With the July 4th holiday weekend upon us, Michiganders will be traveling throughout the state for fireworks, picnics, and family visits. But why not take advantage of time off work and travel out to some of Michigan's beautiful, natural areas? And we've got plenty of them -- in fact, we have the most beautiful area in the country, according to Good Morning America (more on that below).
Check out these stunning spots in the Great Lake State. And let us know what your favorite Michigan spot is.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Full of colorful sandstone and some of the best waterfalls in Michigan (yes, we have those), the UP’s Pictured Rocks is easily one of the most stunning spots in the state.
Cliffs jut out all over the shoreline, with natural archways popping out throughout the park. Check out Grand Portal Point, a peak near the water in the park, with clear water and caverns.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Glen Arbor, Michigan
It’s almost impossible to talk about outdoorsy Michigan without mentioning everybody’s favorite -- Sleeping Bear Dunes. And when we say everybody’s favorite, we’re not kidding: In 2011, Good Morning America ranked the famous dunes as the most beautiful place in the country.
If you’re trekking out to the 111.2-square mile park in Leelanau County, don’t forget to check out South Manitou Island, where you can find some of the oldest white cedars in the world, not to mention the island’s lighthouse.
Rosy Mound Natural Area
Grand Haven, Michigan
Part of the Great Lakes dunes system, this park is home to sandy beaches, steep hikes, and of course, open dunes. A little bit off the beaten path, visitors to the Rosy Mound Natural area take about a quarter of a mile trek through the woods, around the dunes and right out to Lake Michigan.
And if you didn’t pack enough in your backpack to nosh on, head down to the Morning Star Cafe for the best cinnamon roll you’ll ever have. That’s a guarantee.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Located in the aptly named Paradise, Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls is 13 miles of mostly untouched woodlands and two sizeable waterfalls. With a brownish color, the falls are reminiscent of Willie Wonka's chocolate river -- but the color comes from nearby cedars, not cocoa. Despite their shade, the so-called Root Beer falls are home to moose, beavers, and yes -- black bears.
- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom