Celebrating Memorial Day in Northern Michigan

May 12, 2016
Memorial Day Northern Michigan

In Michigan, Memorial Day is more than just a long weekend. It’s the kickoff for our summer season. As we remember and honor our veterans and fallen heroes, we also celebrate the warmer temperatures and sunshine that come with summer. Here are some of the activities you’ll find Michiganders engaged in on Memorial Day:

Firing up the Grill – All weekend the air is scented with the smoky aroma of food roasting over a fire. We love our grills, smokers and campfires. Steaks, burgers, hot dogs, salmon, whatever your meat of choice is, if you’re eating it on Memorial Day in Michigan, it was probably cooked outside over an open flame.

Camping – Almost every campsite in Michigan has a tent pitched or camper parked on it over Memorial Day weekend. We book the sites months in advance. Usually in January when we’re dreaming of warmer weather. If you want to camp this Memorial Day and don’t have a reservation yet, consider some of the more remote state parks in the Upper Peninsula. They don’t fill up as fast. But hurry and head to the DNR’s website now, before it’s too late!

Canoeing/Kayaking – Come Memorial Day, the water in the Great Lakes and even the small inland lakes is usually too cold for swimming. But we can still get out and enjoy it in a canoe or kayak. The Platte River is one of the most popular destinations. The lower Platte is a gentle flowing stream with easy turns, making it perfect for families and beginners. If you want more of a challenge, take on the swifter Upper Plate. The Honor Trading Post can help outfit you for your day on the river.

Parades, festivals and fireworks – Lots of Michigan towns host events over the weekend. Petoskey’s Memorial Day parade kicks off in downtown at 10am. Mackinaw City has a fireworks display June 28th at dusk over the bay near Municipal Harbor. Also on the 28th, Eastport hosts The Petoskey Stone Festival. Participate in a stone skipping contest, watch a water rescue competition and, of course, hunt for your own Petoskey stones to take home. You can find more Memorial Day activities going on around the state at Michigan.org.

Running – You won’t have to worry about burning off that huge, grilled steak if you go for a run over Memorial Day weekend. There are many runs planned all over the Mitten State that day. The Mackinac Memorial Bridge Run takes you over the bridge and the Straits of Mackinac for 5.06 miles. In Traverse City you can run the Bay Shore Marathon. Head to Charlevoix where the Stafford’s Top of Michigan Community Marathon kicks off, taking you through Bay Harbor, Petoskey and ending in Harbor Springs.

Hiking – If walking is more your style, hit the trails for a Memorial Day hike. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is crisscrossed with trails that follow the water, go through woods and over sand dunes. You’ll find a mix of easy, moderate and difficult hikes. Rangers at the visitor’s center can help you with suggestions, directions and maps.

Boating – Many Michiganders put their boats in the water for the first time over Memorial Day. Floating on The Big Lake is the perfect way to kickoff summer. Don’t have your own boat? You can always rent one at one of the many marinas along Lake Michigan. Near Petoskey try Windjammer and Bear Cove Marinas.

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