The Very Best Places to Visit in Michigan

Michigan is a favorite vacation destination for nature lovers, photographers, adventurers, extreme sports enthusiasts, and anyone looking for an unforgettable experience. 

Explore this exciting and diverse state with this insider’s guide to the best places to visit in Michigan. 

Places to Visit in Michigan

The Great Lake State attracts visitors from around America.

From the north shore of Lake Michigan to the Motown and Motor City heritage of Detroit, there are many reasons to visit Michigan.

Michigander Sherry Trautman shares the very best places to visit in Michigan as recommended by a born and raised local.

If you are looking for road trip ideas, add these places on to your Michigan trip.

Relax and Rejuvenate on Mackinac Island

mackinack island | visit michigan

There’s a reason why Mackinac Island is such an idyllic island destination for adventurers, dreamers, and lovers.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the soothing sounds of waves lapping against the rocks, the soft “clop, clop” sound of horse-drawn carriages slowly passing by and the warmth of the sun on your face. 

Since horse-drawn carriages, walking and bicycles are the only modes of transportation on the island, you’ll feel your body and mind slowly relax. 

Before taking the ferry over to Mackinac island, stop in at Bridge Biew Park to take a photo of the iconic Mackinac Bridge. It is the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world.

While visiting Mackinac Island, be sure to:

  • Rent a bicycle as the island is eight miles in circumference.
  • Climb the 207 stairs (yes, I counted!) to see the famous Arch Rock and stunning views of Lake Michigan.
  • Learn about the island’s history while touring Fort Mackinac (and if you are lucky, you might get to fire the cannon!)
  • Visit the beautiful Butterfly House 
  • Rent a kayak to enjoy exquisite, seldom-seen views of the island and the Straits of Mackinac. 
  • Indulge your sweet tooth on creamy Mackinac Island Fudge. 
  • Tour the iconic Grand Hotel and its majestic gardens. 

Discover Shipwrecks and Fossils in Alpena

maritime heritage michigan ocean

Alpena sits on the Thunder Bay Marine Sactuary.

Did you know there are over 200 shipwrecks in this sanctuary?

While visiting Alpena, be sure to take an exhilarating glass-bottom boat tour to view several sunken wrecks throughout Thunder Bay.

It’s an unforgettable experience!  

The Alpena region also offers outstanding hiking, biking, exploring, and kayaking opportunities at Island Park, Besser Natural Area, and Rockport State Park.

Rockport State Park

places to visit in michigan

If you are feeling adventurous, spend a couple of hours at Rockport State Park searching for the expansive rock quarry and fascinating bat hibernaculum.

You can also find and bring home rare Devonian fossils!   

Photograph Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s Breathtaking Views

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Michigan.

Snowmobiling, hiking, and kayaking offer breathtaking views of the majestic sandstone cliffs and untouched beaches.

There are approximately 100 miles of trails to explore to enjoy a peaceful commune with nature. 

In the winter this is a popular spot for cross country skiing.

If you visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore during the winter season, several frozen waterfalls are worth hiking or snowshoeing several miles.

You can also explore the breathtaking Eben Ice Caves located in Eben Junction, just 20 miles southwest of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 

Indulge in All Things Cherry in Traverse City

festival traverse city | michigan places to visit

Traverse City is ripe (pun intended) for excellent wine tasting, kayaking, biking, exploring, and indulging in all thing’s cherry.

The “Cherry Capital of the World” and its five surrounding counties produce forty percent of the annual tart cherry crop in the United States.  

While visiting Traverse City, snap a fun photo in front of the World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan, enjoy an ice cream flight at Moomers, and embark on a tall ship adventure.

If you visit in July, the National Cherry Festival will be in full swing. 

This fun Michigan festival draws over 500,000 visitors annually! 

Traverse City’s cherry blossoms bloom in May, offering excellent photography opportunities while tasting wine on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.

Cool Fact: In 2009 TripAdvisor named Traverse City the #2 small town travel destination in the US and it has been named one of the Top 10 Places to retire in the country.

Discover the spooky side of the city by touring the abandoned state mental facility and steam tunnels at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, one of the largest historic preservation and adaptive reuse redevelopments in the country.  

Scramble Down Incredible Sand Dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

visit michigan places | sleeping bear dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must-see while visiting Michigan.

Perhaps one of the most scenic and diverse views of the dunes is Pierce Stocking Drive located near Empire, Michigan.

You will have the opportunity to photograph vast sweeping dunes, climb an incredibly steep dune and embark on scenic hikes during this seven-mile drive.

While you are visiting the area, consider driving south on M-22 to see Point Betsie, one of Michigan’s most beautiful lighthouses. 

Embark on an Exhilarating Rafting Adventure in East Jordan 

Rafting, tubing, and kayaking fans will love the clear, fast-moving rapids of the East Jordan river.

Views of the towering pine trees are breathtaking with each turn and bend in the river.

Rafting down the river with Jordan River Outfitters after a fresh snowfall is a chilly yet beautiful and exhilarating winter experience.  

Take an Exciting Dune Rides at Silver Lake

places to visit in michigan | dune rides silver lake

If heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping action is your idea of a fantastic vacation, consider adding a dune buggy adventure in Silver Lake to your Michigan vacation itinerary.

Upon arriving, you will notice the town feels alive, almost vibrating with energy and excitement.  

Adrenalin fans can rent jeeps or buggies to crest and rush down the towering dunes overlooking sparkling Silver Lake. 

For a shorter, family-friendly dune experience, embark on an exhilarating dune ride with a local tour company.  

Discover Frankenmuth’s Famous Fried Chicken and Christmas Wonderland 

As a word of warning, Frankenmuth, Michigan, can easily steal your heart.

This charming Bavarian-themed town is home to the famous Holz Bruke covered bridge, horse-drawn carriage tours, and tantalizing sausage, taffy and fudge shops.

For a unique experience, book a pretzel rolling class at the Bavarian Inn or embark on a riverboat excursion on the family-owned Bavarian Belle.  

Your trip to Frankenmuth isn’t complete until you’ve treated yourself to Zehnder’s famous fried chicken or shopped for handmade ornaments at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store.

You won’t leave the seven-acre store empty-handed as 50,000 trims and gifts will tempt you at every turn! 

See Midland’s Unbelievable Record-Breaking Canopy Walk

midland canopy walk | pure michigan

For a unique Michigan experience, visit the “Nation’s Longest Canopy Walk” located at Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest in Midland, Michigan.

Open year-round, discover what it’s like to wander among the treetops and walk suspended 40 feet above the ground.  

While visiting Midland, cheer on the Loons during a rousing baseball game or explore the Tridge, a three-way wooden footbridge offering a bird’s eye view of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee rivers.  

Relax and Explore East Tawas 

places to visit in michigan | tawas

Tawas Point State Park is a fantastic place to visit during all four of Michigan’s seasons.

The warmer weather months offer opportunities to kayak, paddleboard, bike, camp, relax on the beach or meander along the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail.

During winter, clamp some crampons onto the sole of your boots and explore the Sandy Hook Nature Trail paralleling Lake Huron.

Tawas Point Lighthouse’s bright red brick is also a striking contrast against sparkling white snow.  

Downtown East Tawas offers excellent boutique shopping and dining on Newman Street.

Wander the boardwalk around the nearby marina for views of luxurious boats bobbing in the water and waves cresting on Lake Huron.

As you stroll, grab a Pronto Pup, a surprisingly crispy corn dog on a stick for a fun afternoon snack. 

Fall in love with Michigan

So there you have it. These are my favorite places to visit in Michigan. If you are visiting Michigan, be sure to get out of Detroit and see all the cool attractions that the Great Lake State has to offer.

If you enjoyed all of these places to visit in Michigan, Save this post to Pinterest for future travel planning.

best places to visit in michigan

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About Sherry Trautman

As a born and raised Michigander and produces the Michigan adventure blog, Traveling Michigan, where she helps vacationers travel smartly, save money, and get the most out of their adventures across Michigan

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Breaking New

Officials Trace More Than 100 Coronavirus Cases To Michigan Bar

At least 107 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been linked to a bar in Michigan. 

Some 95 people who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub in East Lansing June 12-20 have now tested positive for COVID-19, Ingham County Health Department announced Monday.

