The Six Most Instagrammable Places in Michigan
March 4, 2020
There's something captivating about the towering Lake Superior cliffs, which are more tranquil than terrifying, or the warm-evening glow that illuminates all the state's best features. Time and time again I find myself grabbing my camera and taking to the two-lane highways, only to walk away from every trip amazed by new angles and unearthed hideouts tucked in the most surprising spots. After years, countless trips, and dozens of filled memory cards, I've finally narrowed down my most Instagrammable places in Michigan.
1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
It's not hard to see that Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore tops the list as Michigan's most instagrammable place. From the towering cliffs, natural arches, crystal-clear waters, waterfalls, and endless adventures, it's the epitome of an Instagram hot-spot.
During temperate summer months, hikers, backpackers, and kayakers disperse to every corner of the park. Once the snow falls and many of the trails become blanketed under the snow, brave adventurers cross their fingers for a deep freeze, enough to make a safe crossing from Sand Bay to Grand Island to photograph the famed Grand Island Ice Caves.
Best time to visit: Summer, Fall, Winter
Top photo spots: Grand Island, Chapel Rock, Mosquito Beach, Miners Falls
Camping costs: $20/night Backpacking
2. Mackinac Island & The Mackinac Bridge
It should be no surprise that these two icons make the list of Michigan's most instagrammable places. Visitors from all over the world flock to this section of the state to experience the unique culture. Mackinac Island is one of the only places in the United States where cars are banned, and transportation is mainly limited to bikes and horses. With the absence of vehicles, old streets lined with flowers and lilacs make the island a perfect backdrop for photos.
Best time to visit: Summer
Top Photo Spots: Grand Hotel, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf
Costs: $27 RT adult ferry, $15 child
3. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Lake Michigan's turquoise waters shine below the towering sand dunes, which often reach heights over 400 feet, making Sleeping Bear Dunes one of Michigan's top visited and instagrammable places. It's a mecca for all things adventure with incredible natural scenery, creating a perfect combination for epic shots. Freshwater surfers are chasing waves whenever the weather conditions are right, and there are endless opportunities for kiteboarding, backpacking, beach camping, and even freediving.
Best time to visit: Summer, Fall
Top Photo Spots: Empire Beach, Whaleback Natural Area, South Manitou Island, Pyramid Point, Leland (Fishtown)
Costs: $20 National Park Pass, valid for one week
Camping costs: Starting at $20/night
4. Lake Michigan Lighthouses
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. There are dozens of photo-worthy lighthouses along every Great Lake shoreline (here are my six favorites). From Grand Haven's bright-red exterior lighthouse to Beaver Island's St. James Harbor light, each one provides a unique photo-op for travelers looking for insta-worthy backgrounds.
Best time to visit: Spring, Summer
Top Photo Spots: Grand Haven Lighthouse, Big Sable Lighthouse, Point Betsie, Frankfort
Cost: Free (Not including lighthouse tours)
4. Copper Peak Ski Jump + Western Upper Peninsula
In the remote western section of the Upper Peninsula is Copper Peak Ski Jump, which was once the western hemisphere's biggest active jump. In its retirement, it was established as an official historical site of Michigan and remains open for visitors to take in epic 360-views of the surrounding area. On a clear day, three states and Canada can be viewed from the top of the 469-foot jump. Get to the top by taking a chairlift to the base and hopping on an elevator or climbing the 35-degree slope to the top. The Upper Peninsula is home to the best fall colors in the United States, making an autumn visit to Copper Peak the greatest place to capture the scene.
Best time to visit: Fall, Summer
Top Photo Spots: Copper Peak Ski Jump, Porcupine Mountains, Canyon Falls, Copper Harbor
6. Any Michigan Backroad
And trust us, these aren't your bum-no-where kind of roads. Getting lost is perhaps one of the best adventures you can have in Michigan. Sometimes a seemingly bland dirt road turns into a gateway to Lake Superior's best campsites or the country's top fall color show. They're a little bumpy and a little dusty, but the view never disappoints.
Best time to visit: All year
Top Photo Spots: Anywhere the road turns to gravel
Cost: Absolutely free
At any given moment, Shalee is either lost, hunting for ice cream, or obsessively planning her next adventure.
Born and raised in rural Michigan, she began exploring the shores of Great Lakes as a teen, often sleeping in her car to save money. Eventually, her urge to explore pushed beyond her Midwest borders. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure and outdoor tourism. Her pack now includes two spunky hiking cats and her partner, Josh. Learn more about her here.