Ope! We Just Discovered 102 Free Things to do in Michigan

Mackinac Bridge Dentler

How to Experience the Mitten State – for Free

There are SO many FREE things to do in Michigan! I know I’m a little biased, but Michigan really is the best. 

For starters, our peninsulas mean we basically have two great states in one. And who else is bordered by four out of the five Great Lakes? Or boasts so many majestic sand dunes and thousand of miles of freshwater shoreline?

things to do in michigan : whitefish point on lake superior
Lake Superior – Whitefish Point

Michigan is overflowing with so many fascinating things–history, nature, invention, art–that you’ll never tire of finding something to do in this great state.

And since we don’t think adventure needs to break the bank, we raised the stakes a little and compiled a list of FREE (or nearly free) things to do in Michigan.  

Detroit Fist Brooks kids Monument to Joe Louis

Whether you are searching for urban adventure, rural vibes or experiences in the great outdoors, you can do that in Michigan, affordably.

All it takes is probably some transportation, a spirit of adventure and snacks. Lots of snacks.

Where Will Your Next Free Michigan Adventure Take You?

We’ve broken the list into sections of the state. After you’ve experienced the free things to do in Michigan near you, venture out to new parts of the state.

And if you find something incredible that’s not on our list, drop us a line. We’d love to share your discovery so others can enjoy it, too!

Free Things to Do in Michigan

Beach hacks header - girl walking to beach (1)
Warren Dunes State Park

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Statewide

1

Drive the Great Lakes Circle Tour


Road trip! Follow the Great Lakes Circle Tour, a scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Pick a portion or enjoy the entire 6,500 miles!

2

Explore a Lighthouse


Visit one of Michigan’s 92 lighthouses. The exterior views are FREE, but admission rates may apply if you want to go inside.

West Michigan Stays Little Sable Lighthouse
Little Sable Point Lighthouse
3

Go Fishing


The Michigan DNR offers Free Fishing Weekends twice each year, once in the winter, and once in the summer.

4

Stop by a Michigan Farmers Market


Okay, so this one isn’t completely free, but buying food is a necessity. Experiencing the signs and scents of Michigan homegrown at a farmer’s market is free, and worth it.

Fulton-Street-Farmers-Market-Hunt
Homegrown produce and other treats await at Michigan farmer’s markets
5

Play a Round of Disc Golf


Play disc golf at one of Michigan’s 400 courses (and counting).

disc golf grand rapids
Disc golf courses are all over Michigan
6

Ride a Bike


Ride your bike on the masses of beautiful Bike Trails Michigan has to offer!

7

Explore a Beach Town


Fly kites, build sandcastles, splash in the water, or take in the wonder of winter water at one of Michigan’s beach towns.

Aloha State Park Beach in cheboygan
Aloha State Park Beach in Cheboygan
8

Go on a Color Tour


Enjoy the dynamic fall colors of a trillion trees by taking a Michigan color tour.

Fall Colors Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours the Famous Toonerville Trolley 3
Witnessing the fall colors at Tahquamenon Falls (and elsewhere) is one of our favorite free things to do in Michigan
9

Try Geocaching


Go on a real-life treasure hunt – try geocaching or letterboxing!

10

Take a Hike


Go hiking! The North Country National Trail connects seven states and is headquartered in Lowell, MI! Don’t miss our list of favorite west Michigan trails.

Buck Creek Nature Trail Wyoming Pearson
Buck Creek Nature Preserve in Wyoming, MI, is one of many hiking trails in Michigan
11

Check out a Michigan Activity Pass


Use your library card to check out a Michigan Activity Pass, good for discounts and FREE passes to cultural attractions across the state! Don’t forget to take advantage of the other amazing programs our library systems have to offer.

12

Visit a Fair or Festival


Visit a local fair or festival. Whether it be music, art, ice, syrup, tulips, chocolate, kites, cherries, or magic, you can find one that suits you in Michigan…and many are FREE!

