FAMILY VACATIONS IN MICHIGAN FOR SUMMER, FALL, WINTER and SPRING
ALERT: Warmer Michigan weather can spark adventurous thoughts may lead to vacation planning. Proceed at your own risk.
Seriously, this is the time of year my calendar starts filling up with excursions and adventures as I plan new places to explore in Michigan. It’s fun to look at familiar places again, too, through the eyes of my children. If you’re looking for new Michigan family travel ideas, this is a great place to start planning your vacation.
Browse the rest of this article to find your vacation flavor. Mix and match seasons to see our peninsulas in all of their splendor.
Michigan Family Travel Ideas – Summer
Summer in Michigan, with the warmer temperatures and long days, lends itself nicely to CAMPING. If you haven’t camped for a while, you’ll be surprised at all of the new options available. Yes, you can go old school and pitch a tent, but you can also rent an RV or glam it up and go glamping. Family camping at Dunes Harbor Family Camp near Silver Lake is another way to get out in nature and bond with your family without a lot of fuss. No matter what flavor of camping you choose, you will need to get reservations for your campsite. Here are just a few of our reader’s Favorite Family Camp Spots (including Pentwater, Ludington, Petoskey, and more.)
Dunes Harbor Family Camp is a Christian family campground in West Michigan. This video gives you a look at their area and facilities. This Silver Lake business offers 60 waterfront campsites, full hook-up sites, tent campsites and group site cabins. Their waterpark pool is zero-depth entry, includes a waterslide and lap lanes for swimming. Kids will love the ga-ga pit, volleyball and basketball courts, nature hikes, and fun-themed weekends.
UPPER PENINSULA ROAD TRIP
Summer is a great time to hit the road and see all the U.P. has to offer. Crossing the Mighty Mac (after a stop at Mackinac Island!) launches you into a wilderness a world away from Michigan’s lower peninsula.
Your U.P. road trip won’t be complete without a boat ride at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, tour the Soo Locks In Sault Ste. Marie, chasing waterfalls or jump off of the Black Rock Cliffs in Marquette, or getting a good look at Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains.
If you have more time to spare, check out the shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point Lighthouse, hiking along the 4-mile trail to giant Tahquamenon Falls, or gaze into the emerald depths on a glass-bottom raft at Kitch-Iti-Kipi in Palms Book State Park.
One of our writers, Kate, documented her family’s U.P. vacation. Read her article for even more ideas on fun in the Upper Peninsula.
FUN ALONG MICHIGAN’S WEST COAST
The beautiful thing about summer in Michigan is that you don’t have to go far to find vacation fun for your family. West Michigan holds thousands of vacation options.
If you’re looking for a beach getaway, you have quite a few to choose from. Duck Lake State Park is a personal favorite, but you may want a destination with restaurant options. For that, visit South Haven or Grand Haven – they both offer a great mix of sand and amenities. Another option is to plan your vacation around a local festival. The Coast Guard Festival in August is always a good choice, with parades, a carnival, fireworks and a host of other activities to choose from or think about visiting the Cherry Festival in Traverse City in early July. Just be sure to book those hotel rooms well in advance!
For roller coaster and water park lovers, there is Michigan’s Adventure, just north of Muskegon. We really do love that you get two parks for the price of one.
Silver Lake is another favorite family vacation destination. At just over 90 minutes away from Grand Rapids, it’s a quick trip. Once there, you’ll find sand dunes to climb or ride on in buggies, beautiful beaches, go cart rides, a lighthouse and more.
Retro is cool right now, right?
You can conjure up some old-time vacation fun by signing up for a week at a Michigan family camp. Think beach meets activities galore, plus no cooking, and you’ve figured out why families love family camps. In other words, most family camps are ALL INCLUSIVE. Yes!
There’s a whole range of family camp options to be found across the state. The main factors to look for when choosing a camp are religious affiliation, programming, and amenities.
White Birch Lodge is the perfect example of a family camp done right. Located in northern Michigan, just north of Traverse City, this family camp provides the food, accommodations, and programming (including yoga on the beach and water sports) for the ultimate combination of fun and relaxation.
YMCA Camp Pendalouan offers family camps in early July. With meals provided and activities planned, all you have to do is show up and have some fun. This camp is located just north of Muskegon in Montague, Michigan.
UP NORTH FUN
Where do I even start? Heading up north is a favorite summer pastime for many. Whether it’s exploring the shores of beautiful Torch Lake or going back in time at the Sutton’s Bay Hillside Homestead Historic Farmstay, you’ve got options galore.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Glen Arbor area are simply stunning. You must visit, and allow yourself time to soak in the ocean-like vistas. It’s no surprise that tourists wonder if there are sharks in our unsalted waters with views like this!
And, if there is still time, be sure to visit adorable Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Traverse City while you’re at it. Round out your vacation with a ride on a tall ship, rent a boat and troll the Chain-of-Lakes from Elk Rapids, or beach it somewhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Not happy yet? Well – here are 22 Hidden Gems in Michigan – great for those wanting to go off-the-beaten path.
Michigan Fall Family Travel Ideas
When the weather cools and school starts, it’s harder to get away. Still, we have weekends and the occasional school break. Quick trips to the farm market or pumpkin patch, along with color tours are a great way to go. This is also the perfect time of year to plan a parent’s weekend away or a girlfriend getaway to Holland, Saugatuck, or wine country up in Traverse City. TC is quickly becoming a foodie destination, so you might just want to leave the kids behind and make your wine-food trip all about you.
Fall is also a wonderful time to lace up your hiking boots and hit a trail. Beautiful foliage and crisp air make hikes rewarding no matter what part of the state you are in. If you need a few ideas, check out Rosy Mound in Grand Haven, Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, or one of the other locations on our Kid’s Hiking List.
Michigan Winter Family Travel Ideas
Winter in Michigan means snow, hot chocolate, and fun.
To start, skiing is almost always an option. Just head north, or farther north, and you will find slopes filled with all ages and abilities. Of course, you can always hone your skills at your local ski slope before heading north, too.
Indoor water parks are a great bet when it comes to cold weather fun. Traverse City’s Great Wolf Lodge is a family favorite, but there are other water parks to be found across the state, as well. For example, Frankenmuth is a fantastic winter-time destination where you can get water park and holiday fun all rolled into one. A water park a little closer to home is the Holland Aquatic Center.
Visiting the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is a recipe for outdoor fun, too. With an ice skating trail through the woods, an olymic luge, snow shoes and cross-country skiing, you’ll get your fill of outdoor activity.
Michigan Family Travel Ideas – Spring
When Michigan starts to thaw out, people want to go places. Spring is a great time to stretch your legs and start making tracks. Really, spring is the perfect time to visit local cultural attractions. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Meijer Gardens, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum should be high on anyone’s list.
So- let’s hear it – where is your favorite place to vacation in Michigan? When do you like to go? (Hint: there are no wrong answers!)
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