12 Most Beautiful Small Towns in Michigan You Must Visit

Last Updated on January 07, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Nobody does a warm welcome quite like a small town! And if an old-fashioned welcome is what you’re looking for, then head to the Midwest. Michigan is the perfect place to plan your next getaway for its diverse array of choices and absolutely stunning natural attractions.

Take a hike, ride the coastline in a high-speed boat, or simply enjoy the soothing sounds of Michigan small towns. Let's explore the most adorable small towns in Michigan.

Best Small Towns in Michigan

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Take a hike! Literally -- Munising is located in the stunning, breathtaking, and beautiful Hiawatha National Forest. In Upper Peninsula Michigan, Munising is where the outdoor enthusiasts go for a relaxing weekend getaway.

This gorgeous nature preserve has crystal clear waters and vivid green forests that will recenter and enchant you. And in the winter, there is so much to do in the snow! Munising is a year-round destination for small town adventuring.

Despite being a small town, there is so much to see in Munising. With more than 15 waterfalls, numerous hiking trails, and almost all of the outdoor adventures you can dream up, Munising is a place to live on the wild side.

Try snowmobiling through the Hiawatha National Forest, or try your hand at fishing. Rent a kayak and glide through the pristine waters, or maybe even deep dive with some guided Scuba tours. And while the town itself is a gorgeous, welcoming place to be, don’t forget to consider camping. There is nothing quite like the Michigan stars at night. Munising is made for memories!

Address: Munising, MI

2: Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs
Downtown Harbor Springs Michigan | Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

If you choose a small town for the community: think Harbor Springs! This is a quaint harbor town with all the charms Michigan has to offer on a gorgeous shoreline. Found on the North Shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan, Harbor Springs has a plethora of activities to choose from.

You can’t do Harbor Springs justice without checking off at least a few nature preserves and state parks in the area. Petoskey State Park boasts of golden shores with bright blue waves crashing on the sand to create that perfect natural melody. And Zorn Park Beach is one of the best places in the state to take a load off. Put your toes in the sand, your sunscreen on, and let the calming aura of the beach lull you to sleep.

More of a winter wonderland type of person? Perfect! During the colder months, Nubs Nob Ski Resort is the place to be! The runs and trails here are unmatched and beloved by tourists and locals alike. A good snow day calls for testing your limits on the slopes and doing it all at a resort that offers a nice place to take a break. Or maybe, opt to stay inside and try your luck at the Odawa Casino. We all know fortune favors the bold, but make your own luck in Harbor Springs.

Address: Harbor Springs, MI

3: Ludington


Nestled on the coast of Lake Michigan is the waterside town of your dreams. Complete with an old-style lighthouse and a bustling downtown scene, Ludington is one of Michigan’s best small towns. This is the place to go if you’re one with the water and love a good kayak/boat/canoe ride.

Check out some of the tours in the area, or maybe go rustic and try your hand at braving the great Pere Marquette River. Many locals and tourists also fish or hike around these areas too, so land or water, there is no wrong way to explore.

Ludington is also a great destination for some unique historical sites. The Historic White Pine Village is a 19th-century replica meant to portray the pioneer age. There are 30 historic buildings at this attraction, the title piece being the Mason County Courthouse that dates back to 1849.

If the coast is calling your name, maybe take a historical dive into the wonderful Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. This is a coast guard station turned museum that makes Ludington a truly unique place to explore.

Address: Ludington, MI

4: St. Joseph

St. Joseph
Flickr/Rachel Kramer

For a tourist town that still holds that essential small town charm, check out St. Joseph. It’s just the right speed for the traveler with a hefty bucket list. Especially for any foodie and/or drink tour enthusiasts.

St. Joseph has a cuisine ranging from all corners of the world and back again to bring you the tastiest dishes in Michigan. Finish the night off with a trip to a winery or brewery and check out the wide world of selection available in this welcoming adventure town.

If you’re looking for something other than your stomach to guide you, have no fear; the itinerary is here! The Curious Kids' Museum and Discovery Zone is a great place for children and families to explore their interests and engage in some educational fun.

Take the group downtown for a shop till you drop trip, with the much needed and effortlessly cute coffee shops and eateries placed around the city for maximum enjoyment. And in the warmer months, go where the locals do: the beach! Tip your toes in the pool of freedom and spend your summer in St. Joseph.

