Five Northern Michigan Day Trips to Take This Spring
By Jeff Wellman
Are you looking for a little adventure now that the snow has melted? Here are five Northern Michigan day trips you can take this spring to help you kick cabin fever to the curb!
After a quiet winter, Mackinac Island starts to come back to life in the spring. Ferries to the island in the Straits of Mackinac begin to run regularly again in mid-April from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Visiting in the spring is a great way to see the island if you want to avoid the large summer crowds. All of the island’s attractions don’t fully re-open until Memorial Day, but you will find a handful of restaurants and shops open in early spring. The hiking trails and bike trails are open, too. It’s a great way to enjoy the warmer days of spring.
Tahquamenon Falls is about an hour and a half north of the Mackinac Bridge in the Upper Peninsula. This impressive waterfall is 200 feet across with a drop of 50 feet. It’s also known as Rootbeer Falls because tannins in the water give a brown, frothy appearance. In early spring, ice and snow may linger at the falls, so be prepared with boots and ice cleats. The falls are located inside Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
A trip to Sault Ste. Marie will also take you into the Upper Peninsula, about an hour north of the Mackinac Bridge. This city that borders Canada is home to the famous Soo Locks, a large lock system that allows freighters to travel between Lake Superior and the St. Mary’s River. At the Soo Locks Visitor Center, you can learn about shipping on the Great Lakes and watch as large ships pass through the lock system. After viewing the locks, grab lunch at one of the many downtown restaurants. If you’re up for viewing more freighters, head over to Rotary Park where there’s a nice view of the shipping channel in the St. Mary’s River.
Petoskey State Park
Petoskey State Park is named for the world-famous Petoskey stone, the desire of every rock collector. The stone is fossilized coral and is predominantly found along the shores of northern Lake Michigan. Spring is the perfect time to hunt for the rocks along the beach in Petoskey State Park. Winter storms and ice churn up the water and toss Petoskey stones on the sand. Visiting in spring, just after the snow melts, gives you first dibs before summer beachgoers arrive. When your pockets are full of stones, take a drive to the beautiful lakeshore town of Petoskey where you’ll find yummy restaurants and unique shops and galleries.
Charlevoix, another beautiful lakeshore town, is bordered by Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Charlevoix to the east. There are a lot of attractions packed into this little town. Start at the beach where you can view the Charlevoix South Pierhead Light. Next, you’ll want to see the Earl Young Mushroom Houses. These quaint stone houses look like you might expect a Hobbit to come walking out. Next, you’ll want to travel around Lake Charlevoix to Castle Farms. Yes, there’s a castle in Northern Michigan. You can take a self-guided tour of the Castle grounds, which include a large model train display. There’s also a wine tasting room and bistro where you can grab a quick bite to eat. Charlevoix and the surrounding area were also the stomping grounds of famous author Ernest Hemingway. Start at the Charlevoix Historical Society Museum to learn about the Hemingway sites you can visit in the area.
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