaptureshare
photo courtesy of @krexplorecaptureshare

Tour the Iconic 19th Century Lighthouses in Presque Isle County

On the northeastern side of the Lower Peninsula, you will discover Presque Isle. This charming waterfront community is home to not one, but two 19th century lighthouses, making it the perfect place for a Michigan lighthouse tour.

The aptly named Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1840 and is no longer in commission. The surprisingly named New Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1870 and still services the boaters on Lake Huron today.

Mapleleaffarm Amy Lynn Haba
photo courtesy of @amy_lynn_haba

Support Michigan’s Agritourism Industry at Maple Leaf Farm & Creamery

Both agriculture and tourism are important industries in Michigan, but a unique economic opportunity has emerged for farms that want to promote their products and provide tourists with unique experiences. 

Maple Leaf Farm & Creamery in Falmouth is the perfect agritourism destination, as this working farm offers cheese-making classes, visits with goats, and you-pick flower experiences. Before you conclude your visit to this farm and creamery, don’t forget to grab some fresh goat milk and goat cheese products that were produced on-site.

Nautical North Boat Tours

See the Great Lake Shipwrecks for Yourself on a Nautical North Family Adventures Tour

The rough waters and choppy waves of the Great Lakes have resulted in hundreds of shipwrecks over the years. These tragic wrecks are a source of fascination and wonder, and if you want to see a few of these wrecks for yourself then the Nautical North Family Adventures Tour is an awesome option. On this tour, you will enjoy a ride on a glass-bottomed boat as you travel to different shipwreck sites on Lake Huron.

For an added adventure, you can select optional snorkeling excursions to get up close and personal with the wreckage.

Alpena Pedal &Amp; Paddle
Alpena Pedal & Paddle // photo via @alpenapedalandpaddle

Kayak, Bike, and Picnic in Alpena

Located on the shores of Thunder Bay, Alpena is one of the best places to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather and outdoor recreational activities in Northern Michigan. This community is home to many parks where visitors can kayak along the river, bike on the trails, or picnic in idyllic settings.

Some of the most popular parks and preserves in Alpena include Duck Park, Island Park, and the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary. 

More to Explore This Summer in Michigan

Want more great Northern Michigan summer bucket list ideas? You’ll find those and more on our Ultimate Michigan summer bucket list!

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