Address: St. Joseph, MI

5: Tawas City

Tawas City
Tawas Point Lighthouse | Flickr/Don Henise

All lights point to Tawas! Tawas City is notable for several reasons, however arguably the most well known has to be the Tawas Point Lighthouse. This is a historic landmark that calls to land and sea alike to marvel at its beauty.

Situated around it is a charming small town that boasts of life on the serenity side. Evenings can be spent at Gateway Park, enjoying the fresh area and stunning views, with nights dedicated to relaxing in the city center. Watch the waves lap the shore or crash through them on a boat tour: there is no wrong way to do Tawas City!

Address: Tawas City, MI

6: Escanaba


Affectionately nicknamed “Esky”, Escanaba is a Michigan small town that makes a big name for itself! Located on the banks of the Little Bay de Noc, this is a city with so much to do in such a small town. To start, no trip is complete without some of the title waterside attractions.

Locations such as the Sand Point Lighthouse and Ludington Park will always and forever be topping the ‘to-do’ lists of Escanaba. However, some of the lesser-known adventures are some of the best excursions. The Delta County Historical Museum and Pioneer Trail Park may get less foot traffic but deserve no less love!

Escanaba also is home to a wide variety of specialty stores and artistic expression. Sayklly’s Confectionery & Gifts has been one of Esky’s title attractions for years and is just as sweet as it sounds.

The Bonifas Art Gallery showcases some of the best local art in the area and is by far one stop you won’t want to miss. Keep the inspiration rolling with the East Ludington Gallery just a short drive away, and learn what makes this area so special!

Address: Escanaba, MI

7: Frankenmuth

Flickr/Peter C

Guten tag! Frankenmuth is the German crown jewel of Michigan. Founded and loved by the Germans settlers, Frankenmuth is well-known for its Bavarian-style culture and architecture. There are many European influences and themed attractions here to enjoy that are seldom found elsewhere in the country.

This is a charming little town in Michigan that makes a name for itself through a variety of unique features. Annual festivals, trendy mom-and-pop shops, and some of the best Bavarian cuisine this side of the Atlantic all await the next traveler to Frankenmuth.

Frankenmuth is the right choice for those who want to experience life a little differently on vacation. With all the natural beauty of a typical Midwest town and all the attractions of a uniquely themed break, Frankenmuth is unmatched. The Bavarian Belle Riverboat is a great way to spend the evening floating down a river that cuts through some of the town's best spots.

Prefer adventure activities instead? Then check out the Frankenmuth Aerial Park! It is a fun attraction for the whole family, with ropes courses and zip lines that mark the real heart of an adventurer. And for the of-age crowd, be sure to finish the night off at one of Frankenmuth's top wineries. Frankenmuth is a town with so much charm you won’t want to say Auf Wiedersehen anytime soon.

Address: Frankenmuth, MI

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Also Read: Most Beautiful Small Towns in America

8: Douglas/Saugatuck

Iced shoreline of Lake Michigan near sunset, Saugatuck Dunes State Park | Shutterstock/Dean Pennala

Don’t forget Douglas! Primarily known for its spectacular dunes, Douglas is a small town in Michigan that writes its name in the sands of adventure. If you’ve never felt the salt, sand, and sun on your face as you trek through the waterside dunes: Douglas is for you!

And even if you have, there is no limit to the fun. The Saugatuck Dune Rides and Saugatuck Dunes State Park are the two title attractions in this area. Both of which are not only highly recommended but highly loved. Cruise the coast in Douglas.

Address: Saugatuck, MI

9: Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island
Flickr/Michael Patterson

Who doesn’t need a little island vacation? Mackinac Island is one of the most well-loved destinations within Michigan and for a good reason. This tiny island is chock full of activities, eateries, and small-town charm. There are only about 500 residents; however, they are no strangers to tourists. In fact, they welcome it!

Back in the day, Mackinac Island was actually Fort Mackinac. And even now, the beautiful preservation of Colonial forts remains. Fort tours are even available, with so much history in every step. But history’s not all Mackinac has to offer. Nowadays, it’s all about making memories. Crash through shimmering, crystal blue waves on a boat tour or hike to the coast for an unmatched sunset .

One of the most unique factors about this charming small town is the surprising fact there are no automobiles. Cars must be left on the mainland, making Mackinac such an immersive getaway you won’t believe you’re still in Michigan. Walk, bike, hike, or maybe even take a horse-drawn carriage to explore the cutest downtown for miles. Mackinac Island is like no other!

