Michigan’s Best Weekend Escapes: Adventure and Relaxation Await! 

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Waterfalls and koi pond at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a great option for a weekend in Michigan

Shaped like an adorable mitten, mighty Michigan has a bit of everything: picturesque sand dunes, mighty waterfalls, charming coastal towns, winding lake shore trails and bustling cities. Plan your next trip now with our list of the 14 best weekend getaways in Michigan.

Historic cities like Frankenmuth and Holland are perfect for a cozy romantic getaway, while cosmopolitan cities like Detroit and Ann Arbor make for an urban adventure. If it’s nature you’re after, visit Sleeping Bear Dunes or Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. And if you can’t decide between city life and natural beauty, spend a weekend in Traverse City or on Mackinac Island. Read on to learn more.

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a small island located in Lake Huron. The island is famous for its old-world charm, horse-drawn carriages and Victorian-era architecture. Visitors can take a ferry to the island and spend the weekend exploring the charming downtown area, eating Mackinac fudge, exploring historic forts and hiking the coastline. There are no cars on the island, so the island must be explored on foot, on a bike or in a horse-drawn carriage.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the iconic Grand Hotel. There is a $10 admission fee for those who aren’t staying at the hotel, but admission provides access to the hotel’s stunning grounds, golf course and many dining options.

Petoskey

Petoskey is a charming city situated on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. The city is known for its unique local stone, the Petoskey stone, which visitors can search for on the city’s beaches. Visitors will enjoy exploring the city’s art galleries, restaurants, cafés, boutiques and breweries.

Surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests, the city is also popular among outdoor enthusiasts. The Bear River Valley Recreation Area is a great place to go hiking, biking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing.

Plan a romantic weekend in Petoskey and stay in Bay Harbor, a resort neighborhood within the city. Here, visitors will find many luxury accommodations, including vacation homes and boutique hotels, alongside a deep-water marina suitable for yachts.

Women holding a glass of wine at a vineyard in Traverse City, one of the best weekend getaways in Michigan.
Frosé (a frozen rosé) at Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery. Photo credit: Mary Moore

Traverse City

Traverse City is a small town in Northern Michigan, known for its wineries and cherry orchards. The town’s vibrant downtown area is home to boutiques, cherry-themed shops, breweries, wineries and museums. Wine-drinkers will love Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn, a beautiful lakeside property home to a bed and breakfast, winery and vineyard.

If you’re traveling in the summer, make sure to visit during the National Cherry Festival, an annual food festival with live music, games, pie-eating contests and lots of cherries, of course. And if you miss the festival, you can still celebrate all things cherry by visiting local shop Cherry Republic.

Located at the base of the Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City also boasts plenty of outdoor beauty. Visitors can go canoeing or kayaking in the lake or plan a day trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City, one of the best Michigan weekend getaways
Photo credit: Melody Pittman

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Speaking of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, these towering dunes make for a great weekend destination in themselves. Located on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, this national park is marked by 23-miles of coastline, 450-feet high bluffs, sandy beaches and diverse wildlife.

Visitors can spend the weekend hiking the dunes, swimming in the lake or kayaking along the shoreline. The park also offers several campgrounds, where visitors can spend the night under the stars.

View of the University of Michigan football stadium, known as The Big House, on game day
Got a chance to go to The Big House on game day? Don’t skip it! Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is a vibrant college town in southeastern Michigan. It is home to the University of Michigan, and is a great destination for shopping, eating and nightlife. Visitors can explore the university’s campus or catch a game at “The Big House.”

Stroll along the Huron River or explore the city’s art galleries or museums. With a thriving performing arts scene and frequent comedy shows, there’s no reason to be bored in Ann Arbor. The city also frequently hosts events, live music and festivals, so check the city’s calendar before you visit.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore should be on everyone’s bucket list. Dramatic cliffs, scenic waterfalls, colorful rock formations, inland lakes and rich forests all mark this breathtaking park, located on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In the summer, visitors can hike, bike, kayak, camp or visit beaches in the park. As summer yields to fall, leaves change colors, painting the park in hues of yellow and red. Waterfalls freeze in the winter, creating otherworldly displays, and spring brings great birding opportunities.