A further 12 people “who were in contact with a primary case but did not go to Harper’s themselves” have also been infected with the virus, per a statement released by the department.

The rising numbers from the outbreak prompted Ingham County to issue “an emergency order reducing restaurant capacity to 50% or no more than 75 people, whichever is less.”

The patrons who tested positive for the coronavirus were aged 16 to 28.

None were hospitalized. Most showed mild symptoms and 28 were asymptomatic. Forty percent were students at or recent graduates of Michigan State University.

Ingham Country Health officials urged people who attended the venue during the nine-day period to get tested for the coronavirus and self-quarantine for 14 days following the date of their last visit.

“There are likely more people infected with COVID-19 not yet identified,” Ingham County Health officer Linda Vail warned last week when the case count from the outbreak stood at 34.

The 950-capacity venue had reopened at 50% capacity on June 8 and was “following appropriate safety procedures related to employees, restaurant capacity and table spacing,” per the department’s inspectors.

Harper’s announced its temporary closure — in order to modify its air conditioning system and further improve social distancing measures — via a lengthy post on Facebook on Jun. 23.

“We have attempted to instruct customers waiting in line to wear face coverings and practice social distancing through signage on the public sidewalk and with a banner on our railing,” the venue wrote.

“Our oversight of the line on our stairs has been successful, but trying to get customers to follow our recommendations on the public sidewalk has been challenging,” it added. “Because we have no authority to control lines on public property, we are left with the dilemma of staying open and letting this situation continue, or closing until we can devise a strategy that eliminates the lines altogether.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

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Breaking New

Two Indiana billboards suggest people think twice about going to Michigan during the pandemic

As vehicles leave Indiana, they encounter an electronic sign that reads: “Now Entering Michigan: Really? You’re sure about this?”

Likewise, southbound travelers are greeted with a sign as they cross into Indiana that reads: “The Great State of Indiana Welcomes Michiganders To A Free-To-Roam State. We Thank You for the Revenue!”

But the man behind the billboards said they are actually meant to support Michiganders during their quarantine, not poke fun at the restrictions in place.

“It’s not politically motivated at all,” Steve Swick, president and owner of the Swick Broadcasting Company which purchased the billboards, told CNN.

“I did it just to do it,” Swick told CNN affiliate WOOD. “We hear and see all the frustrations of Michiganders that are going through. There was nothing political about it.”

Michigan has been on lockdown since March, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the stay-at-home order several times. It’s now in effect until at least June 12.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has faced backlash regarding her closure orders. Last month, protesters carrying firearms descended on Michigan’s Capitol to pressure the governor to issue more relaxed measures.
President Donald Trump has also attacked Whitmer, a first-term governor, in personal terms over her criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Swick said that he wants the billboards to get people “thinking.” He wants those who see it to know that the state of Indiana is open for their business.

So far, he said he feels that the message has been successful — though it’s unclear how long he will keep the billboards up.

“Maybe we’ll tweak something based on the government in Michigan, and in Indiana for that matter,” he said.

On Friday, Michigan opened the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the state, with social distancing and other safety measures in place.
The state currently has over 55,611 cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and more than 5,334 deaths.

Indiana has 32,437 confirmed cases of the virus, and 2,030 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

CNN’s Kelly Mena and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Nearly half of a Michigan high school’s recent valedictorians have come from same family

Amelia’s sister, Bethany, started the tradition as the first in the family to hold the title in 2014. Her brother Lane followed in 2016. Now four years later, it’s Amelia’s turn to be crowned valedictorian and craft her speech for graduation.

“I’m a perfectionist, so earning all A’s was something I had to do,” Amelia told CNN on Sunday. “Being valedictorian was just a by-product of that.”

“There was a little bit of expectations from my siblings, but not too much since we weren’t in high school together,” Amelia said.

Being so close in age, Bethany, now 24, and Lane, now 22, told CNN that their competitive side and sibling rivalry pushed them to have the best grades in their class.

They also have a fourth sibling, 7-year-old Sam.

Even though the two older Cornes received the title, Amelia forged her own path through school, her brother, Lane, said.

Bethany, Lane and Amelia.

