Travel the Mitten Best of 2023: Our 23 Most Viewed Posts This Year

Travel the Mitten Best of 2023: Our 23 Most Viewed Posts This Year

Detroit Zoo Polar Bear 2023

One of my favorite things to do each year is look back at what our most viewed posts were. This helps for future planning by showing us what areas of interest seem to be finding a home with our readers, and often serves as a reminder that the writing we are doing is finding an audience. 2023 proved to be quite a struggle for new content (sometimes a fall full of crappy weather keeps you from seeing fall color and deflates your motivation for a month or two) and finding time to write once we got past the summer months, but we have already got our sights set on some big things in 2024. This year’s top posts included some of the usual suspects like lighthouses and state parks but also had some surprises. We got to a few places that we hadn’t been to in many years and visited many new-to-us places this year and you’ll find a lot of both featured below. Thank you for reading along with our journeys and news this year and be sure to keep checking back in with us throughout 2024 as we continue to visit Michigan’s waterfalls, lighthouses, state parks, local parks, roadside attractions, and more! Here’s a look at our 23 Most Viewed Posts of 2023:

Marquette Park Mackinac Island Michigan

23. Mackinac Island, Marquette, Traverse City: Best Small Towns in the U.S.? (Jan.) – We took a look at the cases for several Michigan small towns in the latest round of USA Today/10 Best Reader’s Choice polls. “Mackinac Island is a finalist for Best Historic Small Town and Best Midwestern Small Town, Marquette is a finalist for Best Midwestern Small Town and Best Small Town Cultural Scene, and Traverse City is a finalist for Best Midwestern Small Town and Best Small Town Food Scene.” While there weren’t any Michigan winners in these contests in 2023, you can bet that some of the finalists vying for the top spot in 2024 will be from the Great Lakes State.

Clay Cliffs Natural Area Manitou Overlook

22. Michigan Trail Tuesday: Clay Cliffs Natural Area, Leelanau Conservancy (Oct.) – A trip to the Leelanau Peninsula gave us some great content about hiking trails in the area. “The Manitou Passage View Trail is very short (less than a tenth of a mile) and ends at a viewing platform that offers views of Lake Michigan and the Manitou Passage.” While it was a bit of a bummer that you can’t actually see the clay cliffs from the hiking trails here we still had a good time during our visit and will look for a way to see them from the water in the future.

Maher Audubon Sanctuary Boardwalk Trail Michigan

21. Michigan Trail Tuesday: Boardwalks and Birdwatching at Maher Audubon Sanctuary (Apr.) – Once Spring weather allowed us to get out and start exploring new trails, we tried not to waste any time. The Maher Audubon Sanctuary was a great find close to where we live, offering a scenic hike with plenty of wildlife sightings.

Frederik Meijer Gardens American Horse

20. Two Michigan Sculpture Parks In Running To Be Named Best In U.S. (May) – Another Reader’s Choice Poll saw plenty of Michigan representation as Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (Grand Rapids) and Michigan Legacy Art Park (Thompsonville) were both finalists for Best Sculpture Park in the U.S. After the votes were cast, Meijer Gardens took home the top spot and Michigan Legacy Art Park managed a fifth place finish.

Deer Ranch St. Ignace Michigan Sign

19. The Deer Ranch in St. Ignace Is The Perfect Family Roadside Attraction (July) – One of the Upper Peninsula’s classic roadside attractions, the Deer Ranch in St. Ignace offers fun for the whole family just a few miles from the Mackinac Bridge. “The Deer Ranch first opened in 1950 and is believed to be one of the oldest live whitetail exhibits in North America. The Deer Ranch has grown over time to include whitetail, white whitetail, and albino deer. You can purchase feed at the gift shop and pet and photograph the deer as they come up to see you.”

Six Mile Point Range Lights Front DeTour Village MI

18. Six Mile Point Range Lights – Two Historic Beacons on the North Huron Scenic Byway (Jan.) – Two of Michigan’s lesser-known lighthouses can be found in Cedarville and DeTour Village in the Upper Peninsula. “The Six Mile Point Rear Range stands in front of the Les Cheneaux Historical Association Maritime Museum at 602 M-134 in Cedarville. This tall and skinny white metal tower stands close to 50 feet tall. The Six Mile Point Front Range Light is located on the grounds of the De Tour Passage Historical Museum in DeTour Village (104 Elizabeth St. near the Drummond Island ferry dock).”

