Michigan Top 20 Attractions

Come visit one of the best states in the Midwest and get a front row seat to all four of America’s Great Lakes. Known for its once-infamous Motor City, filled with the history of numerous music legends that spanned multiple eras and genres, Michigan has plenty to see and do.

You can get lost in all of the natural and man-made landmarks, so we’ve gathered twenty of the top must-see attractions to add to your itinerary when visiting this great state. Enjoy!

1: Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Michael Patterson

Island life done right! Mackinac Island is one of the best attractions of Michigan that locals and tourists alike just can’t get enough of. The permanent population resides far below the 1,000 people line, but the seasonal workers and tourists more than make up for it.

As an island with such incredible landscapes and views, it should be no surprise that this is a vacation destination coveted by many. Relax on a secluded, charming beach or brave the waves with a boat tour.

Mackinac Island is also a great location to do some exploring! Arch Rock is a famous limestone arch found in the island’s state park. It is one of the most visited and most hiked paths because the arch frames the island in a dazzling array of blue and green.

Mackinac Island is also known for its awe-inspiring collection of wild butterflies. Walk the wonder at the Butterfly House and Insect World, or check out the Wings of Mackinac. The problem with Mackinac Island isn’t ‘what to do,’ but ‘what isn’t there to do’?

Address: Mackinac Island, MI 49757

Accomodation: Where to stay in Mackinac Island

Website: www.mackinacisland.org

2: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/John Uhrig

Pictured Rocks is positively picturesque! It is one of the most magnificent places in all of Michigan to celebrate the wonders of Mother Nature. It sits on the shores of Lake Superior and is known for breathtaking multicolored rock formations.

It spans for acres upon acres of preserved nature and opens up to some of the best views in all of Michigan. The water is often that stunning blue-green combination and the formations and cliffs that surround it only complete the scenery in spectacular ways.

The operating hours for the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is open 24/7. There is no entrance charge for day use of this park. However, if you plan on camping, there are some fees and passes to be aware of. Drive-in camping is $20 per night.

For backcountry camping, you will need the appropriate permits and passes and a $5 fee per person per night. For further details on the specifics of fees and passes, check out the official Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore website.

There are also tours available to the public during the summer months. Rangers lead these tours from Wednesday to Sunday, and they cost $3 for anyone six years or older. Tours are a great way to see the park as rangers have real insider knowledge as to what is worth a stop and what isn’t.

Rangers can also provide backstory and information unavailable otherwise. Embrace everything about the call of the wild with Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!

Address: Munising, MI 49862

Accomodation: Where to stay in Munising

Website: www.nps.gov

3: Henry Ford Museum

Henry Ford Museum
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Rain0975

This is the place for you to explore and discover America's most innovative and greatest inventions. If you love cars, you will enjoy going through the Presidential Limousines exhibit, and if you enjoy everything about airplanes and things that fly, you will adore the Heroes of the Sky exhibit.

You will also have a fantastic time going back to the past and learn about the legacy of American innovators from the 18th to 20th centuries.

Address: 20900 Oakwood, Dearborn, MI 48124

Accomodation: Where to stay in Dearborn

Website: www.thehenryford.org

4: Michigan State Capitol

Michigan State Capitol

You don’t have to go to Washington D.C. to see a historic government building. Instead, take a trip to Lansing to see the Michigan State Capitol. The building was seen as an architectural achievement when it was opened on January 1, 1879.

At the time, it was one of the first state capitol buildings to feature a lofty cast-iron dome. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark that attracts over 100,000 tourists each year. In addition to the architecture, visitors can enjoy nine acres of hand-painted art at the capitol.

Address: 100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933

Accomodation: Where to stay in Lansing

Website: capitol.michigan.gov

5: University of Michigan

University of Michigan

Home of the mighty Wolverines, this university is one of the top-ranked in the country among many categories, not just sports programs.

Also included in the 2,800-acre campus is a Natural History Museum, the Power Center for the Performing Arts, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art, and the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, to name a few.

There’s plenty to see at the University of Michigan, enough for a full day of events and interactive learning.