During her high school career, Amelia sang in choir while her siblings played multiple sports. This journey away from the athletic field led Amelia to Chelsea Whiteoak, her choir teacher and one of her biggest role models.

“She always taught us in choir that if we work hard, then we can do great things,” Amelia said. “She was always there for me throughout high school and inspired me to take responsibility for my actions, work hard and to just be nice to everyone.”

The senior also participated in other extracurricular clubs, including youth government, national honor society and choir council. She also completed 11 advanced placement courses during her high school career and will graduate with 30 college credits.

“All three of them are excellent students, obviously, but they are also extremely well rounded, which is even better,” Airport High School principal Christopher Lukosavich told CNN. He added that they were all willing to go the extra mile for staff and other students.

“One of the main reasons the Corne students were able to accomplish this amazing feat is because they wanted to accomplish it,” he said.

Here's how some communities are rallying around graduating high schoolers

“Their parents, who are amazing people and very involved in their kids’ lives in a good way, never reached out to me or our counseling department to say, ‘What does my kid need to do to be valedictorian?’ They let their kids work towards their goals, supported them when they needed it, and let them be high school kids.”

All three siblings echoed the principal, saying that this was just a goal they set for themselves. They also praised their parents, Chris and Danielle, from whom they said they learned their work ethic.

Chris Corne said his advice to other parents is to let the kids focus on being students.

“I made sure they didn’t have obstacles or influences that would derail them from reaching their goals,” Chris said.

Graduating during a pandemic

Amelia said she looked to her siblings for advice on writing her graduation speech. She said that a song titled “Always Keep this Close” that her choir was supposed to sing at the graduation ceremony inspired her speech that’s now on hold.

“It tells a story how every experience in your life shapes you and if you can hold on to those precious moments you had … then you’ll have everything you need to go on and succeed,” she said.

Like other high schools around the nation, her graduation ceremony is in limbo at the moment due to the pandemic. Lukosavich told CNN they are hoping to still have an in-person ceremony for the 215 graduates later in the summer.

Life after high school

Amelia isn’t the only one in the family with a graduation this year. Lane graduated this month from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s in materials engineering.

He’ll soon start a job with General Motors. Chris and Bethany also work in the automotive industry. Chris is a Ford maintenance supervisor, and Bethany, a 2018 graduate from the University of Alabama, works at Buick & GMC Communications.

Amelia plans to attend Saginaw Valley State University in the fall. She wants to be a high school math teacher.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the first name of the Airport High School valedictorian. It is Amelia. The story had the wrong location for Airport High School. It is in Carleton. It also had the wrong employer for Chris Corne. He works for Ford.

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Breaking New

Michigan closes state Capitol as protesters gather against stay-at-home order

The latest protest and the Capitol’s closure came two weeks after protesters, some armed, entered the building and demanded to be allowed into the legislative chambers, which have been closed due to social distancing measures. Photos from the day showed some protesters, many of whom were not wearing masks or standing more than 6 feet from one another, screaming at law enforcement officers who were keeping them out of the chambers.

The Senate and House were both out of session Thursday — adjourned until next Tuesday — leading Michigan State Police to close the Capitol to the public per protocol. The coronavirus pandemic has already led lawmakers to work remotely and pare down in-person sessions.

The Michigan House previously laid out a plan to meet once a week and then other days as needed, given that it’s more difficult for its 110 members to socially distance than Michigan’s 38 senators, Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Lee Chatfield, told CNN.

“Since the House finished all of the votes planned for the week yesterday, it adjourned until next week,” D’Assandro said Thursday.

Michigan Senate leadership did not reply to CNN’s request for comments as to why the Senate has adjourned until next week. Its online calendar shows that the chamber has been in session Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for the last two weeks and is scheduled to be in session next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner confirmed to CNN that because neither chamber was in session or holding committee meetings, the Capitol was closed “per the procedures of the Michigan Capitol Commission.”

The protest, organized by Michigan United for Liberty, drew a crowd of roughly 200 “at the high point” of Thursday’s event, according to Michigan State Police estimates. The crowd later dwindled to about 75 people, according to the state police.

Banner confirmed that some demonstrators were openly carrying firearms.

