The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, ranks among the state’s top tourism draws, with a funky collection that ranges from vintage washing machines to presidential limousines. Adjacent Greenfield Village is a patchwork quilt of 83 historic buildings, including Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory and Noah Webster’s home, where he wrote the first American dictionary. Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the largest of its kind in the world, filled with dramatic visual arts and historic artifacts.
Not surprisingly, many of the state’s museums cover the lore and legends of the Great Lakes and the state’s maritime industry. Belle Isle, Detroit’s 1,000-acre urban park, is home to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, which includes a full-size freighter pilothouse and an anchor from the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Great Lakes ship that sank mysteriously in 1975.
In South Haven, the Michigan Maritime Museum traces the state’s history from Native Americans to the 19th century, when huge freighters crossed Lake Michigan, the start of the state’s tourism era. In the Upper Peninsula, more stories can be found at Whitefish Point’s Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which tells the haunting tale of the hundreds of ships who met their match in the area’s frigid, turbulent waters. Also in the U.P., the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Museum in Ishpeming chronicles both sports, while neighboring Negaunee is home to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, an excellent state-run facility on the site of one of the state’s first iron forges.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel