“People are looking for places to travel that are close to home,” notes Nancy Cain, director of public relations for AAA Michigan. The good news: Much mileage isn’t required to find new adventures near your own backyard.
Cities most visited by car in the Great Lakes State offer enough sure things and surprises to please the most discriminating traveler. Visit websites to discover more of what makes these places worth a ride.
Frankenmuth (Frankenmuth.org). Sure things: Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland; the Bavarian Inn Lodge; Zehnder’s chicken dinners; Oktoberfest (Sept. 19-22). Surprises: Aqua Cycles for rent and wine/chocolate cruises on the Cass River (Frankenmuth FunShips).
Detroit (visitdetroit.org). Sure things: Detroit Tigers; Detroit Institute of Arts; Detroit Jazz Festival (Aug. 30-Sept. 2). Surprises: Urban tours on Segway Personal Transporters (Segways2U); Ford Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak (Aug. 30-Sept. 2).
Midland (visitgreatlakesbay.org). Sure things: 110-acre Dow Gardens; Midland Center for the Arts; Great Lakes Loons baseball. Surprises: Alden B. Dow Home and Studio; Chippewa Nature Center (Adventures for Women: Color by Kayak, Sept. 26).
Grand Rapids (experiencegr.com). Sure things: West Michigan Whitecaps; Grand Rapids Public Museum; “Beer City” brewery tours. Surprises: Restaurant Week Grand Rapids (Aug. 14-24); ArtPrize (Sept.18-Oct. 6).
Ann Arbor (visitannarbor.com). Sure things: University of Michigan campus (sports, events and attractions including the Exhibit Museum of Natural History); State Street; Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Surprises: Shopping in Kerrytown; Ann Arbor Farm Market.
Traverse City (traversecity.com). Sure things: Area beaches; golf at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa; Old Mission Peninsula wineries. Surprises: Foodie tours; the TART trail; Wilson’s Antiques; Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre.
Holland (holland.org). Sure things: DeZwaan Windmill; Veldheer Tulip Gardens; Holland State Park. Surprises: Outdoor Discovery Center; Street Performers Series (through Aug. 29); Frisbee golf at Winstrom Park.
Lansing (lansing.org). Sure things: Michigan Historical Museum; Old Town BluesFest (Sept. 20-21); Michigan State University campus (sports, events and attractions including the MSU Museum, Michigan’s first Smithsonian Institution affiliate). Surprises: Capital City Dragon Boat Race (Sept.1); Lansing City Market.
Mackinaw City (mackinawcity.com). Sure things: Colonial Michilimackinac; fudge; Shepler’s Lighthouse Cruises. Surprises: Mackinaw Parasailing; Jack Pine Lumberjack Shows; Headlands International Dark Sky Park.
Mount Pleasant (mountpleasant.com). Sure things: Soaring Eagle Casino; Central Michigan University campus (sports, events and attractions). Surprises: Ziibiwing Cultural Center, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Pow Wow (Aug. 2-3); Central Michigan Skydivers (first jumps welcome).
— Khristi Sigurdson Zimmeth and Lisa M. Jensen, Michigan BLUE Magazine.