Unearthing Michigan: A No BS Guide to 17 Must-Do Experiences

Discover the raw, unfiltered beauty of the Wolverine State with this comprehensive guide on things to do in Michigan.

Home to more than 11,000 inland lakes and touching four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

But it’s not all water and wilderness – the state’s bustling cities are brimming with culture, history, and an unrivaled food scene.

So whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a foodie, a history buff, or a beach lounger, you’ll find your perfect adventure in Michigan.

Dive into our curated list of 17 must-do activities that will help you capture the essence of this extraordinary state, from its picturesque lighthouses to its vibrant urban centers.

1. Explore Detroit Institute of Arts

If you’re into art, start your journey in Michigan at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It has one of the largest and most diverse art collections in the United States.

From ancient Egyptian, European, American, African, Asian art, to a collection of contemporary art that will stir your soul and provoke your thoughts.

This museum is more than just paintings, it’s an immersion into the cultures of the world.

Traveler’s Tip: Remember to check out the stunning Diego Rivera Detroit Industry Murals inside the museum, a true masterpiece.

2. Take a Stroll Along Mackinac Island

Next stop: Mackinac Island, a charming island where cars aren’t allowed.

The 18th-century fort and architecture, horse-drawn carriages, and the famous Mackinac Island fudge are definite must-sees.

Traveler’s Tip: Consider renting a bike for the day to explore the island, it’s an eco-friendly and fun way to see the sights.

3. Wander Through Belle Isle Park

Nestled in the Detroit River, Belle Isle Park offers a zoo, a conservatory, and the Great Lakes Museum.

Not to mention, the panoramic views of Detroit skyline is something you don’t want to miss.

Traveler’s Tip: Don’t forget to pack a picnic! With over 982 acres of parkland, there are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy a meal outdoors.

4. Visit the Henry Ford Museum

You can’t go to Michigan without diving into its rich automotive history.

The Henry Ford Museum is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex.

It’s not just about cars, the museum showcases America’s innovations throughout the years.

Traveler’s Tip: Check out the Presidential Limousines exhibit, where you can see the car JFK was assassinated in.

5. Admire Art at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

For art and nature lovers alike, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids is a delight.

The park boasts a vast array of sculptures and installations, as well as beautifully maintained gardens and nature trails.

Traveler’s Tip: Be sure to check out the Japanese Garden, it’s especially beautiful during cherry blossom season.

6. Traverse City

Michigan isn’t just about museums and parks. Head to Traverse City, where you’ll discover a bustling food scene that will make your taste buds sing.

And if you’re a wine connoisseur, then you’re in for a treat.

The city is nestled on the edge of Michigan’s wine country.

Traveler’s Tip: Try to plan your visit during the National Cherry Festival, usually held in early July.

7. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Home to towering sand dunes, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers breathtaking vistas of Lake Michigan and the surrounding countryside.

Whether you’re up for a challenging hike or a relaxing afternoon on the beach, this place has got you covered.

Traveler’s Tip: Make sure to pack comfortable shoes. The Dune Climb can be strenuous but the views at the top are worth it.

8. Visit the Detroit Historical Museum

Get a glimpse of Detroit’s past, from its founding in 1701 to the present, at the Detroit Historical Museum.

Highlights include the Detroit Legends Plaza, which showcases handprints of many of the city’s famous residents.

Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss “The Streets of Old Detroit” exhibit, which transports you back in time.

9. Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with hiking, camping, and boating activities on offer.

Its dramatic cliffs and waterfalls are truly a sight to behold.

Traveler’s Tip: Taking a boat tour is one of the best ways to view the painted cliffs.

10. Discover Sea Life at Belle Isle Aquarium

For something a bit different, check out the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit.

As the oldest aquarium in the country, it houses a unique collection of aquatic animals and fish.

Traveler’s Tip: Admission to the aquarium is free, but donations are encouraged.

11. Attend a Live Show at Fox Theatre

Experience the glamour of the past at Fox Theatre.

This iconic venue has hosted some of the greatest performers in history and remains a symbol of Detroit’s rich cultural life.

Traveler’s Tip: Catch a Broadway show here for an unforgettable evening.

12. Explore the Detroit Science Center

A visit to the Detroit Science Center promises a day of interactive learning.

With exhibits on everything from space science to engineering, it’s a must-see for any science enthusiast.

Traveler’s Tip: The IMAX dome theatre is a unique experience and shouldn’t be missed.

13. Visit Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park offers a true wilderness experience.

Known for its hiking trails and serene environment, it’s a perfect getaway for those seeking solitude.

Traveler’s Tip: This park is seasonal and only accessible by boat or seaplane. Plan accordingly.

14. Take a Walk at Detroit Riverwalk

For a more urban experience, the Detroit Riverwalk offers stunning views of the Detroit River and the Canadian skyline.

It’s a great place for walking, cycling, or just relaxing by the water.

Traveler’s Tip: Check out the Milliken State Park Lighthouse along the walk for a picturesque view.

15. Experience Automotive History at Detroit Auto Show

If you’re a car enthusiast, you can’t miss the Detroit Auto Show.

It’s where the latest and greatest in automotive design and technology are on display.

Traveler’s Tip: Tickets sell out fast, so it’s best to purchase them in advance.

16. Discover Detroit’s Music History at Motown Museum

Step into the shoes of music legends at the Motown Museum.

As the birthplace of the Motown sound, it’s a must-visit for any music fan.

Traveler’s Tip: The guided tour is a must – it brings the history of the place to life.

17. Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Finally, visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Its diverse collection spans cultures and eras, making it a fascinating stop for any art lover.

Traveler’s Tip: The museum is free to enter, but donations are always appreciated.


From its vibrant cities to its tranquil islands and parks, Michigan has something for everyone. Its unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination.

So pack your bags and get ready to explore all the incredible things to do in Michigan!

For more great content on travelling in the United States, don’t forget to check out our other articles on Indiana, Illinois, and Idaho.

For more great content on travelling in the United States, don’t forget to check out our other articles on Indiana, Illinois, and Idaho

David Kingston

Leave a Comment