Surrounded by four of the Great Lakes, Michigan’s winters are bitter cold with lots of snow, icy winds, temperatures ranging from the minus teens to just above zero (Celsius). March temperatures rise to about five degrees; June is in the teens and 20s. July and August are hot and humid with temperatures in the mid 20s. September is cooler and October temperatures can drop to about four degrees.
When to fly to Michigan
Summer and autumn are the high seasons for flights to Michigan. Overcrowding in the summer is not uncommon. The shores of Lake Michigan are particularly busy, and Mackinaw Island is very crowded, especially on weekends. June and July have the most family visitors, and the crowds at the shore begin to recede after Labour Day.
The foliage season starts around mid-September with the colours reaching their peak by mid-October. This is also a very popular time for outdoor adventurers and anglers.
Spring is the off season, but the wildflowers are blooming, whitewater canoeing is at its best, and the angling is excellent.
Winter is quiet except for the downhill and cross-country skiers in the Porcupine Mountains.
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Getting around Michigan
Michigan has several airports with scheduled flights to destinations within the state. There is bus service in the southern part of the state, but otherwise buses are infrequent. There is train service through Detroit, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor.
Overall, driving is the best way to get around the state, including the cities. The good news is that southeast Michigan, including Detroit, still has some of the lowest car rental rates in the region. Michigan has an excellent system of highways and interstates. The Upper Peninsula has only 45 miles of interstate highway and is an enclave of scenic two-lane roads and rural towns. When you are in a rural section, keep an eye out for wildlife crossing the road. If you are visiting in winter, check the road advisories before heading out as roads can be closed by weather conditions.
Mackinaw Island, however, does not allow cars. All travel on the island is by horse or bicycle. There is ferry service to Mackinaw Island from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.
During the mild seasons, cycling is also a popular way to get around. Traverse City especially has lots of bike paths in and around the city.
Michigan insider information
- Lansing is the capital of Michigan, but only the sixth-largest city in the state. There is a host of cultural attractions, including the State Capitol, numerous museums and galleries, boutique shopping and restaurants. Tours are available of the stunning, historic Capitol Building, which was completed in 1879 and was designed by Elijah E. Myers, and helped lead to his reputation as one of the most-respected architects of capitol buildings.
- Detroit is the largest city in Michigan and perhaps most famous for being the home to Ford. The Henry Ford Museum is located about 20 minutes outside the city in Dearborn. The museum and Greenfield Village show the history of Henry Ford and his times: take a locomotive tour round the village or look in a reconstructed version of Ford’s home. A display of motorcars throughout the ages appeals to adults and children.
- As well as four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan also has more than 11,000 small lakes within the state, so it is naturally a great spot for water sports. Boating, canoeing and kayaking are all popular; more unusually, ice boating takes place in the winter months.
- The Mackinac Bridge connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan and is one of the longest suspensions bridges in the world. Nicknamed the “Mighty Mac” it covers five miles and was erected in 1957 after many years of planning and building. The annual bridge walk takes place in September of every year. A crowd sets off at about 7am from the north end and finishes in Mackinaw City on the south side.
- Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are all popular in the winter months. The Crystal Mountain Resort has 45 runs for ski and snowboard as well as terrain parks and a half pipe.