The gorgeous Mackinac Island, Michigan.

13 Prettiest Towns In Michigan

Michigan, the Great Lakes State, has no shortage of beautiful small towns, showcasing the state's various sides with unreplicable water vistas. Choose from rugged coastline gems to artsy hubs and historic fishing villages, along with islands for off-shore hopping - these thirteen prettiest towns astound with breathtaking scenery for boundless experiences in the sea breeze with a local feel.

Ann Arbor

Aerial view of the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Aerial view of the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The vibrant college town for tourists, with its University of Michigan, is a beloved home turf for locals living in the youth without the later-on studious part. Visit this river town in the summer to enjoy all the attractions without student crowds, including park picnics, giving the city its Tree Town moniker, living and breathing the outdoors from the dense forests in the immediate surroundings and riverfront parks. Discover the local nature on a hike and enjoy summertime swimming in the lake and canoe rides down the Huron River.

With all the fresh air and utterly delightful ambiance, it is impossible not to linger in Ann Arbor. As a Main Street town with one of the brightest thoroughfares you will ever experience, Ann Arbor's downtown area brims with a beautiful blend of old architecture and modern hotspots. Take a stroll through its summertime greenery or fall foliage all the way to the university grounds for a tour with beautiful Huron River views. Enjoy all the evening entertainment without queues, but it is the overall breathtaking atmosphere that takes just a day to experience, and you will never forget the city.


The lakefront in Charlevoix, Michigan.
The lakefront in Charlevoix, Michigan.

This little town, beautiful like no other, goes by the proud moniker of Charlevoix the Beautiful. Experience all its gracefulness along the scenic streetscape spreading with architectural marvels in between two waterfronts of the immense Lake Michigan and its namesake lake. Explore this town diligently, spoiled by nature, and fall hard for its Americana charm like all the others. Find plentiful shopping malls and art galleries to browse in between your hiking and biking ventures along some beautiful trails, including those with the best lakefront views.

Seek more sights over a picnic and a must-do photoshoot at the beautiful South Pier Light Station. Charlevoix's laidback atmosphere prompts you to dive into your favorite pursuits to relax or take off the edge from work over thrills. From serene fishing and scenic strolls to rigorous hikes, zip lining, and trotting along the shores on horseback, you can also catch a boat to Beaver Island for its remoteness and pristine natural vistas or opt for a round at one of the many golf courses.


Robert Manning memorial lighthouse located in Empire, Michigan
Robert Manning Memorial Lighthouse in Empire, Michigan.

It truly doesn't take much to fall in love with Empire, a small town at the center of the state boasting a proud name that does it justice. Both wildly beautiful and old-time charming, Empire is a real discovery for sightseers, culture fans, and outdoor enthusiasts, with pursuits for every group and taste. Take an easy hike along the Empire Bluff Trail through beech and maple forests with epic views in the summer, or slice the glistening surface with a paddleboard or kayak while taking in the perspective of the whole Empire, which it really is. Don't save the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive for a rainy day, but instead scope out the area for your next ventures.

Discover a real treasure trove of renowned sights and pursuits, like immersive water vistas along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a panoramic coastline unfitting of such a small town. Stroll under Lake Michigan's highest bluffs and trails each and every way, like to the top of the 450-foot cliffs for a picnic over the sparkling seascape. With plenty of camping options along the pristine shores, you can get away on a budget and immerse yourself in the purity of nature over daily ventures and nightly stargazing like never before.

Grand Marais

Lake Superior's shores in Grand Marais, Michigan.
Lake Superior's shores in Grand Marais, Michigan.

Just like its unique and mysterious name, Grand Marais is an intriguing town to discover as a real shining gem of the upper peninsula of the state. The historic village, surrounded by beautiful coastal nature, offers everything from pristine sand stretches to lighthouse views and refreshing waterfalls. It pulls you into a chase for all the sights via hiking and the prime path for bike rides along the scenic lakes' edge, like to the Light Keeper's House Museum for real maritime fans.

The town and the lakeshore, hugging the immense Lake Superior, offer over 50 miles of Great Lakes shoreline with a fan of trails for all levels and different viewpoints. Come this fall for the spectacular foliage hanging from the bluffs and hike to the Log Slide overlook, a renowned natural landmark for panoramic Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Make evening trips back here to catch the purple sunsets over the sparkling waters after a dayful of architecture, maritime vestiges, and modern culture to satiate your belly and shopping needs.


Downtown Hillsdale, Michigan.
Downtown Hillsdale, Michigan.

The beautiful big town of Hillsdale is a renowned destination among sightseers and culture fans, with places like the Historic Dawn Theater and stunning natural vistas. Start your perfect day of discoveries over a renowned stack from Sharon's House of Pancakes before a stroll to the historical Hillsdale College from 1844. Its Liberty Walk offers a face-to-face opportunity to shake hands with Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and other figures, while the Slayton Arboretum is a great place to relax in serene natural wonders. Bring a picnic spread to the popular Waterfront Stocks Park along the St. Joseph River, replete with trails and historic sights.

