Cruising Michigan via EV: 3 Must-Do Road Trips
By Amy S. Eckert for Michigan.org August 11, 2023
Explore Michigan’s largest city center in Detroit, and trace the edges of the state’s Thumb. Take in the rainbow sherbet glow of a Lake Michigan sunset from Michigan’s charming beach towns, climb a century-old lighthouse and shoot Instagram-worthy pics of the Mackinac Bridge.
You’ll find more than 1,000 EV charging stations across Michigan, with more online every day thanks to a recent investment of more than $20 billion in the clean energy sector. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Planning an EV Road Trip in Michigan, then hit the road for one of these must-do EV road trips.
Road Trip 1: Detroit to Tawas City (310 miles)
Stop #1: Detroit
- Begin your Michigan EV road trip in the Motor City, where the American automobile was born and where its green alternative is being built today. Overnight at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center located on the city’s Riverwalk with public art, colorful flowerbeds and a Great Lakes-themed carousel. Plug in at the Marriott’s charging station, then explore the downtown sustainably, on foot, via the People Mover or the QLine. Or head to Belle Isle, where you can plug in your EV in the Nature Center parking lot while you hike the island’s trails or visit its lighthouse.
- Head to Beacon Park for people-watching and dining at Lumen or SavannahBlue, with easy access to EV chargers.
Stop #2: Port Huron
- Once home to a leader in American electrification, Thomas Edison, visitors can learn about the inventor at the Thomas Edison Depot Museum near Port Huron’s sparkling waterfront. Admire the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse near Freighters restaurant, where Great Lakes ships sail past the dining room. The restaurant is attached to the DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron, with a bank of EV chargers in the parking.
- Charge up overnight at the charming St. Clair Inn. The century-old property looks out over the St. Clair River and offers easy access to standard chargers.
Stop #3: Bay City
- Drive around Michigan’s Thumb, through the town of Bay City, with its fine antique shops and independent restaurants like Old City Hall and Gatsby’s Seafood & Steakhouse.
- Just north of town, EV chargers within Bay City State Park allow you to charge up while you walk the beach.
- Charge up in Wenonah Park while you take in a show at the Delta College Planetarium or Bay City’s State Theatre. Or plug in overnight. Wenonah Park sits across the street from the DoubleTree by Hilton Bay City Riverfront.
Stop #4: Tawas City
- Drive along Lake Huron, past farmers markets and through fresh pine forests, to Tawas City. Admire the sunrise, skip stones in Tawas Bay, and visit Tawas Point State Park—known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”—to see one of Michigan’s iconic lighthouses.
- Dig into a hearty omelet, a burger or fish ‘n’ chips for breakfast or lunch at Augie’s on the Bay. Salads, burgers, steak and seafood are on the menu at the Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery. Both restaurants overlook Tawas Bay and lie an easy walk from Shoreline Park, where you can charge up your EV.
Road Trip 2: Holland to Ludington (95 miles)
Stop #1: Holland
- Home to an 18th-century Dutch windmill, America’s only wooden shoe and Delft factory and six million tulips, Holland is synonymous with Dutch heritage. The city is also synonymous with clean energy, offering plenty of EV charging locations.
- Overnight at CityFlats Hotel. Once you’ve plugged in, you can explore downtown boutiques and dine at New Holland Brewing, Butch’s or Hops, all accessible by foot or e-bike (rented from the hotel’s front desk).
- Holland’s beaches and its iconic red lighthouse are accessible at Holland State Park, where you’ll also find a charging station.
Stop #2: Muskegon
- Muskegon promises its own Lake Michigan fun, with 26 miles of beaches, including Pere Marquette Park, which offers its own EV station. Cultural attractions are worth visiting, including the Muskegon Museum of Art, the Hackley & Hume Historic Homes and the Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts, all of which are near downtown charging stations.
- Overnight at the Delta Hotel Marriot Muskegon Downtown and choose from a range of dining options: Unruly Brewing, 18th Amendment Spirits or The Lake House, all of which are near downtown chargers.
Stop #3: Ludington
- Home to another stretch of Lake Michigan beach, Ludington State Park, Ludington draws visitors with fishing, hiking and a beautiful lighthouse. Overnight at the Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast, an elegant 1905 inn with fine antiques, thick down comforters, a gourmet breakfast and EV chargers.
- The inn sits an easy walk from Stearns Park, with its beautiful Lake Michigan beach, and Waterfront Park, with public art and an amphitheater. Dine at Jamesport Brewing, The Q Smokehouse or Crown and Cork, all of which are near downtown chargers.
Road Trip 3: Traverse City to Mackinaw City (105 miles)
Stop #1: Traverse City
- Travelers love this Lake Michigan resort town known for golden beaches, miles of bike and cross-country trails, and some of Michigan’s finest wines.
- Overnight at the Park Place Hotel downtown, an easy walk from numerous shopping and dining hotspots as well as ample EV charging stations. Dining favorites in Traverse City include Amical, Red Ginger and the Grand Traverse Pie Company, all near charging stations located downtown and at the Clinch Park beach.
Stop #2: Charlevoix
- Follow the winding Lake Michigan shoreline, past the lake towns of Elk Rapids and Torch Lake, to reach Charlevoix, famous for a resort atmosphere and the mushroom houses designed by Earl Young.
- Overnight at The Earl of Charlevoix hotel, close to dining and boutique shopping. The hotel includes a bank of EV chargers, as does downtown.
- When dinnertime rolls around, check out the Weathervane Restaurant (another Earl Young design), The Villager or Harwood Gold, a café run by a maple sugarbush.
Stop #3: Mackinaw City
- Wrap up your Michigan EV road trip in Mackinaw City, home to some of the state’s most iconic landmarks, including the Mackinac Bridge and Colonial Fort Michilimackinac.
- Overnight at the Best Western Dockside Waterfront or the Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront Hotels to be near the Lake Huron shore, ferry docks to Mackinac Island, and EV charging stations.
- Mackinaw City dining focuses on casual meals and family favorites. Fill up at the Dixie Saloon or Scalawags Whitefish, both an easy walk from waterfront attractions, souvenir shops and downtown chargers.