Family Vacation

15 Family Vacation Spots In Michigan

Michigan has bustling cities, Great Lake shorelines, and lush forests making it a perfect vacation destination. (Photo By: @nat_geo_vibes)
Source : instagram

Family vacation spots in Michigan include the beaches of Les Cheneaux Islands to the cultural scene of Detroit. Michigan has beautiful and kids friendly places.

Although it is lesser popular when it comes to planning a family vacation, this state has amazing places that make excellent getaways. 

Michigan has many things to offer to people of all ages, no matter what season you visit. It has amazing and fun attractions, pristine beaches, kid-friendly museums, and lovely little towns.

Nicknamed "Great Lakes State," it borders four of the five Great Lakes in the USA. The lakes, forests, and thousands of miles of beautiful beaches are some of the top attractions here.

If you are looking to escape in the middle of nature and take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a terrific place.

15. Les Cheneaux Islands

Les Cheneaux Islands are 36 small islands in Lake Huron at the southeastern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

It is a 30-minute drive from the Mackinac Bridge. You could also take a boat or reach the island by air.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Take a Les Cheneaux Lighthouse Cruise with the Shepler's Ferry. It is a five-hour excursion where you will see many channels of the islands and six lighthouses.
  • Hike the Narnia Trail to explore the woods and hidden coves along Lake Hurson.
  • Attend the Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show to see the local craftspeople's work. 
  • Paddleboard, swim, kayak, or even fish at Lake Huron. It is one of the cleanest and most scenic waters in the Great Lakes.
  • Book a boating excursion for an unforgettable experience. You will see the sheltered coves, channels, and bays while sailing in an authentic wooden boat.
  • Visit Search Bay Nature Preserve, a gorgeous secluded spot with several campsites filled with water activities.
  • Go to Les Cheneaux's museums, such as Maritime Museum and Historical Museum.
  • Snowmobiles and skiers will love Les Cheneaux's trails during the winters. You could also go ice skating, fishing, sledding, and playing hockey here when it is much colder.
  • Learn how to build a boat at the Great Lakes Boat Building School.
  • Visit local eateires such as Les Cheneaux Coffee Roasters, Cattails, and North Coast Coffee.

Where To Stay In Les Cheneaux Islands?

Beachfront cottages, hotels, RV Parks, and cabins are popular lodging choices in Les Cheneaux Islands. Some options are Spring Lodge & Cottages, Hessel On The Lake, and Les Cheneaux Landing Resort.

You can also camp at Government Island, a leave-no-trace wilderness camping.

Les Cheneaux Islands in the Upper Peninsula (Photo By: Michigan Sky Media)
Source : instagram

14. Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth is a small city in Michigan that is popular for its Bavarian architecture. The buildings, stores, and restaurants all reflect the Bavarian culture. 

This German town is known for two of Michigan's top indoor waterparks, Christmas all year, and amazing chicken dinners.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Visit Bronner's Christmas Store, which is solely dedicated to Christmas decorations, ornaments, and trees. It is open 361 days a year.
  • Enjoy a day or two at Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark, Michigan's largest waterpark.
  • Wind down on a relaxing riverboat cruise and enjoy a narrated tour of Frankenmuth. The boat has ramp access, with a restroom and snacks all available on board.
  • Frankenmuth Aerial Park offers ziplining and also an ariel rope course.
  • Explore Frankenmuth Historial Museum and Michigan's Military and Space Heros Museum.
  • Tour the town in the classic horse-drawn carriage ride or take the 16-person PedAle Trolley to peddle through the city.
  • Taste the family-style Bavarian meals at Frankenmuth's local eateries, such as Zehnder's.
  • Tour the Frankenmuth Brewery to taste some Christmas Town Ale.
  • Go to Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, a store with plenty of cheese, and Frankenmuth Clock Company, a store with a lot of cuckoo clocks.

Where To Stay In Frankenmuth?

Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Hotel & Conference Center, Bavarian Inn Lodge, and Marv Herzog Hotel provide some of the best accommodations in Frankenmuth.

