The many historical monuments and famous landmarks in Michigan make it an exciting travel destination. With an abundance of alluring lakes, amazing beaches and parks, wildlife refuges, and a wealth of natural landmarks, the state is an attractive place to explore.
Here are 20 famous monuments and landmarks in Michigan to check out during your next trip.
Famous Detroit, Michigan Landmarks
The Spirit of Detroit
The spirit of Detroit is on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. It is a giant, 26-foot bronze statue with a gilded bronze sphere in its left hand and a group of people in its right hand.
The statue was built by Marshall Fredericks and commissioned in 1955. The sphere in its left hand represents God. In contrast, the people on the right represent a strong family unit, stressing the value of human relationships. It has often been regarded as a mascot, and images of it are often used as insignia in many of Detroit city’s public departments.
The Spirit of Detroit is one of the most easily identified monuments in Michigan. It is definitely a must-see if you end up in Detroit.
The Motown Museum
The museum is one of the most famous landmarks in Michigan because of its iconic history. The museum’s popularity is because it was the birthplace of many musical hits and houses the rich history of iconic superstars of the 90s.
The museum was founded by Esther Gordy, the sister of Berry Gordy. Berry established Motown Records, which produced many hit songs and featured iconic superstars like Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross. The museum contains Motown exhibits and apparel like Michael Jackson’s black fedora, other exciting photographs, and memorabilia of the record label.
Suppose you’re looking to take a trip to one of the most famous landmarks in Michigan. In that case, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the preserved legacy of the record label during its golden era of success.
This neighborhood is one the famous landmarks of Michigan because of its history as a thriving commercial and entertainment district, rich with the history of the people that brought it together.
In the early 20th century, several Greek immigrants settled in this region, establishing businesses such as restaurants and coffeehouses. Although these immigrants moved to newer and better neighborhoods as others took their place, they made efforts to preserve the cultural history of Greektown. The first Greek parade on the 4th of July, 1966, was one such move that established the district as Greektown.
Today, several entertainment centers, as well as the well-liked restaurants and coffeehouses it was known for, are still available. A trip to one of the iconic landmarks of Michigan will be rewarded with knowledge of the rich culture of the place, as well as opportunities to explore famous Greek structures there.
Belle Isle Park
You can hardly mention famous landmarks in Michigan without thinking of Belle Isle, an island on the Detroit river. The island features a host of other beautiful landmarks to explore, from lagoons to fountains to a beautiful aquarium.
Belle Isle spans 982 acres of land and features exciting landmarks like the Belle Isle aquarium, a nature center, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, and several other places to explore and have fun. It holds a record as the largest state park in the U.S and is a popular tourist destination.
In addition to learning about the culture and environment, you can have fun sliding down the park’s giant slide, visit the nature zoo, and rent a boat to explore the island and go swimming or hiking. Whatever your choice, the park is inarguably one of the best landmarks in Michigan to take a trip to.
Famous Grand Rapids, Michigan Landmarks
Fish Ladder Park
Fish ladder Park houses one of the famous monuments in Michigan known as the Fish Ladder. The monument is primarily considered an architectural masterpiece but is a handy resource.
Constructed by Joseph Kinnebrew in 1975, the ladder serves as a means to help migrating fish overcome the powerful currents of the Grand River from the dam. The Michigan monument also allows tourists and visitors to watch this exciting process.
The combined experience of watching the migration of varying fish species and being able to join locals and fishermen to catch fish makes it among the resourceful landmarks in Michigan.
The American Horse
This bronze statue is one of the monuments in Michigan with a long history, from the 15th century when the idea was conceived to five centuries later when it became a reality.
In the late 15th century, the Duke of Milan commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to create the biggest bronze horse statue in the world. Da Vinci was only able to create a 24-foot clay model before he had to flee the country during the French revolution. Charles Dent took up the project again during the late 70s but passed away before it became feasible.
The bronze eight-foot tall horse was finally sculpted by Nina Akamu, with Frederik Meijer sponsoring the project, under conditions that the statue would remain in the U.S.
Since its completion in 1999, the horse has become one of the famous landmarks in Michigan.
La Grande Vitesse
The sculpture was created by Alexander Calder in 1969 and has since become a significant symbol in the city.
This monument holds the record for being one of the city’s first publicly sponsored artworks as an initiative to encourage other artistic endeavors. Despite the controversy surrounding its initial design, it now represents a vital part of the city’s artistic prowess. It has been the center of the Grand Rapids Festival of Arts celebration for decades.
