Also known as the Great Lake State, there is no denying that Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful places in the country. But with so much natural beauty to go around, it can be hard to narrow down which attractions are the best.
With a body of water around every corner, even bustling cities like Detroit shine and welcome visitors with breathtaking views.
Whether you are exploring the remote wilderness of the Upper Peninsula or hanging out by the lake with the convenience of city-like amenities, you will be left in awe by this state’s underrated beauty.
To make your journey that much easier, check out this list of the fifteen most beautiful places in Michigan to get you excited for your next big trip.
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Located in what feels like the middle of nowhere, Manistique is a hub for outdoor recreation, and its natural wonders are so beautiful visitors seeks it out regardless of its remote location.
The star of the show is easily Kitch-iti-kippi, also known as the Big Spring, and you could spend hours just sitting on its shores taking in the sights.
Known as the largest freshwater spring in Michigan, Kitch-iti-kippi travels down nearly forty feet, and its crystal-clear waters make it easy to spot the many fish that live there.
It is interesting to see how the spring pushes in water from below, creating bursts of sand that travel upwards to the surface.
Since this beauty is located in Palms Brook State Park, there are plenty of nearby hiking trails to keep you busy, and each one is more beautiful than the last.
After you have taken in the sights, you can head to town for a fun-filled afternoon of eating and drinking.
A popular hangout spot is The Mackinac Trail Winery, but of the three tasting rooms they have scattered throughout the area, Manistique’s riverfront option is surely the most scenic.
Just make sure you save room for a soup and sandwich from the Upper Crust Café Bakery and Deli because they have been supplying the best lunch in the Upper Peninsula for quite some time now.
Head over to the center of town to check out the Manistique Water Tower which stands nearly 140 feet and, when open to the public, provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
End your day right by watching the sun set over the water as you take a picturesque walk along the boardwalk of Lake Michigan.
2. Grand Rapids
With an entire city named after this natural wonder, there is no denying that Grand Rapids is one of the most beautiful attractions in the state of Michigan.
And with such impressive rapids gushing right through the heart of the city, it only makes sense that the surrounding area has created other beautiful places to visit during your stay here.
One of the most popular places to visit is the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, which provides its visitors with breathtaking views both indoors and outdoors.
On nice days, you can spend hours walking through the gardens and admiring the many sculptures, bridges, and waterways that are peppered throughout.
John Ball Zoo is a wonder in its own right, with a plentiful number of personalized experiences that let guests interact with animals like spider monkeys, penguins, bears, and more.
If you’re looking for a free attraction that will still knock your socks off, check out the Meyer May House, which displays the exquisite architectural design used by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900s.
Other exciting attractions include the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which lets you literally walk through history, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which houses more than six thousand works of art.
Home to one of Michigan’s most well-kept secrets, the town of Ludington is a true hidden gem and anyone lucky enough to visit will immediately fall in love.
It is no secret that Michigan is made up of many beautiful lakes, but most people focus on its Great Lakes rather than the abundance of other stunning options.
You can find one of the state’s most breathtaking lakes right in Ludington, and its low profile has managed to keep it crowd-free all year round.
It’s because of this low profile that it’s called Lost Lake; but in actuality, you can easily find it right in the heart of Ludington State Park.
The park makes it easy to explore every inch of its pristine shoreline with a wooden walkway that wraps one and a half miles around its edges.
Along your hike, you can admire a series of small islands that guide you to Lost Lake, and once you get there, you’ll be likely be welcomed by sea otters and turtles galore.
When you are able to pull yourself away from this natural wonder, make your way over to one of the two iconic lighthouses located at opposite ends of town.
If you happen to be in town during the summer months, head over to the beach on a Thursday night to mingle with the locals over a community bonfire.
But there really is no bad time to enjoy the beach, so feel free to explore Stearns Park Beach at your leisure or stay in Ludington State Park to check out the dunes.
4. Isle Royale National Park
Of the five national parks scattered throughout Michigan, Isle Royale National Park is the most popular – and it is not hard to figure out why.