13

Enjoy a Cheap Movie


Enjoy Celebration Cinema’s Free Kid Flicks – 10 weeks throughout the summer, enjoy FREE admission for kids 12 and under to select movies.

14

Go Bowling or Skating


Go bowling…or roller skating…FREE! Kids Bowl FREE all summer long and Kids Skate FREE all year long at participating alleys and rinks all over the state!

Kids Bowl Free Kid getting bowling ball Lansing
Bowling is a favorite among summertime free things to do in Michigan
15

Build Something


Build something at a Home Depot’s Kids Workshop. The events are FREE, but pre-registration is required (and they fill up fast).

16

Visit a State Park


Purchase a Recreation Passport and receive FREE admission to all state parks, state recreation areas and state boat launches including some gems such as the Warren Dunes State Park, Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Fort Custer State Park, the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site, Fayette Historic Townsite, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, Tahquamenon Falls, Bond Falls or the Porcupine Mountains.

silver lake sand dunes beach lake michigan
Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Grand Rapids

17

Stop by Rosa Parks Circle


Explore Rosa Parks Circle, a public art space in the heart of downtown GR by renowned artist, Maya Lin. Many FREE events and concerts take place here all year long, and (almost FREE) outdoor ice skating is offered in winter months.

18

Go on a Tag Tour


Strap on your walking shoes and go on a Grand Rapids Tag Tour. Want to see more? Download the GR Walks app, and have FREE guided walking tours in the palm of your hand or visit Experience Grand Rapids.

19

Hang Out at Millennium Park


Millennium Park offers nearly 18 miles of paved and natural-surfaced trails, fishing, recreational areas, and great playgrounds. Also available is a great beach and splash pad, paddle boats and more. However please note, unlike the rest of the park, these water-based features of the park are fee-based.

american ninja warrior playground millennium park 1
The ninja warrior playground in Walker, MI
20

Ride the Tire Swing


Take a ride on Motu Viget, a giant tire swing.

21

Visit the GRAM


Visit the World’s first LEED certified art museum, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and enjoy FREE admission all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings.

GRAM-Kids-doing-an-art-puzzle-at-the-Grand-Rapids-Art-Museum
Grand Rapids kids and adults love the Grand Rapids Art Museum
22

Watch the Fish


Visit Fish Ladder Park. Get up close to the Grand River, and watch the fish jump up the ladder in a seasonal migration in the spring and late summer!

23

View the Planes


Watch planes take off and land at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Viewing Area. Take advantage of the newly renovated pavilion with an abundance of picnic tables, and bring a sack lunch

airport observation park grand rapids
Pack a lunch and watch the planes come and go from GRR
24

Spend Time Outdoors


Foster a natural curiosity in your family for the great outdoors by joining one of Calvin Ecosystem Preserve Education Programs for families.

25

Be Awed at ArtPrize


Although season and biennial now, ArtPrize is too good not to include. An international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public vote, it fills the city of Grand Rapids with art and visitors from all over the world. Off years will also feature fun art installments on a smaller scale.

26

Go on a Mural Crawl


Grand Rapids boasts over 100 street murals for all to enjoy. Some by way of ArtPrize, and many more through the Downtown Development Authority’s dedication to supporting the artist community in Grand Rapids.

Murals Feature image EECO X Ave4Art Sneller
EECO X Ave4Art

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Muskegon

27

Hit the Beach


Go to the beach! While there are many options, if you have the Recreation Passport, definitely check out Duck Lake State Park, it’s the perfect size for kids!

best lake michigan beaches - duck lake channel
Duck Lake State Park in Muskegon, MI, is always a popular place
28

Visit a Museum


View an antique collection of fire fighting apparatus at the Fire Barn Museum and take a look inside the Scolnik House, a living museum that highlights the lives of those who lived in Muskegon during the Great Depression. Both of these Lakeshore Museum Center gems have FREE admission!

29

Learn African American History


Explore the important roles African Americans played, that shaped Muskegon County at the  James Jackson Museum of African American History.

