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8 Small Towns Near Ann Arbor Worthy of a Day Trip

While we love living in Ann Arbor, sometimes it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Luckily, there are several adorable small towns just a few hours from here that you can explore in a day!

We rounded up some of our favorite small towns in Michigan (and one in Ohio)—all within a three-hour drive from Ann Arbor. So, pack up your family, grab your camera (and your hiking boots, for that matter) and get ready to hit the road! But first, use our list to find out what to do, see and eat when you reach one of these Michigan destinations.

 

Chelsea

While the Ann Arbor area is full of smaller towns we think you should get to know—including DexterYpsilanti and Saline—today we want to take a moment to highlight one of our favorites: Chelsea. A growing city of about 4,500, Chelsea is located just 20 minutes west of Ann Arbor and offers everything from renowned restaurants to award-winning theater and downtown shopping.  

If you have a chance, don’t miss the opportunity to take a walk along Main Street, where you can admire outdoor sculptures, read historical plaques, and enjoy some of the best shopping and dining in town. For some outdoor exploration, don’t miss the nearby Timber Town playground for kids or West Lake Preservewhere you can enjoy a variety of summer and water-related activities!  

Click here to learn more and to explore some properties that are currently for sale in the area!  

 

Manchester

Located just 30 minutes from Ann Arbor, Manchester is a village of 2,200 people in southwestern Washtenaw County. Nestled along the banks of the River Raisin, Manchester might just be one of the most charming historic towns in the Midwest. Here, you’ll find lovely parks, exciting outdoor recreational opportunities and family-friendly events. The area was founded in 1826 and has a culture rich in history and tradition. Every yearthe town gathers for canoe races, Fourth of July celebrations, and the annual Manchester Chicken Broil—which was started in 1953.  

Because of all this history, Manchester is home to some incredible architecture. If you’re interested, don’t miss out on their annual Christmas Home Tour, held each December, when five gorgeous, historic homes are available for tours. 

Click here to learn more and to explore some properties that are currently for sale in the area! 

 

Tecumseh

Located on the River Raisin, just southwest of Detroit, Tecumseh is a quick drive from Ann Arbor—and we promise, it’s worth it! Originally founded in the early 1800s, Tecumseh draws visitors for its railroad museum and the Southern Michigan Railroad Society, as well as a variety of antiquing destinations. If you’re an antique or vintage lover, this is the place to go! Enjoy antique shops, antique dealers, antique events and much more. 

After you’re done with your antique shopping, take a few hours to explore the downtown area, which is home to several amazing shops and restaurants, including the Petamere Winerywhere you can stop for a glass of incredible local wine.  

 

Frankenmuth

About an hour drive from Ann Arbor 

Frankenmuth

Photo courtesy of Peter K BurianCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria,” this adorable town located about an hour north of Ann Arbor is definitely worth a visit. Founded by German Lutheran immigrants in the 1800s, Frankenmuth is known for its old-fashioned European ambiance. Visit for a day and wander through the Bavarian-style streets, crossing covered bridges and enjoying a variety of German food and beer. Or simply go for a drive—we listed Frankenmuth’s short Main Street as one of our favorite scenic drives in the area!  

Heritage Park, located off of Weise Street, is home to several amazing festivals and fun events throughout the year, including the World Expo of Beer, the Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival, the Frankenmuth Auto Fest and more. Visit Frankenmuth’s annual calendar to see all the exciting festivals they have in store for this year! 

 

Hillsdale

An idyllic college town, home to Hillsdale College, Hillsdale is located in South Central Michigan, at the Indiana and Ohio borders. Hillsdale College was founded in the mid-1800s and has since been lauded for its excellent liberal arts programs and political influence, drawing thousands of students from all over the country to this adorable town.  

But Hillsdale offers more than just a bustling university environmentincluding dazzling Victorian homes, a quaint downtown boasting several cute cafes, as well as many other incredible eateries. For outdoor exploration, don’t miss Baw Beese Lake, a 414acre lake with a beach, playground and picnic area. And if you want to dive even further into Hillsdale, sign up for a historic walking tour of the area, which will take you past Hillsdale’s most historic and beautiful buildings that all have a story to tell.  

 

Clare

About a two hour and 15-minutes drive from Ann Arbor 

Clare

Photo courtesy of MagicpianoCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We couldn’t make this list about a Midwest state without including at least one quaint, Amish town! Clare is home to nearly 500 Amish individuals and a number of Amish businesses for you to explore. It’s also a great spot for outdoor adventure, featuring several campgrounds, state parks, ski resorts and more.  

Known as “The City of Festivals, Clare always has something going on , including the Irish Festival (one of the largest in the state) every March and the Summer Music Fest that brings talented artists from all over the country.  

 

Put-in-Bay

About a two and a half-hour drive from Ann Arbor 

Put-in-Bay

Photo courtesy of James St. JohnCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking to dip into a state other than Michigan, why not head to gorgeous, northern Ohio? Located on South Bass Island just off the coast, Put-In-Bay is a beloved summer getaway for people all over the Midwest! This gorgeous town draws nearly million visitors each year, all due to the charming shops, fantastic fishing opportunities and excellent restaurants.  

Due to Put-In-Bay’s incredible location on the coast, kayaking, swimming and boating are all great choices for activities in the area. And, amusement park enthusiasts should definitely pay a visit to Cedar Point before you leave. This incredible park is consistently ranked among the best in America and offers some of the best roller coasters, rides and petting zoos around.  

 

Cadillac

For a more northwest adventure, head to Cadillac in northwest Michigan! Originally a logging community named Clam Lake, Cadillac is a perfect getaway for a nature lover. Venture outdoors for hunting or fishing at Mitchell State Park or explore the hiking and biking trails, as well as swimming, in Lake Mitchell or Lake Cadillac

If outdoor exploration isn’t your thing, Cadillac still has plenty to offer youTake a stroll around the downtown shopping areas or visit the Wexford County Historical Society and Museum. Finally, for some good old-fashioned fun, end the day at the Adventure Island, Cadillac’s family-friendly amusement park. 

 

 

Where in Michigan will you go?

Did we miss your favorite Michigan small town? Let us know where we should visit next in the comments!

 

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