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28 Items for Your West Michigan Summer Bucket List!

From the southernmost shores of Lake Michigan to the tip of the Upper Peninsula, West Michigan has everything you’re looking to add to your summer. Enjoy a relaxing beach sunset or an exciting zip-line adventure, a day on the water or a ride on the trails, and everything in between when you add these to your summer bucket list!

1. Surf Lake Michigan

Being located toward the south end of the lake makes Southwest Michigan an ideal surfing destination. Frequent north and west winds especially in the spring and fall create sizable waves. The St. Joseph piers help smooth the waves out making them cleaner, and the sandbars influence where and how they will break. All of these conditions come together to make the area from the north of Lions Park Beach to Silver Beach a great place to surf.

2. Take a Selfie With a Sloth! 

 

Experience 1-on-1 interaction with the resident sloths at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo in New Era.  A Sloth Encounter offers guests an amazing opportunity to feed, pet, and learn all about these incredible animals. 

3. Tour Lake Superior Shores

Experience the best the Keweenaw Peninsula has to offer, paddling and pedaling with the region’s premier guide and outfitter, the Keweenaw Adventure Company. Explore Copper Harbor’s internationally recognized mountain bike trails and magnificent Lake Superior shores. Try the Agate Harbor Paddle, a 4.5-5 hour guided tour great for the adventurous novice or more experienced paddler, and investigate an area of the Keweenaw less traveled, including a chain of barrier islands, the “arch rock”, finger bays, and view the spiny ridgelines that parallel the peninsula. Choose between a 2.5 or 5 hour guided tour on a Singletrack Adventure Bike Tour, a perfect introduction to the trails! Ride through enchanted forests with elevation changes, bridges & boardwalks, rocky, rugged terrain and sweet, flowy-singletrack within an incredibly scenic location will make mountain bike fanatics drool. 

4. Hunt for Petoskey Stones

One thing many who come to the Petoskey Area want to do is to find a Petoskey stone! You’ll find raw or polished and even jewelry made out of the fossilized coral in several stores, but perusing the beaches and water’s edge for Michigan’s state stone is much more of a challenge – and a fun way to spend the day. 

5. Explore Public Art in St. Joseph & Benton Harbor

Explore art indoors and out at Krasl Art Center. KAC ❤’s Public Art. Why? Because public art is for everybody. It’s the kind of art you can look at whether you’re wearing a tuxedo or a bathing suit, whether it’s noon or midnight. Krasl Art Center’s I ❤ Public Art initiative encourages active participation and community ownership in the vibrant culture that makes St. Joseph and Benton Harbor unique cities in the region. Visit KAC’s collection of 40+ sculptures throughout the twin cities using free maps and spend time with art on your own terms at KAC’s outdoor campus. Along the way, you may discover additional public monuments and artworks that are part of the vibrant cultural community. If you’re looking to escape the heat, head into KACs galleries, which are free and open to the public and feature dynamic exhibitions throughout the year.

6. Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Grand Traverse Bay

How can your trip get better than staying at a winery estate, biking, and getting out on a SUP on Grand Traverse Bay? At the Inn at Black Star Farms, we like to call it Wine, Water and Wheels!

7. Take Time to Focus on Your Art

Take an art, cooking, or writing workshop at Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists’ Residency in Saugatuck! Art on the Meadow offers short-term, affordable art education opportunities, held outdoors under tents, for learners of all experience levels. These intimate workshops are imaginatively challenging and logistically accessible for everyone aged 13 and up. Many of this year’s workshops engage with the natural environment or equip you to bring art home and into your everyday life.

8. Explore Coldwater for a Day of Summer Fun

Michigan is known for the Great Lakes, but did you know that the Coldwater Country area in West Michigan is home to two chains of lakes and more than 100 freshwater lakes? Rent a pontoon and make it a day of relaxation on the water.

Another way to play in the water and enjoy fun in the sun is at Coldwater Country’s Aqua Pit. Home to The Hydro Zone, a jungle gym on the water, The Aqua Pit is a destination for the entire family. Enjoy paddling a kayak or paddleboard, relax, hang out, or go for a swim. Play volleyball, horseshoes, or cornhole. It’s a day of fun!

As the sun sets, make your way to the Capri Drive-In, one of the remaining drive-in movie theaters in Michigan. The Capri Drive-In shows first run double features on both screens.

9. View Waterfalls in Marquette

Marquette County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to 77 natural waterfalls, more falls than any other county in the state of Michigan. Be sure to check out Yellow Dog Falls, a beautiful, hidden gem where visitors pass through several small falls and rapids on the trek to the main rushing waterfall. Other highlights include Morgan Falls, Canyon Falls, and Dead River Falls. 

10. Enjoy a Bonfire, Music, and Sunset on the Beach

On the fourth Thursday of June, July, and August, you are invited to bring your beach chairs and blankets to Ludington’s Stearns Park Beach to enjoy a true Up North evening that includes a bonfire, live music, and a beautiful sunset. The free, community events are set for 8-10 pm June 24, July 22, and August 26.

