There’s a lot about Michigan to love—from great craft beer and music to Motown and beloved sports teams. But a lot of people don’t know that Michigan is so much more. Did you know that here in the Mitten State we are surrounded by not one, but four huge freshwater lakes? Or that Michigan is packed full of beautiful national parks, rivers, interesting rock formations, apple orchards, lighthouses and more?
Read on for a list of our favorite views in Michigan. And the next time you’re hankering for an adventure, head out to one of these amazing spots! Each one offers something beautiful and unique that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
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One of our favorite scenic drives in the state is the beautiful highway M-22 through Manistee County and Arcadia. At the end of the drive, you’ll find yourself at the Arcadia Overlook (known as “Inspiration Point”) on top of the entire county, overlooking the lush greenery and neverending blue lake. A view unlike any other, this is one you’ll remember forever.
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Sorry summer lovers—you’ll have to wait until winter to enjoy this spectacular Michigan view! Just outside of Marquette, the Eben Ice Caves are one of Michigan’s prime winter attractions. Each winter, once the ice caves start to freeze up (usually in December), tourists flock to the tiny town of Eben Junction to catch a peek. These interesting ice formations are created by melting snow that runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves”. You will have to hike a bit to get to these natural wonders, so plan ahead by bringing ice cleats, poles and other gear to help you stay steady on the slippery ice
The phrase “The Grand Canyon” doesn’t normally bring to mind thoughts of Michigan—but it should! Ours might not be quite as grand as the actual titular canyon in Arizona, but it is pretty spectacular, boasting unusual rock formations and waterfalls that will take your breath away. Our favorite of this location’s natural wonders is the marvelous Canyon Falls, where many love to enjoy picnic lunches and unparalleled views of Pure Michigan wonder.
Grand Haven State Park is a 48-acre park with a beautiful sandy shore along Lake Michigan on the west side and the Grand River along the north side. The entire park consists entirely of beach sand and provides scenic views of Lake Michigan and the Grand Haven pier. The view overlooking the pier and lighthouse at sunset is one of our favorites in the state—and the amazing beach views (and fun) this area provides are nothing to laugh at either.
Ann Arbor‘s favorite outdoor attraction, The Huron River is a must-visit when staying in Washtenaw County. The river itself is a sparkling, 130-mile long river rising out of the Huron Swamp in Springfield Township and flowing into Lake Erie. The best way to view the river is by kayak! Don’t own one of your own? No problem, just head to the Argo Canoe Livery or the Gallup Canoe Livery to rent one.
The Mackinac Bridge or “The Mighty Mac” is currently the fifth-longest suspension bridge in the world and the longest in the western hemisphere. The total length is 26,372 feet, connecting the communities of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan. This world-famous bridge offers a stunning view of both the lake and your end destination. Plus, as an incredible feat in human engineering, The Mackinac Bridge is enough of a beautiful view in itself.
Nicknamed the “all-natural theme park of America,” Mackinac Island has been an ideal vacation spot for centuries. No cars, no chain hotels and a plethora of outdoor activities. From incredible wildflower views to unmatched rock formations off of the coast, Mackinac Island is a dream. But if you’re looking for a way to see a large slice of the island at once, head to The Grand Hotel, one of the most luxurious places to stay on the island. At 660 feet, The Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s longest and is visible as you approach the island from Lake Huron. For just $10, you can enter the hotel and enjoy the view from a rocking chair on the sprawling porch—talk about a great deal!
Located near the University of Michigan campus, Nichols Arboretum is one of the richest landscapes in southeast Michigan. Originally started in 1907 by O.C. Simonds, this natural oasis spans miles of trails and land, offering collections of native and exotic trees and shrubs crafted into the landscape. A favorite of Ann Arborites and passing tourists, Nichols Arboretum offers some of the most simple and special views in Michigan. And did we mention it’s completely free?
Unlike anywhere else on Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks offers you the opportunity to explore miles of pristine beaches, 100 miles of trails, towering sandstone cliffs and the serenity of northern woodlands. The best view of the cliffs is, of course, from the water. But if you’d rather do a little hiking around the beautiful trails, we recommend the Chapel Basin 10-mile loop which provides the best views of the area from the land.
Miles of sand beach, bluffs that tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan, lush forests, clear inland lakes, unique flora and fauna make up the natural world of Sleeping Bear Dunes. High dunes boast spectacular views across the lake. But while you’re there, you’ll also have the opportunity to see unique species of birds and other wildlife.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park encompasses close to 50,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. Most of this is undeveloped woodland without roads, buildings or power lines. The centerpiece of the park, and the very reason for its existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its gorgeous waterfalls. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. And 4 miles downstream is the Lower Falls, a series of five smaller falls cascading around an island, and while they are not as dramatic as the Upper Falls, they are all equally magnificent. The falls can be viewed from the river bank or from the island, which can be reached by rowboat rented from a park concession.
This 183-acre park is situated on the end of a sand spit that forms Tawas Bay along Lake Huron. Referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” the campground is popular for warm, shallow water perfect for swimming. It doesn’t get much better than enjoying the view of the lake from the sandy beaches. But for a truly spectacular sight, don’t miss stargazing over Lake Huron in the evening. We promise you’ve never seen a night sky quite like this.
Northern Michigan’s Tunnel of Trees on M-119 is one of the state’s most iconic attractions. The scenic, one-lane road winds from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. While M-119 really begins at the north end of Petoskey, it doesn’t officially become “The Tunnel of Trees” until north of Harbor Springs. From there, the highway becomes very narrow, running 20 miles along a spectacular bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and lined with a canopy of bright green trees (or orange and yellow if you’re visiting in the fall). Watch for sharp turns at Devil’s Elbow (which is rumored to be haunted by an evil spirit at night) and Horseshoe Curve.
One of the most amazing sites in the Upper Thumb is Turnip Rock. Considered one of the most beautiful places in Michigan, this rock has been carved over time by the force of constant wave action, taking the shape of a—you guessed it—turnip and separated from the mainland over thousands of years. While this magnificent sight can only be reached by kayak or canoe, the view is definitely worth it. The land next to the rock is privately owned and heavily policed. If you must get out of your kayak, stay as close to the water’s edge as possible.
Did you know that Detroit is one of the only places in the United States where you can look south and see Canada? For a really great view, head to William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor on Detroit’s riverfront and look straight ahead. While your phone’s compass will tell you you’re looking south, you’re actually staring right at Windsor, Canada!
What do you think?
What views on this list are you dying to see for yourself? Let us know in the comments!