Summers in West Michigan are one-of-a-kind, with picturesque beaches, sunsets, activities, breweries, vineyards, and so much more. However, planning a memorable summer in Michigan can be daunting and overwhelming, so we did the work for you and created this must-do list to find the hidden West Michigan gems before summer ends! As you complete items on this list, feel free to tag @westmichtourist; we would love to hear from you!

Explore Local History

  • Kick off your summer on June 2nd at the History Center at Courthouse Square. Enjoy local bands, explore the market, and free museum admission. Then, on July 4th, head back for the 4th Annual Berrien Springs Pickle Festival. Don't miss the food sampling, Pickle Fling, and historic site exploration. Next up on August 12th-17th, come to the Berrien County Youth Fair. Explore their UFO exhibit, enjoy trivia, snap photos, and shop. Learn more about these awesome summer activities here.
  • Step into the past at the Little Traverse Historical Society & History Museum in Petoskey this summer. The museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits on the region's history and on Ernest Hemingway. Engage in interactive displays, tours, and special events, offering a fascinating journey through time for all ages to enjoy.
  • Discover Michigan's premier historic site, Castle Farms in Charlevoix. Built-in 1918, this French Renaissance castle offers family-friendly fun with soaring stone towers, European gardens, and museum-quality collections. Explore antique toys, World War I artifacts, and an impressive outdoor model railroad. Open year-round for guided and self-guided tours, it's an unforgettable experience for all ages. 

  • Don't miss your chance to experience an immersive, full facility tour at IndiGrow. Located in beautiful downtown Muskegon. Similar to a microbrewery, IndiGrow grows, processes, and sells cannabis all from its sole location in the heart of Muskegon. At the store, you will only find products produced in-house. These high-quality and unique products are not available at any other location. The only fully immersive tour offered in the state, this is something you'll want on your bucket list. 
  • Step back in time and visit four historic lighthouses; Big Sable Point at Ludington State Park, Little Sable Point at Silver Lake State Park, Ludington North Breakwater by Stearns Park in Ludington, and White River Light Station in Whitehall. The Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers are an integral part of keeping the history of the lighthouses alive and have various educational and volunteer opportunities available, including tours. 

Take a Boat Cruise

  • Embark on a unique wine-tasting adventure by boat in Leelanau County and Traverse City with H2Go Charters. Cruise along picturesque waters while sampling exquisite wines from renowned vineyards. Experience the beauty of Northern Michigan's landscapes while indulging in delicious flavors. Don't miss this unforgettable blend of relaxation and luxury on the water. 
  • Experience the thrill of sailing on a tall ship. Step back in time to the 1800s aboard Michigan Maritime Museum’s vessel, Friends Good Will, and immerse yourself in the authentic maritime adventure you've always dreamed of. Let them bring this historic journey to life for you. 

  • See the Lake Michigan shoreline differently when you take a voyage on the SS Badger. The SS Badger is a passenger car ferry based in Ludington that makes a daily crossing to Manitowoc, WI. Relax on the deck, take in Lake Michigan views, and enjoy onboard food, drinks, and activities. Explore Ludington’s Stearns Park Beach to enjoy free community events on the last Thursday of June, July, and August, and you will even get a glimpse of the SS Badger returning to the port.
  • Make your visit to the U.P. memorable with a trip through the Soo Locks. Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours offers a variety of cruises aboard its iconic yellow and blue tour boats. Experience a 90-minute tour through the world’s largest parallel locking system that resolves the 21-foot variance between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. View freighters up close while taking in the history and attractions of the Sault Ste. Marie area. 

  • Ahoy, matey. Get ready for a swashbuckling adventure aboard the pirate ship Good Fortune from Mackinac Island Ferry Company based in Mackinaw City. Experience pirate music and dancing, crew members dressed and talking like pirates, and water cannons for kids on board, and the cruise will culminate with the firing off of the Good Fortune’s cannon. The Good Fortune sails Tuesday – Saturday beginning June 16th through September 3rd. Buy your tickets here
  • If you are looking for unique vacation ideas, choose Pictured Rocks Cruises scenic boat tours for an up-close view of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. These 2 ½-3 hour cruises take off from Munising and travel into and alongside the most visually stunning 40 miles of shoreline on the Great Lakes.
  • The Beaver Island Boat Company departs from Charlevoix for a relaxing two-hour cruise from spectacular forests, magnificent dunes, and pristine water to Beaver Island, also known as America's Emerald Isle, located 32 miles into Lake Michigan.