 

11. Splash, Ride, and Climb in South Haven

Spend a day at the beach, relax, and unwind in the summer sun and cool water! South Haven’s new lakefront Splash Pad, modeled after the town’s tall ship Friends Good Will, will provide kids with great memories and experiences. Take a walk on the Maritime District Harbor Walk, running from pierhead to pierhead and along the Black River and snap a selfie in front of South Haven’s signature historic red lighthouse! Get out on the water by kayak, paddle board, pontoon boat, or jet-ski. Experience an exciting or relaxing excursion aboard a fishing charter, or one of the Michigan Maritime Museum’s historic boats. Explore by land when you bike or hike the Kal-Haven and Van Buren trails under a canopy of trees, or climb the Van Buren Dune at Van Buren State Park.

Bring the kids, grand-kids, or the young-at-heart to the Michigan Maritime Museum Pirate Chaser Sails starting June 16th. This is one of the most popular experiences for children, and offer the chance to make an unforgettable memory! Launch on a 90-minute sail aboard the tall ship Friends Good Will as young and old capture the pirates and keep the harbor safe and sound. All children must be at least 4 years of age and accompanied by an adult.

From wine tours to lighthouse tours, Moveportz Shuttle Service will get you there! Enjoy the South Haven area wineries, breweries, and more with a private shuttle for your group of up to 14 people

12. A Visit to Mackinac Island

Summers in Northern Michigan are not complete without a trip to Mackinac Island! No cars, no chain hotels, just world-famous Mackinac Island Fudge, historic Fort Mackinac, unique shopping and dining, and memories to last a lifetime. 

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry offers fast, friendly service to take you back in time to a one-of-a-kind bucket list item. Sit back and relax on a narrated carriage tour or rent a bike and take the scenic route around the island! Join Shepler’s Ferry Tales Newsletter for more island tips.

13. Launch Your Kayak or Tee Off in Calhoun County

With two major rivers, Calhoun County is a great place to bring your kayak. Whether you want to take a short jaunt or spend the day on the water, there are plenty of easy access points. Bring a picnic lunch and you can stop at a park, such as Historic Bridge Park or the Kellogg House gardens. 

Golf at the best golf course in the nation: Stoatin Brae in Augusta was awarded the National Golf Course of the Year for 2021. Inspired by the courses of Scotland, Stoatin Brae has tall grasses and panoramic views. If you want to make a trip of it, consult Southern Swing. The travel consultant will coordinate a hotel stay and tee times among 15 different courses. Get that Up North feeling, but at Southern Michigan golf prices. 

14. Bike the Great Lake to Lake Bike Trail

If biking the Great Lake to Lake Bike Trail is on your bucket list, then staying at the Stuart Avenue Inn in Kalamazoo should be as well. Whether it’s the first stop on the South Haven to Port Huron ride, or the stop before the last leg of the Port Huron to South Haven ride, you’ll find a welcome haven, relaxing gardens, hearty breakfasts, picnic lunch, and assistance with your luggage/car. The Great Lake-to-Lake Trail offers Michigan’s trail users a unique opportunity to experience quiet rural pathways and urban excursions as it winds its way across the southern lower portion of Michigan from shore to shore.

15. Enjoy a Theatre Performance Outside

Under the shade of an event pavilion and surrounded by 30 acres of lush landscaping, Tibbits Summer Theatre invites you to enjoy professional live entertainment outdoors as they present their 2021 summer theatre season at The Ponds of Coldwater! From June to August, enjoy a fun and elegant musical review (The Best of Broadway), the beloved musical classic The Fantasticks, and the charming family show You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as well as the heartwarming play On Golden Pond

16. Sail a Tall Ship

 

Help sail a 77′ tall ship schooner and learn about the health of the Great Lakes. On Inland Seas’ sail programs in Suttons Bay, you will collect and analyze lake samples, raise the sails and steer the ship, and relax in the beauty of northern Michigan. Two and three hour trips run June through October.  

17. Zip Over the Kalamazoo River

Zip through the sky above the Kalamazoo River on Allegan Event’s riverfront zip line!A lot of people have zip lining on their bucket list, and Allegan Event has even seen people celebrating their 90th birthday by ziplining! It’s a great activity to do with family, friends, or even co-workers and teammates. Visit on the weekends now, or Allegan Event’s zip line and indoor adventure center will be open seven days a week beginning June 14th

18. Love Lansing Like A Local

Looking for an easy road trip for your weekend adventure? It’s a great time to escape the everyday world and unplug for awhile. Greater Lansing’s central location in the state makes it a popular drive-to destination. With wide open spaces and plenty of chill places, Mid-Michigan is the ideal safe and affordable retreat. 

19. Climb Mt. Pisgah

Plan a visit to Holland and climb 237 steps up Mt. Pisgah: a towering sand dune overlooking Lake Michigan, Lake Macatawa, and the famous “Big Red” lighthouse.

 

20. Cruise the Lake on the S.S. Badger

See the Lake Michigan shoreline from a different perspective when you take a voyage on the S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry. The S.S. Badger is a passenger carferry based in Ludington that makes a daily crossing to Manitowoc, WI. Relax on the deck, take in Lake Michigan views, and enjoy on-board food, drinks, and activities.

