3 Small Towns to Explore in Michigan
While Michigan is home to the Motor City, there’s plenty to explore elsewhere in the state. Whether you want to experience authentic German culture, spend most of your trip outdoors or relish in supreme luxury, these three small towns should be on your must-visit list for 2020.
Just south of Saginaw Bay is Frankenmuth, a small German town incredibly proud of its heritage, evident by its Franconian-inspired architecture. The city was founded in the 1800s, and when you visit, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled straight to Bavaria. There’s plenty to do in Frankenmuth, including daily pretzel rolling at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, where you’ll learn authentic German techniques and can take your creation home or enjoy it fresh out of the oven. During Christmastime, you’ll be surrounded by glowing lights and streamers as you walk the streets to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. If you plan on staying for a long weekend, consider hunkering down at the Frankenmuth Bed & Breakfast Bender Haus. Located in the center of town, this B&B is just a 10-minute walk from the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus — where you’ll find an enormous supply of domestic and imported delicious cheese — and the Prost Wine Bar & Charcuterie, which features live music in a casual, rustic-chic setting.
If you love the outdoors, plan a trip to Saugatuck on the shores of Lake Michigan. Although it was originally a lumber town, it has quickly become well-known as an art colony and tourist destination for adventure enthusiasts. No matter the time of year, there’s always something to do in the small lake town. Take a ride on the Kalamazoo River via the Saugatuck Chain Ferry or on the Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruise. For an adrenaline rush, rent a Saugatuck Hydrobike and pedal across the water with your friends and family. Stop by the Mermaid waterfront bar and grille for some fresh seafood, including customer favorites like lobster gnocchi, raw oysters and freshly caught walleye. For an extended stay, try the Serendipity Bed and Breakfast & Cottage, which is perfect for a private and cozy romantic getaway.
On the northern coast of the Mitten, alongside Little Traverse Bay, is the quiet resort community of Petoskey. The top attraction is the Historic Gaslight District of downtown, which has been a shopping area for over 100 years, featuring unique galleries, boutiques and independent shops. If you want to take a break from the busy streets of downtown, take a quick walk to the marina and watch the many boats floating along the water. Many fine dining options are available in Petoskey, including Chandler’s A Restaurant — which has vegetarian and vegan options — and Vintage Chophouse & Wine Bar, a contemporary steakhouse with gluten-free menu items. For the ultimate luxury experience in the small town of Petoskey, plan your stay at Inn at Bay Harbor and enjoy a Romance Package, a Princess Tea Party with the “Frozen” sisters, a nature-inspired spa or a wine shuttle service.
There’s so much to see and do if you know where to go. Get to know Pure Michigan when you visit any of these beautiful towns.
This article is presented by Bill Marsh.