Top 10 Places to Visit in Michigan by Bike

Top 10 Places to Visit in Michigan by Bike

Alexandra Ruticova

First time in Michigan? So are we!

But, here, we found some great places you can ride, some of them, maybe, will sound familiar and others could be a delightful discovery. But, let’s see what we found here to share with you!

1. Mackinac Island

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Mackinac Island is an idyllic island vacation destination where time has stood still and motor vehicles are not permitted. Yes, it’s true! Automobiles have been banned from Mackinac Island since the last century.

Here you can explore 70 miles of walking, hiking, or biking trails or try a variety of water sports on the calm waters of Lake Huron.

Biking on Mackinac Island is one of the island’s best attractions and an integral part of a Northern Michigan vacation.

This is the best of both biking worlds. The flat, family-friendly path is fun, relaxing, and energetic. The hilly central part is peaceful, adventurous and crowdless.

You can start your charming bike vacation by touring the Mackinac Island shoreline path, known as Lake Shore Boulevard. The eight-mile main loop is absolutely automobile free. Within this gorgeous ride, you will be in the company of the Deep blue Lake and the mighty Mackinac Bridge in your sights part of the way.

Once you head into the Mackinac interior, you’ll be amazed at how much there is to see. Passing trough stunning early last century cottage-mansions, then steal into the forest to quiet back roads. For a woodsy escape, ride up the center of the island, past Fort Mackinac, to Garrison Road. You will meet historic sites and along the way, you’ll come across old stone-walled Protestant and Catholic cemeteries, Skull Cave and the battlefield-turned-golf course, Wawashkamo. If you will arrive to Garrison Road dead-ends at Lake Shore Boulevard, be prepared for a special panorama of the spectacular five-mile Mackinac Bridge that links Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

Also in Mackinac Island’s southeast lobe, you can find the most famous features including Arch Rock, a stand of fragile brecciaed limestone where you must take some pictures of your trip. Several winding bike trails and carriage roads—most of them paved—lead back to another famous limestone tower: the pockmarked and craggy Sugar Loaf.

Also for mountain bikers, this is a great place to ride, because the trails on the island are almost endless and they are really good technical ones.

If you have a bike, try to bring it to the island – the ferry fare for a bike is a reasonable $8. If you choose to rent bikes, the least expensive is Ryba’s Bicycle Rental with a fare of $5/hour.

On Mackinac Island you can rent just about any type of bike you can dream up: from single speeds to 10 speeds, beach cruisers, tandems, mountain bikes, bikes with tagalongs and bikes with child carriers. You’ll also find electric Amigos and adult strollers.

2. Ann Arbor

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Vibrant and bustling Ann Arbor is packed with exciting cultural, historic, and outdoor attractions for the entire family.

Here you can find 79 ​miles of bike lanes, over 900 bike parking spaces in downtown​, including 431 bike hoops, 6 on-street bike racks accommodating 16 bikes each, and 26 secured bike lockers. They also have ArborBike, ​the bike share program.

Best things to do in Ann Arbor with the kids include the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum.

3. Holland

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Come and enjoy the distinctly Dutch atmosphere and flavors of Holland, Michigan, where you can tip-toe through the tulips in spring or see a working Dutch windmill on a city walking tour.

If you come to Holland, in the summer to go camping at the State Park, make sure to bring your bicycle. Holland is a great place to bicycle.

They have large bike paths and you can bike almost the entire city from the State Park to the main downtown area of  Holland. The terrain is very flat, with very few hills and it  is almost impossible to get lost. From time to time, you can enjoy delightful coffee breaks downtown where are located many coffee shops and ice cream parlors to get something sweet and more energy to pedal along.

4. Detroit

 

Detroit, Michigan, is home to unique museums, scenic water views, fun activities and excellent restaurants.

Start with the best place to bike: Belle Isle. The park has stunning landscapes, the riding is smooth and there are bike lanes all around. Sights include marvelous architecture, the Belle Isle Aquarium and Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, both designed by famed architect Albert Kahn. Catch a glimpse of the Detroit Yacht Club as it stands stoic alongside the Detroit River and listen to the chimes of the clock tower as it plays a string of tunes. The interior roads meander through an old-growth forest and there are playing fields, a beach and attractions like the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Conservatory and Aquarium to pedal to and from. It is great for recreation or to gain some serious training miles.

If you feel in the mood for a more energizing atmosphere, choose the southwest Detroit neighborhood which is full of vitality. This area includes a vast amount of restaurants, shops, churches and homes for your viewing pleasure.

Near East Side is another are where you can ride for a unique journey. If you are seeking an urban adventure, here you will definitely have to check out one of the city’s artistic wonders, the Heidelberg Project. It has become a must-see cultural destination for residents and visitors alike.

Don’t leave Detroit without the perfect ride on RiverWalk, with its abundance of sights along the way. This is a wonderful gateway for biking in Detroit.

5. Grand Rapids

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Grand Rapids offers visitors a great combination of historical architecture, interesting museums, and energetic outdoor activities for the whole family.

Here there are miles of scenic routes in and around Grand Rapids, from the 20-mile trails in Millennium Park to the slightly hilly 4.2 ride around Reeds Lake Trail to the 93.5 mile White Pine Trail where you can start a biking family adventure. White Pine Trail is Michigan's longest rail-trail (old railroad lines converted for recreational use).

As for mountain bikers, they can ride miles of trails, from a short 5-mile ride through Robinette's apple orchard (and the nearby hills) to the steeper topography at Cannonsburg State Game Area or Cannonsburg Ski Area. With both flat and hilly terrain, the nine miles of trail at Luton Park in Rockford works great for both advanced and beginning riders.

As you already know, we are also art lovers, so our recommendations will always follow the best features of the city in terms of culture and biking as well.

Grand Rapids offers scenic views of the Grand River, unique museums, a choice of attractions and excellent restaurants. Stroll through the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, tour the restored Meyer May House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and see the exhibits at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Top things to do in Grand Rapids with kids include the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Children's Museum.

6. Frankenmuth

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Frankenmuth owes its distinctive Bavarian character and architecture to the German immigrants who settled in the area in 1845.

Once you hoped on your bike, start  a beautiful tour of Heritage Park, on the Riverwalk path, a 0.9 mile paved loop that surrounds the park. Some other streets that are good for biking around town are Tuscola, Mayer, Schleier, and Gunzehausen. 

Frankenmuth is also known as a romantic town, perhaps even the hand-holding capital of Michigan, with picturesque wine and chocolate boat cruises and enchanted horse drawn carriage rides.

7. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is made up of sunlit beaches, towering dunes, inland lakes, and lush forests – the perfect backdrop for a fun-filled back-to-nature vacation.

A great family-friendly riding opportunity is the new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This trail is a s 22-mile paved multi-use trail that passes through the National Lakeshore and connects Empire to Bohemian Road. Most of the trail is asphalt, but a 3-mile section which goes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District north of Glen Arbor is crushed.

Just north of the Platte River Campground, in the southern end of the park, is Peterson Road, accessed from M-22, or from Loop 4 in the Platte River Campground, next to site 419. This 3-mile secondary gravel road will take riders to a beautiful Lake Michigan beach. Along the way you will pass another excellent mountain biking opportunity by way of Lasso Road. This road winds through scenic woods and wetlands and eventually makes its way back to M-22.

A rewarding mountain bike ride can be found along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The steep and wooded Shauger Hill Road can be accessed from the parking lot at North Bar Lake, just north of Empire. Once bikers traverse the climb to the top of this gravel road, they are rewarded with a descent back down to the Heritage Trail. This scenic loop is a total of 6 miles.

As with all national parks, the National Lakeshore does not allow mountain biking off designated roads or on its hiking trails.

Here there are wonderful opportunities for bikers of all ability levels. Some are on gravel roads that are very rarely used by cars. Others are on asphalt where various degrees of caution are appropriate. One - the ride on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive - requires expertise and caution as the trail is used by automobiles and busses, has many turns, and substantial up and down grades.

Here are some trails that will allow you to discover the high elevation scenic viewpoints to enjoy while on your ride: Day Farm & Day Forest, Glen Haven Historical Tour, Inspiration Point, Little Glen Circuit, Lucy's Flat and Easy Ride, Miller Hill Loop, Port Oneida Road, Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

8. Mackinac Island State Park

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A landscape characterized by high limestone bluffs, beautiful vistas of sparkling water, vibrant forests, and mystical geological formations. With automobiles banned since 1898, here exists a quieter way of life away from interstate noise of cities. Over 80 percent of Mackinac Island is within Mackinac Island State Park—free of charge and open year round—where you’ll discover the true natural gems of Mackinac. Whether visiting this island parkland by foot, bike, horseback, or carriage, these many majestic geological wonders and unique historical monuments are visual treasures found only here—on the island sacred to the Ojibwa and Odawa Great Lakes Indian tribes. According to them, this is where life began. You’re invited to discover why.

Historic landmarks, breathtaking vistas, spectacular rock formations, quiet forests and inspiring nature trails are just minutes away. Mackinac and the Historic Downtown sites are the most prominent, but there are many points of interest and monuments throughout the park.

9. Mackinack Bridge

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The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in America, connecting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas over the Straits of and the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. Cool! The total length of the Mackinac Bridge is 26,372 feet. The length of the suspension bridge (including anchorages) is 8,614 feet.

Much of the beauty comes from the setting at the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits link Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The 5 mile long Mackinac Bridge (Big Mac) links Michigan's Lower and Upper peninsulas. At the north end of the Bridge is Bridge View Park and the nearby Father Marquette Memorial. The Memorial is open only briefly during the summer. At the south end is Fort Michilimackinac State Historic Park. The park entrance is actually underneath the Bridge.

But, take cautions before taking a ride and take a look on their website, because sometimes the weather is dangerous for bikers.

For example, even in august current year, they announced that they were experiencing winds of sufficient force in the Straits area to issue a warning to all motorists preparing to cross the Mackinac Bridge.

10. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is without a doubt one of the highlights of a visit to the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan. World-class vistas will impress every visitor, it’s so spectacular you never imagined.

The 7.4 mile drive loops through the Beech-Maple forest and sand dunes and provides insight to the history of the area, a sampling of the vegetative communities found within the park and, best of all, spectacular overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Lake Michigan. You can take a dune hike along the Cottonwood Trail or stop for a picnic at one of the picnic areas on the drive. The winding, hilly, one-way road with a dedicated bike lane is designed with twelve stopping points where the highlights and contrasting environments within the park are explained.