4 Underrated Summertime Gems Of Northern Michigan

4 Underrated Summertime Gems Of Northern Michigan

Everything about Michigan feels different in the summertime.


Even if you aren't from Michigan, you've probably heard all the different jokes about the weather Michiganders endure. From blizzards starting in October to blizzards continuing in April... we don't have much of a summer, but when it arrives, it is the most beautiful, entertaining, exciting time of the year. Now my list might be a bit biased, but I'm going to let you in on a few secrets why summertime in Northern Michigan is the best.

1. You actually enjoy the drive up.

Mackinaw Bridge at Night

Growing up in southern Michigan, the top half of the state seemed almost magical. Every memory I've had of northern Michigan always felt warm. I can almost smell the sunscreen and bug spray; I can almost hear the Kid Rock and Willie Nelson beating through the speakers across the lake; but most importantly, I can feel the warmth from that summer sun and the love from being surrounded by friends and family.

When I was young and my parents told me we were going "Up North", as us Michiganders call it, that initial excitement would start to sink in. There was nothing better than knowing you were going to your grandparents house, and the drive it took to get there was one of the best parts.

First, we would pack everything into the car, double-checking for sunscreen and toothbrushes, and before finally hitting the road, we would stop at the local grocery store for ice for the cooler and the occasional Faygo for my brother and me. (No one enjoys a Michigan product like a Michigander). After twisting the cap off of that crisp, glass bottle, we hit the back roads for a couple hours worth of scenery and small town history.

Growing up, I wondered if the drive Up North would lose its meaning and sense of excitement, but it definitely did not. Growing up meant doing that same beautiful drive with some of my best friends. There is almost no other way I would want to spend a day in the summer other than driving through back roads for hours listening to whatever our favorite songs are at the time with friends I've grown up with over the years. Even getting lost is fun.

No matter how many times you do the drive, if you're from Michigan, you know detours are a definite thing in the summer due to construction. Whether it be expressways or back roads, you usually know a different couple routes when traveling north in the summertime. When you're young, you dream about the day you can drive around and listen to music with your best friends, and there's nowhere better to go than Up North.

2. The music is just... different.

Just Dance Away

Whether it be the type of music you listen to or not, classic rock and bluegrass country music has a completely different feeling in the summer. Growing up, my taste in music has always been different than all of my friends. I like bluegrass, and folk music, and of course classic rock, and I know it's because of my grandparents. My grandma loves bluegrass, and now that I'm older, another reason I love going Up North is because I can hear more of her music, and we get to talk about all the different music we've been into over the years. I'll always remember our conversations about music.

Classic rock sounds different when it's beating through speakers on a pontoon while your body bronzes as you fall asleep. There's something about the tunes that seem inaudible as your family and friends laugh and splash around you that seem comforting and familiar.

Dancing at my grandparents house was almost embarrassing when I was little, but now that I'm older, it wouldn't be a night with the family if there was no dancing involved. It's nice to think that Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" reminds me of my uncles and grandma, and that the Zac Brown Band will always hold a comfort that takes me back to summertime in northern Michigan.

3. There's peace and quiet.

The Shores of Lake Michigan

I love being busy. I love the stress of being busy, and I like having a million things on my mind at once; however, it's nice to be reminded that other things outside of my daily routine matter too. Almost everywhere you go Up North, you'll probably have little to no cellphone service. A few years ago, that would've irritated me completely, but now it's nice knowing that I can go a few days without being bothered or worried about the stress that's waiting for me back home. I like that you have to drive "into town" to have reception, or that you still have to use a landline to call home.

The sleep you get Up North is the best sleep you'll ever get in your entire life. You probably won't get a lot of it if you're around my family, but the sleep you do get is amazing. Whether it be from being worn out by the sun and activities like hiking, swimming, boating, cooking, dancing, four-wheeling, etc., or just taking a nap on Grandpa's couch while kids are running all around you, it's the deepest, most comforting sleep in the world.

You get distance in every way. Distance from your daily life. Distance from the people you left at home. Distance from your worries. Distance between neighbor to neighbor. There is so much distance Up North. It's comforting to know you aren't surrounded by strangers all the time, and you can be loud and camp out without having to worry as much. Distance is comforting when it's distance in northern Michigan.

4. It gives you unforgettable memories.

Nightfall Across Lake Michigan

I have so many different memories when I think of going Up North, and they all mean so much to me. It's hard to have a bad memory of summertime in northern Michigan.

I have the memory of traveling to Charlevoix with just my best friend in the car, while we followed my mom, step-dad, and brother. My best friend and I made a "Road Trip" playlist and rocked out and laughed until our stomachs hurt while we drove in awe as we took in the scenery. I watched my mom marry her best friend that weekend, and my best friend became my step-sister.

I have the memories of dancing in the driveway at my grandparents house every night with cousins I'm starting to see less and less as the years go by. Even though we are older and busier now, we still share that part of our lives together.

I have the memories of playing hide-n-seek and capture the flag with cousins that were my best friends. I know we have different best friends now, but our friendship is forever.

I have the memory of being newly licensed, and driving to Traverse City with my step-sister and then boyfriend for spring break in high school. It rained the whole time. We bought matching rain coats and spent our days in shops around the town, while we spent our nights laughing in a hotel room I'll never forget about.

Northern Michigan is part of me.