30

Watch a Movie on a Ship


Enjoy a movie on the deck of the USS LST 393, a historic warship located in Muskegon. Movies are shown on Friday nights all summer long.

31

Explore the Universe


Explore the universe at the Carr-Fles Planetarium.

Free Things to Do in Michigan: West Coast Lakeshore

32

Ride the Chain Ferry


For just $1 per person (almost free), cross the Kalamazoo River by a hand-cranked Chain Ferry in Saugatuck.

33

Hang Out at the Farm


Keep ‘moo-ving’ up the lakeshore and stop by the Critter Barn, an educational farm that is home to a variety of animals available to watch, interact with and learn from.

Critter Barn Birthday with Chicken
Visit with chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and more at the Critter Barn in Zeeland, MI
34

Visit the Dutch


Visit the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory in Holland and talk with artists as they produce wooden shoes and paint Dutch pottery right in front of your eyes.

35

Be Dazzled by the Musical Fountain


Take in the sights and sounds of the World’s Largest Musical Fountain in Grand Haven. These shows run nightly at sunset each year between Memorial and Labor Day.

Grand Haven musical fountain
The musical fountain in Grand Haven, MI, has different theme nights throughout the summer
36

Get Lost in a Lavender Labyrinth


Wander through a giant lavender labyrinth at the Cherry Point Farm and Market.

37

Meet an Alpaca


Make a new friend at the Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm in Frankfort.

38

Enjoy a Bonfire


Further up the coast, stop by the Leelanau School and pay an (almost free) $1 admission to attend the Beach Bards (community) Bonfire every Friday night in the summer. It kicks off with an 8 PM children’s hour, and continues with storytelling, music and more.

39

Eat All the Cherries


Visit Cherry Republic, at its home base in Glen Arbor or in downtown Traverse City, and enjoy FREE samples of all things cherry.

glen arbor cherry republic
Stop by the Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, MI
40

Watch a Movie


Take in an (almost) free, $0.25 kids matinee, every Saturday at 10 AM (and Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer) at the State Theatre in Downtown Traverse City.

41

Eat All the Chocolate


Tour Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen and enjoy free samples at their headquarters in Petoskey.

42

Visit an Historic Park


Explore the Silver Beach Center in St. Joseph, experience the delightful past of the park that graced the shores of Lake Michigan from 1891-1971. If you’re visiting in the summer, head next door to the Whirlpool Compass Fountain, Michigan’s largest splash-pad!

silver beach st jospeh best beaches in michigan
Silver Beach Fountain in St. Joseph, MI

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Kalamazoo

43

Learn While You Play


The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is a hidden treasure located in Kalamazoo, full of family-friendly exhibits, play areas and demonstrations.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum free things to do in Michigan
There’s so much to do at Kalamazoo Valley Museum
44

Ride a Trolley


If you’re in downtown Kalamazoo during the holiday season, hop aboard the San-Francisco style Holly Jolly Trolley. It runs every Friday-Sunday in December.

45

Visit a Farm


Visit the robotic milking viewing area and Michigan Garden at the Dairy Center Kellogg Biological Station in Gull Lake, or visit MSU’s Farms on campus.

46

Enjoy Nature’s Beauty


Hike the Lillian Anderson Arboretum; 140 acres of marsh, meadow, pine, and deciduous forest in Kalamazoo.

47

View the Cars


Attend a Wednesday Night Cruise-In at the Gilmore Car Museum.

Gilmore Car Museum Cruise In Event free things to do in michigan
Cruise-In Events at Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo, MI, are a fun free thing to do in Michigan
48

Walk the Historic Streets


Take a Walking Tour of Historic Marshall.

49

Stroll More Historic Streets


Explore Historic Charlton Park in Hastings, including 25 historic residences, businesses and community buildings moved from locations throughout Barry County. Have extra time, walk the city, and then cool off in their splash pad.

