9 Most Beautiful Small Towns in Michigan

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A beautiful US state bound by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan is also home to picturesque cityscapes, including beaches and a Germanic village. Offering great recreation opportunities in vibrant hearts and landscapes, these small towns are the most beautiful in the state.

Charlevoix

Aerial view of Round Lake in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Bordered by the immense Lake Michigan, the small town of Charlevoix shines with nature and true American charm. One can explore the beautiful Fisherman’s Island State Park, ideal for picnicking, swimming, and engaging in the traditional hunt for elusive Petoskey stones found in the state. The magnificent castle farmhouse is a surprisingly grand property from 1918, topped with turreted towers. The Instagrammable stone-fronted keep is a popular venue for weddings, while the everyday tourist should explore its gardens, befitting the castle’s beauty. The city’s must-see Hobbit Houses include 27 quaint homes uniquely designed by architect Earl Young. Made of locally sourced limestone, fieldstone and boulders, with cedar shingle roofs that give them the “The Lord of the Rings” call, they are known locally as “mushroom houses”. For a quintessential stay experience, there’s the Weathervane Terrace and the Earl’s Hotel, also built by Young.

Frankenmuth

Bavarian style houses of the Bavarian Inn Center on a perfect winter day in Frankenmuth, Michigan
Bavarian style homes of the Bavarian Inn center on a perfect winter day in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Editorial credit: TI / Shutterstock.com

The state’s little Bavarian darling, Frankenmuth, is saturated with charm and genuine Germanic appeal. Designed as an alpine village, its three square mile area has a range of authentic shops, homes and restaurants. To really soak up the atmosphere, pop in for a bratwurst, schnitzel or pretzel, washed down with beer. The array of adorable shops includes the Bavarian Inn Castle Shops, a chocolate ‘haus’, a cheese ‘haus’ and a cuckoo clock shop. There’s the photogenic Covered Bridge to admire, while a riverboat trip will give a whole new perspective of the picturesque cityscape. Host to a major beer tasting event, Frankenmuth is also home to the famous Frankenmuth Brewery, with its Christmas Town Ale available year-round. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is the largest Christmas store in the world, housed in an Alpine-style building, where you can experience that special Christmas feeling in July. In winter, you can diversify the days by visiting the Frankenmuth ice rink or by taking part in Zehnder’s Snowfest. For a unique experience, there are blacksmithing lessons, while extreme enthusiasts will enjoy ziplining at Frankenmuth Aerial Park.

harbor springs

Harbor Springs and Harbor Point in northern Michigan are popular summer destinations for families
Harbor Springs and Harbor Point in northern Michigan are popular summer destinations for families. Editorial credit: Thomas Barrat / Shutterstock.com

Harbor Spring seduces from the first contact by combining all the charms of Michigan in a quaint little harbor town. Perched picturesquely on the north shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan, it is known for the incredible community feel with a beautiful shoreline. The ultimate getaway for a dose of nature or to be active, there are many state reserves and parks, such as Petoskey State Park, with vibrant landscapes of bright blue waves crashing on golden shores . There’s also the cool Cross Village Beach, Zorn Park Beach for relaxing in the shade or the sun, and the pet-friendly Zoll Street Beach with an idyllic stretch of sand where people go for a swim. kayak. Located on the deepest harbor in the Great Lakes, Harbor Springs offers an unparalleled location for sailing. The streets are full of galleries to browse, such as the remarkable Tvedten Fine Art, while the magnificent quay Stafford Pier Restaurant will host a seafood feast to refuel after a scenic day. For more entertainment, the Odawa Casino is less than 20 minutes away in Petoskey.

Ludington

Aerial view of Big Sable Point Lighthouse near Ludington, Michigan
Aerial view of Big Sable Point Lighthouse near Ludington, Michigan.

Located in a very scenic location where the Pere Marquette River meets Lake Michigan and other nearby lakes, Ludington is a very popular destination among anglers and sailors. With great Lake Michigan, the city offers a scenic getaway in a quaint harbor town environment, with endless views of the boats taking off. The beautiful location is teeming with wilderness for fantastic nature hikes and picnics, including Ludington State Park, Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, and Manistee National Forest. The quaint town also features a historic Ludington Lighthouse, a beautiful Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and a bustling town centre. Attractions include the Lakeside Half Marathon for the active, vibrant West Shore Art, the League’s Art Fair, and the family-friendly beachside Children’s Sandcastle Museum. White Pine Historic Village is a 19th century replica of a township reminiscent of the pioneer age with 30 historic buildings including the 1849 Mason County Courthouse.

