Skip to Content

Michigan Summer 2023: Ultimate Guide

Arch Rock- michigan summer things to do
Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Discover 30 Best Things to Do in Michigan in Summer 2023

There is magic to be found in a Michigan summer.

The list of things to do in Michigan in summer is endless, so I’ve created a summer vacation bucket list filled with pure Michigan fun.

Summer in Michigan means cool blue water for swimming and boating, endless miles of trails for hiking, and tons of Michigan beaches for exploring.

If you made it through winter in Michigan, you deserve to experience the beautiful warmth of summer! From splash pads to farmers markets, from county fairs to hot air balloon festivals, there are tons of fun activities to add to your ultimate Michigan bucket list of summer activities.

Here are 30 of the best things to do in Michigan in summer.

things to do in michigan in summer

Have a Michigan Beach Day

There’s no better way to spend a hot summer day than on the shores of the Great Lakes or a crystal-clear inland lake (I’m looking at you, Torch Lake).

Lay out a towel and relax on the soft sandy beaches or explore the rocky shores. A dip in the unsalted and shark-free waters of Michigan will leave you feeling refreshed.

The coasts of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie all vary, so be sure to use our Michigan beach guide. Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin and McCarty’s Cove in Marquette are three of my favorite Great Lakes beaches.

Don’t forget to explore Michigan’s inland lakes, too. Some of my favorites include Gull Lake in southwest Michigan, Glen Lake in Glen Arbor, Houghton Lake, Black Lake in Cheboygan, and Lake Michigamme near Marquette.

sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore

Scale the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the most iconic places in Michigan, and there’s no better time to visit than summertime. Try the Dune Climb and climb up rolling hills of sand with dunes that tower hundreds of feet above Lake Michigan. It is a challenge, but the view from the top is well worth it.

Explore the national lakeshore to find hiking and biking trails, scenic drives, and a restored Port Village. You’ll also find crystal-clear lakes and rivers for splashing and paddling.

Northern Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes mean summer fun for travelers from across the country, and this should be at the top of your Michigan summer bucket list.

Identify Great Lakes Shipwrecks

Beneath the surface of glimmering water thousands of perfectly preserved shipwrecks can be found in the Great Lakes.

Glass-bottom boat tours showing nearby shipwrecks are available in a few different locations. Try a tour in Munising to see a couple of wrecks in Lake Superior, near Pictured Rocks, or head to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron for a great view of shipwrecks in the lower peninsula.

Alpena’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is a fun museum for kids of all ages to learn about Michigan’s treacherous shipping history. Those braves enough can even dive select wrecks for a more personal approach. If that still doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise.

ultimate guide to the best traverse city wineries

Tour Michigan Wine Country

For wine lovers, there’s no better summer getaway than Michigan’s wine country. Head to northwest Michigan, where the latitude and coastal climate fosters the perfect grape-growing conditions.

Start in Traverse City and visit Chateau Chantal, then work your way up Old Mission Peninsula with amazing wineries like Black Star Farms, Peninsula Cellars, 2 Lads Winery and more.

Southwest Michigan’s Harbor Country offers the Lake Michigan Shore Wine trail, where you’ll find standouts like the Lemon Creek Winery, Dablon Vineyards, Tabor Hill, and many more.

Wish on Shooting Stars at Headlands International Dark Sky Park

There’s no better place to stare into space than Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Despite being located just a few minutes west of one of Michigan’s tourist hotspots, Mackinaw City the stars at Headlands shine like no other.

Wilderness State Park, another designated dark sky park, is just a few miles west. It’s the perfect place to spend an evening if you want to escape the summer crowds in Mackinaw City or on Mackinac Island. Who knows, you might get lucky and see the Northern Lights.

15 Amazing Indoor Water parks in Michigand plus Michigan Outdoor Waterparks, too

Hit A Michigan Water Park

Michigan summer vacations aren’t over until you’ve visited one of the 15 amazing water parks throughout the state. Water parks offer fun for the whole family and Michigan has plenty to choose from.

From Zehnder’s Splash Village to the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, water park hotels all across the state are ready to provide family fun and quality lodging. Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon also has a massive outdoor water park, perfect for older children, teens, and adults.

Ride Roller Coasters at Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon MI

Michigan’s Adventure is the largest amusement park in the state. Located on Michigan’s scenic west coast in Muskegon, it makes for the perfect day trip for people of all ages. Race down wooden coasters like Shivering Timbers and Wolverine Wildcat. You can also twist and turn on steel coasters like Thunderhawk and Corkscrew.

mackinac island- things to do in michigan summer

Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride Around Mackinac Island Michigan

Mackinac Island is a premier summer destination for visitors from around the world. From the charming Victorian Main Street, lined with B&Bs and fudge shops to the wild wooded trails, perfect for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, there’s always more to do on Mackinac Island.

