When summer comes, people hit the coast. States in the Midwest are usually not in the radar of most minds when thinking of a vacation destination… which is a shame because there is certainly more to see in the US than the hustle and bustle of NYC or LA and the sunny beaches of FL. Northern Michigan is a prime example of the “overlooked” and “hidden” natural beauty that can be found in the heartland of the US.
Arguably the “big city capital” in northern MI, Traverse City is probably the busiest and most commercially active town you will find in your travels. It is home to Traverse Bay, close to many vineyards, and offers many great dining experiences – including the best ice cream we’ve ever tasted (Moomers is a must try!).
Sleeping Bear Dunes
In 2011, Good Morning America viewers voted this spot the “Most Beautiful Place in America” – a very worthy title. The “Scenic Drive” and “Dune Climb” are probably the most popular attractions of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Miles upon miles of grand sand dunes overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan with its lovely blue/green waters… it is a breathtaking view that pictures do not do justice. It must be experienced. It is an extremely picturesque and relaxing experience as you feel the smooth sand beneath your feet and breathe in the pure, brisk air.
This island is just 8 miles in circumference. With no cars allowed, the primary mode of transportation is by horse. Consequently, Mackinac Island is probably one of the least pleasant smelling islands in the world. The ferry ride to the island offers a gorgeous view of the 5-miles long Mackinac Bridge. The views on the island are pretty nice, but honestly there’s not that much to do. I have to admit I was disappointed. Mackinac is famous for its fudge, but we found it too sickeningly sweet to swallow. My favorite part is probably Mary’s Bistro, which served the best-tasting chicken I ever had. The majority of their chicken dishes are made from “spitfire roasting” their birds, which produces melt-in-your-mouth, tender, and juicy chicken!
Located in the Upper Peninsula, the Pictured Rocks is enjoyed best by cruise. A 3-hour round trip offers gorgeous views of the vibrant colors that coat the side of the rocks like paint strokes. The vast Lake Superior is also not bad to look at. Unfortunately, Nhi found the views short of awe-inspiring. Pictured Rocks doesn’t screamed to be experienced (like Sleeping Bear Dunes). Nhi would be content cruising on Google Images.
Take a break from the stress of daily life and the busy “big city” and come to Northern Michigan to enjoy a truly pure and extremely scenic trip. A rental car is a must-have to easily get around. We also strongly recommend booking hotels at various cities (based on your itinerary) to save traveling time. Besides all of the beautiful sights to see, the small city charms and fresh, locally-grown foods are also superb!