Historic Sites In Michigan. More Than Just Parks has 5 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’m going to give you my list of the 5 Historic Sites In Michigan that you’ll want to see.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks.
If you are planning a trip to Michigan then you might want to pick up a copy of Michigan Bucket List Adventure Guide: Explore 100 Offbeat Destinations You Must Visit! It’s written by Sean Homes.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Historic Sites In Michigan
5. River Raisin National Battlefield Park
At #5 on our list of historic sites in Michigan, More Than Just Parks has the River Raisin National Battlefield Park.
Most folks, especially from the great state of Texas, are familiar with the battle cry “Remember the Alamo.”
What about “Remember the Raisin?”
The Battle of Raisin River was fought during the War of 1812. It began on August 15, 1812. General James Winchester’s Kentuckians attacked Frenchtown (now Monroe, Michigan) in order to secure much needed supplies. On January 18, 1813, Winchester’s men took the settlement.
British forces and their Native American allies counterattacked four days later, however, in what has become known as the Battle of the River Raisin. Winchester’s Kentucky troops were forced to retreat.
After the battle, some of these troops were taken prisoner and marched northwards. However, between forty and sixty-five of the wounded Americans were killed by Native American troops. Because of these atrocities, “Remember the Raisin” became a rallying cry for America during the War of 1812.
To learn more about what became known as the “Second American War For Independence” I would recommend The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition by Donald R. Hickey.
Things To Do At River Raisin
At River Raisin, you have an opportunity to walk the hallowed grounds and final resting place for many of the fallen soldiers.
Visitors will see the historical markers while there. Southeast Michigan, believe it or not, witnessed the greatest defeat for the United States in the War of 1812.
It was here that the largest number of prisoners of war ever be taken by a foreign power from within the United States and the largest number of American soldiers killed during any single battle of the War of 1812 occurred.
The Battlefield is the site of the greatest victory for the largest Native Nation alliance ever assembled in the United States. They came to defend their lands against foreign invaders.
Their victory, however, ultimately led to their forced removal.
RELATED: 10 BEST Civil War Sites In America
Enjoy The River Raisin Heritage Trail
On a lighter note, the River Raisin Heritage Trail has eight miles of paved biking and hiking trails which provide scenic routes. Visitors can walk, run, cycle and/or in-line skate on this trails.
The trail connects major historic sites, state and local parks, nationally significant buildings and ecological features.
Historic Sites In Michigan
4. Fort Mackinac
At #4 on our list of the best historic sites in Michigan we have Fort Mackinac.
Fort Mackinac was founded during the American Revolution. Believing Fort Michilimackinac at what is now Mackinaw City was too vulnerable to American attack, the British moved the fort to Mackinac Island in 1780. Americans took control in 1796.
In July 1812, in the first land engagement of the War of 1812 in the United States, the British captured the fort. In a bloody battle in 1814 the Americans attempted but failed to retake the fort. It was returned to the United States after the war.
The fort remained active until 1895. During these years Mackinac Island was transformed from a center of the fur trade into a major summer resort.
Things To Do At The Fort
I recommend the following:
- Kids’ Quarters – It’s one of the newest exhibits at Fort Mackinac. The exhibit space features hands-on displays and interactive games that give visitors of all ages a look at what soldier and civilian life was like at Fort Mackinac.
- Post Hospital – Check out the “Military Medicine at Mackinac: 1780-1895” exhibit at Fort Mackinac’s Post Hospital.
- Guardhouse – A visit to the Guardhouse offers a glimpse into military justice at Fort Mackinac.
- Drill Program – The Drill Program invites visitors of all ages to participate in basic soldier drills on the Parade Ground at Fort Mackinac.
- Reading Room – Visitors can page through newspapers of the time or use interactive touch screens to scan through the kinds of periodicals that Fort Mackinac soldiers read. (Source: Fort Mackinac State Historic Park)
Historic Sites In Michigan
3. Motown Museum
At #3 on our list of the best historic sites in Michigan we have the Motown Museum.
Detroit gave birth the the music of Motown and the Motown Museum celebrates this cultural phenomenon. Long known as Hitsville USA, the museum is home of the world-famous Studio A, where The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and countless others recorded with the Funk Brothers.
From the second you walk through the front door, you’ll be greeted with the voices of Motown, and you won’t want to leave without stopping in the gift shop to buy a greatest hits CD.
You will walk through the actual recording studio where Motown artists recorded some of the greatest songs of all time. (Source: Visit Detroit)
Historic Sites In Michigan
2. Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation
We’re down to the Top 2! At number 2 on our list of the best historic sites in Michigan we have Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
This incredible museum recounts the story of American innovation and history across 250 acres, over 300 years and with the aid of 26 million artifacts.
Some of the buildings were actually physically moved from their original locations in Ohio, Georgia and even Switzerland.
There are 4 unique attractions which include: a repository of artifacts from 19th century household items to JFK’s presidential limo; Greenfield Village with its incredible collection of historic buildings such as the Wright Brothers’ Cycle Shop; the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Giant Screen Experience theatre.
If you love cars or history or both than it doesn’t get any better than the Henry Ford Museum.
From JFK’s limousine to the bus that Rosa Parks rode on to Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Complex and the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop, it’s all there for you to see.
The #1 Historic Site In Michigan
1. Automotive Hall Of Fame
Drumroll please. The #1 historic site in Michigan is the Automotive Hall of Fame.
It’s an American museum and hall of fame celebrating the men and women whose automotive innovations changed the world and revolutionized the transportation industry.
This museum, located in the metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, houses cars, displays and changing exhibits.
The Hall of Honor contains an 11-foot (3.4 m)-high and 65-foot (20 m)-long mural painted with 90 images to celebrate the impact of the motor vehicle on the world’s culture.
Take A Deeper Dive
And if you love cars and want to learn more about them then check out The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car by Steven Parissien.
Readers learn the grand and turbulent history of the motor car, from its earliest appearance in the 1880s―as little more than a powered quadricycle―and the innovations of the early pioneer carmakers.
The author examines the advances of the interwar era, the Golden Age of the 1950s, and the iconic years of the 1960s to the decades of doubt and uncertainty following the oil crisis of 1973, the global mergers of the 1990s, the bailouts of the early twenty-first century, and the emergence of the electric car.
Map Of Historic Sites In Michigan
List Of Historic Sites In Michigan
- Automotive Hall Of Fame
- Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation
- Motown Museum
- Fort Mackinac
- River Raisin National Battlefield Park
About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then please sign up below!