8 Destinations Across Michigan That Are Great for Kids 

When it’s time for a family adventure, Michigan is brimming with possibilities. From beach towns to bustling urban centers, there are things to do and see in every corner of both peninsulas. We’ve picked a few of our favorites for pint-sized explorers. So pack your snacks, put on some comfortable shoes and find one that sounds fun for your crew.  

Grand Haven 

Boardwalk along the channel: A great place to get your waterfront and lighthouse fix, this 1.5 mile paved path stretches along the Grand Haven harbor. The route is dotted with shops and restaurants, winds past a U.S. Coast Guard Station, and ends at Grand Haven’s photogenic pier and lighthouse. Need a break? There are plenty of benches along the way. It’s a perfect place to watch boats. 


Forestview Natural Area: This short trail is an intriguing spot for pint-sized naturalists. A series of bridges and boardwalks helps you navigate the 1.3-mile wetland area of the Forestview Loop. The trees are a mix of red and white pine and hemlock. Wildflowers and ferns are the stars of the forest floor in this 70-acre space. 

Traverse City 

DeYoung Natural Area: Just outside of Traverse City, the conservancy-protected space invites visitors big and small to hike 2.3 miles of trails, do a little bird watching or try fishing on an inland lake. There is a fishing/viewing pier along Cedar Lake. The 191-acre preserve also features an historic farmhouse. 


Island Park and Wildlife Sanctuary: This 17-acre spot sits in the middle of the Thunder Bay River and offers a buffet of ecosystems to explore. The terrain includes sand dunes, marshes, woodlands and meadows. There are several paths for walkers. Kids will love the footbridge. 

Mackinac Island 

M-185: The only state highway in Michigan where no vehicles are allowed, M-185 is an 8.2-mile loop around Mackinac Island. Pedaling a bike is the most popular way to do the route, but you can also walk it, hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage, or rent your own horse and buggy for a self-guided tour. The paved path features lots of landmarks, including the historical British Landing and the much-photographed Arch Rock. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 

Empire Bluff Trail: You can hike 100 miles of trails in Michigan’s most-visited national park, but for little hikers, this short trail near the tiny town of Empire offers an overlook at the end with some breathtaking views. The 1.5-mile round-trip goes through a beech-and-maple forest, and offers stairs cut into a couple steep inclines. The reward is the overlook, with Lake Michigan’s Caribbean-blue hues stretching into the distance. 


Detroit RiverWalkRecently named one of the best riverwalks in the country, this stretch along the Detroit River is packed with plenty of things to see and do. The East Riverfront, which runs from Gabriel Richard Park to the Joe Louis Arena, features parks and open-space areas to relax and people-watch, splash parks where kids can cool off, and restaurants where you can stop for a meal or take-out. 


Presque Isle Park: Just north of town, this 323-acre peninsula stretches out into the wild waters of Lake Superior. Hiking and biking trails wind through forests here, and outlooks offer an amazing view of our biggest Great Lake. Feeling adventurous? Act like a local and go out to the edge of Blackrocks and take a 15-foot plunge into the water.  

Ready to visit one or all eight? Tag us on Instagram when you share your adventures @AHealthierMI!  


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Read 3 Comments

  1. These suggestions sound great! I wish there was a map on these types of posts – it would make planning easier! I have no idea how far (or even in what direction) some of these places are.

    1. Amber,

      Glad you enjoyed you the story and thanks for the suggestion. Google maps is a great tool for planning trips.

  2. Unfortunately the articles first suggestion does not speak to me, “the kids are going to love this!!”
    The beaches sound like good option but not the “ Shops, restaurants and watch boats.”
    And all the suggestions involve some type of hiking that resembled the activity before it.
    The beaches and hiking are a big part of our great state but I believe the story could of offered more.

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