This national park is overflowing with natural beauty and is known for being the place that makes people from all over the world fall in love with Michigan.
But even though it is a fan favorite, it is never really crowded because of the effort needed to get there.
Located out on the waters of Lake Superior, you can only get to this breathtaking park if you have reserved a spot on the five-hour boat ride or have a watercraft of your own to make the journey.
Once the ferry drops you off, you’ll have endless opportunities to connect with nature and marvel at the park’s untouched beauty.
The most popular thing to do here is a hike on the Greenstone Ridge Trail, but it can end up being a five-day trek if you decide to do the full 43 miles.
There are also three picturesque lighthouses scattered throughout the island, and each one offers its own unique highlights and views of the lake.
Since the park is very remote, wildlife thrives here and there is a very good possibility that you will encounter some of its natives like moose, otters, beavers, and more.
5. Porcupine Mountains
It may be hard to believe, but Michigan was once home to a series of volcanoes, and remnants of its past activity can be found throughout the Porcupine Mountains.
This is just one of the many reasons that the Porcupine Mountains are considered to be one of Michigan’s most beautiful places and, lucky for explorers, it is also the state’s largest state park.
One of the most popular things to do here is take in the views from the Lake of the Clouds overlook, but, if you have the time, make sure to continue on to the Escarpment Trail.
This trail is easily the best hike in the state park, and it stretches for eight miles and provides breathtaking views with every step of the way.
And when you fall in love with the scenery on the Escarpment Trail, you can always venture off to spend a night camping – just make sure to grab a backcountry map to make sure you are setting up in a permitted area.
If a peak is what you are after, consider hiking the Summit Peak Trail, where you can then climb to the top of a wooden tower for the best view overlooking the mountains.
Plus, Mirror Lake is just a three-mile trek from the summit, and there are quite a few designated backcountry campsites available so you can spend a night by the water.
Just because Detroit doesn’t have a lot of natural beauty doesn’t mean that this massive city isn’t beautiful in its own way. And as the largest city in Michigan, there is plenty to see and do.
For starters, there is an abundance of museums to explore, the most popular being the Detroit Institute of Arts where you can admire over sixty thousand works of art.
A close second is the Motown Museum, which walks you through the history of music and how it has evolved over time.
If you happen to be in Detroit on a Saturday, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit one of the country’s most extensive markets.
The Eastern Market has everything you need for a fun evening, including plenty of food and entertainment options scattered throughout and local vendors selling everything you can imagine.
Comerica Park is another great option, with a variety of food stalls and entertainment – like a Ferris wheel – to keep you busy.
If you don’t have time to explore the city’s many wonders, you can always hop on the People Mover for a quick overview of the downtown area.
7. Rocks National Lakeshore
Known as the first national lakeshore in the country, Rocks National Lakeshore has a lot to offer, and every last inch of this place is truly breathtaking.
Located right on Lake Superior, this shoreline is mesmerizing with its blend of blue and green, crystal-clear waters.
One of the best places to take it all in is the Miners Castle overlook and walking there will only take you about ten minutes.
But if you happen to be on the opposite end of the lakeshore, the Log Slide overlook is just as nice and just as easy to get to.
Whatever you do, make sure to dedicate some time to see the iconic Pictured Rocks that give this lakeshore its name.
You won’t be able to drive right up to an overlook, but there are plenty of ways to get there, like taking a kayaking tour, hopping aboard a cruise, or hiking your way over.
And once you have fallen in love with your surroundings, you can set up your tent for the night in one of the many backcountry camping spots.
Make sure to always keep your food secured in one of the lakeshore’s many food storage bins because black bears are extremely common in the area.
There are beaches peppered all along the shoreline for visitors to lay out their towels, but you have to be pretty brave to go for a swim here since the water can be pretty cold all year round.
If you are up for the cold water, then you are in for a treat because Lake Superior is one of the best places to enjoy a day of scuba diving and snorkeling.
