Article Summary: Michigan Landmarks
Michigan Landmarks. More Than Just Parks has 20 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
There’s so much more to this exciting place than the Michigan Wolverines. In this article, we’ll familiarize you with the incredible landmarks located in the Wolverine State.
We’ve got incredible places, iconic memorials, fascinating museums, epic monuments and so much more.
We’re going to give you our list of the Top 20 Landmarks In Michigan.
So, What Is A Landmark?
Well, it’s a place of “a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of a city, state, or nation.”
Why visit these places? Because landmarks connect us to the past. Through visiting these wonderful places where history occurred we find our roots. It allows us to feel like we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
And, speaking of history, did I mention that I taught the subject? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind many of these amazing sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the fascinating stories of these places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents
Table of Contents: Michigan Landmarks
- Michigan Landmarks
- Some Fascinating Facts About Michigan
- Top 20 Michigan Landmarks
- Top 15 Michigan Landmarks
- Top 10 Michigan Landmarks
- Top 5 Michigan Landmarks
- Map Of Michigan Landmarks
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Some Fascinating Facts About Michigan
Here are some interesting facts about Michigan:
- Michigan is the only state in the United States that consists of two peninsulas, the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula, which are connected by the Mackinac Bridge.
- The state is known as the “Wolverine State” and its state mammal is the wolverine, although the animal is rare in Michigan.
- The state is also famous for being the birthplace of Motown, a genre of soul music that originated in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes, including the Great Lakes, which make up the largest freshwater system in the world.
- The world’s first paved road was built in Michigan in 1909. It ran for about one mile in Wayne County.
- The Kellogg brothers, who founded the Kellogg’s cereal company, invented Corn Flakes in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1894.
- Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, was the first city in the United States to have a paved road.
- The state is home to many beautiful natural attractions, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, pictured on the back of the Michigan quarter.
- The Michigan State Capitol in Lansing was the first state capitol building in the United States to feature a cast iron dome.
- Michigan is the only state in the United States to have a floating post office, the J.W. Westcott II, which delivers mail to ships on the Detroit River.
We’re Excited To Share Our List Of The Top 20 Michigan Landmarks With YOU
Michigan is known for the home of the automobile industry, beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, and a bustling college town atmosphere. The state is also known for its agriculture, with cherries, apples, and blueberries being some of the most popular crops.
And Michigan has some amazing landmarks. More Than Just Parks is excited to share our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks with you. We’re kicking off our list at #20 with beautiful Belle Isle Park.
Top 20 Michigan Landmarks
20. Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle Park is a 982-acre island park located in the Detroit River, between the United States and Canada, and is part of the city of Detroit, Michigan.
It’s the largest island park in the United States and has been a popular destination for Detroit residents and visitors since it opened as a park in 1884.
The Park Offers A Wide Range Of Recreational Activities
The park offers a wide range of outdoor recreational activities for people of all ages, including picnic areas, playgrounds, walking and biking trails, beaches, boat launches, fishing spots, a golf course, a conservatory, and a nature zoo.
The park is also home to several historic landmarks, including the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, and the Belle Isle Casino, which is now used for events and weddings.
The park’s natural beauty is enhanced by its many gardens and green spaces, including the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, which features a variety of native animals such as deer, river otters, and bald eagles.
The park also offers spectacular views of the Detroit skyline and the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Belle Isle Park is accessible by car, bike, or pedestrian bridge, and entry is free for all visitors. The park is open year-round, and each season offers unique opportunities to enjoy its natural beauty and recreational activities.
19. Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum
Our next Michigan landmark is a world-class, Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum with over 100 air and space artifacts, inspiring interactive exhibits, full-motion flight simulators, indoor amusement park rides and hands-on, science-based camps and classes.
At #19 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum.
The Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum is a popular aviation museum located in Portage, Michigan. The museum is dedicated to educating visitors about aviation and space technology and preserving the history of flight.