A man at the demonstration was seen on video carrying what appeared to be an American flag with a naked doll with long black hair hanging from a pole with a noose around its neck. Protesters were seen and heard screaming as one man was trying to take the flag away from the man carrying it.

There was one altercation between two protesters, in which one tried to take a sign out of another’s hand, state police said. One of the protesters involved was in possession of an ax, which was turned over to law enforcement.

Banner said the “circumstances surrounding the altercation (are) being investigated and will be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office for review.”

No injuries and no arrests were made during the protest, Michigan State Police Lt. Brian Oleksyk said in a video posted to Twitter.

“Attendees who attended the demonstration complied with law enforcement and safely exercised their right to demonstrate,” Oleksyk said.

Ahead of the protest, Michigan United for Liberty on Wednesday encouraged participants to remain “peaceful and respectful.”

Michigan State Police warned of the consequences of brandishing a weapon. Michigan allows licensed gun owners to carry a firearm in public.

“While our desire is to interfere as little as possible in demonstrations, we will not allow unlawful, threatening or intimidating behavior,” Col. Joe Gasper, director of the state police, said in a statement Wednesday.

There have been multiple protests in the state’s capital city of Lansing in the past few weeks, including one late last month that saw protesters — some of them armed — entering the Capitol.

In his statement, Gasper said to expect an increased presence of Michigan State Police “based on safety concerns expressed following previous demonstrations.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel warned in a statement that “presence of heavily armed protestors at the Capitol unnecessarily creates a powder keg dynamic that is dangerous to protestors, law enforcement and public servants reporting to work at the Capitol.”

“I vehemently support the First Amendment right to protest government actions at the Capitol or elsewhere around the state; however any such activity must be done in a manner that is safe and lawful,” Nessel said.

Whitmer said on ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday that the protests would make it more likely that the state will have to keep restrictions in place longer.

Thursday’s protest comes as Whitmer has recently received a mounting number of death threats over her coronavirus response efforts.

CNN’s Leah Asmelash and Raja Razek contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Michigan governor says protests ‘make it likelier’ stay-at-home orders will stay in place longer

Appearing Monday on ABC’s “The View,” Whitmer, a Democrat, was asked about the pushback against her administration’s coronavirus restrictions. There have been multiple protests in the state’s capital city of Lansing in the past few weeks, including one late last month that saw protesters — some of them armed — entering the state Capitol, screaming at law enforcement officers and not adhering to social distancing guidelines or wearing masks.

While she respects people’s right to dissent, Whitmer said, the protesters are putting people at risk.

“The fact of the matter is, these protests — in a perverse way — make it likelier that we are going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture,” she said, going on to encourage anyone with a platform to call on people to “do the right thing.”

Another protest against the state’s stay-at-home restrictions is scheduled for Thursday in Lansing.

Whitmer was asked about safety, as many protesters have shown up with guns, swastika symbols and calls for violence. She said this behavior is “not appropriate in a global pandemic.”

“We have legislators who are showing up to work wearing bulletproof vests,” she said. “That is disenfranchising thousands of people in our state, if their legislator doesn’t feel safe enough to go to work and to do what their job is. No one should stand in our way of doing our jobs.”

Whitmer later appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday evening, where she addressed the continued stay-at-home order.

“The one thing that we know with certainty is that the best tool we have right now is social distancing, and we all are eager to reengage our economies, and yet we have to be really smart about it.”

She also reiterated her respect for the right to dissent, but added that she would like to see the state Capitol become a gun-free zone to help employees’ peace of mind. She also said she hopes protesters will practice social distancing and wear masks during the next gathering at the Capitol, but if last time was any indication, she doesn’t think they will.

“It’s sad because this is a small, relatively small group of people in a a state of almost 10 million, where the vast majority are doing the right thing,” she said. “The right to dissent is something I have a great deal of respect for, but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise other people’s public safety, and these protests thus far have not done it that way and I think it’s very concerning.”

