Michigan 2022 travel trends: where to go, what to expect when planning a trip

It’s never too early to start thinking about your next getaway—whether it’s a day trip, long weekend, or weeklong adventure—and the start of a new year makes us think ahead of all the places in Michigan that 2022 will make. could bring us.

Since the last few years have been anything but predictable in the travel world, we reached out to the folks at Travel Michigan to get their thoughts on what to expect in 2022. Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, shared a few insights that can help you start your trip planning process. We’ve listed those insights below, along with some destination ideas to inspire.

The iconic covered bridge along Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. | Photo by Pure MichiganDan Price, on behalf of Pure Michigan

1. Outdoor recreation remains popular. “Like last year, we expect natural areas such as state and national parks to continue to be popular travel destinations for those seeking natural beauty, social distancing and a break from the crowds,” Lorenz said.

While Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore continues to set new visitor records every year, previously quiet destinations such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park have also reported a significant increase in visitation.

If you’re traveling to these spots during the peak summer and fall seasons, avoid parking hassles and crowded landmarks by getting to the trailheads early or having a ranger at the visitor center lead you to a lesser-known corner of the park. Or consider an off-season visit, when late fall, winter, and early spring give these landscapes a different kind of beauty. (Towards Sleeping Bear? We’ve got a winter guide, fall guide, and even an all-season bucket list of 50 things to see and do in this Michigan gem.)

Backpacking Isle Royale

Backpackers enjoy scenic views of Isle Royale National Park on a trail near Three Mile Campground. | Photo by Pure Michiganpure Michigan

Of course, with 3,000 miles of shoreline, 19 million acres of forests, more than 100 state parks, and seven National Park Service locations, Michigan has many other options for getting outside, so consider looking for alternatives to more popular spots. “When it comes to places to go, I like to say the road less traveled, but before you do that, learn something about the places you’re going through,” says Lorenz. “The Michigan.org website is a great resource for planning a Pure Michigan trip, including deciding where to go and what to do.”

A few ideas to get you started: Isle Royale National ParkOne of the least-visited properties in the entire National Park system, , is remote, rugged and wonderfully wild — but does require some planning ahead (check out some pro tips here). Take the car ferry to drummond island, “jewel of the Huron,” to explore rare ecosystems, ancient shipwrecks, and a trail system unlike any other in the state. Or go to the Thumb, where Port Austin offers scenic beauty and small-town charm.

RELATED: Port Austin is quiet beauty in the Thumb . from Michigan

MEDC Ann Arbor

At the Ann Arbor Art Fair in 2017. Photo by Pure Michiganpure Michigan

2. Travelers are ready for cities again. As the pandemic continues to shift and change, travel won’t just return to the great outdoors. “…We also see that travelers have missed out on urban experiences and are eager to return to places like Detroit and Grand Rapids in search of culture, sports, excitement and entertainment,” Lorenz said.

A few destination-worthy cities include: Grand Rapids, also known as Beer City USA, where a blockbuster craft beer scene merges with a thriving downtown and art attractions; Detroit, home to a nationally acclaimed food scene, plenty of historic architecture, arts and entertainment, and plenty of places to stroll such as Belle Isle and the Riverwalk; and Crossing City, where a lively center is set against a stunningly beautiful background. (There are also Lansing, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Marquette, and Houghton, just to name a few; find other ideas at michigan.org.)

RELATED: Nightly glowing snow tubing hill with colorfully lit lanes opens for season in Michigan

Pure Michigan Mackinac Bridge

Photo by Pure Michigan

3. For the best deals, plan ahead (and plan carefully). “Some of our most popular areas, such as Traverse City and Mackinac Island, will still be popular, but travelers who now plan and visit on weekdays and book early and late seasons will find better prices and fewer fellow travelers,” Lorenz said. . “Consider also lesser-known areas, which typically appear on michigan.org.”

With inflation concerns still present and the cost of gas still rising, Lorenz said there is expected to be continued interest in value-based travel experiences.

“This is where Michigan excels, and we will do our best to emphasize this fact,” he said.

RELATED: Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel Announces Opening Weekend 2022, Special Pre-Opening Prices

Find more Michigan travel ideas for every season, including things to do, places to stay and special events, at michigan.org.

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