Charlton Park Kalamazoo free things to do in michigan
Tour historic homes in Charlton Park in Hastings, MI
50

Feed the Fish


Enjoy hatchery tours, trails and fishing programs where all equipment and bait is provided, at the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery in Mattawan. Be sure to stop in the visitor’s center and ask for a FREE feeding token!

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Kalamazoo free things to do in michigan
Take a tour or catch a fish at the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery in Mattawan, MI
51

Learn About Prehistoric City Times


Head south to Niles and visit the Fort St Joseph Museum, featuring exhibits that tell the story of the city from the prehistoric era through the modern business and industrial era.

52

Walk Through a Garden


Take a walk through the Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden in Battle Creek and discover 2,500 marked trees and plants, dozens of gardens and walkways, art and more!

Leila Arboretum Battle Creek free things to do in Michigan
Be surrounded by beauty at Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden in Battle Creek, MI

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Lansing

53

Tour the Capitol


Tour public areas of the State Capitol Building, or learn about Michigan’s judicial branch by checking out the Michigan Supreme Court Learning Center, filled with exhibits, a mock-courtroom, computer programs and more! Visiting on a Sunday? Head to the nearby Michigan History Museum where admission is also FREE!

Michigan-State-Capitol-Building-Tour-girl-outside
Tour the Capitol building in Lansing, MI
54

Soak in the Arts


Head to the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center, a showplace dedicated to promoting the works of Michigan artists.

55

Surround Yourself with Beauty in MSU Gardens


Learn about and enjoy plants in a beautiful setting at the MSU Beal Botanical Gardens, or explore the MSU Children’s Garden. In addition to a large variety of plants, you’ll find compilations of mazes and play structures.

MSU Childrens garden 1 1 1
Cool sculptures are just one of many free things to do at the MSU Children’s Garden in East Lansing
56

Visit MSU


Find a spot on the lawn outside Beaumont Tower, home of the MSU Carillion, and hear one of MSU’s most recognizable sounds in concert form. Weekly performances take place all year long, and concerts are held in July, when the tower also opens for tours and demonstrations.

57

Find Your Inner Artist


Visit the architecturally awesome MSU Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.

Lansing Broad Art Museum
Everyone will love visiting the Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, MI
58

Go for a Hike


Take a hike on over 4 miles of paved, handicapped accessible trails at the Carl G. Fenner Nature Center.

59

Explore the Ledges


Climb the ledges, swing on the playground, watch for a train on the trestle, play a round of disc golf and so much more at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge.

Ledges Park Fitzgerald Park Michigan
Hike through the ledges at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, MI

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Bay Area and the Thumb

60

Live Like a Pioneer


Visit Pioneer Log Village in Bad Axe, the largest collection of authentically restored pioneer log buildings in Michigan, open on Sunday afternoons between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

61

Appreciate Sculptures


Check out a unique, fun collection of over 2,000 works by Marshall M. Fredericks, Detroit-based public sculptor, at his museum in University Center.

62

Celebrate Christmas Any Day


Visit Michigan’s Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth. Be sure to stop in the Visitor’s Center and pick up a Gnome Hunt log, one of the many free things to do in the city. Don’t forget to stop at the world’s largest Christmas Store, Bronners, where it’s Christmas year-round!

free michigan travel : bronners
It’s always Christmas at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI
63

View a Mammoth


Take in larger-than-life exhibits and study mammoth bones unearthed in Huron County, at the Nasr Natural Science Museum.

64

Go on a Trolley Ride


Ride the Blue Water Trolley and get a picturesque tour of Port Huron’s historical sites, including the Blue Water Bridges. The narrated one-hour tour is (almost) FREE at a cost of only 10 cents per person.

65

Visit an Orchard


Have fun on the farm at the Anderson & Girls Orchard in Stanton. In addition to seasonal events, the farm is home to a variety of barnyard animals, ranging from camels to hedgehogs.

66

Be a Good Steward


Enjoy and learn about the environment and how to be responsible stewards of the land, water and air at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland.

