With an abundance of both urban action and pristine wilderness, Michigan is an ideal place for adventurous digital nomads. There’s so much to see and explore — from endless coastlines to massive sand dunes to dense forests — that going remote in the Great Lakes State truly puts the good life at your doorstep. All you need to do is add wifi.
And that’s where Michigan’s vibrant cities come in — many of them located right on the water — ready to meet all your on-the-clock needs. If you’re looking for that sweet spot, sandwiched between the best of both worlds, give these Michigan destinations a look.
Grand Rapids | Lake Michigan
The river-rich Grand Rapids is Michigan’s second-largest city, known for kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and a long list of top-tier breweries to pair with all that outdoor action.
As a city some 200,000 strong, Grand Rapids offers digital nomads an advantage when it comes to finding comfortable and stylish settings in which to carve through that inbox.
- The collaborative co-working space The Factory sells single-day passes to varying levels of monthly memberships. Depending on your needs, you can hang out in the gathering area, kitchen, or conference room.
- With two locations in Grand Rapids, The Sparrows Coffee & Tea & Newsstand sells organic coffee and loose-leaf teas along with a myriad of magazines to flip through when it’s time to take a work break. Plus, it’s open until 7pm.
- Rowster Coffee has a spacious, industrial feel, making it easy to spend the day here. Sip on their nitro cold brew to really give your workday some momentum.
- If you want to post up somewhere that makes the transition from morning coffee to afternoon wine seamless, check out Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar.
Give your eyes a break from the screen and get outdoors at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a sprawling botanical garden that doubles as an outdoor art gallery with over 200 towering sculptures. It’s open year-round, but a warm-season highlight is their summer concert series, with acts like Sheryl Crow and ZZ Top coming to call.
Just minutes from downtown, Blandford Nature Center is home to rehabilitated animals no longer able to survive in the wild. Spend an afternoon traversing their gentle loop trails (keeping an eye out for animal sightings!).
A 45-minute drive from Grand Rapids is Saugatuck Dunes State Park, where ancient coastal dunes rise up to 200 feet. Climb to the top of one for a rewarding trek, or stroll the 13 miles of trails and 2.5 miles of glittering Lake Michigan shoreline. Just 15 minutes south of the park you’ll find Oval Beach, a stunning beach on Lake Michigan with a picnic area.
Traverse City | Lake Michigan
Traverse City swells with Michiganders and Chicagoans heading “up north” for cooler temps and quintessential northern Michigan fun. But it’s so much more: The city is home to artists, chefs, winemakers, brewers, small-business owners, and outdoor enthusiasts all passionate about their little slice of heaven.
Traverse City offers several different co-working spaces with reservable seats, along with plenty of coffee shops featuring delectable menus and stunning views.
- Commonplace calls itself “a community innovation hub,” where you can drop in for daily co-working or even rent a dedicated desk, cubicle, or office on a monthly basis.
- 20Fathoms is a tech startup incubator that has a wide range of options to choose from, like reserving a dedicated desk or purchasing a five-day starter pack.
- Morsels sits just outside the high-traffic tourist areas of downtown TC, right on the water. This independent bakery and espresso bar serves Intelligentsia coffee and Kilogram tea and has gorgeous views of West Grand Traverse Bay.
- Brew does a small menu of hot breakfast items, pastries, salads, and sandwiches, as well as coffee, espresso, and teas — and beer, wine, and cocktails perfect for quittin’ time.
You’re only ever steps away from stunning scenery in the Cherry Capital of the World. Rent a bike and hop on the TART Trails network to explore the city and surrounding countryside, or grab a kayak and get out on the water during your lunch break.
When you’ve got a little more time to explore, make for one of the two peninsulas that jut out from the base of Traverse City: Leelanau and Old Mission, each of which are their own designated American Viticultural Areas. Together, they comprise the Traverse Wine Coast.
The Leelanau Peninsula is more than 10 times the size of Old Mission, so seeing it all can take some serious time. Stay the night at the Inn at Black Star Farms, situated on a sprawling winery estate in Suttons Bay. At the very tip of the peninsula, check out Leelanau State Park to walk the trails along Cathead Bay. When the sun sets, get ready for some seriously vibrant stargazing.
The Old Mission Peninsula may be smaller, but its scenery is nothing short of spectacular. At certain points, the peninsula becomes so narrow you can see the sparkling blue waters of both the east and west arms of Grand Traverse Bay flanking you — easily one of the most beautiful drives in America (with plenty of Michigan Wine Trail stops along the way).
Once you’ve finished exploring the wine coast, about 40 minutes west of Traverse City lies Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which has been called “The Most Beautiful Place in America.” It’s worth making a stop at all 12 scenic viewpoints along the 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, and if you need to stretch your legs and get some cardio in, try the 2.7-mile Pyramid Point loop trail. Hike alongside high bluffs, meadows, and maple-beech forests.
