The Ultimate Michigan Bucket List

Michigan has hot spots, cool lakes and plenty of fun between. We’ve compiled a list our favorite things to do in the great lakes state throughout the year. Here are 50 ideas to get you started:

  1. Take a Pictured Rocks boat cruise
  2. Visit the International Auto Show
  3. Watch Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from Woodward Avenue
  4. Cheer on all four major league Detroit teams: Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons
  5. Attend a football game at The Big House or Spartan Stadium
  6. Go apple picking at one of Michigan’s many apple orchards
  7. Spend a day at Michigan’s Adventure theme park
  8. Take the coney challenge between Lafayette and American Coney Islands
  9. Explore Detroit’s Riverfront
  10. Go ice skating at Campus Martius
  11. Watch antique cruisers drive by during the Woodward Dream Cruise
  12. Experience an Eastern Market Flower day or shopping experience
  13. Visit Hitsville USA
  14. Attend the Cherry Festival in Traverse City
  15. Bike to and around Belle Isle
  16.  Go to Hell…Hell, Michigan, that is.
  17. Visit one of Michigan’s many zoos like the Detroit Zoo, Binder Park Zoo or John Ball Zoo
  18. Hike the Porcupine Mountains
  19. Check out a Grand Rapids brewery
  20. Climb the Sleeping Bear Dunes
  21. Walk on a lake that is safely frozen
  22. Kayak to Turnip Rock
  23. Visit the Soo Locks
  24. Witness ArtPrize during the day and at night
  25. Go wine tasting in the Leelanau Peninsula
  26. Walk the track at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome
  27. Go skiing up north
  28. Cliff jump in Marquette
  29. Sled dog race in the U.P.
  30. Experience an electronic music festival such as Electric Forest or Movement 
  31. Climb a lighthouse
  32. Spend summer time at a cottage “up north”
  33. Take a carriage ride on Mackinac Island
  34. Shop at Bronner’s and eat a chicken dinner in Frankenmuth
  35. Ride the S.S. Badger Car Ferry from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
  36. Get soaked in a Michigan waterfall
  37. Take photos in Holland during Tulip Time
  38.  Step back in time at The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village
  39. Search for Petoskey stones on the shores of Petoskey
  40. Celebrate Fat Tuesday in Hamtramck
  41. White water raft the Menominee River
  42. Visit the Heidelberg Project
  43. Get hands on with science with your kids in Ann Arbor
  44. Lay on the rotunda floor at the state capital
  45. Paddle board on your local lake
  46. Play a round of pickleball 
  47. Go hunting in one of Michigan’s forests
  48. See a concert at a historic Detroit venue like the Fox Theatre, the Masonic Temple or St. Andrew’s Hall
  49. Spend a day at the Michigan Renaissance Festival  
  50. Swim in all five great lakes

If you’re feeling brave, and to better absorb Michigan’s natural beauty, go “off the grid” while accomplishing half the items on this list. We think it makes the “Pure Michigan” experience even more enjoyable.

Did we miss anything from your Michigan bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan (cropped from original)

**Disclaimer: This post originally went live in 2015 to reflect a bucket list fit for the new year.

(Visited 24,537 times, 1 visits today)

Read 145 Comments

  1. It’s a nice list, for sure but ‘the mitten’, as you write, is the lower peninsula, not all of Michigan. Many items on your list cannot be done in the mitten only. I am writing on behalf of many near, dear friends and family who have always lived in the Upper Peninsula and take great umbrage with people from the lower peninsula who think northern Michigan means Traverse City. There is a reason the college in Marquette was named, “Northern Michigan University”, because that’s where it is.

  2. Hike/Camp on Isle Royale, Thimbleberry picking in Keweenaw, Snowmobiling in Keweenaw, Mountain Biking Trails Copper Harbor.

  3. I love camping at Michigan state parks. Great to tie this in with all the other fun activities. Skiing Michigan whether downhill snow, cross country or waterskiing. All are great carb burners.

