10 Reasons Michigan Has the Best Summers in the United States

Written by Chanel Coetzee
Updated: September 4, 2023
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Michigan has plenty to offer residents and tourists during the hot summer months, with its cool blue waters for cooling off, endless miles of trails for hiking, boating, and numerous beaches that need exploring. Summers in the Mitten State are a great reward after a long, cold winter. Additionally, there are many activities to enjoy, like farmers markets, splash pads, hot air balloon festivals, and county fairs. Here are the 10 reasons Michigan has the best summers in the United States.

Infographic of 10 Reasons Michigan Has the Best Summers in the U.S.
Michigan has many natural and cultural attractions that make it an amazing summer destination.

1. Numerous Beaches, Rivers, and Lakes

Michigan is notorious for its lakes, hence the Great Lake State nickname. But it also has numerous beaches and rivers, which are handy during warm summers.

Panoramic of Lake Michigan beach

It’s hard to beat a sunset on the shore of Lake Michigan beach.

©Alayna.bow/Shutterstock.com

Beaches

Below are the best three beaches in Michigan:

Warren Dunes State Park

This state park has three miles of shoreline and six miles of hiking trails and overlooks Lake Michigan. Visitors can spend the day kayaking, collecting beach glass, or relaxing on the beach. Furthermore, there is a designated dog-friendly beach, so you can bring the whole family for a fun day out.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

The P.J. Hoffmaster State Park has 3 miles of shoreline and an impressive dune system. It is the perfect place to recharge. For example, you can build sandcastles on the beach or read a good book with a scenic backdrop. One of the more popular attractions in the park is the Dune Climb Stairway, which provides breathtaking views of Lake Michigan vistas. The best time to visit is spring when all the trails are surrounded by wildflowers, which can perk up your walk with pops of color.

Grand Haven

There are many hidden gems in Grand Haven. It boasts several magnificent beaches, so visitors are spoiled for choice. For example, Kirk Park permits dogs, Rosy Mound Natural Area is private as it is only accessible by a 0.7-mile hiking trail, and Grand Haven State Park, where you can play volleyball.

Rivers

Michigan has around 120 major rivers. Here are three of the most popular rivers for swimming:

Platte River

This river is a favorite among swimmers and floaters in Benzie County. The area around Platte River Point is particularly good for water activities since it has clear, gentle waters. In addition, public restrooms are available, along with picnic areas.

Au Sable River

The Au Sable River has several areas perfect for swimming or sunbathing, like Alcona Dam Pond Park and Whirlpool River Access Site. This river features clear, calm water, perfect for relaxing, swimming, or floating. Most of the best swimming areas on this river are easily accessible and have parking available.

Huron River

One of the best access points on the Huron River is Hudson Mills Metropark, which offers playgrounds, picnic areas, and canoe rentals. This area has calm waters and plenty to keep the whole family busy during the summer.

Lakes

It’s no secret that you can find some amazing lakes in Michigan. Here are three of the best lakes visitors can enjoy during the summer.

Lake Michigan

This Great Lake has several beaches, including the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with a 35-mile coastline.

Lake Huron

Another Great Lake in Michigan is Lake Huron, the third-largest freshwater lake in the world. One of the best places to spend the summer at this lake is a resort area called Mackinac Island.

Lake Glen

One of the most beautiful lakes in Michigan is Glen Lake, with its clear and soft sand. That’s why visitors from all over the U.S. flock to this lake during the summer.

2. Outdoor Recreation

Before cooling off in Michigan’s many bodies of water, many visitors want to explore the state’s breathtaking scenery. Outdoor recreation is not only thrilling but also visually appealing.

Tourists enjoying beautiful sunset scenery at the Empire Bluff Scenic Lookout, overlooking Lake Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the Manitou Island

Hiking through the diverse terrain of the Great Lakes State is one way to enjoy Michigan’s summers.

©Bo Shen/Shutterstock.com

Hiking

Michigan’s hiking trails offer guests an unforgettable experience with diverse terrain and tons of natural beauty. Hiking in the Great Lake State often takes visitors past gorgeous inland lakes or thundering waterfalls. Here are some of the best hiking trails in Michigan:

  • Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail – Detroit
  • North Country National Scenic Trail – Lowell
  • Greenstone Ridge Trail – Isle Royale National Park 
  • Pyramid Point Trail – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Fishing

Thousands of anglers flock to Michigan during the summer to experience the great fishing. While the Great Lakes are a good place to start, the state also offers plenty of rivers and streams that provide a wide range of fishing opportunities. They include:

  • Pinnebog River — Hume Township
  • Boardman River — Traverse City
  • Brimley Bay — Brimley
  • Kalamazoo River — Kalamazoo
  • Silver Lake — Hart.

Boating

During the summer, Michigan experiences some of the best weather for boating. Many outdoor enthusiasts launch their boats into the state’s lakes to take in the scenery, fish, and water ski. Here are some of the best places in the Mitten State to go boating:

  • Lake Huron — Les Cheneaux Islands
  • Lake St. Clair — Detroit
  • Torch Lake — Alden
  • Spring Lake and Lake Michigan — Grand Haven
  • Lake Charlevoix — Charlevoix and Boyne City.

