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Steppinstars (CC0), Pixabay

When it comes to this part of the country, there are so many beautiful, exciting destinations that are sorely overlooked. Lake Eerie, Upstate New York, and Niagara Falls tend to hog most of the limelight in the general region. Meanwhile, anyone who is vacationing within Michigan is likely to head south to the likes of Ann Arbor or Detriot, with few venturing up North. However, this is good news for you.

Northern Michigan may well be one of America’s greatest hidden gems right now, home to stunning nature, awe-inspiring history, unforgettable attractions, and raucous nightlife that are perfect for year-round trips. Whether you’re a full-time resident of the Great Lake State or coming from elsewhere, here are the secrets you need to know about exploring Northern Michigan.

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Source: Unsplash

Idyllic Leelanau 

Any first-time trip to Northern Michigan should center on historic Leelanau County, a peninsula at the northern tip of the state that is home to stunning sand dunes, island getaways, lush vineyards, and fun, friendly Traverse City.

This really is a county that has it all. Travelers should begin their trip by booking a stay at the center of Traverse City, where they can take in the laid-back lifestyle by kayaking the urban canals, taking a dip in the swimmer-friendly Marina, and soaking up the alfresco cafe culture that the town is known for.

For nightcrawlers looking for a more up-tempo experience, the sumptuous Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge is an absolute must-visit. This secluded gambling Mecca has dozens of finely-appointed suites that overlook the stunning waters of Traverse Bay, as well as a sprawling casino complex with hundreds of different games on offer.

For those who come for the gambling, the main attraction is the progressive jackpot slots, which allow guests to potentially win tens of thousands of dollars from a single spin. Those looking to prepare before they go can also try out Michigan casinos online to get to grips with how real money gaming works in the state and try out some progressive jackpot slots for themselves.

Off the beaten tracks at Lake Michigan

The sweeping vistas of Lake Michigan make for a truly unforgettable sight, which is why many of the southern reaches of the lake are counted among the most popular summer getaway hotspots in the country.

However, travel further North along the idyllic coast and the crowds start to thin out. If you are looking for swimming, sailing, surfing, and relaxing in a beach house away from crowds and high prices, head north.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes, a 35-mile stretch of unspoiled coastline, is the best place in the state for Instagram-worthy views and crystal-clear blue waters. What’s more, you can even head here for cross-country skiing in the winter months!

Another must-visit spot in northern Lake Michigan is Muskegon, which combines quiet beaches, stunning wetlands, and a glut of beautiful and affordable cottage rentals for travelers of all stripes.

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Source: Unsplash

Unforgettable Mackinac Island

If you want a summer vacation that feels like stepping back into your carefree childhood, a week in Mackinac Island is just the ticket. Known as the Jewel of the Lakes, this Victorian island town is only accessible by boat, and still feels it has been untouched by the sands of time.

Think gaslamp-lit promenades, cobbled streets, old-timey ice cream parlors, and horse-drawn carriages to ferry you from your townhouse to the beach for your evening stroll. A few days on this island and you’ll soon forget all about the cares and worries of the modern world.

Wet your whistle in the Hidden Wine Region

Finally, let’s not forget about Michigan’s best-kept secret, its stunning Hidden Wine Region. Michigan has long been known as the “Cherry Capital of the World” and continues to produce a huge proportion of the world’s cherries. As a result, a rich and increasingly modish wine culture has sprung up in the northern regions, where many of the most in-demand cherries are harvested.

Here you’ll find stunning vineyards that feel like something transplanted straight out of Burgundy or Tuscany, especially when the sunset hits the pale-green vines. There are many worthwhile vineyards to visit and spend a couple of nights, including the luxurious Chateau Chantal, modeled after a French castle, and Black Star Inn, a shaker-style classic American retreat.

These are the absolute must-visit destinations in Northern Michigan. No matter what kind of trip you are looking for, Northern Michigan has it.

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