Detroit

The largest city in Michigan, Detroit is jam-packed with art, history and culture. Visitors can explore the city’s many museums, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Motown Museum and the Detroit Historical Museum. Sports fans can catch a game at one of the city’s stadiums, such as Comerica Park for baseball or Ford Field for football.

The Eastern Market, a 19th-century farmer’s market hosted every Saturday, is a great place to buy local produce, try local delicacies or shop from local artisans. The area surrounding the market is also known for its food scene, featuring everything from classic Coney Island hot dogs to upscale fine dining.

Frankenmuth

“Michigan’s Little Bavaria” – that’s the slogan for Frankenmuth, a small town in central Michigan. The town is known for its German heritage and Bavaria-inspired attractions, including the Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, a Christmas store open year-round, and the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, a shop that sells anything from string cheese to homemade chocolate-flavored cheese.

Visitors can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city and stay at the European-inspired boutique hotel Marv Herzog Hotel. And if that’s not enough, the city has two water parks, Zehnder’s Splash Village and Bavarian Inn Lodge Water Park.

Grand Rapids

Located in west Michigan, Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in the state. It’s known for its vibrant arts scene, world-class museums and craft breweries. Visitors can spend the day exploring the beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park or tour the Meyer May House, built in 1908 designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1908.

Popular museums include the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Gerald R. Ford Museum. Those traveling as a family can visit the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum or go to the John Ball Zoo. To close out a long day of museum-hopping, dine at one of the city’s many farm-to-table restaurants or sample craft beers at one of the local breweries.

Saugatuck

Saugatuck is a picturesque lakefront town filled with charming shops, galleries and beautiful beaches. Stroll along the boardwalk, take a scenic boat tour of the area or explore the nearby Saugatuck Dunes State Park, a 1,000-acre park with miles of sandy beaches, coastal dunes and hiking trails.

For a unique experience, take a ride on the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, which has been in operation since 1857 and offers a fun and memorable way to cross the Kalamazoo River.

Downtown Holland is a great option for a girls weekend in Michigan
Everything is blooming during Tulip Time in Holland, MI! Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen

Holland

In the mid-1800s a group of Dutch immigrants settled in Michigan, creating the town of Holland. This quaint lakefront town still prides itself on its Dutch heritage, seen in many of the local attractions. The Windmill Island Gardens feature an authentic Dutch windmill, and the Nelis’ Dutch Village is a replica of a Dutch village from the 1800s, complete with windmills, a wooden shoe factory and a carousel.

Another must-see attraction is the Tulip Time Festival, held every spring, which celebrates the town’s Dutch roots. In the winter, guests can enjoy the Kerstmarkt, a European holiday museum with traditional food, artisan gift shops and live music.

Read More: Exploring Downtown Holland MI: Fun Things to Do

South Haven

Sunbathe on the beach, visit award-winning wineries, tour maritime museums or hike along the Lake Michigan shore while visiting South Haven. Located in the southwest region of Michigan, this picturesque beach city appeals to outdoor adventurers while still maintaining its cozy small town charm.

The quaint downtown area features art galleries, antique stores, ice cream parlors, local breweries and tasting rooms. Check out the Michigan Maritime Museum, tour the city’s lighthouses or rent an ATV and navigate the wooded trails around South Haven. To enjoy forested hiking trails and secluded beaches, drive out to Casco Township Nature Preserve.

Bay City

Bay City is a nautical city situated along the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. The town’s charming downtown area features unique shops, boutiques and restaurants housed in beautifully preserved Victorian-era buildings.

One of the city’s must-see attractions is the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, where visitors can tour the USS Edson, a retired naval destroyer. The Bay City State Recreation Area has lots of great walking trails. And the Center Avenue Historic District is a great place to see 18th century architecture.

Ludington

Ludington has no shortage of outdoor activities. The west Michigan town is home to the Ludington State Park, which boasts marshes, sandy beaches, sand dunes and dense forests. There are opportunities for camping, hiking, boating and fishing.

Other Ludington attractions include:

  • Sandcastles Children’s Museum
  • House of Flavors ice cream shop
  • Port of Ludington Maritime Museum
  • Sterns beach, the city’s largest beach
Adina Keeling is a freelance travel writer from San Diego, CA. She worked in local news for a year until her wanderlust drew her to Costa Rica, where she is now based while freelancing and traveling the world. She has lived in three different countries and traveled to 27. An avid solo traveler, Adina wants to empower other women to safely travel alone.
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