Have You Been to These Surprisingly Queer Michigan Road Trip Destinations?

Sarah Bricker Hunt

There’s just something about a road trip. You might be venturing out in the same car you use for your daily commute and boring errands, but on a road trip, your whip transforms into a magical chariot, whisking you off to familiar backroads or uncharted territory.

Who knows what gifts the road will present to you — memorable local characters, many a roadside cow to moo at, greasy diner food, colorful conversation with your travel companions...

The best thing about a road trip is the unpredictability.

So, load up on car snacks (pretty sure those are calorie-free on a road trip, so go wild), launch your carefully curated playlist, avert your eyes from the outrageous bill as you fill up your tank, and hit the highway or byway. Here are a few of our favorite, sometimes unexpectedly LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations to consider right here in the Mitten State.

Experience Saugatuck in a new way

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The Dunes Resort holds a special and well-deserved place in LGBTQ+ Michigan history, and it’s always a great destination for a little debauchery and highly spirited fun. If you’re interested in a quieter, more romantic experience, consider Hidden Garden Cottages & Suites, a gay-owned getaway located within walking distance to Lake Michigan and all the leisure and food choices in charming downtown Saugatuck.

Hit the beach and take a stroll in a lake town you’ve probably overlooked

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Despite being an outwardly LGBTQ-friendly lake town, cheerful, welcoming Pentwater seldom makes the list when it comes to queer vacation spots. You’ll find a fantastic, not-too-crowded beach and all the quaint charms of other Lake Michigan towns, including memorable restaurants and several boutiques, most adorned with Pride Flag stickers welcoming passersby at the door. Don’t miss family-friendly Good Stuffs for top-notch diner fare and a veritable museum of kitschy knick-knacks.

Visit your Yooper neighbors

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It’s the road trip your grandparents might have taken for their honeymoon — a trip over the iconic Mackinac Bridge to the land of camo and cheap beer. Don’t let the hunting lodge vibe fool you: the U.P. offers plenty of LGBTQ-friendly gems. Admire the queens jazzing up the thriving drag scene in Marquette or add some “extreme” to your road trip by renting a sea kayak from Keweenaw Adventure Company in Copper Harbor, which welcomes LGBTQ+ clientele to one of the “last places without cell phone reception.”

Motor over to the Motor City 

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While the Detroit area may be more of a staycation for many readers, it’s worth taking a look at a few LGBTQ-friendly spots you may not have on your radar. Consider the gay-owned, super welcoming Hotel Royal Oak Hotel  (check out our feature on this all-inclusive, newly renovated getaway). Academic-minded travelers can spend hours digging through the archives at the Walter P. Reuther Library, which features historical documents focused on Detroit’s rich LGBTQ+ history. Don’t miss Copper House, a lesbian-owned “bud and breakfast” celebrating the LGBTQ+ community while fully embracing Michigan’s (totally legal) recreational pot scene.

This one’s for the ladies

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Head up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to Labry’s Resort for Women, a “wilderness haven” featuring several charming cottages tucked into a pine forest. The resort welcomes single women, couples, kids and pups. Or pull out your camping gear and head to Windover Women’s Resort in Owendale in the heart of Michigan’s “thumb.” The campground features a pool and themed weekends all season long.