The Air Zoo features over 100 aircraft, spacecraft, and interactive exhibits that showcase the evolution of aviation and space exploration. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits, which range from early aviation pioneers, to military aircraft, to space exploration.
Visitors Can See Some Classic Planes
The museum’s aircraft collection includes classic planes like the P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, and B-17 Flying Fortress, as well as modern fighters like the F-14 Tomcat and F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The museum also offers a variety of interactive experiences, such as flight simulators, a 4D theater, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. One of the most popular exhibits is the SR-71 Blackbird, a high-speed reconnaissance aircraft that was used by the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War.
In addition to its exhibits, the Air Zoo also hosts special events and educational programs throughout the year. These programs include summer camps, STEM workshops, and aviation and space-themed birthday parties.
18. Bond Falls
Our next Michigan landmark is an impressive waterfall on the middle branch of the Ontonagon River. It’s 100 feet wide with a total drop of about 50 feet and is beautiful during any season. Stunning views and easy access make it one of the most popular waterfalls to visit as well as one of the most photographed.
At #18 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Bond Falls.
17. Detroit Institute Of Arts
Our next Michigan landmark holds significant works of African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, Islamic, and Ancient art. At #17 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Detroit Institute Of Arts.
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is a world-class art museum located in the heart of Detroit, Michigan. The museum was founded in 1885 and has since become one of the most important cultural institutions in the Midwest.
The DIA’s collection features over 65,000 works of art from around the world, spanning from ancient times to contemporary art.
The collection includes paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, textiles, and decorative arts. Some of the most notable works in the collection include: Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals, and the sarcophagus of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Amenhotep III.
The museum’s galleries are organized by geographic region and time period, allowing visitors to take a journey through the history of art. The museum also hosts special exhibitions throughout the year, which feature works by contemporary artists, as well as exhibitions that focus on specific periods, themes, or regions.
In addition to its art collection, the DIA also offers a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages, such as lectures, workshops, and guided tours. The museum’s staff is knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and is always available to answer questions and provide additional information.
At #16 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is a place which honors a literary legend. It’s Windemere, also known as The Ernest Hemingway Cottage, is a historic cottage located on Walloon Lake near Traverse City, Michigan.
The cottage was built in 1904 by Ernest Hemingway’s father and it was where Ernest Hemingway spent many of his summers until he turned 21. It is believed that Hemingway’s time in Michigan both sparked his love of the outdoors and provided inspiration for his short stories, such as “The Big Two-Hearted River.”
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968, and it is now open to the public for tours by appointment. Visitors can learn about the history of the cottage, the Hemingway family, and the impact that Hemingway’s time in Michigan had on his literary career.
The cottage has been preserved to look as it did when Hemingway lived there, and visitors can see original family furnishings, photographs, and other Hemingway memorabilia.
Windemere is a unique and important piece of literary history, and it offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about Ernest Hemingway’s life and work, as well as the role that Michigan played in shaping his writing.
It’s a must-visit destination for literature enthusiasts and fans of Ernest Hemingway.
Top 15 Michigan Landmarks
15. Mackinac Bridge
We’re on to our Top 15 Michigan Landmarks. Our next site is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. It’s the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. At #15 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Mackinac Bridge.
The Mackinac Bridge, also known as the “Mighty Mac,” is a suspension bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The idea for the bridge was first proposed in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that construction began.
In 1920, the Michigan State Highway Department commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of building a bridge across the straits. The study concluded that a bridge was possible, but the cost and engineering challenges were too great at the time. Instead, a ferry service was established to transport people and vehicles across the straits.
In the 1940s, the idea of building a bridge was revisited due to the increasing popularity of automobiles and the need for a more reliable transportation system. In 1947, the Michigan legislature approved the creation of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, which was tasked with constructing and maintaining the bridge.
