The 20 Best Small Towns in Michigan You Will Absolutely Love

Looking to getaway to one of the best small towns in Michigan? As a native Michigander, I couldn’t help but share my favorite towns in Michigan to visit.

No one greets us like small towns! Michigan offers a vast choice of outdoor activities and stunning natural scenery. Let’s take a walk through Michigan’s most picturesque villages listed in Alphabetical order (since I have multiple favorites!).

The Best Small Towns in Michigan You will Love!


Copper Harbor

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Sunset in Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor is situated in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. One of the more popular activities is their bike trails, Copper Harbor Trails Club. Or for sightseeing things to do, see the Copper Harbor Lighthouse

If you have time for a day trip, depart Copper Harbor by ferry to see the Isle Royale National Park. This national park is extremely remote with inland lakes, forests, and a rock coast and makes it a fantastic destination to hike or kayak. You will fall in love with breathtaking views!


Charlevoix

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Charlevoix is one of those special towns you don’t want to miss. It has some of the best water views in the area and unique architecture. Look for the Mushroom houses (yes, they literally look like mushrooms!) and explore the quaint downtown.

Take a sailing tour with Sunshine Charters and see some sights. You will pass by some of the most prestigious homes in Michigan. By far, this is one of my favorite things to do. You don’t have to take a tour, but at the very least get out on the water!

Charlevoix is a great place to base your vacation with the charming towns of Traverse City and Petoskey nearby. One of the more reasonably priced accommodations to check out is the quaint Charlevoix House with easy walking to the beach and around town.


Escanaba

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Escanaba at Sunrise in Ludington Park

Escanaba or also known to many as “Esky” is located in the Upper Peninsula. The Sand Point Lighthouse and the Ludington Park will always dominate Escanaba’s ‘to-do’ list. Delta County Historical Society Museum is also another great destination for the whole family!

While in town, enjoy a draft beer at Upper Hand Brewery.


Frankenmuth

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Frankenmuth Cheese Haus Clock Tower

Frankenmuth is one of the best small towns in Michigan because of its unique Bavarian-style architecture. It has been nicknamed, “Michigan’s Little Barvaria.” Founded by German Lutheran immigrants, this town has an historic European atmosphere that you rarely find in the US.

Come wander around the quaint streets and explore all the town has to offer. If you visit at Christmas time, you will be awed by the enchanting scenery.

Heritage Park is located off Weise Street and hosts various community events and festivals throughout the year. There is also a playground, picnic spots, and sports fields for the whole family to enjoy.

You don’t want to miss Bonner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Open since 1945, this is the largest Christmas store in the World!


Gaylord

Gaylor is one of the best small towns in Michigan for it's great golf courses.

Gaylord is an adorable little village nestled in the wonderful outdoors. More than 90 pristine lakes can be explored and countless other attractions.

Gaylord provides an exciting adventure with great bicycling, hiking, swimming, kayaking, skiing, and fishing. But it is largely known for being a golf mecca with 17 championship courses!

You will want to spend some time downtown in the Alpine Village. Here you will find unique boutiques and shops, and one of the best farmer’s markets in Michigan.


Harbor Springs

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Harbor Springs is situated near Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan which offers a wide array of attractions. This is a great couples weekend getaway location with a charming downtown.

The Little Traverse Bay Ferry Co. Ferry offers rides from Harbor Springs to Petoskey or Bay Harbor. This is the ideal way to see these charming places without having the headache of driving and navigation.

Golfing in another popular pastime in Harbor Springs. A few of the courses to check out are Harbor Point Golf Club and The Heather Golf Course.

Or if you prefer relaxing by the water, you’ll want to check out Zorn Park beaches.


Holland

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Holland was founded by a group of Dutch Calvinists who migrated to Holland in the 1840s. The area is still largely populated by Dutch American residents. It is most famous for the working windmill, which is well-worth touring while here.

