The Most Beautiful Towns in Michigan, USA

Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist attraction
Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist attraction | © Wiltser / Getty Images
Photo of Rachel Nipper
25 June 2021

Not for nothing is Michigan known as the Great Lakes State, with many pretty lakeside towns. Check out our guide to where to visit in this part of the USA.

Michigan is bound by four of the five Great Lakes, creating beautiful scenery and great locations for recreational boating. From beaches to cities and even German villages, discover the must-see destinations for your next visit.

South Haven

Natural Feature
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Aerial view of the Grand Haven North and South Pierhead Lighthouses; Grand Haven, Michigan; Great Lakes Lighthouses; Lake Michigan
© Frederick Millett / Alamy Stock Photo

One of Michigan’s beach towns, South Haven provides small-town charm in the form of some of the state’s oldest bed and breakfasts, resorts, hotels and lodges. With great dining locations, antique shopping, museums, galleries, markets and wineries, South Haven is a traveler’s paradise. Take in the views of South Haven’s lighthouse, which is more than 100 years old, visit one of the town’s seven beaches, travel the Blue Star Highway, or splash about on the water boating, cruising or fishing.

Traverse City

Architectural Landmark
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Dune Climb Sand Dunes, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan USA
© Michael Hudson / Alamy Stock Photo

Traverse City offers an array of outdoor recreational activities, from biking and hiking to kayaking and paddleboarding. A perfect destination for travelers, Traverse City offers an array of microbreweries and wineries and great shopping, and is also something of a foodie town. Amidst all these attractions you will find the Sleeping Bear Dunes, just a 30-minute drive outside the town. These are part of the Michigan National Lakeshore, and you’ll find miles of beaches, high dunes, towering bluffs and a beautiful view across the lake.

Ontonagon County

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Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Lake of the Clouds view of the wilderness in fall near sunrise. Michigan. USA
© David Cobb / Alamy Stock Photo

Ontonagon County, home of the Porcupine Mountains, contains the communities of Ontonagon, Silver City and White Pine. With breathtaking waterfalls and dazzling beaches, the Porcupine Mountains have something to offer in every season. Hike almost 90mi (145km) of beautiful trails, fish for trout and salmon, kayak or canoe in Lake Superior, tour picturesque lighthouses or snowshoe and cross-country ski through the trees. The Porcupine Mountains, on the shores of Lake Superior, contain the largest territory of old-growth hardwood woodlands west of the Adirondacks and are home to black bears, river otters, moose and deer. Ontonagon County also offers the Lake of Clouds, one of the most beautiful locations in the state, and miles of beautiful beaches at Union Bay.

Ann Arbor

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Ann Arbor, MI - September 21, 2019: Historic Michigan Theater, built in 1928, located on East Liberty St in Downtown, Ann Arbor
© Paul Brady / Alamy Stock Photo

Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, showcases beautiful views of the Huron River. In the summertime, the lake offers a multitude of enjoyable outdoor activities, from picnicking and exploring nature trails to canoeing in the river. Ann Arbor’s Main Street is one of the best in America and it attracts many visitors throughout the year. The city’s nickname, Tree Town, derives from the thick forest; several of these parks border parts of the Huron River, creating a breathtaking atmosphere and an incredible ambience for a day out in the city.

Frankenmuth

Architectural Landmark
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famous Bavarian Inn at Frankenmuth Michigan with a quaint German like atmosphere and theme
© Ilene MacDonald / Alamy Stock Photo

Frankenmuth, aka Little Bavaria, is an enchanting, old-world German town in Saginaw County and home to the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Frankenmuth’s beauty derives from the incredible Franconian-style buildings prevalent throughout the town, its myriad of museums and festivals and its cultural German influences. Frankenmuth holds many festivals throughout the year, including the World Expo of Beer, the Bavarian Festival, Oktoberfest and the Frankenmuth Snowfest. Visit the beautiful Zehnder’s Holz-Brücke (a wooden bridge) or Heritage Park, Frankenmuth’s most popular park.

Grand Rapids

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Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the city's big daddy of brewing, both in terms of production and popularity. Ita??s housed in a former warehouse with a wall of windows and skylights above the long, sloping wood bar. (Photo by Josh Noel/Chic
© Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

With easy access to Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast, Grand Rapids offers hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches and lake views complete with stunning sunsets. It’s also a beer town, containing over 30 breweries on its Beer City Ale Trail. Coupled with the town’s incredible art scene, captivating museums, great shopping locations and restaurants serving up incredible food, it is no wonder Grand Rapids is an exceedingly popular travel destination.

Mackinac Island

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Historic Grand Hotel on resort island of Mackinac Island Michigan built in 1886-87
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo

From beautiful beaches and waterfront views to charming inns, fudge shops, restaurants and, of course, the breathtaking Grand Hotel, every view on Mackinac Island is picturesque and extraordinary. Travelers to the island enjoy horse rides, carriage tours, biking, kayaking and walking paths. Located between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas in Lake Huron, the island is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist attraction. Without a single car on the island and with the plethora of outdoor activities, delicious food and stores available here, Mackinac Island is the perfect location for a relaxing vacation.

Marquette

Architectural Landmark
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Marquette lighthouse in the Keewana Peninsula in upper peninsula michigan
© Dennis MacDonald / Alamy Stock Photo

Marquette is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, alongside Lake Superior. Beautiful in every season, the city has a number of parks and recreational activities and two well-loved beaches – McCarty’s Cove and South Beach Park. Marquette offers an array of walking paths and is a popular destination for leisure activities such as fishing, golfing, skiing and biking; the town is known as the top biking destination in the nation. Marquette is also known for the large number of festivals held in the town, from concerts to festivals of blueberries, old cars and beer.

Charlevoix

Natural Feature
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Aerial view of the Pine River leading to Round Lake with Charlevoix and Lake Michigan in the background, looking west.
© Petoskey Drones / Alamy Stock Photo

Charlevoix, aka Charlevoix the Beautiful, offers waterfront views of Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, as well as art galleries and shopping areas, watersports and biking and walking trails. Other popular activities include fishing, hiking, zip lining, sailing, horseriding and golf at one of the city’s many courses. You can also visit the South Pier Light Station, or take a short boat ride to Beaver Island.

Isle Royale

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Moose (Alces alces andersoni) female wading through water, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
© Jim Brandenburg / Minden Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo

Isle Royale, the largest of the group that comprises the Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, is home to wild moose and wolves, a large forest and beautiful waters, including its own lakes. Only reachable by boat, ferry or float plan, it is an unspoilt living laboratory. Recreational activities here include camping, boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking and exploring the numerous wilderness trails.

These recommendations were updated on June 25, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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