My 5 Favorite Places in Michigan: Jon Katje

My 5 Favorite Places in Michigan: Jon Katje

Miners Castle Pictured Rocks

One of the ideas Chris and I have been working on for this site is to try and get some Michigan born or based celebrities to do short interviews sharing what they love about this great state. To help format that, we’re each going to share our five favorite places first and take things from there. Feel free to share in the comments what some of your favorite places in Michigan are, or any ideas of whose list you’d like to see – we have quite a list put together already but are always looking for more ideas.

dutch in michigan historic marker

My name is Jon Katje and I am the co-founder of and a lifelong Michigan resident. I was born in Hastings in 1983 and have lived in Grand Rapids since 2001. I try to visit as many places in Michigan as possible each year, with favorite attractions being waterfalls, breweries, lighthouses, hiking trails and historic sites. Here are my five favorite places in Michigan:

Me At Miners Falls PRNL

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – If you’ve followed along with our site for any length of time, you know I love waterfalls. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore features some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state, as well as miles of scenic Lake Superior shoreline. Hiking trails here range from easy to challenging, and while getting to some of the waterfalls or historic sites here have proven challenging, the end result has always proven worth the work. Seeing the cliffs from the boat cruise or shipwreck cruise adds another dimension to the experience, but to really experience this Michigan gem you have to hike one or more of the trails – I’d list the Chapel Loop, Miners Falls and Au Sable Point Lighthouse hikes as some of my favorites. Munising Falls, Log Slide Overlook, Sable Falls and Miners Castle are short hikes and easy-to-access sites that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Me at Sault Ste.Marie Freighter

Sault Ste. Marie/Soo Locks – One of my other interest when traveling the Great Lakes is watching and photographing freighters as they travel from port to port. There is no better place to see ships than at the Soo Locks, as they stop right in the heart of Sault Ste. Marie while the locks raise or lower the water level so they can continue on their way to Lake Superior or Lake Huron. I also enjoy the views from Rotary Park and from the park next to the Cloverland hydroelectric plant. The Tower of History provides an amazing aerial view of the city, and there is no shortage of historical attractions here in the oldest city in Michigan.

Me at Overlooked Falls

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Not only does this park offer seemingly endless hiking trails, it also has great views of the Lake Superior shoreline and chances to spot wildlife. We’ve seen bears, coyotes, eagles and more on our trips here, and I count the Lake of the Clouds overlook as one of the best views in the state. On the west end of the park, the hike to Manabezho, Manido and Nawadha Falls is fantastic and shouldn’t be missed. When we’re in the mood for rustic camping, this is one of our favorite spots.


Running Mackinac Island 8 Mile

Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island – We started making family trips to Mackinaw City shortly after I could walk, and we haven’t stopped going back. I’ve spent countless hours photographing the Mackinac Bridge and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, and have enjoyed visits to Colonial Michlimackinac on the mainland and Fort Mackinac on the island to learn more about Michigan’s military history. Taking part in the Lilac Festival 10K, Mackinac Island 8 Mile, and Great Turtle Half Marathon have given me a great appreciation for every bit of Mackinac Island’s beauty. Arch Rock and Sugarloaf are great natural formations to visit and the island also features hundreds of historic sites.

Downtown Grand Rapids

Downtown Grand Rapids along the Grand River – Growing up just 30 minutes from Grand Rapids, we made more than a handful of trips up the East Beltline for shopping, movies or food. It wasn’t until I moved here in 2001 for college that I started getting an appreciation for downtown, and I’ve remained especially fond of the walking paths alongside the Grand River downtown. With multiple bridge crossing the river, two museums and lots of open, grassy spaces this is a must-visit area in the summer. During ArtPrize it becomes even more fun to visit this stretch and see how people have incorporated the river into their pieces. I am incredibly excited about Grand Rapids Whitewater’s plan to restore the rapids here, as I feel it would only add to the beauty of the area and add even more things to do.

See Chris’s Top 5 Michigan Places Here