Best Michigan Thanksgiving Getaways
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Looking for a Michigan Thanksgiving getaway?
You’re in the right spot: opportunities for fun and amazing getaways in Michigan can be found all over the state; from Grand Rapids to Detroit; from Traverse City to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula.
Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan is one of my favorite times of the year, holiday and Christmas lights start appearing all over towns and cities, and there’s an air of anticipation of holiday fun. Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to explore Michigan with family and friends, and there are tons of biking and hiking trails to explore throughout the entire state.
It’s the time of the year when most communities are gearing up for the busy holiday season, so you might even catch a tree lighting or a holiday parade after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
The beautiful fall colors have held on this year, so who knows? You might even be able to catch a glimpse of some of the stunning fall foliage. So read on for our suggestions for amazing Michigan Thanksgiving getaways in Michigan.
Grand Rapids is more than “Beer City,” although you’ll find some of Michigan’s top breweries here. You can spend your time shopping and dining at the bustling Grand Rapids Downtown Market, with gourmet food items and gift shops, or explore the unique neighborhoods like the Gaslight Village (don’t miss the Gaslight Village Tree Lighting).
The Grand Rapids Turkey Trot is a popular annual event (they even welcome younger ones in the “Mini-Trot,” and you can head over to the Rosa Parks Circle for some ice skating on the open-air ice rink. If you’re craving more outdoor activity, head over to Millennium Park and hike the endless miles of trails.
Grand Rapids is just a 30-minute trip from Holland, so be sure and visit Holland’s Kerstmarkt, the outdoor holiday market that features greenery and handmade gifts, baked goods, and other treats.
This under-the-radar town in northeast Michigan is a perfect spot for a Thanksgiving weekend getaway. Set on the shores of Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay, Alpena offers beautiful hiking trails at places like Rockport State Park (also a Michigan Dark Sky Preserve) and Island Park, not far from downtown Alpena.
The Alpena Harbor and beachfront parks are beautifully scenic at this time of year, be sure to bring your camera to capture some pictures, especially if the waves kick up. Downtown Alpena is fun to explore, too, with cute shopping and cafes set in historic buildings. Grab a fresh taco or burrito at Mango’s, one of the best Mexican restaurants in northern Michigan.
If You Go: Stay at the Ramada by Wyndham, a clean and roomy spot just a 10-minute walk to the beach. This is a super kid-friendly spot, with a big indoor pool, arcade/game room and a fitness center. You might also want to check out the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. It’s very clean and comfortable with an indoor pool and breakfast served daily.
There’s a lot to do in this quintessential Midwest College town (home to the University of Michigan) on Thanksgiving weekend, from kid-friendly events like catching Warner Bros. cartoons at the Michigan Theaters to dressing up in holiday-themed costumes and Ugly Christmas sweaters and running the annual Ann Arbor Turkey Trot. Visit one of the many museums in the area like the kid-friendly Hands-On Museum or the Museum of Natural History.
You can do your Black Friday shopping in downtown Ann Arbor MI, the unique and eclectic Kerrytown (home to Zingerman’s Deli) or even Briarwood Mall. The Leslie Nature Center or Matthaei Botanical Gardens are fun places to get your nature fix. Don’t miss a chance to have lunch or dinner at the Gandy Dancer near Depot Town.
The Gandy Dancer is serving up an amazing take-out Thanksgiving meal for 12 that includes whipped potatoes, homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes, and even more.
This southwest Michigan beachtown is fun to visit in the off-season, too. The entire downtown area is decorated for the holidays during Thanksgiving weekend, and on Friday, the special Holiday in Park event kicks off the holidays. You’ll find Ice Skating, karaoke, Santa Paws Pet Parade, hosted by Decadent Dogs, luminaries, holiday treats, and more.
If you’re looking for more outdoor activities, try hiking of biking the Kal-Haven Trail. Traditional Thanksgiving dinners, complete with roasted turkey and pumpkin pie, can be found in town, as well. If you visit, be sure to check out restaurants like Kitchen 527 or Clementines. Head over to South Beach and catch picturesque views of Lake Michigan and the lighthouse, too.
If You Go:
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, hip and happening Marquette is a great spot for a Michigan Thanksgiving weekend road trip. There’s just so much to do outdoors here, from hiking and biking along the Noquemanon Trail to checking out Sugarloaf Mountain or the Black Rock Cliffs.
Explore downtown Marquette’s breweries, including Blackrocks Brewery and the Ore Dock Brewing Company and the many shops offering unique gifts. Don’t miss the Lakenland Sculpture Park. It’s fun to explore, too: you can see amazing works of art made from metal.
If You Go: There are two top choices here, each with a special feature. The Hampton Inn Marquette Waterfront is located on the shores of Lake Superior and offers amazing views. It is very clean and has those comfy Hampton Inn pillows, too. You’ll find a nice pool, hot tub and warm breakfast every morning. The Ramada Inn is really nice and it’s dog-friendly, too. You’ll find large and clean rooms and suites, an indoor pool, hot tub, laundry facilities and a restaurant onsite.
Downtown Detroit really comes alive during the Thanksgiving weekend. It all kicks off with the annual Turkey Trot, held Thanksgiving morning before the famous “America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” down Woodward Avenue. After the parade, head to Ford Field to catch the annual Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game before heading home for a fabulous Thanksgiving meal.