The scenic town year-round comes on fire in the fall, just in time for its vibrant Hillsdale Country Fair to hit up the local scene over cultural sights, food, fresh produce, and craft amid attractions and entertainers for every group and taste. Hillsdale Downtown boasts a wealth of preserved Victorian-era buildings housing shops and cafes like the Finish Line Family Restaurant for a traditional-style dinner or feel-good grub at the El Cerrito Mexican bar and grill to relax over drinks. Choose the historic Heart of Hillsdale Inn & Suites for a 19th-century-style stay with modern amenities.


Tulip beds in downtown Holland, Michigan.
Tulip beds in downtown Holland, Michigan. Image credit: BazookaJoe at the English-language Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons.

Holland is that perfect cute town that looks right from across the ocean without any kitsch. With over one hundred years of history in its pocket, it still mirrors a little "Dutch-land" through vibrant sights, culture, and attractions, with an upgraded resort feel thanks to the scenic lakeside location. Start a perfect morning on a waterfront stroll and grab an authentic pastry over coffee from one of the cute cafes before perusals and site ventures.

With something for everyone, including scenic trails and vibrant events for every age like the annual spring festival, Tulip Time, why not visit some windmills before a traditional-style meal, perhaps at one of the nearby restaurants? Descend back to the hypnotic coastline in the evening for a captivating sunset watch from the busy boardwalk full of maritime sights. A boat ride into Lake Michigan's immense waterscape offers another beautiful perspective of picture-perfect Holland.


Boats docked in the harbor at LeLand, Michigan.
Boats docked in the harbor at LeLand, Michigan.

Not your typical town in Michigan, Leland is "Fishton," a quirky gem to visit when you seek unique attractions in a cool atmosphere. Find everything from charming shops like Leland Gal to museums and restaurants like Village Cheese Shanty along a greatly strollable "walking around" town. LeLand boasts the spotlight as the most picturesque Michigan "interrupted" place on the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula.

With a population of just 311 living between Northern Lake Leelanau to the east and Lake Michigan to the west, you can immerse yourself in a real small town feel on a memorable getaway to explore and chill. Take a relaxing wine tour through the bunch of vineyards in the area, like the favorite Verterra Winery. Experience a fishery and some serene fishing, or maybe go for a spin around the Manitou Island before the most delicious fry-up with a piece of lemon and some fries at dinnertime.

Mackinac Island

The beautiful downtown of Mackinac Island, Michigan.
The beautiful downtown of Mackinac Island, Michigan.

No list is complete without the pristine beauty of Mackinac Island, abounding in natural history sights. One of the most captivating and stunning towns in Michigan offers a remote, rural atmosphere to enjoy its natural scenery preserved as a National Historic Landmark. With plentiful beaches all around and trails for all levels with wildlife sightings, the outdoor recreation possibilities are boundless. Escape the hustle and bustle of a big city for a charming island lifestyle with a subdued feel and vibrant attractions for all tastes.

Find the solitude and calmness you've been seeking with almost a complete prohibition of motorized vehicles, and let it settle in over the cleanest air hikes or your favorite recreation in the pure environment. Find plentiful panoramic viewpoints through the protected area on horseback, carriage excursions, or biking, and take a kayak or boat out to see the pretty town, island, and landmark from another perspective. Seeking some old-time charm? Find plenty while rowing through some cool shops for unique gifts amid various architectural styles downtown, with its dining scene and world-famous fudge.


Aerial view of Marquette, Michigan.
Aerial view of Marquette, Michigan.

The wonderful little town of Marquette is a destination for maritime fans like no other in the state or even the country. As one of Michigan's largest but with fewer than 20,500 residents, this wintering destination feels very lively year-round. Find everything you seek right here, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which still holds onto its small-town charm. Its wholesome environment offers your favorite pursuits, sights, and attractions without crowds for a memorable getaway in a close group.

Boasting an immense Lake Superior waterfront, Marquette is a haven for summertime tourists with family-friendly beaches, waterside restaurants galore, shopping, and visiting art galleries with views of the lake. Take a boat out into the turquoise waters or enjoy fishing from the docks with locals, while the most active hike up Sugarloaf Mountain. Try cliff diving at Presque Isle Park and return for snowboarding, skiing, and ice fishing in the winter. From incredible museums to engaging lighthouse chases along the shores of one of the largest Great Lakes, the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area, Marquette is magnificent and unmatched.


Ontonagon Lighthouse in Ontonagon, Michigan, on Lake Superior.
Ontonagon Lighthouse in Ontonagon, Michigan, on Lake Superior.

