Michigan A to Z: Travel the Mitten's 2017 Summer Guide

Michigan A to Z: Travel the Mitten’s 2017 Summer Guide

Saginaw River Range Lighthouse Reflection

After a very wet April and a May that was slow to show signs of warming, we are finally ready for summer to reach the Great Lakes State. We put together this 2017 Summer Guide of events in Michigan from A to Z to help you plan fun and unique adventures. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly fun at the National Cherry Festival or want to try a unique outdoor trip like the Detroit River Full Moon Paddle, we’ve got you covered. The events in this list take place from June to August, be on the lookout for our 2017 Fall A to Z Guide sometime in early September!

Gar Wood Chris Craft Statue Algonac

Algonac Antique and Classic Boat Show – The Michigan chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society will host an Antique and Classic Boat Show on the St. Clair River the weekend of June 23-26. There are many events for members, and the public parade that passes downtown and Algonac State Park takes place on Saturday. Last year saw more than 100 classic boats participate in the event, which takes place in the town where Gar Wood (legendary boat racer) had a home and Chris Smith started the Chris-Craft boat company. Find out more at http://www.michacbs.com/events/shows/michgan-chapter-boat-show.

Belle Isle Scott Memorial Fountain Wide View

Belle Isle host Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix – The weekend of June 2-4 will see a few miles of Belle Isle State Park transformed into a race course for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. “The event will feature the cars of the Verizon IndyCar Series, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the high-flying trucks of the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks presented by Traxxas and the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli.” Check out the course, browse a list of events and snag tickets at http://www.detroitgp.com/eventinfo/.

Curwood Festival, Owosso – “In 1978, the City of Owosso commemorated the 100th anniversary of James Oliver Curwood’s birth with a celebration centered around his castle. Since then, it has grown to three full days of activities for the entire family, with hundreds of volunteers working all year long and dozens of community organizations taking part. The festival commemorates Curwood in particular and Owosso’s heritage in general and provides a weekend of fun, relaxation and homecoming.” Events take place from June 1-4 and this will be the 40th year of the festival. Check out their Facebook page for updates as events are added, or visit http://www.curwoodfestival.com/.

Detroit River Full Moon Kayak Tours – In addition to their usual offerings, Riverside Kayak Connection is now offering a Detroit Full Moon Kayak Tour from Belle Isle. “This 2 hour tour offers panoramic views of the sun setting over the Detroit Skyline and the moon rising over Belle Isle.  We will provide lights for each kayak.” Summer dates include June 9, July 7 and August 7 but be sure to book your trip soon as each outing has limited availability. Other RKC trips include the Belle Isle Circumnavigation Tour, Belle Isle Lagoon Tour, Detroit Historical Canal Tour, Grosse Ile Circumnavigation, Rouge River Tour and more.



Electric Forest – The seventh installment of this popular music festival at the Double J Resort in Rothbury will see the event expand to two weekends. While the first weekend (June 22-25) is sold out, tickets still remain for the second weekend (June 29-July 2). Performers include The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Thievery Corporation, My Morning Jacket and many more. Find more information about this unique festival that brought more than 45,000 people to West Michigan last year at https://www.electricforestfestival.com.


Founders Fest – It’s a huge year for Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. as they celebrate 20 years. They’ll also host the 10th annual Founders Fest, a “celebration of beer and music.” They’ve pulled in some big names for this year’s event including Umphrey’s McGee and Blues Traveler (as well as Michigan favorite The Accidentals). You can also get your fill of food from local vendors and you know Founders will have some rare beers available! Get tickets to this summer street party that won’t disappoint at: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1465165-founders-fest-2017-grand-rapids/.

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival Michigan

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival – The premier summer event on the Lake Michigan shoreline is Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Festival, this year taking place from July 28th – August 6th. Events include a run, a parade, fireworks, car show, carnival, street dance and more. The concert schedule features tribute bands performing the hits of Michael Jackson, Journey, Elton John/Billy Joel, and The Beatles. Numerous United States Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard vessels will make their way into port on Monday, with ship tours available during the entire week. Find out more at http://www.coastguardfest.org/.

