Looking for something fun to do with the family this summer? Want to do something a little different than the normal day trips to the zoo or the beach? Check out these ten unique adventures in Michigan!
#1 – Find Enchantment
Discover fairy doors throughout the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. An illustrator with a big imagination named Jonathon b. Wright “discovered” these little fairy doors throughout Ann Arbor a few years ago, and he continues to “discover” more doors as time goes on. All fairy doors discovered thus far are within walking distance of each other. You can view a map of these doors here or print a PDF version of the map here.
Bonus Idea: To make this magical outing even more fun for little ones, it could easily be combined with a visit to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
#2 – Pretend You’re Royalty
Dragons, hedge mazes, carriage houses, oversized chess boards, model trains, and more… There are unexpected delights around every corner at Castle Farms in Charlevoix. The entire family will enjoy a tour of this castle originally built in 1918 by the President of a popular department store chain called Sears, Roebuck, and Co.
Bonus: Don’t miss out on the trails through the property’s Enchanted Forest! Your children will enjoy searching for fairies and gnomes… and a mossy moose! Watch for a whimsical wooden sign near the parking area to point you towards these short trails.
Related: While in the area, check out these free things to do in the nearby town of Petoskey!
#3 – Fly High on an Out of this World Adventure
Check out the Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Center near Kalamazoo. This unique museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits related to the history of flight – from gliders to WWII bombers, from modern planes to spacecrafts. This museum features a few rides, over 50 aircrafts on display, interesting videos, beautiful mural artwork and more. It has something for everyone!
#4 – All Aboard!
Who doesn’t enjoy trains? Right? Check out the miniature trains at the privately-owned White Creek Railroad near Cedar Springs. Here you can watch 1:8 size model trains drive around on about 5 miles of track. These model trains are just barely big enough for people to ride on. It’s a really neat thing to see, and if you’re lucky, one of the train conductors might even take you for a ride. Check their website to see when their next open event is so that you can see the model trains for yourself.
Another Fun Train Idea: Do you have a train lover in your family? If so, you may also be interested in riding the Polar Express (or at least the Pere Marquette steam locomotive that served as the model for the movie’s train) in Owosso. Get the full details here.
#5 – Go Back in Time
Take a step back in time when you visit Greenfield Village in Dearborn. Learn about history by experiencing the days of old. Ride a model T or a steam locomotive. Wander through a working farm. Tour historic buildings such as Thomas Edison’s laboratory, Robert Frost’s home, a sawmill, a Ford Motor Company plant, and the Wright Brothers’ home. At Greenfield Village, your family will literally experience American history.
#6 – Search for Fossils
Did you know that Michigan’s state stone is actually a fossil? And, these fossils called Petoskey Stones can only be found in a few select areas of the world… including Northern Michigan. Visit the beaches around Charlevoix and Petoskey to search for these interesting stones featuring a distinctive hexagonal pattern. Bring a few home and polish them up by hand, and you will have a beautiful souvenir to remember your experience. See our previous post for tips on how to easily find and polish these stones.
Bonus: Make this outing even more memorable by combining it with a free tour of the Kilwin Chocolate Factory. Free samples!
#7 – Visit the Netherlands
Visit the Netherlands without traveling halfway across the world. At Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, you can learn traditional Dutch dances, try on a pair of wooden shoes, tour a Dutch home, enjoy the sounds of an antique street organ, visit an old schoolhouse, watch a Delftware making demonstration, and see how wooden shoes are carved. Plus, there are rides, play areas, a petting zoo, dining and shopping.
#8 – Go to Hell and Back
Did you know there is a town in Michigan named Hell? Your family is sure to enjoy a quick visit to this small town. Your children will love that they can say the word h-e-l-l aloud without getting into trouble, and well, we might as well admit that we adults will enjoy telling others that we have literally been to Hell and back. While you are there, take advantage of the many fun photo opportunities, eat dinner at the Hell Hole Diner, see the Locks of Love Bridge, play some putt-putt golf, enjoy some ice cream, and mail a postcard from the Hell Post Office.
#9 – Take in the Wonders of the Universe
There are only a few dark sky parks throughout the United States, and one of them can be found right here in Michigan. Headlands International Dark Sky Park is a great place to view the magnificent night skies or even catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. If you plan to take in the night views, come prepared with special red-filtered flashlights as normal flashlights are too bright. (You can find tutorials online on how to easily turn a normal flashlight into a red-filtered one.) Visit the park website for helpful tips and trail maps before you go.
Bonus: This is a fun place to visit during the daytime hours as well. There are several trails to hike. The Discovery Trail is a 1-mile educational trail featuring exhibits about humans’ relationships with the night skies over time. Super interesting!
#10 – Get Your Tarzan on!
Wildwood Rush offers a unique guided tour amidst the treetops of a Northern Michigan hardwood forest. Located near Boyne City, their full canopy tour is half thrills and half education. Tour guides teach you about the forest’s ecosystem and the area’s history as you travel along ziplines and sky bridges. What an exciting way to learn and explore!
Are you looking for something even more adventurous? Check out this tour of the Traverse City State Hospital.
*BONUS ADVENTURE NEAR MICHIGAN*
Just south of the Michigan border in Indiana’s Elkhart County is the unique and temporary Epic Art exhibit (open until October 20, 2017). Along the Heritage Trail, you can enjoy quaint downtowns, admire beautiful quilt gardens, and see lots of selfie-worthy art by the talented American artist, Seward Johnson. You will find over 50 of Johnson’s life-size sculptures scattered throughout the Northern Indiana areas of Bristol, Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, Nappanee , and Wakarusa. Additionally, don’t miss the biggest sculpture included in this exhibit – a monumental-scale sculpture called God Bless America. Located in Elkhart’s City Center Park, this 25-foot sculpture is Johnson’s interpretation of the famous American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. Read our Ultimate Guide for Epic Art Adventures here.
What do you think? Will your family be enjoying any of these unique adventures this summer?