Across the United States, Michigan is one of the best places to travel with your family because it offers lots of fun attractions, beautiful scenery, and affordable prices. From sandy beaches to quaint themed towns and kid-friendly museums, there are lots of great destinations in Michigan to plan a trip. So, if you’re taking an extended road trip across the country or just looking for a quick Midwest getaway, here are the best family vacations in Michigan.
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Mackinac Island is an all-seasons vacation destination for families with kids because of all the old-fashioned fun that awaits you here. Stay at one of the iconic resorts that offer ice cream socials, lawn games, and carriage rides to get the full experience. Bring your bikes along or rent bikes with your kids to explore the area. This is a place for horses and bikes, not cars. If you have extra time, venture out past the tourist attractions and check out the natural areas at the island’s state park. Fort Mackinac will teach you about the island’s history, while Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor offers sweet treats by the Grand Hotel.
Traverse City is often seen as a romantic destination for couples because of all the great wineries and restaurants. But this is also a family-friendly spot with lovely beaches and active opportunities for hiking and biking. Come to Traverse City for a resort town vibe with lots of options for hotels and camping. It’s known for its cherries, watersport opportunities, lighthouses, and shopping too.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most stunning natural areas in Michigan, a top family-friendly destination along the Lake Superior shore. Here, you and your kids can see colorful sandstone cliffs, peaceful waterways, and either kayak or take a boat cruise on the lake when the weather is warm. There are four-season opportunities to explore here as well and 100 miles of hiking and walking trails. The 10-mile loop hiking trail in Chapel Basin offers the best cliff views from land, and other highlights are Sand Point Beach, Miners Castle, Twelvemile Beach, and the huge dunes at Grand Sable Banks and Dunes. You can camp with your family at the Little Beaver Lake, Hurricane River, or Twelvemile Beach campgrounds.
Near Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, Bay City is a popular weekend destination. This historic waterfront community is full of art and culture as well as water-based activities. Kids will love taking a ride on the cruise boat and walking along the Riverwalk Rail Trail. There’s also the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, the Sunrise Pedal Trolley, and the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center to explore. Other activities to consider are a guided fishing excursion and seeing a show at the State Theatre of Bay City.
Holland is a beautiful city that you and your family will enjoy visiting during the tulip festival in May. During this time of year, there are over 4.5 million tulips in bloom and also parades and kids’ activities. Come here to experience the iconic flowers, windmills, and food of the Netherlands without ever having to leave the Midwest. Nelis’ Dutch Village is a great destination for festival activities and freshly-made authentic foods. You can also check out the nearby lighthouse, parks, and beaches with your little ones on this vacation.
Grand Rapids is a great place to take a vacation regardless of what the weather is outside. This is because there are some great museums to visit with your kids for when beach days and hiking trails aren’t good options. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum has lots of hands-on displays and exhibits, while the nearby Coopersville Farm Museum will teach kids about rural life in Michigan. There’s a large amusement park and water park for kids to get their thrills and also the lovely Millennium Park with its lake and sandy beach. Also check out the Festival of the Arts in June or other local festivals, such as the Grand Jazz Fest, ArtPrize, and the Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival.
We also love Saugatuck for a family-friendly Michigan vacation because of the Chain Ferry that crosses the Kalamazoo River and all the great beaches and parks to explore here. Oval Beach offers great views of the lake and dunes and is a popular local spot. You and your family can also climb Mount Baldhead for views of Oval Beach, spend time at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, and stay at a locally owned B&B in town. The Saugatuck Dune Rides are always a big hit with kids of all ages.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Another beautiful natural place to visit with your kids is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which has towering sand dunes that rise above Lake Michigan. Popular family activities here include swimming, hiking, biking, and camping. The campsites are very affordable, the climbing the sand dunes will give your kids some excellent exercise. This national lakeshore is in a remote part of Michigan so it’s a great place to disconnect from technology and experience the true beauty of nature.
Battle Creek is located where the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek rivers meet and is also a great place for family fun. Bring your kids to the Binder Park Zoo or the Full Blast Water Park in Battle Creek. You can also check out the Dr. John Harvey Kellogg Discovery Center, Fantasy Forest, and Historic Bridge Park. Mill Race Park hosts free and family-friendly movies in the park in the summer to keep everyone in the family entertained.
Frankenmuth is known as ‘Little Bavaria of Michigan’ and like Holland, it really transforms you into a unique cultural scene. The town is full of German charm, with themed shops and delicious authentic foods. Check out the huge Christmas store in town and try to visit during one of the town’s local festivals. Other top things to do on this vacation are the Bavarian Belle paddleboats and eating taffy from the Bavarian Restaurant Inn.