Police and Firefighter Memorial in Michigan City, Indiana. Editorial credit: Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock.com

Great Lakes' Best Small Towns for a Weekend Escape

The Great Lakes are North America's crown jewel, known as the world's largest freshwater delta. They cover about 11,000 miles of shoreline and harbor and hold one-fifth of the Earth's surface freshwater.

They also hold beautiful sights of nature spanning thousands of shorelines. With towns such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio along these lines, the Great Lakes' serenity and beauty overlook the vibrant and chill nature of these towns. Settlements in these areas make for a perfect holiday destination, and this article includes a few towns that make for a good weekend retreat.

Fairport Harbor, Ohio

Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, built in 1871

Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, built in 1871.

Fairport Harbor is a charming town set on the mouth of the Grand River and is overlooked by beautiful landscapes and scenery that speak to visitors looking to enjoy a weekend getaway.

Originally known as Grandon before changing to Fairport in 1836, Fairport Harbor was once part of the Connecticut Western Reserve as it belonged to the Connecticut Land Company. The town's story is mostly filled with tales of how it played a key role in the development of the Western Reserve.

Not only is the town known for its history, but the attractions around it appeal to visitors' aesthetic cravings. Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park is a popular spot for outdoor activities, while the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse are historic landmarks where you can learn about the town's rich past. Rider's Inn, 7 minutes from the town, is a great accommodation option.

Ashland, Wisconsin

Aerial view of Ashland, Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Superior.
Aerial view of Ashland, Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Superior.

Ashland is a county with a warm, laid-back vibe that complements the town's outdoor nature. Originally inhabited by the Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indians, Ashland offers numerous outdoor activities that make it ideal for those looking to have fun and just chill.

The Ashland Historical Museum documents the ancient history of the Chippewa Indians and the events that followed after the French and British fur traders visited. Enjoy the famed outdoor atmosphere when you visit Prentice Park and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. Here, you can have a fun-filled time with family and friends, play outdoor games, and buy gift items at nearby shops.

Maslowski Beach is greeted by thousands of people, both locals and visitors. If you visit Ashland, you should consider checking it out. Enjoy luxury and comfort at the Blue Wave Inn, which has a view overlooking Lake Superior.

Cape Vincent, New York

The St. Lawrence River Seaway between Ontario, Canada, and Cape Vincent, New York, in Jefferson County.
The St. Lawrence River Seaway between Ontario, Canada, and Cape Vincent, New York.

Cape Vincent is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario. With its breathtaking views and rich history, visitors seeking a relaxing getaway cannot seem to get enough of all the town has to offer. Cape Vincent played a significant role in the War of 1812 before the British raided the town in 1814.

Cape Vincent Breakwater Lighthouse and the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, which offers stunning views of the lake, are two of the most historic attractions in town. Burnham Point State Park is a great outdoor spot to have fun and relax while enjoying the cool sea breeze from the surrounding landscape.

You may stay the night at Riverside Cottages and Cape Dairy, Motel & Laundromat LLC.

Michigan City, Indiana

View of Michigan City, Indiana, USA.
View of Michigan City, Indiana, USA.

Michigan City is a charming coastal town whose zest and natural beauty leave tourists in awe. Founded in 1830, Michigan City is known to have played a crucial role in the railroad industry and was once a major stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Old Michigan City Lighthouse is a historical landmark in the town that holds memories of a bygone era. Visitors are known to flock to this site during the holidays. To enjoy the energy and beauty of the town, be sure to visit popular nearby outdoor locations such as Indiana Dunes National Park and Washington Park Beach.

The Shady Creek Winery is another hotspot in town where you can meet the locals and make meaningful connections. If you are looking to add comfort to your luxury, consider relaxing at the Blue Chip Casino Hotel, which offers luxurious rooms and stunning views.

Leland, Michigan

Sunset over Fishtown, Leland, Michigan.
Sunset over Fishtown, Leland, Michigan.

Leland is a captivating town on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, between the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau. The whole town is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and incredible charm.

Originally known as "Leland's Landing," the town was named after the Leland family, who settled here in the 1800s. Leland played a significant role in the logging industry and was once a major commercial fishing hub, earning it the name “Fishtown."

Being surrounded by water means visitors will be treated to excellent beaches and outdoor experiences. Starting at the Leland Harbor, visitors can enjoy the beauty of the town's shores. The Leland Historical Society Museum showcases the rich history of the town to the delight of many.

For accommodation, the Leland Lodge is a recommended cozy resort where you can enjoy your stay in town.

Gaylord, Michigan

Old Business District on Main Street in Gaylord, Michigan.
Old Business District on Main Street in Gaylord, Michigan. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com

Gaylord, which takes pride in having the highest elevation in the Lower Peninsula, is a charming town in the heart of northern Michigan. The town is named after a prominent lumber baron, Augustine Gaylord, who played a role in the town’s lumber industry.

Gaylord is the perfect destination to enjoy all the outdoor activities while basking in the calm natural environment surrounding it. Otsego Lake State Park, Bavarian Falls Park, and Aspen Park are some of the outdoor areas where you can hike, explore biking trails, and enjoy the outdoor environment.

Visitors can also explore the Gaylord Depot and the Otsego County Historical Society Museum to learn about the events that led to the town's development. The Gaylord Country Club and resort offer luxurious rooms and a scenic golf course, making it ideal for relaxing while in town.

Marquette, Michigan

Aerial view of downtown Marquette, Michigan, showcasing a small American city.
Aerial view of downtown Marquette, Michigan, showcasing a small American city.

Marquette is a breathtaking town known as the largest city in Michigan and is occasionally home to thousands of tourists. With its blissful scenery and rich history, it is an alluring site for visitors seeking a relaxing retreat.

Marquette was named for the French explorer Jacques Marquette. The town was once a shipping hub and is known to have played a significant role in the iron ore mining industry.

Visitors looking to have a good time in Marquette have a lot to look forward to, especially with regard to outdoor activities. You can begin by exploring the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, which is 7 minutes away. Here, you can see and learn about the town's heritage and past civilization.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the fun is never-ending. From activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing, the Marquette Mountain Resort is a fun spot to have fun and stay the night.

Kewaunee, Wisconsin

Kewaunee, Wisconsin, in spring.
Kewaunee, Wisconsin, in spring.

Kewaunee is a charming town with a unique blend of natural beauty and adventure. The town was named after the Kewaunee River. Kewaunee was recorded as a thriving economic base in the 19th century, although it first developed and blossomed as a hub for lumbering activities.

Visitors can explore historical landmarks such as the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse, built in the 19th century, and the Tug Ludington, a World War II-era tugboat built in 1943. The East and West Alaska Lakes are open waterfronts where you can enjoy the beauty of nature and take photographs to create amazing memories. The lakes also offer opportunities for fishing, boating, and hiking, and visitors can enjoy these outdoor activities at the Kewaunee River State Fishery Area.

Karsten Hotel and Coho Motel and Suites are cozy places to lodge while you execute the rest of your holiday plans.

A Perfect Blend of Nature and History

Seeing that each town has something unique about it, you know you are in for a treat when you visit any of these towns for a weekend retreat. With a unique blend of nature, adventure, and a relaxing atmosphere, a weekend retreat in any of these towns would feel like a visit to paradise. Don't delay any longer. Pack your bags, grab your cameras, and discover the charm that awaits.

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