Best Free Midwest Attractions: Michigan | Midwest Living

Best Free Midwest Attractions: Michigan

Tour a Frank Lloyd Wright home, see arts performances or hike in a national wildlife refuge, all for free in Michigan.

Historic architecture in Grand Rapids

Meyer May House, Grand Rapids The 1908 home is one of the country's most complete Frank Lloyd Wright restorations. Designed for a prominent local clothier, the Prairie-style home was considered revolutionary when it was built. After the original owner died in the 1930s, the house sat vacant for several years. Some rooms were later rented as apartments. Steelcase, an office furniture company headquartered in Grand Rapids, bought the house in 1985, restored it after extensive research and opened it to the public in 1987. Guided tours are free.

Meyer May House


Enjoy the arts in Traverse City

Interlochen Center for the Arts, Traverse City More than 600 events are presented each year by students, faculty and guest artists. Motion picture arts screening, visual art exhibitions, creative writing readings and music recitals are usually free. (Many other performances are low-cost.)

Interlochen Center for the Arts

Hiking in the Upper Peninsula

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising Miles of colorful sandstone cliffs and long stretches of sandy beaches draw hikers, campers and kayakers to this 73,000-acre preserve.

Cliffs rise 50 to 200 feet above Lake Superior (left); sheer rock faces are streaked with shades of red, yellow, blue and green, the work of mineral-rich water seeping from the stone. The lake has added its own artwork, carving sculptures such as the turreted Miners Castle, plus arches and caves. Trails are of varying difficulty and lead to vistas of lakes, cliffs, dunes and waterfalls.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Wildlife in the Upper Peninsula

Seney National Wildlife Refuge About 60 miles southeast of the Munising entrance to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this 95,000-acre wetland (left) is home to more than 200 types of birds and 50 species of mammals. You can learn about wildlife management in the area at the visitors center, then take a 7-mile Marshland Wildlife Drive. Back roads and dikes are open to bicyclists and hikers.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Free attractions near the Lake Michigan shore

DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory, Holland Artisans hand-paint each dish at the only factory producing blue-and-white delftware in the United States (left).

State Fish Hatchery, Oden Go nose-to-gill with trout in a stream-viewing chamber and see a scale model of a Great Lakes watershed.

DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delftware Factory

State Fish Hatchery

Play for free

Campus Martius Park, Detroit Along Woodward Avenue, this manicured 1.6-acre green space is the centerpiece of the city's downtown revitalization, with eating areas, art exhibits, outdoor film showings in summer and concerts that are often free (left).

Campus Martius Park


History near Detroit

Walker Tavern State Historic Site, Brooklyn Visitors to this restored 1800s stagecoach stop can see how hard travel must have been when the Chicago road was just dirt and planks laid across the mud. The tavern (left) includes an 1840s parlor, barroom, dining room and kitchen; the barn has surveying and stagecoach exhibits. The site is about 75 miles west of Detroit.

Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills The nation's first freestanding Holocaust museum, about 25 miles northwest of Detroit, offers daily tours. A Holocaust survivor is present on Sundays. Exhibits focus on Jewish history, Jewish culture in Europe, World War II and the post-war world.

Walker Tavern State Historic Site

Holocaust Memorial Center

Free attractions in Lansing

Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing Highlights include a life-size street scene (left) and a three-story topographical Michigan map. Exhibits chronicle the state's past, including the lumber and auto industries.

State Capitol, Lansing Take a free tour of the 1879 building, known for its 160-foot-high rotunda and ornate, hand-painted trim.

Michigan Historical Museum

State Capitol

Tour Marshall by foot

Historic Marshall A free map from the Chamber of Commerce features a walking tour that guides visitors to dozens of 19th-century homes, attractions and shops. (Some of the attractions have fees to enter.)

One of Marshall's most famous structures is the Honolulu House (left), built in 1860 for a judge when he returned from serving as U.S. consul to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands.

Historic Marshall

Add Your Comment