Top 10 Best Day Trips from Michigan

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The best Michigan day trips offer a glimpse at some of the very best our beautiful state has to offer. Michigan offers a little something for everyone. Whether ... read more...

  1. Located close to the town of Harrisville on the scenic shores of Lake Huron, Harrisville State Park is a popular day-trip destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park covers 107 acres and has a particularly lovely beach with clean sand and very few stones to negotiate. You can go walking along a two-mile trail, explore some cross-country trails and do some birding. Harrisville State Park features a campground and day-use area nestled in a stand of pine and cedar trees along the sandy shores of Lake Huron.

    Harrisville State Park was among 13 parks established in 1920 following the creation of the Michigan State Parks Commission a year earlier. It originally covered only six acres. The park's Cedar Run Nature Trail was cut through the forested areas of the park as early as 1945. It offers outstanding birding opportunities in May when numerous warbler species may be seen. Other species include nuthatches, woodpeckers, wrens, thrushes, vireos, and sparrows. The park features a swimming beach, bathhouse, picnic areas, sports fields, carry-in boat launch, 195 campground sites, cabins, and mini-cabins. The 2-mile Cedar Run Nature Trail crosses forested areas of the park. A section of beach north of the campers area is pet friendly. The park offers bike rentals, in coordination with the opening of the Alcona Heritage Route Multi-use Trail.

    Location: 248 State Park Rd, Harrisville, MI 48740, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 146 miles

    Travel time: 2 hours 40 minutes

    Tel: 1 989-724-5126

    Hour: 08:00 AM - 22:00 PM

    Fee: $25 to $70 per person

    TripAdvisor Review: 62 reviews

  2. When you come to Grand Rapids, you should discover the Grand Rapids Public Museum along the waterfront to learn about furniture-making traditions and more and to ride the restored 1928 carousel visible through the large windows. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is a short walk and might be the nation's most entertaining presidential museum in the way it lets you “attend” a White House Dinner and eavesdrop on a day in the Oval Office.

    Grand Rapids developed on the banks of the Grand River, where there was once a set of rapids, at an altitude of 610 feet above sea level. Ships could navigate on the river up to this fall line, stopping because of the rapids. You can find food and design at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a 125-acre botanic garden and sculpture park featuring Michigan's largest tropical conservatory. One of the world's “top 30 must-see museums” includes 100 sculptural works and a recreation of a 1930s working Michigan farm garden. Your lunch at the Taste of the Gardens Cafe uses vegetables harvested from the farm. Dinner, later, can be on board the Grand Lady Riverboat with a narrated cruise pointing out historic land sites—and more.

    Location: Kent County, Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 105 miles
    Travel time: 1 hour 32 minutes
    TripAdvisor Review: 190 reviews

  3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an American national park that preserves and reclaims the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland in Northeast Ohio. The 32,572-acre is administered by the National Park Service, but within its boundaries are areas independently managed as county parks or as public or private businesses. This place was originally designated as a National Recreation Area in 1974, then redesignated as a national park 26 years later in 2000, and remains the only national park that originated as a national recreation area.

    Although the regional parks safeguarded certain places, by the 1960s local citizens feared that urban sprawl would overwhelm the Cuyahoga Valley's natural beauty. The park offers outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers a wide range of activities to enjoy, including golf, horseback riding, hiking, biking, canoeing, and kayaking. If you are visiting with children they can join the Junior Ranger program to make the most of their visit. If you are not up to all the energetic park activities you can still enjoy the beauty of the Cuyahoga Valley by taking a scenic train journey on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Cyclists who would like to take on the Ohio and Erie Towpath trail can cycle one way and rest their legs on a return train journey.

    Location: Summit County & Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 375 miles
    Travel time: 5 hours 40 minutes
    TripAdvisor Review: 869 reviews

  4. Traverse City ranks 4th on the list of the best day trips from Michigan. The Leelanau Peninsula is home to two dozen wineries that feature varietals like Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. You should visit Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum and leave time for a hike through wooded trails to a hidden beach on Cathead Bay.

