Day Trips & Destinations Travelin’ Through the Great Lakes State

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Warm weather has settled in and it’s time to hit the road with the fam! Michigan is home to a great variety of destinations for any interest and there are many out there that most people have never visited or even knew existed. We have gathered a list of day trip (or weekend) suggestions that are sure to encourage some fun photo ops and memories. Hold onto your hats … adventure awaits!

Art

If you are a lover of the fine arts (maybe a frequent visitor to our own FIA?), you might consider exploring these galleries.

Detroit Institute of Arts

This facility is a must-visit for anyone who loves art. Located an hour away in Downtown Detroit, the DIA features one of the country’s largest art collections. Current and future exhibitions include “Women Artists in Italy 1500-1800,” “Detroit Style: Car Design,” “Van Gogh in America” and others. Combine a DIA visit with a Tiger’s baseball game and experience Detroit for a weekend.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Take two hours and drive to Kalamazoo and view a collection of over 5,000 fine art works. Current and future exhibitions include “Linling Lu: Musical Meditations,” “Colors! Shapes! Patterns!” and the West Michigan Art Show. Traveling exhibits featured are “Boo: Images of the Macabre” and “American Perspectives on Modernism” among others.

Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

Located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, the MMF Sculpture Museum sits less than an hour north of Flint. Entry is free to view the nearly 200 sculptures created by Marshall M. Fredericks as well as rotating exhibitions of works by artists from around the world.

Cranbrook Art Museum

Located in Bloomfield Hills, this museum features works highlighting culture, architecture and design. Summer exhibitions include the sports art of Tyrrell Winston, a selection from Flint’s own Mott-Warsh Collection, and “Made a Universe” – a short film and exhibition created by Flint’s own Tunde Olaniran!

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Less than two hours away in the heart of Grand Rapids, the GRAM offers an impressive 20,000 square feet of gallery and exhibition space featuring the upcoming exhibits of “American Impressionism 1870-1940,” “The Miner S. and Mary Ann Keeler Collection” and “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited.”


Learning & Discovery

Got a bored kid or two? Besides our own great Flint Children’s Museum, there are more facilities throughout the state dedicated to encouraging childhood discovery. So, pack ‘em up and head on out to enjoy a day of wonder and memories.

Impression 5 Science Center

Located in nearby Lansing, this facility features multiple hands-on science exhibits in the areas of nuclear physics, water flow, the color spectrum, nano-particles, bubbles, nature and construction. This summer, the science center will feature an animal and ecosystem exhibit by the Wild Kratts.

 

Raven Hill Discovery Center

A little farther away (just south of Boyne City in East Jordan), hands-on science, history and art for the entire family awaits! Activities include instruction on the subjects of chemical science, earth/space science, life science, physical science, process skills, history and the arts. Raven Hill also boasts fun outdoor exhibits such as the “Ancient World’’ and “Jurassic Park.”

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

A field trip favorite, this museum offers a little bit of just about everything. Kids will be wowed for hours in the Steam Park, Legacy Gallery, Preschool Gallery, the “All About You” exhibit and Theater of Design. For a special day, you can reserve a birthday party for your little tyke and their friends.

Curious Kids Museum/Discovery Zone

Perfect for a weekend stay or vacation visit, this facility is located in beautiful St. Joseph, just off the shore of Lake Michigan. The museum offers two floors of fun with exhibits focused on space, geography, speed, construction, sound and machines. Cross the street and check out The Discovery Zone, where even more exhibits include a wave table, water power tower, climbing tower, toddler beach and “Dream with Da Vinci.”

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

Another great wonder institution, the GRCM offers two floors full of science and adventure. Exhibits cover a wide range of subjects such as music, wee discovery, rescue, bubbles, LEGO, trains, bees, park rangers and the “Spin Zone.”


Transportation

Michigan is all about the automobile, and Vehicle City is home to more than a few aficionados. If planes, trains and automobiles are kind of your thing, here’s a few spots around the state you may enjoy.

Gilmore Car Museum / Classic Car Club Museum

Located just outside of Battle Creek in Hickory Corners, this museum offers visitors the history of sports cars, muscle cars, motorcycles, toy cars, pedal cars and automotive mascots with cruises every Wednesday and special events through the summer.

Automobile Hall of Fame

Drive approximately an hour south of Flint to Dearborn and explore a facility honoring more than 800 individuals and institutions that have contributed to the history of the automobile. This attraction is for the biggest of gearheads and presents the most in-depth history of the development of the automobile directly from the minds that imagined it.

Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum

The YAHM highlights the stories of the cars related to the history of Ypsilanti. The stories are unique and include the Chevrolet Corvair, Tucker, Hudson, Kaiser-Frazer and General Motors Hydra-matic. The prize jewel of the collection is a 1952 Hudson Hornet owned by NASCAR Champion, Herb Thomas.

Flight Discovery Center/Air Zoo

The Air Zoo in Kalamazoo is a flight fanatic’s dream! It features exhibits on space travel, planes of WWII, flight simulators (including astronaut), the Golden Age of Flight, from Vietnam to the jet age and over 40 different aircraft to examine. In September, the facility will open cockpits of most aircraft and allow visitors a seat at the controls!

Yankee Air Museum

About an hour away in Belleville, this Smithsonian-affiliated aviation museum displays rare historical aircraft. Make sure to visit the Vietnam, WWI, WWII and naval pilot exhibits. Take a ride on one of five historical aircraft or plan to enjoy fantastic airshows in July!


Weird Up North

Heading up a little farther north for a family vay-cay? The tip of the mitten and U.P. are home to some seriously cool (but odd) little attractions. If you want something different, why not give these a try?

The Iron Mine Tour

Located approximately nine miles east of Iron Mountain sits the East Vulcan Iron Mine. Hop aboard the train and take a trip through a lighted tunnel and then stroll through ancient rock and ore formations with help from a skilled guide. Find yourself 400 feet underground and experience what it took to make a tough living in the old days!

Mental Hospital Tour

In Traverse City stands the remnants of the famous Northern Michigan Asylum on the former Traverse City State Hospital grounds. Some of the grounds have been converted to a mall but many of the old structures are still open for tours including the basement and steam tunnel. Enjoy a spookier adventure? Take a flashlight tour.

Tour a Great Lakes Freighter

In Sault Ste. Marie, history buffs can tour the SS Valley Camp as it floats on St. Marys River. Take a walk on the deck and then visit the cargo hold to view over 100 maritime exhibits. Attractions include the crew quarters, aquarium, and an Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial displaying the two lifeboats from the vessel!

Wacky Taxidermy and Miniatures Museum

We’ll bet you didn’t know that Mackinaw City offers some of the strangest things you will ever see, including Doctor Frankensquirrel, a guinea pig Barefoot, astronaut mice, a furry trout, the famous Fiji Mermaid and more (a fire-breathing iguana?) …. it’s the epitome of weird!

Call of the Wild Museum

Located in Gaylord since 1965, this northern Michigan attraction offers 150 woodland creatures stuffed and positioned in their natural habitats. Take a walk with the family and see how many you can identify. After that, why not ride the go-karts or challenge yourself with mini-golf right next door. Worth a visit? We think so!

Reach your destination safely … and enjoy!

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