While living in Grand Rapids this summer, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about going “up north” to take a much needed vacation away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. As a native northerner, I can’t help but smile fondly and think of these people as “fudgies,” a silly term for tourists that is used by those native to northern Michigan. Look it up- it has even earned a spot in the Urban Dictionary! “Fudgies” provide the tourism dollars that help to bring in new activities and events as well as maintain some of the staples. Not to mention they provide native northerners with summer employment in the tourism industry! As a grateful native, I’d like to give you my top 10 tourist tips to make the most of your time up north:
1) Don’t miss the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk on September 1st! It’s traditionally led by the governor of Michigan and is the only day of the year that pedestrians are allowed on the Mackinac Bridge. Enjoy the stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac and earn your “Certificate of Completion” after the 5 mile walk!
2) Try to make it to the Mackinaw City Arts & Crafts show beginning on the 23rd of August. The show features wonderful and diverse work from artists and artisans around the country. Keep an eye out for some homemade maple candy!
3) The Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum makes for a fun and nautical outing for the whole family- what a great opportunity to explore an important part of the Great Lakes’ history!
4) Enjoy live music in Heritage Park! Grab some chairs and a blanket and take some time out on a Tuesday or Saturday evening-it’s always a good time!
5) Visit a few of my favorite local “tourist traps”! Take a trip back in time at Colonial Michlimackinac, zip through the trees at the Mackinaw Mill Creek Adventures, get your kitsch fix at Sea Shell City (which boasts a giant “mankilling clam!”), or watch some champion logrollers perform at the Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows.
6) Spend a day shopping in Mackinaw City. Specifically, at Mackinaw Crossings which boasts a charming collection of unique shops that truly has something for everyone!
7) Take a stop at one of many fudge shops in the area! My personal favorite: Aaron Murdick’s Fudge, the only Murdick’s Fudge shop in the Mackinac Straits area that is actually operated by Murdick family descendants. I’ve eaten enough of their mouth-watering fudge to guarantee you that you can really taste the difference!
8) Don’t forget to eat! The area is packed full of delicious places to eat! “Take a bite out of the Great Lakes” at Scalawags, a local favorite, grab some brunch at Your Spirit in Cheboygan, my personal favorite, or check out the giant hot dog at the aptly named Weinerlicious in Mackinaw City.
9) Go camping! If you want to save a little money on lodging but you don’t want to sleep on a mat in the woods, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping is a great compromise. Everything you could possibly need is located in the campground, so you’re left with more time to enjoy by the beach!
10) Make sure you get outside and explore! Regardless of if your camping or staying in a hotel, make sure to enjoy what nature has to offer. Both the Wilderness State Park and the nearby Cheboygan State Park are beautiful places to hike, bike, and enjoy the natural scenery.
What are some of your recommendations for traveling up north? Do you have somewhere you must stop while you’re visiting?