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State Bucket List: Michigan

10. Sleeping Bear Dunes

10. Sleeping Bear Dunes

Empire

A Good Morning America poll named Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore the "Most Beautiful Place in America" in 2011. The "Third Coast" area is a great place to enjoy nature, from fishing and swimming on Lake Michigan to skiing the trails in the winter. There's no shortage of ways to enjoy the scenic beauty here.

(image via share_the_experience)

9. Tulip Time Festival

9. Tulip Time Festival

Holland

Tulips have long been associated with the Dutch—there's even a swirl-colored mutation called the "Rembrandt tulip"so it's no surprise that the flower is celebrated here in a town called Holland. The flower that once inspired a massive global craze is in full bloom and on display here in May. In addition to the nearly 4.5 million tulips, the festival has parades, Dutch dancing, and other celebrations of the town's Dutch heritage.

(image via healthiermi, CC)

8. Eat a Coney at Duly's Place

8. Eat a Coney at Duly's Place

Detroit

To call Duly's lunch counter service a "throwback" is a little misleading since the place has actually been here since 1921. And while the name "coney" definitely suggests a place that's nowhere near here, hot dogs are a deeply-ingrained part of Detroit's food scene. While the most heated Detroit coney rivalry rages between American and Lafayette, Duly's fans—which count Anthony Bourdain among them—would rather sit on the sidelines enjoying their superior dogs than enter the vocal fray.

(image via jessboroniec)

7. Throw an Octopus During a Red Wings Playoff Game

7. Throw an Octopus During a Red Wings Playoff Game

Detroit

Back in 1952, when the NHL was smaller and you only needed eight wins to nab the Stanley cup, a couple of fans hurled an octopus into the rink in a supposedly-symbolic gesture. The practice is so widespread there's an etiquette to doing it now, and when the Red Wings are in town, local seafood markets start asking for ID before they sell you an octopus.

(image via danglerz TV)

6. Grab a Paczki

6. Grab a Paczki

Hamtramck

Hamtramck is a town rich in diversity, but its Polish history runs deep and is still an enormous part of the town's DNA. Of course, there's no better way to celebrate diversity than by eating awesome things, and now is no exception. The paczki is a traditional Polish pastry—similar to a donut. Donut fans may recognize some of the toppings and fillings, but paczki dough is actually even richer than a traditional donut.

(image via jterlaak)

5. Isle Royale National Park

5. Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale isn't going to be your all-inclusive island getaway. This is a place to appreciate nature as it was made. You can reach the island by ferry (the winter hiatus usually lets up in April). Once you're there, you'll find incredible places to backpack, hike, scuba dive, and canoe among moose, wolves, and more.

(image via rtdphotography, CC)

4. Drive the Black River Scenic Byway

4. Drive the Black River Scenic Byway

As you might imagine from the name, the Black River Scenic Byway runs along the Black River through the Ottawa National Forest. The byway offers plenty of natural beauty, including five sets of waterfalls. The foliage is incredible in the fall. When it's snowing during winter, you're near Big Powderhorn Mountain, for skiing, and Copper Peak, the smallest ski flying hill in the world.

(image via andrealeighx3)

3. Attend a Michigan Home Football Game

3. Attend a Michigan Home Football Game

Ann Arbor

The Michigan Wolverines are an American institution. They first started playing in 1879 and joined the Big Ten Conference at its inception over 120 years ago. They were the winners of the first bowl game ever played. Their 1934 MVP was President Gerald Ford. The point here is that if you like football at all, you should put aside whatever rivalry you may feel towards this team and go see them play at home, which also happens to be the second largest stadium in the world.

(image via scrapstothefuture, CC)

2. Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

2.  Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Grand Rapids

The Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park are 158 acres of natural and man-made beauty. Honestly, either the garden or the sculpture park alone would be worth traveling to Grand Rapids to see. The conservatory has tropical plants from around the world. The sculpture park includes works by masters like Rodin and Degas in addition to new works by rising artists. All in all, the whole park is a must-see.

(image via jopoe, CC)

1. Cross the Mackinac Bridge to the U.P.

1. Cross the Mackinac Bridge to the U.P.

Mackinaw City and St. Ignace

The Upper Peninsula is definitely part of Michigan, but it's got a strong culture all its own. From the prevalent logging industry to a strong Finnish heritage, U.P. has such a strong sense of identity that a statehood initiative floats around every couple of decades or so. There's plenty to do here, from skiing to hiking to Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel, and the peninsula was named as one of ShermanTravel's top 10 destinations in the world.

(image via katerha, CC)