Escape to the Outdoors

  • Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach or a bustling community event, the lakeshore town of Ludington is a fantastic place to land for a summertime vacation. They’ve narrowed down a list of the best things to do during your trip to make your planning easier.
  • From SkyBridge at Boyne Mountain, Lavender Hill Farm, Petoskey Stone hunting, or any of the many beaches and outdoor activities – the Petoskey area has enough for a full bucket list of fun in northwest Michigan. 

  • Adventure North to the Keweenaw this summer for a getaway that you will never forget. Make the Keweenaw your launching point for a bucket-list trip to explore trails that bring you to hidden waterfalls, past old mining ruins, or atop bluffs with panoramic views. Dive into history and learn how copper mining shaped communities throughout the region. Walk along countless miles of Lake Superior shoreline, searching for treasures like agates or glowing "Yooperlites." Then wind down with live music in the park. There is an adventure here for everyone in Keweenaw
  • Summer is just around the corner, and the Mt. Pleasant area offers a variety of outdoor fun and activities. Cool off as you canoe, kayak, or float down the Chippewa River, or explore over 1,000 acres of parkland and 19 nature preserves. See big-name entertainment like Keith Urban and Lynyrd Skynyrd right in central Michigan at the Soaring Eagle Casino outdoor summer concerts.

  • The 2024 season on Mackinac Island promises to be a good one. With 70 miles of trails, 80% State Park, and the crystal clear water of the Straits of Mackinac the island is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. But that's not all, when on the island, feel the power of Michilimackinac's cannon as you fire the first cannon shot of the day, enjoy history tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, golf, biking, and a diverse array of dining options. There are many outstanding places to stay on the island, one of them being the famous Grand Hotel which features thrilling and relaxing outdoor activities. Make memories on Mackinac Island this year, start planning now.
  • Since the great state of Michigan is over 40% covered with water, discover Michigan's water wonderland with Pine River Paddlesports Center in Lake County. Offering canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board, and raft rentals on the Pine River and Big Manistee River, they cater to all skill levels. With over 50 years of expertise, their friendly staff ensures a perfect paddling experience. Plus, their campground serves as an ideal base camp for exploring Michigan's pristine rivers.

  • Soar through the air like a bird on the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park’s thrilling 1,400-foot dual zip line. This exciting experience lets you fly over the lush green canopy of Muskegon State Park, offering breathtaking views of the white pines and a memory your family will cherish. 
  • Marquette County is an outdoor enthusiasts' playground. Bikers can conquer over 150 miles of singletrack trails, while leisure seekers can enjoy scenic paved paths. Discover hidden treasures like Yellow Dog Falls and Warner Falls. Don't miss the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market opening May 18th, and dive into summer festivities like Art Week and HarborFest. Explore more here

  • Want your summertime bucket list to involve actual buckets? Come to Holland. Where else can you start the day admiring a Lake Michigan lighthouse while building a multi-tier sandcastle? Then move on to visit an old-world amusement park and shoulder a two-bucket yoke, just like water carriers of old. And end the day dropping a few coins into a bucket to thank a flamethrowing juggler for making your night. Buckets or not, Holland is the place to begin crafting a West Michigan summer to remember.
  • Coldwater Country is a haven for relaxation, home to more than 100 freshwater lakes including two chains of lakes among the quaint communities. This summer rent a pontoon, explore, and make it a day of relaxation on the water. 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 one of the remaining drive-in movie theaters in Michigan, the Capri Drive-In. The beloved, family-owned drive-in is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with a variety of events and specials throughout the year-long celebration.

Photo Curtesy: Boyne Mountain Sky Bridge

  • Take a walk on the wild side of the world's longest timber-towered suspension bridge at Boyne Mountain Resort. The Skybridge allows you to venture along the 1,200-foot-long, 118-foot-high pedestrian bridge between McLouth and Disciples Ridge peaks, overlooking the Boyne Valley. Cross first thing in the morning, stay late to catch the sunset, or watch the changing landscape throughout the day. 
  • Afternoons on the patio with a cold drink in hand and nights exploring the city. In Kalamazoo, summertime means nonstop entertainment or lazy beach days simply doing nothing at all—and loving every minute of it. Plan your trip to Kalamazoo today. 

  • Cheering on your local team at a ball game is a classic way to spend a summer day. West Michigan is home to the Traverse City Pit Spitters playing at the Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City. This experience is more than just a game of baseball: get ready for interactive entertainment in between innings, and plenty of themed nights throughout the season. Check out their ticket options here
  • Are you looking for an exciting and action-packed summer activity? Allegan Event is home to Michigan's largest indoor ropes course, making it a perfect place for your summer bucket list. The Sky Trail® has 85+ challenges, including crisscross angle rope ladders, zig-zag swinging beams, cargo nets, and bridges. This heart-pumping bi-level course sits at heights up to 35 feet and features two SkyRail® zip rails. Crossing off your summer bucket list with family, friends, or even co-workers and teammates is a great activity.

