Michigan may conjure up images of auto factories and winter blizzards, but the state actually has a lot to offer vacationers, from beautiful coastlines to funky towns and top-rated museums. Michigan is an ideal vacation spot for families interested in connecting with nature or spending summer on the water; the state has the longest coastline in the country and is home to over 11,000 lakes and ponds.
If excitement and activity are your style, head to Traverse City in northern Michigan. Located on the Grand Traverse Bay, the city is known as the Cherry Capital of the World; its annual Cherry Festival takes place in East Bay Park. There's no shortage of hotels in the area, and Traverse City boasts an impressive number of festivals, golf courses, restaurants, historical sites and kid-friendly attractions, including the Great Lakes Children's Museum. Visitors also enjoy the beautiful scenery and expansive beaches perfect for swimming, sailing and fishing.
Grand Rapids is a medium-size west Michigan city that offers a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities. The Grand Rapids Children's Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, John Ball Zoo, Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink and Frederik Meijer Gardens are popular with visiting families. The city is home to numerous hotels and campgrounds, and you'll find a 60,000-square-foot indoor waterpark at the Double JJ Ranch, about an hour from town.
One of the most charming vacation spots in all of Michigan is Mackinac Island, a unique town overflowing with warmth and history. Kids will enjoy the butterfly garden, Haunted Theatre wax museum, and annual fudge festival; the family can unwind at one of the island's luxurious resorts or historical inns. Because no cars are allowed on the island, you'll explore on foot, by bicycle or by horse-drawn carriage.
Plenty of shops, restaurants, golf courses, festivals and family-friendly events will keep you busy in Charlevoix, a small town in northwest Michigan. The city is known for its drawbridge that opens frequently to allow sailboats and yachts cross between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. The best times to visit are summer and fall, but this town has a large seasonal population and hotel prices are most affordable during winter.
Most people don't know it, but there's a large Amish population in Clare County, Michigan, in the middle of the state, drawing visitors who want to experience Amish markets and craft shows. Vacationing families also enjoy rodeo, hiking, bird watching, picnics and other outdoor activities during spring, summer and fall. In winter, Clare County is an excellent spot for ice fishing, ice skating, and cross country and downhill skiing.