8 must-do street journeys in Michigan

Michigan doesn’t must work arduous to make its case for being a mighty American street journey vacation spot.

The state is house to extra seashores than your complete Atlantic seaboard, it’s bordered by 4 of the 5 Nice Lakes, and greater than half of the state’s land is blanketed by forest.

Toss into the combination some towering sand dunes, remoted lake islands and scenic byways, plus a touch of roadside attract (Lined bridges! Lighthouses! Kitschy historic downtowns!), and you’ve got an indelible blueprint for a traditional street journey.

Listed here are eight street journey concepts to get your Michigan motor working.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes Nationwide Lakeshore makes a fantastic pit cease on a street journey round Michigan’s Higher Peninsula © Craig Sterken / Shutterstock

Driving round Michigan’s “Mitten”

Finest street journey for exploring the Higher Peninsula

Detroit–Detroit; 987 miles

Driving gloves on the prepared, this street journey is the large one. Talking of gloves, Michigan’s Decrease Peninsula is nicknamed “the Mitten” due to its distinctive form (look it up – it makes extra sense whenever you see it on a map), and threading alongside its outer edges on this epic drive takes in a few of the state’s finest pure surroundings.

Heading out of Detroit and following the coast clockwise, you may skirt the intensive shorelines of Lake St Clair, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, the latter of which is house to Sleeping Bear Dunes Nationwide Lakeshore, one in all solely three protected lakeshore areas within the nation and the right spot to spend an evening below canvas.

Street trippers preferring a comfy B&B to an evening within the wild needn’t stress although. The route brims with lakeside villages and cities, together with St Joseph, Tawas Metropolis, Harbor Springs, Petrosky, Traverse Metropolis, Elberta, Ludington, and Douglas, all with sights and attraction to warrant a pause of an evening or two. As soon as effectively rested, end off the journey by climbing the cloud-kissing sand dunes at Warren Dunes State Park, 15 miles northeast of the Indiana border. Tower Hill, the park’s tallest dune, stands at a whopping 240ft.

The Gold Coast

Finest street journey for seashores and shoreline

Saugatuck–Mackinaw Metropolis; 366 miles

Appropriately named the Gold Coast, Michigan’s 300-mile western shoreline is a sun-kissed stretch of golden seashores and wind-whipped sand dunes. Collectively, the M-22 Scenic Drive and US-31 run the size of it, hugging the Lake Michigan coast from the gorgeous resort city of Saugatuck to the top of the road 293 miles north in Mackinaw Metropolis, which is definitely a village that is house to an 18th-century French fort.

Alongside the best way, the meandering stretch of street passes storybook orchards and vineyards, cosy harbors, Victorian mansions, Hemingway haunts and slow-paced, accommodation-rich seashore cities.

Planning tip: On the lookout for Michigan’s finest seashores? Oval Seaside in Saugatuck, Fifth Avenue Seaside in Manistee and Good Harbor Bay Seaside south of Leland are nice spots for a fast dip in summer time.

The Greektown district of Detroit lit up at night
Discover Detroit’s hipster hangouts on this street journey round Michigan’s center © Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Getty Photos

Michigan within the center

Finest street journey for seeing Michigan outdated and new

Detroit–St Joseph; 206 miles

Prolonged shorelines commandeer the lion’s share of journey adventures on this state, however Michigan’s center ain’t too shabby, both, providing a cultural rewind of types, from new and improved Detroit to a bygone period in St Joseph.

Start within the storied metropolis of Detroit, the place iconic American manufacturers Ford, Chrysler and Motown constructed a metropolis that has rebranded itself within the final decade, rising from years of financial decline like a hipsterized phoenix. Benefit from the fruits of previously deserted buildings turned distilleries, breweries, cafes, galleries and boutiques earlier than heading west on I-94 to Ann Arbor, a school city house to the College of Michigan.

Subsequent up on the route is Battle Creek, boasting southwestern Michigan’s solely pure historical past museum, positioned inside an enormous 72-acre arboretum. Proceed on to Paw Paw, the place you may dabble across the edges of southwest Michigan wine nation, earlier than reaching St Joseph, on the shores of Lake Michigan, the place the famed Silver Seaside Carousel twirls amid an antiquated period of refined amusement.

Taking it sluggish in Harbor Nation

Finest street journey for a brief shore drive

Michiana–Sawyer; 17 miles

For a style of Michigan’s western shoreline with out the dedication of a 300-mile journey, the eight charming seashore cities that make up Harbor Nation, on the southern finish of the coast, provide up an journey in miniature.

