60 Days of Michigan Summer

With two peninsulas, more miles of freshwater shoreline than any other state, and countless opportunities from the thriving urban centers to the sprawling rural spaces, Michigan offers a wealth of ideas to keep you busy this summer.
Holland boarding
Photography courtesy Holland CVB

1. Climb a lighthouse tower. Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state: nearly 120. The oldest, Fort Gratiot near Port Huron, dates to the 1820s.

2. Explore your adventurous side by whitewater rafting Piers Gorge in the Menominee River near Iron Mountain.

3. Watch the stars and Northern Lights at the Headlands Dark Sky Park, located along Lake Michigan just southwest of Mackinaw City.

4. Check out the new Penguinarium at the Detroit Zoo.

5. Visit the World’s Largest Musical Fountain in Grand Haven.

6. Visit Iargo Springs near Oscoda, considered a holy place by Native Americans, with breathtaking views of the AuSable River.

7. Take in a sunrise over Lake Huron and a sunset over Lake Michigan in the same day.

8. Show your team spirit at a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park.

9. Climb to the highest point on Mackinac Island at the newly re-constructed Fort Holmes.

10. Visit the ghost town of Fayette in the U.P.’s Garden Peninsula.

11. Ride the Crystal Clipper alpine slide at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville.

12. Bike the North Western State Trail from Petoskey to Mackinaw City.

Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival
2016 marks the 36th anniversary of the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival June 29-July 4. The festival includes air shows, food, entertainment and fireworks. Photography by Johnny Quirin

13. Kayak from brewery to brewery in Traverse City’s Paddle for Pints.

14. Spit cherry pits at the International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship at Tree Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Clair.

15. Go to a drive-in movie like the Capri in Coldwater or the Getty in Muskegon.

16. Drink a root beer float at the Dog-n-Suds in Montague.

17. Visit the 240-acre Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry in the Upper Peninsula.

18. Sample craft brews in Beer City USA — Grand Rapids.

19. Climb 282 steps to the top of Mount Baldhead in Saugatuck.

20. Walk through the corridors of Cell Block 7 at the former Michigan State Prison in Jackson.

21. Travel to the tip of the U.P.’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

22. Tour the home and studio of Alden B. Dow in Midland, then stroll through the scenic Dow Gardens.

23. Go island hopping: Mackinac, Beaver, Drummond, South Manitou, North Manitou, Isle Royale.

24. Dive wreck sites at Thunder Bay Underwater Dive Preserve in Alpena, also known as Shipwreck Alley.

25. Sample wine at St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, Michigan’s longest-operating winery.

Gentoo penguin
The Polk Penguin Conservation Center features a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can watch more than 80 penguins of four species explore their habitat. Photography courtesy Thinkstock

26. Golf the 9-hole, Par 3, Mountain Flowers course at The Homestead in Glen Arbor, with views of Lake Michigan.

27. Eat a Coney dog at Lafayette Coney Island and/or American Coney Island in Detroit.

28. Watch the tall ships as they travel through Bay City during Tall Ship Challenge.

29. Play footgolf at any number of Michigan golf courses, including Shanty Creek in Bellaire and Elmwood Golf Course in Traverse City.

30. Meditate in the Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

31. Visit Ocqueoc Falls, the only publicly accessible waterfall in the Lower Peninsula.

33. Try to consume a “Pig’s Trough” banana split all by yourself at Sherman’s Ice Cream in South Haven.

34. Jump off Marquette’s black rocks into Lake Superior.

35. Take part in Engineers Day at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie.

36. Take a ride on the historic boat The Pointer at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs.

37. Check out the 400-plus vendors at Allegan Antique Markets, held the last Sunday of each month at the Allegan County Fairgrounds.

38. Take a zipline ride at Boyne Mountain and travel 780 feet over treetops and water.

39. Scour the beach for Leland bluestone, Petoskey stones or puddingstones.

40. Look to the sky at the Battle Creek Field of Air Show & Hot Air Balloon Festival or the Michigan Challenge Balloon Festival in Howell.

41. Watch an old-time baseball game between the Lah-De-Dahs and other teams of the Vintage Baseball Association, at Greenfield Village in Dearborn.

42. Take Model T driving lessons at Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners.

43. Visit one of Michigan’s National Parks in celebration of the 100th anniversary in America.

44. Walk through Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville.

45. Take in a performance at Interlochen Center for the Arts southwest of Traverse City.

Twin Zip at Boyne Mountain
Fly at speeds of 20-25 mph on the Twin Zip at Boyne Mountain and travel 780 feet, before landing above the lawn at the Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa. A longer course is also available. Photography courtesy Boyne Mountain

46. Go charter fishing on one of the Great Lakes.

47. Attend the Buy Michigan Now Festival, Aug. 5-7, in Northville, featuring Michigan producers, artists and entertainers.

48. Hike the 4,062 steps to the top of Avalanche Mountain Preserve in Boyne City, for unparalleled views.

49. Ride the self-operated observation raft at Kitch-iti-kipi Springs at Palms Book State Park near Manistique.

50. Drive the 200-mile U.S. 23 Heritage Route, from Mackinaw City south to Standish along the Lake Huron shoreline.

51. Check out the 10-day Jimmy Buffet-inspired Cheeseburger in Caseville festival, held each August.

52. Take a ride on the Star of Saugatuck, one of several historic sternwheel paddleboats in Michigan.

53. Kayak the 7-mile round-trip Point aux Barques trail out to Turnip Rock in Port Austin, one of Lake Huron’s most scenic spots.

54. Explore 982-acre Belle Isle Park, Michigan’s 102nd state park, in the Detroit River.

St. Julian Winery
St. Julian Winery’s rich history spans 95 years. It has been in the Paw Paw location since 1936. Photography courtesy St. Julian Winery

55. Purchase hand-made quilts, wood works, baked goods and more in the Amish community of Clare.

56. Watch or take part in America’s Largest Flag Day Parade, Sunday, June 12, in Three Oaks.

57. Learn how to SUP — Stand Up Paddleboard — on one of Michigan’s lakes.

58. Ride the coasters at Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon.

59. Explore Michigan’s largest aquarium, Sea Life in Auburn Hills, home to 5,000 creatures.

60. Take a dune buggy ride in Saugatuck or Silver Lake.

What other ideas do you have for the summer? Share your thoughts, and photos, on facebook.com/MiBlueMag.

Freelance writer Dianna Stampfler is president of Promote Michigan and resides in Petoskey.

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