It Took Three Years To Complete
Construction of the Mackinac Bridge began in 1954 and took three years to complete. The bridge spans 26,372 feet in length and is suspended by two main towers that are 552 feet tall. At the time of its construction, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
The bridge opened to the public on November 1, 1957, and has since become one of Michigan’s most iconic landmarks. The bridge has also had a significant impact on the economy of the region, making it easier for tourists and businesses to travel between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
Today, the Mackinac Bridge is recognized as a marvel of engineering and a symbol of Michigan’s history and identity. It is also an important transportation link, serving as a key artery for commerce and tourism in the state.
14. Alden Dow House & Studio
Imagine a place that’s designed to engage the imagination and elicit emotional responses in all who experience this powerful statement of Mid-Twentieth Century Modern architecture. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. You can go there.
At #14 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Alden B. Dow House and Studio.
The Alden B. Dow House and Studio is a historic house and architectural studio located in Midland, Michigan.
It was designed and built by Alden B. Dow, a prominent architect and designer who is considered by many to be in the same league as Frank Lloyd Wright. Dow’s house was built in 1932 and is considered one of the most significant examples of Dow’s work.
One Of The 25 Best Historic Homes In America
The house is considered one of the 25 “Best Historic Homes in America” by Traditional Home magazine and it is located near the Dow Gardens, providing visitors with the opportunity to see beautiful architecture and natural beauty in one place.
The house features a unique blend of modern design elements and natural materials and it is a great place to learn about the work of Alden B. Dow and the mid-century modern architecture movement.
Visitors can take a tour of the house and studio to learn about the history and design of the house, as well as the life and work of Alden B. Dow. The tour may include the interior of the house, the studio and the gardens.
It’s a great place for architecture enthusiasts, history buffs, and those interested in learning more about the work of Alden B. Dow and his contributions to the world of architecture.
13. Norton Mound Group
If you enjoy ancient history then our next site is for you. At #13 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Norton Mound Group.
The Norton Mound Group is a collection of ancient mounds located in Michigan. The mounds were built by the Hopewell culture, a pre-Columbian indigenous people who lived in the area around 2,000 years ago.
The Norton Mound Group is considered to be one of the most important and best-preserved Hopewell mounds in the western Great Lakes region and it was formerly home to over 40 mounds.
Although some of the mounds have been excavated over the years, many artifacts, such as grave offerings and other cultural items have been discovered, providing valuable insights into the lives and culture of the Hopewell people. The mounds also offer insight into how the mounds themselves were constructed.
The site is not currently accessible to the public, and it’s currently under threat from erosion and flooding, as well as nearby development.
Despite this, it is still considered one of the most important historical sites in Michigan and it is an important part of the state’s cultural heritage.
12. Shrine Of The Pines
Our next landmark is accessible and a must-see if you’re interested in unusual furniture. At #12 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Shrine of the Pines.
The Shrine of the Pines is a unique and historic attraction located in the town of Baldwin, Michigan. It is a rustic, log cabin-style building constructed by a local resident named Raymond W. Overholzer, who was a skilled woodworker and artisan.
Overholzer built the cabin between 1932 and 1942. He fashioned beds, chairs, chandeliers, and a dining room table made from a 700 pound stump without using metal fasteners.
The Shrine of the Pines was originally built as a personal residence for Overholzer, but he eventually opened it up to the public as a tourist attraction.
Today It Features Overholzer’s Incredible Craftmanship
Today, it is a museum and art gallery that features Overholzer’s incredible craftsmanship and artistic vision. Visitors to the Shrine of the Pines can see a variety of hand-carved wood sculptures, including intricate furniture, carvings, and decorative pieces.
The building itself is also a work of art, with a unique design that incorporates many natural elements. The exterior is made of logs, stones, and other rustic materials, while the interior features exposed wood beams, hand-carved doors and trim, and other intricate details.
The museum also contains a gift shop, where visitors can purchase handmade crafts, books, and other items related to the history and culture of the area.
Overall, the Shrine of the Pines is a fascinating and beautiful attraction that showcases the unique talents of one man and his vision for a rustic, handcrafted home. It is a must-see for anyone visiting the area and has become a beloved landmark of Michigan’s natural beauty and artistic heritage.