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Ann Arbor

67

Find a Fairy Door


Go on a Fairy Door hunt – there are 10 located throughout the city of Ann Arbor.

68

Love Science and Nature


Visit the grounds of the Leslie Science and Nature Center and uncover trails, raptor enclosures and a great critter house where you can observes frogs, turtles, snakes and more.

69

Uncover Habitats 


Uncover a wide variety of habitats, trails, formal gardens, a conservatory and a great Children’s Garden at the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens, or see what’s in bloom at the Nichols Arboretum.

70

Appreciate Art


Stop in The University of Michigan Museum of Art, a small, but architecturally beautiful building that contains the works of Rodin, Picasso, Monet and more!

71

Be an Archaeologist


Enter the ancient world at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, where you’ll find an Egyptian mummy coffin, magical amulets, Greek pottery and more.

72

Watch Vintage Baseball


Watch a vintage Walker Wheels Baseball Game where the players don old-fashion jerseys and play under 1860 rules. The event is FREE, though a Recreational Passport is required to enter the Cambridge Junction Historic Park, where it is played.

73

Learn About Railroads


Learn about the railroads, military and Underground Railroad through photos, documents and more at the Lenawee County Historical Museum and Archives.

74

Tour a Factory


Tour the Jiffy Mix Factory in Chelsea, while sampling products and other refreshments.

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Detroit

75

Appreciate History


Visit the Detroit Historical Museum and take a trip through America’s Motor City, the Underground Railroad, the Kid Rock Music Lab and more!

76

Celebrate Diversity


Open your mind to a world of adversity and achievement at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The second Sunday of each month is FREE.

77

Explore Belle Isle


Take the bridge to Belle Isle and discover 200 acres of woodland, trails, swimming, recreational facilities including the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Belle Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Nature Center and much more! Admission is free to pedestrians, bicyclists and those who take public transportation…but please note, a Recreation Passport is required when accessing the island by vehicle.

Fountain at Belle Isle
Intricate fountains are just part of the beauty at Belle Isle in Detroit, MI
78

Tour Detroit


Pick a Self-Guided Tour of Detroit or a section of the beautifully transformed Detroit Riverfront, and explore.

Detroit lounge seating riverfront
Take in the beauty of the Detroit Riverfront
79

Be Amazed by the Heidelberg Project


Take in an open-air art environment in the heart of an urban community and be amazed – explore The Heidelberg Project.

80

Indulge in Treats


Watch expert candy makers create luscious treats, while you indulge in them, at the Sanders Candy Factory Tour in Clinton Township.

81

Walk a Trail


Take a walk, run, or bike ride along the Dequindre Cut Greenway.  Two miles of trails to explore that used to be a section of the Grand Trunk Railway. Local artists have been known to leave their mark along the greenway since the appropriate graffiti been permitted to stay along the pathway.

Dequindre Cut Greenway Space Rails to Trails family biking
Watch for murals along Dequindre Cut Greenway in Detroit, MI
82

Enjoy Delicious Aromas


Enjoy the sights, sounds, aromas and scenery of Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, or check out its store in the charming Olde World Canterbury Village in Lake Orion.

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan and Mackinac

83

Experience Early Logging Life


Experience life as it was in an early Michigan Logging community, at the Houghton Lake Historical Society, open Fridays and Saturday afternoons from Memorial to Labor Day.

84

Chase Model Trains


The Roscommon Model Train Club opens its doors every Wednesday and Saturday (the one day you can hitch a ride on their oversized model train). Stop in around the holidays and you’ll find a special exhibit featuring the Polar Express and Harry Potter!

85

Make Music


Make music in Cadillac’s Sound Garden, rustic metal sculptures that double as instruments.

86

Visit the Cross in the Woods


Visit the Cross in the Woods National Shrine in Indian River, home to one of the largest crucifixes in the world.

87

Stay Dry While Exploring a Shipwreck


Explore a full-size replica wooden Great Lake schooner and shipwreck, without getting wet at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena.

88

Explore the Galaxy


Witness the galaxy at Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City, open year round every day (and night).