Address: 500 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Accomodation: Where to stay in Ann Arbor

Website: admissions.umich.edu

Also Read: Top 15 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the USA

6: Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Ray Dumas

If you have always loved backpacking and camping, Isle Royale is one of those places you should visit at least once in your lifetime. This rugged terrain is surrounded by Lake Superior and offers the most adventurous outdoor lover an experience that he will never forget.

While you are trekking through the trails, you just might encounter wolves and moose among many of the exotic wildlife that roams freely in the park.

Address: Isle Royale National Park, MI

Accomodation: Where to stay near Isle Royale National Park

Website: www.nps.gov

7: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Rodney Campbell

Sleeping Bear tops many lists of the most beautiful places in America. This northern Michigan park includes over 70,000 acres of land for exploration. It's home to lush forests, miles of sandy beach, and phenomenal lakeside views that are indescribable in their beauty.

You can climb the dunes or swim at the lake, or you can load your backpack and go on an adventure-filled hike through the Maple Beach Forest for some of the most breathtaking sights. Sleeping Bear also includes the historic Glen Haven Village and South Manitou Island Lighthouse.

Address: 6748 S Dune Hwy, Empire, MI 49630

Accomodation: Where to stay in Empire

Website: www.nps.gov

8: Colonial Michilimackinac

Colonial Michilimackinac
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Greg Grossmeier

There is even some history on Mackinac Island, found at the likes of Colonial Michilimackinac. This is an 18th-century fort that acts as a new-age interactive museum. There are numerous historical exhibits to peruse, and even some pretty great views from its walled fortress lookouts.

Tourists are welcome to step into the boots of true 1776 revolutionary times. The time of American independence and the fight that ensued. There are age-old cannons and musket firings, and even more than a few activities for the younger crowds to experience history. The location's primary name to fame is the historic Fort Mackinac. It is one of the top attractions in not just the complex, but the island!

Colonial Michilimackinac’s hours and admissions vary. From September 2 to October 4, the hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours vary depending on the season and are subject to change, so be sure to check out the official website for firsthand information. Admission rates for adults are $12.50 on-site, and $12.00 online. Children (ages 5-12) are $7.25 on-site, and $7.00 on-site.

Don’t just learn about history, live it! Colonial Michilimackinac will guide you through the triumphs and tribulations of the American Revolution to the American spirit today.

Address: 102 W Straits Ave, Mackinaw City, MI 49770

Accomodation: Where to stay in Mackinaw City

Website: www.mackinacparks.com

9: Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia/Michael Barera

Satisfy your craving for art and all the more beautiful things in life at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Boasting of the country's largest, most significant art collection, this museum holds over 60,000 unique and creative works that will leave you awed and amazed.

Their collections include works of some of the greatest artists from Africa, America, and Asia. If interactive displays are more your thing, you can join their drop-in workshops, Arts and Minds Lectures, as well as their Drawing in the Galleries events.

Address: 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202

Accomodation: Where to stay in Detroit

Website: www.dia.org

Also Read: Top 10 Detroit, Michigan Tourist Attractions

10: Windmill Island Gardens

Windmill Island Gardens
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Anna Harris

Nestled in Holland, the Windmill Island Gardens is a testament to natural Dutch beauty found in America! It is an island that brags of blooming tulips that stretch for miles. The color array from tulip to tulip is something you’ll truly have to see to embrace, and Windmill Island is the perfect place for that 36 acres stretch upon well-maintained botany.

The Island itself is a Dutch village that offers tours from coast to coast. The guides are costumed and in character making for one immersive cultural experience.

Windmill Island Gardens is also home to the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States. It is over 250 years old and sits in the center of one of the most prominent tulip patches in the area.

It is massive, beautiful, and incredible nestled in the heart of such a color show. It is open for viewing exclusively in Windmill Island Gardens, Michigan. And as a location on the banks of Lake Macatawa, there are also some spectacular waterfront views free for viewing.

Address: 1 Lincoln Ave, Holland, MI 49423

Accomodation: Where to stay in Holland

11: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/H. Michael Miley

With more than 600,000 visitors every year, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is one of the top cultural sites in Michigan, located in Grand Rapids. The park opened in 1995, featuring several sections of themed botanical gardens and a dedicated sculpture park.

The botanical gardens were created on land donated by the Meijer family, renamed for their support in the project. The family also donated their entire collection of nearly 200 sculptures created by artists from around the world.