Many ships have wrecked on Lake Superior over the years – a good portion of the lakeshore is considered the “Graveyard Coast” – so there is plenty to explore below the surface.
8. Great Lakes Bay
Home to a variety of eccentric, waterfront towns, the Great Lakes Bay region is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Michigan.
For starters, you’ll have quick access to the water wherever you go and there are all kinds of watercraft rentals to help you make the most of your time here.
Go sailing on the bay with the help of BaySail’s Appledore Tall Ships, sip wine and eat chocolate as you cruise along the water with Frankenmuth FunShips, or enjoy dinner on the river thanks to Bay City Boat Lines.
Opportunities for outdoor fun are in abundance here, so you’ll have plenty of time to connect with the great outdoors and search for wildlife along the way.
When you are not going on a scenic hike, you can be cruising along Wildlife Drive or taking a boat tour of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.
You could spend all day exploring the Dow Gardens, with its incredible 110 acres and impressive tree canopy walk hanging above it all.
For some historical beauty, head over to the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio for a tour of what is ranked one of the best historic homes in the country.
The Temple Theater is just as interesting and provides its visitors with some insight into how the wealthy people of the early 20th century lived their lives in this area.
9. Lake Michigan
With over 175 miles of easily accessible waterfront, a visit to Lake Michigan is hard to pass up – and it’s more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.
On the southern edge, you’ll find a collection of charming wineries like Hickory Creek Winery, where you can sip on quality wine for as little as a dollar a tasting.
After, you can head to Warren Dunes State Park to marvel at dunes that tower over 250 feet above the beach and provide ideal places to lay out your towel for a relaxing afternoon.
Another great place to check out some dunes is the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where they offer exciting rides to experience them another way.
Grab a sandwich and a tasty pastry to take with you from Bread and Bar by Bit of Swiss, or opt for a sit-down meal with a lakefront view at Bentwood Tavern.
If you happen to be in St. Joseph during the Blossomtime Festival, you’re in for a real treat filled with festivities like a parade, baseball game, and a 5k run.
But Silver Beach County Park is always a great option since it has plenty of ways to keep you entertained including a beach, an amusement park museum, a splash park, and more.
10. Traverse City
The waterfront town of Traverse City is as picturesque as it gets, and there are enough attractions here to keep you visiting time and time again.
Everywhere you look is surrounded by natural beauty and fully immersed in history with a new restaurant to try around every corner.
One visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is enough to leave you in awe, and you can spend an entire day exploring its 64 miles of beaches, dunes, and more.
If you are short on time, you can always take in the views from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, but full-day adventures call for a ferry boat ride to the Manitou Islands.
Once an extensive insane asylum, you may be shocked to know that the Grand Traverse Commons has since been transformed into the town’s most popular hangout spot.
The commons are always opening new shops, galleries, and restaurants to visit, and the outdoor campus is a great place to enjoy a bike ride or a run.
From the commons, you can explore other parts of the downtown area because everything in town is conveniently within walking distance of each other.
Come summertime, the town hosts the popular National Cherry Festival where locals and visitors can enjoy a week worth of fun with plenty of free events.
Nestled along the picturesque shores of Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey is one of the most scenic towns in Michigan to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
And even though some of the most loved activities are water-based, this charming little town has fun things to do in all four seasons.
Go cross country skiing in the winter, admire how the wildflowers come to life in spring, marvel at the leaves as the fall foliage transform the town, and spend endless days at the beach during the summer months.
A day in Petoskey wouldn’t be complete without doing a bit of hunting for the stones that give this town its name and taking a piece of fossilized coral home as a priceless keepsake.
The best places to find these pretty rocks are at Magnus Park and Petoskey State Park, where you can find petoskey just about everywhere you look.
And speaking of Petoskey State Park, there are plenty of other ways to make the most of your day here, including hanging at the beach and going for a hike for a scenic view of the dunes.
End each night with a bang by having dinner at one of the town’s trendy restaurants, like Chandler’s Restaurant with its seasonal menu and Duffy’s Garage and Grille with its waterfront patios.
