Michigan trip recommendations

Camping in the Midwest, including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin & Kentucky. Also includes Buckeye, Hoosier and BlueGrass Tearjerker chapters

Michigan trip recommendations

Postby deceiver » Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:40 am

Dan from Maine here. The wife and I are going to break in a new cargo conversion a few days after labor day weekend. We've done 46 continental states over the years in a teardrop we recently sold. We're from Maine. Michigan is one state we haven't done. Long ago Michigan Mike indicated it was a good state to do. Being from Maine (rural folk) we tend to frequent national, state, and municipal parks shunning most private camping areas. We're not into cities and malls. We like naturally occurring stuff, hence national parks and monuments. We've seen many of them.

So, the question. I can research till I go blurry. The best advice is from the people who've been there and live there. Our plan is to start from Maine and fairly quickly get over to Michigan via ohio or possibly via buffalo and Canada (see map). We will return through Canada after exiting Michigan in the north. We plan to be out a few weeks. We like to travel instead of camping. We stop a day or two depending on what there is to see there then move on.

I THINK we plan on hugging the eastern side of Michigan. Can't see both borders at once so the east is the logical route.

With this information can you recommend routes/events/sites to see while in Michigan? The route through it isn't cast in stone. We deviate for good reason but would like to do the eastern half of it this time around. Even though we research and collect information at the borders I hate to find out later that we drove right by a major thing we should have seen and never knew about it.

Thanks in advance. If you ever need any Maine advice feel free to ask.
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michigan route.jpg
Planned route beginning and ending in Maine. We'll enter Michigan via either above or below Lake Erie. I've done the lower route before. This line is a general loop. Looking for specific advice.
michigan route.jpg (169.31 KiB) Viewed 1948 times
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby lwc » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:04 am

First off I live just north of Detroit and have lived in Michigan my whole life so here goes:
Looking at your route options both have their advantages. If you are interested in visiting The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village http://www.thehenryford.org/ then I would suggest using your southern route.
Here is a link https://www.midnrreservations.com/ to the Michigan State Park reservation site, after Labor day reservations aren't usually needed especially during the week. There are a few good State parks along the eastern coast there including Harrisville State Park and Hoeft State Park near Rodgers City.
If you are pressed for time, once you are in the U.P. I can suggest the Straits State Park at the foot of the Macinac Bridge, as you travel further north I highly recommend Brimley State Park on Whitefish Bay ( 14 miles west-southwest of Sault Ste. Marie).
Hope this helps a little, enjoy your visit!

Disclaimer: I don't own a teardrop camper but have been an RVer for the past 40 years :)
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby Padilen » Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:11 am

I think you need to hit the west side of the state! Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In the UP as lwc stated White Fish Point but I'll add Tahquamenon Falls. Many many light houses, that you can visit. Hit Paradise there's a little fish shack that has the best white fish dinners.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby DrewsBrews » Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:21 am

A little farther north of the Sleeping bear dunes, in Leland, there is a very neat little historic area called Fishtown. I haven't camped in MI though so I don't know about good camping spots.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby Padilen » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:53 am

OP needs to stay in Michigan awhile and visit all natural area's in our Great State.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby Tomterrific » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:55 am

I also love the Lake Michigan shore. Sleeping Bear south to Ludington, south toHolland/Saugatuck area. Saugatuck is a smaller tourist town with a heavy artist influence. Holland is larger with a great downtown. Thursday, downtown Holland was filled with street performers. I'm very impressed with Michigan as we've had a great time when we camped there.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby VijayGupta » Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:23 pm

One of my children has lived in the UP for the last dozen years. Actually in the Keweanaw Peninsula headed north out of the west end (as I like to say, she lives in the middle of Lake Superior). We get up a couple of times a year. There are many state parks and national parks all across the UP. I think it would fit your bill nicely if you head off west once you cross the Big Mac (Mackinaw Bridge). To put things in perspective, the UP has 1/3 of the land area of Michigan and 3% of the population.