Visiting Mackinac Island is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Fort Mackinac, park of Mackinac Island State Park is one of my favorite things to explore when I visit. Be sure to catch a glimpse of Arch Rocks’ stunning natural beauty, too.

lake michigan lighthouses

Photograph a Michigan Lighthouse

With more lighthouses than in any other state, there are endless opportunities to snap a gorgeous picture.

The towering, pink Little Sable Point Lighthouse near Silver Lake Sand Dunes in west Michigan is exceptionally picturesque. It’s hard to take a bad picture there. The Tawas Point Lighthouse in northeast Michigan has a unique, Cape Cod feel. The Marquette Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Superior is dramatically beautiful, too.

Hunt for Unique Michigan Stones and Agates

Thanks to the Great Lakes and their unique geological history, some of the most fascinating rocks wash up on Michigan Shores. Head west to Lake Michigan to find the state rock, the Petoskey stone, or its cousin the Charlevoix stone.

Way up north on the shores of Lake Superior you can find Yooperlite and Lake Superior Agate. Even if you don’t find these stones, taking some time out of a trip to go rock hunting on the beach will surely result in some neat finds.

Drink a Michigan Craft Beer in Grand Rapids MI, aka “Beer City”

Grand Rapids is “Beer City, USA,” and for good reason. Home to dozens of breweries, including beloved Founders Brewing Co., GR is a beer-lovers paradise.

There’s nothing quite like a cold beer on a hot summer day and in Grand Rapids, there is no shortage of Michigan-made craft beer to try. Book a brewery tour to learn how beers are made or spend an evening hopping from brewery to brewery for the opportunity to try more varieties. You can use our Michigan guide to craft breweries to help plan your visit.

PRO-TIP: Plan time to explore the Grand Rapids area. The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and the nature centers at Millenium Park are highlights, as is the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.

fish - things to do in michigan in summer

Go Fishing in A Michigan Lake

In Michigan, the great outdoors are well-loved, and fishing is a favorite pastime for many people. Whether you book a charter and head out onto the Great Lakes or prefer to stay inland fishing in smaller lakes and rivers, there are plenty of sport fishing opportunities across the state.

Depending on the season and location, you could catch walleye, salmon, trout, pike, muskie, perch, and more.

Road Trip the West Michigan Pike

Designed with tourism in mind, the West Michigan Pike has been guiding beachgoers along the Lake Michigan shoreline since 1911. Winding along the shore from New Buffalo to Ludington, this scenic route is full of adventure.

Following the West Michigan Pike makes for the perfect little summer road trip with 200 miles of sandy beaches, with great stopping opportunities, including amusement parks, historic sites, festivals, and beautiful beach towns like St. Joseph, South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland, and Grand Haven.

15 Best Upper Peninsula Campgrounds

Do Some Michigan Camping

Getting out into nature to fully enjoy the warm weather is what summer in Michigan is all about. As the weather gets hotter, campsites get crowded, especially up north. Many head to the northern Lower Peninsula or even to the Upper Peninsula to escape into the forests with family or friends. Something about a night around the campfire with your favorite people as the stars twinkle overhead is just quintessentially Michigan summer.

Visit Belle Isle in Detroit Michigan

For those in southeast Michigan, a day out in nature can be found in downtown Detroit. Belle Isle is a small island in the Detroit River, situated between Detroit in the US and Windsor in Canada. Here, grass covers the ground, and trees tower overhead.

Beyond it’s natural landscape, there are things to see and do, including an aquarium, conservatory. It’s the perfect escape from the concrete jungle for a warm summer day without actually having to leave the city.
Belle Isle Park’s views of the Detroit skyline are hard to beat.

Hike a Michigan State Park

Consistently some of the best in the nation, Michigan state parks are massively popular, especially during summer. There’s plenty of room to set up a camp and more than enough trails to hike and explore.

Each state park will provide a new and unique experience. Do your research to find what suits you and your favorite activities best, whether that means hiking in the vast wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in places like Porcupine Mountain State Park or Tahquamenon Falls State Park or sticking to the lower peninsula’s charming settings like Maybury State Park or Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

best things to do in traverse city

Celebrate the Traverse City Cherry Festival

Michigan is a massive cherry producer, contributing about 74% of tart cherries grown in the United States. We owe much of that number to the Traverse City area, our own cherry capital. Each July, Traverse City celebrates its cherry production with a festival boasting over 150 events. Join in on the festivities for a summer celebration unlike any other on the planet.

The National Cherry Festival is a great time to explore the natural beauty of the Grand Traverse Area. Traverse City Michigan is also home to a fun and picturesque downtown shopping area just steps from Lake Michigan.

Get Wild at a Michigan Zoo

There are more than 25 zoos and aquariums in Michigan and they’re spread out all across the state. With kids out of school for the summer and warm weather drawing people outside, the zoo becomes the perfect place for a family outing.

Whether your home zoo is the Detroit Zoo, John Ball Zoo, Potter Park Zoo, or even the GarLyn Zoo of the Upper Peninsula, there’s fun for the whole family at the zoo and you’ll leave with a sense of wonder every time.

Ultimate Guide to Michigan Minor league Baseball

Take the Family Out to A Michigan Ball Game

Baseball is America’s pastime and it’s the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. Going to the ballpark is more than just watching the game, it’s an opportunity to make memories with friends and families.

Watching the Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park against other MLB teams is exciting, with the roaring crowd and special effects. If you can’t make a Tigers game, you can still enjoy some high-quality baseball. Minor league baseball is so much fun, with a community of people rallying behind teams like the Lansing Lugnuts or West Michigan Whitecaps.

See a Michigan Waterfall

Many hiking trails in Michigan lead to waterfalls since there are more than 300 waterfalls in the state. Ocqueoc Falls is the only lower peninsula waterfall, located in Ocqueoc Township in the northeast.

Otherwise, every waterfall is in the upper peninsula, including the iconic Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise, Miners Falls near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and hundreds of other unique and beautiful waterfalls.

Guide to kayaking Pictured Rocks

Kayak Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Summer means kayak season is here and there’s no better place to paddle around than Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula Michigan.

You can view Pictured Rocks from above on hiking trails that over sweeping views of the Lake Superior shore but seeing them close up from below on the surface of the water is so much more impactful. See the distinct layers of stone eroded by time and colored by minerals as you glide over the water, seeing details that the folk on the trails just can’t.

michigan staycations

Support Local Artists at Michigan Art Fairs

Summer art fairs are a staple of several Michigan cities. The largest art festival is the Ann Arbor Art Fair, where nearly 1,000 artists from both Michigan and other states set up shop on the streets of Tree Town to show and sell their work.

A similar, but slightly smaller art fair occurs in Plymouth during the summer. Beyond these massive festivals, smaller local art fairs are hosted throughout the state all summer long, including ones in Gaylord, Charlevoix, Marquette, and more.

Explore a Michigan Museum

When that summer day that’s just too hot to enjoy inevitably comes, it doesn’t mean you must stay at home with the air conditioning blasting.

Museums often have strict temperature regulations, meaning the air inside will be cool and comfortable, just like it would be at home, but at a museum, you can see so many more cool and interesting things.

Explore what makes west Michigan special at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, see how science and industry changed the world at the Henry Ford, or even witness the power of art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. No matter where you are or where your interests lie, there’s a Michigan Museum for you.

Must Visit Michigan Islands

Escape to A Michigan Island

The most famous Michigan Island might be Mackinac Island, but Michigan is home to plenty more than that. Most of these islands are quite remote and untouched, drawing in avid hikers and campers who love the rough terrain. Isle Royale National Park, located over 50 miles from the northern coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula is a remote natural wonderland.

Similarly, the North and South Manitou Islands just west of the Leelanau Peninsula are beloved by outdoorsy types with both rugged and more traversed terrain. For something altogether different,

Drummond Island off the easternmost corner of the UP offers a more tourist-friendly experience, including all the natural beauty, without being too remote.

Walk the Mackinac Bridge

For one day of the year, during Labor Day weekend, the Mackinac Bridge opens to foot traffic, allowing people to traverse the bridge on foot. Participants can walk the full bridge from start to end, or go halfway and turn around.

No matter which way you walk, the stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac that separate Lake Michigan from Lake Huron is unrivaled. This end-of-summer tradition should be on every Michigan bucket list.

windmill Island gardens - Holland MI

More Michigan Summer Fun

Explore Dutch Culture in Holland MI

You’ll see examples of Holland Michigan’s rich Dutch traditions throughout this popular west Michigan travel destination. Visit Windmill Island Gardens, a Dutch-inspired park to find a carousel, a scenic bridge, a playground, a working windmill, and more.

Visit charming Holland Michigan in early summer and there just might be some tulips still in bloom, leftover from the popular Holland Tulip Time festival.

You’ll also want to head out to Holland State Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan. The park is home to the iconic Big Red Lighthouse and is also one of the most ADA-accessible parks in Michigan. Add this to the top of your summer bucket list.

Michigan Summer Bucket List

Michigan summer vacations are worth waiting for. Here are a few more things you might want to do in the summer in Michigan:

  • Ride the Mountain Slide at Crystal Mountain
  • Kayak the Au Sable River in the Huron National Forest near Oscoda, MI
  • Tour Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn
  • Walk the SkyBridge at Boyne Mountain Resort
  • Cool Off Ice Skating at a Michigan Ice Rink
  • Explore the Detroit Science Center
best things to in the upper peninsula
top michigan vacation spots
harbor country michigan
michigan thumb area vacation guide

About the Author-

Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland. She later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school. She is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.