20 unique Michigan attractions to travel to and gawk at


It's no secret that Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful sights. The lakes, the rock formations, and lush forests may be the Mitten state's calling card, but we've also got some of the weirdest shit along the way. From kooky roadside attractions (Giant tires? Giant pie plates? Giant Native Americans? Mini Eiffel Towers?), to public art, Christmas fanatics, and an obsession with a makeup-wearing rock band are but some of Michigan's unique and truly baffling attractions.

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The Heidelberg Project
6865 W. Hickory Rd., Hickory Corners; 269-671-5089; gilmorecarmuseum.org
Perhaps one of the most notable roadside attractions in Detroit, The Heidelberg Project remains a fascinating art project-turned-fight against City Hall. Tyree Guyton, who grew up in a poor family with nine siblings in Detroit, was 32 when he decided to use art to combat blight, abandonment, and violence that were consuming his eastside neighborhood. In the 35 years since then, Guyton’s Heidelberg Project has transformed a two-block area into a world-renowned outdoor art installation that attracts 200,000 visitors a year from around the globe. Though some of the properties have been lost to arson and general deterioration, the Heidelberg is still worth the visit if for no other reason than to start a conversation about Detroit, public art, and the impact of blighted neighborhoods. 
Photo by Lee DeVito

The Heidelberg Project

6865 W. Hickory Rd., Hickory Corners; 269-671-5089; gilmorecarmuseum.org

Perhaps one of the most notable roadside attractions in Detroit, The Heidelberg Project remains a fascinating art project-turned-fight against City Hall. Tyree Guyton, who grew up in a poor family with nine siblings in Detroit, was 32 when he decided to use art to combat blight, abandonment, and violence that were consuming his eastside neighborhood. In the 35 years since then, Guyton’s Heidelberg Project has transformed a two-block area into a world-renowned outdoor art installation that attracts 200,000 visitors a year from around the globe. Though some of the properties have been lost to arson and general deterioration, the Heidelberg is still worth the visit if for no other reason than to start a conversation about Detroit, public art, and the impact of blighted neighborhoods.

Photo by Lee DeVito
Monument to KISS
501-599 Chestnut St., Cadillac; kisscadillac.com
We all know about rock band KISS's love of “Detroit Rock City” but … Cadillac, Mich.? Rock heads know the story, but for the uninitiated, the Michigan town's KISStory started in 1974 when the football team at Cadillac High School needed to get hyped for a season that was off to a rocky start. Their coach, Dave Brines, decided to pump tunes by KISS through the locker room. After KISS became the unofficial band of the Cadillac Vikings, the team won its final seven games and, as a result, KISS — as in Gene, Paul, Ace, and Peter — adopted the Vikings as their team. Cool, right? Well, it gets cooler because KISS surprised the students at Cadillac High and performed a homecoming concert in the school's gym. Thus, Cadillac Rock City — and this unique tribute to a face-painted rock band — was born.  
Photo via KISS Cadillac/Facebook

Monument to KISS

501-599 Chestnut St., Cadillac; kisscadillac.com

We all know about rock band KISS's love of “Detroit Rock City” but … Cadillac, Mich.? Rock heads know the story, but for the uninitiated, the Michigan town's KISStory started in 1974 when the football team at Cadillac High School needed to get hyped for a season that was off to a rocky start. Their coach, Dave Brines, decided to pump tunes by KISS through the locker room. After KISS became the unofficial band of the Cadillac Vikings, the team won its final seven games and, as a result, KISS — as in Gene, Paul, Ace, and Peter — adopted the Vikings as their team. Cool, right? Well, it gets cooler because KISS surprised the students at Cadillac High and performed a homecoming concert in the school's gym. Thus, Cadillac Rock City — and this unique tribute to a face-painted rock band — was born.