The famous Michigan landmark is known as ‘The Calder’ amongst locals. A visit to the sculpture often provides several recreational opportunities and serves as a backdrop for amazing photoshoots. It also has a scale model to help the blind appreciate the sculpture’s magnificence and the plaza is the center of many cultural and festival events.
Beer City Ale Trail
If you’re an avid beer lover, you’ll find this to be one of the most exciting landmarks of Michigan to explore. The trail offers the widest variety of breweries that can be gotten within a square mile.
Beer City Ale trail is home to over 80 breweries. From big-time names in the industry to smaller breweries offering different assortments of beer in Grand Rapids, the city earned the moniker of a beer city.
Additionally, you can tour some of the breweries to discover how your favorite beer is made or enjoy the luxury of hotel beer packages while in the city.
LANDMARKS IN USA
Famous Ann Arbor, Michigan Landmarks
University of Michigan
The university is one of the proud and famous Michigan landmarks. It is embedded with a rich history, aside from its importance as a research university.
The university walls have seen the likes of high-profile figures like Madonna, Larry Page, President Gerald Ford, and other prominent figures since its inception in the early 19th century. Some exciting features of the university include the second largest stadium in the world, a six-mile underground tunnel, and a prominent fraternity, Theta Xi.
The University of Michigan is also home to interesting spots, such as The Diag, the Big House, the Wave Field, a recreation building, and many more. The university is rife with cultural and social history. It is arguably one of the most prominent landmarks in Michigan.
Nickels Arcade is one of the unique landmarks of Michigan, being the last of such structures in the state. It spans 260 feet, connecting State street and Maynard street, and is a popular commercial district.
This is because of the abundance of decades-old retail shops. The arcade has been blessed with a rich history since its inception in 1917. Although it started as a meat market run by the Nickels family, it expanded to include various other retail shops after Tom Nickels redesigned the facility using the known prototype of European arcades.
Everything from tobacco to gift shops to art galleries is present in Nickels Arcade. Visitors to the arcade can explore the variety of vintage shops and stroll on the mosaic-tiled floors with a wide choice of products. Nickels Arcade is definitely among the list of interesting Michigan landmarks to explore when you next visit the town of Ann Arbor.
Also known as The Big House, Michigan stadium makes it to the list of iconic Michigan monuments. The stadium is the largest in the United States and the third largest stadium in the world.
When it was first built, it was only a 72,000-capacity stadium, although it was designed with footings to allow for its expansion. In 1956, a press box was added, increasing its capacity to 101,001.
The stadium has drawn crowds of hundreds of thousands since it became the state’s center for football matches. In addition, it also hosts other important events and sports like Hockey and soccer, thanks to its capacity to accommodate crowds. That is why it has become a significant landmark of Michigan.
Kelsey Museum of Archeology
This archeology museum is on the University of Michigan’s central campus. It is one of the prominent landmarks in Michigan for exploring archeology resources and history.
The museum boasts a large variety of artifacts from the Mediterranean civilization. It also allows students and researchers to explore its resources, sponsors fieldwork, and offers educational programs to the general public.
A museum visit provides opportunities to learn and explore thousands of classical archeology artifacts, learn about the culture and lives of the people in that era, and have fun. Its resourcefulness makes it one of the iconic Michigan landmarks.
Natural Landmarks In Michigan
The waterfall on the middle branch of the Ontonagon river is among the most beautiful natural Michigan landmarks. It spans about 100 feet with a 50-feet drop, giving it a breathtaking view all year round.
The waterfall often attracts tourists and visitors. There’s easy access if you’re planning a trip to the waterfall. A boardwalk over 600 feet leads to several viewing locations and is wheelchair accessible for the disabled. You can also enjoy a day of outdoor recreational activities like a picnic, with resources available at the trailhead.
A trip to Bond Falls will be exciting for lovers of nature. It will leave you in awe of one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Michigan.
Isle Royale is one of the landmarks of Michigan that offers a vast opportunity for hikers, campers, divers, backpackers, and tourists to fully indulge in their adventure-seeking habits.
The island is in a remote location, close to the state’s border with Canada. It boasts beautiful lakes, forests, and certain kinds of wildlife, making it a stunning natural destination. Lodging options on the island could be anything from camping out in tents to sleeping in lodges, depending on individual preferences.
Various recreational activities like canoeing, fishing, hiking, and observing nature add to the island’s overall allure. This provides a rich experience in one of the most famous natural Michigan landmarks.
