Summer is here again and you need some great ideas that will blow the socks off last year’s annual trip to Boredomville. This year you want to do something memorable, something that you and your children will remember for years to come. It would be awesome if your trip could include some fun, excitement, adventure, water, and creating wonderful memories that will last for a long time.
We have put together an out of this world, kick-bucket family excursion list that will make another summer vacation trip to Aunt May’s look like a walk in the park (No disrespect to Aunt May). Some of these camp locations will offer a more authentic camp experience. Some are for those new to camping or who have younger children. Here are our 10 best camping summer getaways to do with your kids while in the great state of Michigan.
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park or the Porkies as they are affectionately called, are part of Michigan’s largest state park. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park houses miles of streams, rivers, trails, and “Superior” shorelines. Yeah, that would be Lake Superior. You probably couldn’t find a more picturesque place than the Porkies anywhere in the wilderness areas of the U.S.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is famous for its multicolored cliffs. Activities on the sprawling campgrounds include biking, hunting, cross-country skiing, fishing, hunting and more.You and your family will be mesmerized by the breathtaking sandstone formations of Chapel Rock and Miner’s Castle. Beautiful 12 Mile Beach is a great place enjoy the beautiful sand and picturesque shoreline. The beach also cuts a trail through a forest of white birch.
Shipwrecks can still be found along the shoreline near the Au Sable Point Lighthouse a mysterious, yet popular relic from the 19th century.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Michigan really is a beacon of pleasure for campers everywhere in the Midwest. Situated along the coast of Michigan’s lower peninsula, is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This beloved camping mecca encompasses 35 miles of Lake Michigan’s Eastern coastline. It is not an understatement to say that this incredible oasis of beauty is one of the most spectacular places on earth.
It was named in 2016, by ABC’s Good Morning America, as “America’s Most Beautiful Place”. But Sleeping Bear is not just a sleeping beauty. There is so much to do, that it’s is sure to make your head spin. The kids may even want to access the North or South Manitou Island. Guided tours are available with vehicles but most campers like to travel on foot. Late May is a good time to visit if you want to avoid the hordes of summer tourists that descend every year.
South Higgins Lake State Park
In Roscommon County, located on the southern shore of Higgins Lake, sits South Higgins Lake State Park , a 1,000 acre state park that also completely encompasses a second lake, Marl Lake. In fact, the two lakes are joined by the Cut River, which also flows into the Houghton Lake.
The campground is pet and kid-friendly, possesses showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, and also provides firewood. There is a horse camp, picnic shelter, and landing strip. We suggest you explore both lakes to get a full sense of this park’s experience.
Huron-Manistee National Forests
These two forests were combined in 1945 and make up nearly a million acres of public lands, including over 5,000 acres of wetlands and thousands of lakes. The forests stretch across the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.
Recreational opportunities abound for campers, like hiking and enjoying the wildlife. The rivers of Pere Marquette and Au Sable allow for some memorable fishing and canoeing. In the Manistee National Forest part, you can indulge in some fabulous boating and nature watching along Lake Michigan.
Wilderness State Park
Located in Emmet County in Northern Michigan, this state park is popular for its extensive shoreline (26 miles), wetlands, camping areas, and endless hiking trails. A really cool feature to check out is Waugoshance Point, a 2.5 mile long cape, which sticks out into Lake Michigan. It is geographically significant because it divides the Straits of Mackinac from Sturgeon Bay.
The park provides picnicking areas, boat launch, swimming, and a campground that has 250 sites. Definitely a camper’s dream. You actually might want to stay with the kids in the Mackinaw Mill Creek Campgrounds, which is about a ten mile drive from the park. It has many modern perks and amenities, if you are new to the camping experience or the kids are young.
It has, according to its site, The Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping site,“Dozens of site types, 200 full hookup sites, a variety of lakefront cabin rentals, large RV sites, camp store, game room, playgrounds, basketball court, wifi, heated pool, natural beaches, trails, metal detecting, and shuttle service to the Mackinaw Island Ferry.” If you want a modified camp experience, please put a check on this one.
Ludington State Park Beach
This popular state park offers so much to do that it attracts thousands of tourists each year. It is frequently listed near the top of top ten camping parks in the U.S. The park is perfectly situated between Lakes Michigan and Hamlin. The Ludington State Park Beach website reveals that there is so much to explore. “Families especially appreciate the park’s Hamlin Lake Beach for its calm waters, sandy shore, playground, picnic shelter, restrooms, and concessions.
From here, it’s just a short stroll to the Hamlin Lake Dam, which was constructed during the logging era when lumbermen dammed the Big Sable River to make a holding pond for felled trees.”
The park’s other beach, which extends along the Lake Michigan shoreline, is great for sunbathing, swimming, or just relaxing. A conveniently constructed walkway is available, starting at the ever popular Lake Michigan Beach House and ending near the lake’s shoreline.
One of the best features of the park is the sand dunes. There are endless miles of these sandy hills to traverse. This park is perfect for camping and should be near the top of any list of “to-explore” parks for campers.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
The Tahquamenon Falls is a vision of natural artistry. The river and the falls that bear its name are the major attraction of this park, but there is so much more. According to the Michigan state park website, “Tahquamenon Falls State Park encompasses close to 50,000 acres stretching over 13 miles. Most of this is undeveloped woodland without roads, buildings or power lines.
The centerpiece of the park, and the very reason for its existence, is the Tahquamenon River with its waterfalls.” Many guests come to enjoy the falls, Michigan’s second largest state park has many other pleasurable sights and activities for you and your family to see and explore.
With miles of hiking trails, over a dozen interior lakes, and 20,000 acres of natural terrain, there is more to this park than a majestic waterfall.
Camping, fishing, canoeing, and observing nature are wonderful activities to do here in the summer. The diversity of wildlife is also quite impressive, with over 100 species of various birds, wolves, bear, and others
Sleepy Hollow State Park
If you are thinking of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, you have the wrong Sleepy Hollow. This is the 2,600 acre state park with 181 campsites and a charming 410 acre lake in the center.
Apparently, this lake is the real deal. According to the park’s website, Lake Ovid has proven to be a very popular fishing lake with a wide variety of fish such as pike, largemouth, smallmouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, rock bass, perch, catfish and bullheads.” Any camping trip that involves a great deal of fishing should probably have this fishing lover’s haven at the top of the list.
Hungry Horse Campground
This campground is a kid’s favorite. It’s a great way to break them into the camping experience. According to the Hungry Horse Campground site, It is “located 15 minutes south of Grand Rapids off U.S. 131 and 30 minutes east of Lake Michigan.
Hungry Horse offers a great Michigan out-“Dorr” camping experience.” Nearly a hundred large sites are available on 90 acres of campground. Hungry Horse offers a great entertainment experience for families, with lots to keep kids active yet safe–heated swimming pools, playground structures, and hayrides, while adults can engage in relaxing activities like horseshoes, shuffleboard, nice strolls along the trails, or campfire chats.
Michigan has long been considered one of the nation’s top camping states. With 103 state parks and recreational areas, its proximity to four of the five Great Lakes, lends tourists access to a diversity of natural features and landscapes. Purchase an annual pass, which gives you the best rate, and allows you to discover all that the state has to offer. Choose a park on this list, pack up, and head out to the greatest summer camping adventure you and your family will likely ever experience.