All Ages

10 Best Family Weekend Trips in Michigan

You’ll find a little bit of everything in Michigan—big cities, small towns, national parks, beaches, and even a European influence in many towns. (We’re looking at you, Holland). Consider one of these family weekend trips in Michigan for your next adventure.

Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn; Courtesy of Bill Bowen for Visit Detroit

1. Detroit

Think Detroit isn’t family-friendly? Think again. Many of the Motor City’s neighborhoods—including Corktown, Greektown and Mexicantown —are riding to a rebound, with foodie-approved restaurants featuring urban farm-to-table fare. In fact, the restaurant boom is partly responsible for the city’s renaissance.

Detroit has long been a fantastic and educational destination for families, though, considering it’s the birthplace of the automobile. You can tour the Ford Piquette Plant where Henry Ford invented the Model T, even stopping for a photo in an old car. For more history, head to The Detroit Historical Society, where you can walk what looks like the old streets of Detroit. Be sure to have coneys (hot dogs) while you’re in town, too—they’re a big deal in Detroit!

Recommended Hotel: Inn on Ferry Street

Families biking around Mackinac Island in Michigan; Courtesy of Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock.com

2. Mackinac Island

Traveling to Mackinac Island (pronounced MAK-uh-naw) is like traveling to the past. The remote island, located in Northern Michigan, is only accessible by ferry or boat, and once there, guests enjoy purely old-fashioned fun during their family weekend trip in Michigan—particularly at the island’s grand resorts. One of them, appropriately named the Grand Hotel, features horse-drawn carriage tours, afternoon teas, ice cream socials and lawn games. Plus, it’s all-inclusive!

The remodeled Mission Point Resort is another popular choice, with lakeside fun including swimming, golfing and kite flying. There’s also an arcade, movie theater, and kids’ club, and kids under age 12 stay free.

Recommended Hotel: The Grand Hotel

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park; Courtesy NPS

3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is famous for its giant sand dunes that tower above the cobalt blue waters of Lake Michigan. Visitors like to climb the dunes before practically flying back down!

Other activities at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park include hiking, biking, swimming and camping. You can also stop by the historic Glen Haven General Store, or visit during the Port Oneida Fair in August; the fair lets visitors experience what Midwest life was like in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. It’s the perfect destination for a Michigan weekend trip with kids.

Recommended Hotel: The Homestead Resort

 

downtown Traverse City; Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

4. Traverse City

Located near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, Traverse City has several beaches, along with many opportunities to hike and bike along Lake Michigan. Traverse City also has a vibrant downtown scene that brims with great restaurants, breweries, cideries, and wineries. Other highlights include skiing at Hickory Hills, getting lost in Jacob’s Corn Maze, and zipping down the slides at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City.

Recommended Hotel: Inn at Bay Harbor

Iconic pop art blue LOVE sculpture in downtown Grand Rapids; Courtesy of By Malgosia S/Shutterstock

5. Grand Rapids

Did you know Grand Rapids is known as Furniture City? It’s home to several office furniture companies, and the city prides itself on this with furniture exhibits just about everywhere—even in hotels! There’s more to Grand Rapids than fancy furniture, though.

The up-and-coming city has been compared to cities in Europe for its world-class museums, festivals and restaurants. Check out the Downtown Market for fresh pastries, meat and produce; learn about our 38th president at the Gerald R. Ford Museum; and explore the Meyer May House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Recommended Hotel: JW Marriott Hotel Grand Rapids

Blue Heron Bay in Ann Arbor, MI; Courtesy of Bryan Mitchell

6. Ann Arbor

Sure, Ann Arbor is a college town, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a family vacation destination! The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is perfect for young children; Main Street has boutique shopping, breweries and restaurants; Blue Heron Bay Park features a cool splash pad and waterslides in the summer months; and the local theaters put on professional, kid-friendly shows. The most popular attraction, however, is the University of Michigan, which has its own Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History. Of course, it’s also popular for sporting events at Michigan University Stadium. Families can even tour The Big House!

Recommended Hotel: Graduate Ann Arbor

Holland, michigan; Courtesy of Holland MI CVB

7. Holland

Holland, Michigan, resembles Holland in the Netherlands, with open fields, charming windmills, tulip gardens and even a tulip festival (Tulip Time Festival) each May. The popular festival takes place at Nelis’ Dutch Village, where families enjoy rides, a petting zoo, playground, and Dutch food—think fresh cheese, homemade fudge and more.

Holland has several beaches, parks, and lakes, too—take a cruise for close-up views and great photos of Holland Harbor Light, otherwise known as the Big Red Lighthouse. Parents—Holland also has a hip downtown scene that’s well-known for its breweries and distilleries.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Holland

Visitors admire the South Haven lighthouse, at South Haven beach on Lake Michigan; Courtesy of Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock

8. South Haven

It’s all about the great outdoors in South Haven, Michigan. Hiking and boating are popular, with several vendors offering lake cruises. The area is also well-known for its wineries and orchards, where families can pick fresh fruit right off the vine. For a special experience, take a flight with Michigan Warbirds Airplane Rides. Be sure to stop by the South Haven Lighthouse for photos, too.

Recommended Hotel: Sun ‘n Sand Resort

The Beach at Saugatuck, Michigan; Courtesy of Philip Mowbray/Shutterstock

9. Saugatuck

More outdoor opportunities abound in Saugatuck, Michigan, with several beaches and state parks to explore. Take the Saugatuck Chain Ferry across the Kalamazoo River while you’re in town—kids are encouraged to help steer the ferry! When it’s time for a bite to eat, head to Butler Street, where you’ll find charming cafes and shops.

Recommended Hotel: Starlite Resort

St Joseph North Pier Lighthouse at sunset; Courtesy of Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

10. Saint Joseph

St. Joe, as the locals call it, is situated on Lake Michigan and offers plenty of family-friendly beaches. Among the most popular is Silver Beach County Park, with lifeguards, mostly calm waters, restrooms, and a playground close to the sand. Only a short walk from the beach is an old-fashioned carousel and a giant, 200-feet-in-diameter, splash pad. It shoots 10,860 gallons of recycled water onto giggling children below! A stroll through the downtown area, not far from the beach, will get you to great restaurants and shops during your family weekend trip in Michigan.

Recommended Hotel: Boulevard Inn

What to Pack for Your Next Trip

 

 

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