The Tahquamenon Falls are considered one of the most breathtaking Michigan landmarks, not just because of their scenic beauty but for being the largest waterfall in the state of Michigan.
They encompass a series of waterfalls that empty into Lake Superior. It consists of the more popular upper and lower falls and five small waterfalls surrounding a small island. The upper falls spans over 200 feet with a 48-feet drop, and several hiking trails are available around the lower falls downstream.
The falls are in the Tahquamenon state park, where tourists and visitors can camp, hike, fish, or enjoy a day of sightseeing. During winter, the options of skiing and snowmobiling will add to the overall adventure. The falls are one of the most visited Michigan landmarks and definitely worth adding to your itinerary.
A turnip rock is a small turnip-shaped rock in a shallow water body. It is one of the most fascinating natural landmarks in Michigan.
The Rock houses some trees, and its unique structure makes it a curious sight. It is located a few meters offshore in Lake Huron, and its unique shape is due to continuous wave action on the Rock.
The area is only accessible by water; and since the surrounding land is private property, visits to this natural landmark aren’t as common. Its unique formation, however, qualifies it as one of the special Michigan landmarks.
Other Famous Landmarks In Michigan
Gateway to Freedom International Memorial to the Underground Railroad
This is one of the most famous monuments in Michigan due to its historical significance. The monument features a gateway enclosing six fugitives looking across the Detroit River, where freedom awaited them in Canada.
During the 19th century, many runaway slaves passed through the region to seek refuge in Canada. There was a high risk of being prosecuted by the Fugitive Slave Act, even for free blacks in the Detroit area. Hence, the need to also decamp to Canada rose.
Through the contribution of many black, white, and native American individuals, a movement to fight for the oppressed was created. The railroad conductors also significantly transported thousands of enslaved people and black people to freedom on the other side.
The memorial was sculpted by Edward Dwight, standing in honor of everyone who contributed to the fight against oppression. Its rich history makes it a significant landmark and places it among the famous landmarks in Michigan.
Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation
Located in Dearborn, the museum serves as one of the most popular landmarks in Michigan, attracting millions of visitors every year.
The museum features different attractions like the Henry Ford museum, Greenfield Village, a self-guided tour, and a giant screen experience. It is a tourist’s paradise with thousands of artifacts, such as old presidential vehicles, other historically significant exhibits, and recreational resources.
Be sure to check out some of the key exhibits during your visit, such as the original Rosa Parks bus, Lincoln Chair, Wright Brother’s shop, and the future house. It also features models of steam engines and interesting artifacts used in the past, all preserved by the industrialist Henry Ford.
A trip to this museum will give you a sneak peek into the history of the industrial era and critical historical events and exhibits.
The Soo Locks are one of the most famous landmarks of Michigan, passing up to 10,000 cargo ships each year. They connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron and beyond. This is one of the many things that Michigan is known for.
The locks were built in 1855 and are maintained by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. They have since become a passage for ships from all over the world and provide the perfect sightseeing adventure for boat lovers who frequent the landmark each year.
Visitors can learn about how the Soo Locks work, watch various ships and boats navigate the locks, and appreciate the magnificent architecture behind this landmark. Since it is the most extensive waterway traffic system in the world, it also counts as one of the famous landmarks in Michigan.
Zekelman Holocaust Center
The important history behind this Michigan monument makes it an important and educational place to visit.
The Holocaust Center was initially called the Holocaust Memorial Center. It was first built in 1981 on the campus of a Jewish community after two decades of planning and preparation. The center was later moved to another location when the organization became much more significant and has since drawn millions of visitors worldwide.
People interested in the history of world war II and the stories of the holocaust survivors should not miss a trip to the center. Important exhibits like the boxcar the Nazis used in transporting Jews to the concentration camps are on display.
A constantly burning flame in memory of all the Jewish Victims, an European Jewish Museum that details the life and culture of the pre-war European Jews, and many other essential exhibits are available to explore. You can spend a full day here diving into the important history of the human past.
Discovering Famous Landmarks In Michigan
These are just some of the famous landmarks in Michigan. The state is home to many lakes, natural landscapes, forests, and historically significant monuments, making it a great tourist destination. The vast recreational activities and resources available will make it a trip for the memory books.
The perfect way to discover all of the famous landmarks of Michigan is to take a trip to the state and get immersed in its rich resources, culture, and history. You can experience all the fun facts about Michigan.