Four destinations for swimming, shopping and soaking in beautiful sights — all within driving distance of Detroit
When it comes to summer travels, road trips are king: A whopping 97% of Americans are picking their cars as the preferred mode of transportation to get them to their destination this season, according to AAA.
Lucky for us Detroiters, there are tons of places to explore within driving distance (and we’re not even counting Up North!). Here, four day-trip-worthy spots within 200 miles of Detroit.
For Beach Bums
Distance from Detroit: 180 miles
Most folks know about the Tulip Time festival that hits this Dutch-influenced town every spring, but did you also know that come summer, Holland — which sits just inland from Lake Michigan — is beach-bum heaven? The dunes are dotted with state parks, sugar-sand beaches and bike trails for miles. Once the sun sets, check out the area’s dozens of restaurants, award-winning breweries and shops specializing in everything from local art to sustainable fashion to, yes, handmade cuckoo clocks.
PRO TIP: There are over a half dozen beaches in the Holland area, so choosing just one can be daunting. For bike enthusiasts, start downtown and head to Holland State Park via the dedicated paved bike path. The beach is expansive and you’ll have a view of the iconic “Big Red” lighthouse. Secluded Laketown Beach is a bit south of the bustle of downtown Holland and tends to be a little quieter, making it perfect for families.
— Jeanelle Olson
For Foodies and Beer Buffs
Distance from Detroit: 158 miles
With more than 60 local breweries, Grand Rapids has more than earned its title as Beer City, USA. Pair that (pun intended) with a bustling restaurant scene grounded in rich farm-to-table tradition and you’ve got endless options for enjoying the vibrant flavors of what’s been called Michigan’s best food city.
Experience the best the area has to offer at the award-winning Brewery Vivant in the East Hills neighborhood. Inside the LEED-certified brewery and historic building (the beer hall is housed in an old chapel and funeral home) you’ll find over 20 small-batch beers on tap and a menu featuring everything from a housemade beef-and-bacon burger, to risotto, to sausage and grits.
PRO TIP: Looking to sample some of the city’s best beers? Head to the super-walkable Heartside neighborhood, where you can hit up Grand Rapids Brewing, B.O.B.’s Brewery and Founders, all within a few blocks of each other. — J.O.
For Nature Lovers
Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, Midland
Distance from Detroit: 128 miles
The Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens sits in the middle of Midland, but the setting is straight out of a storybook: Walk in and you’re surrounded by 50-plus acres of lush forests, apple orchards, meadows and streams.
This nature wonderland’s piece de resistance, though, is its 1,400-foot canopy walk — the country’s longest — which lets those who cross it wind through the trees while suspended 40 feet above the ground. (It’s also wheelchair-accessible.) The canopy walk splits into three separate paths that highlight different features of the forest — the spruces, the ponds and the orchard of fruit trees — so make sure to follow them all.
If you have kids in tow, check out the Whiting Forest’s 13,600-foot playground, which got a facelift in 2018 as part of the site’s $20 million renovation.
PRO TIP: As of press time, Dow Gardens is open by appointment only, so visit dowgardens.org to book a time slot before you go. — Nicole Frehsee Mazur
For Antique Hunters
Distance from Detroit: 113 miles
Allen may be tiny — as of 2010, its population was 191 — but it’s known as the “antiques capital of Michigan” (or the world, depending on whom you ask). Located about 30 minutes north of the Indiana border, Allen offers everything from small, independent shops to several malls, like the 25,000-square-foot Allen Antique Barn, which boasts hundreds of booths dedicated to vintage furniture, jewelry, books and more.
Allen is also rich in architectural history: The city is home to Preston’s Antique Gaslight Village, a group of 20-plus restored buildings that date back to between 1835 and 1925 and are now populated by historical shops.
PRO TIP: Allen only has one restaurant — Outpost Grill, located in the Allen Antique Mall — and reviews are spotty. If you’re hungry, head 10 miles west to Jonesville, where Olivia’s Chop House offers upscale fare like fresh seafood and steak. — N.F.M.