11. Detroit Zoo
Our next Michigan landmark houses more than 2,000 animals and more than 245 different species. It was the first U.S. zoo to feature bar-less habitats, and is regarded to be an international leader in animal welfare, conservation and sustainability by the Detroit Zoological Society.
At #11 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Detroit Zoo.
The Detroit Zoo is a popular zoo located in Royal Oak, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. The zoo was founded in 1928 and has since become a popular destination for families and animal lovers.
Some of the most popular exhibits include the Arctic Ring of Life, which features polar bears, arctic foxes, and seals, and the Great Apes of Harambee, which houses chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. The zoo also has a large amphibian and reptile house, a bird center, and a primate house.
Detroit Zoo, Michigan | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Zoo Offers Education & Conservation Programs
In addition to its animal exhibits, the Detroit Zoo also offers a variety of educational and conservation programs. The zoo’s staff is committed to educating visitors about the importance of conservation and protecting endangered species. The zoo also has a number of programs designed to help protect wildlife and their habitats.
One of the unique features of the Detroit Zoo is its emphasis on animal welfare. The zoo has been recognized for its efforts to create environments that are as close to the animals’ natural habitats as possible. The zoo has also implemented a number of programs to improve the welfare of the animals in its care.
The Detroit Zoo is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting the Detroit area. Its world-class animal exhibits, commitment to conservation and education, and focus on animal welfare make it a unique and memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
Top 10 Michigan Landmarks
10. Tahquamenon Falls
We’re on to the Top 10. Our next landmark is Michigan’s largest waterfall. At #10 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Tahquamenon Falls.
Tahquamenon Falls is a series of waterfalls located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the town of Paradise. The falls are the centerpiece of Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which covers over 46,000 acres of wilderness and is one of Michigan’s most popular natural attractions.
The falls are actually two separate waterfalls: the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River, with a drop of over 50 feet and a width of over 200 feet. The Lower Falls is a series of smaller cascades and rapids that extend for almost a mile downstream from the Upper Falls.
The water that flows over the falls is distinctive for its brown color, which is caused by tannins from the trees in the surrounding forest. The falls are also surrounded by dense forests and wildlife, including moose, black bears, and bald eagles.
Visitors to Tahquamenon Falls State Park can explore the falls and surrounding wilderness through a variety of hiking trails, boardwalks, and observation decks. The park also offers camping, fishing, canoeing, and other outdoor activities.
9. Soo Locks
Our next Michigan landmark is a combination of locks and canals swiftly lift and lower around 7,000 vessels annually. This network helps ships navigate the 21-foot drop in elevation between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.
At #9 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Soo Locks.
The Soo Locks, also known as the Sault Ste. Marie Locks, are a set of locks located on the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. They allow ships to bypass the rapids and waterfalls on the river, and navigate between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.
The history of the Soo Locks dates back to the early 19th century, when the United States and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in 1815, ending the War of 1812. The treaty included a provision that required both countries to improve navigation on the Great Lakes, which included the construction of canals and locks around the rapids on the St. Marys River.
In 1853, the State of Michigan created a lock company to build a lock system at Sault Ste. Marie. However, construction was slow due to financial difficulties and the outbreak of the Civil War.
Soo Locks 1904 panorama | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Federal Government Took Over The Project
In 1870, the federal government took over the project and completed the first lock, known as the State Lock, in 1855. The lock was enlarged in 1881 and again in 1914, when it was renamed the Poe Lock, after General Orlando Poe, the engineer in charge of the project.
Over the years, additional locks were built to accommodate larger ships, including the Davis Lock in 1914, the Sabin Lock in 1919, and the MacArthur Lock in 1943. The MacArthur Lock was later renamed the Soo Locks in honor of the military leader, General Douglas MacArthur.
Today, the Soo Locks are an important transportation hub for the Great Lakes region, handling millions of tons of cargo each year. They are also a popular tourist attraction, with visitors coming to watch the massive ships as they pass through the locks.
8. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Our next Michigan landmark gets its name from the streaks of mineral stain that color the cliffs. Groundwater seeps out of the cracks and runs down the rock face giving it that gorgeous colorful pattern.
At #8 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a protected area located on the south shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was established in 1966 to preserve the unique natural beauty of the area and its geological features, including the colorful sandstone cliffs that rise up to 200 feet above the lake.
The park covers an area of 73,236 acres and includes over 40 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, as well as forests, waterfalls, and inland lakes. The highlight of the park is the Pictured Rocks cliffs, which are made up of layered sandstone that has been sculpted over time by the forces of wind and water.
The Cliffs Are Known For Their Vibrant Colors
The cliffs are known for their vibrant colors, including shades of red, orange, yellow, and green, which are created by the minerals in the rock. The cliffs also feature unique formations such as arches, caves, and pillars, which have been named after their distinctive shapes, such as Lover’s Leap, Indian Head, and Chapel Rock.
In addition to the stunning natural scenery, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, and boat tours. The park has several trails for hiking and exploring, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes that offer breathtaking views of the lake and cliffs.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, moose, wolves, and bald eagles. Visitors can experience the park’s natural beauty and wildlife by taking a guided tour, participating in ranger-led programs, or exploring on their own.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing the stunning beauty of the Great Lakes region.
7. River Raisin National Battlefield Park
Our next site commemorates the January 1813 Battle of the River Raisin, which was a major conflict during the War of 1812 between American forces and British and Native American troops. Welcome to River Raisin National Battlefield Park.
The battle took place on January 22, 1813, when American forces led by General James Winchester were attacked by a combined force of British regulars and Native American warriors. The fighting was intense and lasted for several hours, with heavy casualties on both sides.
The Americans eventually surrendered, but many of the wounded were massacred by the Native Americans in what became known as the River Raisin Massacre.
The battle and subsequent massacre had a significant impact on the course of the War of 1812. It rallied American forces and increased public support for the war effort, while also leading to a greater determination on the part of the British and their allies to defeat the Americans.
In the years following the battle, the site of the River Raisin Massacre became a symbol of American sacrifice and bravery, and efforts were made to preserve and commemorate the site.
In 2009, the River Raisin National Battlefield Park was established as a unit of the National Park Service, with the mission of preserving and interpreting the history of the battle and the people who fought there.
Today, the park features a visitor center with exhibits and interactive displays that tell the story of the battle and its aftermath. Visitors can also explore the battlefield itself, which includes a reconstructed fort and a trail that leads to the site of the River Raisin Massacre.
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.
Enjoy The River Raisin Heritage Trail
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.
6. Fort Mackinac
If you enjoy military history then our next site is a must-see. At #6 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Fort Mackinac.
Historic Fort Mackinac was founded during the American Revolution and was originally located at what is now Mackinaw City. However, due to its vulnerability to American attack, the British moved the fort to Mackinac Island in 1780.
The Americans took control of the fort in 1796. In July 1812, during the War of 1812, the British captured the fort in the first land engagement of the war in the United States. In 1814, the Americans attempted to retake the fort but failed in a bloody battle.
The fort was returned to the United States after the war and remained active until 1895. During these years, Mackinac Island underwent a transformation from a center of the fur trade to a major summer resort. The stone ramparts, south sally port, and Officer’s Stone Quarters are all part of the original fort that was built over 225 years ago.
The other buildings in the fort date from the late 1790s to 1885, and have been restored to how they looked during the final years of the fort’s occupation. Interpreters at the fort depict U.S. Army soldiers from this same period, dressed in distinctive Prussian-inspired uniforms.
Things To Do At The Fort
- 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)
Top 5 Michigan Landmarks
5. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
We’re on to our Top 5 Michigan Landmarks. Our next Michigan landmark features high dunes afford spectacular views across the lake. It also has an island lighthouse, Life-Saving Service stations, coastal villages, and picturesque farmsteads that reflect the park’s rich maritime, agricultural, and recreational history.
