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Open Air Michigan

A Guide to Playing in MI



Outdoor Michigan – where the possibilities are endless. Explore the Great Lakes State by foot, bike, or even motorcycle for outdoor adventure with state parks, lively beaches, and wintery escapes. Golf, picnic, ski and fish your time away in Michigan any time of year.

Head to northern Michigan and check out the Straits of Mackinac, or explore the hiking trails of Historic Mill Creek. Visitors to Midland can trek down the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, or take the afternoon to explore the Chippewa Nature Center.

Central Michigan travelers may stretch out on the shore of Lake Michigan at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, while southern Michigan visitors may hike down the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, or explore the Kent Trail System in the city of Wyoming.

Just because you’re visiting Detroit doesn’t mean you can’t get to know outdoor Michigan. Guests of Motor City can check out the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge – perfect for hiking, biking and nature photography – or hit Metro Beach along Lake St. Clair for a sandy summer spot in Detroit.

Find your favorite spot in outdoor Michigan – it’s easier than you think.

Greater Detroit

No matter the time of year, visitors to Detroit have outdoor adventure waiting for them. From golf and walking tours to skiing and afternoons on the beach, the activities and attractions of Detroit range from relaxing to invigorating.

For a relaxing day in Detroit, try a stroll through the Matthaei Botanical Gardens – 300 acres of gardens open daily at the University of Michigan.

Bundle up for a crisp winter walk, or hit the gardens after a day at Metro Beach during the summer. Set right on Lake St. Clair, Metro Beach visitors are met with waterslides, a 1,600-foot boardwalk, and an 18-hole golf course.

Want to see Michigan wilderness while visiting Detroit? Head to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge – a great place to take the kids. Choose from biking and hiking, or sign up for the Byways to Flyways Bird Driving Tour. Situated along the shoreline of Lake Erie, this refuge has plenty to do for you and your family.

Of course winter activities are not hard to come by in Detroit. Head to Mount Brighton, 45 minutes west of Detroit, for skiing and snowboarding during the winter months – perfect for beginners thanks to the Mt. Brighton’s Snowsports Academy.

Another ski spot in town is Pine Knob – a downhill adventure in Clarksville just two hours out of town. Enjoy your day trip through the scenic Midwest – either by car or motorcycle – and make some memories in Michigan.

Northern Michigan

Ready to step outside? Northern Michigan visitors get everything from beaches and parks to parasailing and golf.

Head to Mackinaw City – where visitors may parasail by morning and golf by the afternoon. Set at the tip of the Mitt, the village of Mackinaw City is a visitor friendly escape on the southern shore of the Straits of Mackinac – just across from St. Ignace.

Shoot 18 at the Hessel Ridge Golf Course, a short drive from Saint Ignace, raft down the Sturgeon River with Big Bear Adventures, or drive in from Cheboygan and trek down one of the scenic trails at Historic Mill Creek. Cast out for bass, pike and bluegill at French Farm Lake just south of Mackinaw City, or hike down one of the trails found on Mackinac Island or Wilderness State Park. For more outdoor fun up north, head to the Huron National Forest, or Michigan’s own city of Midland.

Visitors to Midland are met with everything from golf courses to nature centers during their time in northern Michigan. Midland is home to more than 3,000 acres of parkland, most of which are equipped with playgrounds, pools and picnic areas.

Southeast from Cheboygan, discover Alpena. Alpena visitors are met with a host of outdoor recreation possibilities – the city yields easy access to sites like the Besser Natural Area, Negwegon State Park, and the Rockport State Park Recreation Area. 

Along the western shores, check out Harbor Springs. Just inland from Round Lake and the Little Traverse Bay, Harbor Springs can yield adventures at Boyne Highland Bike Park, and the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve.

Not far south from Harbor Spring is Traverse City, which yields fun-filled days on Grand Traverse Bay. Just to the east of downtown, you'll find Traverse City State Forest Area. Be sure to plan for some time in Beulah – Crystal Lake is a premier spot for kayaks and canoes. 

South from Beulah, Ludington is another of the premier northern Michigan cities yielding excellent outdoor fun. Hamlin's Lake is popular for those who like to jet ski, while the Sable River is an excellent place to cast your line. 

You can visit one of the northern-most cities in Michigan – Sault Sainte Marie – and have a blast exploring the nearby Hiawatha National Forest. And there's plenty of outdoor recreation to be found in Escanaba. Cedar River Charters is a great way to get out onto Lake Michigan, while the Country Meadows Golf Course is a terrific little nine-hole Executive Course.

Take a walk down the 30-mile Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, or head down the Chippewa Trail on bike or foot and end up at the Chippewa Nature Center – where you’ll want that camera ready. Love golf, tennis, and softball? You’re in luck in Midland – so make some memories in northern Michigan.

Central Michigan

Find your favorite spot in central Michigan when visiting the Great Lakes State. Start with fun Michigan towns like Howell and Lapeer, and work your way up to outdoor adventure in Grand Haven and Grand Rapids.

Head to the city of Saugatuck – where you can get a great view of central Michigan from the top of Mount Baldhead – for fun at Oval Beach or the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Experience summer in the Great Lakes State on the shores of Lake Michigan, or trek down hiking paths at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

Winter visitors to the Saugatuck area need visit the Allegan State Game Area – ideal for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Hunting and horseback riding trails are also available, so be ready to fill your schedule in central Michigan.

