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Pure Michigan

9 Family Things to Do in Michigan

Trying to decide where to take your family on a vacation can be stressful. Your kids want to do all the “cool” things (to impress their social media followers, of course), and your partner is only concerned about the food options. You know what has all those things and more? Michigan. From beaches to restaurants to Instagram-perfect sunsets, this state is the ideal place to kick back and relax with your loved ones. Don’t believe us? Here are nine reasons to book a trip immediately.

surfing in michigan

It’s Got the Surf

Fun fact: Michigan has the country’s longest freshwater coastline. Every single inch of it is beautiful, but for the best beach-town vibes head to the southern coast, where you’ll enjoy long, sandy beaches, balmy temperatures and gorgeous sunsets (more on those later). From St. Joseph-Benton Harbor on the south end to Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Hart on the north, this string of seven beach towns also has plenty of fun festivals and family-friendly restaurants for when you can manage to break away from the beach.

man biking in michigan

...And the Turf

About those sand dunes: There are plenty to be found in Silver Lake and beyond. Kick off your sandals and enjoy a long family walk (little ones will love scrambling up and tumbling down the soft, sandy peaks). Feeling a bit more rugged? Michigan’s varied terrain means there’s plenty of ground to cover whether you prefer hiking or mountain biking. The perimeter of Harlow Lake in Marquette and Mount Bohemia near Lake Superior are two of our favorite destinations.

woman paddleboarding

You Can Pick Up a New Hobby...

Michigan’s famed “lake effect” isn’t limited to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The state has more than 11,000 lakes, plus rolling rivers to explore. Gather the gang for a stand-up paddleboard or kayaking on Torch Lake and the Torch River—the combination of fresh air, warm sun and bright-blue water beats any indoor water park. In Grand Rapids, try catching salmon, steelhead or walleye from the Grand River. And be sure to catch a tour on the Grand Lady Riverboat, designed in the style of 19th-century paddle wheel steamboats.

people floating in river

...Or Simply Let Go

If all that sounds a little too, well, active, then just relax. Sometimes the best memories are made by simply grabbing a tube and floating peacefully down the Au Sable River. Share stories and jokes, and maybe trade a few friendly splashes. Or simply float along, listening to the water gently lapping at your tube and gazing in awe at the brilliant blue sky above.

horses in michigan village

Where Else Can You Go Back in Time?

Step off the island ferry dock at Mackinac Island and you’ll enter into a Victorian village. The quaint island limits transportation to horse-and-buggy, bicycle or foot. Immerse yourself in history at Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes, which were captured by the British in the War of 1812. Or soak up the beauty of the palatial Grand Hotel. Either way, we recommend timing your visit with the island’s Lilac Festival (June 8 to 17).

michigan lighthouse on jetty

And Still Enjoy the Present Moment?

Forget that digital detox camp: When it comes to getting away from it all, few places rival Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. All the noise of your daily life will quickly subside as you take in the pristine peninsula’s 300 waterfalls, 40 charming lighthouses and 400 species of birds. Best of all, you’ll be far enough north to see the northern lights—we challenge you not to Instagram every single moment.

cherry field

There’s Plenty of Good Food...

Wherever we go in Michigan, we never fail to find something tasty to eat, from the home-style cheeseburgers at Redamak’s in New Buffalo to Mackinac’s famed fudge. The only thing better than Detroit’s hot restaurant scene (breakfast at the Dime Store is a must) is the natural yumminess of Michigan’s cherry and blueberry seasons, from June to August and July to September, respectively.

family watching sunset

And Unbelievable Sunsets.

As if on cue, Michigan delivers with one of its perfect pink sunsets. We love nothing more than to sink our toes a little deeper into the sand, snuggle little ones in our lap and take it all in. The best part is getting to do it all again the next day.

grand hotel michigan

Oh, and Did We Mention the Stunning Accommodations?

After a day spent swimming, hiking, tubing or boating, everyone in the family could use some rest, and Michigan has some amazing hotels that are destinations in their own right. From the historic romance of Mackinac’s Grand Hotel or Detroit’s Foundation Hotel to the quaint charm of bed-and-breakfasts like the Kalamazoo House, they make winding down a highlight of the day.

amanda nyren

Writer, yogi, mom to about a dozen houseplants

A lifelong Chicago resident, Amanda started covering the local scene for PureWow in 2016. She's a freelance writer and content strategist.