Michigan

Michigan view by CC user allie_k on Flickr

Introduction

Situated at the heart of the Great Lakes as well as being the historical heart of the automobile industry, Michigan offers many things for those that love experiencing the outdoors and significant culture in the same territory.

Every Great Lake except for Lake Ontario surrounds this state, providing plenty of boating, paddling, and fishing opportunities for those that love being on the water. Meanwhile in Michigan’s cities, the earned old wealth of one of the most prosperous periods in American history has endowed them with some truly marvellous cultural institutions.

Finally, with much of the state scraped clean of anything resembling a major rock during the last Ice Age, tremendously fertile farmland has been left in its place, making Michigan a great place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables on your travels.

No matter what you choose to do on America’s North Coast, leaving one of this countries’ most important states in the modern era bored will be a difficult task to achieve for the dedicated traveler.

The Henry Ford by CC user 50697352@N00 on Flickr

What To Do – Culture & History

Out of all the things to come out of Michigan, the automobile was by far the most important device, moving transportation a quantum leap into the future. The Henry Ford is a historical museum that tells the story of the industrialist that took the groundbreaking invention of Karl Benz and applied the principle of mass production to it, making it widely available to the average person.

This museum started by displaying Ford’s personal collection of historic, scientific and industrial artifacts from people such as Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and many more. Since then, items of industrial and American historical significance have been added at a steady rate.

As well, don’t leave without going on the tour of the Rouge, the original car plant that pumped out Ford’s Model A which today produces F-150 pickup trucks for the American market.

Right behind the car in Michigan’s gifts to the world was the soulful music that began pouring out of Detroit in the 60’s. Hitsville USA, also known as the Motown Museum should be must visit attraction for anyone that takes music seriously. Studio A, which was open 22 hours a day at the peak of the Detroit music era, has been lovingly preserved, from a 130 + year old Steinway piano, to gold records earned by many of the musicians that laid down albums here.

University of Michigan by CC user mlibrary on Flickr

Sitting just west of the Greater Detroit area is the college town of Ann Arbor, which is where the University of Michigan can be found. Being one of the foremost universities in the Midwest and the United States, the classical architecture alone is well worth a stroll through campus, but several attractions should cement this place in your itinerary.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens (plants of all kinds can be found outside and inside the protective confines of a conservatory), University of Michigan Museum of Art (19,000 pieces from Picasso to Monet), University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (it has the largest preserved Mastodon trackway in the world) and Michigan Stadium (largest stadium in the USA and third in the world … check out the quasi-spiritual experience that is US College Football with more than 100,000 of your closest friends!) are all worth your while, so check at least some of them out!

After president Richard Nixon resigned the presidency of the United States in the 1970’s in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in to take his place until the end of the former leader’s term.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids relays the story of this brief presidency, which was defined by the circumstances that catapulted him to the Oval Office. The burglary implements that were used to break into a room of the Watergate Hotel are shown off here, as are various other implements related to his presidency.

Old Mill Frankenmuth Michigan by CC user acrylicartist on Flickr

What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions

One of the more unusual attractions that you’ll come across during your explorations of Michigan is the Bavarian themed town of Frankenmuth. In this curious place, you’ll find an over-the-top Christmas store, a well-regarded craft brewery, and numerous German festivals through the year (such as Oktoberfest), making for a day trip whose memories will amuse you for many days afterwards.

After checking out the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, don’t leave town without checking out the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Lauded as one of the top 30 museums in the world by the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, this massive botanical park contains plants from all over the world, and with 170 sculptures sprinkled throughout these grounds made by some of the best carvers and hewers in the world today, it will be well worth the time spent finding this attraction.

Sleeping Bear Dunes by CC user rkramer62 on Flickr

Located up on the northwest coast of Lower Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes will recharge your soul if all that time spent in cities prior has gotten you down. Good Morning America dubbed this protected area The Most Beautiful Place in America in 2011, and when you see it with your own eyes, you’ll know why, as the abundance of sand along this thirty plus mile stretch of coast causes the water to take on a bluish-green hue, and with a top height of more than one hundred feet above Lake Michigan, you’ll have an awesome view of it all.

Finally, those looking for a laid back getaway should hop on a ferry to Mackinac Island. Located just off the coast between the Lower and Upper Peninsula, this tiny four square mile isle does not allow cars – everyone gets around by bike, horses, or on foot.

While there is a fort and a number of historic houses here, most come for the nature and the slow pace of life … word also has it that Mackinac Island makes fudge that simply can’t be beat, so be sure to try it out!

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