On Friday, head over to Campus Martius Park for some open-air ice skating and take in the Christmas lights on Woodward Avenue. Campus Martius Park’s entire area is alive with holiday spirit, and you’ll find cute shops and restaurants nearby.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
If it’s solitude you’re craving as the busy holiday season kicks off, The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a perfect spot for a Michigan vacation getaway. You’ll have an entire national park filled with painted sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, streams and quiet beaches all to yourself.
This 42-mile stretch of Lake Superior coastline is picturesque any time of the year and in the late fall you’ll have an easier time exploring some of the spots that are usually crowded with tourists, like Miner’s Falls and Twelvemile Beach.
If You Go: Stay at the Pictured Rocks Inn and Suites; it’s one of my favorite spots along this coastline. Choose from a standards rooms or suites and relax in the indoor pool and hot tub, or step into the sauna for even more relaxation. Bonus? It’s just a short walk to the Lake Superior shoreline.
Detroit isn’t the only Michigan city with a Turkey Trot, Traverse City has the 15th Annual Up North Media Traverse City Turkey Trot, presented by 4Front Credit Union! This race has been a place of joy, family, friends (furry ones too) and a place where memories and traditions are made. Wear a costume or ugly sweater and you might win a prize, kids can participate, too.
You can spend your weekend shopping downtown Traverse City’s Front Street or get outside and hike or bike the many nature trails in the area. Traverse City is set on Grand Traverse Bay, and you’ll have some opportunity to grab some beautiful pictures of the bay.
Aerie Restaurant at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is one of the restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinners. This amazing Thanksgiving buffet features not only traditional Thanksgiving dishes, but also many additional entrees like roasted pork loin, seared halibut and amazing salads, too.
If You Go: Hotel Indigo Traverse City, an IHG Hotel is located on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay and offers amazing views of the bay from the rooftop bar. The rooms are clean and well-appointed and breakfast is available, too.
Things slow down quite a bit on Mackinac Island once the summer and fall tourists season close down at the end of October. That doesn’t mean you can’t visit, though. The island is a quite place of natural beauty at Thanksgiving.
Enjoy the quiet beauty of the island – hike, ski, snowshoe, take beautiful pictures and read a good book. Most of the shops are closed, but you can still find lodging options and a few of the restaurants are open was well.
If You Go: The Bicycle Street Inn is open year-round.
Set on the shores of Little Traverse Bay, this picturesque city is an outdoors-lovers paradise in the winter. Head over to the Bear Valley Recreation Area for hike the trails or try some cross-country skiing if there is snow.
Be sure and shop the brick lined streets in Gaslight Villages, which are lined with cure boutiques, gift shops and cafes. Don’t miss the holiday market at the Crooked Tree Arts Center: their Holiday Bazaar can you help with your holiday shopping, too.
If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving Dinner, head over to the Sagamore Room at Bay Harbor Inn. Gather together at the Inn for the annual Thanksgiving dinner, an expansive holiday buffet held in The Sagamore Room. Featuring a long list of traditional Thanksgiving favorites, and so much more, everyone in your family will enjoy the menu, and the Lake Michigan view.
If You Go: Stafford’s Bay View Inn is a charming, upscale historic Inn on the shores of scenic Little Traverse Bay. The rooms are exceptioanlly clean, and à la carte and Full English/Irish breakfast options are available each morning at Stafford’s Bay View Inn. You’ll love the beautiful grounds, too.
Visit Michigan’s State Capitol over the holidays and brush up on your Michigan history at the Michigan History Center, fun for all ages. You can also take part in the annual Turkey Trot 5k run on Thanksgiving Day at 9 am, sponsored by the Michigan Running Association.
Spend some time traipsing over the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, and visit the Contemporary Art Museum. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and named in honor of Eli and Edythe Broad, longtime supporters of MSU, this public art museum located on the campus, is a must-visit for art-lovers.
If You Go: The Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol is a short walk to the Michigan capitol building, and is convenient location for visiting area museums. The rooms are clean, and you’ll find amenities like a large indoor pool, on-site lounge and restaurant. The Courtyard by Marriott Lansing offers standard rooms as well as suites, and is close to the MSU campus. You’ll find a fitness center and pool on site, too.
Marshall Michigan in southwest Michigan is a fun town to visit over the Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan, too. Home to Cornwell’s Turkeyville USA, it’s a natural fit, but you’ll also find a lot of family-friendly fun here, too.
Visiting charming downtown Marshall is like stepping onto an old-fashioned Main Street with boutiques, gift shops, and eateries. You’ll find iconic restaurants like Schuler’s and Dark Horse Brewing, a top Michigan craft brewery here. During the holidays, the whole town is lit up with Christmas lights and holiday décor.
If you’re interested in history, architecture, or antiques and gift shopping, Marshall offers a lot to explore and many museums. The Marshall Trolley Company offers complimentary rides to the public from 5 -11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings.
If You Go: The Holiday Inn Express is clean, comfy and offers a daily hot breakfast. Located just two miles from the city center, you’ll find a swimming pool and fitness center. Pets are welcome, too. The Hampton Inn Marshall is another solid choice with large rooms and confortable beds.