    On summer Saturdays, you can tour a new shipwreck exhibition and hear the fog horn waft. Then, you will visit The Happy Woman in quaint Suttons Bay to browse the pastel-painted buildings along St. Joseph Street and check out creative science and toy shops, boutiques like whimsical, and galleries like The Painted Bird. For lunch, 9 Bean Rows Restaurant grows all its own vegetables and makes its bread from local wheat. And finally, you can craft your own afternoon wine tour from the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail. L. Mawby Vineyards is the place for sparkling wine, which is their specialty.

    Location: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 40 miles
    Travel time: 50 minutes
    TripAdvisor Review: 1476 reviews

  5. With dozens of galleries and 30 independent bookstores, it's not hard to find a way to spend a day in downtown Ann Arbor. You'll want to check those out, but leave time for other stops. The University of Michigan Museum of Art is the number-one ranked public university art museum in the United States, and you'll find African, Asian, Western, contemporary art, and much more. Plus, the entrance is free. The culinary scene is getting the such buzz that you'll want to mix it up, like with a Walking Food Tour by “By the Sidewalk,” which covers fun facts about architecture and lore as you taste your way through downtown and Kerrytown Market Shops.

    The streets in downtown Ann Arbor conform to a grid pattern, though this pattern is less common in the surrounding areas. Major roads branch out from the downtown district like spokes on a wheel to the highways surrounding the city. For more food immersion, you will visit Zingerman's Southside, home to the famed deli's coffee company, creamery, bakehouse, candy manufacturing area, and ZingTrain classes. You can walk off the sampling with a stroll through the extensive themed gardens of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. After, you can enjoy your dinners at popular Frita Batidos or the Central European-themed Amadeus.

    Location: Washtenaw County, Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan:
    202 miles
    Travel time: 3 hours 10 minutes
    TripAdvisor Review:
    1580 reviews

  6. East Lansing is a residential and university city that mostly lies within Ingham County, with a smaller portion extending into Clinton County. You can visit the Michigan State Capitol, which dates back to the 1870s and features an impressive dome. Cast your gaze skywards at the Talbert and Leota Abrams Planetarium. People of all ages can enjoy the exhibits at R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. And you should follow sections of the 130-mile-long Lansing River Trail for beautiful views, woodlands, a farmer’s market, museums, and art galleries. Other great places include the Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame, the 9/11 Remembrance Memorial, and the 1850’s Turner-Dodge House.

    East Lansing has more than 25 neighborhoods, many of which have neighborhood associations that sponsor social events, attend to neighborhood issues, and often advocate for neighborhood interests in meetings of the City Council and city commissions. First-time visitors should consider taking a guided tour of the city highlights or join a walking tour of East Capital Avenue or the historic Cherry Hill Neighborhood to get a good overview of the city. Historians will have a great time touring the many historic sites in the city including the State Capitol and the Ingham County Courthouse. The city offers excellent shopping in several malls and a selection of one-off stores and boutiques and there are many art galleries and studios to admire.

    Location: Clinton and Ingham, Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 143 miles
    Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes
    TripAdvisor Review: 8965 reviews

  7. Bay City is one of the best day trips from Michigan. Located near Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, the city has a beautiful water-side Historic Downtown which everyone will enjoy exploring on foot. Highlights for day trippers include the Delta College Planetarium & Learning Center, tours of the USS Edison, and the Antique Toy and Fire House Museum. If you would like to enjoy some outdoor recreation you can visit the Bay City State Recreation Center on Saginaw Bay to hike, cycle, swim, fish, and bird-watch. Art lovers could spend an entire day touring the many inviting art galleries and studios.

