13 things to do in Michigan this summer


DETROIT – There's nothing like summer in Michigan.

Michigan boasts four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, 20.3 million acres of forests, 4 national parks, 103 state parks and recreation areas, one of the world’s top freshwater fisheries, 1,300 miles of designated mountain bike and bicycle trails, 6,500 miles of snowmobile trails, the second highest number of ski areas in the nation, more than 600 campgrounds and an international dark sky park – just for starters. 

Related: 3 Michigan state parks to offer 'floating playground' water parks this summer

Here are some things to do this summer that are Pure Michigan:

Copper Harbor Lighthouse and Tours

A narrated cruise through Copper Harbor's once bustling port takes you to one of Michigan's oldest lighthouses. Restored to its original 1866 beauty overlooking the majesty of Lake Superior, you are met by a staff member from the Michigan Dept. of History who will assist you through the interior complete with furnishings from the 1866 era. 

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves nearly 650,000 visitors annually. Meijer Gardens was recently ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by Art Newspaper, the leading publication in global art news. The 158-acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer.

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family. The Fords were cultural, social and economic leaders in an era of great optimism, as well as a turbulent time of economic depression and world war. They were nationally prominent and they owned more than one house, but Southeast Michigan was their home. Here they built their final residence along the shores of Lake St. Clair, at a place known locally as Gaukler Pointe. Their impressive yet unpretentious home is where they raised and nurtured their four children - Henry II, Benson, Josephine and William - in a safe and loving environment. 

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

This lighthouse was first illuminated in 1857 and it's fourth order Fresnel lens shone over one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world from the entrance to the St. Mary's River and the Soo Locks. The 65 ft. tower is open to the public during certain viewing hours or from top of the sandy shoreline.

Fort Mackinac

Voted one of Top 10 Tourist Attractions by Family Fun Magazine. On a southern bluff of Mackinac Island, towering 150 feet above the majestic Straits of Mackinac, is a fort once occupied by 18th-century British Redcoats and 19th-century American soldiers. This is Fort Mackinac, a military compound that holds significant history spanning several centuries. At Fort Mackinac, history is alive and you’re a part of it! Step inside and hear bugle music, rifle fire, and a cannon blast. Dance to a 19th century tune, drill with soldiers, play Victorian children’s games. It’s the 1880s. Imagine it. And then walk inside and live it.

Lewis Farm Market & Petting Farm

Largest petting farm in west Michigan with over 60 animals including some exotics. Outdoor family entertainment: jumping pillows, climbing toys, corn maze, wagon rides, pedal carts, barrel train, fruit cannons, pumpkin chucker, animated chicken show, bee observatory.

Michigan's Military & Space Heroes Museum

Michigan's Military and Space Heroes Museum (MMSHM), located in Frankenmuth, Michigan, holds over 700 exhibits, each devoted to a Michigan soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. 

Ludington State Park

The park has 5,300 acres, frontage on Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, 347 campsites, 18 miles of hiking and biking trails including the Skyline trail and 16 miles of cross country ski trails, interpretive center, swimming, fishing, hunting and boating.

Mid-Michigan Children's Museum

The bright and friendly building is inviting both outside and in. With over 16,000 square feet of gallery space and additional space that houses program rooms, classrooms, gift shop, food service and administrative offices, the space is used to its fullest extent, and is creatively designed to accommodate 11 continuing exhibit galleries.

Flash Flood at Full Blast

Indoor and outdoor water park open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Company picnics, summer fun passes and birthdays.

Thunder Bay Underwater Preserve

This is an underwater preserve that can only be seen by scuba diving. Divers average from depths of 20 ft to 110ft.

Great Lakes Shipwrecks

You can snorkel and dive among hundreds of wrecks perfectly preserved in the fresh waters of the Great Lakes, and you can also see them the relatively easy way—and with narration of the stories behind the wrecks—in glass-bottom shipwreck cruises. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center’s glass-bottom shipwreck tours takes you some notable wrecks within the 4,300 square mile preserve. Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours in Munising floats over three Lake Superior wrecks and past the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where mineral staining has added streaks of color to the rocky, glowing cliffs.

Paddleboard in Detroit

The Detroit waterfront is one of the hottest, if not most unexpected, spots for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Get a guide if you're at all hesitant, and explore Detroit's Eastside canals from on on-water vantage point, or take a tour that heads into the Detroit River and around its iconic islands, like Belle Isle. Detroit River Sports even offers “paddle to table” tours that highlight the city's burgeoning culinary scene. 

About the Author: