Michigan is one of the Midwest's most scenic states, home to gorgeous natural areas like the acclaimed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, named as the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America. Couples can enjoy excellent romantic getaways to some of the state's loveliest resort areas, including Gilded Age resort community Mackinac Island and Bavarian-style village Frankenmuth. Cities like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids offer a plethora of cultural attractions, while areas like Gaylord are home to some of the state's top winter sporting opportunities. Major festivals like Holland's Tulip Time Festival and Traverse City's National Cherry Festival also make for great getaway opportunities. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
Jackson is a lovely south-central Michigan city, located approximately half an hour west of Ann Arbor and south of Lansing. The city, which is known as the birthplace of the modern American Republican Party in 1854, has become a vibrant cultural center today, known for its excellent historical museums and attractions. Visitors can learn about 19th-century life at the Waterloo Farm Museum or the Dewey School Museum or step back in time to the Victorian era at living history museums like the Mann House and the Coe House Museum. The city's history as a major prison center is detailed at the Cell Block 7 Michigan's Prison Museum, while the state's military history is on display at the Michigan Military Heritage Museum. Iconic Cascade Falls, the city's aesthetic centerpiece, showcases lighted cascading waterfall displays throughout the day. Arts experiences abound, from performances at the Michigan Theatre to live concerts at CP Federal City Square.
Marquette is a delightful port city on Lake Superior, named as one of the United States' top places to retire by CBS MoneyWatch. The charming Marquette County city, best known as the home of Northern Michigan University, is a paradise for outdoor recreation lovers, home to beautiful parks like Presque Isle Park, which was designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and stretches for 323 acres on a peninsula in Lake Superior. Two swimming beaches are open throughout the summer months at South Beach Park and McCarty's Cove, offering children's playgrounds, lifeguard service, and day-use picnic areas. The lovely Marquette Golf Club offers panoramic lake views from each hole, located less than two miles from the city's downtown district.
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Ann Arbor is a charming metropolis in western Michigan, best known as the home of the University of Michigan campus, which houses the nation's largest football stadium at Michigan Stadium. Visitors can take in a plethora of college sports games throughout the year, including home games from the university's acclaimed football, basketball, and hockey teams. Cultural attractions abound, including the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet, and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. Family-friendly attractions include the delightful Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, which features interactive exhibits housed within a restored firehouse building. Visitors can also peruse the many bookshops of the city's downtown district, which sell more books per capita than any other city in America. Each year, the city hosts fantastic special events like the Ann Arbor Art Fair and the nationally-acclaimed Ann Arbor Film Festival.
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Bay City is a lovely Michigan city located on the Saginaw River at its confluence with the Saginaw Bay. The city makes for an ideal weekend getaway for Michiganers, home to award-winning bed and breakfasts, charming riverfront parks, and delightful shopping and dining opportunities. Visitors can explore the unique Bay City Antique Toy and Firehouse Museum, which is home to the world's largest collection of fire trucks, or learn about the region's culture and history at the Bay County Historical Museum, housed within a former 1910 National Guard Armory. During the summer months, the Bay City Independents play vintage-style baseball according to traditional 19th-century rules. Visitors can also enjoy theater and music performances at the Midland Center for the Arts, hit the golf links at the Bay Valley Resort, or enjoy prime opportunities for camping and fishing at Bay City State Recreation Area.
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Bellaire is a delightful Antrim County city known for its picturesque main street district, which is anchored by the historic 1905 Antrim County Courthouse. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout the year, including prime opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing during the summer months. During the winter months, Shanty Creek offers excellent skiing and snowmobiling trails. Over 44,000 acres of wilderness is preserved at the Grass River Natural Area, considered to be one of Michigan's premiere nature reserves. In town, Short's Brewing Company serves up delicious craft microbrews, while Mammoth Distilling is known for its excellent Northern Michigan spirits. Each August, the city hosts a fantastic Rubber Ducky Festival, which features a duck race, artisan vendors, and a parade.
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Copper Harbor is a charming resort town in Keweenaw County, located on the Upper Peninsula along the banks of Lake Superior. The year-round resort area has been named as one of the lake's best resort spots, known for its stunning natural views and scenery in all four seasons. Visitors can explore public park areas at Hunter's Island, a popular spot for migratory birds, or ascend the beautiful 1849 Copper Harbor Lighthouse and 1869 Copper Harbor Front Range and Rear Range Lights. Other preserved historic attractions include the Copper Harbor Schoolhouse, one of Michigan's oldest one-room schoolhouses, and the Copper Harbor Cemetery, which dates back to 1853. Brockway Mountain Drive offers nine miles of stunning roadway that has been acclaimed as Michigan's most beautiful scenic drive. Nearby, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park protects a United States Army base from 1844.
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Eaton Rapids is one of Michigan's liveliest tourist destinations, known for its excellent shopping, dining, and cultural attractions. The city's vibrant downtown district is known for its eclectic shops and restaurants, including local favorite dining destinations like Mark's Cafe and the English Inn. Visitors can explore the historic Miller Farms property, which is home to one of the United States' largest collections of Scouting memorabilia, or catch free family-friendly In The Park concerts throughout the summer months at Island Park. Howe Park Amphitheater hosts a variety of live performances throughout the year, including Music and Movies concert events. Water sports opportunities abound, including excellent opportunities for paddle boating and fishing along the Grand River. The city's unique Eaton Rapids Air urban camping experiences let visitors stay in Airstream trailers in the city's downtown district, celebrating small-town Americana and supporting local businesses.
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Frankenmuth is a charming German-style village in Saginaw County, Michigan, originally founded in the mid-19th century by German immigrants to the United States and named in honor of a German term loosely translating to "the courage of the Bavarians." Today, the lovely city retains its historic German character, showcasing unique Bavarian-style historic architecture and charming small-town streets lined with horse-drawn carriages. Visitors can explore delightful cultural attractions like the Frankenmuth Historical Museum, the Lager Mill Brewing Museum, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, known as the world's largest Christmas-themed retail store. Family-friendly attractions include the seasonal Zehnder's Splash Village water park and Frankenmuth Aerial Park, which offers ziplining and ropes courses.
Frankfort is a lovely Benzie County city, located at the confluence of Lake Michigan, Lake Betsie, and the Betsie River. It is best known as the home of the historic 1858 Point Betsie Lighthouse, one of America's most-photographed lighthouses, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be toured as part of regular guided tours. Frankfort Light, constructed in 1912, is also listed on the Register, located on the city's northern harbor breakwaters. The city's lovely Mineral Springs Park is home to a delightful mineral spring area which offers opportunities for drinking and bathing. Frankfort Beach offers children's playground equipment and lovely sandy stretches for strolling and sunbathing. A plethora of art galleries line the city's charming downtown district, including Focus Gallery and the Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts.
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Gaylord is a delightful Alpine-style village in Otsego County, known for its abundant snowfall throughout the winter months. Visitors flock to the city during the winter for prime skiing experiences at its many resorts, including popular cross-country skiing areas like Hartwick Pines State Park and Mason Tract Pathway. Downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities also abound, along with opportunities for snowmobile riding along the lovely North Central State Trail, constructed along a former portion of the Michigan Central Railroad route. During the summer months, visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for golfing, water skiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing at Otsego Lake. Families can have fun at the Otsego County Sportsplex or the Gaylord Bowling Center, while couples can peruse the breweries and taprooms of the Gaylord Beer Trail, including Big Buck Brewery and Snowbelt Brewing Company.
Grand Rapids is one of the largest cities in Michigan, best known as the birthplace of United States President Gerald Ford. The charming city, which is located on the banks of the Grand River just minutes from Lake Michigan, has been named as one of the world's best tourist destinations by major international publications like Lonely Planet and The New York Times. Couples can explore the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which showcases exhibits related to the politician's life and career. A plethora of cultural attractions provide opportunities for exploration, including the spectacular Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, perfect for romantic strolling. After a long day of visiting tourist attractions, couples can sample craft beers at a number of area microbreweries, including Grand Rapids Brewing Company and Founders Brewing Company.
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Holland has been named as one of the United States' top places to retire by CNNMoney, located along the banks of beautiful Lake Macatawa within easy day trip distance from nearby Grand Rapids. The beautiful city retains the Dutch-American heritage that its name would indicate, known for quaint cultural attractions such as the 250-year-old De Zwaan historic windmill, transported to the United States from the Netherlands and relocated to Windmill Island. Couples can peruse the exhibits of the Holland Museum, which chronicles the city's Dutch heritage and cultural history, or enjoy excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation at locations like Tunnel Park and Holland State Park. Each year, the city hosts the romantic Tulip Time Festival, which lines its streets with more than six million tulip blossoms.
Jonesville is a charming village in Hillsdale County, originally founded in 1828 as a stop on the famed Chicago Road. The city retains much of its historic character today, home to a quaint Main Street district that offers delicious restaurants, hearty bakeries, and inviting independent shops. Visitors can explore the beautiful preserved Grovesnor House Museum, which preserves the National Register of Historic Places-listed Gamble House, constructed for Ebenezer O. Grovesnor and considered to be one of the state's most elegant historic residences. The Country Manor Mystery Dinner Theater presents live theatrical performances throughout the year as part of delicious dinner theater experiences. Visitors can also enjoy excellent opportunities for outdoor recreational experiences, including opportunities for golfing, biking, walking, and scenic driving.