Experience the Arts

  • Embark on a summer journey like never before at Tibbits. From June 7th to August 3rd, immerse yourself in Tibbits Summer Theatre featuring the hits Forever Plaid, Sweeney Todd, Rent, and Over the River and Through the Woods. Their stage is set for an unforgettable season of theatrical brilliance that deserves a top spot on your Summer Bucket List. For more information, click here.
  • Know a young talent, aged 7 to 18, eager to shine on stage? Whether a budding performer or a seasoned actor, LowellArt’s program offers an immersive experience. Under Brent Alles and Rob Freund's guidance, participants delve into auditions, blocking, and performance, culminating in an original one-act play. Join them for nine dynamic sessions starting June 1st.

  • Immerse in cultural richness at the Great Lake Center for the Arts in Bay Harbor. Experience captivating performances, vibrant exhibitions, and educational workshops. From theater to music, it's a haven for art enthusiasts. Explore creativity against the stunning backdrop of the Great Lakes region. View their event calendar here.
  • As the balmy breeze of summer envelops us, there is no better way to celebrate the season than by immersing yourself in the harmonious melodies of the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. These annual concert series have become a cherished tradition, offering diverse lineups of world-class musicians in a unique and picturesque outdoor setting.

Summer Getaways

  • Crystal Mountain is the ultimate summer getaway with lodging, dining, shopping, and outdoor activities all right on site. Explore this 1500-acre property complete with two championship golf courses, an outdoor pool and water playground, Michigan Legacy Art Park, disc golf, archery, Crystal Spa and so much more. Be one of the first to ride the new dial Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide or one of the first to fly high on the new Bunjee Trampoline. Choose Crystal Mountain as your base camp to explore the region
  • A trip to Bellaire’s Shanty Creek Resort is perfect for travelers looking for Michigan’s ‘Up North’ experience. Shanty Creek offers countless ways to relax, play, and kick back on a summer getaway. Enjoy hiking and biking at the resort or nearby trails or spend the day on the water swimming, boating, fishing, and beachcombing. 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 five championship golf courses. Golf during the month of May and take advantage of the Anniversary Specials, celebrating 25 years at Cedar River and 20 years at Hawk’s Eye. All golfers receive a 25% discount on any of the courses on Monday-Wednesday, and Sunday.
  • Make memories at Legs Inn, a hidden gem nestled along Lake Michigan's shores. Indulge in authentic Polish cuisine where you can savor pierogi and kielbasa while soaking in panoramic lake views. And if you aren’t ready to leave at the end of your meal, no worries they offer five cottage rentals located in a natural, private wooded area adjacent to a sandy beach and the crystal clear water of Lake Michigan. Book your stay today

Indulge in Summer Delights

  • Escape to St. Ambrose Cellars for a summer retreat. Amidst northern Michigan's picturesque landscapes, indulge in handcrafted meads and wines. Relax on the rustic patio, surrounded by lush vineyards, as live music serenades the atmosphere. Experience the essence of summer with every sip, making memories to savor long after the season fades.
  • Begin your spring and summer adventures with a tour of Southwest wine country. Modales Wines in Fennville invites you to join their entertaining and educational tours of the vineyard (weather permitting) and production facility. Tours commence Saturday, April 6th at 12 pm. Add a winery tour to your bucket list and come visit us at Modales. 

  • A unique addition to your bucket list, experience the joy of petting an alpaca while savoring Michigan craft beer. Join Stormcloud Brewing Company's Parkview Taproom for Alpaca Days in Frankfort. Meet the alpacas in the beer garden, enjoy drinks, and food, and learn about these fascinating creatures from their owners. For dates and times of this event, visit their website.
  • Experience the essence of summer at the Cherry Republic. Nestled in the heart of Traverse City, this iconic destination offers a delightful array of cherry-inspired delights. From handcrafted cherry wines and chocolates to tangy cherry salsa, you’ll find the perfect addition to your summer meals. Enjoy the flavors of the season. 

  • Savor a Northern Michigan summer at Farmer White's. Just south of Elk Rapids, amidst the lush landscapes and warm breezes, delve into generations of tradition dating back to 1958. Locals and tourists visit their farmer's market for the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade pies, jams, and jellies created from family-secret recipes. With over 40 jam varieties and bakery delights, enjoy the flavors of the season while immersing yourself in their rich heritage.

Add these Events & Festivals to your Summer Calendar!