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Lesser Known Vacation Spots in Michigan

Updated on March 18, 2015

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Tahquamenon Falls State Park covers over 13 miles of land not far off the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula. The main visual attraction is, of course, the beautiful Tahquamenon Falls. The Upper Falls is larger, with a 50 foot drop and a span of about 200 feet. The five Lower Falls are smaller, but no less beautiful.

If you go in the spring, summer, or fall, you can get up close and personal with the Lower Falls with a canoe. There is also a trail for hiking, where you can walk along all of the falls, along with the rest of the park. Fishing is permitted, and there are several campground sites. You can opt for a bed and breakfast or a lodge if you do not want to rough it. During winter there is snowmobiling and cross country skiing available, along with an opportunity to see the falls in a frozen state.

No matter what time of year you go, the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery that is located within the park is open!

The Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon State Park.
The Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon State Park. | Source

Black River Byway

If you appreciate a scenic road trip, the Black River Byway in the Black River National Forest is just for you. Located in the northwest corner of the Upper Peninsula, the main thruway is County Road 513. The best way to take this is south to north; it empties into Lake Superior, which is a majestic sight of its own.

The Black River has several short waterfalls along its way, and there are many old roads you can turn off of the main county road to get a very thorough look at the woods. One caution; if you don't know where you are going, it is wise to take your GPS.

Back on Road 513, it will take you past Copper Peak. This is the tallest ski flying hill in the world, at 476 feet. You definitely want to consider stopping here if you come to the byway during the winter.

When you come to Black River Harbor at the end of the byway at Lake Superior, there is a campground with several amenities, including an enclosed pavilion with a fireplace, many observational facilities, bathrooms, drinking water, and more. This particular area is open May-September.

The Black River Byway is conducive to canoeing, fishing, hiking, and even swimming.

Michigan's Adventure

Owned by the same company that owns Cedar Point and King's Island, Michigan's Adventure is the only amusement park in the state. It is located At 250 acres, it is not nearly as large as its aforementioned counterparts, however it is packed with rides that range from easy, to the more formidable rollercoasters such as Shivering Timbers.

In addition to the amusement park rides, it contains an acclaimed water park complete with both slides and wave pools. There is also a miniature golf course and food stands. There are four campgrounds with varying degrees of amenities in proximity to the park. They are Duck Creek, Oak Knoll, Muskegon State Park, and Lake Sch-Nepp-A-Ho.

A panoramic view of Michigan's Adventure in Muskegon County, Michigan.
A panoramic view of Michigan's Adventure in Muskegon County, Michigan. | Source

The Sand Dunes of Silver Lake

From the months of April to October, the sand dunes at Silver Lake State Park are the only dunes east of the Mississippi River where you can legally drive an all-terrain vehicle. There are 2,000 acres worth of dunes in this park that is located right on Lake Michigan. The northern part is the riding area, while vehicles are prohibited in the middle area, which are known as the Walking Dunes.

The coast of Lake Michigan is known for its stark beauty, and the Silver Lake State Park is also known for other activities such as swimming, hiking, hunting, boating, camping, and even metal detecting.

Near to the park is a historic lighthouse, as well as coastal towns that contain restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

Manistee

Manistee is geared mainly towards winter activities, though it does have Lake Michigan beaches for use in the summer. There are 100 miles of snowshoe and cross country skiing trails, and 147 miles of snowmobile trails. In the northwest area of the lower peninsula, It is a popular spot for ice fishing. Because Manistee is a small town, there are usually very little crowds, so if you are looking to "get away from it all", this is a very good place.

If you wish to stop here during the warmer months, the Manistee River that empties into Lake Michigan is also good for fishing and canoeing.

America's Golf Capital

For those that are golfing enthusiasts, did you know that there are 33 courses, some in complete resort areas in the northern part of Michigan, in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas? Catering to all skill levels, the beauty is exceeded only by the challenge that lies ahead when you place your first tee down.

Some of the resorts include Bay Harbor, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, which is also a ski resort, Forest Dunes, Grand Traverse, and Shanty Creek. Bring your buddies for a golfing weekend, or your family. There are other activities to choose from at these places for those who do not golf.

Harbor Springs

This coastal town is located near the Straits of Mackinac, where the boundaries of the two massive bodies of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. Deep in the bay near the straits, this city is frequently used as a port for boaters and sailors.

If you are a fan of art, this town is its state's capital. It contains over 20 galleries, and many artists use this to meet their buyers and give them demonstrations. Being a tourist laden coastal town, the downtown area is packed with gift shops and restaurants that cater to various culinary tastes.

Harbor Springs is also known for its Zipline Adventure, located in Boyne Highlands resort. One zipline has an elevation of 3,250 feet.

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