Hidden Family Attractions in Michigan

By Bernadette Manaay

My husband and I have been avid campers for years. Now that we have two kids—currently seven and two—we’re ready to camp and explore as a family. Camping has been a great way to discover some hidden attractions around Michigan. Whenever we plan our trips, we include nearby activities for our kids to learn and experience new things and always try to select places that don’t feel too crowded. This year, we checked out a few campgrounds in Michigan and found a few gems perfect for families or eager explorers!

Lewis Adventure Farm & Petting Zoo (New Era, Michigan)

While camping at Double JJ Resort’s campground in Rothbury, MI, last fourth of July, we found a nearby farm with over forty-six attractions for the entire family to enjoy. If you visit, be sure to go early and plan on spending the entire day because there is so much to see and do. There are activities for kids of all ages like the bump-along barrel train rides, pedal carts, barnyard twister, giant slides, a carousel, and mechanical singing chickens—alongside the many live animals. Our family’s favorite was the bird feeding; it was amazing to feel the tiny birds’ feet on your arms as they enjoy their treats. The Lewis Adventure Farm was a unique country experience, perfect for the whole family and animal lovers alike.

Goldrush Waterpark (Rothbury, Michigan)

If your family loves water and slides, Goldrush Waterpark is a must. Just a mile away from Double JJ Resort’s Campground, Goldrush is a great indoor water park with amenities like thrill slides, wave pools, lazy river, water basketball and volleyball, hot tubs, water forts, and the tallest water slide in Western Michigan. We were happily surprised to find that we had the water park practically to ourselves, even on July fourth. And since it’s indoors, it’s a great place for the entire family to enjoy, no matter what the weather forecast looks like.

Captain Mike’s Fun Park (Bridgman, Michigan)

Every year we try to camp in a state park or campground that we haven’t visited before. Camping at Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, MI, didn’t disappoint. After enjoying the stunning sunset over Lake Michigan and making sandcastles in the dunes, we spent a day in Captain Mike’s Fun Park. Just a little over a mile away from our camp, this destination had tons of activities to offer. There were batting cages, bumper boats, bumper cars, go-karts for adults and kids, mini-golf, jump-shot basketball, arcade games, and more. The kids had a blast in this hidden gem.

Shuler Dairy Farms (Baroda, Michigan)

Is your family into new experiences, learning about history, and enjoying some fresh ice cream? Then you should check out Shuler Dairy Farms. Seven miles away from Warren Dunes State Park, this fifth-generation family dairy farm has been owned and operated since the 1870s by the hardworking Shuler family. They offer a great tour of the farm that shows how they milk their cows using a high-tech system, how they maintain a constant, comfortable temperature for the cows in the barn, and how they feed their cows. We got the hands-on experience of milking a cow and enjoyed petting and feeding some three-week-old calves. We finished our visit with some homemade ice cream that our family voted “the smoothest ice cream we ever had!”

Howell Nature Center (Howell, Michigan)

Our last camping trip was at Brighton Recreation Area in Howell, MI. From here, our family checked out Howell Nature Center, which was barely a twenty-minute drive from our campsite. If you’re heading to this nature center, be sure to bring a camera to capture the magical-looking tree surrounded by an abundance of colorful flowers (seriously, it looks like it’s straight from a book!). The nature scape has sensory and sport equipment to trigger a child’s musical interest, exhaust energy, and spark imagination. They also have trails for the entire family to explore while learning about the different native wildlife along the way.

Now that summer is wrapping up, we are already planning for next year and cannot wait to see what other hidden gems we can uncover in our own Mitten State!