What To See Along the Michigan Coast

Are you wondering what to see along the Michigan coast? On our way to Mackinac Island, we took a road trip along the beautiful Michigan coastline. The experience did not disappoint! Use our trip as a guide when planning your road trip!

In May, we started out in the city of South Haven and took a nice walk to the lighthouse before dining at the restaurant – Taste.

Next we traveled to Mt. Baldhead Park in the village of Saugatuck and climbed up to see the gorgeous view. The Saugatuck-Douglas history museum is near the start of the trail.

We lingered in Holland, Michigan to really experience everything Dutch. Visiting in May means tulips galore! First, we stopped at Sanctuary Woods Preserve for more steps and more spectacular views. Then we searched for and discovered tulips around town and in the parks. We ate lunch at Boatwerks. Then we visited Windmill Island Gardens to really get into the Dutch spirit. It is here you can see and explore a real working windmill imported from the Netherlands. Mt. Pisgah dunes trail overlooking Ottawa Beach was next on our list. It was a little tricky to find the parking lot. It is about a block away from the trail. The parking right next to the trail is permit-only. Holland Harbor Lighthouse was our final stop in Holland as the sun was setting.

Next, we were on to Grand Rapids. First, we checked out the Fish Ladder to try to see fish swimming up stream, but we didn’t see any. We admired the La Grande Vitesse sculpture and then we went on to the Grand Rapids Public Museum. We were also going to go across the street to the Gerald Ford Museum (both museums were highly rated), but it was closed at the time we were there. So we drove over to Frank Lloyd Wright’s “May House”, because we love all things Frank Lloyd Wright. We stopped for lunch at Rose’s in East Grand Rapids, but wished we had stayed downtown for something more upscale. Our last stop in Grand Rapids was the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. This place blew us away. This is a definite must see: catepillars, butterflies, cherry blossoms, amazing sculptures, waterfalls and flowers.

Grand Haven Lighthouse was next. It was here we saw some random people inespicably dressed up as animals…??? You never know what you will encounter on a road trip! We highly recommend Paisley Pig for lunch or dinner!

It wasn’t in my original plan, but my husband, Mike really wanted to stop at the USS Silversides Submarine Museum in Muskegon, which he really enjoyed. Here we discovered the local Michigan IceBox ice cream bars which we fell in love with and ended up bringing about 20 home in a cooler!

Mike was starting to get lighthoused out, so I said, “just one more” and so we stopped in Manistee and saw the lighthouse there.

Next, the Empire Bluff Trail in Honor, Michigan is the peak of what to see along the Michigan coast. The view was outstanding. It was comparable to those we had experienced in Hawaii. We were hoping to drive along the famous Pierce Stocking Scenic Dr and explore more of Sleeping Bear Dunes, but it was surprisingly still closed for the season.

So we headed over to Traverse City for some Slabtown Burgers and some shopping along Front street. This area has been named “one of the most walkable, charming places in America”. Traverse City was just about to bloom its famous cherry blossoms, so we explored all things cherry at the Cherry Republic store. And “while we were in Traverse city anyway….. we might as well just see another light house”!

From Traverse City we headed on to Charlevoix. This is where you can take a tour of the interesting mushroom houses they have. We looked into taking a boat or plane over to Beaver Island from there, but the day was too foggy to travel this way. So we drove on to discover Petoskey’s historic gaslight district and the famous Petoskey stones. This is also where we found Kilwin’s Chocolate Kitchen where everthing is chocolate.

Finally we arrived at Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. A beautiful bridge connects the two towns. You can take the ferry to Mackinac Island from either location. In Mackinaw City we visited Heritage Village (Colonial Michilimackinac wasn’t open yet for the season). In St. Ignace we stopped at the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and Castle Rock. Finally, we went on to Mackinac Island. Click here to read about our experience on the island!