Traveling Michigan on a budget

By Jessica Sierocki, photo editor.


The beach at Sleeper State Park in Caseville provides the perfect spot to listen to the waves and watch the sunsets. (Delta Collegiate/File/Jessica Sierocki)


Whether we like to admit it or not, we college students have a wallet tighter than our nerves during finals. But just because our wallets cry, it doesn’t mean that we need to because we can’t afford to do anything or go anywhere in the summer. Michigan is full of cool places to do something adventurous, or to just hang out with friends for the day. Here are five places to put on your summer bucket list that won’t break the bank:


  1. Grand Rapids is a great city to spend the day in, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum in particular is an amazing place to visit. Over 5,000 pieces of artwork, including sculptures, photographs and furniture, are on display at anytime. Not to mention, admission is free if you visit on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays between 5 and 9 p.m. If you can’t make it those days, admission is $8 with your student I.D., which still leaves you enough money to grab a coffee and to stroll the streets of such a great city.
  2. What’s the summer without spending the day at the beach? Thanks to our wonderful geographical locations, there is not a short supply of freshwater and warm sand. Some choices include Sanford Beach, Bay City State park and Sleeper State Park in Caseville. Most of the other beaches in Michigan have free admission. You may have to pay for parking, but if you pack a picnic and bring a bunch of friends, $5 parking shouldn’t be a problem.
  3. Grab a friend, head south to Detroit and spend a day along the 3.5-mile-long riverfront. Walk, rollerblade or longboard your way down under the sun while the Detroit River’s breeze cools you down. It doesn’t cost anything to go on the riverfront, and there are fun destinations along the strip, including various parks and lunchtime stops. If you want to take a break from relaxing, head downtown, where there is a variety of restaurants, museums and festivals all summer long.
  4. Head out to Headlands International Dark Sky Park, which is open all week, 36 days a year, day or night. Located in Mackinaw City, this park allows visitors to get the best view of the night sky, free of charge. See the Milky Way and hundreds of stars and constellations in the clear summer skies. Hike up trails and find the best views on the water to witness astronomical events, like meteor showers, and, if you’re lucky, a chance to see aurora borealis.
  5. If you don’t want to travel too far from home, Dow Gardens, located in Midland, is an affordable way to spend the day. With a student I.D., you can walk the garden pathways for $1, or, if you want to spend more than just your summer days there, you can buy an annual entry pass for $10. The butterfly exhibit is already open, and the gardens get decorated each summer with a special theme. It’s so convenient to stop downtown to get some takeout, find a nice spot in the shade and spend the day, lost in thought, among beautiful blooming flowers.


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