12 Weirdly Wonderful Things to Go See in Michigan
When it comes to records, you might think of Michigan for the sheer size of our lakes, feet upon feet of snowfall, or rabid sports fan attendance. However, you might not be as familiar with some of the world’s biggest and wildest roadside attractions that make their home in the Mitten State. Here are 12 you have to check out from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula!
Giant Tire, Allen Park: If you’ve ever driven on I-94 near the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, you’ve probably noticed the Uniroyal Giant Tire. Originally created as a Ferris Wheel at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the eight-story, 12-ton tire was moved to its current location in 1966. Several renovations and modifications have taken place since that time.
World’s Largest Cherry Pie Tins, Traverse City and Charlevoix: Okay, technically neither of these Michigan cities can claim world’s largest anymore, but at one point in time they both held the distinction. According to RoadsideAmerica.com, Charlevoix’s pie claim to fame happened in 1976 when townspeople baked a pie that weighed 17,420 pounds. Traverse City topped that record in 1987 with a 28,350-pound cherry pie. Sadly, bigger pies have since been baked, but you can still check out those ginormous pie tins in their respective Michigan towns.
Largest Art Project, Detroit: Mixing art and political commentary, the Heidelberg Project has been transforming a Detroit neighborhood since 1986. According to the project’s website, founder and artistic director Tyree Guyton “uses everyday, discarded objects to create a two-block area full of color, symbolism, and intrigue. Now in its 28th year, the Heidelberg Project is recognized around the world as a demonstration of the power of creativity to transform lives.”
Biggest Mystery, St. Ignace: The Upper Peninsula’s Mystery Spot is located five miles west of St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge on US-2. Legend has it that the unusual destination was discovered by surveyors in the early 1950s and is known for inducing mysterious, gravity-related sensations for visitors. You really can’t call yourself a true Michigander until you’ve solved this mystery for yourself.
Scrappy Paul Bunyan, Alpena: Michigan boasts many Paul Bunyan statues, but the one that graces the campus of Alpena Community College – Go Lumberjacks! – is arguably the tallest and most unusually constructed in the state. Known as Kaiser Paul Bunyan, this metal statue stands almost 30-feet-tall and is made from scrap Kaiser car parts salvaged from junk yards.
World’s Largest Weathervane, Montague: It seems fitting that the state with the biggest weather mood swings is also home to the world’s largest weather vane. The 48-foot-tall weathervane has an arrow that’s 26-feet-long and is fully functional. It’s topped by a depiction of the White Lake lumber schooner “Ella Ellenwood” and is located in Montague’s Ellenwood Park.
A Master’s Horse, Grand Rapids: Standing 24-feet-tall, The American Horse bronze monument by Nina Akamu stands majestically as part of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s collection. According to their website, the work was inspired by work created by Renaissance master Leonardo DaVinci for the Duke of Milan in the late 15th century. Two sculptures were created as a result of interest from the late Frederik Meijer – one for his sculpture park and one for the city of Milan.
Big Windmill, Holland: At the Windmill Island Gardens, you can experience authentic Dutch culture and the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States. From May to October, you can look out on the gardens’ 36-acres from the top of the five-story structure.
Motown History, Detroit: The Motown Historical Museum itself isn’t big from a size standpoint, but the names and the history it represents are huge! Founded by Esther Gordy Edwards, the sister of legendary Motown music producer Berry Gordy Jr., in 1985, the museum allows visitors to stand in Studio A, where artists such as Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, and Diana Ross and the Supremes recorded hits. A restored upper flat gives visitors a glimpse into where Gordy lived with his family during the company’s early years. Historic photos and costumes from Motown’s heyday fill the museum and one notable artifact you must see is Michael Jackson’s famed glove.
Singing Fountain, Grand Haven: When it was built in 1962, Grand Haven’s Musical Fountain was the largest in the world. The colors, sounds, and spectacle of the fountain, and its proximity to the Lake Michigan shoreline, draw big crowds in the summer months. Nightly performances start Memorial Day weekend and run until Labor Day.
Dino-Mite, Ossineke: Step back to prehistoric days at the Dinosaur Gardens Prehistoric Zoo. This giant park features hand-crafted sculptures of dinosaurs and early cave people. It might not all be historically accurate, but it’s a lot of good, creepy fun! Warning to parents: some scenes depict cave people engaged in battle with creatures. Use your best judgment to decide if it’s appropriate for your kids.
Christmas Wonderland, Frankenmuth: How many ornaments can fit in a store that’s the size of one and a half football fields? We’re guessing a lot! You won’t know where to begin at Bronner’s, which claims to be the world’s largest Christmas store.
Tell us your favorite Michigan oddities and attractions in the comments. We know there have to be some weird, wonderful spots we missed!