12. Torch Lake
A visit to Torch Lake will make you feel like you have been transported to a remote island in the Caribbean, which definitely scores it a spot as one of the most beautiful places in the state.
The water that surrounds its convenient sandbars is as crystal-clear as it gets, and its turquoise colors are a sight to behold.
In fact, the water is so pristine that it has been rated as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world by National Geographic on multiple occasions.
The water-based activities are endless, with the most popular things to do being snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and jet skiing.
And because its iconic sandbar stretches out over two miles, it is a hot spot for summer fun, and the parties here draw in a lively crowd. Just be careful when you are venturing out because the sandbar drops pretty quickly into deep blue waters.
Even better than the parties, you can set up camp right along the water to spend a peaceful night beneath the stars and wake up each morning to the calming sounds of waves.
Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Torch Lake Cafe for waterfront dining and end each night mingling with the locals over a drink at the Deep Blue bar.
As an added bonus, there is a skydiving experience available so you can take in the views of Lake Michigan from up above.
Known for its historic Dutch roots, the cozy town of Holland offers visitors a travel destination that is both breathtaking and educational.
But before you plan your trip, make sure to check out their event calendar because Holland is always hosting exciting festivals like the Tulip Time Festival in May, the Tulipanes Art and Film Festival in September, and the Street Performer Series all summer long.
Visit the only native Dutch windmill in the country, known as the DeZwaan windmill, at Windmill Island Gardens, and explore the 36 acres of gardens while you’re at it.
There is no bad seat in the house at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant, where you are guaranteed views of Lake Macatawa, whether it be on the patio or inside behind one of the wall-length windows.
Even though the town is small, the options for outdoor recreation are plentiful, and you will find beautiful hiking trails across nearby parks, like the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway and Upper Macatawa Natural Area.
And when in doubt, head over to Holland State Park to spend the day out on the lake or sunbathing along the sandy shore.
No matter how you decide to spend your time, you’ll be amazed by the park’s natural beauty and the views of the iconic Big Red lighthouse are hard to beat.
14. Mount Bohemia
Michigan’s Mount Bohemia is breathtaking any time of year, but this picturesque mountain really comes to life during the winter months when skiing becomes a favorite local pastime.
In fact, the resort that sits atop Mount Bohemia has been rated as one of the top ten ski resorts in all of North America.
But this experience is not for everyone; skiing here is a favorite amongst experienced skiers because of the lack of grooming and rugged terrain.
This part of Michigan sees an extreme amount of snow come wintertime, so the slopes require very little maintenance – making them more unpredictable than most.
There are nearly one hundred different runs to choose from, but all bring some kind of challenge that would put beginner skiers in a bad position.
To take your skiing experience to the next level, you can hop aboard one of the snowcats that will take you to a desolate part of the mountain.
But just because you aren’t an expert skier doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this beautiful mountain. Just spending a night in one of the unique accommodations and waking up each morning to the peaceful remoteness of the mountainside is enough to warrant a visit.
15. Mackinac Island
With most of this island town a state park, it makes sense that Mackinac Island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Michigan.
All around the island you’ll find picturesque, waterfront views of cool geological features like caves, natural bridges, and rugged cliffs.
Much of the island is Mackinac Island State Park, where you will find unique attractions like the Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, Dwightwood Springs, and Skull Cave.
When you are not mesmerized by the island’s natural beauty, you will be fully immersed in history as you visit a variety of historic landmarks and interact with interpreters whose goal is to make you feel like you have traveled back in time.
Walk through the Historic Downtown, which acts as a living, outdoor museum that takes you from one building to another and gives you insight into what life was like in the early 1800s.
Then, head over to Colonial Michilimackinac for another historic experience that goes above and beyond to make you feel like you are living through the war in 1775.
Blend history and natural beauty together at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, where you can explore a dense forest and learn about the historic, water-powered sawmill.
Admire locally inspired art at Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, take photos by the water of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and hang out with the bugs at The Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House & Insect World.