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

It’s never too early to start dreaming up your next escape — whether it be a daytrip, long weekend or week-long adventure — and the start of a new year has us thinking ahead to all the Michigan places 2022 might take us.

With the past few years having been anything but predictable in the world of travel, we checked in with 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 may help you as you start your trip-planning process. We’ve listed those insights below, along with some destination ideas to inspire.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

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

1. Outdoor recreation will continue to be popular. “Like last year, we’re anticipating natural areas such as state and national parks will remain popular travel destinations for those looking for scenic beauty, social distancing and a break from the hustle and bustle,” Lorenz said.

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

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

Backpacking on Isle Royale

Backpackers enjoy the 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 sites, Michigan has many other options for getting outside, so consider seeking out alternatives to more popular spots. “When it comes to places to go, I like to say take the road less traveled, but before you do, learn something about the places you pass through,” Lorenz says. “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 Park, one of the least-visited properties in the entire National Park system, is remote, rugged and deliciously wild — but does demand some advance planning (check out some pro tips here). Take the car ferry to Drummond Island, “gem of the Huron,” to explore rare ecosystems, ancient shipwrecks, and a trail system unlike any other in the state. Or head to the Thumb, where Port Austin offers scenic beauty and small-town charm.

RELATED: Port Austin is quiet beauty in Michigan’s Thumb

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 be trending back to the great outdoors. “… We’re also seeing travelers have missed city 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, a.k.a. Beer City USA, where a blockbuster craft beer scene coexists with a thriving downtown and arts attractions; Detroit, where you’ll find a nationally lauded food scene, tons of historic architecture, arts and entertainment, and plenty of places to amble, like Belle Isle and the Riverwalk; and Traverse City, where a vibrant downtown is set against a stunningly beautiful backdrop. (There’s also Lansing, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Marquette and Houghton, to name a few; find other ideas at michigan.org.)

RELATED: Nighttime 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, you’ll want to plan ahead (and plan thoughtfully). “Some of our most popular areas like Traverse City and Mackinac Island will still be popular but travelers who plan now and book weekday and early/late season visits will find better prices and fewer fellow travelers,” Lorenz said. “Consider lesser known areas, too, which are typically featured on michigan.org.”

With concerns about inflation still present and the cost of gas still climbing, Lorenz said it’s expected there will be a 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 2022 Opening Weekend, 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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