Travel to Michigan – Episode 236

categories: USA Travel


The Amateur Traveler talks to Erik Smith about his home state of Michigan.

Erik has been on the show twice before talking about National Parks but this time he tells us about the beautiful state of Michigan.

While Erik is from the Detroit area and describes some of its museums and other attractions what he really recommends is the west coast of Michigan with its sand dunes and sunsets, Traverse City with its boating, and the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula.

He does manage to work some national parks (Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks and Isle Royale) and state parks into the conversation.

We also talk about the European-style of Ann Arbor, the quirks of John Harvey Kellogg and the unusual location of Edison’s New Jersey lab (moved by Henry Ford to Michigan).

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

Erik’s Travel Blog
Official Michigan Tourism site
Henry Ford Museum
Greenfield Village
Motown Museum
Detroit People Mover
Detroit Institute of Arts
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
GM Renaissance Center
Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
Left Foot Charley Winery
Chateau Grand Traverse Winery
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Great Lakes
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Keweenaw National Historical Park
Porcupine Mountains State Park
Isle Royale National Park
Soaring Eagle Casino
Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island Grand Hotel
John Harvey Kellogg


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Internet Resources

SmugMug photo galleries (save $5)
new Amateur Traveler photo gallery


Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest – win a trip to greece or a portable photo printer
agagoga comments on Travel to Hong Kong – Amateur Traveler Episode 233
Egypt Photo Tour – keep July 8th in mind

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

14 Responses to “Travel to Michigan – Episode 236”



i agree – living in michigan is GREAT! i love the sunset coast – i wrote an article for hit the beach about the 5 top insider’s beaches on the sunset coast:’s-guide-to-the-top-5-beaches-on-michigan’s-sunset-coast/

and he’s right about traverse – it is gorgeous up there! if you head to my north, you can download ten places not to miss at the sleeping bear dunes:

thanks for featuring our beautiful state!



Where is the pic from in Michigan?



The waterfall is Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Jim Collison


Love that my home state is finally getting featured! (it’s funny… I actually considered volunteering to be interviewed on travel in Michigan since I used to work for the state tourism office, Travel Michigan, and now am wrapping up a Ph.D. in tourism studies). Michigan certainly has a challenge in getting folks to visit since you can’t drive through Michigan on your way to someplace else (usually). Living on two peninsulas is great, but it does restrict access somewhat.

At any rate, I’d love to see the official State of Michigan tourism web site added to the list of links above: Since Michigan is a pretty big place, there’s much more to see than what can be covered in a single podcast episode. The official site can help fill in those gaps.

Thanks Chris (and Erik) for covering our lovely state. Hopefully we’ll see a few more Amateur Traveler listeners passing stopping by.



Sure Jim, of course I would also love to see the Amateur Traveler added on a list of links from the official State of Michigan site 🙂

Jim Collison


Hahaha… I can try, but I have a feeling I might not get anywhere (it’s now been 10 years since I last worked for Travel Michigan). Still, nice to see the official site added in.

Off topic side note: you asked a while back if Amateur Traveler had ever directly invoked excursions in your listeners. I’ve been meaning to mention that your episode on Sweden was the sole impetus for my wife and I to spend our 10th wedding anniversary traveling the Swedish countryside in June, 2008. We were sure to check out some of the highlights mentioned in the episode (the warship Vasa and the Skansen museum) – and since our anniversary landed at right time of the year – headed to Leksand for the annual Midsommar festivities. We wouldn’t have even considered going to Sweden if it hadn’t been for the Amateur Traveler, and we got the anniversary trip of a lifetime as a result. Thanks, Chris, for the great work you put into the show.



Very cool Jim!

tom lohrmann


Michigan is good. Summer is great.

You should have talked about kalamazoo’s AirZoo. it’s a great place for aviation nuts.



Yes….because Detroit is scary and everyone should RUN AWAY! There is indeed a lot of Michigan to be enjoyed. Detroit also deserves more than the short shrift that your guest gave it. The Detroit Institue of Arts, Detroit Symphony, CPop Gallery, the close proximity to Windsor, ON….Casinos…

Erik Smith says “Detroit area”, but clearly he’s a suburb boy.

