7725 E. Wilderness Park Dr.
Mackinaw City Michigan 49701United States
Midwest Living Recommends
You can listen to Lake Michigan waves and admire the stars in this lakeside park with great astronomy programming.
To see constellations, meteors and nocturnal creatures like the barred owl, you can't do much better than Headlands, a county-owned park along Lake Michigan. In 2011, this scenic 600-acre stretch of Great Lakes coastline near Michigan's Straits of Mackinac was named the world's ninth official Dark Sky Park by the Arizona-based International Dark Sky Association. Here, strict zoning laws have protected not just land use but sky views, with resort owners and others avoiding lighting the points up and altering the ground view of the night sky and a critical migration pathway for nocturnal wildlife. The result is something of an outdoor planetarium experience, a place where you can spread a blanket along a near-deserted lakeshore and listen to crashing waves while you identify more constellations than you probably ever knew existed. The park has made a commitment to regular free programming as well. At least once each month, you can gather lakeside with other stargazers and hear program director Mary Stewart Adams spin compelling late-night sky tales likely to leave you wondering just what those ancient Greeks were drinking. Programs feature a particular astronomic event, with a bonus of free snacks shared around a beachside bonfire. Check the website for dates, times and topics.