The Michigan Bucket List: 50 Things to Do Before You Die

So there you are sitting on your deathbed, your life flashing before your eyes, a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel, and as you move closer to that light, a figure begins to emerge, and you ask in a hopeful tone, "God? Is that you? Is this heaven?" But it’s not. Not at all. It’s us. Thrillist. And we’ve been sent to show you all the things you should have done in Michigan before you died.

So we give you this list, and send you back to earth where you wake up in a cold sweat, relieved to find it was all a dream... and yet... it seemed so real. You check your phone, and sure enough, there, in your browser, is THIS. VERY. LIST. Maybe you were reading it before you fell asleep, or maybe it wasn’t really a dream at all?! Either way, you'll want to start knocking this list out...


1. Spend a day on Belle Isle

Between the conservatory, the aquarium, the Nature Zoo, and the swimming beach, it really won’t be that hard to spend a full day here. It ain’t called the gem of Detroit for nothing.

2. Climb Sleeping Bear Dunes

Kick off your shoes, get your feet nice and sandy, and look out over the mighty Michigan. It’s a rite of passage. 

3. Bike Mackinac Island then eat as much fudge as possible

Like they say, once you’ve biked eight miles, you deserve fudge.

Jeff Waraniak/Thrillist

4. Choose your coney

American, Lafayette, or other. But probably Lafayette.

5. Snowmobile Up North

When you live in the state with the third most-registered snowmobiles in the country, you kind of have to.

6. Eat at Buddy’s

Square, delicious, Detroit pizza is the future.

7. Drink Oberon on Oberon Day

Even if you’re not a fan of Bell’s, wheat ales, or craft beer, you can at least pretend for a day. Actually, if you’re not a fan of any of those things, feel free to stay home.

8. Join in on a Slow Roll

Because there’s no better way to get to know Detroit and the people in it.


9. Swim in a Great Lake

But really you should go for all five.

10. Spend an entire day on a lake

It can be a Great Lake or it can be a smaller, inland lake with nothing more than a floaty and a brew; boats can merely be a bonus. Just do nothing but lake all day.

11. Be there for Opening Day

You don’t have to like baseball, you just have to like a party.

Detroit Red Wings

12. Throw an octopus on the ice at the Joe

Only one season left to do this one. Throwing one on the rink-yet-to-be named will also be acceptable.

13. Spend Thanksgiving at a Lions game

Win or lose, there will still be turkey.

14. Dig Grand Rapids during ArtPrize

A little art, a little Grand Rapids, probably a little beer. You won’t be disappointed.

15. Drink and eat at Founders

According to our own highly scientific study conducted last year, it’s the top craft brewery in Michigan. According to us this year, it’s still very, very good.


16. Attend a game at the Big House

Sorry Sparty, but 100,000+ capacity > 75,000+ capacity

17. Make the journey to Isle Royale

It’s one of the least visited National Parks, and it’s the only one in Michigan. Also, there are moose.

Electric Forest

18. Get weird at Electric Forest

Bright lights and electronic music in the forest. Good combo.

19. Get weird at Movement

Bright lights and electronic music in the city. Also good combo.

20. Climb a lighthouse

Pick a lighthouse. Any lighthouse... well, unless you’re really into that kind of thing, then pick several.

21. Pick and eat fresh morels

You know, like a real hunter-gatherer! Just make sure they’re actually morels.

22. Find a Petoskey stone

Because buying one is cheating.

Campus Martius Park

23. Skate at Campus Martius

Don’t be deterred by the overly long line. You only to get to freeze your keister off for this once a year.

24. Buy some goodies at Eastern Market

You have a lot of Saturdays to live. Set aside at least one of them for Eastern Market.

25. Get sick, drink Vernors

Don’t, like, deliberately get sick, but if you are sick, let Mr. Vernor’s sweet concoction cure what ails you.

Sanders Candy

26. Deliberately get sick by eating too much Sanders fudge, bumpy cake, or ice cream

Also, it’s not Saunders, it’s Sanders, go ahead and ask them.

27. Eat at a pop-up

Your Instagram shots always have the most cache coming from a pop-up.

Jeff Waraniak/Thrillist

28. Eat a paczki in Hamtramck

A) because Hamtown’s got the paczki game on lock and B) once you go outside Michigan, if you say "paczki," you might as well be speaking Polish or something.

29. Get a massive sandwich at Zingerman’s

Even if you "don’t like sandwiches" or think Zingerman’s is "too expensive," you still have to eat one.

30. Go for Mexican in Southwest Detroit

This is the closest you’re going to get to authentic Mexican without going to actual Mexico.

31. Hang out at the Dream Cruise

Michigan. Motor City. Woodward. Cars are a big deal here, and you should learn to love them.

32. Tour the Ford Rouge Factory

If you’re a Michigander, you should see how cars are made. Simple as that.

33. Attend the North American International Auto Show

Again, cars. Can’t stress this enough.

34. Convince someone to visit Detroit

Whether they’re from another city, another state, or another country, there’s probably someone who could use a little eye-opener.

The Heidelberg Project

35. Explore the Heidelberg Project

It’s folk art at its finest.

36. See Detroit from the top of the RenCen

It’s the tallest building in Michigan, which means it also affords the best view of Detroit; Windsor; and everything the light touches, Simba.

37. Appreciate history at the Henry Ford

They’ve got the limo in which Kennedy was killed, the chair in which Lincoln was shot, and plenty of more artifacts that have nothing to do with people dying.


38. Spend a day at the DIA

It holds some gems, man. It holds some gems.

39. Appreciate Detroit’s musical legacy at the Motown Museum

Where else can you stand in the footsteps of the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, and the Miracles?

40. Warm up with cider and donuts at a cider mill

Pretty much your top priority come fall.

41. Camp, hike, or kayak at Pictured Rocks

Or you can just take pictures or whatever.

42. Hike the Porcupine Mountains

"Mountains" may be used liberally here, but the Porkies afford some of the best backwoods adventures in the state.

43. Go to Hell (Hell, Michigan)

Do this solely to make the stupid, but necessary jokes.


44. Cross the Mackinac Bridge

Typically, yoopers and trolls like to stay in their own peninsulas, but both have their merits, we swear.

45. Hop the border into Canada

As The Simpsons once put it, Canada is America Junior, but it’s still worth paying a visit, if only to get some maple syrup and hear a few "eh"s.

46. Buy a Michigan oven mitt mitten

No home is complete without one.

47. Drive up M-22 and get a sticker that demonstrates you drove up M-22

It’s the easiest way to identify that you drove up M-22.


48. See a show at the Fox

You know who else has played at the Fox? Elvis, Sinatra, and a whole slew of Motown stars. Also, it’s a damn good-looking theatre.

49. Just like, hang out at Hash Bash, man

The sights, the sounds, the smells... they’re one of a kind.

50. Learn how to play euchre

And know the tingle down your spine when you look at your hand and think, "Wait, I could go alone."

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