Cost-Effective Destinations

Stretch your vacation budget without sacrificing the good times at these West Michigan spots!


With events throughout the year, the Ludington area is a great place to stay for free and affordable things to do. Events like the First Friday Art Walk series provide family fun throughout the year. This winter, spend time outside with the Lantern-Lit Skiing & Snowshoeing on February 2nd and 16th, or the Guided Snowshoe Hikes on February 9th. Both of the events require a Recreation Passport, which can be purchased from the Michigan DNR for as little as $11 annually. Visit the Ludington CVB’s website for more affordable outdoor recreation.

Mecosta County comes alive with two free events in February. Beat the winter blues with a month-long celebration of art, music, dance, literature, and more. Admission to many of the month’s art events is free, however some require advanced registration or may charge admission. February also brings Free Fishing Weekend on February 16th and 17th. Both residents and non-residents alike can fish without a license with over 100 lakes and streams in Mecosta County to choose from.

Traverse City is the place to be if you’re looking to stretch your dollar. Traverse City Restaurant Week is your chance to experience the culinary delights of Traverse City at an even more affordable price! Restaurants will offer three-course meals for $25 or $35 per person from February 24th to March 2nd. If you’re looking to learn how to ski or snowboard, Shanty Creek Resorts in nearby Bellaire offers their Super Sunday deal every Sunday through March 17th. For only $29 per person, Super Sundays include a lift ticket, rental equipment, and station-by-station group lesson. Stay well within your budget, while still getting the most out of your Traverse City vacation.

There are plenty of fun and free things to do in downtown Hastings all year round. Throughout the year, enjoy a self-guided tour of over 20 outdoor sculptures on display in downtown Hastings, or visit Thornapple Plaza for free concerts from June through August. If outdoor adventure is more your family’s style, the Hastings Riverwalk Trail hugs the banks of the Thornapple River for three miles, with paved paths suitable for walking and biking. Your family doesn’t need to break the bank to have a good time in Hastings.

Enjoy free and affordable activities and attractions in Muskegon County without compromising on a good time. The Lakeshore Museum Center offers free admission for residents and $3 admission for non-residents, while the Muskegon Museum of Art offers free guided tours every Thursday and free family fun days the second Saturday of each month. With trails for all four seasons and nationally-recognized beaches, the area is also an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Additional free activities in the summer include Movies on the Deck aboard the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum and multiple summer concert series. Plan your visit to the Muskegon area, where you can stretch your budget with free and affordable fun.

A trip to the Holland area doesn’t need to break the bank! Attractions like the Critter Barn in Zeeland or the Holland Area Arts Council can easily fit in any budget, and they’re perfect for the entire family. Plan your next big adventure while saving along the way in the Holland area.

A trip to the Mt. Pleasant area is rich with experiences for the whole family, and you can do them all well within your budget! The free Kids & Culture series hosts family-friendly events the second Saturday of each month with various businesses taking part. If you’re looking for outdoor fun, the area’s many trails and parks are perfect for a family hike or stroll. Plan your stay and keep an eye out for more free and affordable things to do in Mt. Pleasant.

One of the great things about the Petoskey area is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to visit. In fact, there are many things to do for free. Free activities include sledding, Petoskey Stone hunting, touring Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen or Maple Moon Sugarbush, exploring trails, and so much more.

Charlevoix is a fantastic budget-friendly place to stay in West Michigan. Stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan to see if you can find a Petoskey Stone. Explore nature at the Mt. McSauba Recreation Area or Fisherman’s Island State Park. Finally, take a walking or driving tour of the famous mushroom houses.

The Grayling area has an abundance of outdoor recreational activities, many of which are free. This includes disc golfing, birdwatching, geocaching, biking, hiking, and more. If you have your own kayak or canoe, there are numerous public access sites where you can enjoy the area’s rivers at no cost. In the winter, enjoy cross country skiing, with lessons offered periodically at no charge.