Michigan offers gorgeous outlooks and a plethora of activities in the Great Lakes.
Michigan is one of the rare states surrounded almost exclusively by water. It also has a rugged, wild Upper Peninsula in which a majority is uninhabited. Bordering four of the five Great Lakes, the Wolverine State is where I I took some time to thoroughly explore this past summer in two separate trips.
This small town on the shores of Lake Michigan gives off the perfect beach trip setting. Once entering the downtown district, there is a petite line of small buildings and a winding road that runs parallel to a small inlet leading into the lake. As I pulled up into the crowded beach parking lot, I was mesmerized by the overcast on the pure gray water. Beachgoers were spread out over the sand and it was nearly found on the outer edges of the lot. It felt like pulling into a tropical beach, yet this was Michigan. I was impressed. After I parked, my goal was to walk to the Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light – a smaller red lighthouse that requires using a walkway stretched into Lake Michigan.
As I began my excursion down the mid-water walkway, I could see the small lighthouse standing regally, while a thin, concrete sidewalk was the only way of approaching it. Moving forward, the sandy and crowded beach were looking more faint and the loud water waves crashing against the sidewalk got my attention. The cloudy overcast made the water appear sparkling gray, a true sight to behold. Once at the lighthouse, I wandered around all four corners, and stared into the deep core of Lake Michigan wondering what lied ahead.
This mini island situated between the borders of the Upper and Lower Peninsula maintains an authentic charm. There are zero franchise chains (except one: Starbucks) and cars are not allowed here. We took a small ferry to this island where the Main Street was full of tourists once stepping foot onto the island. There was oddly a large amount of fudge shops too. The white designed edifice inhabiting the downtown area reminded me of a colonial town. I could see folks riding bikes and horse carriages strolling down the street. The island is free to explore, if you can do it without motorized transportation.
We ventured to the outskirts of the island to see Arch Rock by strolling along the island’s Main Street, to the point where crowds dispersed and only bikes zoomed past us. Alas, the 207 footsteps that led to the formation appeared, after an exhausting climb, we finally reached to the top. Arch Rock was the premier attraction – a mind-boggling sight. With a viewing area in the perfect spot, the jagged, gray rock formation in the shape of an arch provided stunning views of the turquoise water below. There was another vista point of the lake where I could witness the gorgeous, sparkly marine water of Lake Huron (I presume) stretch out into the distance. Closer to shore, the water shifted to green, a fascinating phenomenon for which I have no explanation, yet am still considerably curious about.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
In Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, nature is unspoiled, and that was evident in a cruise I took with my cousins along Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks Cruises left the small town of Munising, and took us on a journey along the rugged cliffs on the shoreline. At first, I could see sparkling blue water extend into the distance. My first thoughts were: How far is Canada? There was nothing but the sun poking at the back of my shirt and ferocious wind trying to pushing me down. Nevertheless, it was a journey in the open water, almost making me open my arms wide to take it all in.
Eventually, as the cruise went along at 15 MPH, passengers could start to see enormously rocky cliffs. All I could hear was small chatter and the boat pounding against the water, but I was taken aback by the sheer vigor of the cliffs – so mighty because of their sheer height and weight, standing perfectly straight. There was no civilization nearby, only the most avid explorers would have wanted to traverse this route. The most stunning highlight of the tour was an arch formation in the water that was sticking out from the cliffs as if it was calling for passersby to admire it. It was a perfectly symmetrical, rocky, stone arch formation. Above it were trees, just large and outward enough for a tiny boat to pass through it.
The captain led us into a crevice where I felt like an ant because the cliffs towered over me in a menacing way. I felt nervous, as if they might start pushing in. Before the anxiety invaded, I spotted the green water again. As I saw it up close, it was completely emerald, without a trace of marine. This sight pricked at me, I wanted to know how nature could’ve happened.
Before my two trips to Michigan, I underestimated the beauty the state offered. It taught me a lesson about travel: never assume anything about a place until you have witnessed it for yourself.