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Leland is an unincorporated community in Leland Township, serving as the ferry departure point for travels to nearby North and South Manitou Islands. The picturesque village, which is located on Leelanau Peninsula between Lakes Michigan and Leelanau, is known as a popular gateway to the beautiful nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Visitors can explore the village's lovely downtown district on foot or via bike and peruse charming shops, restaurants, art galleries, and museums. The historical district of Fishtown retains its rustic fishing village character, offering a full-service marina and boating access ramps. Each year, the city hosts the annual Leland Wine and Food Festival, which showcases award-winning wines and delightful food from local restaurants.
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Ludington is a delightful Lake Michigan city that is known as one of the Midwest's top small-town getaways, home to the charming Ludington State Park, named as the region's top state park by Midwest Living. Miles of beautiful pristine lake beachfront line the city's shores at Lake Michigan and nearby Hamlin Lake. Visitors can enjoy amazing opportunities for year-round outdoor recreational experiences, including swimming, boating, fishing, inner tubing, and skiing. Stearns Park is home to family-friendly attractions such as a miniature golf course and skate park. Historic attractions abound, including the lovely North Breakwater Light, Big Sable Point Lighthouse, and North Pierhead Lighthouse, all open for tours during the summer months. Each year, the city hosts the annual West Shore Art League Art Fair and one of the nation's largest Gus Macker Basketball Tournaments, drawing more than 35,000 spectators.
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Mackinac Island is one of the top resort communities in the Great Lakes, located on a 3.8-square-mile island of the same name. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the island served as one of the top resort areas of the Gilded Age, attracting prestigious visitors to its Victorian-era hotels and attractions. Today, it maintains a car-free policy to retain its historic atmosphere, showcasing a plethora of historic buildings preserved from its turn-of-the-century days, including the stunning Victorian Grand Hotel. Couples can stroll through attractions like Fort Mackinac, which preserves military structures connected to 18th-century British and American troops, or enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities at delightful Mackinac Island State Park. Independent boutiques, candy stores, and delicious dining destinations line the island's main business districts.
Munising is a charming Upper Peninsula city located on the banks of Lake Superior within the glorious Hiawatha National Forest. The vibrant small town is best known as the gateway to beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the Grand Island National Recreation Area, which offer amazing opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation. Visitors can hike to more than 15 waterfalls throughout the area or enjoy excellent opportunities for mountain biking, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, horseback riding, and fishing throughout the year. More than 200 inches of snowfall blanket the region each year, making it a paradise for snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. Cruise ships and glass-bottom boats offer offshore perspectives of the region's beautiful scenery and explore various shipwreck sites.
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Petoskey is a charming waterfront resort community located on Michigan's Little Traverse Bay that forms the anchor for the lovely Petoskey Area resort district. The region, which was immortalized in author Ernest Hemingway's famed Nick Adams stories, is named in honor of its prevalent deposits of Devonian Period-era Petoskey Stone, the state's official stone. The city's lovely Gaslight Shopping District serves as a vibrant cultural hub for the region, home to a delightful assortment of restaurants for couples to try, including local craft breweries and wineries. Nearby, the waterfront resort areas of Harbor Springs, Boyne City, Walloon Lake, and Bay Harbor are home to quaint rental properties that make for beautiful romantic getaway destinations.
Port Austin is a great tourist destination in Huron County, known for its family-friendly, inviting atmosphere and delightful historical and cultural attractions. Four charming parks populate the one-square-mile village, including Veteran's Waterfront Park, home to a public swimming beach and memorial, and Bird Creek County Park, stretching for seven acres and offering a beautiful wooden boardwalk. The Huron County Nature Center, located in nearby Michigan's Thumb, offers year-round free-admission walking trails. Visitors can traverse the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail via canoe or kayak, hit the horseback riding trails at Knoblock Riding Stable, or explore the beautiful Port Austin Reef Lighthouse, one of the city's most iconic landmarks. Each week, the city also hosts one of Michigan's largest farmer's market experiences.
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Port Huron is a delightful St. Clair River city located along the southern edge of Lake Huron, connected to Point Edward, Ontario via the Blue Water Bridge. The scenic city provides some of the state's most beautiful waterfront views, home to a boardwalk that serves as a link within the Bridge to Bay Trail System. Amazing views are offered from Thomas Edison Inn Parkway and Pine Grove Park, as well as the beautiful Port Huron Bridge, located at the terminus of the St. Clair River at Lake Huron. World-class museums line the city's downtown district, including the Port Huron Museum, the restored Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, and the preserved Huron Lightship and retired Coast Guard Cutter Bramble. An historic downtown district preserves two paper mills, along with a full-service marina and the McMorran Place arena and entertainment complex.
21.Saugatuck and Douglas
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Saugatuck and Douglas are two twin small towns that have been named as one of the United States' top 10 beach towns by Coastal Living Magazine, offering quintessential small-town charm and lovely year-round attractions. The twin cities are home to award-winning beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan, stretching for 10 miles along the region's lake shoreline. Together, the town's beachfront stretches have been named as one of the top 25 beachfront stretches in the world by Condé Nast Traveler. Cultural attractions abound, including the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, which hosts theatrical productions, film showings, art exhibits, and cultural events throughout the year. Three lovely shopping districts are home to independent boutiques, art galleries, and award-winning restaurants that have been acclaimed by publications such as Travel and Leisure and Thrillist.
22.Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore stretches for over 35 miles of scenic beachfront area on Michigan's eastern Lake Michigan coastline. The beautiful shorefront, which was established in 1970 to protect significant dune and glacial formations, has been named as the most beautiful place in the United States by Good Morning America. It protects stunning 450-foot-high bluffs along much of its coastline, along with a variety of forest and inland lake habitats in its interior. Couples can explore the historic South Manitou Island Lighthouse as part of guided tours or view several preserved United States Lifesaving Service stations along the lakeshore. At Loon Lake, couples can swim, fish, and hike. Nearby, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail offers hiking and biking experiences, while the 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive offers unparalleled dune views.
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Tecumseh is a lovely city in Lenawee County, named in honor of the famed Shawnee indigenous chief of the same name. The city's historic downtown district is known for its delightful shopping and dining destinations, many of which are located within restored or converted historic buildings from the 19th century. Antique stores, craft microbreweries, children's toy stores, and bakeries abound, including one of the best places to grab gourmet cinnamon rolls in the state. The Southern Michigan Railroad Society showcases exhibits related to the region's railroading history, including restored train cars. Annual special events include the Tecumseh Ice Sculpting Festival and the autumn Appleumpkin Festival. An annual Art Walk opens the doors of the city's art galleries and studios, while an Art Trail showcases public art sculptures that are changed on a yearly basis.
Traverse City has been named as one of the best small towns in America by Livability and US News and World Report, located on stunning Grand Traverse Bay along the state's Lake Michigan shoreline. The delightful city is best known throughout the country as America's top producer of tart cherries and hosts the annual National Cherry Festival, which brings cherry-related delicacies and activities to the city's downtown district each July. Couples can enjoy delightful performances at the Victorian-style City Opera House or explore the Dennos Museum Center, which highlights the region's indigenous history. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound at Traverse City State Park, which is home to an extensive campground. The city is also one of Michigan's top viticultural areas, home to over 50 wineries that offer tastings and tours throughout the week.
24 Best Small Towns in Michigan
- Jackson, Photo: besjunior/stock.adobe.com
- Marquette, Photo: ehrlif/stock.adobe.com
- Ann Arbor, Photo: mivod/stock.adobe.com
- Bay City, Photo: chagin/stock.adobe.com
- Bellaire, Photo: cherryandbees/stock.adobe.com
- Copper Harbor, Photo: Paul Lemke/stock.adobe.com
- Eaton Rapids, Photo: Nestor/stock.adobe.com
- Frankenmuth, Photo: helgidinson/stock.adobe.com
- Frankfort, Photo: Olivia/stock.adobe.com
- Gaylord, Photo: Fluky/stock.adobe.com
- Grand Rapids, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Holland, Photo: csterken/stock.adobe.com
- Jonesville, Photo: Cynthia/stock.adobe.com
- Leland, Photo: Alexey Stiop/stock.adobe.com
- Ludington, Photo: Dennis Caskey/stock.adobe.com
- Mackinac Island, Photo: csterken/stock.adobe.com
- Munising, Photo: Nick/stock.adobe.com
- Petoskey, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Port Austin, Photo: ehrlif/stock.adobe.com
- Port Huron, Photo: Wally Stemberger/stock.adobe.com
- Saugatuck and Douglas, Photo: Satoshi Kina/stock.adobe.com
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Photo: csterken/stock.adobe.com
- Tecumseh, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Traverse City, Photo: shrirampatki/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Ulf/stock.adobe.com
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