The Heart And Soul Of Michigan Is The Small Towns And These 7 Have The Best Downtown Areas

When you’re looking for a place to stroll, shop, dine, and spend quality time with loved ones, there’s nothing better than exploring some of the best small towns in Michigan. Our state offers access to endless charm, whether you’re enjoying coffee with a waterfront view or hunting for antiques in a long-standing shop. If you’re a sucker for small towns, you’ll want to read about these seven little locales with the best downtowns in Michigan:

Have you spent time in any of these small towns in Michigan? What were your favorite downtown destinations in each? We’re always eager to hear your suggestions and experiences, so share your thoughts by leaving us a Facebook comment. If we’re missing one of the best downtowns in Michigan that you think should have been included on our list, let us know by completing our official nomination form.

Can’t get enough of our state’s small towns? Be sure to read about this unique waterfront area in Michigan.

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best downtowns in Michigan

September 21, 2022

What's the most walkable small-town downtown in Michigan?

In terms of walkability, it's hard to beat Mackinac Island. Located on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island is a delightful little coastal locale that enjoys a laid-back, old-fashioned way of life. In this no-car city, you'll find residents and visitors walking, biking, and even enjoying horse-drawn carriage rides around town, making for an incredibly endearing experience and welcome reprieve from the rest of the world. While you're there, be sure to tour historic sites such as Fort Mackinac, dine at beloved eateries like The Carriage House, and sample some world-famous Mackinac Island fudge from any of the town's 12 fudge shops. (A must-visit? May's Fudge Shop, the oldest on the island!)

What's the most charming small town in Michigan?

Holland is often hailed as Michigan's very own slice of the Old Country, but Frankenmuth might have its Dutch brethren beat in the charm department. With a bustling population of around 5,000, Frankenmuth’s downtown area is abundant in Bavarian architecture and other homages to this unique heritage. Stop in at Zehnder’s Restaurant or the Bavarian Inn to enjoy a famous chicken dinner served by a waiter or waitress in traditional Bavarian garb. Just down the street, you’ll find Frankenmuth Brewery — the oldest of its kind in Michigan. With a dachshund logo and a delightful selection of beers to enjoy, this brewery will quickly become one of your favorites -- as will this entire little town! Of course, if you're looking for another charming European escape in the Great Lakes State, the town of Gaylord is hailed as the "Little Switzerland of Michigan," and it's nothing short of delightful. With a population of just under 4,000 full-time residents, Gaylord is certainly a small community – but it packs a major punch. For visitors and locals alike, the town’s charming heritage truly sets it apart. Gaylord is known throughout the state as an “alpine village,” so you’ll spot all sorts of enchanting chalet-style architecture and Swiss-inspired touches throughout town. In the winter, this vibe is especially magical!