Travel the Mitten’s Holiday Gift Guide: 18 Books We Recommend for Michigan Travelers
Here at Travel the Mitten, we’ve been exploring this great state with enthusiasm since 1995. Back then, it wasn’t easy to hop on the internet and google information when making travel plans. Our father instilled in us early on the value of being able to read a map, and to use information from books to plan out efficient and organized trips. Today, even though we can easily look up travel information on our phones, we still find that there are times when a book is helpful. You’ll find each and every one of these books on our bookshelf, and we heartily recommend them to anyone looking for gift ideas for friends and family that enjoy traveling the Great Lakes State!
A Traveler’s Guide to 116 Michigan Lighthouses by Penrose: This is one of the books that started it all for us. Our dad became interested in lighthouses in the 1990s and this book helped get us to every one in Michigan we could find. Loaded with historical information, photos and easy-to-follow directions, this book remains the definitive guide to lighthouses in Michigan.
A Guide to 199 Michigan Waterfalls by Penrose: We refer to this as our “waterfall bible” and it has led us to some amazing falls across the Upper Peninsula. A revised edition in 2009 added color photographs and updated directions. My first copy is worn out and full of notes, and I’d gladly buy this book over and over again. A true must-have for Upper Peninsula trips, as you may not be aware of how many easy-to-find waterfalls you’re driving past on your way to Pictured Rocks or the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Weird Michigan by Linda S. Godfrey and Mark Moran: Great as a coffee table book and conversation starter, this full-color book features Michigan legends and lore, oddball roadside attractions, and more. Chances are you’ll want to make a road trip or two after reading about new and interesting places in this book!
Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places by Jerome Pohlen: Want to know where to find the World’s Largest Lugnut, the Pickle Barrel House or a monument to fluoridation? You’ll find all that and more in this book, which has helped us tremendously with our Roadside Attractions series. Pohlen also includes places where strange historical events took place, an example being where Harry Houdini died in 1926. Grab this book and start planning a weird but fun road trip.
Michigan Lighthouses: an aerial photography perspective by John L. Wagner: Lighthouse lovers in the Mitten State should get their hands on this fantastic coffee table book full of colorful photos of Michigan lighthouses taken from the air. Wagner’s photos present a perspective most of us haven’t seen, often showing exactly why the lighthouses were necessary in each location.
Michigan Off the Beaten Path by Jim DuFresne: I picked this book up to see how many things I was missing when we went on trips to waterfalls, lighthouse or other attractions. This book is a great guide to legendary food, local attractions and historical landmarks – you may even discover places you didn’t known about in your home county!
M is for Mitten by Annie Appleford: A great book for kids, as it uses the alphabet to introduce them to Michigan landmarks and history. The beautiful illustrations of Michael Glenn Munroe accompany the pages that will instill pride in everything our great state has to offer, from President Gerald R. Ford to Isle Royale National Park.
Michigan Chillers series by Johnathan Rand: There are 14 books in this series that will keep older children on the edge of their seat with suspense. All stories are set in Michigan cities, including Gruesome Ghouls of Grand Rapids and Dinosaurs Destroy Detroit.
Byways and Backroads of Michigan by Matt Forster: If you’re looking for a scenic fall color drive, lakeshore loop or the best route through wine country, this book can help. With color maps and photos in the newest edition, you’ll find day trips for every taste and find new ways to explore Michigan away from the usual highways.
The Ultimate Guide to East Michigan Lighthouses by Jerry Roach: This book showcases the lighthouses of the eastern Lower Peninsula, and goes a step beyond other guides by adding a list of nearby attractions in addition to the usual history and directions. Enjoy all of the historic beacons on Lake Huron and in the Detroit area.
The Ultimate Guide to Upper Michigan Lighthouses by Jerry Roach: A full guide to the lighthouses of the Upper Peninsula with full history and three types of directions. Also includes lists of nearby attractions including waterfalls and historic attractions.
The Ultimate Guide to West Michigan Lighthouses by Jerry Roach: Another in the Ultimate Guides series, this book features directions to all of Michigan’s lighthouses on Lake Michigan from St. Joseph all the way up to Traverse City. Also features detailed history and a list of nearby attractions.
50 Hikes in Michigan (Lower Peninsula) by Jim DuFresne: Featuring everything from walks and day trips to week-long backpacking excursions, this book features the best trails in the Lower Peninsula. Full directions to each starting point and well-measured waypoints are included, as DuFresne takes you to well-known state and national parks and hidden-gem wilderness tracts and national forest lands.
50 Hikes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by Thomas Funke: An amazing set of hikes in the beautiful Upper Peninsula, ranging from day trips to multi-day backpacking camping trips through the Porcupine Mountains. You’ll find directions to each trailhead and mileage, waypoints and other details to ensure a smooth trip, as you visit the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan as well as the mostly-undisturbed forests of “God’s Country.”
Michigan State and National Parks: A Complete Guide by Tom Powers: Our state’s amazing collection of state parks is given the royal treatment in this book, which also includes national parks like Isle Royale, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks. Helpful information like numbers and types of campsites, hiking trail information, historical information and outdoor recreation sites make this a must-have for campers, tourists, and longtime residents looking to enhance their experience.
Michigan Rocks & Minerals: A Field Guide to the Great Lake State by Dan and Bob Lynch: Michigan’s fortunate location on four of the five Great Lakes also makes it a great place to look for rocks and minerals. This book will help identify what you find in the water or on land, whether it is a Petoskey Stone in Lake Michigan, a Lake Superior agate or sandstone near the Pictured Rocks cliffs. Small and sturdy to fit in your backpack and take a beating, this book is a must-have for those looking to bring home some Michigan souvenirs.
Traveling Through Time by Laura Rose Ashlee: More than 1,500 sites in Michigan feature the green and gold historical markers that tell the story of our state’s notable people, places and things. This book is the ultimate guide to helping track down these locations and it features color photographs and the full text and location of each marker. If you’re like us, you’ll be amazed at how many of these places you’ve already been past on your trips without realizing the history behind them.
Michigan County Atlas by David M. Brown: In a time where many have GPS-enabled phones, the need for a good old-fashioned map may not seem to be there. In Michigan there are many places (especially in the U.P.) where a cell phone signal won’t reach or a GPS unit doesn’t cover, and that’s where this book comes in. We’ve found it to be a great aid in navigating back roads, and it also details each county’s history and notable historic locations.