Hatter Days Street Party – New Holland Brewing will once again host the Hatter Days street party in downtown Holland near the Pub on 8th location. Live music from The Ragbirds, Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers and more plus free admission highlight this annual celebration centered around the popular Mad Hatter Midwest IPA. New Holland will be pouring Tasmanian Hatter, White Hatter and some surprise throwback/retired beers in addition to Mad Hatter, and an after party at the Pub on 8th follows the street party (11 p.m.). They will also offer production facility tours on June 10th, a golf outing on June 9th, as they celebrate 20 years in business. Keep up to date on details at https://www.facebook.com/events/353110131757859/.

International Bridge Sault Ste. Marie MI

International Bridge Walk – Sault Ste Marie hosts the annual International Bridge Walk on June 24, which also happens to be Engineers Day at the Soo Locks. This is one of the few times each year that you are allowed to cross the bridge into Canada on foot, and the only time each year you can walk across the walls of the Soo Locks for an up-close view. The 2.8 mile walk offers unique views of the Soo Locks and passing freighters while taking in a festival atmosphere. Find out more about the walk, including what ID is needed, at http://www.saultstemarie.com/events-calendar/international-bridge-walk-june-24-2017/. Check out our list of 10 Things to See and Do in Sault Ste. Marie, and find out more about Engineer’s Day at http://www.saultstemarie.com/events-calendar/soo-locks-engineers-weekend/.

photo courtesy of Nathan Boyce

photo courtesy of Nathan Boyce

Jeep Jamboree Drummond Island – “Drummond’s trails consist of rugged terrain, mud and water, breathtaking vistas, and scenic bays.” This year’s Jeep Jamboree is sold out for participation, but be on the lookout for a parade of these vehicles headed to the island the weekend of June 15-17, as they get ready to hit trails that can be very rocky, wet and swampy, or wild and wooded. If you’re lucky enough to be on the island you might even get to see a few Jeeps in action. If you’re looking to get your Jeep out and test its limits, keep this event in mind for next year! More info: https://jeepjamboreeusa.com/trips/drummond-island/.



Kalamazoo Valley Museum presents Dinosaurs: Fire and Ice – Kids (of all ages) will love this exhibit coming to Kalamazoo from June 17 – September 17. “Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice features three distinct sections: Land of Fire (a warm dinosaur habitat), Land of Ice (a cold dinosaur habitat) and a Field Research Station. Each section of the exhibit is divided by a series of low walls that give adults visual access to the entire exhibit while keeping each section distinct and autonomous. Extensive and detailed murals throughout the exhibit ensure an immersive, environmental aesthetic.” Details can be found at http://kvm.kvcc.edu/.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse Feature Photo

Lighthouse Festival – The Michigan Lighthouse Festival is now a traveling event that happens every two years, and this year’s event takes place August 25-27 in beautiful Ludington on the shore of Lake Michigan. Special events include Ladies of the Lights author Patricia Majher speaking, Ric Mixter’s “The Storm” concert performance, and tours of area lighthouses. The featured lighthouse, Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington State Park, is celebrating 150 years in 2017. Stay tuned to http://www.michiganlighthousefestival.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/MILighthouseFestival/ for updated information as the event gets closer.


Motorcycles on the Mac – A unique Michigan event has a new name this year but will continue to raise funds for a great cause: “Join us as the St. Ignace Events Committee hosts a new version of the “Midnight Ride”, to honor the memory of Ron Rowe.  It was Ron who decided to make the Midnight Ride  an annual event to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  This event has raised an estimated $400,000 to JDRF.  The Events Committee will continue hosting a rally on this August weekend every year, and is dedicating the inaugural Motorcycles on the Mac event to the memory of Ron Rowe.  Ron lost his battle with diabetes November 28, 2015.” Find out more and register at http://www.saintignace.org/.

North Country Trail Sign Michigan

North Country Trail Association Celebration – This year’s NCTA Celebration takes place in Marquette on the campus of Northern Michigan University from July 27-29. Michigan has more the most mileage of any state on this 4,600 mile long National Scenic Trail that passes through seven states. “Hikes both on and off the NCT, non-hiking activities, break-out sessions, dinners with the National Park Service’s Volunteer-in-Parks recognitions, the North Country Trail Association’s Annual Awards presentation, live auction, and presentations about the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park, the Appalachian Trail in story and song, and an update on the Iron Belle Trail will all be included.” This is a great time to add some miles to your Hike 100 Challenge log, meet others who are passionate about the trail, and explore the Marquette area with other outdoor enthusiasts. Find information on hikes, waterfalls, non-hiking activities and more at http://nctacelebration.org/.

Oberon Michigan Summer Beer

Oberun 5K – Ypsilanti will host this unique 5K the night of July 14 at Wiard’s Orchard. Race participants will run a 3.1 mile course that finishes at a Bell’s beer garden for a post-race party with food trucks and beer. Participants get a bottle opener finisher’s medal, race T-shirt, and an Oberon pint glass. Register at http://runoberun5k.com/; proceeds from the run are being donated to Karen’s Trail.

Fallasburg Park Disc Golf Course

PDGA Masters World Championship – The Grand Rapids area will host a major Professional Disc Golf Association event the week of August 12-19 at various parks including Fallasburg Park (Lowell), Brewer Park (Gaines Township), Riverside Park (Grand Rapids) and Johnson Park (Grandville). Hundreds of players from all over the world will head to the area to compete in this ever-growing sport – find out details at http://www.pdga.com/2017mastersworlds.



Queen’s Cup – South Haven is the finish line for the 79th “sailing of one of the most storied yacht races on the Great Lakes. This year’s overnight race across Lake Michigan departs from Milwaukee for South Haven on June 23, 2017.” With close to 200 ships taking part and a festive atmosphere at local bars, restaurants, and the Michigan Maritime Museum this will be a great Saturday to spend on the Lake Michigan shoreline. More information: http://ssyc.org/queens-cup/queens-cup-home.



Row/Ride/Run – Saginaw will host a unique triathlon-style event on June 3: “The Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail’s Row – Ride – Run event will offer an opportunity to fully experience the history and revitalization of Saginaw, MI. This is a rare urban triathlon that will feature a paddle on the Saginaw River and Lake Linton. A 20K bicycle route will feature some of Saginaw’s most historic architecture as well as the new resurgence of development in Downtown Saginaw. The 5K run that completes the event takes place on the scenic Saginaw Riverwalk, winding through Ojibway Island on the banks of the Saginaw River. This is an event you won’t want to miss that offers easy access, a large Transition Area and ample parking.” Find out more at http://3disciplines.com/event/?x=10&y=1 and plan on getting out to support participants that day!

Grays Reef Sheplers Cruise

Shepler’s Lighthouse Cruises and Soo Lighthouse Cruises – Lighthouse enthusiasts have a few boat trip options this summer if they want to see some of our state’s more elusive offshore beacons. Shepler’s offers six options: A Westbound Lighthouse Cruise (Mackinac Bridge, Old Mackinac Point Light, White Shoal Light, Gray’s Reef Light, Waugoshance Light, and St. Helena Island Light), Westbound Extended Cruise (adds Skillagalee Light), Eastbound Lighthouse Cruise (Round Island Lighthouse, Round Island Passage Light, Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse, Poe Reef Light, Fourteen Foot Shoal Light, Cheboygan Crib Light, Cheboygan River Range Light), Eastbound Extended Cruise (adds Spectacle Reef Light), Evening Lighthouse Cruises (2 dates in each direction), and the Les Cheneaux Lighthouse Experience (DeTour Passage Light, Martin Reef Light and more). Find out more at https://www.sheplersferry.com/cruises/. Sault Ste Marie’s Soo Locks Boat Tours also runs a lighthouse trip that includes offshore views of Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Gros Cap Reef Light (Canada), a passage through the locks and more. Find dates and tickets at http://www.soolocks.com/lighthouse-cruises-26/.

