The very mention of MICHIGAN to most people will have them thinking of the automotive industry and the grittiness of Detroit. Those who have visited before will also know of its diverse beaches, dunes and cliffs which are scattered along the 3200-mile shoreline of its two vividly contrasting peninsulas.
The mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula is dominated from its southeastern corner by the industrial giant of Detroit, surrounded by satellite cities heavily devoted to the automotive industry. In the west, the scenic 350-mile Lake Michigan shoreline drive passes through likeable little ports before reaching the stunning Sleeping Bear Dunes and resort towns such as Traverse City, in the peninsula’s balmy northwest corner. The desolate, dramatic and thinly populated Upper Peninsula, reaching out from Wisconsin like a claw to separate lakes Superior and Michigan, is a far cry indeed from the cosmopolitan south.
In the mid-seventeenth century, French explorers forged a successful trading relationship with the Chippewa, Ontario and other Native American tribes. The British, who acquired control after 1763, were far more brutal. Governor Henry Hamilton, the “Hair Buyer of Detroit”, advocated taking scalps rather than prisoners. Ever since, Michigan’s economy has developed in waves, the eighteenth-century fur, timber and copper booms culminating in the state establishing itself at the forefront of the nation’s manufacturing capacity, thanks to its abundant raw materials, good transport links and the genius of innovators such as Henry Ford. Today the state is attempting to reinvent itself as a “creative hub” for new technologies, as the automotive industry continues to decline.Read More
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
The 42 miles between the attractive fishing villages of Grand Marais and Munising form the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a splendid array of multicoloured cliffs, rolling dunes and secluded sandy beaches. Rain, wind, ice and sun have carved and gouged arches, columns and caves into the face of the lakeshore, all stained different hues. Hiking trails run along the clifftops, and Hwy-58 takes you close to the water, but the best way to see the cliffs is by boat. Pictured Rocks Cruises offers a three-hour narrated tour that leaves from the City Pier in Munising (late May to early Oct 2–8 trips daily; $34; t 906/387-3386, w www.picturedrocks.com). Less than a mile farther along the lake, at 1204 Commercial St, Shipwreck Tours gives two-hour narrated cruises in a glass-bottomed boat, with surprisingly clear views of three shipwrecks – one intact (June to early Oct 2–3 trips daily; $28; t 906/387-4477, w www.shipwrecktours.com). Those in a hurry can get a glimpse of the cliffs by visiting the Miners Castle Overlook, twelve miles east of Munising, or Munising Falls, one of a half-dozen nearby waterfalls, near the village’s well-signposted visitors bureau (Mon–Fri 9am–5pm; t 906/387-2138, w www.munising.org). In Munising, Scotty’s Motel, 415 Cedar St (t 906/387-2449; $61–80), and the Munising Motel, 332 E Onota St (t 906/387-3187; $81–100), are fairly comfortable places to stay. At 101 E Munising Ave, The Navigator (t 906/387-1555) is the only restaurant in Munising with a view of Lake Superior, and serves breakfast any time along with steaks, seafood, pizza and burgers.