Michigan’s Heartland  is an enormous place, extending from the Indiana border to M-20, near the center of the Lower Peninsula; it’s bordered on the eastern side by Ann Arbor  and Midland , and on the western side by Kalamazoo  and Grand Rapids . Given its size, what you’re able to see depends on your schedule; likewise, your interests will determine how long you plan to linger in the Heartland.
If you only intend to visit the area’s major cities, like Lansing  and Battle Creek , you should put aside about five days. You’ll need at least 10 days, however, if you also want to explore the region’s outdoor attractions and smaller towns like Chelsea , Marshall , and Mount Pleasant .
Reaching the Heartland is easy. Given the presence of several major towns and cities, it’s possible to get here by plane, train, or bus. The region has several commercial airports, in or near places like Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Midland , and nearby Flint and Detroit . Amtrak and Greyhound both offer routes to Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, East Lansing, Jackson , Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids.
Needless to say, though, the Heartland is not a compact region, so, despite the presence of several public transit systems, having a car is a must—whether you bring your own or rent one in an airport. Major highways and interstates—such as U.S. 23, U.S. 127, U.S. 131, I-69, I-75, I-94, and I-96—make it a snap to get from one end of the Heartland to the other—if you have the time.
The good news is that, save for the Heartland’s  major museums, annual festivals, and college football games, this centralized region isn’t as much of a draw for tourists as coastal locales like Saugatuck, Holland, and Traverse City. So, crowds are often less of a problem here—unless, of course, you simply hate big cities in general.
For more information about Michigan’s Heartland, consult Travel Michigan (800/644-2489, www.michigan.org ) or the West Michigan Tourist Association (741 Kenmoor Ave., Ste. E, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, 800/442-2084, www.wmta.org ).