Address: Mackinac Island, MI

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A small town just a short drive from the big ones! About 60 miles southwest of Detroit, 40 miles from Toledo and only 30 miles from Ann Arbor, Tecumseh is where big city living goes to relax. This is the perfect place to get away from it all while still vacationing with all the pros of tourism like comfy hotels/Airbnbs and top tier food and drink.

The Pentamere Winery is one of the top-rated attractions in Tecumseh and is open for both vineyard and wine tasting. For a more outdoorsy approach, check out what is affectionately referred to as “The Pit”. The Pit is actually a stunning waterside park, with golden sand and a dazzling horizon filled with a lush green forest.

This is primarily where people go to catch some of that warming Michigan sun, with beach sports and water games galore. Or, explore what makes Techumseh so unique! The Southern Michigan Railroad and Tecumseh Area Museum are two great day activities to learn about the local history of a city so great.

Address: Tecumseh, MI

The quaint, quiet, and cute Michigan town of your dreams! Literally, this is the perfect place to lay your head down for the best night of sleep possible. Don’t worry about busy highways or loud city sounds while in Newberry; simply enjoy the soothing sounds of Michigan nature.

Have some fun during the day at Grand Sable Lake, where the changing colors of Michigan seasons reflected on shimmering waters is a sight you won’t soon forget. Visit the Tahquamenon Logging Museum for some local history, and maybe even try the Toonerville Trolley Wilderness Train Ride. Find out what makes Newberry one of the best small towns in Michigan today.

Address: Newberry, MI

The call of the wild in Clare! Clare is an ethereal and breathtaking adventure into inner Michigan. With numerous forests that change colors with the seasons, Clare is always a new experience whenever you get the chance to visit.

Check out the two outdoor preserves: Lake Shamrock and Pettit Park for hiking, biking, lounging, and most importantly: enjoying! Or spend the day laughing, playing, and winning at Herrick Recreational Area. Wherever you choose to spend your time in Clare is sure to relax and recenter the busy traveler.

Address: Clare, MI

Also Read: Best Places To Live in Michigan

13: Gaylord


A swiss vacation right in the heart of Northern Michigan! Gaylord is a charming small town nestled by the great outdoors.

There are over 80 inland lakes to explore and a whole wide world of things to do at or around them.

Bike, hike, swim, kayak, ski, snowboard, fish, or maybe just take it all in with your family and friends.

Gaylord is chock full of exciting adventures for the modern-day explorer. This Michigan city is also famous for having one of the best golf courses in the world!

With all this daytime fun, you’re going to want to keep the party going.

Gaylord is the perfect place for nightlife! Whether it’s just going out for casual drinks or a late dinner, or a big festival exclusive to the area, Gaylord is here to deliver!

Be sure to check out Gaylord's schedule of events so you don't miss some of the big-ticket items, but Gaylord is known for some pretty cool live music and holiday festivals.

Bring the kids, or plan a big private getaway --- Gaylord is fun for everyone!

Address: Gaylord, MI

14: Petoskey

Shutterstock/Kenneth Sponsler

Take a load off in Petoskey! As a top tier resort community, Petoskey was practically made to cater to your well deserved R&R getaway.

Try a spa, play a game of golf, or simply sit on the banks of the Little Traverse Bay while the sunlight streams on the glistening water on the horizon.

Being a small Michigan town, you won’t have to worry about hefty wait times or the stress of a big city. Everything here is designed to keep you coming back for more. Find your paradise in Petoskey!

Address: Petoskey, MI

15: Elberta

Looking across the Betsie River from Elberta | Flickr/Ken Bosma

At just below a 400 resident population, Elberta is the textbook definition of a quaint small town in Michigan.

Elberta is a great place if you hear the great outdoors calling your name!

Specifically, a dazzling lake, nestled on the other side by the Betsie River State Game Refuge.

Elberta is a timeless escape where serenity can be found on the banks of the Betsie River.

There are even some overnight stays that reside just on the coastline of this magnificent body of water. Wake up to a picture-perfect memory in Elberta, Michigan.

Address: Elberta, MI

Pull the perfect vacation out of a hat! Colon is magical in more ways than one.

From the charming city center to the numerous enchanting attractions, Colon is a city like no other!

Truly, as this city is considered the magic capital of the world!

There are several exciting shops, museums and attractions to explore with a little bit of pizzaz and more than enough events to make the whole year a magical affair.

No matter when you choose to visit, there is sure to be an event or festival about to hit its swing.

As such a premier destination for all things magic, Colon is one of the most unique and exciting small towns in Michigan.

Address: Colon, MI

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