89

Visit the Mighty Mac


Visit our state’s crown jewel and the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world, the ‘Mighty Mac’ and learn all about it at the Mackinac Bridge Museum.

Mackinac Bridge Pearson
Take in the views of the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City, MI
90

Enjoy a Laser Light Show


Enjoy a Laser Light Show at Mackinaw Crossings nightly, all summer long.

91

Be a Lumberman


Learn about the industry that helped develop northern Michigan through hands-on activities, video displays, and trails at the Lumberman’s Monument Visitor Center in Oscoda.

Free Things to Do in Michigan: Upper Peninsula

92

Discover Waterfalls and Incredible Views


Take in the splendor of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger and the numerous waterfalls around it. In winter, head down the road to check out the Eben Ice Caves in Hiawatha National Forest Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area.

pictured rocks upper peninsula boat tour
The best way to see the Pictured Rocks in Munising, MI, is from the water
93

Learn About Mining


Discover Calumet’s beginnings and its explosion into a major copper mining boomtown, by checking out the Calumet Visitor Center, or head west and learn about the state’s iron mining history at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.

94

Hike to Narnia


Take a magical hike through an open forest with fern and wildflower-laden floors as you search for the secret place known to the locals as Narnia.

Your trip starts at the Woollam Nature Preserve.

Eventually, you will weave your way through moss-laden boulders that tower overhead.

Adventurous kids and adults can scramble over these sleeping giants. (And don’t forget to spot the magical lamp post!)

Your hike ends with sweeping views of Lake Huron and more boulders to climb as you watch the waters for freighters in the distance.

Narnia Trail Les Cheneaux Cedarville Hunt
Hike to Narnia at Les Cheneaux in Cedarville, MI
95

Be Brave


Test your bravery as you jump off the Black Rocks at Presque Isle Park in Marquette.

black rocks marquette upper peninsula michigan
Jump off the Black Rocks in Marquette, MI
96

Visit a Refuge


Fish, hike, ski or drive through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge; 95,000 acres of diverse habitats which provide a home to a wide variety of plant and wildlife species.

97

Ride Over a Double Decker Lift Bridge


Ride over the world’s widest and heaviest double-decker vertical lift bridge on Portage Lake.

98

Observe Ships at the Soo Locks


Observe ships at Soo Locks Observation Platform and Visitor Center in Sault Ste. Marie. On the way up, stop by Castle Rock in St Ignace and snap a picture with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. While you’re there, pay the (almost) free $1 fee and climb to the top.

Soo Locks Sault Ste Marie Scripps
Watch the ships at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie, MI
99

Tour a Factory


Take a Stormy Kromer Factory Tour, in Ironwood, home to their signature cap. While in town, learn about it’s history a the Historic Depot Museum.

100

Discover Junk Yard Art


Find a unique collection of ‘Junkyard Art’ at Lakenenland Sculpture Park, near Marquette.

lakenland marquette
Amazing art from “junk” awaits at Lakenland Sculpture Park near Marquette, MI
101

Climb a Mountain


Take in a spectacular sunset view of Pine Mountain, well worth the 500 steep steps it takes to get there, then head to the Millie Mine Bat Viewing Area, and watch as one of the largest bat colonies in North America, depart at dusk.

102

Ride a Self-Operated Raft


Cross Michigan’s largest spring, Kitch-iti-kipi in Manistique, on its self operated observation raft.

the big spring kitchitikipi
Ride a glass bottom raft on Kitch-iti-kipi in Manistique, MI

Have something to add to this list? Let us know in the comments so our readers can check it out, too!

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162 thoughts on “Ope! We Just Discovered 102 Free Things to do in Michigan”

  1. This seems to be a great place for spending holidays and fun. Waiting for weekends so I can enjoy with my family and must visit this place.