At #5 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a protected area located in the northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It was established in 1970 to preserve the natural and cultural resources of the area, including the towering sand dunes that rise up to 450 feet above Lake Michigan.
The park covers an area of 71,187 acres and includes over 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as forests, rivers, and inland lakes. The highlight of the park is the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which were formed by the wind and water erosion of the glacial moraines that were left behind by the last ice age.
The Dunes Offer Stunning Views Of Lake Michigan
The dunes offer stunning views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding landscape, and visitors can climb the dunes to reach the top for panoramic views of the park. The dunes are also popular for hiking, picnicking, and swimming in the clear waters of Lake Michigan.
In addition to the dunes, the park offers a range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. The park has several trails for hiking and exploring, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes that offer stunning views of the lake and dunes.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, coyotes, and bald eagles. Visitors can experience the park’s natural beauty and wildlife by taking a guided tour, participating in ranger-led programs, or exploring on their own.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and anyone interested in experiencing the natural beauty of the Great Lakes region.
4. Motown Museum
It’s time to shift gears. One thing we strive to do at More Than Just Parks when we prepare our lists of historic sites is to find something for everyone. If you enjoy music then our next site if for you. At #4 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Motown Museum.
The Motown Museum is a historic site located in Detroit, Michigan, which is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the legacy of Motown Records, one of the most influential music labels in history.
The museum is housed in the original headquarters of Motown Records, which was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959.
The Motown sound, which combined elements of R&B, soul, and pop music, quickly became incredibly popular and had a profound impact on American popular culture. Some of the most famous Motown artists include: The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Jackson 5.
The Motown Museum is housed in the modest two-story house where Berry Gordy Jr. started the label. The studio was located in the converted garage, which was where many of the famous Motown hits were recorded. In the early days, Gordy did everything himself, from writing and producing the songs to selling them to radio stations and record stores.
A Major Success & Cultural Icon
Over the years, Motown Records became a major success and a cultural icon, with a string of hits that defined the sound of the 1960s and beyond. The Motown Museum was established in 1985 to honor this legacy and provide a space where fans could learn about the history of the label and its artists.
Today, the museum is home to an extensive collection of Motown artifacts and memorabilia, including costumes, photographs, instruments, and other items related to the label’s history.
Visitors can take guided tours of the museum and see the original studio where many of the famous Motown hits were recorded.
The museum also hosts a range of special events, concerts, and educational programs throughout the year, and continues to be a beloved destination for fans of Motown music and American popular culture.
Motown museum, on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit, Michigan | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
3. Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation
We’re on to the final three sites. When you think of Michigan what comes to mind? For most folks, it’s the automotive industry.
At #3 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a museum located in Dearborn, Michigan, that is dedicated to showcasing the history and impact of American innovation and technology.
The museum was founded by Henry Ford, the famous industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, in 1929.
The museum’s collection includes a wide range of artifacts and exhibits related to American history and technology, including famous vehicles such as the Ford Model T and the Rosa Parks Bus, as well as other technological innovations such as the Wright Brothers’ airplane and the first Apple computer.
The Museum Offers A Wide Range Of Interactive Exhibits & Experiences
In addition to its extensive collection of artifacts, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation offers a range of interactive exhibits and experiences that allow visitors to explore and engage with the history of American innovation.
Visitors can actually ride in a Model T or a self-driving car, explore a replica of Thomas Edison’s laboratory, and learn about the history of American manufacturing.
The museum also offers educational programs, workshops, and events throughout the year, including summer camps, maker workshops, and special exhibitions.
2. Isle Royale National Park
We’re More Than Just Parks, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten about them. In the runner-up spot at #2 on our list of the Best Michigan Landmarks is Isle Royale National Park.
Isle Royale is not your typical national park if there is such a thing as a typical national park. It’s a rugged, isolated island, which is far removed from the sights and sounds of civilization. The park is surrounded by Lake Superior. It offers adventures for backpackers, boaters, canoeists, hikers, kayakers and scuba divers.
