18 Michigan Roadside Attractions You Should Visit In 2018
The state of Michigan is full of roadside attractions, ranging from historical monuments to unusual statues and even some of the “world’s largest” things. We’ve enjoyed tracking down these interesting attractions over the years and have found that they make for fun stops while on vacations and day trips. With another year of exploration around the corner we decided to share a few of our favorite roadside attractions, so enjoy this list of 18 Michigan Roadside Attractions You Should Visit in 2018.
Lakenenland – This free sculpture park located 15 miles east of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula features more than 80 metal sculptures from artist Tom Lakenen. This is one of the most fun attractions in the entire state, and definitely one of the most unique. Check out our Photo Gallery for more pictures or visit http://www.lakenenland.com/index.html for more background on Lakenen and his work. Thanks to being located right next to a popular snowmobile trail, Lakenenland is also heavily visited in the winter months.
World’s Largest Bronze Wildlife Sculpture at Cabela’s in Dundee – “Fierce Encounter” is a 24 foot tall bronze sculpture by artist Michael Hamby. The sculpture depicts two bears locked in combat, in front of Michigan’s first Cabela’s sporting goods store. This is believed to be the largest bronze wildlife sculpture in the world.
Hugh J. Gray Monument – This 16 foot tall monument is a bit off the beaten path near Torch Lake, but it’s worth venturing out to see. Dedicated to Hugh J. Gray, the “dean of Michigan tourist activity,” it features a rock from each of Michigan’s 83 counties. Have fun looking at the rocks and finding your home county, then read the plaque for Mr. Gray and learn how he got the ball rolling on what is now a nearly $23 billion industry for our state.
World’s Largest Weathervane – Montague is home to the world’s largest working weathervane. It stands 48 feet tall with a 26 foot arrow, in a small park at the corner of Water St. and Dowling St. If you’re in the area to grab a beer at Fetch Brewing Co. or check out the White River Lighthouse, don’t miss it!
Da Yoopers Tourist Trap – Those who live north of the Mackinac Bridge have their own way of doing things, and this ultimate roadside attraction embraces and celebrates Yooper culture with a touch of humor. Da Yoopers Tourist Trap is located on US-41 in Ishpeming and is affiliated with the musical comedy group of the same name. A large gift store, the world’s largest working chainsaw (Big Gus), and the world’s largest working rifle (Big Ernie) are just a few of the things you won’t want to miss here.
Castle Rock – One of Michigan’s original roadside attractions, Castle Rock is one of several limestone breccia sea stacks in the Mackinac Straits area. It only costs $1 per person to climb to the top (nearly 200 feet) and the views are amazing. A gift shop full of Upper Peninsula souvenirs and statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are also located at Castle Rock (St. Ignace; I-75 exit 348).
Paul Bunyan an Babe the Blue Ox in Ossineke – There are plenty of Paul Bunyan statues in Michigan to choose from. This one in Ossineke is 25 feet tall and also features Babe the Blue Ox, and is super easy to see on the side of US-23. Another unique Michigan attraction, Dinosaur Gardens, is a mile north.
World’s Largest Cherry Pie Charlevoix – Michigan is actually home to two monuments to large pies, in Charlevoix and Traverse City. Charlevoix first claimed the record in 1976 with a 17,420 pound pie and their feat is memorialized with a monument alongside US-31. Traverse City would later take the record in 1987 (28,350 pounds) and in 1992 a new record was set in Oliver, B.C., Canada (nearly 40,000 pounds).
Spirit of Detroit – This iconic statue in downtown Detroit was sculpted by Marshall Fredericks and dedicated in 1958. “Located at the Coleman A. Young Center on Woodward Ave, the 26-foot sculpture was the largest cast bronze statue since the Renaissance at the time it was built. In the statue’s left hand it holds a gilt bronze sphere, emanating rays to symbolize God, and in its right it holds a family group symbolizing all human relationships.” (Detroit Historical Society)
KISS Monument, Cadillac – Legendary rock band KISS came to Cadillac in 1975, and in 2015 (40th Anniversary) a monument was placed near the high school football field commemorating the event. The Cadillac HS football team used KISS’ music for energy and inspiration, and went on a hot streak after doing so. The monument features photos from the paper and more stories of the band’s visit.
Stormy Kromer Hat – At the westernmost point of the Upper Peninsula is Ironwood, a former iron mining town that now draws many tourists to its ski resorts. The red Stormy Kromer cap, a fashion badge of the U.P., is manufactured in Ironwood. This oversized model near US-2 is accompanied by a plaque explaining its history.
Hiawatha, World’s Tallest Indian – Ironwood’s other signature attraction is Hiawatha, the “world’s tallest Indian.” Standing 52 feet tall and made out of fiberglass, this iconic statue dates back to the 1960s.
Wienerlicious – In 2014, Mackinaw City saw two new additions: a hot dog restaurant named Wienerlicious, and the world’s largest hot dog statue. The 60 foot long hot dog on top of the restaurant can be seen from I-75, and is a fitting addition to a tourist mecca like Mackinaw.
National Trout Memorial – Each year, Kalkaska hosts the National Trout Festival, and this monument alongside US-131 serves as a year-round mascot of sorts for the event. This fountain with a large trout jumping was put in place in 1966.
Kaleva Bottle House – This house out of over 60,000 pop bottles, was built by John J. Makinen with bottles from his business, the Northwestern Bottling Works. The bottles were laid on their sides with the bottom ends to the exterior. In 1980 the building was purchased by the Kaleva Historical Society, which renovated it to house the Kaleva Historical Museum.
Curwood Castle – Author James Oliver Curwood lived in this house and wrote many of his novels, like The Grizzly King and The River’s End, here. This house was constructed in the style of an 18th century French chateau thanks to the comfortable living Curwood was able to make from writing by the 1920s.
Pickle Barrel House – This unique house in Grand Marais was built in the 1920s for William Donahey, author of the comic strip The Teenie Weenies. He used the Pickle Barrel House for a summer cottage, and it was later used as a tourist information center. It is now open seasonally as a museum.
Sea Shell City – Anyone driving north on I-75 on their way to Mackinaw City has seen the billboards for Sea Shell City and it’s “man killing clam.” This roadside stop includes a playground, gift shop, plenty of photo ops, and more.