14 Magical Michigan Summer Vacation Destinations for Your Family

michigan summer vacation

Michigan is the Champion of Gorgeous, Summer Adventure

Michigan summer is here! Time to enjoy the Mitten state with all its lakes and beaches and beauty. Hoping to get away with your family? We have everything you need to decide where your next Michigan summer vacation should be!

Our team traveled the state and found 14 iconic Michigan summer vacation ideas for families.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend trip or a longer vacation in our great state, these ideas are sure to spark your adventurous spirit.


Air Zoo

Families can now explore the history and innovation of flight, space exploration, and out-of-this-world STEAM education programming together with an onsite visit to the recently re-opened Air Zoo. Or explore from the comfort and safety of their own home through the Air Zoo’s Launchpad to Learning center.

Let’s imagine, explore & discover – together!

Air Zoo logo fall 2020

6151 Portage Rd
Portage, MI, 49002




Michigan summer vacations on the lakeshore hold a special place in the hearts of many mitten dwellers. It’s easy to understand why – the beauty of waves lapping on the shore mixed with the fun of lake recreation – it’s a wonderful vacation combination.

Your biggest trouble might just be which lake destination to choose for your next vacation.

Traverse City delivers when it comes to beaches, fruit, festivals, you name it, it’s probably happening in Traverse City in the summer. Options abound when you visit this bustling resort town in the summer. Clinch Park Beach offers a splash pad, beach, and lots of treats and is just across the street from downtown restaurants. Lots of hotel and camping options, plus a ton of outdoor activities, make Traverse City a favorite Michigan summer vacation destination.

Explore the Traverse City Commons, too, if you get a chance.

michigan summer vacation - traverse city commons

Charlevoix is a hit with kids and adults, too. This small resort town turns into a summer fun hub during July and August when boating and beach visits ramp up. If you’re looking for small-town charm with a side of interesting architecture (Charlevoix is home to the famous mushroom houses) put this town on your list. They have a fantastic library (outdoor hands-on music garden) and a splash pad at the marina, too.

michigan summer vacation - charlevoix mushroom houses

Dip your toes into Torch Lake just once and you’ll be clamoring for more. Torch Lake is an amazing place to see.  To understand the depths of its beauty and appreciate the deep aqua and turquoise colors throughout this lake, you really have to take it in with your own eyes.

Look out over Sleeping Bear Dunes by day, or visit when the night stars shine so brightly, to get a new appreciation for nature. The stars seem to pop out at you in this remote part of Michigan! Climb the dunes to the lookout point with your family and be rewarded with views of Lake Michigan and Glen Lake. There’s an opportunity for biking, tubing, kayaking, and much more here, too.

michigan summer vacation - sleeping bear dunes

Silver Lake Sand Dunes were made for zooming. Even the most energetic kids will be wowed with over 2,000 acres of sand dunes, located just a mile from Lake Michigan. There is even so much more to see and do besides a visit to the dunes.

Petoskey is a true northern Michigan town with all of the outdoor adventures, lakes, and beaches to prove it. Bike for miles on the beautiful pathways, explore farms and vineyards and take in the cute downtown on your visit.

michigan summer vacation - petoskey

Take a look at the in-depth destination profiles on these destinations to learn more about family-favorite lake vacations in Michigan.


See What’s Hot in Detroit

We rented bikes (wish we would have thought to bring our own) and spent hours cruising along the riverwalk and around the city. They have a new rails-to-trails project that cuts through the city, the Dequindre Cut. You’ll like it because of the graffiti art, it’s below street level, and it takes you out to the Eastern Market.

michigan summer vacation - detroit

Watch the Polar Bears at the Detroit Zoo

I loved seeing the polar bear through the tunnel! He sat on top of us! It was so hilarious! – young Olivia

Belle Isle – One of Michigan’s Best Kept Secrets

michigan summer vacation - belle isle

Lansing is So Close and So Fun!

Want a quick trip? Head to Lansing and see what’s happening there! There’s so much to explore in Lansing, you and your family could be busy for days!

michigan summer vacation - lansing

Visit the Dinosaurs at Ann Arbor Museums

We were delighted in the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum and U of M Museum of Natural History and wished there was enough time for The Petting Farm and the Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

A Frankenmuth Family Vacation is Picture Perfect

Did you know that Michigan’s Little Bavaria is home to a huge Splash Village? Yeah, it’s more than just the town with the world’s largest Christmas store, famous chicken dinners and German charm.

Frankenmuth family vacation


Ride the Michigan Coasters

There truly is something for everyone at Michigan’s Adventure, from babies to grandmas and from wimps to daredevils. Offering roller coasters and a waterpark, it’s two parks in one!


Hit That Ski Resort – in Summer!

Crystal Mountain trades the skis for pool life every summer, and they really know how to cater to families. Watch a sunset from atop the mountain, fly downhill on a curved sled track (think luge), or relax by the pool.

And don’t worry – Crystal Mountain knows their snow bunnies still like adventure in summer. There’s a climbing wall, zip-line and technical bike tracks. (Oh, and laser tag, paintball, archery…)

Crystal Mountain Adventure Course 3 Scripps

Mackinac Island is Amazing

It’s a Michigan summer vacation like no other. In a motor city state, vacationing on an island with no cars is pretty unique!

Explore the island for a day on bikes (either bring your own bikes on the ferry, or rent once you’re on the island). Visit Fort Mackinac, the butterfly conservatory, and take your pic at Arch Rock. And of course, it’s a tourist’s responsibility to buy all the fudge.

Want more time? Book a few overnights at the majestic Grand Hotel. Many families opt for the Grand Hotel route. The Grand Hotel offers plenty of vacation fun on its own, from yard games to foot golf to free snow cones.  And the five course dinners are the stuff legends are made of.

Grand Hotel flowers tulips Kamphuis Mackinac Island


Bike Around Mackinac Island

Cut your ties to technology with a trip to Mackinac Island. Show your kids how to have fun without tablets and smartphones as you bike around the island, relax with a (paperbound) book, and pet a horse or two.

Many people do not realize that over 80% of Mackinac Island is a Michigan State Park.  If you venture further than main street, you are apt to find yourself in a state park ripe for exploring.

Experience the Grand Hotel

Chase Waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula

We saw such a small portion of the U.P. but had a memorable time. Our kids have talked about our trip all year and can’t wait to go back again.

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