25 Free things to do in Michigan

Aerial view of Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) Having fun doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. Check out 25 free things to do in Michigan.

1. Beach day – Michigan has dozens of splendid beaches where you can swim, build a sandcastle, and explore! Check ahead of time to see which beaches have public access for free.

Cheerful children on the shore of Lake Michigan
Having fun on the beach at Lake Michigan

2. Hit the trail – walk, run, hike or bike one of Michigan’s beautiful trails. Visit the Michigan Trails website for complete list.

3. Fantastic fountain – the Grand Haven Musical Fountain has synchronized water and light shows for spectacular performances on summer nights.

4. History lesson – take a guided tour of the State Capitol in Lansing.

State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan
State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan

5. Road trip – The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a scenic route across Michigan that showcases the most beautiful vistas in the Mitten State.

6. Fun on the farm – Visit your local farmers market to meet area farmers, sample their goods, and stock up in fresh food.

7. Schlep through the sand – Michigan is stocked with spectacular sand dunes. Hike up one of these dunes for an awesome view of the big lake.

Glen Lake over the ripples over Sleeping Bear Dunes
Glen Lake over the ripples over Sleeping Bear Dunes

8. Christmas year-round – Visit Frankenmuth for some good old fashioned Christmas fun.

9. Shed a little light – Michigan has dozens lighthouses that are open to the public. Explore the exterior and grounds, but check ahead of time to see if there’s admission cost to tour the inside.

10. Mosey to the museum – the Grand Rapids Art Museum has free admission all day on Tuesdays and 5-9 p.m. on Thursdays.

11. Heart of downtown – come to Rosa Parks Circle to experience the center of downtown Grand Rapids. There are free events and concerts year-round, including ice skating in the winter.

12. Prepare for take-off – Kids and adults love the Gerald R. Ford International Airport viewing area for a chance to see airplanes arrive and depart.

Passenger airplane landing
Passenger airplane landing

13. National treasures – The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday with fee-free days in 2016: April 16-24, August 25-28, September 24, and November 11.

14. Big ship – Take a trip to Ludington to see the historic SS Badger car ferry arrive and depart on Lake Michigan.

15. Fish ladder – see fish jump in the journey up the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

16. Must-see museum – the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon features several buildings with different exhibits and activities. Admission is always free!

17. Movies on deck – watch a movie on Friday nights in the summer on the deck of the USS LST 393, a historic warship in Muskegon.

18. Maranda Park Parties – Maranda brings an afternoon of free, family fun to six communities in West Michigan! Parties run every Thursday from June 23 to July 28. See the complete schedule here.

Maranda Park Party
Maranda Park Party

19. Free fishing – take advantage of Michigan’s free fishing weekend this summer, on June 11 and 12.

20. Tons of trees – visit the Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden in Battle Creek.

21. Tee up – Michiganders love their disc golf! Check out this fun sport at one of Michigan’s hundreds of disc golf courses.

22. Amusing museum – Kalamazoo Valley Museum is always free, with special exhibits that are always changing.

23. Mighty Mac – see the world’s fifth longest suspension bridge in the world and learn about it at the Mackinac Bridge Museum.

Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge

24. Down to Detroit – Belle Isle in Detroit has trails, swimming, recreation, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Anna Scripps Witcomb Conservatory, Belle Island Aquarium, and Belle Island Nature Zoo. Admission is free to pedestrians, bicyclists, and those who take public transportation.

25. Maritime musings – Visit the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena to explore shipwreck artifacts, exhibits, daily films, a dive operations center, and more.

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