If you’ve spent any amount of time around a TV or radio in the past few years, you’ve probably heard it. First it starts with the sweet notes on a piano playing a melancholy song, then is accompanied by the unmistakable and reminiscent voice of Tim Allen.The ad takes its audience on a sweeping journey through Michigan, captivatingly describing the freshness of its open waters or the raw beauty of its state forests. By the time you hear the closing words “Pure Michigan”, you’ll either be in tears, packing your suitcase, or pulling a U-turn to head anywhere north. I know this because I have done all three at least once.
But when your tears dry, or you’ve finished packing, or you notice your tank doesn’t have nearly enough gas to get you to Charlevoix, you change your mind. You turn back around because the office needs you too much, you put away your sun hat and bikini because you never told your boss you needed this weekend off, and you cast away your used tissues because you realize that you are way too busy to be reminiscing about old times.
But that’s where you’re wrong.
While maintaining a state of natural beauty all year long, Michigan really only has 3 to 4 months when natives and tourists alike can enjoy its outdoor features to its full extent. Sure there’s always skiing in the winter, but you can’t enjoy a cold drink and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the pontoon in February. You could probably hike just about any time of the year, but walking the northern trails in July offers a fascinating array of wild flowers and forest creatures to view, accompanied by the soundtrack of Michigan’s many native birds. And hey, if you can bike the perimeter of Mackinac Island or enjoy a blue moon ice cream cone on the pier in the dead of winter, props to you.
But these activities are far more fun when the temperature is warmer, the trees are green and full of life, and you are left giggling instead of shivering when the waves of Lake Michigan crash down over you. Unfortunately, the “Great Lakes State” only maintains such ideal weather conditions in the months of June through August. Depending on the year, May and September may find the motivation to cooperate as well. This staggering reality makes the need to appreciate Michigan summers all the more important.
So take advantage of Michigan’s many natural and hand-made attractions when you can. Set your GPS for Petoskey and explore its scenic roads or walk down the slanting streets of its delightful downtown. Swap a cup of steaming coffee at “Roast & Toast” for stories told by its many charming locals. Head towards the tip of the mitten to Mackinaw City, and spend the day enriching yourself with history by wandering the walls of an 18th century fort and snapchatting a video of an 18th century cannon booming over Lake Michigan. Cross the bridge and gaze over the shimmering blue ripples of the lake hundreds of feet below you (but don’t look at the grates under your tires if you are squeamish of heights). Splurge on a greasy and delicious Clyde’s cheeseburger, or detour to Mackinac Island and eat your weight’s worth of iconic fudge. Take a road trip up to Tahquamenon Falls and snap all the selfies you can of yourself and the Upper Peninsula’s thundering waterfall, and don’t forget to purchase at least one hand-made pasty as you travel the mysterious northern lands of the mitten state.
But of course, there’s always the option of kicking up your feet by the lake and relaxing by the side of your loved ones. Cruise around on the boat, try to whip your friends off the tube by creating an impossibly terrifying ring of waves, or spend the evening with only a fishing pole and the setting sun. Because in the end, Michigan only provides a few short months to enjoy these things, and they are some of the best sights, sounds, activities, and experiences this unique state has to offer.
So set down that briefcase and pick up your suitcase, pack your favorite snacks and people into the seats of your car, and tell Siri to set your location to anywhere north. And finally, let Tim Allen’s nostalgia-inducing voice carry you away to the beautiful lands of Pure Michigan.
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