Camping in Michigan offers long sunny days and comfortable overall temperatures, perfect for day hikers and backpackers alike. With a wide range of terrain options, you can spend days exploring Michigan and wake up to unique and new sites every morning.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Go Camping in Michigan?
If you’re properly prepared, there’s no bad time to go camping in Michigan. Those who aren’t fans of camping in the cold or snow can stick to the standard late spring to early fall seasons. Summer travelers will have the advantage of warm weather and long, sunny days. If you’re willing to brave some chillier weather though, fall is easily the most beautiful time to go camping in Michigan.
What Are the Top Outdoor Activities in Michigan?
There’s something to do every day of the year in Michigan. The Great Lake State offers plenty of waters-ports opportunities for kayakers, paddle-boarders, and anyone who loves to be on the water. Michigan also boasts plenty of hiking trails and a variety of terrains, so you’ll always find a new and exciting outdoor activity to try.
What Are the National Parks in Michigan?
While Michigan’s outdoor activities rival those of all states, it only has one true national park, Isle Royale National Park. Michigan does host plenty of other National Park Service sites though.
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale is the only national park in Michigan, but it takes a bit of work to get to. You really have to plan your trip as you can only reach the island by ferry, seaplane, or private boat. This is one of the most remote, unique spots in the National Park Service (NPS) system for backpackers and hikers seeking a rugged adventure. Camping in Michigan doesn’t get much more off the beaten path than at Isle Royale.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
If you want to get one of the best views of Lake Michigan, the bluffs on this national seashore are the place to visit. Nearly 500 feet above the lake, Sleeping Bear Dunes feels like a different world from much of the state of Michigan. While many NPS sites aren’t pet-friendly, four-legged friends are welcome at this Michigan national lakeshore.
Huron National Forest
Located halfway between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, this forest is a favorite among adventurers heading to the northern stretch of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It offers nearly 1 million acres to explore, making it a playground for outdoor fans of all types. Since this is a national forest instead of a national park, you can disperse camp here for free—just make sure you know the regulations.
Hiawatha National Forest
A trip to the Hiawatha National Forest is definitely worth it for those visiting the Upper Peninsula. The Hiawatha National Forest touches three of the five nearby Great Lakes, so watersports enthusiasts will be right at home. If you want to go camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, spend some time in Hiawatha, especially in the summer.
What Are Some of the Most Popular State Parks in Michigan?
Mackinac Island State Historic Park
If you don’t want to stick out as a tourist, remember that Mackinac is pronounced “Mack-in-aw.” It doesn’t look like it should be, but it is. Regardless, Mackinac is one of the most beautiful destinations in all of Michigan and deserves a spot on any Michigan trip bucket list. While this was a national park at one point, Mackinac has been run by the Michigan state park system for more than a century.
Petoskey State Park
Petoskey State Park is perfect for those looking for a day at the beach. The beachfront and open water offer no shortage of outdoor activities to choose from, as well as a modern campground setup in the evenings. If you want to try your hand at searching for the popular Petoskey stones, this is the place to do so while camping in Michigan.
Warren Dunes State Park
Can’t get enough of the dunes? Well, Warren Dunes offers nearly 2,000 acres to explore during your time here, along with miles of shoreline to walk. You’ll have no problems bringing pets with you as this wide-open expanse of state park has a pet-friendly shoreline. Warren Dunes showcases the diversity of camping in Michigan; while known for its dunes, you can head just down the road and sleep under tree cover.
Tawas Point State Park
This is one of the smaller state parks in the system at only 183 acres, but you’ll enjoy panoramic waterfront views. Often called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” this state park is the perfect place to enjoy the waves and comfortable weather. The large numbers of migrating birds makes this is a popular spot for nature lovers and bird watchers. If you want more secluded experiences hiking and camping in Michigan, Tawas Point is where you want to be.
What Are the Top Attractions in Michigan?
Yes, we already talked about the state park, but Mackinac has more to offer than just the park. While the park is beautiful and immersive, the island of Mackinac is a luxurious tourist destination offering fine dining, entertainment, and historical significance.
Detroit Institute of Arts
If you’re willing to leave your campsite and drive into the city, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) houses one of the most prominent art collections in the country. The institute stands at more than 600,000 square feet, making it easy to lose an entire day browsing through the collections. On weekends, DIA caters to families with interactive displays and games.
Windmill Island Gardens
The Windmill Island Gardens is the most prominent feature of town heritage in the Dutch town of Holland, Michigan. While you’ll want to stroll through the whole park, the de Zwaan windmill is the most significant feature of the grounds.
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
It’s exactly what it sounds like. Whether you’re a maritime enthusiast or just a traveler passing through, you can learn a lot here in just a couple of hours. The associated historical society operates a vessel that searches underwater for shipwrecks, so you might just see what they’ve found lately.
Where’s Some of the Best Food in Michigan?
Golden Harvest Restaurant – Lansing
If you love the sound of kitschy breakfast food, stop here. This local oddity has been a crowd favorite for breakfast and brunch for more than a decade. The wall-to-wall decorations are a thing to behold, but the food still manages to be the showstopper.
Buddy’s Rendezvous – Detroit
Don’t let the unassuming looks fool you; Buddy’s has been an institution since the mid-20th century. If there’s one place to epitomize Detroit-style pizza, it’s Buddy’s.
Bavarian Inn Restaurant– Frankenmuth
You might not associate Michigan with authentic German food, but one stop at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant will change your mind. You’ll love their local seasonal menu, and the décor and ambience reflect the establishment’s German roots.
San Chez Bistro – Grand Rapids
We couldn’t offer a guide to Michigan without mentioning the buzzy city of Grand Rapids. It’s tough to stand out in a city known for its culinary prowess, but San Chez Bistro has done so since the early 1990s. This spot walks the line between fine dining and approachable comfort with a menu of Spanish tapas that you don’t want to miss. If you’ve got the time, take one of their cooking classes!
A visit to the Great Lakes State is a multi-faceted experience. The quality of camping in Michigan is high, but all of its other offerings are on par. With a strong culinary scene to match its robust outdoor culture, hiking and camping in Michigan should be on every traveler’s bucket list.