Best known for its place in the automobile industry, the great lakes and the magical Mackinac Island, Michigan also prides itself on its outdoor winter adventures and its rich, cultural heritage. From the state capitol of Lansing to Detroit and smaller towns like Holland and Frankenmuth, there is no shortage of unique places to experience a memorable visit to Michigan.
Here’s a look at what awaits group travelers in the Wolverine State.
The Henry Ford
The Henry Ford is a museum complex comprising 250 acres and three unique attractions: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.
At the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, guests get a look at American ideas and inventions that have powered the country. Highlights include artifacts from the first 40 years of flight, the bus Rosa Parks rode during her stand for Civil Rights and a world-class automotive collection with a variety of presidential limousines. USA Today named the attraction “One of the 10 Best History Museums.”
Greenfield Village allows visitors to explore the ingenuity and resourcefulness of America with 83 authentic historic structures, four living history farms and the opportunity for guests to ride in authentic Model Ts. On-site artists inspire guests with their 19th and 20th century artwork on display.
In a partnership with the Ford Motor County, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour shows guests the future of manufacturing as they make their way through the assembly line of Ford’s F-150 trucks. The site was the birthplace of the Model A, the V-8, the Mustang and more, and visitors leave inspired by auto industry history.
Detroit Princess Riverboat
Gather your group for an outing on the Detroit Princess Riverboat, cruising along the Detroit River with views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines. With daily departures, the cruise offers group events that can incorporate entertainment options, including Motown shows, a murder mystery dinner theater, live bands and more. Private space onboard the ship is available for groups ranging from 50 to 500, with plated and buffet dining options available.
Add-ons for groups include entertainment, flowers and décor onboard the riverboat, an on-site event coordinator, and special pricing for dining and bar packages. Equipped with air conditioning and heat, the Detroit Princess is available to host groups during any season.
Visitors flock every summer to Mackinac Island, located between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas on Lake Huron. Only accessible via ferry, the island prides itself on having no cars and relying on horse-drawn carriages, bikes and walking paths. Favorite spots for groups include the Green Turtle Brewery and Distillery, the island’s first craft brewery; Mackinac Island State Park, which makes up 80% of the island; and Fort Mackinac, home to live demonstrations, such as cannon and rifle firings.
In addition to providing transportation between Mackinac Island and the mainland, Shepler’s Ferry frequently works with groups on packages featuring Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, free overnight motorcoach parking, and the opportunity for private cruises with cocktail receptions, meals and sightseeing.
Up and Coming
Windmill Island Gardens
Open from mid-April to mid-October, the Windmill Island Gardens in Holland is widely known for its thousands of blooming tulips each May, but don’t pass up the opportunity to also visit the park’s 251-year-old windmill throughout the year. Named De Zwaan, this windmill is the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States. The park’s 36 acres of manicured gardens feature annuals in addition to tulips and is home to costumed guides, an Amsterdam street organ and a unique hand-painted Dutch carousel. The park’s gift shop features Dutch treats and Dutch exhibits depicting historic events and time periods.
New in 2024, the garden’s theme is the color palette, with annual flower beds celebrating the sun, moon and stars. Also new to the gardens this season, the Tulip Grove features tulips year-round with the addition of larger-than-life wood carved tulips standing at more than eight feet. The carvings are made from oak trees that were lost due to flooding over the years.
Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum
For military and history buffs, the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum offers groups tours of the USS Edson stationed along the banks of the Saginaw River in Bay City. Commissioned in 1958, this ship served for 30 years, including 10 deployments in Vietnam, and was on display at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum before making its way to Michigan in 2012.
This ship recently completed renovations, allowing for better lighting surrounding onboard exhibits, and a former washroom was converted into a theater for presentations and video storytelling. The adjacent gift shop is now expanded, along with the addition of a pedestrian ramp making it more accessible to guests. A new memorial garden is in the works, with memorial bricks available for purchase to honor loved ones.
Available for guided tours, the ship serves as a historical landmark and educational attraction showing visitors onboard areas such as the weapons systems, berthing areas, command and control centers, hurricane bow and museum exhibitions.
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
Art enthusiasts, gardeners and outdoor lovers can enjoy the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, boasting more than 200 sculptures throughout the gardens on its 185-acre campus. Specialized plants from around the world and plants appropriate for the Midwest life are featured alongside internationally acclaimed artists’ works.
Groups can enjoy narrated outdoor tram tours around the gardens. Featured tour highlights include the park’s eight-acre Japanese garden, a replica 1930s-era farm garden along with the rotating sculpture exhibits featured in indoor galleries.
March 2024 marks butterfly season and the return of the Fred and Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit inside the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. Special events taking place during the spring butterfly season running through April include Coffee with the Curator: Butterflies for a behind-the-scenes tour of what it takes to put the exhibit together, including what happens when the butterflies arrive. Other specialized classes and events during this seasonal butterfly exhibit include photography classes to learn tips for creating works of art and butterfly embroidery classes.
Bavarian Inn Lodge
Known as “Little Bavarian,” Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn Lodge is a seven-acre resort with on-site shopping and dining just steps away from accommodations. The resort’s 360 German-themed guest rooms provide guests with a unique overnight stay. With rooms overlooking the Cass River, the Bavarian Inn Lodge also features nightly German entertainment and an adults-only, European-style courtyard with indoor pool and whirlpool.
With nearly 2,000 motorcoaches visiting the resort each year, the property offers competitive group rates and itinerary assistance for groups, group cooking classes, and wine and beer tastings.
Groups will have a grand experience at Mackinac Island’s premiere accommodations, the Grand Hotel. Located on the unique island, this all-inclusive property is only accessible via ferry. The property features 388 rooms, each with different décor.
Guests can enjoy the 18-hole golf course and dine at one of the resort’s 14 restaurants and bars. Afternoon tea is served daily in the Grand Hotel Parlor. The Grand is known as the world’s largest summer hotel and welcomes guests May through October. This year marks its 138th season. At 660 feet long, the property’s porch can be seen as visitors approach the island from Lake Huron. Group programming and rates are available.
Interested in trying the Detroit-style pizza that made the city famous? Look no further than Buddy’s Pizza, which dates back to 1946. With locations throughout Metro Detroit and Michigan, Buddy’s Pizza created the original style pizzas by baking them on steel pans borrowed from local automotive centers.
With a crispy crust, Detroit-style pizza is rectangular and has the toppings layered directly onto the dough, followed by a cheese topping and finally three stripes of sauce across the square. Buddy’s Pizza locations welcome groups to indulge in this unique pizza with catering and delivery options available.
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
Serving diners since 1856 and known for its family-style fried chicken dinners, Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth boasts a seating capacity of 1,500 in its signature Heritage Room. With a nod to its Bavarian roots, the dinner menus include fried chicken, mashed potatoes, egg noodles, vegetables and more. Other additions include Grandma Zehnder’s dressing, the signature Vidalia onion soup au gratin and sauteed chicken livers.
Zehnder’s offers group meal pricing, private dining rooms and tour-planning assistance, along with complimentary on-site motorcoach parking.