Photo via KISS Cadillac/Facebook
Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland
25 Christmas Ln., Frankenmuth; 989-652-9931; bronners.com
It's the most wonderful time of year all year at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth. While Frankenmuth is a bit of a tourist attraction itself (go for the chicken, stay for the chicken), it's also home to the world's largest Christmas store which is open year-round. From snow globes, ornaments, trees, lights, stockings, and more, Bronner's is as much of a Christmas-lover's wet dream and a Scrooge-y Grinch's worst nightmare. Regardless of what category you might find yourself in, Bronner's is sort of unreal, especially if you venture through the 320,000 square feet of holiday hoopla in the dead of summer. 
Photo via GoogleMaps

Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland

25 Christmas Ln., Frankenmuth; 989-652-9931; bronners.com

It's the most wonderful time of year all year at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth. While Frankenmuth is a bit of a tourist attraction itself (go for the chicken, stay for the chicken), it's also home to the world's largest Christmas store which is open year-round. From snow globes, ornaments, trees, lights, stockings, and more, Bronner's is as much of a Christmas-lover's wet dream and a Scrooge-y Grinch's worst nightmare. Regardless of what category you might find yourself in, Bronner's is sort of unreal, especially if you venture through the 320,000 square feet of holiday hoopla in the dead of summer.

Photo via GoogleMaps
World’s Largest Crucifix
7078 W. M68 Hwy., Indian River; crossinthewoods.com
As you’re traveling through northern Michigan, you can see the world’s largest crucifix located just off M-68 in Indian River. Weighing almost seven tons and standing at 30 feet tall, this statue was declared a national shrine by the United Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2006. Annually, this shrine is visited by about 300,000 people, along with with a Holy Staircase leading people through the forest to the shrine.
Photo via National Shrine of Cross in the Woods / Facebook

World’s Largest Crucifix

7078 W. M68 Hwy., Indian River; crossinthewoods.com

As you’re traveling through northern Michigan, you can see the world’s largest crucifix located just off M-68 in Indian River. Weighing almost seven tons and standing at 30 feet tall, this statue was declared a national shrine by the United Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2006. Annually, this shrine is visited by about 300,000 people, along with with a Holy Staircase leading people through the forest to the shrine.

Photo via National Shrine of Cross in the Woods / Facebook
World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan
3424 Cass Rd., Traverse City
With Michigan being the cherry capital of the world, it’s no wonder any achievement related to cherry pie is hotly contested. Something that isn’t contested though, is the world largest pie tin, which sits outside of a Sara Lee store that used to be a Chef Pierre factory. This pie tin isn’t going anywhere, and is the perfect destination for any northern Michigan road trip.
Photo via World's Largest Cherry Pie Pan/ Facebook

World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan

3424 Cass Rd., Traverse City

With Michigan being the cherry capital of the world, it’s no wonder any achievement related to cherry pie is hotly contested. Something that isn’t contested though, is the world largest pie tin, which sits outside of a Sara Lee store that used to be a Chef Pierre factory. This pie tin isn’t going anywhere, and is the perfect destination for any northern Michigan road trip.

Photo via World's Largest Cherry Pie Pan/ Facebook
Uniroyal Tire
I-94, Allen Park
Whether you’re on your way to the airport or passing through southeast Michigan, this massive Tire is sure to catch your eye. Sitting on I-94, this massive tire used to be a Ferris wheel during the 1964 World's Fair. After the fair, the tire found its home in Allen Park, where it has lived since 1966. The tire stands at about 80 feet tall and weighs 11 tons. To ease any fears that it might someday roll away, the tire is said to be able to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Photo via GoogleMaps

Uniroyal Tire

I-94, Allen Park

Whether you’re on your way to the airport or passing through southeast Michigan, this massive Tire is sure to catch your eye. Sitting on I-94, this massive tire used to be a Ferris wheel during the 1964 World's Fair. After the fair, the tire found its home in Allen Park, where it has lived since 1966. The tire stands at about 80 feet tall and weighs 11 tons. To ease any fears that it might someday roll away, the tire is said to be able to withstand hurricane-force winds.