For more summer fun in central Michigan, head to Grand Haven and spend a day at North Beach Park. Open year round, this 20-acre park puts you right against Lake Michigan – perfect for sunbathing, picnics, and sandcastles.

Brought your rod and reel? Head over to Riverside Park, for fishing and boating right in Grand Haven on the Grand River. This 64-acre park is also ideal for hiking, Frisbee and family picnics – not to mention snowman building and snowball fights during the winter.

Never a dull moment in central Michigan, so start planning your trip today.

Southern Michigan

Get outside in southern Michigan during your time in the Great Lakes State. Check out lively cities like Kalamazoo, Wyoming and Battle Creek – you’re sure to find an outdoor adventure perfect for you and your family.

The Michigan city of Wyoming is home to more than 20 parks, stretching out over 600 acres of southern Wolverine State. Choose from picnics in the parks and mornings on the playground, or take advantage of Wyoming’s popular Kent Trail system.

This is a 15-mile bike trail system connecting Wyoming to other Michigan towns like Grandville, Grand Rapids, Walker, and Byron Township. Bring your bike or rent one in Wyoming, because you’ll definitely want to check out this trail.

Less than an hour south of Wyoming is Kalamazoo – a fun and family-friendly city in southern Michigan. Sneak in a few rounds of golf at the Milham Park Golf Course, or spend a day at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Brought your bike or your hiking boots? Head to the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail – a 35-mile paved path stretching across Kalamazoo County, originating in the city of Battle Creek.

Visiting during the winter? Be sure to head to Echo Valley Winter Sports Park in Kalamazoo for tubing, skating and tobogganing. Whether walking, motorcycling or tubing your way through southern Michigan, you’re sure to have a good time doing it.


Best Western Hotels Along the Way:


Best Western Greenfield Inn

3000 Enterprise Drive, Allen Park MI 48101-3529
Phone: +1 313-271-1600  |  Fax: (313) 271-1600  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western of Alpena

1285 M-32 West, Alpena MI 49707-8105
Phone: +1 989-356-9087  |  Fax: (989) 354-0543  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Executive Inn

5090 Beckley Road, Battle Creek MI 49015-4116
Phone: +1 269-979-8506  |  Fax: (269) 979-8507  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Scenic Hill Resort

1400 US Highway 31, Beulah MI 49617-9704
Phone: +1 231-882-7754  |  Fax: (231) 882-4927  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western River Terrace

847 S Main Street, Cheboygan MI 49721-2219
Phone: +1 231-627-5688  |  Fax: (231) 627-2472  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Beacon Inn

1525 S Beacon Boulevard, Grand Haven MI 49417-2612
Phone: +1 616-842-4720  |  Fax: (616) 847-7821  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Hospitality Hotel & Suites

5500 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids MI 49512-2052
Phone: +1 616-949-8400  |  Fax: (616) 949-9021  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western of Harbor Springs

8514 M-119, Harbor Springs MI 49740-9586
Phone: +1 231-347-9050  |  Fax: (231) 347-0837  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Kalamazoo Suites

2575 S 11th Street, Kalamazoo MI 49009-2105
Phone: +1 269-350-5522  |  Fax: (269) 544-4600  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Lapeer Inn

770 West Street, Lapeer MI 48446-3065
Phone: +1 810-667-9444  |  Fax: (810) 667-3744  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Hospitality Hotel

16999 S Laurel Park Drive, Livonia MI 48154-1121
Phone: +1 734-464-0050  |  Fax: (734) 464-5869  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Lakewinds

5005 W US Highway 10, Ludington MI 49431-8692
Phone: +1 231-843-2140  |  Fax: (231) 843-1753  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Dockside Waterfront Inn

505 S Huron Avenue, Mackinaw City MI 49701-9727
Phone: +1 231-436-5001  |  Fax: (231) 436-5933  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Valley Plaza Inn

5221 Bay City Road, Midland MI 48642-6351
Phone: +1 989-496-2700  |  Fax: (989) 496-9233  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Harbour Pointe Lakefront

797 N State Street, Saint Ignace MI 49781-1137
Phone: +1 906-643-6000  |  Fax: (906) 643-6946  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plaza Hotel Saugatuck

3457 Blue Star Highway, Saugatuck MI 49453-9400
Phone: +1 269-857-7178  |  Fax: (269) 857-7169  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Sault Ste. Marie

4335 I-75 Business Spur, Sault Sainte Marie MI 49783-3621
Phone: +1 906-632-2170  |  Fax: (906) 632-7877  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Traverse City

305 Munson Avenue (US 31), Traverse City MI 49686-3069
Phone: +1 231-946-8424  |  Fax: (231) 946-1971  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Woodhaven Inn

21700 West Road, Woodhaven MI 48183-3242
Phone: +1 734-676-8000  |  Fax: (734) 676-7062  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Executive Inn & Suites

2725 Buchanan Avenue SW, Wyoming MI 49548-1010
Phone: +1 616-246-6612  |  Fax: (616) 246-6613  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

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