The town in the old-growth hardwood woodlands, where the sun shines daily until 11 p.m., is a dreamland for outdoor fans. Immerse yourself in unforgettable "only here" ventures, like the Lake of Clouds, a little piece of paradise that engulfs you with scenic water sights. Trek to the unreplicable panoramic vistas along various trails for all levels in a whole otherworldly feel, accessible year-round with skiing, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing. The quizzical name from its native origins conveys the feeling of another realm, a proven perfect vacation destination with nature at your doorstep.

Enjoy summertime camping for a getaway on a budget and the best natural immersion, with the raw vibe multiplying the desolate atmosphere, and don't forget the alluring, uncrowded beaches that need no fanfare. The low crowds and remote location lend themselves to pristine nature, from the stupendous foothills of the Porcupine Mountains to Lake Superior's great shore, dotted with wild sights. The whole outdoors world is your oyster here along the rugged shoreline with scenic lighthouses and trails with breathtaking waterfalls.


Kalamazoo replica lighthouse at Saugatuck marina in Michigan
Saugatuck lighthouse alone the Lake Superior, Michigan.

You know this town will steal your breath away the moment you step out of your vehicle or sight it on a ferry in to Saugatuck along Michigan's renown "art coast." The historic timber town from the 1800s enchants with panoramic views and charms with family-friendly pursuits and attractions downtown. Find the most astounding blend of sights, from historic roots as a modest port town turned vibrant tourist destination to an art colony with a popular LGBTQIA scene. Come in the summer for all the water fun, relaxation, and pursuits in none other than the iconic "Star American Beach Town": Saugatuck.

Immerse yourself in its classic beach vibes, leveled up with artsy sights and a laidback, accepting atmosphere that attracts many queer and spiritual people to this Kalamazoo River port. Find everything from exquisite art by regional and international artists on a gallery stroll to unique shops with handcrafted goods. Take the one-mile nature track through Mount Baldhead Park or a cute hand-pulled ferry ride from the town to the park. The active get a wonderful perspective of the beautiful Lake Michigan after climbing 32 stairs to Mount Baldhead's top, followed by a grassy descent to coastal sands from the summit.

South Haven

The lighthouse in South Haven, Michigan.
Visitors enjoying the view of the lighthouse and the sea with sailing ships in South Haven, Michigan.

The thriving commercial port of the past welcomes you today at the confluence of the Black River and Lake Michigan, with a proud name that does this sunny piece of Michigan's paradise justice. With its in-your-face picturesque beaches and harbor for all the matinee fans, you can enjoy a memorable trip anytime with your close group over your favorite pursuits. Essentially, take the Blue Star Highway, the year-round Kal-Haven trail via bike rides and snowmobiling, and a tour around the renowned Michigan Maritime Museum. Mother Nature's offerings here blow away with family-friendly pursuits like scenic trails, pleasant summertime weather, fruit picking, and boating out into the waters to see this southerly heaven from another perspective.

The traveler's paradise with coastal trails and the best views of over a century-old South Haven's lighthouse is also home to seven beautiful beaches that disperse crowds over swimming, cruising, and fishing. Come now for the warm fall season with memorable hayrides and pumpkin farms with cider sampling, or escape the cold to warm up over excellent dining with year-round live theater, music festivals, and the liveliest Christian atmosphere here down south. South Haven demands more small-town immersion with great restaurants, antique shops, museums, galleries, and markets. Return to South Haven next summer during the blueberry festival, markets, and winery visits, picking another one of the state's oldest bed and breakfasts, resorts, hotels, or lodges.

Traverse City

The marina in Traverse City, Michigan.
The marina in Traverse City, Michigan.

The gorgeous town of Traverse City, equipped with the three lighthouses of Mission Point, Frankfort, and Grand Traverse, lies splendidly against the brilliant blue of the stunning Grand Traverse Bay. Come for the epitomic Americana small-town charm any season and stay for the social and cultural hub in the north of the state. Visit next summer for an absolute haven to sail, swim, beach comb, and kayak at the sights of undulating hills uniquely carved by glaciers ages ago. Find plentiful wet and dry pursuits and relaxation spots with deep freshwater lakes and rolling hills around. An imminent visit promises a real foodie's heaven for self-guided excursions without crowds around its real gastronomical endearments.

From rustic taverns to posh restaurants, eclectic dishes that please all tastes, served with unmatched flair, will satisfy the most discerning. Take a whole other relaxing stroll amid the city's micro-breweries, micro-distilleries and along the wine trails. The nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes call out to explorers with miles of scenic lakeside views interspersed with alluding beaches that will hold you captive on strolls and lounges for days on end. Head downtown for an atmospheric experience at the State Theater in a historic movie palace and immerse yourself in retail therapy through The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. 

The 26th state in the Midwestern United States is a real Water Wonderland to immerse in year-round scenic maritime views and heritage and enjoy the summertime in the refreshing lakes. Separated by the Straits of Mackinac, the Peninsulas are connected via a bridge, offering an unmatched panorama on a drive.

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