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30 Spontaneous Day Trips That Are Less Than 3 Hours From Detroit

Adventures in a freshwater paradise!
30 Spontaneous Day Trips That Are Less Than 3 Hours From Detroit

Michigan is a water wonderland. Due to the fact that the state borders four of the Great Lakes, this state is sometimes called the "Great Lakes State."  I like to call it a freshwater paradise.

READ ALSO30 Spontaneous Day Trips That Are Less Than 3 Hours From Cleveland

That said, the state of Michigan is not just full of nature and beautiful freshwater beaches, but it is also home to some very big bustling cities, such as Detroit.  It's definitely a good idea for your physical and mental health to escape the chaos big city every so often. The best part is that you don't even need a full-blown vacation to enjoy some of the most beautiful spots in the region. All you need is a couple of hours and some gas money.

To get you started, here are a few key spots around Detroit that are perfect spontaneous get-away destinations.

Visit the beachy shores of Harrisville State Park

Time from Detroit: 3 hours
Where: Alcona County

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On the shores of Lake Huron lies Harrisville State Park. This is the definition of a hidden gem, especially if you're looking for a beautiful sandy beach to relax on. You will not regret a spontaneous trip to this spot.

Visit the beautiful Belle Isle State Park 

Time from Detroit: 21 minutes
Where: Detroit

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When you need to escape, but don't have the luxury of time, head to the beautiful Belle Isle park right outside Detroit. This 982-acre park is the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon picnic and day of lazing around in the sun.

Hang out by the shores of Point Pelee National Park

Time from Detroit: 1.5 hours
Where: Ontario, Canada

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With such proximity to Canada, of course, some beautiful hidden gems in southern Ontario should be included on this list. Point Pelee is known for its beautiful indigenous birds and butterflies in the summer, and of course, it's beautiful shores and camping!

Visit the cute Bavarian-style town of Frankenmuth

Time from Detroit: 1.5 hours
Where: Saginaw County

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This town is a popular tourist destination because of its cozy, quaint vibe and its Bavarian-style architecture that will make you feel like you've been transported to northern Europe and back. It's also got distinct romantic energy making it a great spot for a romantic day trip with bae.

Explore the emerging food scene in Kalamazoo

Time from Detroit: 2-hours
Where: Kalamazoo County

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This southern Michigan city is not considered a "major" city but is still large by small-town standards. 70,000 people live here now and this city is developing rapidly. And with population growth comes the need for great food and drink. As a result, the "foodie" scene is rich in Kalamazoo. There are tons of great hidden local gems just waiting to be discovered!

Visit the stunning Cuyahoga National Park

Time from Detroit: 2.5 hours
Where: Summit County

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This national park is one of the most popular in the state, and for a good reason. Just take a peek at some of the photos of this place, and you'll quickly understand why it attracts so many nature-lovers from around the state and region.

Visit the charming beachy shores of the town of Saugatuck

Time from Detroit: 3 hours
Where: Allegan County

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Cape Cod vibes in Michigan? Yes, it exists! The town of Saugatuck Michigan is home to one of Conde' Nast Traveler's "Top 25 Beaches in the World." It's also been recognized by USA Today as the "Best Small Coastal Town." Need I say more?

Cool off at Silver Lake State Park

Time from Detroit: 3.5 hours
Where: Mears, MI

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Are you looking for excellent swimming, canoeing, boating, and fishing opportunities? Look no further than this park that boasts 3,000-acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Silver Lake State Park is famous for its four miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and large sandy beach. Yes, please!

Visit the stunning shores of the beautiful Mackinac Island

Time from Detroit: 3 hours
Where: Mackinac Island

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This stunning natural park is on an actual island which also has the same name as the park. Naturally, you can only get to the island by ferry, so a trip here will definitely be a real adventure.

Take a quick trip to Rondeau Provincial Park

Time from Detroit: 2 hours
Where: Ontario, Canada

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Why not hop in a car and drive to Canada for an adventurous weekend? This provincial park is only two-hours away and boasts beautiful shorelines and six miles of sandy beaches on Lake Erie. Can't really ask for better!

Blow off some steam at Lone Wolf Paintball

Time from Detroit: 30-minutes
Where: Clinton Township

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Some people want to go on a different kind of get-away — everybody blows off steam in different ways. A great way to unwind and have some fun is to play paintball. Lone Wolf is the biggest one in the entire state!

Get up close and personal with reptiles at Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

Time from Detroit: 2 hours
Where: Athens, MI

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This spot is for real animal lovers and those who aren't afraid of getting up close and personal with some real reptiles. You can even hold some of them!

Hang out on the beaches of Van Buren State Park

Time from Detroit: 2.5 hour
Where: Hancock County, Ohio

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Beach, beach, and more beach! What more could you want in a state park? This small park on Lake Michigan might be small, but the beach is gorgeous. Just take a look at any of the photos and you will see that it's worth the drive.