While in Wisconsin, explore the OTHER side of Lake Michigan in Kenosha! Ride an authentic electric streetcar along the lakefront, explore museums and historic sites, climb a lighthouse, stroll along a sculpture walk, savor the flavors at unique restaurants and farmers markets, and watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan for a change. Kenosha offers adventure beyond the expected!

21. Meet Michigan’s Laziest River & 12 Golf Courses in Mt. Pleasant

 

Master miles and miles of winding waters via tube, kayak, canoe, or paddle board in Isabella County. Known as Michigan’s laziest river, the Chippewa River is perfect for a leisurely trip downstream with friends and family. Float, paddle, or walk; whichever you prefer, it’s up to you! Not only will you experience the tranquility of nature, but you may even spot a bald eagle and other wildlife around the bend.

Whether you’re looking for championship layouts and challenges or a relaxing weekend of oasis golf, the Central Michigan area has it all. Featuring a variety of courses and course styles to choose from, the area will give you memories that will last a lifetime, and a permanent place for all your future golf getaways!

22. Canoe, Kayak, & Raft the Mighty Pine River

Since the great state of Michigan is over 40% covered with water, a paddling trip on one of Michigan’s waterways should be on everyone’s summer bucket list! The Pine River Paddlesports Center in Wellston is here to make checking that item off of your list an absolute breeze. They offer canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle boards, and raft rentals on two of Michigan’s premiere paddling rivers – the Pine River and the Big Manistee River. From easy, meandering, quiet water to fun, splashy, safe Class I whitewater, there is something for all ages and skill levels. Bringing 50 years of expertise to the table, the friendly staff at the Paddlesports Center will fit all of the paddlers in your group to size and skill appropriate watercraft as well as suggest appropriate trip options. In addition to being a paddling destination, the Paddlesports Center also operates a clean, quiet campground that is a perfect location to serve as your base-camp for exploring Michigan’s pristine rivers this summer. 

23. Discover Kalamazoo

Want to know where to make your own wine, visit an alligator sanctuary, catch an independent film made by teenagers, or get the best, juiciest burger? 269 Cool Things to Do in Area Code 269™ is a compilation of submissions from residents and visitors as they share their favorite gems in the Kalamazoo area.

24. Try Foot Golf at Shanty Creek 

A trip to Shanty Creek Resort is perfect for travelers looking for the Up North experience. With golfing, dining and spa treatments, biking, hiking, and more, Shanty Creek offers countless ways to relax, play, and kick back on a summer getaway. Located 31 miles from Traverse City, in a community that’s name means ‘Fresh Air,’ it’s easy to find the beauty of the woods and water at a slower pace away from the crowds of people. Of course, a visit to Shanty Creek Resort isn’t complete without a round of golf. Pack the clubs and plan to hit the links on one of the resort’s four championship golf courses. Or, try FootGolf, a hybrid of golf and soccer that’s been sweeping the world of golf in recent years. A mix of the skills of soccer with the scoring of golf equals a fun new way to bring the whole family to the links. This Dutch game uses a soccer ball, the fairways of Shanty Creek Resort’s Summit Golf Course, and 21-inch holes. The goal, like golf, is the fewest strokes from tee to hole.

25. Wine on the Water 

Sit back, sip, and savor the wine (and views) on a Wine on the Water cruise aboard the Star of Saugatuck.  All ages are welcome,  but must be 21+ to drink. Your experience includes five 3oz. pours of featured wines, a snack, and bottle of water, along with panoramic views of Saugatuck, Lake Michigan, and the surrounding natural area. Find cruise dates and reservation information on the Star of Saugatuck website.

26. Skydiving, Mushroom Houses, and More in Charlevoix

Planning a trip to the Charlevoix in the near future? Whether you are visiting for the first time, or are a seasoned guest, check out this list of things the Visit Charlevoix team recommend visitors see, do, and explore, including skydiving, touring a mushroom house, shopping the boutique downtown stores, and enjoying a sunset on the beach. 

27. Golf on Drummond Island

Experience island golf like no other at The Rock at Drummond Island Resort! The 18-Hole championship course carved out of 400 acres of hardwood, cedar, and limestone is a golfer’s paradise. The Rock offers a challenge of nearly 6,900 yards with four placements of tees suitable for all golfers. Make it a golf getaway with an overnight stay in a rustic lodge room or personal log cabin, located waterside or on the fairway. Bring your appetite to Pins Bar & Grill and enjoy a delicious meal and your favorite beverage. Dine indoors or outdoors in the Beer Garden. Book your spring golf package today and receive a second round of golf free! Mention Golf Package SP2. Offer valid Monday through Thursday based on availability. 

28. Go Fowling!

The Fowling Warehouse™ Grand Rapids is the only place in West Michigan to play the original football bowling pin game called Fowling™! A destination for individuals, couples, small groups or large events, The Fowling Warehouse™ is a great time out for anyone.

 

Add these Events & Festivals to your Summer Calendar!