19 Magical Michigan Summer Vacation Destinations

Michigan Summer Vacations are Gorgeous

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 19 iconic Michigan vacation spots for families to try this summer.

Let’s imagine, explore & discover – together!

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

Michigan Summer Vacations on the Lake

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, Michigan

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 Grand Traverse Commons, too, if you get a chance.

traverse city, michigan

Manistee, Michigan

Manistee is where you should head if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path hidden gem as one of your Michigan vacation spots this summer!

Rich with lumber baron turn-of-the-century architecture, this little town is a fantastic mix of old a new. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, beach and boating opportunities abound, as do the outdoor activities.

Drive through the tunnel of trees, hike the Arcadia Marsh boardwalk, stay in the historic Portage Point Inn, hug a giant sequoia tree – it doesn’t get much better than this!

Manistee, michigan

Charlevoix, Michigan

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.

Charlevoix, michigan

Torch Lake, Michigan

Dip your toes into Torch Lake just once and you’ll be clamoring for more.

Torch Lake is one of the best vacation spots in Michigan and 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.

Torch Lake, michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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.

Sleeping bear Dunes

Petoskey, Michigan

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.

Petoskey, Michigan

Silver Lake Sand 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.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes

Michigan Summer Vacations in Vibrant Cities

Michigan’s cities all have such a distinct vibe that you could visit them all and not repeat any activities.

You could spend days exploring Detroit and immersing yourself in incredible culture and history. Grand Rapids is known for tons of family friendly activities. Ann Arbor is college town supreme (with an artistic edge). Frankenmuth is the epitome of tourist town (plush an amazing waterpark). Lansing has a powerhouse punch of being our state capitol and having the best college town right next door.

So it’s not a question of whether you vacation to one of these cities – it’s just a matter of deciding which one!

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit is massive and loaded with things to do. And it’s not all urban! You can rent bikes and ride the rails-to-trails project, the Dequindre Cut. You can kayak Detroit canals. You can stroll the riverwalk and so much more.

And for urban fun, there are a lot of options, Catch a show. Catch a ball game. Go to the zoo. Eat incredible food. Find amazing murals. Explore historic buildings or get cultured at the DIA. Enjoy the city life – Detroit has it all.

Detroit, Michigan

Belle Isle, Michigan

While Belle Isle could be considered part of Detroit, this historic state park is a destination in itself.

There’s an aquarium, conservatory and nature center. And with seven miles of shoreline, three lakes and a lagoon, it’s not hard to become mesmerized by this botanical wonderland.

Belle Isle, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids is the big city within an hour of Lake Michigan’s majestic shoreline.

Visit world-renowned Frederik Meijer Gardens, get hands-on at John Ball Zoo, or explore any one of GR’s fun outdoor attractions.

And of course, while you’re here, hit up a brewery or taphouse or two. Many are very family friendly.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Lansing, Michigan

Our state capitol and home to nearby Michigan State University, Lansing has cultural and outdoor experiences for all.

Try a museum (Impression 5 Science Center, MSU Museum, Broad Art Museum Michigan History Center) or Potter Park Zoo.

Get outdoors at Rotary park downtown, Hawk Island or the Children’s Garden at MSU. Ride bikes on the River Trail or explore Old Town or REO Town.

And of course there’s the Capitol building – walk the grounds outside or take a tour.

Lansing, Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Another college town, Ann Arbor is Michigan’s funky, come-as-you are, arts and culture hotspot.

There is a lot of interesting shopping, outdoor rec, and of course the grounds of the University of Michigan.

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 & Nichols Arboretum.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Did you know that Michigan’s Little Bavaria is home to a huge Splash Village with 3 water parks?

Yeah, it’s more than just the town with the world’s largest Christmas store, famous chicken dinners and German charm.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Michigan Summer Vacations Include Amusement Parks

What’s summer without climbing into the clouds on a rollercoaster and then feeling your stomach drop as you fly down? Joyful screams, sunscreen and lots of smiles are a recipe for a blissful Michigan summer vacation. Find it at the amusement park.

Michigan’s Adventure

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!

Michigan’s Adventure

Resorts that Make the Best Michigan Summer Vacations

A vacation where you don’t have to make a lot of decisions is worth its weight in gold. Resorts offer everything you’d need in one place with a wide array of activities to try.

Crystal Mountain Resort

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 an adventure in summer. There’s a climbing wall, zip-line, and technical bike tracks. (Oh, and laser tag, paintball, archery…)

Crystal Mountain Resort

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Old-school, classic, throwback, timeless.

These could all be used to describe the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island. As Michiganders we’re all accustomed to the unique qualities of the Grand Hotel and the island. 

This is an amazing place and a Michigan summer vacation treasure!

Grand Hotel

Portage Point Resort, Onekama, Michigan

A hundred years ago, you’d likely need to take a Lake Michigan steamship to get to Portage Point Resort, just north of Manistee, MI.

Today, you’re more apt to drive the family minivan up to M-22 and out to Portage Point to get here.

When you do arrive, you’ll be in the spot where the Inn has sat for more than a century, staking its claim on the peninsula between Portage Lake and Lake Michigan.

Portage Point Resort

Upper Peninsula Michigan Summer Vacation Destinations

The great wilderness across the Mackinac Bridge is ripe for exploration. Find incredible waterfalls and the breathtaking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The U.P. even has mountains to the west and shoreline on three of the Great Lakes. For outdoor adventurers, the U.P. can’t be beat.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

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.

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.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan

This Upper Peninsula adventure took us to Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon Falls, Marquette, and more.

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.

Waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula

michigan summer vacation on the beach
A Michigan summer vacation on the lake can’t be beat.

More to Explore

About The Author

30 thoughts on “19 Magical Michigan Summer Vacation Destinations”

  1. Erica Vander Meer

    We’ve never been to Torch Lake and would love to check it out! My kids are water bugs!

  2. We would definitely head to a few of the up north beach towns- manistee, Charlevoix, traverse city. We love lake mi beaches!!

  3. Portage Point on Onekama looks amazing!! Would travel to UP for ALL the sights there. We love Munising and Marquette!

  4. I would choose either Sleeping Bear Dunes or Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum.

  5. We have been wanting to check out Crystal Mountain Resort and the fun activities they have

  6. There are so many fun places listed on here. I would love to take my family to Munising, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Torch Lake, and I’m sure there is more.

  7. I went to Mackinac Island as a kid but we’ve never been as a family, that would be fun!

  8. Jennifer Johnson

    We’d go to Michigan’s Adventure and I’d like to take a trip to Charlavoix.

  9. We would probably do Sleeping Bear Dunes, or the Detroit Zoo as both are on the summer bucket list!

Comments are closed.