I should add things really slow down after Labor Day. We went up one year in mid-September with plans to stay in Mackinaw City. We found one hotel and one restaurant that had not closed for the season.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby skinnedknuckles » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:55 pm

In the UP Northwest of Sault Ste Marie or the Soo locks is the Tahquamenon Falls state park cool place to campout and 2 decent waterfalls then there is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point where the Edmund Fitzgerald's bell is at. There are also quite a few smaller state forest campgrounds the dot the area. Just remember to keep a clean camp and watch for black bears they always seem a little hungrier this time of year. A number of years ago I was camping in my tent at Carp river campground North of St. Ignace and a bear ventured thru my campsite and only left tracks but a few sites down made a mess of ketchup, mustard and other food items. :shock:

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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby deceiver » Fri Sep 04, 2015 10:42 pm

This is fantastic. I'm looking up all the places people are talking about. Looks like I might do some of both borders at this point.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby TimC » Sat Sep 05, 2015 12:18 am

Sticking with your proposed route I would suggest a visit to the Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie, MI. It is awesome when the big freighters come cruising through. There are a couple of campgrounds just east of the city right on the St. Mary's river and you will be so close to the freighters going up and down the river it will take your breath away.

As you continue south, instead of I-75, take Hwy 129 south from the Soo to the Cedarville and Hessel area. Here you will find the Les Cheneaux Islands of Lake Huron. The area is just beautiful and it may remind you of some New England coastal towns especially if you can hire a boat to give you a sightseeing tour of Marquette Island. There are some gorgeous turn of the last century vacation homes. Some of them have larger boat houses than some peoples homes! East of Cedarville is Detour Village on the eastern tip of the UP. You can take the ferry over and explore Dummond Island. Aldo Leopold's family vacationed on Marquette Island when he was growing up and the family has donated much of the land to a nature conservation organisation to preserve a good portion of the island.

Heading back west, then south to St Ignace, MI you could take in the popular trip to Mackinaw Island via ferry.

As you approach the Mackinaw Bridge there will be many photo opportunities. Some of the best viewing is from just west of St. Ignace on US 2, or, south of the bridge in Mackinaw City. You can also take a ferry to Mackinaw Island from Mac. City.

Leaving Mac. City I would suggest Hwy 23 along the Lake Huron coast. If you are fond of history of lumber mills, just a short drive from Mackinaw City in Hwy 23 is Mill Creek State Park. This is one of my favorite places to see a living history presentation. The story of Old Mill Creek is amazing and the interpreters there are fantastic and sure love their jobs.

There are many sites I have not mentioned. Hopefully others will fill in some of those. I tried to stick with your proposed route, but, the others are right, the west coast of the lower peninsula all the way from Mac. City south is beautiful with many spots to enjoy. The UP is also wonderful. I've lived in Iron Mountain and across the river from IM in Wisconsin for most of my life and still have not seen much of what the UP has to offer. I think it would take many lifetimes to see it all!

I look forward to seeing how your plans and trip turn out.
Last edited by TimC on Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby mikesova » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:35 pm

West side is the best side.
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:54 pm

Camping in Ohio on the way, the south shore of Lake Erie has some very nice state parks. One of Our favorites is East Harbor.
Up in Canada I would strongly suggest detouring west to Lake Superior Provincial Parks Agawa Bay and pay the extra for a lake side site. This is where our kids grew up camping.
These are Agawa Bay
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby booyah » Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:18 am

Along your route I would throw in a few things...

In the UP, take the side trips to tahquamenon falls, and pictured rocks. Do a pictured rocks boat tour. Lovely geoloical attraction. On the way south castle rock is a neat stop, my kids have always loved it.

The bridge, I agree, the park just to the north and west of it is a great picture spot, as is the one south and east.

beyond that, lots of lovely towns, if you fish, the Au Sable is worth visiting, even if you dont, but love nature.

Some neat places by the thumb turnip rock comes to mind

belle isle is lovely down dtown way, but you do have to go through the city to get to it.

I love this state, lots of place to go
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Re: Michigan trip recommendations

Postby skyl4rk » Mon Jun 13, 2016 4:59 pm

I recommend generally following this route:

http://bicycletouringroutes.com/section.php?sectionid=5

It is for bikes but it goes through the nicest area of MI on the backroads. Skip the bike paths!

Most cities along Lake Michigan are worth visiting.

My favorite free boondocking campground in MI:
http://imgur.com/a/tT5Vj
Its here:
https://www.google.com/maps/@44.1036736 ... !1e3?hl=en
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