20 day trip ideas for the family

Looking to take a family vacation in Michigan this year, but don’t want to make a long trip? 

For those hoping to remain in the state this year, due to COVID-19, gas prices, inflation, or any other reason, Michigan offers plenty of exciting opportunities to get out and have some fun this summer.

Here is our list of top day trips around the Great Lakes State. Some you may recognize, others might be “hidden gems” for you to try:

Air Zoo


Kalamazoo’s Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum is a museum immersed with opportunity to gather, imagine, explore and discover, per the museum’s website. The museum features a plethora of interesting aero technology, as well as real-life aircraft.

The Air Zoo features a summer day camp and exhibits such as Apollo 11, Alien Worlds & Androids, and Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight. After enjoying the Air Zoo, families can top off their exciting day with a short drive to Portage to enjoy the Crossroads Mall and grab a bite to eat.

Air Zoo hours: Open 360+ days a year; Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.

People walk along the Blue Heron Lagoon trail  near the William Livingstone Memorial lighthouse on Belle Isle, also known as Wahnabezee island (Swan island) by the Anishinabeg peoples native to the area before the French colonized Detroit, according to the American Association for State and Local History, on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.

Belle Isle


Seeped in history and natural beauty, Belle Isle is considered a Detroit gem and a state park, per Michigan.org. The 987-acre island park features the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Belle Isle Aquarium, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, giant slide, athletic fields, picnic areas, tennis courts, Belle Isle Nature Zoo, the James Scott Memorial Fountain and more attractions popular with all ages and interests. The park includes three lakes, 150 acres of wooded area and spectacular views of the Detroit and Windsor skyline.

Rentals Available: Watercraft, bike, snow sports. Recreation Passport required for entry to the park.

Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth on Oct. 20, 2021.

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland


If you’re feeling like December is too far away to start getting into the Christmas spirit, a day trip to Frankenmuth’s famous Christmas wonderland could be for you. The store offers a vast array of personalized ornaments, home and outdoor décor, nativity scenes, Christmas lights and stockings. According to the website, Bronner’s chapel is also open daily – during store hours for visitation and meditation, but is not available for ceremonies.

Store Hours: Open 361 days a year; Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: Noon to 5:30 p.m.

Eastern Market/Comerica Park


Featuring a Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday market, Eastern Market consistently draws guests from all over the world. Each of the primary markets has a unique set of food, products and experiences to offer.

After you’ve finished shopping at Eastern Market, catching a game at Comerica Park – home of the Detroit Tigers – is a great way to finish off your day. Comerica Park also offers Friday night fireworks throughout the season.

Check out the Comerica Park ticket schedule.

Japanese maples and redbuds punctuate a lakeside setting at the DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, outside Grand Rapids, Mich.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Grand Rapids

Featuring masterpieces of art and nature, surprising silhouettes and an endless kaleidoscope of colors and textures that inspire, Frederik Meijer offers an array of outdoor and indoor sculpture and nature exhibits, per its website. Tours, programs and interactive activities are available for visitors throughout the year. Discovery carts are made available periodically so visitors can handle sculptors’ tools and materials, learn about plants in new ways and have hands-on experiences.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Printed looking guides lead visitors through changing exhibitions with thought-provoking questions, exhibition overviews and specific things to find. Free public programs for sculpture exhibitions assist visitors in understanding content and ideas through lectures, gallery walks, family activities and demonstrations.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday-Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island on July 21, 2021.

Grand Hotel

Mackinac Island

There’s a lot to love about Mackinac Island. The scenic ferry ride across Lake Huron, with the Mackinac Bridge on one side and the glistening white pillars of the Grand Hotel looming ahead, acting like a beacon for excited travelers. The Grand Hotel offers daily tours, but if you want to stay in its hallowed halls, you can pay over $1,000 for a two-bed room. While you’re on the island, stopping by a local fudge shop is a must. Visitors can also enjoy horse rides, golf and bike paths that circle the island.

Beagle Scout Lookout

Michigan’s Adventure


Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement park, opens on May 27 this year. Rides such as Shivering Timbers or Thunderhawk thrill guests with high-speed, airtime adventures. The water park opens June 11. It features wave pools and water rides for all ages. Camp Snoopy features family-friendly rides, including the roller coaster Woodstock Express. The park also offers an array of food vendors and a plethora of long-term and one-day ticket options.

More:Michigan’s Adventure to open May 27: What to know before you go

WildWater Adventure will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekdays and will remain open until 6 p.m. on weekends. Michigan’s Adventure will be open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on weekdays and remain open until 8 p.m. on weekends.

Chairs from a variety of eras and places pictured on Thursday, March 2, 2017 at the MSU Museum collections on Michigan State University's campus.

MSU Museum/Abrams Planetarium

East Lansing

This Smithsonian-affiliated museum showcases scientific and cultural artifacts, fossils and research, per its website. MSU hosts one of the earliest established museums in the nation and has continued to preserve collections and serve curious learners since in inception in 1857. With both historical and interactive displays, the MSU Museum can be enjoyed by people of all ages. After the museum, head on over to the Abrams Planetarium, which serves as an astronomy and space science education resource center with fabulous programs and exhibits.

Abrams Planetarium is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon and then 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is also open Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm and Sunday from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. MSU Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Oval Beach in Saugatuck

Oval Beach


Celebrated around the world for its beautiful, sweeping shoreline and backdrop of rolling dunes, Oval Beach is nestled in between Saugatuck and Douglas. Though often crowded, Oval Beach offers tons of sandy fun with fresh water and plenty of sun. Both Saugatuck and Douglas are quaint little towns with a vibrant array of interesting stores and shops. Saugatuck also features parks and plenty of delicious food stops. Michigan is almost entirely bordered by shoreline, but Oval Beach might be the best spot in the state.

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