Road trips are always fun, and your drive from Grand Rapids to Petoskey will take you through central and north Michigan to the city of Petoskey on Little Traverse Bay, which is part of Lake Michigan. Michigan is unique in that it is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes and is comprised of two peninsulas that are separated by water. The Upper and Lower Peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. Your route will take you through the cities of Grand Rapids, Cadillac and on to Petoskey, and you are never far from the Great Lakes and the smaller inland lakes that are all around.
The U.S. national park system manages over 400 sites across the country. These sites range from parks, monuments, preserves, scenic trails and other areas, and the aim is to protect and conserve important historical and natural treasures. If you have the chance, you should visit any of these parks that are within your reach. There are two national parks that are just a few hours from your route, and it is an easy matter to add them to your Grand Rapids to Petoskey itinerary.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
An excellent start to your Grand Rapids to Petoskey, MI, RV road trip is to take a short detour south and visit the amazing Indiana Sand Dunes National Park, located on the edge of Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana. This park runs along the southern shores of Lake Michigan and encompasses 22,000 acres of marshes, rivers, prairies and beaches. The park is so-named because of the towering natural sand dunes that can reach upward of 200 feet. While in the park, visitors can hike on over 50 miles of nature trails and maybe catch glimpses of the wildlife inhabitants. Besides the natural environs, you can also visit several historical buildings inside the park.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Another worthwhile detour on your road trip from Grand Rapids to Petoskey, MI, is to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. This unique park is nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley and is a natural preserve located in an urban area. The Ohio and Erie Canal was built in the 1800s in order to connect the growing settlements in the Ohio region to Lake Erie and thus use the Erie Canal to connect to New York City. This vastly facilitated the movement of goods to the market. Today, the park celebrates this important part of American history with the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which is a restored segment of the original towpath for the waterway.
Just some decades ago, the Cuyahoga River and the adjacent lands were severely polluted, but today, these areas are a shining example of a successful environmental reclamation. The park contains both public lands and private sections and businesses. Visitors can walk on the Towpath Trail, tour the Canal Exploration Center to discover the canal's history, visit historic farmhouses, view the impressive Brandywine Falls and ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. You will enjoy walking among the forests and hills in the park and relish taking in the views of the Cuyahoga River. There are interesting talus caves to explore amongst the Ledges, which is a rock outcropping that offers a great view of the valley.
Michigan has a number of state parks that lie along your route, and you can take a few hours or a few days to visit many in the area.
Newaygo State Park
Newaygo State Park is located on the south side of Hardy Dam Pond near Big Prairie. The park runs across the tall embankments that overlook the 4,000-acre lake, which is formed by the damming of the Muskegon River. The park is a favorite stop for campers because of the large and secluded sites in the campground. Fishing for salmon and trout is a favorite pastime, and if you are here in the fall, you will love the autumnal colors as you hike on the many paths in this area of the state.
William Mitchell State Park
William Mitchell State Park covers 334 acres inside the city limits of Cadillac in north-central Michigan. It is between Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac and offers lots of boating fun. While at the park, you can fish, swim and boat around the lakes and appreciate the historic canal inside the park that connects the two lakes. Depending on the season, there are various festivals and events that take place locally, such as the Snowmobile Festival, the Northern District Fair, an Art Festival and a Free Fishing Weekend family event. You can also hunt on nearby U.S. Forest Service and state forest lands nearby.
Petoskey State Park
When you near your destination city of Petoskey, you may want to take a day or two to explore Petoskey State Park. The park is located just 3 miles north of Petoskey on Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan and has 303 acres that include a beautiful sandy beach on the bay. There are two modern campgrounds in the park where you can stay while enjoying fishing, water skiing and riding Jet Skis on the water. There are also several small inland lakes that are fun to explore. The Oden Fish Hatchery is close to the park and promotes educating the public on how brown and brook trout are raised.
You will enjoy stopping and seeing some of these fun and interesting places that are within easy distance from your Grand Rapids to Petoskey, MI, road trip.
GT Butterfly House & Bug Zoo
What's not to like about butterflies and bugs? You can see myriads of these small insects up close and personal in the city of Williamsburg. The zoo serves to entertain and educate, and you and your family will enjoy your time here.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park was instituted in the early 1990s by the Meijer family, founders of a Midwestern department store chain. This Grand Rapids museum contains a permanent collection of 200 works of art, including several outdoor exhibits that are linked by nature trails. Besides the permanent exhibits, there are annual temporary exhibits throughout the year. You will love the various themed gardens, like a Japanese garden, a children's garden and a 1930s farm garden. There is also a five-story tropical conservatory house of exotic plants.
State Capitol in Lansing
The State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, is an interesting building to visit and contains beautiful architectural aspects and informative displays on the history of the state. You can also learn about the workings of the government.
The Mackinac Bridge
The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas as it spans the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan. The bridge is 26,372 feet long and is the longest suspension bridge between points in the Western Hemisphere.
There are several cities that lie along your road trip itinerary from Grand Rapids to Petoskey, MI. Each of these places has much that is worthwhile and are charming places to visit, besides being close to fun places to see along your route. Many of these cities have convenient dump stations located close by at campgrounds and other sites.
Reed City is the county seat of Osceola County and is a small town with a small-town feel. However, there are plenty of restaurants, shops, entertainment options and service providers to fit all your needs. The city is known as "Michigan's Crossroads," and there are multiple scenic roads, bike paths and nature trails in the area. There is a covered bridge over the Hersey River that makes for an interesting trip to see. If you are looking for a campground where you can stay, Whispering Oaks Campground has plenty of amenities and is centrally located.
Cadillac is located in central Michigan and is close to many natural, historical and entertaining sites. Lake Mitchell and Cadillac Lake are both next to the city, and there are several national and state preserves near the city as well. Inside the city, you will find museums, plenty of interesting shops and even a neat sound garden with musical instruments to play. William Mitchell State Park has a campground and is a great place to stay while enjoying the lake and the surrounding areas.
The city of Mancelona is a wonderful place to visit during any time of the year. You can visit any number of scenic overlooks on the road here, and they offer spectacular views in the fall. During the winter, snowmobiling and snow skiing are favorite pastimes. In the spring, maple syrup is in production, and the summer draws golfers to the golf courses and swimmers to Lake Wetzel. Whispering Pines RV Resort & Campground has all the features and amenities that make for a great camping experience and is conveniently located in Mancelona.
Your route from Grand Rapids to Petoskey is a short drive of around three hours, but if you have time to take a few days or a week on the road, then you can stretch it out and make this a true road trip. Michigan is full of natural beauty, and your destination city of Petoskey is next to Lake Michigan and all the activities that are available there. An RV rental will let you soak up the majesty of Michigan in comfort, in any season.