To enjoy the full experience, I recommend camping at the park. Isle Royale has 36 campgrounds located across the island. These campsites, however, are accessible only by foot or watercraft.
Of course you can make it a day trip as well. Ferries offer day trips to Rock Harbor on the northeast end of the island and Windigo on the southwest end. There are both ferries and seaplanes available to take you there and back during the daylight hours.
There are also a number of short and long hikes available in both of these areas. Be sure to bring provisions with you. The terrain at Isle Royale is rough and uneven so I recommend hiking boots or durable tennis shoes.
There Are Many Things To Do At Isle Royale
- Hiking: There are over 165 miles of trails to explore on the island, offering a wide range of difficulty levels.
- Camping: There are several camping options available, including backcountry camping and campsites with amenities.
- Fishing and Boating: Visitors can rent boats or bring their own to explore the island’s many waterways.
- Canoeing and Kayaking: Paddlers can explore the island’s many bays and inlets, as well as its interior lakes and streams.
- Fishing: Visitors can fish for a variety of species, including lake trout, brook trout, and smallmouth bass.
- Wildlife Viewing: Isle Royale is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including wolves, moose, beavers, and over 240 species of birds.
- Photography: The island offers many opportunities for photography, from its rugged natural beauty to its abundant wildlife.
- Ranger-led Programs: Park rangers offer a variety of programs, including guided hikes, boat tours, and educational programs.
- Winter activities: Isle Royale National Park remains open year-round, offering winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.
Eight Interesting Facts About Isle Royale National Park
- Isle Royale National Park is the only national park in the United States that completely closes in the offseason. The park is typically closed from November through mid April.
- Isle Royale was made a national park on March 3, 1931.
- Isle Royale National Park covers a total area of 571,790 acres.
- The number of people visiting Isle Royale in 2019 was 26,410 .
- The lowest elevation found in Isle Royale is 601 feet at Lake Superior.
- The highest elevation found in Isle Royale is 1,394 feet on Mount Desor.
- The entrance fee for Isle Royale is $7 per person per day.
- Despite being in Michigan, Isle Royale National Park lies in the Eastern time zone.
1. Automotive Hall Of Fame
As the #1 Michigan Landmark, More Than Just Parks has selected the Automotive Hall of Fame.
The Automotive Hall of Fame is a museum and hall of fame located in Dearborn, Michigan, that celebrates the men and women whose innovations in the automotive industry have changed the world and revolutionized transportation.
It’s a museum that focuses on the history of the automobile and the hundreds of pioneers who made great contributions to the industry. Founded in 1939 at The World’s Fair, the museum was relocated to its current location adjacent to the Henry Ford Museum in 1971.
The museum houses cars, displays, and changing exhibits, and also includes the Hall of Honor, which features an 11-foot-high and 65-foot-long mural that depicts the impact of the motor vehicle on the world’s culture.
The mural is painted with 90 images, which showcase the contributions of individuals and companies to the development of the automotive industry and the role of the car in shaping modern society.
The Automotive Hall of Fame is a must-see destination for car enthusiasts, as well as anyone interested in the history of transportation and the impact of the automobile on the world.
Take A Deeper Dive
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.
Trevor Bayne – Wood Brothers 2011 Daytona 500 winning Ford, Automotive Hall of Fame, Michigan | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Map Of Michigan Landmarks
List Of Michigan Landmarks
- Automotive Hall Of Fame
- Isle Royale National Park
- Henry Ford Museum Of American Innovation
- Motown Museum
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Fort Mackinac
- River Raisin National Battlefield Park
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Soo Locks
- Tahquamenon Falls
- Detroit Zoo
- Shrine Of The Pines
- Norton Mound Group
- Alden Dow House & Studio
- Mackinac Bridge
- Detroit Institute Of Arts
- Bond Falls
- Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum
- Belle Isle Park
Why Trust Us About Michigan Landmarks?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, U.S. Forest Service, and more 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.
And, in 2018, our father – having spent a lifetime teaching history – joined us so that he could help us to tell the stories behind these amazing places.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
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!