    It takes less than two hours to make the 120-mile trip to Bay City, a water lover’s playground on the shores of Lake Huron. A stroll along the Riverwalk Pier offers plenty of scenic vistas, and you can take to the water in a small sailing boat or relax on the sands of Bay City State Recreational Area. You will hunt for bargains in the gigantic Bay Antique Center, board a historic vessel at Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, pay your respects at Veterans Memorial Park, wander around Center Avenue Historic District, and more. In the evening, the many bars and pubs really spring to life.

    Location: Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 120 miles
    Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes
    TripAdvisor Review: 11,558 reviews

  8. You can get a bike for at least part of a day in Marquette, or at least walk the stretch of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail to take in the view of Lake Superior and the harbor and read the interpretive panels about the way the iron ore industry brought the city to life—and created its striking red sandstone downtown. There's fun in town, too. One must-stop is The Flying Moose, a new-style general store where you'll find local organic food, kombucha on tap, and homemade cupcakes and mugs for your coffee hand thrown by a local potter.

    Famous former guests include Amelia Earhart, Abbot and Costello, Duke Ellington, and Mays Angelou. Newer draws include Blackrocks Brewery, one of a growing number of Upper Peninsula microbreweries, and the Delft Bistro. The historic Delft theater is now a restaurant, where films run on the walls as you eat creative cuisine that often includes a nod to the area's iron history. If you've brought the young ones, check out The Children's Museum, which shares history through play with a mining truck and full model town. All ages love Wattson and Wattson Jewelers, where the in-store mine was inspired by a Walt Disney saying “Make it fun and they will come,” and the collection includes a “Superior” line of pendants like the Upper Peninsula, loons, and sailboats.

    Location: Marquette County, Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 308 miles

    Travel time: 5 hours

    TripAdvisor Review: 24,754 reviews

  9. The Lake Michigan beauty, Charlevoix, which Forbes named one of America's Prettiest Towns has been a tourism hotspot since 1881 and it shows no sign of slowing. Concerts and festivals make a regular showing at the marina park. Still, any day, you can spend an afternoon browsing shop dedicated to clothing, fudge, or foraged fruits made into upscale jar goods.

    Hemingway history is hot, and you'll find one of the author's marriage certificates in the Harsha House Museum and much more in a quick side trip around Lake Charlevoix to Horton Bay, where the Horton Bay General Store displays photos and memorabilia and many spots appear in the author's Up in Michigan stories. Golfers can tee off at the Belvedere Club and play one of Michigan's oldest courses, dating back to 1925. After-golf snacks are fresh from the bay at John Cross Fisheries, famed for their Three Fish Dip and third-generation ownership. History's framed on the walls of the Bridge Street Tap Room, Michigan is represented in the microbrew, wine, cider, and root beer, and the water views are hard to beat.

    Location: Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 105 miles

    Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

    TripAdvisor Review: 24,968 reviews

  10. Frankenmuth is a delightful day-trip destination for the whole family, offering a distinctly European atmosphere that derives from the German immigrants who settled in the area in 1845. People come from miles around to buy everything they need for a sparking Christmas at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Some unique Frankenmuth activities include Pretzel-making lessons, zip-lining at Frankenmuth Aerial Park, and fantastic horse-drawn carriage rides. Other fun activities include wine and chocolate-tasting boat cruises, kayak adventures, and walking tours. Children will love the petting zoo at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm.

    Around an hour and a half from Detroit, Frankenmuth transports visitors across the seas to Germany, specifically to the Bavarian region. You can call into a Bavarian-themed eatery to be served delicious German cuisine by wait staff dressed in traditional Bavarian outfits. Afterward, you'll roam the streets by horse-drawn carriage, or go on a river cruise to see different views of the town. Zehnder’s Splash Village offers watery fun whatever the weather and old and young alike are sure to be captivated at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, where you can get into the yuletide spirit all throughout the year.

    Location: Saginaw County, Michigan, United States

    Distance from Michigan: 80 miles
    Travel time: 1 hour
    TripAdvisor Review: 34,555 reviews

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