Holland holds a Tulip Time Festival annually in May that draws huge crowds who love to see bright floral fields and to see wooden clogs.


Ludington

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Located on the edge between Pere Marquette Lake and Lake Michigan, Ludington is a popular tourist attraction in Michigan. It’s one of the best small towns in Michigan for fishing, kayaking, sailing, and other water sports.

See the surrounding Ludington State Park Beach and Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area for hiking or relaxation. Or for those that prefer the city, Ludington boasts an old-fashioned lighthouse and a lively downtown atmosphere.

Ludington is another great place to see interesting historic sites. White Pine Village represents a living history tour of a 19th to 20th-century pioneer village. This is a fun family-friendly place for all ages!


Mackinac Island

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Mackinac Island is a popular destination in Michigan for good reasons. The tiny island is like stepping back in time with no cars or commercial stores. You feel like you are on a movie set, it is that picturesque.

Initially, Mackinac Island was known largely for being Fort Mackinac – which is still open for tours. While on the island make time to see the diverse wildlife, forests, limestone formations, and beautiful coastlines.

Treat yourself to an overnight stay at the famous Grand Hotel or the quaint Harbour View Inn on Mackinac Island. I stayed at the Grand Hotel when I was a small child, and I still remember it vividly today.

Tip: Mackinac Island can become overly crowded during peak season which is the summertime. It is best to visit in spring or fall months.


Midland

Midland is one of the best small towns in michigan for its unique Dow Gardens.

Midland has become an important cultural center of the region, including the sprawling 110 acres of Dow Gardens and the Midland Center for the Arts.

The coolest feature of Midland is the Tridge, a 3-legged bridge that expands over 3 rivers. It is absolutely beautiful at night with its glowing lights.


Milford

Milford Michigan is often overlooked but it offers a wide variety of things to do.

Milford is not often mentioned in many of the travel books due to its small size, but it truly is one of the best small towns in Michigan. It has a charming downtown and beautiful lakes nearby. Milford’s Central Park, located on the banks of the Huron River, is a family favorite with an ice rink, playscape, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts.

While in the area, you will want to make a slight detour to eat at the Highland House Restaurant. This is a local favorite with some of the best Greek salad, bread sticks, and dinner selections.


Munising

Munising is one of the prettiest towns with gorgeous waterfalls nearby.

Munising has become the perfect location for outdoor enthusiasts to have a peaceful holiday. It is located on Southern end of Lake Superior on the Upper Peninsula.

Its stunning nature preserve features crystal clear water with lush green vegetation.

Munising offers many hiking paths and many outdoor adventures. While here you can’t miss some of these amazing sites: Miners Castle Rock, Munising Falls, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


Muskegon

Muskegon is one of the best small towns  in Michigan - look at this lighthouse and sail boat on beautiful blue sparkling water.

The city of Muskegon is one of the best small towns in Michigan because of its amusement park and waterpark. Michigan’s Adventure has over 60 rides and attractions. For your inner daredevil, you will love that 7 of the rides are roller coasters!

Muskegon is just a short drive north of the charming town of Holland. Both are great towns to explore especially for kids.

With also having an abundance of beaches and sail boats, there is something for everyone here! If you like historic homes, don’t miss Hackley and Hume Historic Site, which has some of the prettiest Victorian homes with a unique history.


Petoskey

Petoskey is one of those places that you get gorgeous views in every direction.  Look at the bright blue green water.

Petoskey is another town along the coast that makes for an ideal summer getaway. It is situated at the Little Traverse Bay and boasts an extensive marina with many boating options. Being located nearby Charlevoix makes it an ideal spot for a day trip.

Aside from the water, the Gas Lights Historic District is one of the most loved areas. This quaint ares has cute shops like McLean & Eakin Bookshops and Grandpa Shorters.

There are also plenty of wineries nearby such as Maple Moon Sugarbrush, Petoskey Farms Vineyard, and the Rudbeckia Winery.


