Michigan is more than just an easy-to-distinguish state waving at you from its place on road maps, it’s also a state inundated with culture, history, and natural wonders, all wrapped up inside two lovely peninsulas! If you want to experience the best that the Midwest has to offer, journey up to the Great Lakes state and take on our pure Michigan RV road trip! The mitten is calling … are you ready for adventure?
We’ll start our road trip an hour-and-a-half south of our Tradewinds Dealership Lot in Detroit, MI, the largest city in the state. While our starting point might conjure up fears of crime or images of dilapidated automobile factories, we can assure you that this metropolis is in the midst of a revival, and you’re not going to want to miss its comeback!
Where To Stay: Unfortunately, because Detroit is such a large city, the concrete labyrinth doesn’t allow for a campground close to the action. Luckily, the Detroit Greenfield RV Park is located 40 minutes away from all the fun, so you can check out the sights and then head to the campground to rest up, maybe settling in to play some family board games or arranging a fun outdoor game of Frisbee 500. This 212-site RV park features a great swimming beach with a water slide, mini golf, and an outdoor dishwashing facility.
What To See
Detroit Institute of Art: The renowned and diverse collection of art available for viewing here is something you’re not going to want to miss! From van Gogh to Brueghel, there are some masterpieces to behold here!
Eastern Market: Rich with culture and cuisine, the Eastern Market is a smorgasbord of wholesome and healthy goodness! Browse shops, boutiques, and specialty stores for a souvenir to remember your amazing Detroit experience and pick up some produce for the road! The market is open Saturdays year round, and Tuesdays and Sundays seasonally.
Lafayette Coney Island: After you’re exhausted from wandering the city streets, refuel with a Detroit classic: the coney dog! This old-fashioned establishment offers a simple charm and no-frills food that keeps satisfying coney dog after coney dog!
Located less than 30 minutes from the Detroit Greenfield RV Park, you can keep your reservation and explore two great cities without having to pack up your RV and travel! Ann Arbor blends the appeal of a small town with the progressive excitement of a big city! With a long history of craft beer and counterculture, you aren’t going to want to leave once you arrive!
What To See
The Creature Conservancy: As a sanctuary for abandoned, injured, non-releasable animals, a visit here will let you get up close and personal with some amazing and unique species! From kangaroos and an arctic fox to macaws and vultures, you won’t just get to view these animals, you’ll get to learn so much about them too!
Matthaei Botanical Gardens: Located in northeast Ann Arbor as part of the University of Michigan, this beautiful oasis of plant life will be the perfect place to stretch your legs and reconnect with the natural world. Open seven days a week, come here anytime for a peaceful stroll on one of the many looped walking trails throughout the garden.
Main Street: No trip to Ann Arbor would be complete without a saunter down Main Street! Here you can browse interesting shops, people-watch the diverse crowds, and grab some grub at one of the many amazing restaurants and bars that line this street.
Once you’re done exploring the southeast side of Michigan, let’s head across the state to the southwest corner in the sunny and sandy town of St. Joseph. On your way, make a pit stop in the town of Battle Creek to check out the Kingman Museum, filled with oddities like jarred fetuses, and the Kellogg Discover Center filled with more bizarre artifacts.
Where to Stay: You’ll be close to all the fun when you stay at Eden Springs Park and Campground, right near the charming town of St. Joseph. With 42 full-service RV sites, large bathroom facilities, and Wi-Fi, this park has everything you need to rest up and unwind from the road.
What To See
Silver Beach: Spend a day in the sunshine on the beautiful golden shores of Lake Michigan at Silver Beach! This sandy paradise is well-maintained and clean. Cool down by the water, watch the kids ride the carousel, or explore the Silver Beach Center which boasts Michigan’s tallest kaleidoscope. Once the day is winding down, stroll the boardwalk and catch an amazing sunset!
Heaton-Bowman-Smith Funeral Museum: This little gem is located in the back of a funeral home, and it displays a variety of antique coffins and urns. One of the most iconic artifacts housed here is Jesse James’ corpse basket. This museum is free so if you’re in the area and your morbid curiosity gets the best of you, take a quick tour! For more morbid intrigue, also check out the Glore Psychiatric Museum.
Lake Michigan Shoreline
For the next part of our road trip we’re going to be following the Lake Michigan shoreline north up the US-31 highway to Traverse City, but before you arrive, be sure to check out some of these great stops along the way!
