Northern Michigan is a mishmash of very different landscapes, towns, and attractions. Mackinac Island flaunts the unparalleled beauty and grandeur of the island's early 20th-century heyday. As you head further south along Lake Michigan’s majestic coastline, you’ll encounter the quirky town of Charlevoix, where famous “mushroom houses” dot the beautiful lakefront village. New and inventive wineries and distilleries stretch across the region. Traverse City offers plenty of fun things to do and places to see, serving as a hotspot for things to do in Northern Michigan. A hike along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore provides breathtaking views over Lake Michigan. You’ll never run out of unique and engaging things to do in the Tip-of-the-Mitten!  

For more information about how to make the most of your time in this region, be sure to request our complimentary Vacation Guide! It’s full of the best things to do and places to see in Northern Michigan. 

1. Step Back in Time on Mackinac Island

Taking a day trip to Mackinac Island is hands down one of the top things to do in Northern Michigan. This gorgeous island is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of normal city life. The only transportation on the island is by horse and carriage, bike, or foot. The quaint and charming town looks like it is straight out of a Disney movie, with 19th-century style buildings filled with shops and restaurants lining the main street. The grand Victorian-style Grand Hotel sits overlooking the town and Lake Michigan. Take a stroll through the gorgeous halls and enjoy the panoramic from the vast porch while sitting in a rocking chair. Get a taste of Revolutionary War history at Fort Mackinac before doing some shopping, sampling some fudge in the Fudge Capital of the world, and hopping back on the ferry to the lower peninsula of Michigan. 

Mackinac Island Harbor

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

2. Revel in the Gorgeous Outdoor Oasis of Northern Michigan

Like most of Michigan, the northern region includes many excellent outdoor adventures. A trek along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is just one of the many fantastic hikes in the region. Headlands International Dark Sky Park boasts unparalleled stargazing where you can get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Crystal Mountain provides top-notch skiing and snowboarding for those looking to engage in some winter sports fun! A collection of beaches and state parks also provide plenty of fun things to do in Northern Michigan.  

3. Tour the Oddly Charming Town of Charlevoix

Wedged in between Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan is the small town of Charlevoix. From the outside, you probably wouldn’t look twice at this community, but a few oddball architectural marvels are among the most fascinating attractions in Northern Michigan. A series of mushroom-shaped houses spread throughout the Charlevoix make for an interesting walking and viewing experience. Literary genius Ernest Hemingway also spent summers at several locations around the town. 

Charlevoix Mushroom House

Pouring wine into 3 glasses

4.  Raise Your Glass to New Adventures

There’s nothing like taking a break after exploring the fun and exciting attractions in Northern Michigan quite like relaxing with a glass of locally produced beverage. The Wolverine State is full of award-winning wineries and distilleries, and Northern Michigan is no different. Tour and sample some of the finest wines, whiskeys, bourbons, vodkas, and gins at some of our favorite wineries and distilleries in the region! 

5. Have a Blast in Traverse City

Traverse City is home to some of the best things to do in Northern Michigan for all ages. Fun activities, tons of shopping, and plenty of festivals. Whether it’s fine cinema, cherries, or great beer that you crave, you'll find it here at this lakeside oasis. Check the event calendar for a full list of seasonal Northern Michigan events that take place year-round! 

Beer Festival

Book Your Northern Michigan Freshwater Vacation Rentals Property

Plan the ultimate Northern Michigan vacation with us! Our collection of cottages and homes here at Freshwater Vacation Rentals features a variety of sizes and locations in our region, from the sandy shores of Traverse City to the gorgeous forests of Kalkaska. We love it here, and we hope you will too!  

Start planning your getaway today by booking one of our properties. We look forward to welcoming you to the Freshwater family. 

Torch River Retreat
Beachwood Cabin
Black Bear Lodge on the Au Sable