Michigan’s state of emergency and stay-at-home orders were extended until May 28 despite pressure from Republican state lawmakers. The GOP leadership of the state Legislature filed a lawsuit against Whitmer last week, alleging that her executive order to extend the state of emergency was unlawful.
The protesters have been supported by President Donald Trump, who tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” in April and has continued to show support for protests of Democratic governors, including Whitmer, in recent weeks. Trump has frequently criticized Whitmer in recent months because of her criticisms of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

U.S. Steel delivers unwelcome Christmas surprise to Michigan town

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The mayor of a Michigan steel town was attending his grandchildren’s Christmas play Thursday evening when he got an unwelcome voicemail from an official of the town’s top employer: United States Steel Corp (X.N).

FILE PHOTO: An entrance to the U.S. Steel Great Lakes Works plant is seen in Ecorse, Michigan, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

U.S. Steel was about to send out a press release announcing layoffs for 1,545 workers and the idling of a significant portion of operations at the Great Lakes Works facility, according to the voicemail received by Michael Bowdler, mayor of River Rouge, a city of 7,500 that sits on the Detroit River roughly 10 miles south of Detroit.

In the voicemail to Bowdler, heard by Reuters, the U.S. Steel official called the layoffs “terrible news” and attributed the decision to weak demand, lower steel prices and new corporate strategy.

Domestic steel prices, after rising in the immediate aftermath of tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on steel imports, have fallen amid weakening demand from the auto and other manufacturing sectors.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won Michigan by less than 11,000 votes. But with its factories shedding thousands of jobs, the state is seen as up for grabs in the 2020 election.

Steel production at Great Lakes Works will stop around April 1 and the hot-strip mill rolling facility will cease operations before the end of next year, U.S. Steel said in its statement released on Thursday. Production will be shifted to Gary Works in Indiana, the statement added.

The latest layoffs, which would impact 94% of the Michigan facility’s workforce, come months after U.S. Steel decided to temporarily lay off 48 employees at Great Lakes Works and warned of up to 200 more layoffs.

The Great Lakes plant primarily serves the automotive industry. It is the lifeline of the cities of Ecorse and River Rouge, which house the plant.

Local officials had worked out a deal to give tax breaks to the company for a $600 million investment to carry out upgrades at Great Lakes Works. They thought the investment was the company’s commitment to stay invested in the towns.

In September, a U.S. Steel spokeswoman told Reuters that the incentives would help preserve jobs in the region.

After Thursday’s developments, Bowdler did not know whether the tax deal would be put before the city council for approval.

U.S. Steel told Reuters on Friday that its discussions with the two cities about the tax deal were “paused” earlier this year.

Bowdler said the company’s move will result in a $1 million hit on the city’s finances and could also dampen the business of its retailers.

U.S. Steel’s new strategy to ramp up investments at three mills in North America – Mon Valley plant in Pennsylvania, Gary Works in Indiana and Big River Steel in Arkansas, which the company expects to fully acquire within the next four years – had thrown into doubt the future of the Michigan plant.

Martin Englert, a steel industry analyst for brokerage firm Jefferies LLC, called the idling of Great Lakes an “incremental positive” for the company.

U.S. Steel’s stock closed down Friday about 11% at $11.91 as the company announced a dividend cut and forecast a wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter. The company’s shares have plunged 75% since March 1, 2018, when Trump announced his decision to crack down on foreign steel imports.

Prices of hot-rolled coil are down 41% from their 2018 peak, hurting the profits of American steel companies. U.S. Steel, which saw a record profit in 2018 on soaring steel prices, reported a loss in the latest quarter on slowing demand.

Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Leslie Adler

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Breaking New

Catholic diocese denies gay michigan judge communion

Judge Sara Smolenski, the chief judge of Michigan’s 63rd District Court, received a call from the priest at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, requesting she not attend communion.

“This is not about me against the priest, and it’s not really me against the church,” Smolenski told CNN. “This feels like selective discrimination. Why choose gay people, and why now?”

Smolenski, 62, said that the Rev. Scott Nolan, the priest at St. Stephen for approximately three years, called her on November 23 and told her, “‘It was good to see you in church on Sunday. Because you and Linda are married in the state of Michigan, I’d like you to respect the church and not come to communion.'”

Smolenski was baptized at St. Stephen. She and her nine siblings attended the church’s school from first through eighth grade. Her parents were married in the church in the 1940s.

Communion is a significant and sacred act in Catholicism. Through this sacrament, Catholics unite with Christ and symbolically form a single body, according to Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Vatican’s website. To be denied communion is essentially to be denied one’s right to the holiness of Catholicism.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was denied communion at a church in South Carolina last month, as were other politicians, typically for their positions on divisive issues.

Denying communion is done on a case-by-case basis. Other parishes are more accepting of gay people and would not hold back this sacrament, Smolenski said. She had already been distancing herself from the church in recent times after tensions rose when the priest denied communion to a same-sex couple during Mass earlier this year.

“He publicly shunned the couple,” Smolenski recalled.

It prompted her to branch out to another church for a while. But St. Stephen was Smolenski’s lifelong parish. She returned, and even received communion by Nolan on November 17. Six days later, she received the phone call from Nolan.

“It definitely felt like a slam dunk,” Smolenski said.

Priest says denying communion is ‘painful’

Smolenski married her partner of over 30 years, Linda Burpee, in March 2016 following the Supreme Court’s marriage equality law. The marriage was publicized, not by choice, but because Smolenski is an elected official, she said. Smolenski was elected to the bench in 1990 and appointed chief judge in 1996.

She and Linda have given financially to the church, including $7,000 in June 2017 for the renovation of St. Stephen.

Nolan told CNN affiliate WOOD that Catholic teaching gives him no choice in the matter of giving Holy Communion. He told the station that he does not want any of his conversations about receiving communion to be public, but that denial happens with some degree of regularity.

“Some of that criteria are just around what’s happening in that person’s life and what do they believe and what are they doing and what are they not doing,” Nolan said.

He acknowledged that denial of Holy Communion is painful for those denied.

“To me, this is also a cause of great sadness in my own life as a priest,” Nolan said.

The Diocese of Grand Rapids issued a statement on behalf of its bishop supporting Nolan’s decision. The statement addressed Smolenski’s service and generosity to the community but included a line from Pope Francis’s “Amorus Laetitia: “Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ may not wound that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members.”

The statement said that inclusion and acceptance are a hallmark of the diocese, but that acceptance is presumed upon “a respect on the part of individuals for the teachings and practice of the wider Catholic community.”

“No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members,” the statement said. “This is especially so on matters as central to Catholic life as marriage, which the Church has always held, and continues to hold, as a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.

Smolenski has read the bishop’s statement and feels the denial of her communion is leading to divisiveness in the parish. Micki Benz, a 40-year-parishioner at St. Stephen, empathizes with Smolenski. Benz recently switched churches because she finds it difficult to be part of a community where gay people are discriminated against.

“This was a parish that was growing, that was harmonious, that was vibrant,” Benz said. “Today we are a parish of divisiveness and dissension.”

Smolenski pointed to the larger picture, stating that even Pope Francis wants people to be loving and kind, and that the Catholic church should tackle problems bigger than her sexual orientation.

Earlier this month, while speaking to members of the International Association of Penal Law, the pope condemned speech that discriminates against people’s homosexual orientation.

“I am who I am because God made me just like this,” she said.

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Breaking New

Michigan woman records her boyfriend threatening her with gun moments before she was shot, prosecutor says

Kevin Dixon, 18, got into an argument with his girlfriend November 19 while sitting in a van in the driveway of Dixon’s home in Warren, about 20 miles north of Detroit, according to police and prosecutors.

Dixon’s girlfriend, identified by CNN affiliate WXYZ as 20-year-old India Mackey, started recording Dixon as he pointed a black handgun at her, threatened her and loaded bullets into the gun he used to shoot her with, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

“You think I’m m***********g playing, huh?” Dixon says in the video while sitting in the passenger seat. “What you recording me for?”

Mackey was shot shortly after the video ended, according to the statement from the prosecutor’s office. Dixon then drove the van to Eastpointe with the victim still inside and was pulled over by police for driving erratically, the statement said.

Mackey was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dixon was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, carrying a concealed weapon and felony firearm, which involves using a firearm while committing a felony. He faces up to life in prison if convicted, Smith’s office said.

CNN has reached out to Dixon’s court-appointed attorney for comment.

