Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Michigan. Top Hidden Gems We Found in Michigan!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include a link to our favorite free camping areas, along with other RV camping we’ve done in the state

Crisp Point Lighthouse

This is a beautiful lighthouse to visit, but consider yourself forewarned, the road to get there is like no other we’ve traveled. When they sell a t-shirt in the gift shop that says “I survived the road to Crisp Point Lighthouse”, they aren’t kidding! We did it in a dually, so I know everyone can do it, but it is long and tedious, but worth the sights (and you might actually want to buy a t-shirt when you get there). A lot of people travel there on a side by side or off-road toys. We actually visited several lighthouses on the “lighthouse tour”. You can pick up a guide at the visitors center. Makes for a fun “truck hike” day. YES … this funny (funny because it turned out good) sign is actually on the road in! Let’s hear it for Girl Scout Cookies saving lives!!! 

The Tridge – Midland MI

Located in Chippewassee Park, this isn’t the only triple bridge in Michigan, but if you’re near the area, it’s a beautiful walk, and something pretty unique. There is also a farmers market, a skate park and a dog park if you’re interested. 

Crystal Coaster Alpine Slide


Located in Thompsonville. It’s basically a huge water slide without the water. You take a chair lift to the top of the mountain and jump on a specialized sled to ride one of the two slides that are each 1,700 feet long. Make sure to check dates because the slide is only open seasonally.

Electric Forest

I’m adding this because it’s on my bucket list. We have not gone here (yet). But highly recommend at least checking it out. It looks really amazing and fun! Click here for information. 

Most everyone knows about the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It’s not an “off the beaten path” choice, but if you go to Michigan, DON’T MISS IT!!! It’s a breathtaking but very popular tourist place. We went! We loved it, and if you have any questions, let me know. The hiking and kayaking are amazing there!!  I did want to mention that once or twice a year, if you’re lucky, the wind is blowing just right and the garnet in the rocks washes up on shore and causes the sand to turn a vibrant pink. It only lasts a couple of hours to a couple of days. We were lucky enough to catch it! Go into the visitors center and ask about it. 


Ann Arbor’s Fairy Doors

We find this a little creepy, (we like this kind of stuff Ha!) and quite entertaining and interesting. Have you heard the story behind these?  You can actually pick up a tour brochure to show you where all the fairy doors are. Pretty creative! 


Here’s a little history I found: “In 1993, While Jonathan B. Wright was renovating his century-old home, his young daughters made a delightful discovery: itty, bitty, six-inch doors scattered throughout the space. When opened, there were tiny railings inside that led to other miniature doors. There were even windows springing up, where lights inside would magically turn on and off. By 2005, Jonathan had become a full-fledged Fairyologist, documenting the little doors that were now springing up all around town – obviously, they were fairies, what else could they be? His website has documentation of over two dozen doors from these “urban fairies.” 

Blooming Mystical Lavender Labyrinth


Who knew? This is on a farm in Shelby Michigan, called Cherry Point Farm and Market. The fruit and farm market has been in operation since 1961. In 2001, owner Barbara Bull started work on a lavender labyrinth, which can be seen on Google Earth. Don’t forget the amazing cherry pie and other fantastic fruits and homemade yummy things from this farm and market. 

Manistique Boardwalk and River Walk


The Boardwalk runs down the Lake Michigan shore in the town of Manistique. Go for an early morning walk or take an afternoon and picnic in the park. You can view the Manistique Lighthouse or ships passing by. It is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can spend as much or as little time there. It’s really beautiful to walk out on the jetty to the lighthouse. As you can see from the picture, the sunsets are incredible. Highly recommend early Fall if you’re wanting a more peaceful, quiet time. 

Tahquamenon Falls State Park


This doesn’t fall into a typical off-the-beaten-path place, but I just had to mention it. We visited this area in September on a weekday. It was almost empty! We actually went twice in one day. (We wanted to get some pictures later in the day.) TIP: Paradise is actually a very small, very expensive little town. We made the mistake of running out of propane and having to fill up there. It was the highest propane cost we’ve ever paid. So gas up, fill your propane tanks, and arrive with everything you need or you’ll be paying extremely high prices there. 


Want to do some Kayaking (one of our favorite things to do) Here are two of our top picks (other than the Pictured Rocks National Seashore area which is not an Off the Beaten Path area)

Bete Grise Sea Arch

Bete Grise

Bete Grise is a nature preserve on Keweenaw Peninsula, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A quiet and scenic kayaking destination on the Keweenaw Peninsula’s southern shores. The Bete Grise Bay is an amazing destination on its own.  There are miles of shoreline and waterfalls. Make a point to check out Keweenaw Historical Ruins too!

TIP: Launch your kayak or canoe from the Bete Gris Beach and paddle east, keeping the shoreline on your left side. After a couple of miles, natural rock sea stacks and sea arches rise from the shockingly clear water of Lake Superior. You can float through the arch and hang out in the shade. Please watch the weather. Lake Superior can be brutal in a kayak!

Turnip Rock

So, I was thinking this was a pretty popular thing to do. But when I started talking to people last year, no one had heard of it.

So we’re including it on our list. This unique rock formation is a favorite destination of those kayaking in Lake Huron, as it’s only accessible by water. The land on Turnip Rock is privately owned but you can still access this by water (kayak, boat, etc) Another option is to wait for Lake Huron to freeze and walk your way out to Turnip Rock.

Hope you enjoyed the ideas! Thank you so much for visiting our little corner of the internet. We would love to hear what you find “off the beaten path” in Michigan. 

Looking for the best boondocking or paid campgrounds to stay in while you’re traveling in Michigan? Check out our ever-changing, always updating list! Click the button below to see our best RV Camping in Michigan!

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9 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path in Michigan. Top Hidden Gems We Found in Michigan!”

  1. What a neat state! I know little of Michigan save the sports programs I followed, mainly the Wolverines. Looks like so much to offer for any traveler. I dig off the path spots because these gems capture the essence of any state or country. Tweeted for you.


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