  4. The Saginaw Children’s Zoo is wonderful for pre-schoolers and young children!

    Iargo Springs is awesome to visit on The Sunrise Sideas as well as Lumberman’s Monument and Hartwick Pines.

  5. go to Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw bridge to see the heavens at night. There are only 5 of these parks in the United States.

  6. Climb the ledges at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge. Ride the luge, ice skate on ice trails, snowshoe, play hockey at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.

  7. Drink some Vernors while doing some of these activities, which my
    great grandfather invented.
    He also was the first registered pharmacist in the state of Michigan.

  8. Kalamazoo Air Zoo!-amazing experience
    Tops any kind of hands on kids experience in several states!
    Why this gem so often gets overlooked I have no idea.

  9. go visit Tahquamanine falls,Kitchi-ta-Kipi
    the tip of the U.P. (copper harbor), Hartwick pines state forest , windmill farms near grayling, air zoo in Kalamazoo
    I think that is all I can. think of now I believe some spelling errors exist but not sure of correct way

  10. 20th Anniversary Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show Parade of Lights across Mackinac Bridge
    September 18 – 20, 2015
    St.Ignace, Mi

  11. Take a job on Mackinac Island. I drove horses taking the golfers from the front nine to the back nine. Great time. Loved my horses…Sugar and Spice.

    Climb the Bluffs at Empire!!

  12. Look for agates on the Lake Superior shoreline, visit the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, take the raft ride over Kitchitikipee springs at Palm Book State Park.

  13. Cross country ski at Pigeon Creek near Holland or near Hoffmaster Park in Muskegon. Summer or Fall, take riverboat cruise in Oscoda.

  14. You missed walking the Bridge on Labor Day, morel mushroom hunting up north in the spring, and checking out Drummond Island’s July 4th parade and Fall Festival in October.

  15. You don’t have visit Rogers City during the Nauical Festival and see the largest open pit limestone quarry in the world!

  16. The arts: DIA, Cranbrook, Ann Arbor art fair, Plymouth ice carvings, Pewabic Pottery, Interlochen – and that’s just the start!

  17. There is one AMAZING experience missing from the top of this list. Skydiving!! Michigan has some breathtaking views and where better to see them than from the air? Skydive Tecumseh offers amazing skydiving experiences and the nicest, most knowledgeable staff around. Skydiving is on many people’s bucket list, and there is simply no better place to check that item off than Skydive Tecumseh. You won’t regret it.

  18. How is Skydiving at Skydive Tecumseh NOT on this bucket list?! Ultimate Thrills and an Awesome facility and stellar staff!!! Can not leave that off a bucket list… 🙂

  19. I mean it’s already crossed off my bucket list, but everyone else who hasn’t needs to check off their list a tandem at Skydive Tecumseh!!! Woo!!!

  20. One thing missing off this list is definitely Skydive Tecumseh in Tecumseh,MI! Seeing Michigan from 14,000 ft is an experience like no other!

  21. Visit the Cheeseburger Festival in Caseville. Funtime with lots to do and see. Wild parade, conerts, games and lots of unique cheeseburgers to try.

  22. Take a summertime cruise on the Inland Waterway from Cheboygan to Petoskey. This spectacular waterway covers 38 miles of lakes and rivers with state parks, great areas for fishing and swimming, wide-open waters for skiing, as well as ports for fuel and food. Or you can take a boat from Cheboygan through the locks to get out onto Lake Huron.

  23. Go rock hunting at Whitefish Point And tour the shipwreck museum. Visit one of the many casinos.

    Attend one of the many Pow Wows.
    We have done all these and found them quite interesting and entertaining. So much so we have decided to build a cabin in the U. P.


  25. All great things to do for sure! My one gripe is that you say this at the beginning of your post” So, without further ado, here are 50 cool things you can do in the mitten in the year 2015:”. Just pointing out that there are 2 halves to the state and many things listed there are NOT in the mitten.