“This video is being taken by a woman who’s going to be killed in moments. It’s unbelievable to me,” Smith told WXYZ. “The last thing her family has of her is the video where she is pointing the camera at the man who’s going to kill her.”

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ACLU and Michigan workers file sexual harassment suit against McDonald’s

The class-action suit, filed Tuesday by a former employee with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, alleges that McDonald’s “creates and permits a toxic work culture from the very top.” The plaintiffs are seeking at least $5 million in damages, as well as better protections from the company.

The suit focuses on one restaurant in Mason, Michigan, where plaintiff Jenna Ries, then in a management position, was allegedly verbally harassed, groped and physically assaulted by another manager. The location’s general manager was aware of the situation and did nothing to stop it, the suit alleges. Ries brought the suit on behalf of herself and other unnamed women who worked at that location within the past three years and allegedly suffered from similar harassment.

Sexual harassment at the Mason location is “emblematic” of a broader problem at McDonald’s, the suit states.

A former employee of a McDonald’s in Detroit also filed a sexhual harassment charge with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday, saying that she was transferred and her hours reduced after she reported sexual harassment by a manager. Ries has also filed a charge with the EEOC in relation to the class action suit.

In response to the lawsuit, McDonald’s said in a statement Tuesday that it “is demonstrating its continued commitment to this issue through the implementation of Safe and Respectful Workplace Training in 100% of our corporate-owned restaurants.” The company added that it is “encouraged by the partnership and commitment,” from franchise groups — which aren’t required to follow such corporate policies — to train staff according to corporate regulations. The National Owners Association, a McDonald’s franchise group formed last year, did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.

The accusations come at a sensitive time for the company, which recently announced the departure of Easterbrook. McDonald’s board terminated Easterbrook over a relationship with an employee, the company shared earlier this month. Easterbook “demonstrated poor judgment” by engaging in the relationship, which violated company policy, McDonald’s said at the time. Easterbrook was not accused of sexual harassment.

In an email sent to McDonald’s employees, Easterbrook expressed regret over the relationship. “I engaged in a recent consensual relationship with an employee, which violated McDonald’s policy,” Easterbrook wrote. “This was a mistake.”

The former executive, who earned $15.9 million in 2018, received a generous severance package.

But the company had already been under fire over accusations of sexual harassment.

The Fight for $15, which advocates for workers’ rights, announced in May that 25 new sexual harassment EEOC charges and lawsuits had been filed against McDonald’s. The group says that over the course of three years, workers have filed over 50 complaints and suits against the company.

As CEO, Easterbrook responded to those suits by noting that McDonald’s started working with the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN last year to help clarify its sexual harassment policies and reporting methods. It also conducted manager and operator trainings last fall, opened a hotline and more.

“We are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust where employees feel safe, valued and respected,” Easterbrook wrote in a letter at the time.
Last month, McDonald’s USA started training staff on how to mitigate violence, how to report harassment and reduce unconscious bias, among other things.

“There is a deeply important conversation around safe and respectful workplaces in communities throughout the US and around the world,” said new CEO Chris Kempczinski, then president of McDonald’s USA, when the company announced the new trainings in August. “We have a responsibility to take action on this issue and are committed to promoting positive change.” In January, the company also enhanced its policy on discrimination, harassment and retaliation prevention.

Company policies, however, only apply to its corporate-owned stores. Franchise operators, which run about 93% of McDonald’s restaurants, are encouraged to follow the same rules and procedures, but are not required to do so.

With protesters at the gates, McDonald's talks up its success story

Ries was employed at a McDonald’s franchise, and has named the operator, in addition to the corporation itself, as a defendant in her class action suit. That operator could not be reached for comment.

The plaintiffs argue that McDonald’s needs to take more responsibility for what happens at franchise locations, and should be doing more. Michigan workers are striking on Tuesday over the issue, according to the Fight for $15.

In addition to financial compensation, the suit is demanding that McDonald’s work with employees to develop stronger protections, improve training and implement better reporting mechanisms, among other changes.

The workers also want to meet with Kempczinski, the new CEO, to discuss how to improve conditions for workers at restaurants. McDonald’s did not share whether Kempczinski has agreed.

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