Frankenmuth has a strong influence of Franconian-style architecture.
Source : instagram

13. Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a great family vacation area for families. It has several historical sites and natural beauties such as pristine beaches and lush forests.

It is located on Lake Huron, and the island is open all year round, but the best time to go is during the summers. Almost every attraction on Mackinac Island can be reached by walking. 

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Enjoy the beautiful water from lake level in a sailboat, kayak, or sunset cruise under the Mackinac Bridge. You can even go parasailing here.
  • Go to Arch Rock, one of the oldest and most classic scenic, archaeological sites. Mackinac Island State Park has impressive landscapes and water frontage.
  • Visit historical sites such as Fort Wilkins, Fort Holmes, Biddle House, Fort Mackinac, and Fort Michilimackinac. 
  • There are no motor-powered vehicles on the island, so exploring the city with bikes could be a great option. You can get your bike or even rent one from the stores.
  • Take a horse-led carriage ride, a widespread tradition. It takes you on the entire island's tour, and you can learn about the island's history.
  • Cross over the second longest bridge in North America, Mackinac Bridge.
  • Spend time around the lake shoreline and also take tours of lighthouses. 
  • Go fishing for various kinds of fish, such as perch and trout.
  • Ride on the Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry, a ferry operator that offers rides to and from Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.

Where To Stay On Mackinac Island?

Island House Hotel, Main Street Inn and Suites, Lilac Tree Suites, and Cottage Inn of Mackinac Island are some great options for lodging.

Arch Rock, a natural limestone arch, on the left. A beautiful town in the Mackinac Island on the right.
Source : instagram

12. Holland

Holland is one of Michigan's most photogenic and stunning family-friendly vacation destinations. 

It does resemble the country, Holland, with tulip gardens, food, open fields, and colorful windmills. Experience the best of the Netherlands without stepping out of Michigan.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Take rides at The Dutch Wonderland amusement park. It has roller coasters, such as The Loop, and water slides, such as The Wave. 
  • Hike in the Lake Michigan dunes to see some unbelievable views.
  • Laketown Beach, Kirk Park, Tunnel park, and Holland State Park are for anyone wanting to see the Lake Michigan coastline and enjoy some magnificent beaches.
  • Ride a bike along miles of paved paths or stroll downtown sidewalks.
  • If you are visiting during May, do not miss the Tulip Festival. It takes place at the Dutch Village, and one can enjoy Dutch food, rides, and a petting zoo here.
  • Michigan State Capitol Building, Holland Museum, and Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village are some must-visit museums here. 
  • The whole family can take a relaxing cruise to see some breathtaking scenery and enjoy the close-up views of Holland Harbor Light.
  • The older family members can check out some breweries and distilleries in the city.
  • Go to Nelis' Dutch Village for some authentic foods from the Netherlands. You can also catch some fun festivals and activities here. 

Where To Stay In Holland?

Hampton Inn Holland, City Flats Hotel Holland, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, and WoodSpring Suites Grand Rapids Holland are some family-friendly hotels in Holland.

Windmill Island Gardens on the left and the view of Lake Macatawa on the right.
Source : instagram

11. Silver Lake

Silver Lake has a vast stretch of sand dunes. It is relatively less crowdy than most Michigan cities. 

The entire family can experience the lakeshore adventure here at Silver Lake State Park. It is a perfect destination for outdoor adventures.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Trek the sandy dunes on board or on foot. You can run down the towering dunes and also sandboard the slopes.
  • Dune driving is a must at the 450-acre off-road driving area. You can also hire off-road vehicles to drive through the sand.
  • Visit Mears Museum to see transportation history and historical modes of transportation such as trucks, tractors, horse-drawn carriages, dune buggies, railroads, and stations.
  • The Little Sable Lighthouse is an amazing spot for a picnic or to see the stunning Lake Michigan sunset.
  • Spend a day enjoying the rides at Michigan's Adventure Amusement Park.
  • You can swim, surf, or even fish at Silver Lake. Salmon and trout are popular here. Rent a paddle, speed boat, kayak, or powerboat for more water activities.
  • The four miles of Lake Michigan beach is a fantastic place to go swimming or bodysurf.

Where To Stay In Silver Lake?

Dunes Waterfront Resort, Sierra Sands Family Lodge, Silver Sands Resort, and Hart Motel are some hotels and resorts to stay in while vacationing in Silver Lake.

Breathtaking view from the Silver Lake Sand Dunes overlooking Lake Michigan. (Photo By: Michelle Lagestee)
Source : instagram

10. St. Ignace

St. Ignace is a beautiful city located along the Upper Peninsula and Lake Huron. This small township has many family-friendly attractions to keep you busy for a few days.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Explore the Deer Ranch, as kids are going to love seeing some deer and fawns.
  • The Weird Michigan Wax Museum is a must-visit to see over 30 dioramas that tell the story of the state's folklore.
  • If you're feeling outdoorsy and want to participate in outdoor activities, visit the Hiawatha National Forest East Unit.
  • Explore the city's many lighthouses, including Cheboygan River Front Range Light, Round island lighthouse, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Wawatam Lighthouse, and Waugoshance Shoal light.
  • Ride the Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry and Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry.
  • St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce, Father Marquette National Memorial and Museum, and Indian Village are also some must visit here.

Where To Stay In St. Ignace? 

St. Ignace offers a wide variety of hotel and motel choices, such as Best Western Harbour Pointe Lakefront, Colonial House Inn, Aurora Borealis Motel, and Super 8 by Wyndham St. Ignace.

Mackinac Bridge in Saint Ignace (Photo By: Michigan Sky Media)
Source : instagram

9. Traverse City

Traverse City has lovely beaches and an outdoor atmosphere with activities such as hiking and biking. It is a great place to visit for families.

The city has many watersport opportunities, shopping, lighthouses, and amazing cherries.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • The Grand Traverse Bay State Park has miles of beaches to explore. You can also hike through the trails or even stroll through nature.
  • Visit the Children's Museum of SE Michigan, Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Benzie Area Historical Society and Museum, The Dennos Museum Center, COGNiTiON Science & Discovery Center, and Eyaawing Museum & Cultural Center to learn about the history.
  • If you are visiting Traverse City in August, the Grand Traverse Belle Festival is worth a visit for the annual event of food, music, and fun.
  • The older family members can visit some of the incredible wineries and cherry wines.
  • Pirate's Cove Adventure Park is a must-visit amusement center here. It has two 18-hole mini-golf courses, a zipline, water rides, and pirate-themed challenges.
  • Explore the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park with your family. It opens seasonally and has a visitor center, workshops, and guided tours.

Where To Stay In Traverse City?

It is a pretty resort town with many options for hotels and camping. The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is a luxury resort with golf and a spa. Great Wolf Lodge is also an option for traveling with younger kids.

Traverse City has natural beauty along with the city hustle
Source : instagram

8. Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is a hub for educational events in Michigan. This college town has quite a lot of family-friendly attractions such as parks, museums, and activities for everyone. 

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Head to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. It has many child-friendly exhibits about science and technology.
  • The Children's Museum of Washtenaw County also has multiple family-friendly activities. It has an area dedicated to kids ages 0-12.
  • Visit the Leslie Science and Nature Center to see some butterflies, vegetable gardens, and stargazing.
  • Do make a stop at the Wild Swan Theater to see the staging of Strega Nona and The Wizard of Oz.
  • The local eateries, such as Zingerman's Delicatessen, have some impressive baked stuff in the town.
  • University of Michigan Museum of Natural History will intrigue you with its large display of dinosaurs, interactive exhibits, and the latest scientific research.
  • Matthaei Botanical Gardens combines various climate regions and plants under the same roof.

Where To Stay In Ann Arbor?

Sheraton Hotel Ann Arbor, Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, The Kensington Hotel, Ann Arbor Regent Hotel, and Suites are some fantastic family-friendly hotels in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor is a college town with tons of interactive and family friendly activities.
Source : instagram

7. Saugatuck

Saugatuck has some of the most beautiful art galleries, marinas, harbor, and sceneries. It was voted the fourth in the ten coolest towns in America in Budget Travel magazine in 2010.