  26. International Festival of Lights in Battle Creek during Christmas holiday season, Balloon Festival and Air Show in Battle Creek in July. Hot Air balloon color tour in the fall. Call of the Wild, Shrine of the Pines. Any of the driving fall color tours around the state. Blessing of the Bikes in Baldwin. Maple Syrup Festivals around the state.

  27. How about the Detroit Symphony in historic Orchestra hall? or the DIA?
    Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. (that’s sort of covered, but not mentioned specifically)
    The Ann Arbor ARt Fair—the granddaddy of them all!

  28. Go to Glen Lake, just the other side of the sleeping bear sand dunes. Ill say it again THANK YOU GOD

  29. How about some of these:
    1. Attend a few of the awesome small town festivals.
    2. Attend Back to the Bricks in Flint.
    3. Visit any of the Children’s Museum in Michigan such as in Flint and Saginaw.
    4. Visit the Holiday Lights Parade in Lansing or one in several other towns.
    5. Attend one of the several nonprofit places in Flint Cultural Center.
    6. Visit one of Michigan’s Art Fairs.
    7. Shop at one Michigan’s many craft shows.
    8. Attend one of Michigan’s county 4-H fairs.
    9. Attend Michigan’s Fifth Third Bank Michigan State Fair, the country’s only nonprofit fair receiving zero government funding.
    10. Visit Detroit Institute of Arts.
    I will probably come up with more!

  30. You forgot the two biggest sporting events in the state each summer. The June and August Nascar races at MIS.

  31. Climb the Devils Slide in Grand Marais.
    Go Agate hunting on a Lake Superior beach.
    See the Northern Lights in the U.P.
    Oswald Bear Ranch in Newberry.

  32. Attend a performance of “America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree” in the historic Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts in Muskegon. 275 singers and a 50 piece orchestra blend with 25,000 colored lights all in a stunning five story Tree structure. Enthusiastic and beautiful singing too!

  33. Ludington Michigan….just north of hwy 116 is the Ludington State Park..
    Ludington has a beautiful marina…. And Western Michigan has beautiful trees,forests,,
    apple and fruit farmers…and so much to see if you love the outdoors.

  34. Michigan International Speedway, the Irish Hills, Skydive Tecumseh, TC Cherry Festival, Circle Michigan tour, Fort Wayne, General George Custer’s statue, Hot Air Balloon Rides in Oxford or Howell, Tulips in Holland, eat cereal in Battle Creek, visit President Ford’s hometown & museum…

  35. A bucket list without skydiving? Skydive Tecumseh is the go to place with the best facilities, staff and equipment. The city itself offers a unique downtown experience for shopping and eating at as well!

  36. It’s Tahquamenon, beautiful.

    Nice to read your Michigan stories, born and raised here ha, I could show you on my hand.

  37. Lansing Lugnuts game, Lansing Old Town Festival of the Sun, Festival of the Moon, Octoberfest, Blues Fest, Jazz Fest, Lansing Mitten Mavens Roller Derby game!!!

  38. Labor Day Weekend: Beats ‘n Eats in Royal Oak; also Labor Day weekend International Jazz Festival in Detroit ; plus various festivals all summer at Hart Plaza; outdoor concerts at Chene Park in Detroit.

  39. Great list of must do’s. I love the additional must do comments as well. no list can ever be complete, but hey,who cares. make a bunch of lists and keep completing them! it’s never boring that way. and you get to enjoy all the great things Michigan has to offer! I can’t wait to work on list #1! thanks!

  40. There is a southwest michigan – full of wonderful sites to visit!! The bucket list is good as far as it goes, but it pretty much ignores one important part of the state – its way too Detroit-area-centric.

  41. Uh, technically, not all of these are “in the mitten.” Some of them are in the UP. I’m thrilled that you included sites in the UP because they’re wonderful. But people have got to stop calling MI the mitten. It’s marginalizing half the state.

