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HomeTravelMichigan's unforgettable scenic wonders: A must-see guide to the Great Lakes State

Michigan’s unforgettable scenic wonders: A must-see guide to the Great Lakes State

The state of Michigan offers attractions that excite individuals of different interests.

Nature enthusiasts, history buffs and those looking for family fun can all enjoy these must-see spots across the state. 

Although there is much more to see in the state, the following five spots are some of Michigan’s greatest natural highlights:

Before visiting, visitors will want to check the specific attraction’s opening times and any possible travel or booking requirements.

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Mackinac Island offers both residents and travelers a quintessential Michigan experience. Recognized as one of the top places to see in the state by the U.S. News & World Report, the island lies in Lake Huron and is a cherished destination for locals and visitors alike. 

The island is reachable exclusively by ferry as it upholds a vehicle-free policy.

Welcome to Pure Michigan sign

Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes: Huron, Michigan, Erie and Superior. (Education Images/Universal Images Group)

Historically, the island served as a significant economic and military site, with Mackinac Fort standing as an illustration of its important past. The island’s charming character shines through horse-drawn carriages and historical architecture.

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Activities for the whole family on the island include leisurely tours, shopping and dining. The island caters to all guests, whether they are considering an overnight stay or a day trip. A trip here is complete with trying the renowned fudge that Mackinac is famous for.

Sleeping Bear Dunes captivates visitors with its prominent dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan. In 2011, it earned the title of “Most Beautiful Place in America” from “Good Morning America” because of its incredible natural features. The park is considered a natural wonder because of its sand dunes, which rise 450 feet over the lake.

The lakeshore offers a variety of activities, including sandboarding, fishing, canoeing, swimming and boating in the summer and skiing in the winter, making it a versatile and exciting destination for all ages.

View of part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with the sea and shore in view

The state of Michigan is divided into two landmasses – the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula. They are connected by Mackinac Bridge, which is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. (Interim Archives)

Travelers do not even need to leave their vehicles to enjoy the destination. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive stretches 7.4 miles with 12 designated points offering panoramic views of the dunes and the lake, making the beauty of Sleeping Bear Dunes accessible without ever stepping out of the car.

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Traverse City, recognized as the world’s cherry capital, is a popular travel destination because of its beaches with crystal-clear water, trails for hiking and plentiful water activities, all set against a backdrop of natural beauty. Despite its fame as a top destination for Midwest weekend getaways, it maintains a quaint small-town charm. This city is a beloved destination for those who enjoy local wine and beer offerings and exceptional culinary creations.

The cultural and arts scene is also a popular cause for tourism in Traverse City, with events like the Traverse City Film Festival and the National Cherry Festival attracting crowds from near and far. Located at the heart of the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula wine trails, the city is perfectly positioned for guests who want to taste the region’s noted Rieslings and other cool-climate varietals, with a beautiful vineyard backdrop.

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The historic downtown area offers ample boutique shops, coffee shops and farm-to-table restaurants, presenting visitors with retail and gastronomic offerings.

A view from Lake Shore Drive on Mackinac Island, Michigan with the shoreline in view

Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron, is a unique spot where no motor vehicles are allowed. Transportation options include bicycles, horses and foot. (Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group)

Tahquamenon Falls is home to one of Mississippi’s most impressive waterfalls and ranks among the largest falls east of the Mississippi River. The park’s main attraction, the Upper Falls, features a dramatic 50-foot drop extending over 200 feet in width. Meanwhile, the Lower Falls comprises five smaller cascades.

Visitors to the park can enjoy various activities, including exploring the hiking trails, viewing the local wildlife and camping. Overnight guests can camp within the park or stay in nearby lodging.

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The park’s paths offer the chance to encounter wildlife such as black bears, coyotes, otters, deer, foxes, porcupines, beavers and various birds, as noted by Michigan.org.

Several hiking trails are throughout the park. The four-mile stretch that links the Upper and Lower Falls is particularly popular with hikers. 

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Additionally, the park is dog-friendly, permitting visitors to bring their pets as long as they are leashed, and the leash does not exceed six feet in length.

Access to the park requires a day pass or an annual state park pass. The ideal time to visit depends on individual preferences for activities. Winter allows for snowshoeing opportunities, and autumn offers vibrant, colorful foliage.

Vibrant autumn colors at Tahquamenon Falls

Outdoor enthusiasts can find a wide range of activities in Michigan, including fishing, boating, hiking and skiing.

Isle Royale National Park, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is accessible by a several-hour ferry ride. The ferry ride generally begins at Houghton or Copper Harbor, Michigan, or Grand Portage, Minnesota. 

This remote island in Lake Superior, only accessible by boat or seaplane, offers a nature-immersive experience ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life and adventure in the great outdoors. 

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The island is renowned for its predator-prey dynamics, most notably between the moose and wolf populations, which have been the focus of a long-term ecological study. The park is also home to other wildlife, such as foxes, beavers, otters and various bird species. 

Park visitors will encounter a scenic landscape encompassing dense forests, commanding vistas and intricate waterways. With more than 165 miles of hiking trails, the island invites guests for day hikes or extensive backpacking excursions, including the Greenstone Ridge Trail, which runs the island’s length.

Visitors must pay an entrance fee to access the park. Anyone planning to camp must secure a permit. The park operates annually from April 16 to Oct. 31.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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