3. Pleasant Weather

Michigan has the best summers because of the comfortable climate. During the hottest month of the year in the Mitten State, July, the average maximum temperature reaches about 82 °F. In addition, rain is rare during the summer, so visitors can enjoy everything Michigan has to offer.

A view from Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Michigan has the best summers because of the comfortable climate.

©Ayman Haykal/Shutterstock.com

4. Vibrant Festivals and Events

Thanks to the amazing weather during summer in Michigan, the state hosts many vibrant festivals and events, including:

  • Holland’s Tulip Time Festival
  • Michigan Petoskey Stone Festival
  • National Morel Mushroom Festival
  • Alpena Flower Festival
  • Mackinac Island Lilac Festival
  • Grand Haven Art Festival
  • Olive Burger Festival.
tulips line paths at Windmill Island Villiage in Holland Michigan. Tulips are in abundance during the annual Tulip Time Festival. The Dutch heritage is on display throughout the gardens.

Among the summer events in Michigan is the Tulip Festival in Holland.

©Craig Sterken/Shutterstock.com

5. Natural Wonders

Michigan has no shortage of natural wonders, and experiencing many of these attractions is best during the summer. Here are some of the most popular natural wonders in the Great Lake State:

Colorful Mineral Stained Cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Visitors flock to Pictured Rocks to take in all its glorious beauty.

©John McCormick/Shutterstock.com

6. Culinary Delights

Michigan’s farmers offer fresh local produce, which is why the farmers’ markets, food festivals, and national cuisine are so popular. Below is a list of some of the culinary delights visitors can experience during the summer:

  1. East Lansing Farmers Market — East Lansing 
  2. Muskegon Farmers Market — Muskegon 
  3. Midland Area Farmers Market — Midland
  4. Fulton Street Farmers Market — Grand Rapids
  5. Ann Arbor Farmers Market — Ann Arbor
  6. Flint Farmers’ Market — Flint
  7. National Asparagus Festival
  8. Cereal Festival
  9. Strawberry Festival
  10. National Cherry Festival
  11. Michigan Summer Beer Fest
  12. Ribfest
  13. Fish Sandwich Festival
  14. Fudge Festival
  15. Cheeseburger in Caseville.
Cups full of Cherries

Michigan’s farmers offer fresh local produce, which is why its farmers’ markets are so popular.


©Lina Robertson/Shutterstock.com

7. Family-Friendly Activities

Michigan offers plenty of family-friendly activities, especially during the summer. Parents can treat their kids to water parks, zoos, and theme parks to make their vacations more memorable. Here are some of the most family-friendly activities in the state:

  • Detroit Zoo
  • Zhender’s Splash Village 
  • Avalanche Bay 
  • Water Warrior Island
  • Splash Universe Resort
  • Michigan’s Adventure
  • Nelis’ Dutch Village.
Detroit Zoo water tower sign

Detroit Zoo is among the most family-friendly attractions in Michigan.

©alisafarov/Shutterstock.com

8. Cultural Heritage

The Great Lake State is one of the USA’s most successful industrial states, with a diverse population stemming from the automotive industry. Many people of all backgrounds moved to Detroit when the industry was booming. But, unfortunately, that all came crashing down about 20 years ago, and the car manufacturing sector has never recovered. However, the state is also notorious for its music. Motown was born in Detroit, and many musicians owe this industry for their success. Therefore, people in Michigan celebrate whenever they can through various music festivals and car shows, like:

  • Michigan International Auto Show, Grand Rapids, MI
  • McFadden Friendly Motors Car Show, South Haven, MI
  • Pops in the Past Vintage Car Show, Standish, MI
  • Afro Nation Detroit
  • Detroit Jazz Festival.
an old jazz trumpet on an antique table

Music is an integral part of Michigan’s rich cultural history.

©Corrado Baratta/Shutterstock.com

9. Scenic Drives and Road Trips

Summer is the best time to go on a road trip in Michigan. You can roll your windows down, turn your music up, and take a scenic drive on a quiet road showcasing the beauty of Michigan. Some of the best road trips and scenic drives in the state include:

  • M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort
  • Red Arrow Highway from New Buffalo to St. Joseph
  • US 23 from Tawas City to Alpena
  • US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique
  • River Road Scenic Byway along to AuSable River to Oscoda.
US2 Along Lake Michigan

Travel up US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique along the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan.

©Royalbroil / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

10. Welcoming Atmosphere

What visitors love most about Michigan are its small towns and communities. For example, these cities are home to residents who enjoy the simplicity of their small-town life and evoke the spirit, comfort, and compassion of their nature-filled surroundings. Additionally, they love welcoming visitors and are proud to show off their precious state.

Fireworks explode in a glorious display over the Saginaw River at Bay City Michigan's annual fireworks show. Crowds gather in boats on the river to watch the display and celebrate Independence Day.

Michiganers love welcoming visitors and are proud to show off and celebrate their state.

©Craig Sterken/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 10 Reasons Michigan Has the Best Summers in the United States

Here’s a recap of why we believe Michigan is an excellent summer destination.

NumberReason
1Numerous Beaches, Rivers, and Lakes
2Outdoor Recreation
3Pleasant Weather
4Vibrant Festivals and Events
5Natural Wonders
6Culinary Delights
7Family-Friendly Activities
8Cultural Heritage
9Scenic Drives and Road Trips
10Welcoming Atmosphere

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Doug Blunt/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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