Surrounded by four of the Great Lakes and containing more than 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is a Midwestern state aptly named from the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, which means “large water” or “large lake.” As the only state with two peninsulas, Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the United States. Hence, the state boasts top-notch boating and water recreation, but is also famed as the center of the U.S. auto industry. Michigan’s landscape, plus area events and industries, draw vacationers from around the world.
Michigan’s tourism industry sees a huge boom from the nature attractions across the state. The forests, lakes and beaches are definite stops on any traveler’s list. Leading tourist spots in Michigan also include Mackinac Island, a historic town offering a look at a simpler way of life; Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Detroit; and Windmill Island, a heritage park filled with manicured flower gardens and Dutch architecture. The state is also a world-class scuba diving destination, known for the Michigan Underwater Preserves, 11 underwater areas protected or sport divers. In addition to the natural and historic sights, Michigan also offers major casino resorts that bring people to the metropolitan Detroit area.
Traverse City, cherry capital of the world, is a favorite among those who appreciate the stemmed fruit. It’s also a hub of arts and entertainment, spotlighting festivals across a range of interests. Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, has been called everything from the Renaissance City to the Motor City for its diversity of sights, sounds, ideas and activities. Muskegon, the largest city on the western shores of Lake Michigan, has 26 miles of sandy beach and attracts crowds throughout the year. Ann Arbor is a place people can visit time and time again, but always find new things to learn and explore.
A coastal dream town of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey is known for its spectacular views and impressionable beauty. Also on Lake Michigan is the quaint town of South Haven, filled with specialty shops and unique gift stores you won’t find elsewhere. Frankenmuth, aka Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” and home to the largest Christmas store in the world, is the perfect day trip destination from larger cities that sit on the shores of Lake Huron. Kalamazoo is as unique as its name, boasting local products featuring unique twists and abounding with eclectic local musicians and artists. Big Bay, which sits right up against Lake Superior, is a small town of about 300 or so people, but has an impressive lighthouse and history that dates back over a century.
For family fun activities and splendid beaches, head for Lake Michigan, the second largest great lake that offers fishing, boating, sailing and more. Lake Huron is perfect for divers who want to explore what lies below the surface of the great lakes, and for those who enjoy particularly beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Lake Superior is located in the Upper Peninsula, and is ideal for recreation including sailing, kayaking and diving, to name a few. Lake Erie, though smallest of the great lakes to border Michigan, is an all-inclusive destination that offers a 1,607-acre park with swimming pools, trails and golf courses along the shores. Torch Lake, named the third most beautiful lake in the world by National Geographic, is 19 miles of near perfectly turquoise water reminiscent of the Caribbean.
The rugged Isle Royale is an ideal destination for reflection and discovery amidst the scenic vista of Lake Superior. Keweenaw national historic park has the mark of centuries-old communities that contributed to the regional copper mining industry—a great destination to learn more about the region’s past. The MotorCities National Heritage Area is another place to learn more about the state’s history, especially how the automotive industry established its place in the state. The National Scenic Trail of North County is the longest continuous hiking trail in the U.S., connecting seven states from New York to North Dakota. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore abounds with sand dunes, waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and shoreline that hug the Lake Superior shoreline for more than 40 miles.
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