Big cities and bustling metropolises have their perks, but there’s nothing quite like a delightful little town. Here in Michigan, we’ve got plenty of small communities that seem to overflow with charm, friendliness, and natural beauty. When you’re searching for a Great Lakes State destination that will welcome you with open arms, check out some of these wonderful small towns.
1. South Haven
This utterly delightful community along the shores of Lake Michigan offers small town living at its very best. Whether you’re grabbing dinner at Clementine’s, chatting with locals during a shoreline sunset, or enjoying a scoop of delicious ice cream at Sherman Dairy Bar, it’s nearly impossible to visit South Haven without becoming completely enamored.
A stroll through downtown Dexter will immediately make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a picture-perfect scene. With its quiet location along the Huron River and plenty of chances to engage with nature and culture, there’s nothing not to love about this wonderful Michigan community.
3. Suttons Bay
When we say that Suttons Bay is a small town, we really mean it: this quaint village houses just under 700 residents. It’s no wonder that every visitor who sets foot in town leaves feeling like they’ve gained a few new family members! Do a little shopping at one of the area’s boutiques, grab a meal at Martha’s Leelanau Table, or take a stroll along the waterfront — what’s not to love?
Venture to the Upper Peninsula and check out this decidedly friendly community, which sits along the banks of the lovely Ontonagon River and is just a stone’s throw from the shores of Lake Superior. With a marina, clean swimming beaches, and a neat downtown area just waiting to be explored, Ontonagon is an absolute must-visit in the Great Lakes State.
The small town vibe of Coldwater is undeniable, and visitors will quickly be charmed by the community’s welcoming atmosphere. Take a walk through Four Corners Park, enjoy a ride on the Little River Railroad, or catch a unique show at Tibbits Opera House. You might love Coldwater so much that you’ll want to move there yourself!
This northern Michigan gem is just about as naturally beautiful as it gets. With breathtaking vistas along Lake Michigan, plenty of family-owned businesses, and row after row of beautiful homes, there’s something here to delight every sort of traveler. It’s nearly impossible to feel like a stranger after setting foot in Frankfort.
Douglas is a West Michigan gem that truly prides itself on welcoming visitors of all backgrounds. Located just moments away from the similarly wonderful town of Saugatuck, Douglas is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. From art galleries to waterfront access along the Kalamazoo River, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in this lovely community.
It’s nearly impossible to visit Marshall without feeling overwhelmed by its charm and friendly atmosphere. Tour the historic Honolulu House, admire the beauty of the Brooks Memorial Fountain, or simply take a stroll through downtown — no matter how you spend your time here, you’re sure to be amazed.
9. East Tawas
Don’t let this town’s small size fool you: it’s overflowing with life and excitement. Gaze at the beauty of the waterfront when you check out Tawas Point State Park, enjoy a meal at Northwoods Steak House, or mingle with shopkeepers downtown East Tawas. Can you imagine anything better?
10. Iron Mountain
No matter what time of year you visit, a trip to Iron Mountain is sure to impress. With a population of just under 8,000 residents and a plethora of natural wonders to explore, it’s almost impossible to have a bad time here. Take a walk near Fumee Falls, check out the World War II Glider and Military Museum, or grab a delicious pasty at Dobber’s. You might just have a new favorite destination!
This lovely lakefront town comes to life in the summertime, though it maintains an undeniable charm year-round. Whether you’ve rented a cottage on the water, settled in for a night of camping at Sleeper State Park, or indulged in a meal or two at Walt’s, you’re certain to enjoy your experience. No matter where you’re from, the locals will embrace you with open arms.
Tell us, Michiganders: do you have a favorite friendly small town in the Great Lakes State? We’re always eager to hear your suggestions, so share your thoughts in the comment section below!