Outdoor Lovers Will Thrive In This Underrated River Town In The Heart Of Michigan

There's nothing quite like the great outdoors, and there's something truly magical about spending time in an underrated gem of a city. If you're looking to get out on the water for a tranquil escape while getting closer and in touch with nature, there's one Michigan town you'll want to add to your radar pronto. Grayling, Michigan, is a river town located in Crawford County. 

The town is small, with a population of less than 2,000 people, but that's simply part of its charm. It's home to several summer festivals, plenty of outdoor activities, and even has some charming nearby cities and towns that are well worth exploring for those who want to see more parts of the midwestern state. Safe to say, if you want a true slice of Americana, are looking for a non-commercialized outdoor town to travelerblog, and want to go where few can say they've been, a visit to Grayling is in order.

What to do in Grayling, Michigan

There's no denying that Grayling's main attractions lie in its natural outdoor experiences. River lovers will especially thrive here. The Au Sable River cuts through the town and is well worth getting out on the water for. Rent a canoe or kayak from local family-run Penrod's AuSable Canoe and Kayak Rentals or Borchers Canoe & Kayak. If you happen to be here in the summertime, make sure to check out the AuSable River Festival or the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon, two of the town's biggest draws. When it's time to dry off, go hiking through Hartwick Pines State Park to take in the sights and smells of Michigan forestry.

Reward yourself after your long day outside with a local brew from Paddle Hard Brewing. For a truly quintessential American breakfast, head to  Grayling Restaurant, a no-frills eatery with some of the best burgers in town. End your day by sleeping at Au Sable Riverview Resort, where you can wake up right on Grayling's best sight: the river itself.

Nearby cities worth exploring

Grayling is inarguably a charming city, but if you have some time to spare, it's worth checking out some other nearby destinations that are equally worth visiting. For one of Michigan's greatest gems, head to nearby Traverse City. Located approximately 50 miles west of Grayling, this Midwest town is especially ideal for wine lovers, with approximately 50 wineries in town. Traverse City also happens to be the cherry capital of the world, so you'll get a chance to try the naturally produced tart treats.

If you go a little further west, you'll find yourself at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The crystal blue waters of Lake Michigan, which are visible from Sleeping Bear Dunes, might make you believe you're in New Zealand or even Hawaii, showing you an entirely different side of just how special Michigan is for water enthusiasts. Sleeping Bear Dunes is especially great for families, with plenty of places to swim, interesting history to learn about, and home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails to take in the Great Lakes.