  42. Tube the Platt River.

    Watch a Drive-in movie at the Cherry Bowl in Honor, MI

    Spend a St. Patrick’s Day at Old Shillelagh in Detroit. Get there early!

    For a bit of African American History, visit the Second Baptist Church on Monroe and the statue for the Underground Railroad in Hart Plaza with a view of Canada. Then head over to the glorious Museum of African American History on Warren.

    Hear some live jazz at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe on Kercheval.

    Eat a pastie in St. Ignace.

    Walk the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge with the Governor at the Labor Day Bridge Walk.

  43. Spend a few days hiking on Isle Royal! It’s the best kept secret national park there is!

  44. Visit the Great Lakes Heritage Museum on the shores of Lake Huron….take a tour of the ship wrecks via a glass bottom boat…enjoy the sunrise side of Michigan in Alpena!

  45. Take a carriage ride on Mackinac Island

    Tulip Time in Holland

    Attend the Cherry Festival in Traverse City

  46. Two of my favorite things to do while I’m up in Marquette County are to visit the many hiking / waterfall trails . Sugarloaf Mtn with its 360 view and the Little Garlic Falls trail are my favorites 🙂

  47. Driving the Trail of Trees with a stop at Legs Inn restraunt in the tip of the mitt on the west side

  48. Float down the Platte River to Lake Michigan. Sleep in a lighthouse. Visit the scenes from the classic “Anatomy of a Murder”. Eat homemade ice cream @ Uncle Ray’s in Fenton. Eat Chicken dinner at the Bavarian Inn. Climb to the top of Pyramid Point. Eat S’Mores by a campfire at your favorite campground. Kayak the Chippewa River.

  49. Swim in Oqueoc Falls near Roger’s City. Visit the 110+ lighthouses that dot the coastline ( more than any othe state!)

  50. If you are coming to the Thumb Area for Turnip Rock, catch a boat rental out of Port Austin (Sorry no viewing from land due to private, gated neighborhood.) Also see the Octagon Barn, Lighthouse Park, petroglyphs, sugar sand beaches from Caseville (Cheeseburger Festival) to PT Austin. On the east side more beaches, and dive our National Underwater Park for the shipwrecks.
    Hot air Balloon Festivals in Howell and Frankenmuth. Also something great in Frankenmuth almost every weekend
    from Art fairs to one of the largest classic car shows, and a nearby Renaissance Festival. Don’t forget Bonners Christmas Wonderland, largest in the world.

  51. I was very surprised that I didn’t see this on more lists … a fall color tour, including the tunnel of trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, followed by a sunset dinner on the lawn at Legs Inn.

  52. There is very minimal things to do in Michigan. Almost Everything on this list requires it to be summertime. Michigan is boring 80% of the time since it’s all snow 80% of the time.

  53. Visit some of the UP waterfalls.
    Visit White Pine Village
    Visit Beaver Island
    Visit a museum and a historical house such as the Whaley House in Flint
    Sleeping Bear Dunes

  54. On the west side of the state how about taking the family and go picking cherries or peaches ,strawberries ,pumpkins on Alpine ridge (or Fruit ridge) or a donut and some apple cider fresh at Robinette’s (a 5th gen) apple farm. Or a beer challenge in Grand Rapids (see if you can visit every brewery there in x amount of time ). Take in a local tractor pull on the MTPA schedule and make sure you bring hearing protection. Take a 600′ zipline ride at Cannonsburg!

  55. Sail Lake Michigan to the only inland harbor on the great lakes in Charlevoix Mich.
    Sail around Lake Charlevoix.
    Ski Boyne Mountain.

  56. The Air Show and Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Belleville, MI. Built in 1941 and home of the B-24 Bomber.

  57. Gilmore car museum near Hastings. Lots of old cars displayed in an enjoyable park-like setting. A nice 50’s diner with light refreshments also. Plus more. Enjoyable on a sunny summer afternoon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.