Mention MICHIGAN and most people will immediately think of the automotive industry and the grit and (faded) glory of Detroit. Those who’ve visited will also know of the diverse beaches, dunes and cliffs 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 dramatic departure 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.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

8 of the most beautiful state parks in the USA

8 of the most beautiful state parks in the USA

The USA's national parks get a lot of hype. From the Grand Canyon to the Everglades, America's backyard is pretty special. But while ever-increasing visitor num…

18 Jul 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
Keeping Austin weird: why the time to visit is now

Keeping Austin weird: why the time to visit is now

Kooky, liberal and easy to fall in love with, Austin feels a world away from clichéd images of conservative, oil-rich Texas: a "blueberry in the tomato soup" a…

06 Jul 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

In 2013 Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy. But now the city is on the rebound: cool start-ups are filling once-neglec…

23 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs