When thinking of which exotic place to write about, a strange thought suddenly came to mind: Michigan. Blame it on Thanksgiving and the inevitable homesickness it brings, but suddenly my home state seems like a worthy travel destination for any intrepid traveler. Here are just a few reasons why the mitten-shaped state in the middle of the USA is worth a visit.
Michigan is made up of not one, but two enormous peninsulas just begging you to come and camp. National Forests, State Parks and plenty of open space mean you can have your pick of incredible places to bond with nature. Outside of Detroit and its suburbs, Michigan is largely forest, making for spectacular Autumn colors in Fall, and wonderful shade in summer. Snow won’t stop you from enjoying the Great Outdoors. In winter there are plenty of cozy cottages for rent. In fact, going “up north” is a favorite for Michiganders (yes, that’s what we’re called), and almost every family has access to a cottage/cabin/or fishing shack for long weekends.
All the Beach You Can Handle
When you think of beach vacations you probably think of Florida or the Caribbean. But lo and behold, unassuming Michigan has some of the most pristine beaches in the world. With four of the five Great Lakes as neighbors, Michigan has more coastline than the entire Eastern Seaboard of America! And most of them are empty. That’s right, other than a few visitors from the Midwest, Michigan beaches manage to stay under the tourist radar, making them ideal for a relaxing trip.
Year Round Activities
Michigan is a state that embraces all four seasons. With a climate that sees weather extremes from hot summers to cold winters, Michigan has learned to make the most out of every weather condition. In summer the beaches beckon, as do the million trillion inland lakes and rivers. Kayaking, canoeing, water skiing and good ol’ swimming are at your fingertips. In winter there is skiing, hockey and plenty-o-sledding on every hill around. Fall and Spring are perfect for biking, horseback riding or walking through any of the lovely forests. Oh, and don’t forget, kiting. We’re weirdly in love with kites and several beach towns host kite flying competitions in the spring and summer.
Cherries, Berries and Flippin’ Cute Small Towns
Small towns may be the unofficial mascot of the Midwest, but Michigan’s are in their own league of cuteness. Driving up the West Coast of Michigan, along Lake Michigan, is a crash course in cherry trees, antique shops and even wine farms (who knew?). Best of all, each small town, from Saugatuck to Petoskey, is authentic. Their tourism caters primarily to other Michiganders (there’s that awful name again!), since they remain largely unknown outside of the state. So, yes, the smiles are sincere and the jam really is homemade.
And, of course, you can’t think Michigan without acknowledging Motown. Detroit may have a bad rep at the moment, but Motown still has soul. Detroit is a city to appreciate music, good food and cars. Sure, the rundown buildings and unemployment is there, but so are music festivals, organic markets and tucked away jazz clubs. This is a city that is still beating, and can definitely show you a good time.
Michigan just may be the spot for your next vacation.