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Michigan

Photo © jl98584

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Michigan

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Introduction

Mackinac Bridge and Lake Michigan

Mackinac Bridge and Lake Michigan

© All Rights Reserved jameswhite555

Michigan, located in the Midwest, owes its name to Lake Michigan, which is one of the five Great Lakes. The state is known for its distinctive culture and stunning beauty. Being surrounded by Lake Michigan to the west, Lake Superior to the north and Lake Huron to the east it is nestled by water. Thus living up to its state motto of "Great Lakes, Great Times."

The wilderness along the shoreline is only topped by the Upper Peninsula and Isle Royal National Park. The Upper Peninsula is home to the Porcupine Mountains, some of the oldest mountains in the world, and are stunning to hike and explore. Off the shoreline is Isle Royal, which is one of the wildest areas in the country and is home to wolves and moose. If your are looking for something more urban, the countless resort towns along Lake Michigan offer a great place to relax and shop while the city of Detroit is the motor city and the home of Motown records. So live it up and explore the vast opportunities that Michigan has to offer.

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Geography

Michigan consists of two peninsulas that lie between 82°30' to about 90°30' west longitude, and are separated by the Straits of Mackinac, and some nearby islands. With the exception of two small areas that are drained by the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River in the Upper Peninsula and by way of the Kankakee-Illinois River in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan is drained by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed and is the only state with the majority of its land thus drained.

The heavily forested Upper Peninsula is relatively mountainous in the west. The Porcupine Mountains, which are part of one of the oldest mountain chains in the world, rise to an altitude of almost 600 metres above sea level and form the watershed between the streams flowing into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The surface on either side of this range is rugged. The state's highest point, in the Huron Mountains northwest of Marquette, is Mount Arvon 603 metres.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Day 22 - Warren Dunes SP

Day 22 - Warren Dunes SP

© All Rights Reserved jl98584

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

Michigan has a continental climate, although there are two distinct regions. The southern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula (south of Saginaw Bay and from the Grand Rapids area southward) have a warmer climate with hot summers and cold winters. The northern part of Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula has a more severe climate, with warm, but shorter summers and longer, cold to very cold winters. Some parts of the state average high temperatures below freezing from December through February, and into early March in the far northern parts. During the winter through the middle of February the state is frequently subjected to heavy lake-effect snow. The state averages from 76-100 cm of precipitation annually, however some areas in the northern lower peninsula and the upper peninsula average almost 160" of snowfall per year. Michigan's highest recorded temperature is 44 °C, and the coldest recorded temperature is -46 °C.

The entire state averages 30 days of thunderstorm activity per year. These can be severe, especially in the southern part of the state. The state averages 17 tornadoes per year, which are more common in the extreme southern portion of the state. Portions of the southern border have been nearly as vulnerable historically as parts of Tornado Alley. For this reason, many communities in the very southern portions of the state are equipped with tornado sirens to warn residents of approaching tornadoes. Farther north, in the Upper Peninsula, tornadoes are rare.

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Getting There

By Plane

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) is the main airport, and is a major hub for Delta Airlines, which mainly has domestic flights but also a significant number of international flights, including to/from Amsterdam, Cancun, Frankfurt, Manila, Tokyo, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Mexico City and Rome. Several dozens of other airlines serve Detroit, with many domestic services and quite a few international flights, like Amman, Paris, Toronto and London.

To/from the airport

  • Car: The airport is accessible from I-94 and from I-275 via Eureka Road. John D. Dingell Drive is an expressway that runs from I-94 to Eureka Road. This expressway was built in 1999 for access to the McNamara Terminal. Many other local roads all have access to the airport. There are about 11,500 parking places at the airport and both rental cars as well as taxis are widely available. Taxis are provided by MetroCab, while limousine service and luxury vehicle service is provided by MetroCars.
  • Bus: The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) provides bus routes 125 and 280, one per hour, that connect the airport with the rest of Metro Detroit. Robert Q. Airbus also provides independent shuttle services, and most hotels located at the airport provide their own shuttle services as well.

Several other regional airport in Michigan mainly serve US cities.

By Train

The Michigan Services travels between Chicago, Illinois through Indiana to a number of places in Michigan, including Detroit.

By Car

Driving into Michigan can be accomplished by one of the highways that enter and extend through Michigan. From Ohio, I-75 goes through Detroit, Flint, and Bay City, and Mackinaw City, ending in the U.P. city of Sault Ste. Marie. From Indiana and Illinois, I-94 passes through Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Jackson, Ann Arbor, and Detroit, and ends in Port Huron in the thumb of Michigan. I-196 branches from I-94 and continues up the lakeshore to Grand Rapids. I-69 enters from east Indiana and Indianapolis, crossing I-94, and passing through Lansing, Flint, and Port Huron. US-131 stretches from I-80/90 in northern Indiana through Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Cadillac, and northward. The Upper Peninsula can be entered from Wisconsin via US-2 from Duluth, and US-41 from Green Bay or Milwaukee. Michigan has major bridge/tunnel border crossings from Ontario, Canada located in Detroit (from Windsor) and Port Huron (from Sarnia), with a less heavily used crossing at the northern twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie.

