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Day trips from Ann Arbor: a guide to Michigan's state parks

Grand Haven beach
Morgan Womack
/
A sunset at Grand Haven State Park on Aug. 14, 2021.

Tourists travel to Michigan’s shores every summer to soak up the sun. The extensive state park system gives visitors a chance to hike, explore the wildlife, and learn about local history. Most of the state parks require purchase of a recreation passport, which can be accessed here.

Here’s a guide to state parks near Ann Arbor that you, your friends, and family could drive to for a sunny day getaway this summer.

A note: We're using Ann Arbor as a starting point because that's Michigan Radio's home base. We hope that wherever you are in our beautiful state, you'll be able to make a trip to some of these state parks.

Less than 1 hour from Ann Arbor

Maybury State Park
Located in Northville, Maybury State Park has eight miles of trails, paved bike paths, fishing, sports fields, and playgrounds. Visitors can also check out the history trail with signage showing where old buildings of the Maybury Sanitarium used to be.

Watkins Lake State Park
Watkins Lake State Park is in Jackson and Washtenaw counties. The park is covered in over five miles of hiking trails, wetlands, and open water. Because the lake has been designated a Waterfowl Refuge by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, bird watching is a popular activity for park goers.

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
An urban state park in downtown Detroit, William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor is located on the east riverfront. The harbor contains areas for fishing and picnicking, and a scaled-down replica of the Tawas Point lighthouse. There is also a wetlands demonstration area.

Seven Lakes State Park
Seven Lakes State Park in Holly has several miles of shoreline and a campground. The dam combined seven small lakes into one large lake, giving visitors room for various water activities like kayaking, swimming, and fishing.

Belle Isle Park
In Detroit, Belle Isle Park has an aquarium, zoo, conservatory, and Great Lakes museum. Grassy areas give park goers a spot for picnicking, grilling, walking, and biking.

Sterling State Park
Sterling State Park is the only state park in Michigan located on Lake Erie. This Monroe County park has beaches, camping, and hiking and biking trails.

Less than 2 hours from Ann Arbor

Algonac State Park
Along the St. Clair River, Algonac State Park’s half mile of riverfront is known for its passing freighters. Wildlife observation, archery, and camping are popular recreational activities for visitors.

Bay City State Park
Bay City State Park is located on the shores of Saginaw Bay. Birders flock to this park for its indoor observation room and guided tours. Boardwalk trails, observation towers, a museum, and beachy shoreline give park goers plenty of recreational opportunities.

Lakeport State Park
Sitting along Lake Huron’s shore, Lakeport State Park gives visitors two campgrounds to choose from. The 250 sites are split on either side of the village of Lakeport. The park has pebbled beaches along the lake.

Less than 3 hours from Ann Arbor

Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park
In Cass City, Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park holds Michigan’s largest known collection of carved Native American teachings. The carvings, called “Ezhibiigaadek Asin,” mean “written on stone” in the Anishinaabemowin language.

Warren Dunes State Park
Warren Dunes State Park contains three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline in Sawyer. Visitors can enjoy camping, swimming, picnicking, beaching, and hiking along the dunes.

Sleeper State Park
Sleeper State Park in Caseville was named in honor of Albert E. Sleeper, former governor of Michigan who signed the state park system statute into law. Park goers can camp in the forested dunes and enjoy the half mile of sandy beaches.

Grand Haven State Park
Located along Lake Michigan, Grand Haven State Park’s sandy shores allow visitors to sunbathe, swim, and fish. The park also has a campground, volleyball nets, and a scenic pier and lighthouse.

Morgan Womack joined Michigan Radio as a digital news intern in June. She is a journalism student at Michigan State University.
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