For the past week, my husband, Dan, and I have been preparing for our seasonal move to the northeastern woods of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Since we've been making this springtime journey for the past six years, you'd think we'd be used to the routine by now, but every trip seems to pose its own challenges. This year, for instance, we had to pack for the road while simultaneously vacating our French Quarter apartment (due to an unfortunate transfer of the building's ownership). So, despite facing scary rainstorms and traffic snarls on the road yesterday and today, Dan and I are both pleased to have the stress of moving behind us. Though we're both saddened by the prospect of being away from the American South – particularly our beloved New Orleans – for the next four months or so, I confess that we're each thrilled to be headed to our equally lovable Big Bear Lake – a peaceful, cooler alternative to the never-ending craziness and overbearing humidity of the French Quarter.
Given how much we both love Michigan , I admit that I'm often surprised by others' negative opinions of it. Even though I've authored two editions of Moon Michigan , for instance, my father still wonders what Michigan has to offer beyond Detroit. Well, at the risk of disparaging the Motor City , Michigan has a lot of attributes going for it – from nostalgic villages to expansive forests to thousands of scenic lakes, not to mention the impressive coastline that inspired one of its nicknames: the Great Lakes State.
Over the past few years of writing this blog, I've actually highlighted quite a slew of Michigan's most popular events and attractions, including the National Cherry Festival , Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores , the wineries of the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas , the Bavarian village of Frankenmuth , the Grand Traverse Lighthouse , Saugatuck's Art Coast , the Dutch town of Holland , and, most recently, the state's top beaches . But that's not all you'll find in this amazingly diverse place.
So, Dad, if you're listening, here are five more awesome reasons to visit Michigan this summer:
The Henry Ford:  At this one-of-a-kind complex in Dearborn, visitors can view Henry Ford’s childhood home, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, President Kennedy’s limousine, Rosa Parks’ bus, and a working 19th-century farm, among other enlightening exhibits. From here, you can also hitch a ride to the Ford truck assembly plant for an informative walking tour.
Woodward Dream Cruise:  Begun in 1995 as a small fundraiser for the Ferndale community, this annual mid-August parade down Woodward Avenue, from Ferndale to Pontiac, has become the world’s largest one-day automotive event, luring over 1 million people and more than 40,000 classic cars from around the globe.
Air Zoo:  Devoted to aviation and space exploration, this enormous, family-friendly complex in Kalamazoo invites visitors to explore an incredible assortment of interactive exhibits and historic displays, including flight simulators, rare aircraft, astronaut artifacts, and a pseudo-space walk.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum:  Unlike most presidential libraries, President Ford’s is divided into two separate components: an extensive library in Ann Arbor and a museum in Grand Rapids. In addition to celebrating the lives of President Ford and his wife, the museum offers temporary exhibits from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives.
Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country:  Several wineries and tasting rooms, extending from Union Pier to Fennville, have long lured wine connoisseurs to the southwestern corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Award-winners include the Tabor Hill Winery near Buchanan, The Round Barn Winery in Baroda, and Warner Vineyards in Paw Paw.
I hope that these ideas have whetted your appetite for the Great Lakes State. For even more reasons to visit Michigan during the mild summer months, stay tuned for my next post .
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of wine grapes © 2012 Daniel Martone / Text © 2012 Laura Martone
Laura Martone is Moon’s American Nomad  and the author of Moon Michigan , Moon Florida Keys , Moon Baja RV Camping , and the upcoming Moon New Orleans , which will be published in September 2012.