Sleeping Bear Dunes Pierce Stocking Covered Bridge

17. Here Are The Five Fee Free Days For Michigan National Parks in 2023 (Jan.) – We start off every year with a look at the fee free days for our national parks. Visitors can skip the entry fees at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on select days throughout the year. Stay tuned next week for our look at the fee free days for 2024!

2021 Favorite Michigan Photos Ludington MI Lighthouse Sunset

16. 15 Things We Love About Ludington As We Celebrate Its 150th Anniversary (May) – It was a big anniversary year for one of Michigan’s beloved coastal towns, and we celebrated by looking at everything we love to see and do when we visit. Whether you visit for the beaches, lighthouses, trails, restaurants and breweries, historical attractions, or any other reasons we can guarantee you’ll have a great time in Ludington!

Lockside Mini Golf Sault Ste. Marie

15. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan: 10 Awesome Things For Families and Kids (July) – A trip to Sault Ste. Marie in June inspired this list of family-friendly attractions in Michigan’s oldest city. Check out museums like the Valley Camp, watch freighters go by on the St. Mary’s River, play some mini golf after grabbing a bite to eat, or visit one of the beautiful parks. There are many reasons why Sault Ste. Marie continues to be a popular vacation destination.

Detroit Zoo Zebra 2023

14. Detroit Zoo 2023: Photo Gallery and Favorite Things From Our Visit (August) – It had been decades since we visited the Detroit Zoo, but this summer we both made trips there with our families and were able to put together a list of our favorite things as well as this photo gallery.

Tawas Point Lighthouse Michigan ARPa Funding Tower Repairs

13. Michigan Lighthouses You Can Stay At (2023 Update) (May) – We did a 2023 update to one of our most popular posts ever, which looks at the 18 Michigan lighthouse that offer options for overnight stays. From bed and breakfasts to rentals and volunteer keeper opportunities there are great opportunities on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron.

Houdek Dunes Natrual Area Leelanau Conservancy Sign

12. Michigan Trail Tuesday: Houdek Dunes Natural Area, Leland (Sept.) – We visited Houdek Dunes on the same trip as Clay Cliffs that we mentioned above. “Located on the west side of M-22 just five miles northeast of Leland, Houdek Dunes Natural Area offers 370 acres of preserved land and more than three miles of trails. Highlights here include several kinds of sand dunes, views of Houdek Creek, and a wide variety of trees. The trails are split into five different segments and offer varying degrees of difficulty.” This was a great hike!

Ottawa Sands Ottawa County Parks MI

11. Ottawa County Parks: A Guide To 27 Scenic Sites For Outdoor Adventures (May) – It’s always reassuring to see some of the posts that I spend a lot longer on make the year-end lists, and this one was surely a labor of love. After a few years of effort, we finally have visited every park in the Ottawa County Parks system and put a great guide together for others looking to explore them. You’ll find plenty of beaches and trails in this collection of 27 parks in West Michigan.

Betsie River Campsite Cabin Cookout 2022

10. Betsie River Campsite is Perfect for Summer Trips to Frankfort and Sleeping Bear Dunes (July) – Last summer we stayed at a private campground near Sleeping Bear Dunes and had a great time. “This is a perfect campground for anyone looking to still have most modern conveniences while camping, and especially for families with young children. While the name might imply that this campground is located on the water (it is not), it is located very close to great water sources for kayaking, swimming, fishing, and more.” While we usually stay almost exclusively at state parks this trip reminded us that there are some other great options out there for camping in Michigan.

Pere Cheney Cemetery Sign Haunted Michigan

9. Michigan Roadside Attractions: The Haunted Cemetery at Pere Cheney (July) – We made a few sightseeing stops on our way to the Upper Peninsula in June, including a stop at one of Michigan’s legendary haunted sites. “Part of the reason for the infamy of the Pere Cheney Cemetery is the history of how many of the town’s residents ended up buried here. Once a lumber town with more than a thousand residents, Pere Cheney was hit with a diphtheria outbreak, fires, then another diphtheria outbreak. In less than 20 years the town had been reduced to around 25 people and today the cemetery is all that remains.” While we didn’t experience anything spooky during our visit, many others claim to have had a different experience here.

