The Ultimate Michigan Road Trip

by | Sep 12, 2019 | Location Reviews

Any true Michigander will have a list 6 miles long about where to road trip and what to stop and see. While we personally have about 400 recommendations, we’re going to start with a fun and very accessible one for anyone looking to check out what the northern portion of the lower peninsula has to offer. This particular trip involved some hiking, some drinking and some adventuring. Michigan has a TON to offer the avid hiker, but something like this is a great way to start by incorporating smaller, simpler hikes with other activities while exploring a beautiful part of the country. (This trip was taken in October of 2018)

Douglas Valley Winery

Northern Michigan is well known for its wine and there are a ton of options as you get into Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula. We happen to love finding places that are a bit off the beaten path. I wouldn’t say Douglas Valley is off the beaten path, but it’s far enough south to not be included on many of the wine tour lists. It is however, one of our favorites! Not only is the wine great, the property is beautiful. They let you explore with a glass of wine in hand, chat with the cows and take in the fresh air.

Glen Park

This is one you definitely have to be looking for but well worth the stop and a great place to stretch your legs. With some old hot springs and an easily accessible trail that takes you down near a stream, it was incredible with the fall colors and lack of people.

Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm

I maybe drove past this, put the car in reverse, and backed up down a very busy road to make sure I didn’t miss it. YOU GET TO PET AND FEED THE ALPACAS. And donkeys, and goats. It was SO MUCH FUN.

Gwen Frostic Prints

This was a childhood favorite, so when I saw the sign memories of visiting and meeting Gwen flooded in. Nature inspired prints and verses in a setting that feels like a dream. This is the perfect spot to pick up some gifts and mementos to remember your trip.


A perfect little town to rest your head for the night. Falling Waters Lodge was our choice so we could listen to the water all night, walk to the beach for an epic sunset and wander across the way for dinner at the Cove.

Walk of Art Sculpture Park

This was a fun, unexpected find in Elk Rapids. A beach, random art sculptures everywhere and a ton of trails. I didn’t have a ton of time but this would be a great spot to spend a few hours hiking and having a picnic.

Water Fire Vineyards

This is actually where I am sitting writing this blog post almost a year later. This place is simply the best. Their wine is SIP certified, their charcuterie boards are SO GOOD, and the setting feels like it belongs in a movie. Oh yeah and Finley, their pup, is the sweetest. It’s the coziest, friendliest and best spot for a drink/snack/potty break.

Torch Bay Nature Preserve

Also a great spot to stretch your legs. Easy hiking, beautiful colors and a darn good spot for Petoskey stone hunting.

Fishermans Island

A beautiful place to camp, but also a scenic spot to spend a few hours checking out the lakeshore.

Horton Creek In Bed and Breakfast

If you are looking for a unique location to rest your head, this place will give you the experience of a lifetime. Their hospitality was like something I’ve ever experienced and the interactions with other guests made my stay such a memorable part of the experience. They were even able to accomodate my gluten free diet with the best french toast ever!

Tunnel of Trees

The Tunnel of Trees along M-119 is considered one of the most scenic roads in the nation. Obviously fall is a fantastic time to take this drive and soak in the magnificent colors. Be prepared to take your time, drive slow and enjoy the scenery.

Thornswift Nature Preserve

While driving the Tunnel of Trees I saw a sign for this place and decided to check it out. What a pleasant surprise! This is a magnificent hidden gem to stop and stretch your legs. About 1.5 miles of trails that include a wide range of scenery and beautiful overlooks of Lake Michigan.

These are just a handful of spots to get you started in planning an epic Michigan road trip yourself! The distance between locations makes this easily achievable in just 2-3 days, but could also be turned into a week long adventure with plenty of other sites to explore along the way.

Alison Glowinski

Alison Glowinski

Alison is a co-founder of Happy People Hike, THE Head Happy Hiker, usually lost, and always hungry.

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