Best Places to Visit in Michigan

Michigan has something to entice just about every kind of traveler. From the outdoorsy to the intellectual to the cosmopolitan, the Great Lake State has it all. To help you decide which spots are right for your next vacation, U.S. News considered factors like number of activities, availability of accommodations and sentiment among travelers to decide the best places to visit in Michigan. Vote for your favorite destination below to help decide next year's list.

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in Michigan

  • Mackinac Island
  • Holland, MI
  • Saugatuck
  • Grand Rapids
  • Ann Arbor
  • Muskegon
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Traverse City
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Petoskey
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    Mackinac Island

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    Mackinac Island's old-world charm (think: horse-drawn carriages and Victorian buildings) will make travelers feel like they've stepped back in time. The island banned cars in 1898, so tourists – or Fudgies as locals call them – can only access the island by ferry or plane. Once on Mackinac, visitors can taste some of its world-famous fudge, tour historical sights like Fort Mackinac and explore its state park, which covers more than 80% of the island. Keep in mind, though, that many of Mackinac Island's attractions are closed during the winter months despite the island being accessible year-round.

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    Holland, MI

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    This western Michigan town takes its Dutch heritage seriously. During the holiday season, the downtown area transforms into a tribute to all Dutch holiday traditions, complete with roaming carolers and a European-style, open-air Christmas market called Kerstmarkt. Come spring, visitors can celebrate the town's millions of tulip blooms during the Tulip Time Festival, which hosts fun parades and events like traditional Dutch dancing and live musical performances.

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    Saugatuck

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    Located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck is a haven for visitors and locals come summertime. You can grab a spot in the sand at one of several beaches (Oval Beach and Saugatuck Dunes State Park are both popular) or get out on the lake via a boat cruise. Just make sure you leave some time for browsing the goods sold at the town's eclectic boutiques.

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    Grand Rapids

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    While you'll find plenty of public art and some top-notch art museums here, the real reason to visit Grand Rapids is to try its brews. Home to more than 80 craft breweries, Grand Rapids has become an award-winning beer destination, so much so that it has earned the nickname of Beer City USA. You'll find guided beer tours, hard cider tastings and even hotel beer packages that bundle your accommodations with a free pint and souvenir glasses.

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    Ann Arbor

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    This town 43 miles west of Detroit is dominated by the University of Michigan's campus, meaning there are plenty of sporting events, cultural pursuits and reasonably priced dining options to explore. If you're not catching a Wolverine football or basketball game, check out the many museums available on campus, including the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the University of Michigan Museum of Art. When night falls, you'll have your pick of more than 300 restaurants, as well as a bustling nightlife scene.

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    Muskegon

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    Muskegon appeals to travelers who want to reconnect with nature while on vacation. Its 26 miles of pristine Lake Michigan beaches offer ample opportunities to enjoy outdoor pursuits like fishing and boating, while Muskegon State Park is home to two campgrounds and multiple hiking and bike trails. For more of an adrenaline rush, ride the roller coasters at Michigan's Adventure or zip down the luge track at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.

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    Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    Known for its breathtaking scenery, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is covered in sandy dunes that tower more than 450 feet above Lake Michigan. Visitors can climb to the top of the dunes to admire their surroundings or enjoy a picnic lunch at the bottom. The protected area also offers 100-plus miles of trails for hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing, including the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, which weaves its way around the lakeshore past many of its dunes and bodies of water.

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    Traverse City

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    Dubbed the Cherry Capital of the World, Traverse City feels more like a small town than the most populated destination in northern Michigan. Along with its cherries, the town is known for its charming downtown area and its emerging wine scene, which includes nearly 40 vineyards and wineries. To enjoy warm weather and fun seasonal events like the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival, plan a summer visit.

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    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    Pictured Rocks, America's first national lakeshore, overlooks Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Its beautiful, diverse landscape attracts outdoorsy types year-round. On the lakeshore's roughly 100 miles of hiking trails, travelers can see everything from spring wildflowers to colorful fall foliage to stunning ice formations, depending on the season. Plus, visitors can swim and boat in the warmer months and ice climb and cross-country ski during the colder months. But remember, lifeguards do not patrol the lakeshore's beaches, so vacationers should be careful when getting in Lake Superior's unpredictable waters.

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    Petoskey

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Michigan

    This town on Lake Michigan's northeastern shore is one of the state's most popular tourist destinations. Perhaps best known as a cold-weather vacation spot, Petoskey is home to three major ski resorts with more than 160 slopes and multiple terrain parks. Visitors can also try other winter activities like ice skating, snowmobiling and sledding. For less-adventurous travelers, there's the historic Gaslight Shopping District, which is filled with a variety of shops and restaurants.

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