Michigan, situated in the upper Midwestern United States, is known for its forestry industry, world-class fishing, stunning scenery, and the amazing Great Lakes. In many ways, Michigan is underrated among the top places to visit in the United States and there are many fun facts about Michigan to learn before visiting.
Many people travel to California to visit the world-renowned wine country, forgetting that Michigan is also renowned for its wineries and vineyards.
Others head down south to the golden, sandy beaches of Florida not realizing that Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. They may not be ocean beaches but they are sandy and long and feature the clear waters of the Great Lakes!
Michigan is so many things. First and foremost, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise with only ten million people, many of whom live in the cities. It has an area of 97,000 square miles, of which half of this area is forest, so there are many places to disappear into the backcountry where you’ll enjoy an array of outdoor activities.
If the great outdoors is not what you’re after, the Wolverine State is also known for its fascinating history, scenic drives, and amazing attractions. You could say that Michigan is one interesting place, and below are some facts about Michigan that you may not have known about amazing state!
Fun Facts About Michigan
1. Welcome to Motor City
After Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company in the early 1900s, Detroit became the center of the company’s operations. In the following decades, the city gained prominence as the world’s car manufacturing center. Today, Detroit is still known as the car capital of the world and by its nickname Motor City.
2. An Impressive Weathervane
As far as weathervanes go, none in the world surpass the one in Montague, Michigan when it comes to size. At 48 feet tall and 4,300 pounds, it’s the biggest one in the world.
3. Who Would’ve Thought Michigan Had Such a Long Coastline!
As a Michigander, this is one of my favorite fun facts about Michigan. There’s no ocean coastline in Michigan but there’s plenty of freshwater coastline! In fact, the 3,288 miles of coastline in the state is the longest in the entire country and the longest freshwater coastline in the world. You know what that means? Plenty of Michigan beaches to enjoy!
4. Leave Your Car Behind
Mackinac Island is truly a unique place and the most unique thing about it is there are no cars! That’s right, cars have been banned from the island since 1901 when local people started to notice the horses became disturbed by the noise of the car engines.
The only way to get to the island is by ferry but you’ll need to leave your car behind at the docks. Don’t worry, the ferry brings passengers right into the center of town where you can get around on foot, by bicycle or by horse and carriage.
5. Traverse City is for Wine Lovers
If you think wineries and vineyards are elusive in Michigan, think again. The Traverse City area has so many wineries that it has earned the nickname Traverse City Wine Coast.
There are around 40 Michigan wineries in this region and their success is said to be aided by a combination of their location close to Lake Michigan and the unique climate. The mild climate of the lake protects the grapevines from the harsh Michigan winter temperatures.
6. That’s a Lot of Trees!
(one of my personal favorite facts about Michigan!)
Michigan is home to one of the largest forests in the country. With more than 19 million acres of forest, over 50% of the state is covered by it with the biggest portion on the Northern Lower Peninsula.
Although these remote wooded areas are a huge draw for outdoor enthusiasts interested in participating in a range of outdoor pursuits, such as fishing, hiking and hunting, the state ensures an ideal balance between preservation and leisure.
7. That’s One Short Freeway!
Interstate 375 in Detroit was once the shortest in the United States. Today, it’s the shortest freeway in Michigan at only 1.1 miles long.
8. A Very Unique Bridge
The Siphon Bridge, which crosses over the Manistique River, is an architectural wonder with a very unique feature; its deck is four feet below the water level with the river partially supporting it.
9. Three Tunnels, Three Firsts
The St. Clair Tunnel opened in 1891, the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel opened in 1910 and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel opened in 1930. What do these three tunnels have in common? They are the first three tunnels in the world that were constructed to connect two countries.
10. Hello Cereal City
You may not have heard of Battle Creek but I’m betting you’ve heard of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. And what is the connection between this small city and the beloved breakfast cereal? Well, there’s a reason Battle Creek is known as the Cereal Capital of the World; Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was invented there in 1898.
Never mind that the finished product was supposed to be granola. The accidental invention went on to be one of America’s favorite breakfast staples and Battle Creek went on to host over 100 cereal companies over the years.
11. The Only Floating Post Office in the World
It’s likely the most unique post office in the world, it’s definitely the only one of its kind in the world. I’m talking about Michigan’s floating post office.
It’s located on the J. W. Westcott II which is the only ship anywhere that delivers mail to sailing ships. It even has its own zip code and at 125 years old, it’s been in operation for a very long time.
12. Home to the World’s Largest Limestone Quarry
Located along Lake Huron in Rogers City, The Michigan Limestone Chemical Company runs the largest limestone quarry on earth. Set up in 1910, production started two years later. Today, there’s a park and some overlooks where visitors can catch a glimpse of this huge operation.
13. The First Outdoor Pedestrian Mall in America
Back in 1959, $60,000 and a vision was all it took to cook up the idea for the Kalamazoo Mall. It was the first pedestrian shopping mall in the United States. Today, it’s home to chic boutique shops and stylish restaurants.