Photo via GoogleMaps
Secret Spot
N916 Martin Lake Rd., St. Ignace; 906-643-8322; mysteryspotstignace.com
In a not-so-secret location in St. Ignace, this mystery spot is full of surprises. Legend has it that in the 1950s when the land was being surveyed, the crew's equipment stopped working in a specific 300-foot diameter circle. And from that moment, visitors have traveled to this spot to see just what kind of supernatural things are happening. There is also a mini-golf course, zipline ride, and maze in the woods. This mystery spot is located near the Mackinac Bridge on Hwy. U.S.-2.
Photo via Mystery Spot / Facebook

Secret Spot

N916 Martin Lake Rd., St. Ignace; 906-643-8322; mysteryspotstignace.com

In a not-so-secret location in St. Ignace, this mystery spot is full of surprises. Legend has it that in the 1950s when the land was being surveyed, the crew's equipment stopped working in a specific 300-foot diameter circle. And from that moment, visitors have traveled to this spot to see just what kind of supernatural things are happening. There is also a mini-golf course, zipline ride, and maze in the woods. This mystery spot is located near the Mackinac Bridge on Hwy. U.S.-2.

Photo via Mystery Spot / Facebook
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Statues
Corner of U.S. Hwy. 23 and Nicholson Hill Rd., Ossineke
The story of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox goes back about 100 years. With his massive size and outrageous strength, Paul and Babe could accomplish anything. Standing at 25.5 feet tall, this monument of Paul weighs over 11 tons, and babe the ox stands at 10.5 feet tall, weighing 4.5 tons. Paul and Babe were moved from Lookout Hill to Nicholson Hill Road in Ossineke.
Photo via GoogleMaps

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Statues

Corner of U.S. Hwy. 23 and Nicholson Hill Rd., Ossineke

The story of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox goes back about 100 years. With his massive size and outrageous strength, Paul and Babe could accomplish anything. Standing at 25.5 feet tall, this monument of Paul weighs over 11 tons, and babe the ox stands at 10.5 feet tall, weighing 4.5 tons. Paul and Babe were moved from Lookout Hill to Nicholson Hill Road in Ossineke.

Photo via GoogleMaps
American Museum of Magic
107 E. Michigan Ave., Marshall; 269-781-7570; americanmuseumofmagic.com
Abracadabra! Since 1978, Marshall, Michigan has been home to the American Museum of Magic. A celebration of magicians and their tricks, the museum is described as “the Smithsonian of American Magic.” Not only can visitors view artifacts that illuminate the life, times, and trickery of Houdini, Blackstone, Thurston, and others, but you might just be treated to some tricks. 
Photo via American Museum of Magic/Facebook

American Museum of Magic

107 E. Michigan Ave., Marshall; 269-781-7570; americanmuseumofmagic.com

Abracadabra! Since 1978, Marshall, Michigan has been home to the American Museum of Magic. A celebration of magicians and their tricks, the museum is described as “the Smithsonian of American Magic.” Not only can visitors view artifacts that illuminate the life, times, and trickery of Houdini, Blackstone, Thurston, and others, but you might just be treated to some tricks.

Photo via American Museum of Magic/Facebook
Leaning Tower of Pizza
Ave Maria Dr., Ann, Arbor
Whether you’re in the mood for pizza or not, this roadside attraction is sure to make you hungry. The Leaning Tower of Pizza, constructed on the Ann Arbor headquarters of Domino’s Pizza, was originally going to be the new office building. After issues with the original contractors, the building was erected as a scale model, designed to lean at a 15-degree angle and stand at 30 feet tall.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Leaning Tower of Pizza

Ave Maria Dr., Ann, Arbor

Whether you’re in the mood for pizza or not, this roadside attraction is sure to make you hungry. The Leaning Tower of Pizza, constructed on the Ann Arbor headquarters of Domino’s Pizza, was originally going to be the new office building. After issues with the original contractors, the building was erected as a scale model, designed to lean at a 15-degree angle and stand at 30 feet tall.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons