What to Do in Northern Michigan

5 Fun Things to Do in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan is a place where nature and fun come together. With lakes, dunes, and lively towns, there’s always something to do. Whether you love the outdoors, enjoy festivals, or just want to taste delicious local foods, this region has it all.

In this guide, we’ll share five top activities that make Northern Michigan a must-visit spot.

Why Northern Michigan is a Must-Visit Destination?

Northern Michigan is filled with breathtaking views. Every turn is a delight for the eyes, from dunes and lakes to lush green forests.

No matter the season, there’s excitement in the air. In the warmer months, you can enjoy swimming and scenic hikes. The region becomes a snowy playground perfect for skiing and other snow sports when it’s cold.

If you’re into cultural events, you’re in for a treat. The area hosts various music and film festivals, making every visit lively and memorable.

The local flavors are something to talk about, too. Here, you can savor unique treats like fresh cherries, regional wines, and fish from the vast lakes.

But what truly sets Northern Michigan apart are its people. They’re welcoming, ready for a chat, and eager to share the best local spots.

Things You Can Do in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan is a land of endless adventures. With its vast landscapes, shimmering lakes, and vibrant towns, there’s always something exciting to do. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a culture buff, or someone just looking to relax, this region promises activities that cater to every interest.

Here are some top picks to consider during your visit:

#1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a highlight of Northern Michigan. Right by Lake Michigan, it’s got huge sand hills that are a blast to climb. And when you’re at the top, the view of the lake is amazing. Many people spend hours on the beach below. It’s perfect for sunbathing, playing games, or having picnics.

For those who love to explore, paths lead into the woods. These trails are great for a gentle walk, and they’re good for families, too. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might spot some local wildlife.

And if you’re into water activities, the lake offers chances for swimming and paddling. With so much to do, it’s easy to spend a whole day at Sleeping Bear Dunes and still want to return for more.

Read also: Things to do in Atlanta on a Rainy day.

#2. A Visit to the Crystal-Clear Torch Lake

Crystal-Clear Torch Lake

Torch Lake is one of those places you have to see to believe. The water is so clear and blue it’s often compared to the Caribbean seas. It’s a long lake stretching for miles, and every bit of it is beautiful.

People love to spend their day by the lake. Some bring their boats and go for a ride. Others prefer to swim or try paddle boarding. The water is calm, making it great for families with kids.

Around the lake, there are spots to have picnics. If you’re not into water activities, just sitting by the lake and watching the world go by is relaxing. And if you hang around till evening, the sunsets are a treat. They light up the sky and reflect on the water, making everything look magical.

#3. Winter Sports: Skiing, Snowboarding, and More

Winter Sports: Skiing, Snowboarding

When winter comes to Northern Michigan, the fun doesn’t stop. It just changes to snow-filled adventures. The region turns white, and the hills become perfect for skiing and snowboarding. If you’re new to these sports, there are places where you can learn. And if you’re experienced, challenging slopes are waiting for you.

But it’s not just about skiing. There’s also snowshoeing, which is like hiking but on snow. It’s a calm way to explore the winter woods and enjoy the quiet. For those who like speed, snowmobile rides are an option. They let you zoom across snowy landscapes and feel the thrill.

Kids love making snowmen and having snowball fights. And after a day in the snow, everyone enjoys sitting by a warm fire, sipping hot cocoa, and sharing stories. It’s a cozy end to a fun-filled winter day.

#4. Traverse City’s Film and Music Festivals

Traverse City's Film and Music Festivals

Traverse City is a hub for arts and culture, especially in film and music. The city hosts festivals that draw crowds from near and far throughout the year.

The film festival is a treat for movie lovers. It showcases films from different countries and genres. You can watch movies in old theaters or even under the stars. There are also talks where filmmakers share behind-the-scenes stories.

Then there’s the music festival. Bands and artists from all over come to perform. The music ranges from rock to jazz to folk. The best part? Dancing and singing along with a crowd, all enjoying the same tune.

These festivals are a chance to meet people, learn new things, and, most of all, have fun.

#5. Sip and Savor the Local Flavors

Local Foods of northern michigan

One of the joys of visiting a new place is trying the local food and drinks. And in Northern Michigan, there’s plenty to taste. The region is known for its fresh produce, especially cherries. You can find cherry pies, jams, and even cherry sodas. They’re sweet tangy, and capture the essence of Michigan summers.

But cherries aren’t the only treat. The area is also home to wineries and breweries. If you like wine, there are vineyards where you can taste different varieties, learn how they’re made, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. For beer fans, local breweries offer unique blends. There’s a beer for every taste, from hoppy ales to rich stouts.

Whether you’re sitting in a cozy café or exploring a bustling farmer’s market, there’s always a new flavor to discover in Northern Michigan.

Travel Tips and Best Times to Visit

If you’re planning a trip to Northern Michigan, a little knowledge can go a long way. First, timing matters. Summer is lovely with warm weather and outdoor activities. It’s the best time for beach days and boat rides. But it’s also the busiest, so book accommodations early.

Fall brings cool air and colorful leaves. It’s a quieter time to visit and perfect for scenic drives. Winter, with its snow, is a wonderland for those who love cold-weather sports. And spring? It’s a time of renewal with blooming flowers and mild temperatures.

When packing, remember that the weather can change. It’s always good to bring layers. And if you’re going into nature, comfortable shoes are a must.

Lastly, the people in Northern Michigan are friendly. Feel free to ask locals for recommendations. They often know the best spots and hidden gems.

Best Campgrounds in Northern Michigan for Nature Lovers

Camping in Northern Michigan is a great choice if you want to be close to nature during your visit. The region has many campgrounds, each with its charm.

Here are a few top picks:

Platte River Campground: Located within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this campground provides drive-in and walk-in sites. It’s near the Platte River, perfect for canoeing or tubing adventures.

Petoskey State Park: Situated on the northern shore of Little Traverse Bay, this park offers beautiful sandy beaches and hiking trails. The campgrounds here are well-maintained and provide a mix of shade and sun.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park: Home to the magnificent Tahquamenon Falls, this park offers campgrounds near the waterfalls. The sound of cascading water adds a special touch to the camping experience.

Wilderness State Park: With over 10,000 acres of land, this park offers a variety of camping options, from rustic to modern. It’s a haven for hikers with numerous trails cutting through dense forests.

Pigeon River State Forest Campground: A quieter spot, this campground is in an area known for elk viewing. It’s a treat for wildlife enthusiasts and those looking for a peaceful retreat.

No matter which campground you pick, the beauty of Northern Michigan surrounds you. Remember to book early, especially if you’re planning a summer visit. And always respect nature to ensure these spots remain pristine for future visitors.


Northern Michigan is a treasure trove of experiences. From the towering dunes of Sleeping Bear to the crystal-clear waters of Torch Lake, there’s a slice of nature for everyone. Add to that the thrill of winter sports, the joy of local festivals, and the delight of tasting regional flavors, and you’ve got a truly one-of-a-kind destination.

Whether you’re camping under the stars or just passing through, the memories you make here will stay with you long after you leave. So, pack your bags, set your sights on Northern Michigan, and prepare for an adventure you will remember.

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