Houghton and Higgins Lakes:  Between West Branch and Grayling, these sizable inland lakes, two of the state’s largest, offer five swimming beaches, a dozen access sites for boaters, canoeists, and anglers in summer, and the possibility of fishing for walleye, pike, bass, and bluegill. In the woods surrounding 22,000-acre Houghton Lake and 10,200-acre Higgins Lake, hiking and camping are also popular activities.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse:  Just east of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City, this 1892 cream-colored brick light guided ships through the busy Straits of Mackinac for nearly seven decades, until the completion of “Big Mac” in 1957 made it obsolete for ships in need of direction. Today, this charming lighthouse, topped with a cherry-red roof, houses a maritime museum and provides impressive views of the bridge as well as nearby islands, including famous Mackinac Island.
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum:  Housed within a former Coast Guard station near the Whitefish Point Light Station – the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior – this is the only museum dedicated to the dangers of maritime transport on the Great Lakes. With photographs, drawings, artifacts, and scale models, exhibits chronicle the fates of several shipwrecks, including the famous Edmund Fitzgerald, which tragically sank during a 1975 storm. This fascinating museum also includes a 20-minute video presentation about the Fitzgerald wreck and 1995 recovery of her bronze bell, plus a restored light keeper's home, a 1923 surfboat house, boardwalk access to Lake Superior, and a museum store offering nautical charts, prints, books, and more.
Keweenaw National Historical Park:  Established in 1992 “to commemorate the heritage of copper mining on the Keweenaw Peninsula – its mines, its machinery, and its people,” Keweenaw National Historical Park consists of historic attractions throughout the peninsula. Two units anchor the park – the Quincy Unit at the Quincy Mine in Hancock and the Calumet Unit in historic downtown Calumet – but some of this land remains in private ownership. In addition, the park has designated “cooperating sites” throughout the peninsula, including privately-owned mine tours and museums that benefit from increased visibility and federal funding.
Isle Royale National Park:  Stranded in the vast waters of Lake Superior, this 45-mile-long island is wild, rugged, and remote – and, not surprisingly, one of the least-visited parks in the National Park Service. Accessible via boat or seaplane, Isle Royale is popular among hikers, campers, kayakers, naturalists, and wildlife watchers, particularly those interested in glimpsing an elusive wolf or moose.
Of course, this two-part list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. As I've expressed on numerous occasions, Michigan is an incredibly diverse state – where, over the course of a fine summer's day, you could feasibly sail around Lake Michigan, stroll amid the shops and galleries of Petoskey, pick wild blueberries in the northern woods, and venture across the Mackinac Bridge, gateway to the Upper Peninsula, a land of forests, mountains, and curious museums. Oh, how delighted I am to be back in the Great Lakes State!
If you're planning to travel up north, be sure to consult my Moon Michigan  guide for even more trip ideas.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse  © 2012 Daniel Martone / Text © 2012 Laura Martone
Laura Martone is Moon’s American Nomad  and the author of Moon Michigan , Moon Florida Keys , Moon Baja RV Camping , and the upcoming Moon New Orleans , which will be published in September 2012.