7 Things You Must do in Michigan When You Retire

If you’re like many of us, we forget just all Michigan has to offer while we are working. On our rare vacations we fly somewhere warm in the winter. Our summer trips are driving up-north, but many times that doesn’t bring us much further than Traverse City. Now that you are retired you have more time to explore all Michigan has to offer. This is a list of places you may have missed during your working career, but are must sees for any Michigan retiree.

Visit Pictured Rocks


Michigan has many amazing sights, but your first trip to Pictured Rocks it will be clear why Conde Nast calls it, “The most beautiful place in Michigan.” There are plenty to do when you visit the Lake Superior coast, but the star of the show are the rock cliffs, like Miners Castle and Chapel Rock. Take a boat tour or if very adventurous, kayak ride, for the best viewing of the rock formations. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore also has miles and miles of hiking trails, (cold) swimming holes, and secluded beaches. Pictures rocks certainly isn’t close however, which is why so many of us in the Lower Peninsula haven’t made it up there.  Munising, the city closest to Pictured Rocks, is nearly a 6 hour drive from metro Detroit. Thankfully, there are plenty of hotels, or campgrounds, nearby to accommodate any type of traveler.

Hike to Tahquamenon Falls


If you do make the trip to Pictured Rocks, don’t forget to make the short drive to Tahquamenon Falls.  Just over an hour from Pictured Rocks, you will find the largest waterfalls in Michigan and some of the largest east of the Mississippi.  Although the Tahquamenon River has many waterfalls, the largest, and most easily accessible are the Upper Falls. The Upper Falls are over 200 feet wide with a 50 foot drop. Only a 0.4 mile paved trail separates you from the parking lot, and one of the most beautiful views in Michigan,  Other falls are further down the river, and can be accessed via hike or rowboat. The Upper Falls don’t need to only be a summer destination because in the winter, the falls can be accessed via snowmobile. For the more adventurous retiree, there are 4 campgrounds in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park.  A trip to Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks, needs to be on any Michigan retiree bucket list.

Walk Around Meijer Gardens

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park at 200-acres is not your typical garden.   It was Ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by Art Newspaper.  With gardens that are constantly changing and evolving, every trip to Meijer Gardens will be a different experience.  There are also over 160 permanent sculptures that make their home Meijer Gardens . The grandkids will love the children’s garden.  Gardening not your thing? Check out the summer music concert series which brings in some big names to its outdoor venue.  

Ski Nubs Nob


Via Instagram:  Nubs Nob

When I moved back to Michigan from Colorado, I was convinced that there would be nothing like skiing the back bowls of Vail. This is still true, but I have been pleasantly surprised how nice the skiing can be here in Michigan. I’ve been lucky enough to ski most of resorts here in the Lower Peninsula and my favorite is Nubs Nob. Steep runs, great groomers, and even some tree skiing makes it the perfect place for skiers of all abilities. Not to mention the views of Lake Michigan from the top are some of the best views in the state. There are also two great qualities that make Nubs Nob perfect for the retiree looking for adventure. First, if you are over 70, you ski free at Nubs. Second, anyone can ski the “bunny hill” for free.  So, if you want to learn a new sport in retirement, or want to teach the grandkids, this is a great place to start. Also, don’t miss Nubs Pub located in the lodge to warm you up on those cold days.

Float Through Sleeping Bear Dunes


When my wife first visited Sleeping Bear Dunes her only words were, “I can’t believe that this is Michigan.”  I’ve been lucky enough to visit the dunes dozens of times since I was a child, and every trip seems to bring something different.  Yes, the towering dunes and white sandy beaches are straight from the Caribbean, but there is plenty more to do in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  If you are looking for a fun and relaxing way to visit the dunes I highly recommend tubing down the Platte River, and kayaking down the Crystal River. These relaxing trips are a perfect way to cool down in the middle of summer. Even if you have visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes before, between the hiking, kayaking, tubing, secluded beaches, and towering dunes, you haven’t seen everything.

Golf at Arcadia Bluffs

Acadia Bluffs.png

Via:  arcadiabluffs.com

Northern Michigan is a golfers dream. Outside of making a birdie, the biggest challenge is picking which course to play. Well, if we are only going to choose one for the bucket list, we mine as well pick the best. Golf Digest has picked the Bluffs Course at Arcadia Bluffs as the top public course in Michigan, and the 68th best course in the country. Nestled on the Lake Michigan shore, in the small town of Arcadia, you will think that you have been transported to the seaside links courses in Scotland. However, Arcadia Bluffs is not cheap, but this is where waiting until you are retired is a big benefit. For 2019, seniors can play on Tuesday for a 35% discount ($140 vs. $215) in the middle of the summer. You can find even better deals during the off-season. It’s not cheap, but it is a must visit for golf fans.

Explore Mackinac Island


Yes, maybe you have been to Mackinac Island, but now you’re retired. This means you don’t have to be in a hurry to get back home. For the best view of the island, take a kayak tour and explore the caves near the scenic Arch Rock. For a more relaxing afternoon, explore Mackinac Island on a horse and carriage tour. If you are a history buff, don’t forget to visit Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes. If you are really looking to splurge, spend a few nights in the majestic Grand Hotel. If you’re not looking to spend an arm and a leg, you can still visit the Grand Hotel. Dress up in your Sunday best, grab a cocktail or cold lemonade, and spend an afternoon on the world’s largest front porch. There is plenty to do in Mackinac, but of course, make sure you leave room for fudge.  

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