This small town is a must-visit if you and your family are interested in art and entertainment.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Explore Oval Beach for some great views of the dune, lake, waves, and shoreline.
  • Climb Mount Baldhead to see the stunning views of Oval Beach and the water.
  • Ride on the Chain Ferry that crosses the Kalamazoo River.
  • Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Mount Baldhead Park, Wicks Park, and Coghlin Park are must-visit here.
  • The Saugatuck Dune Rides is a must for thrill and fun as it is a popular activity among all ages. 
  • Visit the art galleries such as Amazwi Contemporary Art and James Conner Gallery to see some extraordinary works.
  • Parents and adults can chill at the Fenn Valley Vineyards - Saugatuck Tasting Room and taste their great wine.

Where To Stay In Saugatuck?

Stay in one of the locally owned beds and breakfasts in Saugatuck, as they are affordable and great options to stay with the family. 

The Dunes Resort, Best Western Plaza Hotel Saugatuck, Twins Oaks Inn, and Starlite Resort are some beds and breakfasts and hotels to stay nearby.

Saugatuck is nicknamed as the Fire Island or Provincetown of the Midwest.
Source : instagram

6. Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park is a small island in the middle of Lake Superior. It has tons of diverse wildlife, and it also offers outdoor adventure.

You need to take a five-hour boat ride from the Upper Peninsula to get to the island. One can use the land or water to explore the archipelago.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Take a hike through the Greenstone Ridge Trail. It heads into the deep woods, swamps, and lakes. 
  • You can explore the island by paddling through the waters.
  • The hike through Scoville Point is easier and shorter, and the hike through Greenstone Ridge Trail is moderate-difficult.
  • Mount Ojibway Trail takes about an hour or two and is perfect for new hikers.
  • Do visit the Pete Edisen Fishery to see this historic fishery site.
  • There are three lighthouses one can visit; Passage Island Light, Rock Harbor Light, and Menagerie Island Light.
  • Observe the wildlife in the national park. Some of them include moose, wolves, beaver, otters, and several bird species.

Where To Stay In Isle Royale National Park?

Isle Royale National Park has various options for lodging. You can stay in a tent, boat, lodge, or resort such as Rock Harbor Lodge and Windigo Camper Cabins. One can also camp up at one of the campgrounds.

Greenstone Grill and Lighthouse Restaurant are two restaurants in the Rock Harbor Lodge. Rock Harbor and Windigo also have camp stores for basic supplies.

The forest area at Moskey Basin Campground in Isle Royale National Park (Photo By: Nelson Decker)
Source : instagram

5. Great Lakes Bay

Great Lakes Bay is filled with experiences that cannot be compared to anywhere else. As it consists of Midland, Bay City, and Saginaw, each has a unique thing to offer and is worth exploring.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Visit Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark for its wild slides and lazy rivers.
  •  Wilderness Trails Zoo and Saginaw Children's Zoo are kids' favorites.
  • See a show at the Temple Theatre and State Theatre of Bay City.
  • Explore the beautiful museums such as Old Town Museum, Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, and Saginaw Art Museum.
  • Roll Arena is a must-visit as it is one of the best roller rinks in the country. 
  • Explore Midland's Valley Lanes Family Entertainment Center, their 32-lane bowling alley, and miniature golf.
  • Shop at some of the most unexpected stores, such as Birch Run Premium Outlets.
  • Japanese Cultural Center & Tea House is a must-visit for authentic Japanese gardens in North America.

Where To Stay In Great Lakes Bay?

Great Lakes Bay has great lodging options, such as The H Hotel, Hampton Inn Midland, and the Americans Best Value Inn Birch Run.

 Downtown Bay City at Great Lakes Bay. (Photo By: Jacob Borowski)
Source : instagram

4. Detroit

Detroit is a center for culture with many family-friendly activities and attractions. It also has many hiking trails and areas for boating, kayaking, fishing, and swimming for nature lovers out there. 

