Founded in 1824, Dexter has been built by Washtenaw County’s farm and agricultural heritage. Today, the community offers attractions that celebrate that history as well as a thriving village center. As the unofficial gateway to the area’s lakes and Metroparks, you’ll discover plenty of places to gather, refuel and rest—and you’ll find some of our favorites on this guide.
Keep reading to find out where you need to go, what you need to see, what you can do and which annual events should be on your calendar.
The home of mouth-watering jelly donuts, Instagram-worthy cupcakes, towering cakes, fluffy soft pretzels and freshly baked breads, The Dexter Bakery is a must-visit near Ann Arbor. In 2018, they were even named the Sweetest Bakery in Michigan through the Sweetest Bakery in America Contest! And they’ve been serving their treats in downtown Dexter for more than 100 years.
Located on Main Street and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this local spot offers authentic chuckwagon cooking and cowboy culture. From full slabs of baby back ribs to BBQ pulled pork served Hotel Hickman baked buns, this is downhome cooking you’ll want to eat every day.
One of the community’s beloved breakfast and lunch spots, Dexter Riverview Cafe is a locally owned and operated eatery. Their menu features fresh, homemade oatmeal, homemade biscuits and gravy, pita sandwiches, coneys, and more.
Located in a historic, former farmhouse in downtown Dexter, The Fillmore Bar & Grill is one of the newest additions to the dining scene in town. Inside their relaxed, cozy home, you can enjoy meals made from scratch using only fresh, house-made and locally sourced ingredients. And the drink menu includes craft beer and craft cocktails!
This cafe, bakery and coffee shop is a Dexter original. They use organic and fair-trade products to create delicious sandwiches, hot soups and cravable pastries like freshly baked scones, vegan muffins, and tea biscuits you can pair with loose leaf teas.
Chela’s serves up authentic Mexican food from two locations: one in Dexter and one in Ann Arbor. Their huge menu of tasty dishes includes classics like barbacoa, al pastor and carne asada alongside vegetarian options and creative fusions.
Using only the highest quality ingredients, sourced directly from family farms in Ecuador, Mindo Chocolate Makers crafts true bean to bar chocolate. And while they’re crafting those delectable bars, they’re supporting local economies in chocolate-growing communities and promoting sustainable practices. Want to take a class or a tour? Click here.
The Encore Musical Theatre Company puts together some of the best live shows in the Ann Arbor area. Typically, their calendar year includes six productions of both classics and new shows. To learn about their kid-friendly summer program, click here.
Founded by Ron Jeffries in 2004, Jolly Pumpkin began in Dexter and now operates pubs and tap houses in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Traverse City, Royal Oak, Grand Rapids and Chicago. In the Dexter brewery and tasting room, you can taste their sour beers, celebrate new releases, attend special events and more. The Dexter location is also a full-service restaurant, so if you get hungry, you can snag something from the locally sourced and sustainable menu.
Located on 42 acres, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms is surrounded in all directions by flowers, vegetation and jaw-dropping landscape. As both a working farm and an elegant event venue, the space features an exhibition kitchen for events and culinary classes, a chef’s garden, a classic farmhouse, a four-season barn and a stunning tent pavilion. Led by Executive Chef and Owner Kieron Hales, the foods and the hospitality services are born from his experience in Michelin star kitchens and time spent living and cooking in 27 different countries. If you want to visit, check out their event calendar here which includes a monthly pancake pop-up.
The Dexter Area Historical Society is a nonprofit organization which works to preserve the history of the Dexter area. They do this through their two properties—the Dexter Area Museum and Gordon Hall—where they host public tours, educational opportunities and some of our favorite annual events.
Open seasonally, Dexter Cider Mill is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in the entire state. Today, the team makes cider the same way it was made 120 years ago: using locally grown, hand picked apples on an oak rack press. Even their equipment is over 100-years-old! In addition to natural cider, fresh apples, doughnuts, apple nut bread, made-from-scratch apple pies, apple strudel, apple turnovers and hand rolled gingersnaps, you can also purchase homemade hard ciders made on-site.
Open seasonally from mid-July through August, Dexter Blueberry Farm is a local farm where you can pick your own fresh blueberries. And that tradition began all the way back in the early 1970s when the first field was planted.
This 120-acre park is located on the east side of Dexter along the Huron River. Heavily wooded and filled with wildflowers during the spring, the open space offers shady picnic areas, swings, slides, a softball diamond, fishing and convenient places to launch your canoe on the river.
The setting for some of our favorite events throughout the year, Hudson Mills Metropark covers 1,536 acres and features some of the Huron River’s most picturesque scenery. Activities throughout the year include disc golf on two, 24-hole courses, golfing on the 6,560-yard, par-71 course, cross-country skiing, playing field and court games, camping, fishing, canoeing and so much more.
Mill Creek Park in downtown Dexter has a north side and a south side located on each side of Main Street. In Mill Creek Park North, you can explore 2.15 acres via the pedestrian path, over the pedestrian bridge and along the scenic Mill Creek which flows northeast into the Huron River.
Developed in partnership with Huron River Greenway, the Border-to-Border Trail is a non-motorized pathway that connects cities, parks, neighborhoods and trails throughout Washtenaw County. Eventually, the trail will span 70 total miles. And a section of those miles already connects downtown Dexter directly to the Metroparks system.
Hosted by the Dexter Area Historical Society, Gordon Hall Days is an exciting and historic community event that features barn raising demonstrations, an antique market, tours of Gordon Hall, arts and crafts, kid-friendly games, animal demonstrations, afternoon tea inside Gordon Hall, the Dexter History Walk, a car show, food and live music. For information on this year’s event, click here.
For nearly 50 years, Dexter Daze has been providing an occasion for our communities’ families to come together and celebrate with artisans and crafters, local businesses and free entertainment. This event is put together each year by the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce.
En plein air is the act of painting outdoors, and the Paint Dexter Plein Air Festival invites artists and community members to do just that! Over the course of four days, local and visiting artists will paint in and around Dexter. Then, non-painters can view and purchase artwork at the three-day exhibit in Monument Park.
Every Friday during the summer, the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce hosts this summer series in the Monument Park Gazebo. The free shows start with the Dexter Community Orchestra, continue with other local bands, and include other live performances.
The Dexter Lions Club sponsors Apple Daze in celebration of Michigan’s most famous product: apples! In Monument Park during harvest season, the event includes hayrides, apple pie eating contests, a classic car show, games for kids, cider, doughnuts and candy apples, craft booths, and more.
On the day of Halloween, you can find Main Street businesses open for trick or treaters all day. Then, the holiday culminates in a kid-friendly party in Monument Park during the afternoon—all hosted by the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce!
Epic Races celebrates Thanksgiving with a race through Hudson Mills Metropark. This running and walking event features three different distances: a 5K loop around scenic Hudson Mills, a 10K course comprised of two 5K loops, and a quick mile fun run.
An event hosted by the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce, Dexter After Dark invites local businesses to stay open late and shoppers can enjoy special sales, giveaways, prizes and more to kick off the holiday season.
This one-mile fun run and 5k in Dexter has become one of our favorite family traditions in the area. The hilly dash through the community allows participants to take in the neighborhood light displays and run in festive costume and lights, too! A portion from each registration is donated to local charities and race day participants can bring non-perishable food items to receive free raffle tickets.
Did you fall in love with Dexter?
If you want to find your permanent home in Dexter, Michigan, click here to see homes for sale in the area.