Michigan is more than cars… The north is a landscape of lakes too wide to see across, mossy paths winding through deep forest, gurgling streams rippling fresh and clean over their pebbled beds, and waterfalls plunging headlong down rocky cliffs. Flat fertile farmland rolls through southeast, broken by the steel and concrete of industrial centers — especially Flint, Battle Creek, Lansing, and Grand Rapids. Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, is arguably one of the liveliest towns in the state. And finally dominating the eastern edge of the state, Detroit, a economic powerhouse with global industrial reach.
DETROIT, MOTOR CITY: Appropriately, there’s a steady roar of honking horns, screeching brakes, and slamming of limousine doors in the city that put our nation — and , for that matter, the world — on wheels. Greater Detroit boasts the “high” culture of museums, opera, orchestras and casino’s; a setting that enables the simple pleasures of riverboat dining, strolls through woodland parks, and dancing at outdoor festivals; and a fascinating, sometimes turbulent industrial history that resulted in palatial mansions, crowded ethnic enclaves — even the chart-breaking sound of Motown.
SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN: Southeastern Michigan is mostly farmland and is flat as a pancake — until you get to the Irish hills. Formed by the eroded deposits of glacial moraines, these rolling hills are distinctive for their oak openings and lakes. Lansing, the state capital, rests at the center of this largely rural land.
THE THUMB: Here, big cities give way to wide open farmland, punctuated with silos, cider mills, and small towns. From the end of the breakwater at Port Austin, you can watch the sun rise over Lake Huron and return in the evening for the sunset over Saginaw Bay. Fishing boats bob in Saginaw Bay. Marinas crowd river mouths along Lake Huron's shore, where 150—year old lighthouses stand guard. Inland, steep wooded hills make for dramatic horizons. Canoes drift on the Rifle and AuSable Rivers and elk roam freely though the forests.
SOUTHWEST & WEST CENTRAL: From the Indiana border to the Straits of Mackinac, you’ll see ribbons of yellow sand and the blue waters of Lake Michigan, green forest, villages accented with harbors lighthouses, vineyards and rivers. The world’s breakfast cereal capital, Battle Creek, vies for attention with the sculptures in Grand Rapids, the artist-colony feel of Saugatuck-Douglas, and the long, beckoning beaches of Warren Dunes State Park.
NORTHWEST & MACKINAC ISLAND: This triangle of Michigan contains some of the best beaches, best hiking trails, best boating and canoeing opportunities, plus some of the most fascinating historic sites in the country. Take the ferry out to the Manitou Islands or visit Mackinac Island, itself a living Museum.
UPPER PENINSULA: Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior wrap their shores around the Upper Peninsula. Country roads lead to parks, beaches, waterfalls, and trails; roadside restaurants, often furnished with communal tables, offer hikers the chance to take a satisfying coffee break: a fine cup of java and , if you’re in the mood, a friendly conversation with the local gentry. The wilderness here is unforgettable, especially on Isle Royale, with ancient drama of wolf and moose.