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Take a tour with your family to the Detroit Historical Society, Detroit Institute of Arts, The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, and Motown Museum.
  • Legoland Discovery Center will keep your kids occupied with their play areas and rides.
  • Spend a day at the Sea Life Michigan Aquarium, Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center, and Detroit Zoo.
  • If you are into sports, you can catch a Detroit Lions game, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, and Detroit Pistons if you come during the season.
  • Belle Isle Park, situated in the Detroit river, is a must-visit for long walks and hiking.
  • Explore the Eastern Market to shop for local products and a wide variety of foods.
  • Taste some wonderful candies and chocolate at Choco Town.

Where To Stay In Detroit?

Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney, Element Detroit At The Metropolitan, and The Detroit Club are some best hotels for families in Detroit.

Rainbow in the beautiful city of Detroit. (Photo By: @rfl0)
Source : instagram

3. Bay City

Bay City is a historic waterfront city popular for its culture, art, and water-based activities. Kids will love this city because of the water parks and amusement parks.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Bike around the Bay Country Riverwalk Trail.
  • Sail along the water on BauSail's Appledore Tall Ships. You can also cruise in Bay City Boat Lines.
  • Explore the Sunrise Pedal Trolley, Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum, Learning Center, Delta College Planetarium, The Historical Museum of Bay County, and Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum.
  • Riverwalk Pier, Bay City State Recreation Area, Wenonah Park, Carroll Park, and Veterans Memorial Park are some must-visit parks here.
  • Do catch a show at the State Theatre of Bay City.
  • Fun Land Amusement Park has plenty of rides for kids of all ages. 

Where To Stay In Bay City?

Historic Webster House Bed and Breakfast, AmericInn by Wyndham Bay City, and Quality Inn & Suites are some great lodging options in Bay City.

Bay City is near Saginaw Bay and this community is rich in culture.
Source : instagram

2. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers tons of activities for all ages along with natural beauty. It is a rare panoramic beauty with islands, beaches, northern forests, and dunes.

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • You can hike through the 13 hiking trails here that overlook the stunning view of Lake Michigan.
  • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a popular spot for biking. 
  • Climb the Dune Climb and visit the Pyramid Point Overlook.
  • Paddle at the Crystal or Platte rivers. You can also see some beautiful water birds and salmon here.
  • Watch the sunset at the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and Esch Beach.
  • You can see the landscape of Glen Lake, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Glen Arbor from above with the "Sleeping Bear and Beyond Tour" with helicopters. 
  • Fish at any 21 lakes in the park. You can catch some trout, bluegill, and perch at the Otter, Bass, and Glen Lake.
  • Canoeing along the Platte river and kayaking on Lake Michigan are also some fun activities here. 

Where To Stay In Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore?

One can book campgrounds online. The D.H. Day and Platte River Campground are some favorites.

Some hotels near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore include Empire Lakeshore Inn, Duneswood Resort, and Crystal Lake Resort.

Sleeping Bear Dunes has some of the most breathtaking sunsets in Michigan. (Photo By: NPS/Harrison)
Source : instagram

1. Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids makes an excellent destination for vacations with family. From museums to hiking trails and beaches, this city offers many activities for kids of all ages. 

What To Do With Your Family Here?

  • Grand Rapids Children’s Museum offers exhibits and hands-on displays. Other museums and historical sites include the Gerald R. Ford Museum, Meyer May House, Art Museum of GP, and Grand Rapids Public Museum.
  • If you want to learn about the rural life of Michigan, Coopersville Farm Museum is the place to go.
  • TreeRummer Grand Rapids Adventure Park is a great place for kids of all ages.
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has famous sculptures, a rock garden, a waterfall, and a huge conservatory.
  • The city organizes several festivals, such as the Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival, ArtPrize, Grand Jazz Fest, and Festival of the Arts.
  • The Natural History Museum offers exhibits such as an insect zoo, where you can learn about them and even touch the live ones. It has an aquarium section too.
  • Visit John Ball Zoo to see over 1100 animals from all over the world.

Where To Stay In Grand Rapids?

Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Grand Rapids East, and JW Marriott Grand Rapids is excellent family-friendly hotels in the city.

Grand Rapids is home to stunning art theaters, museums, and a zoo.
Source : instagram