By Bus

Check Greyhound for options.

By Boat

The SS Badger travels between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin once or twice a day between late May and early October. The trip takes around 4 hours and costs $67 one way, $110 roundtrip for adults.

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Getting Around

By Train

The Michigan Services operated by Amtrak provide extensive train links along three main routes in the state.

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Michigan has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

By Bus

Greyhound is your best option.

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Eat

York's Landing has become a landmark in South Haven for locals and visitors alike. Enjoy their great pizzas, sandwiches and our favorite, the perch dinner. During the summer York’s hosts great outdoor parties with bands while in the fall and spring, the fire pit is surrounded by many who enjoy the outdoors.

Michigan's specialties include:

  • The pasty (which rhymes with "nasty", not "hasty") is a traditional food in the Upper Peninsula, made with meat (usually beef), potato, onion, and sometimes rutabaga (a must, for some Yoopers), wrapped in a sturdy dough with a crimped edge. They originated from Cornwall, in southwestern England, and were brought to the area by Cornish miners who emigrated to the UP. The miners' wives would take everything that was left from the Sunday dinner, chop it up and wrap it in a semicircular pastry case, for their husbands to warm on their shovels and eat for lunch. These days, you can find pasty shops along highways in the UP, some with limited hours of operation, and others with their own websites. There are a number of ways to go about eating a pasty: cold, held in the hand, with or without ketchup, or hot, with ketchup or brown gravy.
  • Several of the more popular tourist towns on Michigan's shores produce rich, creamy fudge, made from milk, sugar and usually chocolate, although you can find vanilla, peanut butter, mint, praline, cranberry, and many more flavors. The most famous fudge in the state has been made on Mackinac Island since 1887, still by hand, shaping and cooling it on marble slabs, right there at the shop.
  • Not surprisingly, lake fish is popular in Michigan, particularly walleye, rainbow trout, whitefish and lake perch. Most restaurants in Michigan that offer seafood will have at least one of the two somewhere on their menu; you can find it broiled, fried, smoked, made into salad, or planked on cedar with whipped mashed potatoes piped around the edge. Lake fish are most commonly associated with Lake Superior, so you'll find it more prominent on menus in the Upper Peninsula.
  • Michigan produces over 70 percent of the tart cherries grown in the US, as well as around 20 percent of the sweet cherries. The main cherry-growing region in the state is around Traverse City, where you'll find a cherry festival every July. Cherries, particularly dried ones, get added to some dishes to give them local flair; you may see restaurants offering a "Michigan salad" that includes dried cherries.
  • Cudighi ("COO-duh-ghee"), is an Italian sausage, sometimes served as a sausage-patty hoagie served with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, and is popular in the Upper Peninsula. It was brought to the area by immigrants from northern Italy who moved into the Iron Mountain region, the Copper Country, and around Ishpeming and Negaunee. Cudighi is flavored with sweet spices like paprika, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

#* In southeastern Michigan, a popular treat to celebrate Fat Tuesday and the beginning of Lent is pączki ("poonch-key"), which are baked annually in the Polish village of Hamtramck in metro Detroit. The version made in Hamtramck are like large fried jelly doughnuts, covered in powdered sugar or glazed, and most commonly filled with custard, fruit or chocolate, with plum being a particularly popular flavor. Many grocers in southeastern Michigan carry pączki in the days and weeks prior to Ash Wednesday each February.

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Drink

Although not as prestigious as Californian or overseas varieties, Michigan wines are growing in respectability, with significant vineyards in the southwest (e.g. St. Julian, Tabor Hill, Fenn Valley) and northwest Lower Peninsula (e.g. Leelanau Cellars, Good Harbor, Chateau Grand Traverse).

Stroh's was one of the last of the great traditional Michigan breweries and a Detroit-area staple, but is now made out of state. However, local breweries can now be found throughout Michigan. Some of the more widely available Michigan beers are Bell's, Arcadia, Atwater, Michigan Brewing, and Founder's.

Two native brands of soft drinks (called "pop" by the locals) are Faygo (perhaps best known for strawberry-flavored "Redpop" and the 1970s top-10 single based on their TV jingle), and Vernor's ginger ale (with its distinctive tangy taste and gnome mascot). The national brands own the restaurant and vending-machine business, but these are available in stores.

Michigan's bountiful apple harvest is often used to make fresh apple cider, and cider mills are abundant in the apple-growing region. They are only open during the harvesting season in autumn, but, if you stop by, you can get cider by the gallon (not "hard" cider) or just a cup of it, hot or cold. In Michigan, cider is traditionally drunk with cake doughnuts; most cider mills make their own doughnuts fresh on the premises, so you can get them piping hot, and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Most also sell other apple products, like baked goods, apple jellies and butters, and apple-related products like cookbooks and mulling spices.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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Quick Facts

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Capital
Lansing
Largest city
Detroit

Contributors

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This is version 42. Last edited at 8:14 on Apr 15, 16 by Utrecht. 34 articles link to this page.

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