Top Scenic Drives in Michigan

scenic drives in Michigan

When cruising in Michigan, there’s no such thing as a dull moment or boring view! After all, the Mitten State offers everything from cherry orchards and deep green forest hideaways to roaring waterfalls and even towering sand dunes.

And let’s not forget the unexpected surprises along the way — like finding that perfect little roadside diner where the pie tastes just like grandma’s or coming across a local band performing their hearts out in a barn. Every corner will leave you wondering, is this place even real?

If you’re still on the hunt for that perfect stretch of road to journey down, this blog shares the top scenic drives in Michigan that promise an infinite supply of “Did you see that?!” moments. 

Best Drives in Michigan for an Unforgettable Road Trip

Below are some of the top scenic routes you can drive in Michigan:

M-22 (Lake Michigan Shoreline)

scenic drives in MichiganM-22 is a stunning 116-mile-long road that takes you through some of the most picturesque parts of the state, starting from Manistee in the south, winding through Benzie, and ending up in Leelanau County. 

In Manistee County, start your journey by exploring the historic downtown, with its Riverwalk and Victorian buildings. If you’re in the mood for golfing, the Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course is just a short drive away, where you can hit the links against the backdrop of breathtaking lake vistas.

After a picturesque 50-minute drive north, you’ll enter Benzie County, which is famous for its quaint towns like Elberta and Frankfort. Elberta offers stunning views of Lake Michigan, while Frankfort tempts with local markets, craft beer, and the iconic Point Betsie Lighthouse. 

When in Benzie County, make sure to stop at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This place is nothing short of majestic, with its massive dunes, hiking trails, and unbeatable vistas.  Here, you can race down the dunes, take loads of photos, or just chill at the beach.

Journeying northward, M-22 leads into Leelanau County, which is a haven for culinary enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs. Consider dining at The Blu in Glen Arbor to enjoy exquisite meals with waterfront views, or visit Knot Just a Bar in Omena for a relaxed atmosphere. 

Continuing on M-22, take a U-turn that will guide you toward the charming village of Suttons Bay and then into Traverse City. Dubbed the Cherry Capital, this vibrant city provides the chance to sample fine wines and breathtaking views at the Chateau Chantal, explore local art at the Dennos Museum Center, or enjoy beach activities at the wheelchair-friendly Clinch Park.

Tunnel of Trees (M-119)

scenic drives in MichiganIf you’re up for a short but epic road trip, Tunnel of Trees won’t disappoint. Starting at the vibrant Harbor Springs, this drive is filled with hardwoods and evergreens that arch overhead to make a leafy tunnel and look especially magnificent during the fall season when the leaves turn into shades of fiery red, burnt orange, and golden yellow. This highway has narrow roads, so be sure to watch for sharp turns at Devil’s Elbow and Horseshoe Curve. 

As you embark along M-119, make a stop at Gurney’s Harbor Bottle Shop to try the legendary Train Wreck sandwich, or hit up Turkey’s Pizzeria to munch on local pizza and sandwiches. After traveling about four miles, visit Pond Hill Farm to stretch your legs, taste the farm’s special cider, or enjoy a wholesome meal at their Garden Cafe. 

Once you have soaked up the farm views, cruise for another 20 minutes to reach Cross Village. When in this quaint village, visit the Three Pines Studio and Gallery, where local artistry is on full display. 

For a taste of local life, the Good Hart General Store is just around the bend, offering not just souvenirs but also a chance to enjoy their famed pot pies and buy homemade jams. If you want the perfect backdrop to take Instagram-worthy selfies, the Good Hart’s iconic red building will serve you right.

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Sunrise Coast (US-23 along Lake Huron)

scenic drives in MichiganKnown as the Quiet Side, Sunrise Coast along US-23 provides unparalleled views of Lake Huron, beautiful lighthouses, and sandy beaches stretching into the horizon. Standish serves as the gateway to the Sunrise Side of Michigan, where you can soak up the lakeside views on the Huron Shores Coastal Water Trail or enjoy a leisurely paddle across the serene waters. 

If your travels stir a thirst, head over to the Modern Craft Wine at Au Gres to try classic and fruity flavored wine. If you travel for 26 miles northeast of Au Gres, you’ll reach Tawas Point State Park – famously referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” Here, you can kick back on golden sands, watch birds you’ve only seen in books, or sneak in a little lighthouse tour. 

As you keep cruising along US-23, you’ll pass through the Au Sable River, the coastal villages of Oscoda and Harrisville, and Ossineke’s Dinosaur Gardens. After a fun detour at the garden, it’s a quick 15-minute drive to Alpena, which provides stunning views of Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse. If your schedule allows, swing by Cheboygan to enjoy its small-town charm, complete with a historic opera house and beautiful riverfront scenes.

The final stretch of the journey takes you to Mackinaw City, where you can explore the local history at Colonial Michilimackinac State Park, try ziplining and other activities at the Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, and cap off your trip with a taste of their famous fudge.

Copper Country Trail (US-41)

scenic drives in MichiganThe Copper Country Trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will take you through dense forests, past jaw-dropping waterfalls, and into the heart of America’s historic copper mining era. Starting in Houghton, the Keweenaw National Historical Park is your first major stop, where you’ll learn about the tale of copper mining and its impact on the nation.

As you move north, you’ll pass through Lake Superior, which stuns with its deep blue waters and towering cliffs. The shoreline is dotted with historic lighthouses that have seen more sunsets and storms than they can count. Near the trail’s end, Lake Medora offers a serene spot to stretch your legs, with views that’ll make you want to stay till sunset.

What makes this trail particularly worth exploring is the dense forests of pine and hardwood that create a canopy over the road. It’s like driving through a green tunnel that occasionally opens up to reveal small towns and other scenic spots. 

If you’re chasing fall colors and can’t stand hot weather, plan your visit between late September and early October, as the forest is covered in a palette of oranges, reds, and yellows, making the drive even more spectacular.

River Road Scenic Byway (Along the Au Sable River)

scenic drives in MichiganJust like the Tunnel of Trees scenic drive, River Road Scenic Byway is a twenty-two-mile stretch that starts from Lake Huron and runs along the AuSable River from Oscoda. The drive takes you through the heart of the Huron National Forest, which is all about those breezy river views and forest vibes that make you want to roll down your windows and let the fresh air in. Keep an eye out for wildlife as you may catch a glimpse of red fox, porcupine, coyote, bobcat, and white turkey. 

When in the forest, visit the Lumberman’s Monument, which pays tribute to Michigan’s lumberjacks. Although you have to climb 260 steps to reach there, the epic overview of the winding river is well worth the effort and serves as the perfect spot to take a selfie that screams “adventurer.”

At the drive of just about 5 minutes from the monument, you’ll find Largo Springs. The walk down to the springs features a series of platforms and stairs surrounded by lush forest, while the landscape is dotted with waterfalls and pools, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking for a bit of real-world magic. 

Explore Michigan Scenic Routes with Clock Mobility

While there’s no shortage of eye-catching places, the above-mentioned scenic routes will fuel your love for adventure and fill your camera roll with nothing but pure Michigan magic. When you’re planning a road trip, though, your mode of transportation is just as important as your playlist and choice of snacks. It should be reliable, accessible, and comfortable for everyone.

That’s why Clock Mobility offers wheelchair-accessible vehicles for short and long-term rental. The best part? We are conveniently located in four different locations in Michigan, so picking up and dropping off your rental has never been so easy. Wondering how you can get started on your next adventure? Call us at (866) 380-3326 or fill out this form for a detailed rental quote. 


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