14. A Very Big Catholic Shrine
It’s not the biggest crucifix in the world but the redwood-carved crucifix in the forest near the Indian River known as The Cross in the Woods is the second biggest in the world. It’s 55 feet high and 22 feet across and was officially designated a national shrine in 2006.
15. The Incredible Soo Locks
Here’s another one of the amazing facts about Michigan. As hard as it is to believe, more cargo moves through Michigan’s Soo Locks than the Suez and Panama Canals. About 10,000 ships pass through the canal each year with a total of around 80 million tons.
16. America’s First Scheduled Airline Service
The first consistently scheduled flight route in America started in 1926 and it was between Grand Rapids and Detroit. This scheduled service was operated by Stout Air Services and the trip cost only $35!
17. The Mysterious Singing Sands
Did you know sand can sing? It’s true. Well, at least it’s true at Bete Grise Beach. As you walk along this beach on Lake Superior, you’ll hear a whistling sound that sounds like singing. Legend has it that the singing is from the ghost of a young Native American woman whose lover was lost in the lake and she still calls out to them.
18. A Last for Chain-driven Ferries
Chain ferries were common in the United States once upon a time, but today, there’s only one left and the most unique thing about it is that it’s hand-propelled. Located in Saugatuck, it crosses the Kalamazoo River with the help of several pulleys and a crank that is maneuvered by the operator and has been operating since 1838.
19. A Land of Water
It’s hard to picture it, but Michigan has around 120 rivers and 11,000 lakes. With so much water, is it any wonder Michigan doesn’t sink!
20. A State Surrounded by some Big Lakes
Before we get into the rest of these Michigan facts we need to establish the famous Great Lakes. There are five great lakes in total and Michigan borders four of them; Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie.
21. A Really Long Suspension Bridge
Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. This incredible feat of architecture is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. It’s five miles across and is the fifth-longest suspension bridge on earth and the longest in the Americas.
22. A Strange Law Indeed
Did you know that there is a law on the books that pigs cannot roam freely in downtown Detroit unless they have a ring in their nose. Sounds strange, but there’s a valid reason for this. Pigs have a bad habit of using their noses to cause damage to many things they come in contact with. Apparently, the nose ring prevents this.
23. The Skies Above Michigan Get Very Dark
With so much forest and remote areas, it’s no wonder the night skies over much of Michigan get very dark! In fact, it gets so dark, the state has created six parks dedicated to watching these night skies that are virtually free of light pollution.
One of those parks, Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City, is the only one with international dark sky status. Only 29 other parks in the world have this status.
24. Friendly Mackinac Island
There’s much to see and do on Mackinac Island but one of the things it is mostly known for is its friendly locals. The island has been voted Most Friendliest Island in the World.
25. Michigan is a Leader in Cement Production
Another one of the amazing facts about Michigan, and another world’s biggest for the state, is the cement plant in Alpena. Since 1907, the plant has been producing over two million tonnes of cement each year.
26. The Giant Sand Dunes of the Western Shore
When one thinks of Michigan, I highly doubt that giant sand dunes come to mind. Would you believe me if I said there was one such cluster of dunes in The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that towers 460 feet over Lake Michigan? And they are not the only giant dunes in the state, either!
Whitefish Dunes State Park, Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Grand Sable Banks and Dunes, Warren Dunes State Park and Arcadia Dunes are some of the other notable places that feature giant dunes.
27. More Lighthouses than any other State
When we think of lighthouses, we often think of the ocean, however, the great lakes are known for epic storms that can cause just as much distress to a ship as any ocean swell! At one time, there were over 200 lighthouses guiding ships in the four great lakes that surround Michigan.
Today, there are only around 124 left but that’s still a higher number of lighthouses than in any other state! In my opinion, one of the most romantic things to do in Michigan is enjoy the sunset at a lighthouse.
28. A Thriving Moose Herd
This is another one of the amazing facts about Michigan. One of the biggest moose herds in the United States can be found roaming Isle Royal Park. While at times the herd can dwindle to only 500 animals, it often reaches 2,400 and numbers have fluctuated like this since the early 1980s.
29. A Huge Statue
While it’s not the biggest statue in the world, the 24-foot high The American Horse statue in Grand Rapids is the biggest horse-riding-related bronze statue in The Americas. Created by Nina Akamu, a renowned animal sculptor, it was inspired by an earlier work by Leonardo de Vinci.
30. A Pioneer in Modern Telecommunications
Long before anyone else outside of Detroit, local residents were punching digits into their telephones to make phone calls. These digits were the first phone numbers in the United States and they were issued to residents of the city in 1879 due to population growth that the old operator routing system couldn’t handle anymore.
READ MORE MICHIGAN TRAVEL TIPS
I hope you enjoyed these fun facts about Michigan! Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Michigan.
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- 20 Best Michigan Breweries for a Great Craft Beer
- 20 Beautiful Waterfalls in Michigan You Have to See
- 20 Best Things to Do In Lansing, Michigan
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