Saugatuck

Saugatuck beaches have some of the most gorgeous views - look at this blue orange sunset.

Saugatuck is one of the best small towns in Michigan for art galleries and beach vibes. Spend an afternoon exploring the odd shopping opportunities or a stroll along the water.

Oval Beach has been rated one of the top 25 beaches in the US. While in Saugatuck make time for a ride on the dunes!


Sault Saint Marie

Sault Ste Marie has some of most interesting history in Michigan and Canada.

Sault Ste. Marie sits on the border between Canada and the United States. It is most known for having hundreds of miles of world-class skiing trails. It is also home to the Crank Shield annual back country mountain bike stage race.

Make time to visit the Soo Locks and St. Marys River Waterfront Boardwalk.

You’ll love the laid-back artsy vibe of the city that prioritizes a work-life balance. Throughout the year you will find a whole host of events including: Rotary Fest, Algoma Fall Festival, the Gathering at the Rapids Pow Wow, and more!


South Haven

South Haven photo of the lighthouse - one of the most photographed locations in Michigan.

South Haven is one of most recognized best small towns in Michigan. It has been a very popular destination for those who want to escape the big city during the summer or a weekend getaway. It is largely known for its award-winning wineries, sandy beaches, and outdoor adventures.

If you like biking, the Kal-Haven Trail has a 34-mile long scenic path. Or if you prefer to kayak, you’ll be impressed with the gorgeous views of the Black River.

But you don’t have to leave town to enjoy nature. Shoppers can enjoy the scenery with the river that runs through the heart of the city.


St. Joseph

St. Joseph lighthouse and sailing boat in the distance.

Known as the “The Riviera of the Midwest,” St. Joseph has so many things to do! You can truly visit anytime of the year and experience interesting restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, and charming wineries. The town is named after the St. Joseph’s River that flows through into Lake Michigan.

While here you will want to see the 2 North Lighthouses that date back to the 1900s. Also, Silver Beach is known for being one of the best beaches in Michigan.


Tawas City

Tawas City photo of the lighthouse.

Tawas City is best known for Tawas Point Lighthouse, built in 1876. This beautiful historical landmark beckons to land as well as sea.

Gateway Park is a waterfront space with animal-shaped kids play sculptures, a pier, and a dog park area. Watch the waves roll across the water, or go on boats and explore around Tawas City!

Tawas City has a quiet and peaceful charm to it. For a fun evening, eat at Tawas Bay Pizza Company and get drinks at the Boathouse Beer Co. & Boozery.


Traverse City

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Clinch Park in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City is one of the best small towns in Michigan for a reason. It not only is the “Cherry Capital of the World” but it is also known for producing award-wining Riesling wines.

Take a drive north of Traverse City to Grand Traverse Winery. There are plenty of other things to do on this drive, including the Old Mission Lighthouse which is a fun place to take kids with a beach and swing set.

If you can tear yourself away from this charming town for a few hours, you will want to check out Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

After a full day of exploring, there is nothing like a great meal at one of the eateries in town. A personal favorite for pub grub is 7 Monks Taproom. You can’t go wrong with their Bacon Jam Burger, crispy Brussels, and a cold brew of your choice!

Traverse City is an ideal weekend getaway location. We loved staying at the Hotel Indigo IHG in downtown Traverse City. It has good views of Traverse Bay, a nice rooftop bar, and easy walking around town.



Disclaimer: The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. All opinions are our own. Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and to continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. This article is the property of erinstraveltips.com and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. Re-publication without written permission is against the law.

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24 Comments
  • Kelly
    June 1, 2022

    I had no idea Michigan had this many small towns! Other than Detroit, I’ve only been to Frankenmuth and Port Huron (both for shopping). The wineries in South Haven are right up my alley. I need to start crossing into Michigan more often to check out some of these towns.

  • Alex
    June 2, 2022

    I have never been to Michigan, but I would love to go one day! I will definitely be using this list when I make the trip! I did’t realize Michigan had so many great stops.

