Crowded sidewalks, towering skyscrapers, and the sounds of slow-moving traffic dominate large urban areas and densely-populated metropolises. But outside of these cities you’ll find charming small towns filled with friendly locals, picturesque views, and the pleasant sounds of chirping birds and gentle breezes. So if you’re looking for a calm and relaxing location to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities, check out these top Michigan destinations for small-town charm!
Located on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Grand Marias has a meager population of 350 people. With a single school for grades K-12, the locals are very familiar with one another which gives this little village its close-knit, communal feel. During your stay here you can tour the famous Pickle Barrel House Museum, have a beer at the Lake Superior Brewing Company, scour the beach for agate stones, and test your endurance with a climb up the log slide!
Woodland Park Campground
When visiting Grand Marias, you can find perfect RV accommodations at Woodland Park Campground which is situated right on Lake Superior for easy beach access. All sites are equipped with water and electric hookups, and Wi-Fi is available throughout the campground. There are also two bathhouses, laundry facilities, a dump station, and a recreation area.
Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Ludington is a natural paradise of sandy beaches, sunshine, and unbeatable scenery! There are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout every season, from sandcastle building in the summer to cross-country skiing in the winter. During your visit, be sure to spend some time downtown where you’ll find chic boutiques, art galleries, and breweries. Don't leave town without grabbing a bite to eat at the famous House of Flavors, which is Michigan’s largest ice cream manufacturer, producing 25 million gallons of ice cream each year!
Buttersville Park Campground
When planning your stay in Ludington, reserve a spot at the scenic Buttersville Park Campground, nestled on a beautifully wooded bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. This 18.5-acre campground offers modern restrooms, shower facilities, a dump station, and electric hookups. With easy beach access, this campground is perfect for cooling off in the water and catching beautiful sunsets.
Boasting rich historical beauty, the Bavarian-themed town of Frankenmuth is overflowing with charm. From family-oriented activities like Zehnder’s indoor waterpark to fun festivals like Oktoberfest and the World Expo of Beer, there is something for everyone! A trip to Frankenmuth wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store, which is open year round! Known for world-famous chicken dinners and German cuisine, a quick walk down main street will greet you with plenty of mouthwatering aromas and delicious dining opportunities.
Frankenmuth Jellystone Park
Hospitable accommodations can be found at Frankenmuth Jellystone Park, which is the only full-service campground in the town. Here you’ll get to enjoy an indoor pool and hot tub, clean restrooms, a camp store, mini golf, and a range of fun weekend activities! This park is ideal for families with young children, and it’s within walking distance of downtown Frankenmuth so you’ll be close to all the excitement!
Spanning less than four square miles, Mackinac Island is home to merely 500 residents. To access the island you’ll need to be ferried across the beautiful waters of Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island, with the exception of emergency service vehicles, so the streets are filled with bicyclists and the sounds of horse-clops and wagon wheels never cease. During your visit, be sure to tour the historical Fort Mackinac, sample some fresh fudge flavors, and rent a bike for a picturesque ride around the island’s perimeter!
Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground
As you might have guessed, there are no RV accommodations on Mackinac Island, but Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground will put you in close proximity on the mainland. With lakefront RV sites available, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful views while surrounded by an untamed, natural setting. Full hookups are available, as well as shower houses, a heated pool, a dog park, and a wonderful swimming beach. This campground is conveniently located less than five minutes from the Mackinac Ferry Docks for easy island access.
Known appropriately as “Charlevoix the Beautiful,” there is no shortage of charm in this northern Michigan town! From unspoiled beaches stretching beside clear blue waters to wonderful hiking trails lined with wildflowers, natural beauty abounds! During your visit, be sure to make the drive to the Earl Young Mushroom Houses, hunt for Petoskey stones at Michigan Beach Park, and soak up the sun at the North Point Nature Preserve! Charlevoix is also a utopia for craft beer lovers with Lake Charlevoix Brewing Co. and the Bridge Street Tap Room located right in the heart of downtown, and other famous brew spots like Shorts Brewing Co., Petoskey Brewing Co., and Beards Brewing Co. less than half an hour away!
Fisherman’s Island State Park
While not an island itself, Fisherman’s Island State Park does contain a tiny island that is connected to the mainland when lake levels are low. This rustic campground is settled among the rolling dunes along Lake Michigan’s shoreline to offer campers over five miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Secluded lakefront sites are available, but no hookups are offered. Hiking trails are abundant, and grills and picnic tables are offered for scenic picnics within the park.
As Michigan’s northernmost community, Copper Harbor is a truly unique town abundant with rugged backcountry expanses and breathtaking Lake Superior scenes. Take your pick from a broad range of outdoor recreational activities with world-class mountain biking trails and stunning waterways perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. During your visit, be sure to browse the town’s gift shops, take a scenic cruise down Brockway Mountain Drive, and sip on some tasty experimental beers at Brickside Brewery! With an active wildlife population, Copper Harbor is also an ideal destination for birdwatchers and photographers.
Lake Fanny Hooe Resort & Campground
For cozy campground accommodations in Copper Harbor, Lake Fanny Hooe is the place to go! Here you’ll get your choice between rustic sites and full-service amenities. The resort also offers hot showers, clean bathrooms, a dump station, beach access, and a trout stream perfect for anglers. The campground borders 250,000 acres of wilderness, so you’ll get to enjoy a private, natural setting, but it’s still located within walking distance of many of Copper Harbor’s shops and attractions.
Have you been to any of these Michigan destinations famed for their small-town charm? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment!