1. Bike Leelanau Trail’s Stunning Vistas
April offers comfortable temps to explore Michigan’s scenic landscapes. Pedaling along the 15-mile Leelanau Trail rewards with breathtaking Grand Traverse Bay views as you pass northern vineyards and farms between Suttons Bay and Traverse City. I rented a bike in Traverse City by the trailhead.
The paved pathway is open for cycling daily year-round. Plan for a 2-3 hour ride with cafe/winery stops. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along the shoreline!
2. Kayak through Pictured Rocks Water Trail
Kayaking through the Pictured Rocks Water Trail is a popular activity for visitors to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. The trail is approximately 42 miles long and runs along the stunning shoreline of Lake Superior.
Visitors can experience the diverse cliffs, caves, and waterfalls that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is known for, from the unique perspective of the water. The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore provides various options for exploring the water trail, including guided tours and rental opportunities.
Guided tours offer visitors a chance to learn about the history and geology of the area from knowledgeable guides, while rentals allow visitors to explore at their own pace.
Kayaking through the Pictured Rocks Water Trail does require some planning, including taking safety precautions, being aware of weather conditions, and having proper equipment. Visitors can check water conditions, weather forecasts, and obtain permits from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Visitor Center.
3. Hike Wildflower-Filled Trails on Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island State Park spans over 70 miles of scenic trails. I hiked the 8-mile Surrey Hills Trail last April when spring wildflowers like trilliums and hepatica were blossoming across the forest floor.
Trails are open at dawn year-round. Be sure to purchase either a $10 daily or $8 round trip ferry Mackinac Island permit that covers state park entry.
4. Detroit’s Festival of Books in Historic Eastern Market
Avid readers flock to Detroit’s Festival of Books held annually in April inside Shed 5 of the city’s indoor/outdoor Eastern Market district.
Peruse rare books, hear author talks, and enjoy literary events. This free festival is a bookworm’s delight! Arrive early as it gets crowded.
5. Celebrate Michigan’s Sugar Beet Industry
Based in the heart of Michigan’s sugar beet region, the Michigan Sugar Festival teaches about the agricultural industry through factory tours, exhibits, cooking demos and kids activities in the village of Sebewaing.
Michigan has a long history of sugar beet cultivation and processing, contributing significantly to the state’s agricultural economy.
The industry began in the late 19th century with the establishment of sugar beet factories in various towns across Michigan, including Alma, Benton Harbor, Caro, Charlevoix, and Croswell, among others.
Today, Michigan continues to be a major player in the sugar beet industry. The state has numerous sugar beet farms and factories, with an innovative approach to harvesting, storing, and processing the crop.
6. Cedarville Lighthouse Cruise on Les Cheneaux Islands
The Cedarville Lighthouse Cruise on Les Cheneaux Islands is a popular tourist attraction that provides an opportunity to explore the stunning vistas of Lake Huron and the Les Cheneaux Islands up close via scenic cruises.
Operated by Shepler’s Ferry, the cruise offers a narrated tour of six stunning Lake Huron lighthouses. Along the way, participants are treated to stunning views of the 36-island Les Cheneaux chain off the southeastern Upper Peninsula that is known for its pristine waters, quaint towns, and rich maritime heritage.
The Cedarville Lighthouse Cruise on Les Cheneaux Islands is a unique way to explore the wonders of Lake Huron and the Les Cheneaux Islands.
It offers an opportunity to learn more about the maritime history and the culture of the region while admiring breathtaking views of the lighthouses and the island chain. Advanced booking is recommended[
7. Strolling the Blooming Gardens at Michigan Legacy Art Park
One of my favorite places to take in springtime floral displays is at Michigan Legacy Art Park near Thompsonville. This scenic 30-acre outdoor art museum contains monumental sculptures integrated into the pastoral landscape.
In April, the park’s gardens burst into color with thousands of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and flowering shrubs emerging across the grounds. I enjoyed meandering along the 1.5 mile paved trail that connects over 50 different works of art while surrounded by vibrant blossoms.
Michigan Legacy Art Park is open daily from dawn until dusk year-round. The marriage of art and nature makes this a special spring stop.
8. Welcome Baby Animals at Binder Park Zoo
One of the most exciting times to visit Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek is during their “Spring into Birth” season each April. As wintry weather transitions to spring, the zoo experiences a baby boom across many exhibits.
Getting to witness various animal babies being born and taking their first steps into the world with their mothers created a moving experience. During my April visit, I got to see two new leggy giraffe calves in the indoor giraffe center, several fluffy lambs and piglets in the children’s farm petting area, and two active baby zebras prancing around their habitat.
The zoo staff sets up educational nursery webcams so you can watch live births remotely too. Special keeper talks explain the animal reproduction process and allow you to ask questions. The zoo also decorates with springtime flowers, bunnies and eggs to celebrate the season.
Be sure to check the zoo’s website for the most up-to-date information on baby births! Welcoming these new lives each spring renews hope.
9. River Otter Encounters at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park
One of my favorite Michigan wildlife experiences is attending the daily river otter feeding time and training presentations at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park near Alto. The park has an extensive otter habitat where you can get up close to the playful river otters and observe their behaviors.
Each day at 1pm, the zookeepers conduct a presentation where they describe the otters’ characteristics while demonstrating various trained abilities. During their talk, the otters energetically perform tricks like spinning in circles, standing up on their hind legs, and diving into the pool to retrieve toys.
After the informative presentation, visitors have the rare opportunity to personally feed the otters by tossing fish for them to catch. Being able to look into these intelligent creatures’ eyes as they pop up eagerly awaiting their treat created a personal connection I’ll always remember.
The river otters are one of over 100 species calling this wooded sanctuary home. Their playful antics bring consistent joy.
10. Marveling at Dow Gardens’ Azaleas
Each April and May, one of Michigan’s most spectacular garden displays occurs at Dow Gardens near Midland, when over 10,000 azaleas burst into brilliant bloom across their grounds.
As a lover of azaleas, walking through the canopy of vibrant pink, purple, red and white flowers felt like strolling through a magical floral paradise. The contrast of the brightly colored blossoms against the emerald green grass and spring foliage is striking.
I meandered along the paved pathways winding through Dow’s 110 acres, passing between tall azalea-cloaked knolls and around tranquil ponds dotted with colorful clusters. Benches are perfectly situated for resting among the floral abundance.
I recommend visiting on a weekday morning once spring has arrived for the most pleasant experience marveling at the azaleas in full bloom. The floral scents and beauty renew the spirit after winter.
With nature awakening and cultural events ramping up, April is a fantastic time to explore Michigan’s offerings before peak crowds arrive.
Discover Yankee Air Museum, the West Michigan Whitecaps’ baseball home opener, or concerts at Little River Casino. From Detroit to Holland, spring makes Michigan shine!