Duck Lake State Park: Located in the small and serene town of Muskegon, MI, this state park has a great beach for cooling off and catching some rays! A small inlet provides shallow water for the little ones to wade in, while the waves of the big lake tempt bigger campers to some wet and wild fun!
Silver Lake: This 2,000-acre sandy play land offers tons of fun dune-inspired activities to choose from. Rent a buggy and go for a wild ride around the sand dunes, grab a tasty bottle of wine at the Fox Barn Market, or hike to the Sable Points Lighthouse for an amazing view of the beautiful water!
Sleeping Bear Dunes: No Michigan road trip would be complete without a stop at Sleeping Bear Dunes, once voted as the most beautiful place in America! Take a self-guided auto tour around the Pierce Stocking Scenic Highway and experience all the breathtaking scenery that this incredible destination has to offer! If you have time, tour the Maritime Museum or bike the Heritage Trail!
As the cherry capital of the world, Traverse City is a champion of Michigan beauty and tourism. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this town as it is overflowing with a tranquil atmosphere and carefree people who will make you feel right at home. And don’t forget to get your picture taken with the world’s largest pie tin before you pack up and head to our next road trip destination!
Where To Stay: Holiday Park Campground is the perfect place to call home during your exploration of Traverse City. It’s close to all the action and it offers spacious sites with clean bathhouses, a camp store, and a waste station. Plenty of recreational activities are included throughout the park to keep you entertained during down time.
What To See
Wine Tour: Traverse City is known for its abundance of wineries and vineyards, so if you’re making a stop here, be sure to pick up a bottle or two … or five. We know you’re probably thirsty from all that driving! Bowers Harbor Vineyard, Peninsula Cellars, and Bonobo Winery are all great locations to check out and sample some fine wines!
Grand Traverse Commons: This wooded 480-acre park is a popular attraction for hikers and cyclists. Stroll through the footpaths and soak up the architectural wonders of the Victorian mental asylum and the beauty of the botanic garden. Before you leave, grab a drink at the Sleder’s Family Tavern, Michigan’s oldest continuously operated bar!
Whether you visit the island or not, making a trip through the city of Mackinaw is a must for any Michigan road trip. Check out the sprawling Mackinaw Bridge which connects the Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula together. Don’t forget to pick up some fudge on your way through!
Mackinaw Island: Taking a ferry over to the island for a day will be an unforgettable experience. The island does not allow automobiles, so it will feel like you’re going back in time when you arrive at the harbor. Once at the island, rent a bike and cruise the water’s edge for some amazing sights and scenery.
If you want to venture further and get the full Michigan experience, you'll have to cross over the bridge and explore the upper portion of the Great Lakes state too. Ending your road trip here will mean you're missing out on the beauty and fun of a whole other peninsula, and between the two of us, the upper peninsula is where the real beauty begins!
Where to Stay: During the Upper Peninsula portion of your pure Michigan road trip, stay at the Otter Lake Camp Resort! With 300-acres of lush forested landscape and a 60-acre lake, you’ll enjoy a fun and relaxing getaway when you stay here. The resort features full-hookup pull-through sites, a heated indoor pool, lighted tennis courts, two Laundromats, and even a splash park for the kids!
What To See
Grand Marias: Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Grand Marias offers an authentic small-town charm that is becoming harder and harder to find. Walk the scenic shoreline to the Au Sable Light Station, capture the sights over the Log Slide Overlook, learn about famous shipwrecks, and visit Oswald’s Bear Ranch!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: If you want to view the picturesque sandstone cliffs of the Lake Superior shoreline, there is no better way to do it than by kayaking the water’s edge. Multiple guides are available to help you get the proper gear. During your journey you’ll see towering dunes, soft-sand beaches, and beautiful waterfalls. The perspective from the water is unlike anything you’ll see from land!
Porcupine Mountains: Tucked away in the corner of the Upper Peninsula, we’ll end our road trip in the Porcupine Mountains. Because they quintessentially capture the real beauty of pure Michigan, it’s the perfect place to complete our journey. Check out waterfalls, tour copper and iron mines, comb the beach for interesting stones, and see one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life when you visit here!
We hope you had fun on your pure Michigan road trip. After witnessing all the amazing attractions, sights, and scenery that the Great Lakes state has to offer, maybe you’ll consider calling Michigan home, or at least your home away from home! Did your favorite spot make our road trip itinerary? If not, let us know what it is in the comments below so we can check it out!