The gardens include indoor and outdoor facilities, such as three indoor gardens, an arid room, and the most recently created Japanese garden. Each section features plants native to different parts of the world.

Visiting the attraction gives tourists a combined experience of nature and art. There are nature trails established for navigating through the gardens and seeing some of the best artwork on display. The most famous sculpture is The American Horse, a 24-ft tall sculpture.

Address: 1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Website: www.meijergardens.org

12: Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/The Last Cookie

The Detroit Zoo is a favorite family attraction to visit, located just outside of Detroit in Grand Rapids. The zoo welcomes over one million visitors every year to roam the 125 acres of exhibition space for animals.

The Detroit Zoo opened in 1928 and later relocated to the current site - it is recognized by the iconic water tower.

There are more than 200 species of animals at the Detroit Zoo, housing more than two thousand animals. The park divides into several themed exhibitions to reflect the natural habitats.

Visitors can experience free-roaming kangaroos in the Australian Outback or see polar bears swimming around in the Arctic Ring of Life, one of the largest polar bear habitats in North America.

The zoo also features animals represented by the city's major sports teams – lions, tigers, and wolverines.

Guests can also enjoy train rides around the zoo or dine in at one of the onsite restaurants.

Address: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067

Website: www.detroitzoo.org

13: Michigan History Center

Michigan History Center

If you’re looking to discover the rich history of Michigan, the Michigan History Center is the perfect destination. Located in Downtown Lansing, the center provides visitors with everything they need to know about Michigan and how it developed from the past.

The Michigan History Center includes two attractions, the Michigan History Museum and the Archives of Michigan. Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours through each section.

You'll learn everything about the state, starting from the geological formation of the Great Lakes region and Native Americans who inhabited the area, influencing its development. It transitions to featuring some of the more recent histories of the state, such as information about the Henry Ford assembly line, Motown, and other industrial movements.

The museum exhibits a variety of artifacts, relics, and interactive displays to make it a fun and entertaining attraction for the entire family.

Address: 702 W Kalamazoo St, Lansing, MI 48915

Website: www.michigan.gov

14: Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Missie

Mackinac Bridge is one of the iconic bridges in Michigan, stretching over the Mackinac Straits to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The bridge is a frequent transportation route along a major highway, but also a popular tourist destination for sightseeing and recreation.

Mackinac Bridge was built in 1956 and remained one of the longest bridges of its type with a length of nearly 5-miles. Over 10,000 vehicles cross the toll bridge every day, utilizing the four lanes of traffic.

Just one year after being open, the bridge hosted the first Mackinac Bridge Walk, an annual event attracting thousands of people to walk across the bridge.

The bridge is especially popular to visit during the summer when people come for exercise, bird watching, or photography. It’s included as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, only open seasonally.

For a different perspective of the bridge, tourists can enjoy ferry tours in the strait to pass underneath the bridge.

Address: Mackinaw City, MI 49701

Website: www.mackinacbridge.org

15: Soo Locks Boat Tour

Soo Locks Boat Tour

The Soo Locks Boat Tour allows tourists to cruise through the world’s largest waterway traffic system. The Soo Locks Provide a passageway for freight ships passing from the US to Canada via Lake Superior - the boat tour lets you experience the thrill of the lock system.

The Soo Locks Boat Tour is a tourism experience to ride on a boat through the locks. A large ship picks up passengers from two docks before entering the American Locks.

Water fills up the lock to raise the boat elevation higher to continue its journey. The tour exits through the Canadian Locks.

Along the journey, you get lots of information about the history of the area, the Soo Locks, and how they function. The tour lasts approximately two hours - it includes onboard refreshments.

Massive freight boats currently use the locks and can also be seen utilizing the system along the tour.

Address: 515 & 1157, E Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

Website: www.soolocks.com

16: Belle Isle

Belle Isle
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Bryan Debus

Belle Isle is a city-owned island park in the center of the Detroit River. It’s owned and managed by Detroit, which connects to the island via the MacArthur Bridge.

