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All Things Michigan

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What is "Up North" in Michigan?

Andrew Norton

Michigan has it all and it is a wonder that more Michiganians don't stay in their home state when they plan their vacations. We have golf courses, antiques shops, amusement parks, historic sites, great state parks, lighthouses, the Great Lakes, thousands of inland lakes, and much more. These are a mere fraction of the many reasons we are considered a tourism hotspot in the Midwest. Still, it does not answer the question of why so few Michiganians are tourists in their own state. With all of the talk of creating "cool cities" in Michigan one wonders if we don't even consider our state "cool" enough to vacation in. Are other states and vacation spots being more heavily marketed here in Michigan than our own state? Are people embarrassed to say that their summer vacation was spent in the state in which they live? I have vacationed in other states many times, but the vacations that stick in my memory the most are those that were spent here in Michigan.

At least once a year I am beckoned as if by some primal call to go "Up North." "Up North" has many different meanings for those native to Michigan. It can be very confusing to a non-native Michiganian to hear someone say they are going "Up North" for their vacation. The non-native might think they are going to Canada or possibly even the North Pole itself. The native Michiganian merely intends to point their vehicle north and stop only when their instincts tell them that they have finally reached "Up North." For some this might mean going as far as Sleeping Bear Dunes. Others might find that they need to go up to Sault Ste. Marie or even to Copper Harbor.

"Up North" is not just some physical location a little bit further up the road. It tends to be a state of mind as well. You head "Up North" and life slows down. You notice your worries slip away with each mile and your troubles seem smaller in the rearview mirror of your life. They say that life is too short. Well, if life is too short why waste so much of it driving to some other state? Head "Up North" and find your own little slice of Michigan to brag about to your friends. Especially the ones who just spent all that money to take a cruise in "paradise" or some other exotic locale.