Summer in Ohio can be a special type of torture when the heat and the humidity combine into sticky, icky weather. The solution? Taking a trip to Northern Michigan.

“For more than 100 years now, people from down below have come up here to get relief because it’s drier, cooler, and yet at the same time, you have all of the wonderful forests and beaches,” says Mike Norton, media relations manager for Traverse City Tourism.

The diverse activities, events and places throughout the region guarantee that everyone in the family can find something of interest while staying cool.

Outdoor aficionados can rejoice in the number of places to find and explore, with both beaches and forests in large supply.

“We’ve got miles and miles of coastlines of different lakes. The beaches on Lake Michigan are wide, sugar-sandy beaches,” says Kristin Leach, assistant manager at Visit Up North Vacation Rentals, which rents condos and houses in Northern Michigan. Lake Michigan offers 180 miles of fresh-water shoreline, and the 149 local lakes just add to that number. There is no shortage of beaches that the family can use to play and relax.

If you’re looking to be active, Northern Michigan is full of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

“We see ourselves—have seen ourselves traditionally—as a four-season hub for outdoor recreation,” says Norton. “There’s a wide range of outdoor activities, ranging from fairly low-impact stuff to stuff that involves a fair amount of skill.”

On the water, you can try surfing, paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking and even scuba diving. While surfers head out to the main lake to find waves, Grand Traverse Bay is perfect for these other activities.

“Grand Traverse Bay … is hugely protected from big winds and waves. Although, there’s a lot of open water, the two arms of the bay are narrow enough [that] they make it very safe to sail and do stand-up paddleboarding and kayak fairly long distances without having a lot of fear of getting into weather you can’t handle,” says Norton. There are also many scenic rivers, and even some rapids, for kayakers and canoeists looking for something different.

On land, visitors can hike or bike their way through Northern Michigan’s many scenic forests. The Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails (often called TART) is a paved trail that goes across Traverse City and through some beautiful beach areas. The paved Leelanlau Trail goes from Traverse City to The beaches, lakes and forests of Northern Michigan make outdoor recreation, like kayaking (left), paddleboarding (above) and cycling (right) easy to do. It also pairs these activities with some magnificent views.

The Old Mission Peninsula is perfect for road biking. The narrow 22-mile peninsula offers a number of outlooks and a simple, easy-to-follow road.

“Cyclists really enjoy riding on that road because you can almost always have a view of where you’re going. And it’s full of wineries and vineyards and orchards as well,” says Norton.

If all of this sounds like too much work, the arts scene in Northern Michigan may be more your style. Traverse City, Suttons Bay, Leelanau, Northport and Elk Rapids all have a large number of galleries and studios available. The Dennos Museum Center holds many fine art exhibits, including an impressive collection of Canadian Indian art. Traverse City even has its own film festival from July 29 to Aug. 3. Movie-lovers can see independent films, attend discussions, and meet directors and producers.

The nationally famous Interlochen Center for the Arts also brings in performers from around the world.

“But the treat often is … [that] the students also perform,” says Norton. “A lot of people will camp at the state park in Interlochen right across the road from the arts camp and then just do ‘cultural camping’: Going across the road and taking in a concert or a play or an opera at little to no cost.”

After a day of recreation or music, hungry travelers should head on into Traverse City to take part in the growing food scene. Named by Bon Appetit as one of the top foodie towns in the country, it’s easy to find delicious food here. If you want some guidance, though, there are several guided foodie tours to help you find your way around.

For Leach, one of the best things about Northern Michigan is that nothing is that far away. She likes to remind renters that no matter where they stay, they’re a small drive away from something else to do. “All the towns have great restaurants. There’s nature and beaches and hiking. [There’s] everything, really, in almost every little corner of this area,” she says.