Houghton and Hancock | Lake Superior
The Keweenaw Peninsula is the Upper Peninsula’s upper peninsula. Your homebases here are the cities of Houghton and Hancock, essentially sister cities split by the Portage Canal. Houghton is a college town, while Hancock acts as a gateway to stunning scenery and adventure.
Keweenaw has all you need to knock out your workload, from spacious breweries to trendy co-working spaces (with free coffee!).
- Get to work at the GrandBridge Business Centre in Houghton, which has open desks and private offices for affordable prices, as well as monthly memberships and conference room access.
- On the other side of the bridge, you’ll find all kinds of freelancers, remote workers, and startup teams at the stylish 101 Quincy in Hancock, where you can rent a workspace by the day, week, or month and get up to 24/7 access and free coffee.
- Houghton’s Camp Coffee makes a great latte, but come early — seating is limited in this cozy cafe.
- The massive Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, on the other hand, has plenty of seating (grab a couch by the fireplace or sit on the deck outside), along with excellent beers and, of course, free wifi.
Some of the most rugged, jaw-dropping beauty in Michigan can be found right here. Drive north to Copper Harbor and rent a mountain bike from Keweenaw Adventure Company. Those with experience can hit the challenging Copper Harbor Mountain Bike Trails, recognized by the International Mountain Bicycling Association as being among the top 20 trail systems in the world. The Keweenaw Adventure Company also offers sea-kayak rentals and guided tours.
Off in the distance sits Isle Royale National Park, the largest island in the largest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Superior really earns its name). Only two ports in Michigan run passenger ferry service to the least-visited national park in the Lower 48, and Copper Harbor is one of them. A three-hour ferry ride gets you to the island, where you can access 150 miles of shoreline, barrier islands, and fjord-like bays to explore by kayak.
If you’d rather skip all that pedaling and paddling in favor of keeping two feet on the ground, hiking in the Keweenaw proves to be some of the best in the Midwest. Staying in Copper Harbor, you’ve got Brockway Mountain and Bare Bluff in the Russell, to name just a couple options.
During winter, Houghton and Hancock put you less than an hour from one of the Midwest’s top downhill ski resorts, Mt. Bohemia. We’re talking all natural snow over 585 acres, plus more vertical and more expert terrain than anywhere else in the region. If your remote work schedule includes mandatory time off for powder days, this is the spot for you.
Bay City | Lake Huron
Bay City is located at the base of Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, bisected by the Saginaw River, and connected by four bridges. Parks, trails, and natural areas await the curious digital nomad once it’s time to shut that laptop.
Bay City is rich with coffeeshop “offices” and co-working spaces to set up your own shop for the day.
- At City Office, you have the run of five unique workstations, conference rooms, a game room, and a “dream kitchen.” Drop in for a day, purchase a punch pass, or opt for one of their monthly memberships that can include a dedicated desk with a locking filing cabinet and 24/7 access.
- CoWork by CMURC has multiple locations and options for open seating, dedicated desks, and private offices with monthly memberships and day, office, and meeting-room flex passes available.
- Populace Coffee serves excellent house-roasted coffees as well as teas and baked goods in a beautiful old building right downtown.
- Harless & Hugh Coffee specializes in hand-poured coffees and lattes made with house syrups, as well as beer, wine, and cocktails for those who work into happy hour.
Just north of downtown, the 3rd Street Waterfall Park is tucked behind a parking lot along the Saginaw River and offers tranquil respite in the middle of the city. For a more extensive stretch of the legs during your workday, take a walk along the Riverwalk Railtrail, a paved path that travels through several greenspaces along the west bank of the river before jutting out as a boardwalk over the water itself.
Via the same Railtrail path, you can explore Middlegrounds Island — a long, skinny island in the Saginaw River. Start on the northern tip at Bigelow Park before traveling south to bike around the singletrack trail network known as Michigan Sugar Trails. Cyclists and walkers also enjoy the BayZil Rail Trail, a 7-mile paved rail trail that will eventually connect the Zilwaukee Pathway to the larger Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.
For a longer day trip, head east to the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron and check out Bay City State Park to explore iconic Michigan landscapes: a sandy beach, wetland woods, wet meadows, cattail marshlands, and oak savannah prairies. This park is also home to Tobico Marsh, one of the largest remaining freshwater coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes. Take it all in by walking the Tobico Marsh Trail, a gentle 3-mile loop.
No matter where you end up making your work-from-home base in Michigan, you’re just as close to unspoiled natural beauty as you are to a trendy coffeeshop with speedy wifi. If you’re lucky enough to have a flexible schedule and an itch for adventure, put Michigan on the itinerary and enjoy the best of both worlds.