Fox River Campground Michigan Seney Hemingway

8. Michigan Abandoned Places and Ruins Worth Checking Out: Part 5 (Jan.) – The latest installment in one of our most popular series of articles proved to be one of the year’s top posts, as we looked at another 10 Michigan abandoned places and ruins that you can visit. We’re always on the hunt to find more of these interesting places and have already started work on part 6!

Keweenaw Waterway Upper Entrance Light Lake Superior

7. Michigan Lighthouse Guide and Map: Houghton County Lighthouses (March) – This year we showed you how to visit the three lighthouses in Houghton County, and in the comments we learned about the recent purchase of the Portage River/Jacobsville Lighthouse by a family that is turning it into a private residence.

Highland State Recreation Area Haven Hill Ford Estate Entrance

6. Explore The Ruins of Ford’s Haven Hill Estate and More at Highland State Recreation Area (June) – A summer exploration day found us hiking the trails at Highland SRA and finding the ruins of Edsel Ford’s estate. “The Haven Hill Natural Area within the park is home to well-preserved examples of all of the types of forest found in this part of the state: swamp and tamarack, beech-maple, cedar, oak-hickory, mixed hardwood. This obviously makes the area a great spot for birdwatching and also makes the park home to many different species of wildflowers. It also helps explain why Edsel Ford chose this location for his retreat away from the city.”

Pilgrim Haven Natural Area Rocky Lake Michigan Beach

5. Pilgrim Haven Natural Area: Quiet Trails and Excellent Rockhounding on Lake Michigan (May) – One of this year’s new-to-us parks was Pilgrim Haven, where we enjoyed the trails and looking for rocks on the Lake Michigan beach. “Pilgrim Haven frequently pops up as one of the best rockhounding spots in a few groups we follow, and it didn’t take long to see why. The beach here is covered with a wide variety of rocks and one could easily spend hours looking through them all to find a few treasures. You can see the South Haven Lighthouse at the end of the pier to the north, and Dyckman Creek flows into the lake near the middle of the preserve. ”

Colonial Michilimackinac Guns Across the Straits Cannon Firing

4. Guns Across The Straits: An Amazing Experience At Colonial Michilimackinac (Aug.) – This summer I had the amazing opportunity to help plan and execute a friend’s bachelor party in Mackinaw City. My friend is a big history buff so we had selected Colonial Michilimackinac as the destination and then got to add even more fun thanks to the Guns Across the Straits program. After a day of exploring the fort we were able to watch our friend fire a musket, wall gun, mortar, and even the big cannon! This made for some amazing photos and we hope that other people are now aware of this amazing program!

Fisherman's Island State Park Michigan Beach Paradise

3. Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charlevoix: Camping, Petoskey Stones, and a Stunning Lake Michigan Beach (Photo Gallery) (April) – Over the past couple years, Fisherman’s Island State Park in Charelvoix has become a favorite for us. This might just be the best place in the state to hunt for Petoskey stones, and when we visited in late spring we had the place almost to ourselves as we walked the beach and explored.

Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Light

2. Another Michigan Lighthouse Is Up For Sale – Do You Want To Own It? (May) – Lighthouses made for popular content this year, and in May we showcased one of the Upper Michigan lighthouses that was put up for sale. The Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Light was bid up to at least $16,000 but news has been scarce since then. We continue to wait and see what the new owner’s plans will be for this historic beacon.

And here we go, our most popular post this year had more than double the views of anything else we published in 2023:

Fisherman's Island State Park Charlevoix Mi Petoskey Stones

1. Michigan Rocks! Our 10 Favorite Spots for Great Lakes Rockhounding (March) – We put together this list of our 10 go-to spots for rocks in Michigan and were happy to see all of the interest. Whether you want to look for Petoskey stones near Lake Michigan, hunt for puddingstones on Drummond Island, or seek out agates in Lake Superior, we think this list is a great starting point for finding your next treasures. We will be back on the hunt as soon as the snow melts in spring, and will be spending a lot of time hunting in the Upper Peninsula next summer, so be on the lookout for more rockhounding content in 2024! Thanks for all of you support in 2023!