  2. Just came across this list for the first time through Google and I love it! Thanks for compiling it. For the sake of participating in commenting, I’ll throw in a childhood favorite of mine (it’s still around) in Lake Orion/Orion Township – Canterbury Village. There’s a lot of shopping, so technically not “free” in that sense. But we always just liked to walk around the grounds and play on the giant rock.

    (And I’m now dying to go to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, whether or not I can get a kid to go with me! 😉 )

  3. I love the list each year….but do not understand for a moment the wonderful places in the the Flint area that are always left from the list.

  4. I recommend the Henry Ford Museum, also Greenfield Village both are in Detroit. don’t forget the Detroit Zoo either. Another recommendation is in Manistee, MI, two beautiful beaches, Ramsdell Theater Opera House, as a child I loved going to the Wednesday afternoon shows for children. I have lived in Arizona for a good number of years, the above places I love to spend time at when I’m in Michigan.

  5. Sandra E. Kennedy

    I recommend adding The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI, to your list of vacationing, sight-seeing, and/or things to do in Michigan. It is also extremely educational, interesting, and fun. I have been there three times and there is always something new to see and learn. It also has a fantastic gift shop.

  6. In central Michigan, on M-66, just north of Stanton, is a place called Anderson’s Orchard. They have an amazing zoo! It started off with goats and other petting zoo type animals. Now there are camels, zebras, marmosets, sloths, lemurs, kangaroos, wallabies, prairie dogs, an arctic Fox, a giant tortoise, several tropical birds, including a room where parakeets fly freely and will land on you, pigs, sheep, rabbits, and more!

  7. Lansing has a Planet Walk – replica of solar system, 2 mile walk starting at Impression 5 Museum and ending at Potter Park Zoo. Not something to cause a trip, but a great free add-on to something you have going on!

  8. There is a raft you can ride on in the upper peninsula which is called Big Springs(Kitchi-Kitipi). You ride across the water on a raft which is above 3 freshwater springs located 7 miles west of Manistique, Mi. A great place to take your kids. The water is stocked with some of the biggest trout and salmon in the state. And the water is crystal clear.

    1. Hi Eva! On the front page of what? I’m not sure what page you’re referencing. If you can point me to the URL you’re interested in, we can get you an answer. Thanks!

  9. Jessica Yenchar

    Jiffy baking co. factory tour in Chelsea (near Ann Arbor) is free. They also give you a goodie bag.

  10. Although I hate to encourage more public attendance (it is such a peaceful place I want to keep it all to myself!), anyone who loves the outdoors will enjoy Shiawassee Natural Wildlife Refuge and many similar state game areas.and area metro-parks.

  11. Although its not Free, its very cheap, but Tawas City has a Zoo. They have a lion named Damba, 2 bears, a coyote, 2 wolves, a bob cat, and farm animals. Last time i was there its $5 for and under 3 was free. Also In Hale there is the Bear Store, they have a bear named Sophie, 2 peruvian Cavy’s, a wallaby, rabbits, horses and 2 fox. Also in Tawas is Lumbermans Monument and Iargo Springs

  12. Jessica Marienthal

    There’s also The Cross In The Woods in Indian River. It’s very beautiful there and one of my favorite places. And it’s free!

  13. Take time to drive up to copper harbor, at the top of the Keweenaw. Brockway mountain drive is only one of the breath taking sights to be enjoyed along the way. Many waterfalls, light houses, and gorgeous sunsets from the west shore drive. All easily accessed from, or within a short walk, of your car. Check out the web sites numbered map. So many attractions to choose from. You won’t be disappointed. http://www.keweenaw.info/attractions-7/

  14. Wow – this list is Fantastic! Thank you and I also admire your wannabe list…I too have those same interests. Extra tidbit for #70 – Frankenmuth. Stop in the Visitor Center on Main Street, and pick up a “map” that gives all the participating shops in the hunt for “Gnomes.” The kids love the game as do the workers when they get to help locate it within their establishment. There was no purchase required, and this “event” is year round. Great fun for the kids and parents, while exploring all of Frankenmuth. 🙂

  15. FREE – chocolate/candy/history tour at main Kilwins headquarters in Petoskey, MI… with a free sample at the end!

  16. Great list! Up past Marquette there is a great view of Lake Superior from high up Sugar Loaf Mountain. There are stairs (and resting benches! ) for easy access.