  • Meghan
    June 2, 2022

    I just moved to Michigan a little over a year ago and have visited a handful of these small towns- Charlevoix and Muskegon being among my favorites thus far. Definitely going to visit Silver Beach in St. Joseph soon! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tania
    June 2, 2022

    I have never been to Michigan, but this looks amazing.

  • Sarah
    June 2, 2022

    I only think of Detroit when I think of Michigan, so never shown interest in visiting this part of the USA. These towns look exactly the sort of place I would like to visit. Looks like I need to plan a Michigan road trip.

  • Charlie-Elizabeth Nadeau
    June 2, 2022

    Wow this is beautiful! These small towns do look picturesque, you have amazing pictures. I haven’t been to Michigan yet but seeing the charm of each makes me want to go. Thank you for sharing your favourites and giving a breakdown of each, it’s super helpful in choosing where one might start their adventure of travel. Great read!

  • Jessica L
    June 2, 2022

    I’m not sure why I never visited Michigan since I have lots of family there, but this post makes me REALLY want to head over and see some of these places! Mackinack Island especially looks so idyllic and lovely! I could fall in love with a town like that! WOW!!

  • Aubrey
    June 2, 2022

    St. Joseph, MI sounds like such a dream to visit! I’ve never been to Michigan, but this makes me want to add it to my travel bucket list stat! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • ANUKRATI
    June 4, 2022

    Wow! The midland looks superb. I did not know Michigan had so many places around. Thank you for sharing.

  • Christin
    June 4, 2022

    Great inspiration for things to do in summer in Michigan! These small towns all look like places I would love to visit. One might even attempt a roadtrip of the lighthouses… Thanks for sharing!

  • Alma
    June 4, 2022

    Michigan has some real small town gems to visit! I have heard much about Michigan and its beautiful lake so would love to visit one day. Saving this just in case.

  • Alexandra
    June 4, 2022

    Such great choices! I’m ready for a road trip!!

  • Natalie
    June 4, 2022

    I love Michigan’s towns! I haven’t visited all of these yet, but I hope to one day 🙂

  • Leah
    June 4, 2022

    These all look beautiful – and so different! I have never been to Michigan but would love to visit one day.

  • Alexandra
    June 4, 2022

    There are so many cute towns in Michigan, I had no idea! I really want to go to Munising — looks soooo cute! Love that waterfall.

  • Lasma
    June 4, 2022

    Okay, honestly, I had no idea there were so many cool places in Michigan. So many nice lighthouses and beaches. I loved the autumn destination as well, but holland is my fav. Great work – like always 🙂

  • Pam
    June 5, 2022

    These look stunning! You only really here about the big cities so it’s refreshing to see all of these charming small towns. I love seeing small towns and the daily life of local people. thanks for sharing.

  • Sue
    June 5, 2022

    Michigan is one of the few states I haven’t visited yet and there looks like so many great places to visit there.

  • Michele
    June 6, 2022

    Our neighbor in Texas spends his summers in Michigan. Now I can see why. There are so many gorgeous small towns. Thanks for a great post!

  • Bea Pinnegar
    June 6, 2022

    What a lovely list – complete with such stunning photographs. Thank you for this guide. Even though all these towns look better than the last, I think my top picks would be Escanaba and Gaylor! Hope I can visit someday soon 🙂

  • Gail
    June 6, 2022

    So many great places to visit! Holland Tulip Time Festival looks like it would be fun.:). Thanks for sharing!

  • Elyse
    June 6, 2022

    I haven’t been but these photos are stunning. Definitely adding Michigan to my travel list now

  • Jennifer
    July 9, 2022

    These all look so interesting! I am especially intrigued by Charlevoix mushroom houses. Pinning this one for later.

  • Danielle
    July 10, 2022

    I’d heard of Traverse City and Mackinac Island, but so many of these are new destination ideas for me! Maybe I need to road trip next spring…

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