The island developed into a favorite attraction for locals and tourists to visit ever since the late-19th century, but it wasn’t until 2014 that it became a state park – it’s also recognized on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Belle Isle is the third-largest island in the Detroit River, but the most popular to visit. There are lots of points of interest on the island, giving visitors a chance to enjoy nature and recreational activities.

Some of the facilities established on the island include the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Belle Isle Aquarium, a museum, and nature center.

The island is also famous for outdoor recreation, a favorite spot for picnics, boating, cycling, and golfing.

Belle Isle gives one of the best viewpoints of the Detroit skyline.

Address: Belle Isle, Detroit, MI

17: Motown Historical Museum

Motown Historical Museum
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Ken Lund

If Detroit is famous for one thing, it’s for Motown's revolutionary impact on the music industry. The Motown Historical Museum, or Hitsville, is a photo studio-turned-recording studio where many timeless hits were created. The museum attraction lets visitors get an inside glimpse of the origins of the Motown record label.

Motown was established in Detroit, MI, operated by Berry Gordy, who purchased the building in 1959 to set up the studio operations. The one building expanded into the neighboring buildings, which also included his private apartment on the second floor.

The Motown Historical Museum exhibits memorabilia collected from top Motown artists such as the legendary Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson.

Visitors can see a range of objects and displays from original costumes, music, photos, and films.

Tour guides take visitors through Hitsville while detailing the history of the label and seeing notable rooms such as the recording studio and the preserved apartment upstairs.

Address: 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208

Website: www.motownmuseum.org

18: Michigan’s Adventure

Michigan’s Adventure
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Jeremy Thompson

Michigan’s Adventure is the biggest amusement park in Michigan, located in Muskegon county. Established in 1956, the park is a favorite destination for Michiganders and out-of-towners seeking a bit of thrill during their visit to Michigan.

Michigan’s Adventure features over 50 rides, consisting of seven roller coasters, family rides, rides for kids, and a handful of water rides. The park recently opened the Wildwater Adventure, an outdoor water park attraction included with admission to the park.

Some of the top thrill roller coasters in the park are Shivering Timbers, Corkscrew, and Thunderhawk.

The park also includes a few other activities such as mini-golf, places to eat, and storage facilities.

Families come to spend an entire day at the park. It’s open from May to September – the summertime is especially busy for the park with potentially long lines to ride the main attractions. If you’re planning a visit to the park, consider getting a Fast Lane pass to skip to the front of the line of your favorite rides.

Address: 4750 Whitehall Rd, Muskegon, MI 49445

Website: www.miadventure.com

19: Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/James Sisk

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum exhibits objects collected from notable shipwrecks that occurred in the Great Lakes. If you’re interested in a bit of the Great Lakes maritime history and some of the infamous ships that sailed its waters, the museum is the perfect history to dive into it.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is one of the top tourist attractions in the Upper Peninsula. It is established at the Whitefish Point Light Station, the site of the oldest lighthouse on Lake Superior.

Artifacts in the museum were found within the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve. The most notable shipwreck in Lake Superior was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, the largest ship sunk in the Great Lakes – the ship’s bell is preserved and exhibited at the museum.

The museum experience includes touring some of the other buildings on the complex, renovated from their former use. These sites detail information and history about the local maritime activity and history about the US Coast Guard formerly stationed at the site.

Address: 18335 N Whitefish Point Rd, Paradise, MI 49768

Website: www.shipwreckmuseum.com

20: Kitch-iti-Kipi

Kitch-iti-Kipi
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Rick Briggs

After discovering a major natural spring in the Upper Peninsula, Native Americans appropriately named it Kitch-iti-Kipi, also referred to as The Big Spring – it is the largest natural freshwater spring in Michigan.

The spring is part of the Palms Book State Park, near Manistique. The natural pool has lots of notable features to make it a must-see attraction to visit.

Kitch-iti-Kipi is a massive emerald green pool that measures at 300-feet by 175-feet, with a depth of 40-ft. Even with its size, it has fantastic visibility, making it possible to see to the pool floor.

The visit to Kitch-iti-Kipi includes a ride on a specially made raft which hosts a large group of people to float out into the spring. The raft operates on a pulley system so visitors can pull themselves into the middle. You’ll have great views of the large fish swimming below you and springs bubbling up from the ground.

Address: Palms Book State Park, Manistique, MI 49854

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