Sights worth stopping for
As the only state with two peninsulas, Michigan has plenty of highways to explore, from way up in the Upper Peninsula to the very bottom of the mitten (the Lower Peninsula, of course). Getting off the highway, however, is how you see some of the state’s best roadside attractions.
Attractions don’t get more "roadside" than this one. In fact, you don’t even have to get off the road to see this giant tire because it’s clearly visible from I-94. The tire was once a Ferris wheel at the New York World’s Fair and moved to Michigan soon after. It’s not technically a tourist attraction because it’s on private land, but the view from the road makes it impossible to miss.
Take a tour of the mystery spot, play some miniature golf or check out the zip line at this Upper Peninsula attraction. What, exactly, is the mystery spot? Rumor has it that it might have something to do with gravity or optical illusions, but you’ll have to take the tour to find out. Kids are especially enthralled here.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a reproduction of an 8-foot long Brontosaurus, this is the place. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, this 25-acre attraction offers dinosaur lovers a life-sized taste of prehistoric times.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour to discover the two dozen dinosaurs around the property; most sculpted by hand and dating from 1935 to 1967. Dinosaur Gardens offers even more fun, like any good roadside attraction; there’s dinosaur-themed miniature golf, a fossil dig and frozen yogurt available for purchase.
Sure, you’ve heard of Christmas in July, but what about Christmas in April? September? February? Michiganders know it’s Christmas in Frankenmuth no matter the month thanks to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.
Open year-round (361 days a year, to be precise), Bronner’s sells every type of indoor and outdoor Christmas décor you could imagine and is bound to get you in the Christmas spirit even in the middle of summer.
Most tourist traps try to be tricky about what they actually are – not this one. Da Yoopers Tourist Trap couldn’t be clearer. It’s a tourist trap. And yet, people love the huge selection of souvenirs and Yooper sense of humor on display. Before you go, you should know that a "Yooper" is someone from the state’s Upper Peninsula, also known as the U.P.
So far off the beaten path that it’s practically in Canada, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum pays homage to shipwrecks that have happened in the Great Lakes – and those who have lost their lives there. The museum houses artifacts from many shipwrecks, including the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975 with a crew of 29 aboard.
Visitors can climb the Whitefish Point Light Tower and, on a clear day, see to Canada. Listed as a historic site on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is open May 1 until October 31.
Since 1962, Grand Haven visitors have been gathering for this spectacular water and light show that’s synchronized with music. It was the largest musical fountain in the world until it was upstaged in 1998 by the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. Fountain shows run nightly from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and weekends in May and September.
The mysteries and myths of magic help make the American Museum of Magic a place of intrigue. You’ll find a variety of artifacts here, with items from both Michigan magicians and more well-known magicians like Harry Houdini.
There are regular magic shows, of course, as well as special magic-themed events, like "Become a Magician Day" where kids can learn a magic trick and perform it on a stage.
If you’ve ever wanted to get married in Hell, have ice cream in Hell or see snow in Hell, this community can help. Grab some grub at the Hell Hole Diner, get a drink at the Hell Saloon or take a taste of the Gravedigger Sundae at Screams.
You can even be mayor for a day and get a badge, coffee mug, some dirt from Hell and other items – if you pay for the privilege, of course.
Sometimes the best things come in really, really small packages. Case in point: The Midwest Miniatures Museum has tiny replicas of houses, trees, businesses and more. Every piece has small details that require you to look closely to spot.
If you want your very own miniature to take home, consider one of the do-it-yourself classes, where you can purchase a miniature kit and learn the intricacies of these small art pieces from an instructor.