World's Largest Cherry Pie Traverse City

Traverse City National Cherry Festival- From July 1 to July 8, Traverse City puts on the National Cherry Festival. This is a can’t-miss Michigan summer event that features a parade, beach volleyball, concerts, food events, an air show, a festival of races and more. This year’s entertainment includes Impractical Jokers, REO Speedwagon, Shinedown, Cole Swindell, and Old Dominion. Find all the details at http://www.cherryfestival.org/. There’s plenty of free family fun and exciting day trip locations nearby like the Old Mission and Grand Traverse peninsulas, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Be sure to check out the Traverse City Ale Trail while you’re in town if you love craft beer.

Muskegon Heritage Landing

Unity Christian Music Festival – Muskegon’s Heritage Landing will host some of the biggest names in Christian music August 9-12 for the “family affordable event of the season.” Performers include Tobymac, Mac Powell, Tenth Avenue North, Matthew West, Casting Crowns, Hollyn, Blanca, Set For The Fall, Carrolton and more. Tickets and more information at http://www.unitymusicfestival.com/.

Hoffmaster State Park Sand Dunes

Vintage Camper Weekend at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park – For a unique camping experience the weekend of June 6th-8th, consider heading to Hoffmaster State Park along the Lake Michigan shoreline for the third annual Vintage Camper/RV Gathering. “There will be over 90 vintage campers and RV’s spending the weekend in the park, with a free public open house on Saturday, June 7th. Campers and day visitors will be able to tour trailers from the 1930’s to the 1980’s and get a look at the evolution of camping in West Michigan first hand. Makes such as Airstream, Spartan, Vagabond, Shasta, Holiday Rambler, and Bowlus Road Chief will be on display along with many others.” Find out more at http://www.tincantourists.com and be sure to check out everything else the park has to offer!

Whitecaps game Steven Moya

West Michigan Whitecaps Tiger Fridays – This popular promotion is back for another season at the Detroit Tigers’ Single A affiliate in Grand Rapids. Former Tigers making appearances include Jack Morris (June 2), Nate Robertson (June 9), Pat Sheridan (June 23), Dickie Noles (July 14), John Hiller (July 28), Eric Munson (August 11) and Chris Shelton (August 25). Some Tiger Fridays feature additional giveaways at the door to a select number of fans. whitecapsbaseball.com




XXV Kalamazoo Klash – This August 9th race event at Kalamazoo Speedway added some serious star power this year as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch will be there and competing in 2 races. This is the 25th anniversary of the event, so expect lots of looks back at the past as well as special promotions. Get tickets early and find out more at http://www.kalamazoospeedway.com/.


Ypsilanti Summer Beer Festival – We had a blast at this year’s Michigan Brewer’s Guid Winter Beer Festival, so nothing sounds more inviting than that same experience on a much warmer day. The Summer Beer Festival returns to Ypsilanti for the 20th year, with more than 100 Michigan breweries pouring close to 1,000 different beers. The festival at Riverside Park will also feature live entertainment and food is available for purchase. Tickets and more: http://www.mibeer.com/summer-festival.

Red Panda Binder Park Zoo

Z00 Events- Summer events at Binder Park Zoo (which adds new African Lion and African Painted Dog exhibits this year) include the Tour de Zoo bike event on August 24, Zoorific Kids Day on July 8, Corks for Conservation on June 9 and the Cheetah Chase 5K on June 24. More info at http://www.binderparkzoo.org/. At the Detroit Zoo, summer events include a Bike Safari on June 29, the Wild Summer Nights concert series on Wednesdays in July and August and Sunset at the Zoo on June 16. More information at https://detroitzoo.org/events/zoo-events/. John Ball Zoo will host Rock, Roar and Pour on July 20 and the RendeZOO fundraiser on June 9th. More information: http://www.jbzoo.org/.