Looking for a romantic weekend getaway destination in Michigan? Most Americans and foreigners alike don’t think of Michigan when they are planning a vacation. Images of abandoned houses and factories in Detroit, water crises, and country farms come to mind. However, the mitten state has much more to offer than that.
I was born in Michigan, so the state holds a special place in my heart. The beautiful winters, clear beaches, and cute historic small towns scattered throughout the state are what I think about Michigan. It makes for the perfect place to spend a romantic weekend getaway with your loved one. Just recently, we were even able to take some time off and explore more of my own home state.
Where exactly did we go in Michigan? Here are all the best romantic getaways in Michigan that we were able to re-explore again.
Romantic Weekend Getaways in Michigan Ideas
ABC’s Good Morning America voted Sleeping Bears Dunes in Northern Michigan the “Most Beautiful Place in America.” It’s not an exaggeration. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park covers over 35 miles of pristine coastline. Sleeping Bear is perfect for a cheap weekend getaway in Michigan for couples to enjoy a few days of pure bliss and relaxation among some of the bluest waters in Michigan.
Sleeping Bears Dunes are beautiful in both the summer and the winter, but for swimming and camping around Lake Michigan, the months of June, July, and August are perfect. The Dunes are named after the great Ojibwe legend which you can read fully about here.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Michigan that is only a three-hour drive away from the capital city look no further than Frankfort. This cute little town is in Benzie County and is situated right along Lake Michigan. White sand dunes, crystal clear water, and awe-inspiring sunsets surround the quaint Victorian homes and cute coffee shops in this small little town.
One of my favorite things to do here is to head up to Betsie Point Lighthouse at the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage. Frankfort is so romantic, one of my best friends even got married here!
If I could describe Frankenmuth in two words it would be “Little Bavaria.” Frankenmuth is a great destination in Michigan year round, but in my opinion, it’s a great winter weekend getaway in Michigan. Through the winter months, the whole town turns into a giant German like Christmas market.
People are happy, kids are ice skating, the shops are full, and the streets are lined with Christmas lights. Throughout the town, you can feel the holiday spirit in the air. The downtown area is modeled after a 19th-century Germany village and in mid-September, the whole community gathers for Oktoberfest, much like they do in Munich. One of my favorite things to do in Frankenmuth is head to Bronner’s, the largest Christmas store in the world, around Christmas time.
If you want to shop till you drop then Traverse City right on the Grand Traverse Bay Area of Northern Michigan is the place for you. The streets of Traverse City are lined with unique shops and delicious places to eat. What the town is most known for are their Michigan cherries.
Dubbed the “Cherry Capital of the World” almost 3/4 of America’s cherries are grown in Michigan. I’m not talking about the sweet maraschino cherries either, I’m referring to the delicious juicy ruby red cherries that you can only find in certain parts of the world. Two of my favorite things to do in Traverse City is celebrating the National Cherry Festival each June and attending the Traverse City Film Festival that takes place every summer.
Mackinac Island is the perfect anniversary getaways in Michigan. In case you didn’t know, there are two peninsulas that makeup Michigan. That is the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula connected by the Mackinac Bridge and separated by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Between these two peninsulas is Mackinac Island, renowned for its colonial and Victorian era ambiance. This is one of the most popular destinations in Michigan and for good reason.
After coming here and seeing the horse and buggies, fudge shops, and cobbled streets you yourself will be enchanted. There is plenty of history to learn here as well as great shopping (especially for fudge), and there is also the posh and ritzy resort areas where couples can treat themselves to fabulous dinners at the Carriage House. Horse riding, hiking, and paddling also present themselves for the more active bunch. The best part is there is an automobile ban on the island so get used to clean air, horses, and plenty of bicycles to enjoy a romantic weekend.
Petoskey is located on Little Traverse Bay and is one of the most affluent areas of the state I have traveled through. Shop lined streets, yacht-filled harbors, and great eateries await you here. Petoskey is named after the Petoskey Stone that is the prehistoric fossil found in the area.
Besides finding the Petoskey Stone, visitors to the area can find themselves on one of the many bike and hiking trails through the Petoskey State Park or golf on one of the beautiful golf courses near Bay Harbor along the water. If you are looking for a more fishing oriented romantic getaway in Michigan then check out Petoskey’s Bear River which plays host to brook trout, salmon, and steelhead.
For an inexpensive romantic getaway in Michigan why not head to the beach? As a little girl, I would always find myself in West Michigan visiting Saugatuck during the summer. Only a 45 minute drive away from Grand Rapids, Saugatuck offers visitors a more laid back art scene on the shores of Lake Michigan.
It’s a great Michigan family getaway town perfect for walking around and enjoy the unique shops, romantic restaurants, and art galleries that are so hard to come by in the midwest. It also has one of the most open LGBT communities in the state and is considered fairly progressive. Oval Beach is a beautiful and serene beach that is easily the most popular to visit in the summertime with its white sand and clear water.
