The end of summer is right around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pack in a few more summer activities.
MICHIGAN—Michiganders might be excited about their apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin spice lattes, and fall colors, but summer isn’t over quite yet.
No, the leaves have not yet fallen. The temperatures have not quite dropped. There is still plenty of time for a bike ride with your significant other or a night staring at the stars with your family.
With that in mind, and a couple of weekends yet to go because we say goodbye to summer and welcome in fall, here are a few of our favorite things you can do while the weather is still warm.
Bike on a Michigan Bike Path
What better way is there to take in Michigan’s end of summer foliage than to experience it first hand while riding on one of the state’s numerous bicycle trails? Much of Michigan—both its northern region and its southern parts—offer up paths for bicycle enthusiasts and casual cyclists alike to enjoy.
Take, for instance, the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, which stretches 11 miles from St. Charles to the south to Saginaw to the north. Built along an old, abandoned railroad (hence the name), the trail incorporates all sorts of natural features into its journey. Riders can cross over seven bridges along the way and also travel through a part of the Shiawassee State Game Area and other wetlands.
And the best part? It’s free to hop on your bike and go for a ride.
Check out the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix
There are plenty of places in Michigan that look beautiful at the end of the summer, but is there any spot as good as Charlevoix? What other city allows you to take in Michigan’s lovely late summer weather in or near a mushroom house that resembles something from Lord of the Rings? Why don’t you find out for yourself?
In Charlevoix, the Harsha House Museum can help ‘Ganders set up tours of the Mushroom Houses, which were developed by Earl Young—known as the city’s “Master Builder of Stone,” according to a website documenting the city’s history.
Now, the homes are privately owned and they don’t allow looks inside, but the outside view of the homes and the area is more than enough to put the mushroom houses in your travel plans.
Look Up at the Stars at a Michigan Dark Sky Park
Michigan has several Dark Sky parks that allow people to look up and see the stars through clear skies without issue from nearby light pollution. The end of summer is as good a time as any to lay in the grass and do so.
Even if you don’t want to make the hike to a state park, sometimes taking a moment to gawk at the sky above—and maybe even catch a shooting star, or to count how many constellations you can pinpoint—is a relaxing endeavor in and of itself. But at Dark Sky Parks, friends can, in many cases, camp out and make a weekend out of the trip, checking out the night sky one night and hiking to nearby destinations during the day.
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Ride a Dune Buggy on Some of Michigan’s Sand Dunes
Speaking of things plentiful in Michigan, sand dunes offer their own opportunities for fun. You can hike them, climb them, enjoy the view from the top, or you can even go driving around them behind the wheel of a dune buggy.
Two prime spots to enjoy dune buggy rides on some of Michigan’s most well-known dunes include Saugatuck and Silver Lake, where local dune buggy companies will give you a tour of the area and a fun ride in about an hour’s worth of time.
Of course, if you’re more in the mood for just climbing and enjoying the view, Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes offer plenty of opportunity for that, as well.
See Great Lakes Travel Season First-hand at the Soo Locks
If you like watching Great Lakes freighters sailing, a trip to Michigan’s Soo Locks should be in your summer plans.
Built in the mid-1800s, the Soo Locks allow ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes by adjusting the water level as they go from one to the other. It’s said to be the busiest lock system in the world, with more than $500 billion worth of iron ore shipped through the passage each year.
If you enjoy watching the large boats as they go by, it serves as the perfect point to do so.
Take a trip on a Pirate Ship to Michigan’s Saginaw Bay
How many chances do you really get to take a trip on the open waters on a classic-looking pirate ship? That’s exactly why you shouldn’t miss a late opportunity to sail aboard the Appledore IV or V in Bay City.
The Appledore tall ships offer public sailing trips out to the Great Lakes for education programs and tours. The boats also offer youth sail training for young sailors ages 14-18.
Take in Michigan’s Shipwreck History at the Valley Camp Museum
The Great Lakes offer a great amount of history, particularly history with Michigan ties. To really get a first-hand look at some of that history, step aboard the 550-foot-long Valley Camp, a retired Great Lakes freighter turned museum.
The museum allows people to get a complete tour of a Great Lakes freighter, allowing a chance to look at crew quarters and the bridge. It also pays tribute to other Great Lakes ships, with an exhibit dedicated to the Edmund Fitzgerald, the most well-known Great Lakes shipwreck.
The ship also features four 1,200 gallon aquariums and Great Lakes fish and other interesting things to peruse.
Take in Michigan Wine Country
Michigan has an abundance of wineries, all with great things to offer and scenes to take in. But in one particular part of the state, the wineries come with great lodging and other things to take in.
The Leelanau Peninsula is littered with wineries, all featuring something a little different. Looking to spend a little money at a casino? Check out the Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge. Want something with a little more of an outdoorsy feel? Try a cottage on the peninsula.
Have a Drink at a Michigan Brewery
Sometimes on a warm summer day, it’s best to end it by sitting back and relaxing with a good brew. Luckily for Michiganders, there are plenty of options to do just that.
Grand Rapids might be one of Michigan’s most notable sites for breweries. With Founders Brewing Co. and other beer companies, the city has plenty to offer and offers fairly frequent beer walks, giving people a tour of the city both with their eyes and their tastebuds.
And while Grand Rapids might be one of the most notable brew towns, it’s not the only popular destination in Michigan for beer drinkers. Traverse City and much of northwest Michigan, as well as Metro Detroit, offer their fair share of breweries and options.
Visit one of Michigan’s Lighthouses
Michigan lighthouses will find their place on nearly every list of what to do in Michigan. Why? Because they’re beautiful, offer even better views of Michigan’s Great Lakes and the surrounding area, and also because they’re fairly common.
Another cool facet of Michigan lighthouses is that some allow you to volunteer to work in them, while others offer a chance to stay the night with no strings attached.
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