The sun is at its peak, so take advantage of pleasant weather and head off to the Midwest for an amazing Michigan road trip. Summers are the perfect time for a car adventure, and the Great Lake State is a must-do summer adventure with its bountiful natural beauty and amazing temperatures that are not oppressive and unforgiving. Just don’t forget to check the cheapest car insurance in Michigan and get protection so you’re covered for any eventualities when you hit the road.
If you have children, their school break is the perfect time to hit the road. Just imagine driving to panoramic scenery with windows down and music blaring. Certainly, good times are on the horizon! In Michigan, you have tons of options for making beautiful drives that showcase the state’s unique and resplendent beauty. Check out these four amazing Michigan road trips that you should make time for this summer.
Cruise Along the Red Arrow Highway
Enjoy scenic views of soft sand and refreshing water as you cruise the Red Arrow Highway, also known as the US 12. Its unique name is in honor of the US Red Arrow Infantry Division. This highway cruises along Lake Michigan from New Buffalo. This will allow you to see the rustic seaside villages of Lakeside, Harbert, and Union Pier as you head off to the picturesque town of St. Joseph. The drive is filled with family-friendly attractions. On your drive, you can stop and take pictures of lighthouses.
You’ll find tons of antique and art galleries that are worth a visit. This is a very popular summer route as it features breathtaking Lake Michigan beaches. Since the climate greatly influences the place, you’ll find vineyards and orchards. Why not take a vineyard tour or sample wines in tasting rooms? You’ll find many vineyards and tasting rooms along the shore as you traverse the highway. As a souvenir, buy several bottles to take home. When you pop a bottle open, it will remind you of your many happy summer memories.
Since you’re driving by Lake Michigan Shore, don’t miss out on the fun scene in New Buffalo and St. Joseph, where you’ll often find people engaged in various water sports activities. You should also follow the Red Arrow Highway signs in the town of Bridgeman that provide directions to Weko Beach. It’s a beautiful stretch of soft sand with rolling waves. Take advantage of day passes, or you could book a campsite ahead and spend the night there. It’s worth watching the sunset on this famous beach.
Take the Road Less Traveled: The US 23
Go ahead and chase a beautiful sunrise by taking US 23 from Tawas City to Alpena. This is not as popular as the other routes and is frequently bypassed by road trippers heading north. But this path offers amazing scenery best enjoyed in the early morning so you can catch the sunrise and paint the sky with dazzling rays of gold, orange, yellow, and even pink.
Start in Tawas City and take the M-55 until you reach US 23. This highway goes around the Lake Huron coastline. On the way north to Alpena, it traverses the coastal towns of Harrisville and Oscoda, so you’re bound to see beautiful scenery.
Take advantage of nature’s bounty and prepare a picnic basket so you can enjoy taking a leisurely break at the many scenic stops along the way. And, of course, you should take time to check out the must-see treasures along the way. Don’t forget to pencil the following into your schedule:
- Alpena Waterfront Park: Take time to enjoy Alpena’s waterfront park found along Thunder Bay. It’s easy to spot as it sits adjacent to the marina.
- Harrisville State Park: Enjoy the great outdoors and make a reservation in this popular state park. It allows you to go camping on Lake Huron. Book ahead to grab the best spot.
- Sturgeon Point Lighthouse: This iconic lighthouse is a must-stop when you drive through US 23. It was built in 1870 and held so much history. The beautiful structure has withstood the test of time and exemplifies the resilience of man. It is a classic beacon of hope along Lake Huron.
Go on Relaxing and Slow Drive on the M-22
If you’re looking for a relaxing drive, take the M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort. Begin in beautiful Arcadia, a quaint town perfect for a refreshing swim. After cooling off, head to the port city of Frankfort. Keep an eye out for the scenic turnout just outside called the Inspiration Point. Challenge yourself and climb the steps to see the splendid vistas atop the bluff. You could also grab a Michigan craft beer to quench your thirst. Check out the local Storm Cloud Brewing Company.
It’s an easy drive overlooking panoramic vistas, making this route not just about the destination but also the journey. The route has received a lot of attention because of the beautiful scenery, especially along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, encompassing a 35-mile or 60-km stretch of the coastline. It was established to protect, preserve, and showcase natural features like the:
- Dune formations
- Ancient glacial phenomena
You could also see the Point Betsie Lighthouse when you reach Frankfort. This itinerary is particularly fun with its various activities for every age, from enjoying the sun, sea, and sand at the beach to climbing the dunes. You could also spend some time in the many museums along the way.
Enjoy Breathtaking Scenery on US 2
Take a drive west from St Ignace on US 2 and you won’t get disappointed as you’ll be treated to majestic scenery. Use this highway to get to Manistique. Your itinerary will bring you across the breathtaking Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. Traveling through this bridge is an experience in itself as it holds the tag of being the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It boasts 7,400 feet of roadway hanging in the air over Mackinac straits, thanks to the wonders of engineering.
Along the way, you’ll pass through the famous Mystery Spot. Legend has it that equipment does not work here properly, and staying in this place will elicit unusual sensations beyond what’s natural. If you’re feeling adventurous, join the millions who’ve tried to uncover the mystery by taking guided tours. There are other activities to do, like mini-goals, arcade games, and zip lines.
The M 22 will eventually rejoin the Lake Michigan shoreline. Many travelers and locals make a purposeful stop along the way to enjoy a picnic and swim in the northern Yoop or upper peninsula (UP). Your visit to this area will be incomplete if you don’t try authentic UP pasties. Popular places that sell these delicacies are the “Taste of the The Upper Peninsula” in St Ignace or “Hiawatha Pasties” in Naubinway.
Before you reach St. Ignace, don’t miss the Cut River Bridge Overlook. This scenic turnout gives you wonderful views of Cut River and Lake Michigan. If you’re looking for an adventure, you can follow the trail and it will lead you to the bottom of the valley. Wear comfortable shoes because it’s going to be a challenge hitting the bottom and climbing back around 150 feet to return to your vehicle.
These are just four simple suggestions, but there are many other scenic routes for you to take. Taking a road trip around Michigan certainly gives you many opportunities to bask in the beauty of nature and unique man-made attractions like historical lighthouses. And if you’re a local resident, now is the time to be a tourist in your own state. Explore your own backyard to discover incredible sites and try new experiences. Summer is a season for making memories. Make every second count.