Leland is a teenie village in Leelanau Country and is a great place for a day trip for couples while in Northern Michigan. The quaint town is easy enough to walk around and enjoy a fun day of kayaking, swimming, or just watching the beautiful yachts pull into port. There are plenty of cute places to eat and shop in Leland.
Fishtown is a small 150-year-old fishing village that is also a great place to visit and have lunch at here. The fully operational Fishtown is one of the only fishing villages left in Michigan. While walking through here you can easily see, feel, and smell the fish smokehouses, drying fish racks, and fishing shanties while trying some of the one of a kind smoked fish.
Ludington is one of the best romantic getaways in Michigan year-round. There are great hiking trails in Ludington State Park to go cross-country skiing on a romantic winter getaway in Michigan and of course, there are dunes to climb in the summer at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Forest.
Like many of the towns on this list, Ludington has fabulous beaches along Lake Michigan accompanied with two famous Ludington lighthouses. However, it’s not the beaches or the antique shops downtown that make Ludington so wonderful – it’s the massive list of festivals they host! From the Ludington Freedom Festival to their Winterfest it’s hard to get bored in Ludington any time of the year.
If Frankenmuth is the nations “Little Bavaria,” then Holland, Michigan is the nations “Little Amsterdam.” Yup, in case you have never been to Western and Central Europe don’t worry because Michigan has you covered! Holland was founded by Dutch Americans, hence the name. Holland is located on Lake Macatawa, and there are many public beach accesses if you are looking for some romantic beach time.
There is also a fabulous shopping district mostly on the iconic 8th street. It’s here that you can find locally owned businesses, coffee shops, Irish Pubs, and even the New Holland Brewing Company. Despite all these amazing things, the Tulip Time Festival is what Holland, Michigan is famous for. Each May, Holland plays host to over six million tulips around the city.
Plan and Pack for a Romantic Trip to Michigan
Book a Tour
Check out the fun day tours around Michigan!
Delsey makes my favorite hard side luggage and after five years of travel around the world, they have yet to let me down. Plus their bags look extremely stylish, have heavy duty wheels, TSA accepted lock, and two full packing compartments with tie-down straps and a zippered divider. If you want something different check out our other favorite carry on luggage pieces.
Carry on Backpack
As far as design the Knack Expandable Backpack is one of my favorites in the travel world. It’s a new backpack and company for 2019 and from a number of executives who worked for the luggage company Tumi. The exterior and design of the pack are overwhelmingly positive. Compared to any of the other travel-specific bags we’ve had the chance to take a look at it delivers high quality with nice features. See our full review here.
For any day trip to the Michigan beaches, you’re going to want some cold drinks. After we throw our bathing suits on it’s the first thing we pack up. Traditional coolers are heavy and pain on the beach so we use a portable travel cooler like the Hopper Flip when we’re on the beach.
It claims to keep your drinks fresh for up to three days, while we’ve never tested that feature out – one day at the beach and drinks are always frosty cold. If you want to pack a more while still being portable, the Hopper Flip is an excellent investment. Yeti products are great for the beach since they are leakproof, resistant to mildew and punctures, durable, and are entirely portable. Many of their coolers have closed cell rubber insulation and robust zippers.
Beyond that, a good portable cooler makes for a good investment if you like to go camping, canoeing, or just a day at the park. A well-built cooler should be durable, waterproof, and comfortable to carry. If you want to check out some other great coolers, you can view them here.
A cover-up is one of those Michigan beach vacation clothes you should always travel within your luggage. When packing for a day at the Lake Michigan beaches, make sure you don’t forget one. Not only do they look cute, but they will also protect you from the suns harsh rays. Many establishments don’t allow beachgoers to wear just a swimsuit, so this is where the cover-up is essential. Most of my cover-ups come from Pitusa.
This all depends on where you’re heading to in Michigan, but a portable Bluetooth speaker is great to have when you’re in a group while at the beach. We travel with a small BOOM speaker and take it with us when it feels appropriate. We say this because it’s often best to leave it at home on small secluded beaches so not to annoy anyone else with your music — no one’s that good of a DJ.
Of course, what you wear all depends on where you will be visiting! For those heading to Michigan, you’re going to want something warm to throw on at night. For those days we always reach for a warm fleece jacket.
Patagonia’s Synchilla Snap T Pullover fleece is the best fleeces for the beach in our opinion. The fleece has a classic relaxed cut that has a timeless look for a walk on the beach or evening bonfire. It’s a double-sided fleece that provides plenty of warmth while remaining soft and comfortable.
No matter what you will need a tote bag when heading to the beach. This is to throw in anything like towels, a book, a speaker, sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen. As full-time travelers, we often use our daypacks for trips to the beach since a tote is unnecessary.
However, a classic tote that everyone has in their closet is a great option for those on short trips or live close to the beach. They also travel well as they can fold flat and lie in your luggage. For family beach goers I recommend a large yet durable beach tote like this one.
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