Not Boring, Just Underrated: Why Everyone Should Visit Michigan

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive yet fantastic place to visit, look no further than one of Canada’s neighbouring states. Not New York or Vermont, but Michigan! When I tell people I’m from Michigan they usually are A) extremely confused about where my state is located (drive west on Autoroute 20 until you reach Windsor, my friends), B) they think it’s Minnesota, or C) they think the entire state is just Detroit.

Another response I usually receive is “What’s there to do in Michigan anyways?”, which makes my heart sink. There is so much to do and see! It just isn’t common knowledge as most people visit bigger cities when they travel to the States. Below, I have compiled a list of my favourite places, cities and shops and restaurants that have captivated my heart and that make coming home even more special. Hopefully, I can prove once and for all that my home state is anything but boring!

  1. Detroit

It isn’t as janky as everyone thinks! It’s actually amazing and eclectic and there is so much to do! From the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of the top six art galleries in the United States, to the Motown Museum, to the Michigan Science Center, there is a wide variety of museums for every interest. Additionally, Eastern Market is one of the highlights of Detroit, featuring shops and restaurants as well as an enormous market of fresh produce and flowers. If you love coffee as much as I do, Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. is a must, with the best freshly brewed coffee in a hip Instagrammable shop. If you love nature, Belle Isle is a cute island nestled between the American and Canadian borders that offers many attractions for nature-lovers. The island features an aquarium, a conservatory, a giant slide, a Great Lakes museum, and so much more! The possibilities in Detroit are endless.

2. The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village

            A quick 30 minutes from Detroit lies the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village. Both owned by the Henry Ford organization, each attraction is unique and Michigan-specific in its own way. The Henry Ford is a museum that features great American innovations throughout history, including the first ideas of aviation and the airplanes that came with them, cars that great American presidents traveled in, and even an exhibit that focuses on the key revolutionary movements in America and the objects and artifacts involved in these moments. Similarly, Greenfield Village is a historic village that provides an opportunity to experience early Michigan life. Ride in a Model-T, watch 1867 baseball, or order your lunch from an 1830s menu.

3. Ann Arbor

            Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor has so many restaurants and shops to offer the hip and artsy tourist. Visit Graffiti Alley for a quick photoshoot or order avocado toast at trendy Sava’s. Literati Bookstore is a must-see, with three levels of books and a cafe with the tastiest almond milk vanilla latte and the friendliest baristas. Shop for some funky yet fashionable clothes at Ragstock. Stop at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for a peaceful moment in nature. Ann Arbor is extremely diverse so there is something to see for every interest.

4. Traverse City

            Contrary to the busy life of Detroit and its suburbs, Traverse City is located at the northernmost tip of the mitten, and shows a wildly different way of Michigan life. Stepping out of the car, you instantly feel calmer with the smell of the lake breeze and the quiet sounds of northern Michigan. There is a myriad of unique shops and restaurants to visit in downtown Traverse City, some of my favourites being the Blue Tractor, a barbeque restaurant with a wide variety of tasty dinners; Cherry Republic, where you can get ice cream, cherry wine, free samples, and nearly any food flavoured with Michigan cherries; and Horizon Books, a quiet yet lively book shop with a unique and diverse selection of books and gifts. In the surrounding areas, you’ll find the great Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, which offer breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, and a multitude of hiking trails and forests to escape the stresses of everyday life. There’s also great shopping in the quaint surrounding towns Leland, Suttons Bay, and Leelanau.

 

 

5. Lansing

            Home to Michigan State University (go green!), and Michigan’s State Capitol building, Lansing is another city worthy of your time. Go on a tour of Michigan’s State Capitol to learn about how American government functions at the state level, something I’ve always found completely interesting. The Michigan History Center is also extremely informational yet fun, and each exhibit tells a story of Michigan history in an exciting way. For an alternative to the city life, visit the famous Red Cedar river which cuts through Michigan State University’s gorgeous campus.

 

 

6. Grand Haven

Last but not least, Grand Haven is a small, quaint town off the coast of Lake Michigan known for its beaches. Downtown has a multitude of shops and delicious restaurants. Start your day with Jumpin’ Java coffee for a unique flavoured latte (once I had chocolate raspberry!), and head to the beach for a relaxing day in the sun. Hike the sand dunes of Rosy Mound Natural Area and later order some authentic and yummy dinner at Arturo’s Tacos. End your day walking on the pier and watch the sunset over the magnificent Lake Michigan.