Alongside the shore, golden sands, picturesque marinas and good-looking hamlets pepper the route from Michiana, mere steps from the Indiana border and solely an hour from downtown Chicago, to Sawyer, the northernmost Harbor Nation neighborhood. Highlights alongside the best way embrace the area’s largest public seashore in New Buffalo, one in all Michigan’s largest natural distilleries (Journeyman in Three Oaks), Michigan’s most-awarded and longest-running vineyard (St Julian Wine Firm in Union Pier) and a surplus of vintage outlets, artsy boutiques, fine-dining eating places and preserved Americana attraction.

Planning tip: You possibly can drive the route in a mere 22 minutes, however that is not the purpose – it is a leisurely street journey of discovery.

Crisp Point Lighthouse at sunset in Michigan
Crisp Level Lighthouse is among the many most picturesque of Michigan’s many lighthouses © Doug Lemke / Shutterstock

Higher Peninsula lighthouses

Finest street journey for lighthouse recognizing

Munising–Escanaba; 513 miles

Few gadgets function prettier on a postcard than a well-preserved lighthouse, and no state boasts extra of those maritime icons (129!) than Michigan. (Maine sits humbly in second place with 80 lighthouses.) Michigan’s Nice White North, the Higher Peninsula options 40 or so of those nautical towers, most constructed within the 1800s, of which a dozen or so are open for excursions.

This counterclockwise themed journey begins with the Munising Vary Lighthouses at Pictured Rocks Nationwide Lakeshore and follows the peninsula’s edge east, south and again west to Escanaba, the place each the Peninsula Level Lighthouse (1866) and Sand Level Lighthouse (1867) are open for excursions and tower climbs.

Alongside the best way, do not miss preserved gems such because the Au Sable Gentle Station (additionally in Pictured Rocks), Crisp Level Lighthouse in Paradise (which has sat superbly on Lake Superior’s ominously named Shipwreck Alley since 1904), the Nice Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Level Lighthouse and the views on provide atop the Level Iroquois Lighthouse in Brimley.

River Street Nationwide Scenic Byway

Finest street journey for nature

Oscoda–Hale; 26 miles

Extending westward from Lake Huron into the Huron–Manistee Nationwide Forests, the River Street Nationwide Scenic Byway affords a chance to drive into the pure wonders of Michigan’s inside. Hugging the Au Sable River, as soon as an important route for transporting big white pine from the forest to Lake Huron’s sawmill cities, this family-friendly street journey takes in riverside campgrounds, scenic outlooks, monuments, historic sights, mountain climbing and cross-country ski trails.

Planning tip: Be taught extra concerning the space’s logging historical past at Lumberman’s Monument Customer Middle.

An aerial view of the main town on Mackinac Island, Michigan, with the blue waters of Lake Huron visible in the background
Take pleasure in views of Lake Huron from Mackinac Island © Wiltser / Getty Photos

Dawn Coast

Finest street journey for scenic views

Au Gres–Mackinaw Metropolis; 179 miles

Lake Michigan tends to hog many of the headlines, however Lake Huron is completely content material in its place because the quiet underdog to the east, providing those that select the Huron Shores Heritage Route an extended listing of wineries, lighthouses, artwork galleries, marine sanctuaries and, in fact, spectacular sunrises.

This street journey begins in Au Gres, the gateway to Michigan’s dawn facet, earlier than jutting straight north paralleling some 200 miles of shoreline alongside US-23 all the best way to Mackinaw Metropolis, the place ferries could be caught to tranquil Mackinac Island. 

Apart from the postcard-perfect day breaks, worthwhile stops embrace Charity Island Lighthouse, Tawas Level State Park (boasting one in all jap Michigan’s finest seashores), Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary (the Nice Lakes’ solely marine sanctuary) and Cheboygan, house to wineries, breweries, lighthouses and infinite small-town attraction.

Tunnel of Timber

Finest street journey for forests

Harbor Springs–Cross Village; 16 miles

Michigan’s historic M-119 scenic route, in any other case referred to as the Tunnel of Timber, is a slim trip alongside a surprising bluff overlooking Lake Michigan that sits below a canopied thatch of hardwoods and evergreens. 

Along with the excellent forested vistas in all instructions, openings within the patchwork reveal spectacular water views over the lake. Past the surroundings, the route dishes up small-town charisma in spades, together with old-timey common shops, farms providing up provisions, vineyards, breweries, artist boutiques, studios, galleries and a wealth of historic diversions. You possibly can stretch this street journey out somewhat on every finish as effectively, tacking on the charming city of Petoskey (with cozy B&Bs, spas and golf), 10 miles south of Harbor Springs, and Wilderness State Park (seashores and mountain climbing trails), 16 miles north of Cross Village.

Planning tip: This route is at its most colourful and good in fall, when prisms of sunshine struggle for area by way of breaches within the lush foliage, however every season has its highlights.