I bet he locks his car doors when he approaches red lights, too.

Turned this episode off halfway through.

Erik Smith



Crime statistics are proof that Detroit is a dangerous place. I’ve been to almost every major city in the US and few have as little to do as Detroit. I’m proud to be from this area but it’s a fact- Detroit has a long way to go to be a tourist destination.

The podcast was called “Travel to Michigan” and almost everyone who knows Michigan agrees that the true highlights of this state are outside the Detroit area.

The comment of “I bet he locks his car doors when he approaches red lights, too” and the comment about being a suburban boy are ignorant and blatantly racist. You really don’t know me at all, and passing judgements like that helps no one.



I did not read that comment as racist, but I would say that yes I probably would lock my car doors driving through any of the following cities:

FBI’s Top 10 for Murder Frequency

1) New Orleans, La. – 57 0r 64 per 100,000 people
2) St. Louis, Mo. – 47 per 100,000 people
3) Baltimore, Md. – 37 per 100,000 people
4) Birmingham, Ala. – 36 per 100,000 people
5) Jackson, Miss. – 36 per 100,000 people
6) Detroit, Mich. – 34 per 100,000 people
7) Baton Rouge, La. – 30 per 100,000 people
8) Oakland, Calif. – 29 per 100,000 people
9) Flint, Mich. – 28 per 100,000 people
10) Richmond, Calif. – 27 per 100,000 people

That does not mean I would not go to these cities, but sure I would use some caution. I was most surprised by St Louis being #2 on this list.



The St. Louis statistics that every says shame shame are always for the 61 square mile city proper, not the metro area. If you used the stats for the equivalent areas in most cities, they wouldn’t look good either. Detroit and now New Orleans show up so bad because Detroit’s been in economic decline since the 80’s (as has Flint, see Roger and Me) and New Orleans still recovering from the hurricanes and now BP. St. Louis City proper has had a similar neglet in investment. Oh, and Baltimore’s problems are well told in narrative form in The Wire.

Katie Hammel


I was born in Detroit, grew up in the burbs, and then moved back downtown (yes, to downtown Detroit) to live for several years after college. I go back to visit often and while I will freely admit that Detroit has its problems, I have to disagree with the assessment that “Michigan starts outside of Detroit” and that “the real action happens in the suburbs.” No, Detroit will never be a major tourist destination, but for those interested in American history (and not just the cars) and who love underrated, overlooked and underdog places, Detroit has a lot to offer.

There is a great mix of cultures there (with excellent Greek, Mexican, Polish and Middle Eastern options for food), one of the best art museums in the country, so many independent theatres, and a lively art and music scene. It’s not the kind of city that you’ll just stroll around and pass by a dozen great restaurants, but there are some “hidden gems” that are on par with those found in any other major city.

I also have to roll my eyes anytime someone plays the “I’m not afraid of this dangerous place, I’m from Detroit” card. Really? Were you shot at, carjacked, robbed or victimized in any way in Detroit? In the 4 years I lived downtown and the 6 my husband did, at no point were either of us ever the victim of a crime, nor were any of our many friends (all young professionals, artists, chefs, writers and musicians who all lived downtown). I regularly walked around the city by myself, even at night, and never had any problems. Sure, there were areas I would avoid..but I also wouldn’t walk around the south side of Chicago.

I do get defensive about Detroit, but I will admit that it isn’t really a classic tourist destination. People who want a big cosmopolitan city or who will see an abandoned building and get scared will not enjoy a visit to Detroit. But that doesn’t mean it should be written off entirely. I definitely agree that so much of Michigan is absolutely beautiful, but I think that, in its own way, Detroit is too.



I have been to Detroit and you can bet I locked my doors at a traffic stops.
There are sections just on the outskirts of the downtown area that would nearly pass for post-war Bosnia.

There are indeed a few things to do in the Detroit city limits, but there is certainly very little draw.

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