Munising

Marsh marigolds are in full bloom at the Wagner Falls Scenic Site near Munising, Michigan
Marsh marigolds are in full bloom at the Wagner Falls Scenic Spot near Munising, Michigan.

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the beautiful Hiawatha National Forest, Munising is the destination for active travelers and those looking to relax in scenic surroundings. The beautiful pine-scented nature reserve is blessed with brilliant green forests and mesmerizingly clear waters. Being greeted by over 15 scenic waterfalls on the many nature-strewn hiking trails makes this a destination where all dreams of outdoor adventure come true. Aside from the usual beach time, endless water fun includes fishing, kayaking in the crystal clear waters, and even guided scuba diving tours. During the day, one must stroll through the bustling city for the unique atmosphere, while settling in the surrounding area means living on the wild side and enjoying the unforgettable experience of Michigan under the stars.

Paradise (Tahquamenon Falls)

Fall colors at Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, near Paradise, Michigan
Fall colors at Upper Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise, Michigan.

Located on the shores of Lake Superior in Whitefish Bay, the small township of Paradise is known to nature lovers for the spectacular Tahquamenon Falls. Its rural setting presents a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle to relax and reconnect with Mother Nature. For sights, there’s the quaint, historic Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which reveal more about the lighthouse and other maritime secrets of the area. The spectacular Tahquamenon Falls State Park is known for its untouched beauty that begs to be explored for the upper and lower falls, as well as the Tahquamenon River. With miles of hiking trails around, one can get different views of the falls and the cityscape via a canoe or a walk along the river. The wonderful Tahqua Trekker Shuttle transports you to different points in the park for a convenient way to see all the natural beauty it has to offer. The bustling town offers great options for staying, dining and shopping, while one can enjoy the outdoors until nightfall at a campsite. Aptly named, the tiny township also boasts a beautiful beach known for its crowd-free vibes and lake views.

Petoskey

Aerial view of Petoskey and St. Francis Church
Aerial view of Petoskey and St. Francis Church.

The small town of Petoskey is blessed with a rich history, located in the area known to be first inhabited by indigenous peoples. An Odawa chief originally purchased Petoskey under the Washington Treaty. First missionaries and then western pioneers hiked here during the 1800s, while today it’s a charming town where tourists come to find many of the state’s sights. . “Stones of Petoskey.” The bustling town center is full of historic architecture and scenic landscapes, while the best waterfront views come with a pretty lighthouse and plenty of water sports. For nature lovers and the best camping, there’s Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga oarr Wilderness State Park and Petoskey State Park on Little Traverse Bay. Mighty Fine Pizza is a famous family-run pizzeria, while drink lovers will enjoy some of the finest and most affordable wineries and breweries in the area. Scenic highlights to taste and browse include Walloon Lake Winery, Mackinaw Trail Winery, and Resort Pike Cidery and Winery.

Saugatuck

The Kalamazoo River flows through Saugatuck, Michigan
The Kalamazoo River flows through Saugatuck, Michigan.

The name that resonates with all outdoor enthusiasts, Saugatuck, is famous for the Saugatuck Dunes State Park and the Saugatuck Dune Rides. Part of the “Art Coast,” the bustling township is renowned for its arts scene, and the sprawling LGBTQ area was recently voted one of the hottest gay destinations in the country. Known among art lovers for the many charming galleries that feature works by local and national artists, there are also tons of unique shops and epicurean adventures to suit everyone. Restaurants galore include everything from farm-to-table, trendy, celebrity chefs, to maritime fare. Picturesque Saugatuck also comes with the Oval Beach to satisfy all water sports and fun cravings. The little piece of paradise is known for its powdery sands, gentle waters and first-class views in a relaxing beach setting.

Southern Haven

Aerial view of South Haven Lighthouse on Lake Michigan
Aerial view of South Haven Lighthouse on Lake Michigan.

South Haven is a scenic getaway that lives up to its name with seven quality beaches that include vast stretches of sand and dunes. The main paddling pool, South Beach, is renowned for the charming set of blue stairs leading above the dunes with majestic views of the glistening lake. There are nature preserves, protected waterfront parks, and the Lake Arvesta Farms Water Park, which offers a variety of fun water activities, like an on-water obstacle course. For history and scenery, there’s the century-old Red Lighthouse jutting out into Lake Michigan. South Haven contains some of the state’s authentic, time-tested accommodations, surrounded by museums, galleries, markets, wineries, and the famous Blue Star Highway. The city center offers various shopping opportunities, while Clementine The restaurant is a must-visit for dinner in a historic 1896 bank setting, including the decadent caramel and chocolate martinis.

It is no coincidence that these well-named cities seduce at first sight. Their beautiful cityscapes in incredible landscapes have to be experienced to be believed.

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