  17. Everything at your local library is FREE! Books, movies, storytimes, special events, concerts, parties, summer reading, etc. Libraries often have FREE tickets to community events, too! Be sure to check out your library this summer.

  18. Constance Waid

    Grand Rapids: Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Check out the Children’s Garden, The Farm Garden, etc….

  19. Love this article! Love Michigan! One question – where are the water slides that show up as the picture? I’m dying for some water slide fun! Thank you so much for posting!

  20. Touted as the “world’s largest gemstone”, few people are familiar with Jasper Knob in (almost) downtown Ishpeming (Yooper-Land). This is a must-see for budding geologists. It is private land (Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company) but it is publicly accessible — read the supplied link.
    http://dayoopers.com/jasp2.html

    1. Deb,
      Thank you for asking! We’d love for you to share this with your friends! You can share on facebook by clicking the facebook link above, or tweet by pressing on the twitter link. If you click on the plus sign you’ll get a list of dozens of other social media platforms you can use to share this post. You can also copy this link http://grkids.com/101-free-things-to-do-with-kids-in-michigan/ and email it to your friends. We’ve also made available to you a printable version: http://grkids.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2015/01/101-Things-to-Do-in-Michigan-with-Kids-Printable.pdf Thank you for visiting grkids.com!

      -Betsy

  21. we are Ruby Campground and we have a lot to offer but not only what we offer we are close to Port Huron where there is rails-to-trails walk ride your bike or horse trails to Avoca. The Blue Water Bridge goes over to Sarnia, beautiful blue waters beautiful beaches and close to the casinos.

  22. Martine Payment

    In mackinaw city. Where you can ferry to the island there is also a nightly light show on the walls of the mall on the water. I believe its just weekends but a very good tourism spot for a road trip andsome of the best eats you will find. You can also go to the black bear safe haven in Paradise and see black bears close up. I dont remember the name of the conservatory but its gorgeous and when we went a few years ago we got to pet a cub named Molly. She was a sweetie.

  23. One more thing to add to Traverse City…..we have an observatory with high power telescopes looking into space. They have a list of viewing nights to show what will be visible each month. It is only open when something is worth of viewing but I believe it’s free. Check out their list online Traverse city observatory schedule. The kids will love it!!!

  24. Jodi VanderKooi

    There is also Whitefish Point in the UP. They have a ship wreck museum and lighthouse and one of the best beaches to walk and find beautiful rocks to collect.

    1. Whitefish Point is beautiful and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is amazing, but the museum is not free – actually pretty pricey.

  25. If your kids are the gamer types in the SE/Ann Arbor area, U of M’s North Campus Library (2281 Bonisteel Blvd) has, in its basement, the Computer and Video Game Archive, a “Library” of hundreds upon hundreds of video games from every era including the newest systems and the oldest, free to play on site, and fully open to the public. Summer hours are weekdays noon to seven.

  26. There is WAY more free stuff to do in Southwest Michigan – check out the visitor bureau sites,
    battlecreekvisitors.org

    Just one example, the World’s Largest Breakfast Table in the Cereal City, Battle Creek MI. This year is June 13th!

    1. Hi Christy,
      There are many awesome free events…it was hard to pick 101! We did try to limit them to things that were at least seasonal or year-round, eliminating many 1-day events…but thanks for sharing! 😀
      Stephanie

  27. Thanks for the great list. Michigan is great place. Lived here all of my 64yrs but 1. How can I get a printed list. Thought the Grandkids could mark things off. Thanks for caring about MI and it’s people. Especially the little ones.

  28. Hi Stephanie – a quick update to #49: could you change it to “hike the Lillian Anderson Arboretum?” Bikes are not allowed to help minimize trail damage/erosion. Thanks!!