Visit the busy city of Ann Arbor

Time from Detroit: 1 hour
Where: Washtenaw County, MI

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This city is home to the University of Michigan. With a population of over 100,000, it's not a small one either. If you're into culinary tourism, drinking, and nightlife, why not explore this bustling city.

Enjoy an escape to the waterfront town of Bay City

Time from Detroit: 2 hours
Where: Bay County

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A cozy waterfront city? Can't ask for much more out of a weekend get-away. With a modest population of 40,000, there are tons of great local restaurants and bars to enjoy in this charming little city.

Visit the beachy shores in the charming town of New Buffalo

Time from Detroit: 3 hours
Where: Berrien County

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Things you can find in this lovely Michigan town: local shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and waterfront views. You can find everything you need for a memorable weekend get-away!

Visit the famous vacation town of Sauble Beach

Time from Detroit: 3.5 hours
Where: Ontario, Canada

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Sauble beach is in Ontario, and it might be slightly longer trek than some spots in Michigan, but trust me when I say it's 100% worth it. Canadians have been coming from all over for decades to visit the stunning sandy beaches of this popular summer resort town. It's also got a distinct party vibe that's perfect if you're looking to have some fun too.

Take a mini vacation at Put-in-Bay

Time from Detroit: 2.5 hours
Where: South Bass Island

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Put-in-Bay is the main town in South Bass Island and is a popular summer destination for tourists looking from an escape from the big city. The boardwalk at Put-in-Bay is all about lakeside charm. Stop at one of the many restaurants for a drink and a bite while you enjoy the view.

Spend the day in the water at Sandusky Bay

Time from Detroit: 1.5 hours
Where: Ohio

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This spot is where you can enjoy the shores of Lake Erie at it's finest. Especially great for people who are looking to go boating. Whether it's canoeing, kayaking, or waterskiing, this is the spot to have fun on the water.

Visit the scenic Holland State Park

Time from Detroit: 2.5 hours
Where: Ottawa County

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This park is known for its sandy beaches, amazing sunsets, and a big red retro-looking lighthouse that makes the perfect backdrop for a photo. You can spend the day on the beach and the night camping. It has all the amenities and places to rent a boat for a full day of fun.

Spend the day at Wild Water Adventure Park

Time from Detroit: 3-hours
Where: Muskegon, MI

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This is the largest water park in the state! An excellent idea for an exciting date or a fun day trip idea for the whole family. Who doesn't love waterslides?

Visit the waterside town of Ludington

Time from Detroit: 3.5 hours
Where: Mason County

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Ludington is one of these small bay-side towns with that easy and friendly energy that makes you think "I should move out of the big city." You'll love exploring all the local shops and eateries this vibrant town has to offer.

Visit the famous Turnip Rock in Port Austin

Time from Detroit: 2.5 hours
Where: Port Austin, MI

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There are so many amazing pictures uploaded to Instagram with the geotag of this spot. It seems like this may be one of the most pictured places in the entire state. For a good reason, the "Turnip Rock" of Lake Huron is a geological formation and looks like something straight out of Mars.

Explore the shores of Pinery Provincial Park

Time from Detroit: 2 hours
Where: Grand Bend, Ontario

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More beaches! But seriously, the ones in Ontario are wonderful. This one is located only two hours from Detroit and is known for its six miles of sandy beach and beautiful trees.

Immerse yourself in greenery For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum

Time from Detroit: 1.5 hours
Where: Burton, MI

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Need a little green and nature in your life but don't have much time? Escape to the For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum for a day. It's close to Detroit and full of beautiful flora and fauna to enjoy. Also, it's very family friendly!

Enjoy classic fall activities at Clearview Orchards

Time from Detroit: 1 hour
Where: Haslett, MI

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Apple and pumpkin picking? Yes, please. this spot is the place to go in Michigan if you're already planning your fall bucket list. They also sell all kinds of great local product like honey, squash, apple juice and lavender bath and beauty care. Sounds like an autumn dream to me!

Take a quick relaxing afternoon off at Lake St. Claire Metro Park

Time from Detroit: 30 minutes
Where: Harrison Township, MI

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This is the closest spot to Detroit that will give you beautiful water, trees, and nature. It's the best place to go if you're looking for an "outdoors" experience but don't like to be in the buggy and humid forest. Enjoy the day with a picnic, swimming, or boating — there's tons to do at this beautiful outdoor playground.

Visit the quiet shores of Lake Erie at Walnut Beach Park

Time from Detroit: 3.5 hours
Where: Ashtabula, OH

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Located on the shores of Lake Erie this quiet park is a great place to enjoy the banks of the lake or go camping for a weekend. They have a whole range of accommodations available to good old fashion tent camping or fully equipped cabins as well.

Do everything there is to do in Cleveland

Time from Detroit: 2.5 hours
Where: Ohio

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Despite what some might have told you, this city is beautiful! Like their official Instagram page says " It’s about time we told them what it is." That said, if your idea of fun is exploring a big city with friends, try visiting Cleveland, you might be pleasantly surprised!

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