Michigan in Pictures: 23 Beautiful Places to Photograph
Some of the most picturesque scenes in Michigan are along the shorelines of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. The aquatic Michigan landscape encompasses lighthouses, bridges, sand dunes, and dramatic sunsets, along with sandstone cliffs and caves in the Upper Peninsula.
The urban imagery comes alive with the city skyline of Detroit and the rustic pulse of America's transportation industry.
The scenery and colors of Michigan change with the seasons. From the blooming cherry trees and lavender fields in the summer and vibrant foliage in the fall to the dramatic ice formations in the winter, there are so many beautiful places to photograph in Michigan throughout the year.
1. Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is the epitome of a yesteryear summer vacation. The vintage cottage island can only be reached by ferry across Lake Huron. There are no cars on the island, so transportation is by horse and carriage, bicycle, or on foot. The Wedding Cake Cottage is one of many historic properties on Mackinac Island made even more beautiful by the summer lilacs in full bloom.
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2. Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan almost always guarantees a picture-perfect image at sunrise and sunset. It is especially stunning with an orange glow over the water. Capture a lighthouse or bird in the shot to tell the story of your location. Using a polarizer can help capture the details if the water is rough.
The Detroit skyline is an iconic Michigan image. The Motor City is filled with images of blue-collar America and the transportation industry, from the railroads to the factories. Capture the lights of downtown Detroit at sunset to add warmth to the view of the city.
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4. Crisp Point Lighthouse
The Crisp Point Lighthouse presides over the navigation on Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Take the dirt roads to the lighthouse just before sunset and capture the colorful evening sky with the stark contrast of the red, black, and white lighthouse on the shoreline.
5. Holland, Michigan
Some of the most colorful and whimsical pictures in Michigan come from the city of Holland, where tulips and windmills are commonplace in the countryside in the spring. Wooden windmills from the Netherlands amid fields of blooming red, purple, white, and yellow tulips make for cheerful images.
6. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore
The most prominent feature along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore are the steep sand dunes towering over Lake Michigan, which are popular for climbing and photographing. The boardwalk at the Empire Bluffs Nature Preserve is a great vantage point for capturing the broad scope of the dunes in the landscape. This area is also home to some of the best beaches in Michigan.
7. St. Joseph North Pier
Due to Michigan's northern location and lake effect snow coming off the Great Lakes, the winter photographic shots are dramatic. Thick ice encases entire structures, like the St. Joseph North Pier Lighthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan, which is even more stunning during nightfall.
8. Boardman River
The Boardman River near Traverse City is one of the top trout streams in Michigan, and it has a beautiful natural landscape surrounding it. The river area is especially colorful in the fall, when the leaves are changing on the trees along the banks and tributaries. This area is a great destination for a weekend getaway in Michigan.
The waterfront district in Marquette has nice photo opportunities of Lake Superior. The active iron ore dock standing tall in the harbor is still active and is the starting point for nearly 10 million tons of ore shipped out of Marquette each year.
10. Lavender Fields
There are several lavender farms throughout Michigan, particularly in the western part of the state. The rolling hills of lush purple lavender plants make for great photographs and relaxation for the senses.
11. The Tridge, Midland
The Tridge in downtown Midland, Michigan is a unique three-way footbridge that is bordered by lights at night. The wooden bridge is erected over the convergence point of the Tittabassee and Chippewa Rivers and is a popular spot for pedestrians.
12. Silver Lake Sand Dunes
The windswept sand at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes makes it seem like you are in another country. The dunes are in Silver Lake State Park in western Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. There are always different patterns in the dunes depending on the direction of the wind.
13. Munising Caves on Grand Island
Some of the most dramatic photos in Michigan can be captured in the Munising sea caves on Grand Island. This natural paradise on Lake Superior near Munising in the Upper Peninsula is tucked away in the Hiawatha National Forest. The caves are especially outstanding in the winter, when large ice columns form in the mouth of the caves.
14. Cherry Orchards
Northern Michigan is known for its cherry orchards, which reveal blossoms of pink in the spring. The orchard trees form elegant canopies of fragrant blossoms that only last for a window of two weeks.
Leland, Michigan is rooted in the commercial fishing industry, as evidenced by the city's Fishtown district. The quaint and colorful Fishtown has all the imagery of a small fishing village, from shanties and docks to fishing nets drying in the sun. Stroll down to the water at sunset for a golden hue cast over the village, which has remained mostly unchanged since the early 1900s.
16. Cut River Bridge
The Cut River Bridge is an expansive steel cantilevered bridge where U.S. Highway 2 crosses the Cut River in the Upper Peninsula. No matter which angle you choose to observe or photograph the bridge, it will be impressive. Make the shot even more melodramatic with the colorful fall foliage in the space around it.
17. Point Betsie
The Point Betsie Lighthouse in northeast Michigan is just one of many lighthouses to photograph in the state. Its position on the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the entrance to the Manitou Passage slightly protrudes from the rest of the landscape, making for a nice photograph, especially on a clear day.
18. Seney National Wildlife Refuge
So many of the images in Michigan are dramatic, but the Seney National Wildlife Refuge has subdued scenery that is relaxing. The refuge is located in the Upper Peninsula, where the morning mist rises off small inlets, and wildlife roams in the area.
19. Lake Superior
Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the largest of the Great Lakes. It is most noted today for its stunning views, but its history is rooted in the role it served in the shipping and trade industry, providing access to the lower Great Lakes. Lake Superior is also known for its ferocious storms and the sinking of ships, including the famed Edmund Fitzgerald.
20. Tahquamenon Falls
Tucked into 50,000 acres of Michigan's Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula are multiple waterfalls that visitors come from miles around to see. The largest of the falls is the Upper Falls, which spans 200 feet across with a dramatic drop of 50 feet. Downstream is a series of other waterfalls just as impressive, surrounded by mostly undisturbed forestland.
21. Arch Rock
One of Michigan's most recognized natural elements is Arch Rock located on Mackinac Island. The limestone rock formation creates a natural frame for the clear waters of Lake Huron below it. The best view of Arch Rock is from an outlook above it in Mackinac Island State Park.
22. Water Recreation
The state of Michigan is surrounded by four of the Great Lakes and has thousands of inland lakes, so water recreation like canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are an important part of the state's identity. Take your pick of waterways to explore because you never have to go far to find them in Michigan in the Lower or Upper Peninsula. Michigan's waters are all accented by dramatic cliffs, lush forestland, and caves.
23. Pictured Rocks Cliffs
The dramatic outcroppings of Pictured Rocks Cliffs on Michigan's National Lakeshore are some of the most beautiful natural elements in the state. The 15 miles of cliffs on Lake Superior are crown jewels in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The sandstone cliffs stand up to 200 feet above the lake.