West Michigan Tourist Association

History Itineraries

Music House Museum, Acme
Every region in West Michigan is full of rich history. These
itineraries will help you find which region is home to the
historical vacation you are looking for.

Region 1

Northern West Michigan is full of rich history and architecture. If you can appreciate historic bed and breakfasts or a classic castle, then we recommend you check out these places!

Day 1:

Head to Charlevoix to visit Castle Farms. Here you can tour a Renasissance castle with magnificent stone towers, fragrant gardens & cobblestone courtyards. The rich history spanning the original construction in 1918 through the renovation period has earned Castle Farms national acclaim. It is here you can even play with a life size chess board!

Take the short drive over to Petoskey to experience the sheer beauty and history of two Stafford properties; The Bayview Inn and the Perry Hotel. The Bayview Inn offers guests the grace and romance of a bygone era, set against the exquisite views of Little Traverse Bay. This charming country inn was built in 1886 and has enchanted visitors for over 120 years. Whether you choose to stay here or just enjoy a meal in the Roselawn Dining Room (home of Michigan's Best Sunday Brunch), you are sure to be blown away by the magnificent history and beauty of this property. Just down the road is the Perry Hotel which was built in 1899, in Petoskey's historic downtown Gaslight District overlooking Little Traverse Bay. Stay to enjoy turn-of-the century guestrooms and fill up on exceptional food in one of northern Michigan’s most elegant dining rooms.

Day 2-

Make your way up to the historic gem that is Mackinac Island. Take the Arnold Line, Starline or Shepler’s ferry over to the Island. The whole island boasts centuries of history. One must see stop is the Grand Hotel. The hotel is known as “America’s Summer Place”, built in 1887, travelers have been frequenting the hotel since this time. It is home to the world’s longest front porch sizing in at 660ft. Enjoy breakfast out here or just take in the view of the Mackinac Bridge, at 8,614 feet, it is the longest suspension bridge in North America.

Day 3-

Head on up to Sault St. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to see the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is the only one of its kind dedicated to the perils of maritime transport on the Great Lakes. It is located at Whitefish Point, Michigan, site of the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior. Open daily May 1 - October 31, 10 am to 6 pm.

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Region 2

The Traverse City region is home to many unique historical museum sites. If this is up your alley, then you will want to make sure you stop at these unique destinations.

For incredible breathtaking views of the Grand Traverse Bay, start your day off in Northport at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Learn what it would have been like to be a lighthouse keeper back before lights were automated. If you really want to dive into the lightkeeping life style, you have the opportunity to take part in a “Keeper Program”, where you can live in the lighthouse for a short period of time.

Make your way down the Grand Traverse Bay coast line and head into Acme. Stop into the Music House Museum to be completely blown away by the array of classic musical instruments. In an unassuming barn located off the highway, the Music House Museum presents an extensive collection of some of the world's most fascinating & beautiful automated musical instruments. Guests are escorted through period settings and galleries for an hour-long tour of memorable musical entertainment. Music-theme gift shop. Daily May - October & weekends in November/December. Eight miles north of Traverse City.

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Region 4

The lower central region of West Michigan has exquisite collections of history located in dozens of museums. If you find yourself wanted to divulge into rich history and beautifully crafted museum displays, here are some wonderful options for you.

Day 1-

Travel to Coopersville to the Coopersville Historical Society Museum and see the home of the Del Shannon Memorial and the Del Shannon Room. Del Shannon, known for his famous 1961 hit, “Runaway” was born and raised in Coopersville. The Historical Museum relives his life in Coopersville and also takes you back in time to old Main Street Coopersville.

Once finished in Coopersville, head on over to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. The Gerald R. Ford Museum brings American history to life. Diverse exhibits show the real stuff of history, sparking curiosity and enthusiasm about our nation's history and government. Programs, tours and historical performances add yet another dimension to the Museum's educational offerings.

Day 2-

The coastal town of Muskegon shines with history and proudly displays it for the public to see at the Lakeshore Museum Center. The museum, which is completely free to the public, explores a 400 million year journey though Michigan, has an interactive exhibit to help explain to children how the body works, has a hands on science room, and explores the vast effects being surrounded by water has on Michigan. The Lakeshore Museum Center is also home to the Hackely & Hume site which preserves the homes of Muskegon's most famous lumber baron, Charles H. Hackley, and his business partner, Thomas Hume. The Site envelops the visitor in a unique living space, bringing late 19th century craftsmanship to life. Another home to see is the Scolnik Home of the Depression Era. This museum shows what living was like for two different families back in the age of the depression.

While along the coast, stop in Whitehall to tour the White River Light Station. Built in 1875, the White River Light Station serves as an educational museum, that harkens back to an important chapter in history when ship captains relied upon the keepers of lights that guided them through the Great Lakes. Exciting exhibits, vast artifact collection, gift shop and view from the tower.

Day 3-

Still curious about Michigan’s vast history? Take the trip to Lansing to see the Michigan Historical Museum. Explore an Upper Peninsula copper mine, stroll along a 1920s urban street & relive the 1957 Detroit Auto Show! Here you can enjoy 26 permanent galleries on 4 levels. 2 blocks west of the Capitol. Open Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm, Sat 10am-4pm & Sun 1-5pm. Closed holidays. Free admission.

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Region 5

The southern west region of West Michigan highlights some fun and entertaining aspects of West Michigan history. From a classic car museum, to an “air zoo”, Southern West Michigan proves to have history for everyone to enjoy!

Day 1-

Take a ride to Hastings to experience Historic Charlton Park. Here you can Explore a turn-of-the-century rural Michigan village. Annual events include car & steam engine shows, medieval & longbow shows, a pow wow & holiday celebrations. Enjoy hiking, swimming, boating, fishing & picnics on Thornapple Lake. Historic church & picnic shelter rentals. Open Memorial Day - Labor Day

Day 2-

Are you a car enthusiast, make your way down to the Gilmore Car Museum. Dreams of finding an “old car in a barn” are a daily reality here. Nestled on 90 landscaped acres in restored historic barns are nearly 200 extraordinary vehicles spanning more than 100 years of automotive heritage. Here you will find exhibits ranging from a 1899 Locomobile, to the classic Duesenberg or the elusive Tucker '48, and from the Model T to the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away is the W.K. Kellogg Manor House. Former estate to cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg and his wife Dr. Carrie Staines Kellogg, the Manor House was built on the highest point overlooking Gull Lake in 1925-1926. Restored in 2000, the Manor House is now used for tours and to host special events.

Day 3-

Drive the scenic Blue Star Highway into South Haven and marvel in the rich Maritime History at the Michigan Maritime Museum. Five separate buildings offer a variety of engaging opportunities for the Museum visitor including permanent and changing exhibits on Michigan maritime history, a center for the teaching of boat building and related maritime skills, and a regionally renowned research library. Waterfront festivals and events are complemented by the hustle and bustle of a modern harbor and vast sandy beaches in one of west Michigan's most picturesque shoreline communities.The sloop Friends Good Will, and the riverboat Lindy Lou promote are available for daily rides and river cruises.

Once you are full to the brim with knowledge of Michigan’s maritime past, head on over to the Michigan Flywheelers Museum. Home to one of the largest Antique Engine & Tractor shows in the state that is held every September, the Michigan Flywheelers Museum offers visitors a chance to step back in time and learn about our early American farming history and its equipment.

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