I don't know where I might end up, what state I might call home someday, but I know that summertime in northern Michigan will always carry that feeling of home, and I'll always return to it. Other than Christmas, summertime is the best time of the year, especially in Michigan, and I'll always be down for a road trip with good music to a destination of peace and quiet with memories I'll cherish forever.

Cover Image Credit:


Popular Right Now

9 Reasons Why Topsail Island is the Best Beach in NC

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in North Carolina.

1. The sunsets.

Topsail has the best sunsets out of any beach in North Carolina. Hands down.

2. The shark’s teeth and seashells.

You can always find a large amount of cool shells and shark’s teeth every beach trip. I have found that it is not like this at every beach, only at Topsail. Shell hunting tip: check out the point on the south end of the island every morning for the best shell selection. You might even come across a hidden mailbox with notes in it while shell hunting down there.

3. The food.

From Max’s pizza with the pepperoni under the cheese to the seafood at Breezeway and even having the experience of eating outside at Sears Landing, Topsail has some of the greatest restaurants any beach in NC has to offer. The best part about the food in Topsail is that the restaurants are all local. Also, there is a brand new doughnut shop in the Surf City part of the island...what could be better than doughnuts and the beach?

4. The Fourth of July.

Every year Topsail and neighboring town, Holly Ridge, rotate between who does fireworks on the fourth and who gets to do them on the fifth. Basically this means two whole days of celebrating our great nation at the beach. The Fourth is also fun in Topsail because the beach is full of people decked out in red, white, and blue, blaring country music, and playing cornhole and swimming all day. Some parts of the town even have mini Fourth of July block parties (okay maybe that's just my family and our neighbors but it’s still pretty fun).

5. The small town atmosphere.

Topsail is a small island which gives it a small town, everybody knows everybody kind of feel. It’s really easy to make life long beach friends here because you have the opportunity to see the same people out on the beach every summer.

6. The ice cream.

Growing up, we went out to get ice cream EVERY single night and admittedly we still do. It often feels like the whole island has the same idea because the lines are always out the door at every ice cream place on the island. Don’t let this discourage you though. It’s an unspoken rule to wait in the line no matter how long it may be because ice cream always tastes better at Topsail.

7. The best of both worlds.

Because Topsail is an island, in most cases you can see both the ocean and the sound from wherever you are staying. This is pretty awesome because you can watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the sound without having to go too far. You also can go from playing cornhole on the beach to jet skiing in the sound without having to walk too far so you really do get the experience the best of both worlds.

8. Outdoor movies.

On certain nights of the week Topsail this has cool thing called “Summer Movies in the Park” where they play movies on a big blow up screen at a park that sits on the sound. The best part about this is that the movies are FREE. Tip: if you are vacationing at Topsail with bae, I highly suggest going to an outdoor movie together, even if it is Cinderella and even if you have seen it 100 times already you should still go. But, if outdoor movies aren’t your thing then I suggest going roller skating or playing a game of putt-putt.

9. The memories.

Whether you go for a week or a weekend, I promise that you will make some great memories with the people you love at Topsail Island. After spending 19 summers on the island, I know I sure have. From Fourth of July block parties, running into friends from all over NC, adventuring with cousins and swimming during hurricanes, I can honestly say that spending my summers at Topsail Island has been one of the best things ever.

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in NC and I highly recommend planning your next beach vacation to Topsail Island.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.topsailnewsonline.com/?p=9478

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

As An Original Northeasterner, I Grew To Love The South And You Can, Too

Where the tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter.


I'm not Southern-born. I'll come right out and say it. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Atlanta when I was 9 years old. I didn't know a single thing about the South, so I came without any expectations. When I got here, I remember that the very first thing I saw was a Waffle House. I thought it was so rare to see whatever a waffle house was but little did I know there was a WaHo (how southerners refer to Waffle House) every two miles down the street.

There is such a thing as "southern hospitality," and it's very pleasant for a newcomer to see. Southerners are raised with such a refreshing sense of politeness, and their accents are beautifully unique. It brings a smile to my face when I hear a southern accent because it's such a strong accent and one of my favorites. They answer your questions with "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" in the most respectful tone. I remember feeling so grown and empowered just because I got called ma'am. Southerners' vocabulary and phrases really have its ways of integrating into your own vernacular.

Before I came to Georgia, I never really said words like "Y'all" and "Fixin' to" but it's definitely in much of what I say now. I can tell when I go back up north to visit family that some of what I say may sound a little off because the dialect is very different. I find no shame in it, though, and neither should any southerner.

The weather in the South isn't so bad, in my opinion. Sure, there is very high humidity, but after living here for 10+ years, you learn how to deal with it. However, there's nothing like the summer thunderstorms. I love stormy, rainy weather and it rains quite often in the south, so when my birthday in July rolls around, I look forward to seeing that rain. It's the most peaceful weather to me and inspires me to write even more.

I could go on and on about the amazing fried foods here or the iconic yet insane Atlanta traffic, but those aren't what make me love the South. The people of the south are so different from up north but in the best ways. Everyone is so expressive and creative, as well as their own unique self. Southerners aren't the shaming kinds of people, but instead the kind who embrace who you are from the start. There's a fierce loyalty and a strong sense of appreciation that is just unmatched by any other place. No matter where I go, I always find comfort in knowing that I'll be coming back to this place I'm proud to call home.

Related Content

Facebook Comments