Small Town Secrets

Featured in Michigan Travel Ideas 2012, beginning on page 43.

We didn’t quite go off the map to discover these Michigan gems. But we did venture away from towns in bold-face type to discover places big on scenery, locally owned shops and restaurants and old-fashioned downtowns. Come on, see for yourself.


For More Information, contact:

Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/888-9487 or 734/995-7281; www.visitannarbor.org 

Battle Creek/Calhoun County Visitors Bureau (800/397-2240 or 269/962-2240; www.battlecreekvisitors.org 

Bays de Noc Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/533-4386 or 906/789-7862; www.travelbaysdenoc.com 

Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/852-4242 or 810/987-8687; www.bluewater.org 

Branch County Tourism Bureau (800/968-9333 or 517/278-0241; www.discover-michigan.com 

Four Flags Area Council on Tourism (269/684-7444; www.fourflagsarea.org 

Gaylord Area Convention & Tourism Bureau (800/345-8621 or 989/732-4000; www.gaylordmichigan.net 

Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (888/252-6746 or 517/487-0077; www.lansing.org 

Harbor Country Convention & Visitors Bureau (269/469-5409; www.visitharborcountry.org 

Jackson County Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/245-5282 or 517/764-4440; www.visitjacksonmi.com 

Lenawee County Conference & Visitors Bureau (800/536-2933 or 517/263-7747; www.visitlenawee.com 

Manistique Lakes Area Tourism Bureau (800/860-3819; www.curtismi.com 

Munising Visitors Bureau (www.munising.org 

Newberry Area Tourism Association (800/831-7292 or 906/293-5562; www.newberrytourism.com 

Oscoda Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (877/867-2632 or 989/739-0900; www.oscoda.com 

Porcupine Mountains Ontonagon Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (906/884-2047; http://porcupinemountains.com 

River Country Tourism Council (800/447-2821; www.rivercountry.com 

Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau (269/857-1701; www.saugatuck.com 

Shiawassee County Convention & Visitors Bureau (989/723-1199; www.shiawassee.org 

Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council (269/925-6301; www.swmichigan.org 

Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/872-8377 or 231/947-1120; www.traversecity.com 


Featured in the Article

Honolulu House (269/781-8544).

American Museum of Magic (269/781-7570; www.americanmuseumofmagic.org 

National House Inn (269/781-7374; www.nationalhouseinn.com 

Schuler’s Restaurant and Pub (269/781-0600; www.schulersrestaurant.com 

Brooks Memorial Fountain (269/781-5163; www.battlecreekvisitors.org/brooks-memorial-fountain-marshall 

Bella Donna Boutique (616/741-9699; www.belladonnazeeland.com 

Not So Shabby Antiques (616/741-9525; www.notsoshabbyantiques.com 

Frank’s (616/772-7085; www.franksburgers.com 

Mainstreet Sweets (616/741-9442; www.mainstreetsweets.net 

Baert Baron Mansion (616/748-1953; www.baertbaronmansion.com 

Dockside-Torch Lake (231/377-7777).

Short’s Brewing Company (231/533-6622; www.shortsbrewing.com 

Lulu’s Bistro (231/533-5252; www.lulusbistro.com 

Moka (231/533-6262; www.mokabellaire.com 

Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast (877/438-6111; www.grandvictorian.com 

Woods & Waters EcoTours (906/484-4157; www.woodswaterecotours.com 

Up North Studio (906/322-2886; www.lescheneauxislandsartgallery.com 

The Islander Bar (906/484-3359).

Great Lakes Boat Building School (906/484-1081; www.greatlakesboatbuilding.org 

Spring Lodge (800/480-2282 or 906/484-2282; www.springlodge.com 

Lake Vista Resort (989/738-8612; www.lakevistaresort.com 

The Lighthouse Cafe (989/738-5239; www.thelighthouse-cafe.com 

Grindstone General Store (989/738-6410).

The Bank 1884 Food and Spirits (989/738-5353; www.thebank1884.com 

Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse (989/428-4749; www.pointeauxbarqueslighthouse.org 

Port Crescent State Park (800/447-2757 or 989/738-8663).

Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail (989/738-7600 or 989/479-6477; www.thumbtrails.com).

Chelsea’s Farmers Market (734/216-8832; www.chelseafarmersmkt.org 

Chelsea Milling Company (800/727-2460 or 734/475-1361; www.jiffymix.com 

Zou Zou’s Cafe (734/433-4226; www.zouzouscafe.com 

The Common Grill (734/475-0470; www.commongrill.com 

Cleary’s Pub (734/475-1922; www.clearyspubchelsea.com 

Wing House Museum (517/278-2871; www.branchcountyhistoricalsociety.org 

Fayette State Park (906/644-2603; www.michigan.gov/fayette 

Big Bay de Noc (www.baydenoc.com 

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (www.nps.gov/piro 

Fuller’s North Branch Outing Club (989/348-7951; www.fullersnboc.com 

Grand Island National Recreation Area (906/387-3503; www.grandislandmi.com 

Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours (906/387-4477; www.shipwrecktours.com 

Southwest Michigan’s Wine Trail (www.lakemichiganshorewinetrail.com 

Tabor Hill Winery (269/422-1161; www.taborhill.com 

Syl’s Cafe (906/884-2522).

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (906/885-5275; www.porcupinemountains.com 

Drier’s Meat Market (888/521-3999 or 269/756-3101; www.driers.com 

Warren Woods State Park (269/426-4013).

Artisan’s Circle (517/655-2200; www.theartisancircle.com 

Mason Antiques District (517/676-9753; www.masonantiques.net 

Pioneer Wine Trail (www.pioneerwinetrail.com 

More Things to Do

Bellaire Smokehouse
The creamy whitefish pate is particularly good at this mom-and-pop market on Bridge Street in Bellaire that specializes in Lake Michigan fish, regional meats, beers and wines (231/533-5069; www.bellairesmokehouse.com 

Caledonia Mine
Dig through a pile of ore to uncover copper at Caledonia Mine in Ontonagon (906/884-6618; www.caledoniamine.com 

Creekside Herbs & Art
Potted herbs and artisan products including jewelry, specialty foods and hand-blown glass fill this three-floor, family-owned business in Cedarville (906/484-2631).

Don’s Floral
Connected to the Mainstreet Beanery, this little shop in Zeeland has gifts and flowers on display (800/276-3693 or 616/772-3667; www.dons-flowers.com 

Erickson Center for the Arts
This Curtis cultural center is a hub of activity, with ticketed concerts indoors and the free Music in the Park series on Wednesday evenings in the summer (906/586-9974; www.curtisartcenter.com 

Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve
Compact but packed with natural beauty, 105-acre Fernwood includes an arboretum, prairie, wetlands, conservatory and English garden in Niles (269/695-6491; www.fernwoodbotanical.org 

Froehlich’s
The mantra at this sweet little bakery in Three Oaks is “from-scratch,” whether you’re shopping for bread, jam, garden-fresh tomato sauce or crunchy dill pickles (269/756-6002; www.shopfroehlichs.com 

Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum
Artist and historian Karen Brzys runs this Grand Marais attraction, which doubles as an agate collection and museum (906/494-3000 or 906/494-2590; www.agatelady.com 

Governor’s Mansion Museum
Tour the stately mansion built in 1839 in the vain hope that Marshall would become Michigan’s state capital (800/877-5163 or 269/781-5260; www.marshallmich.com/history/Governor.shtml 

Hartwick Pines State Park
To glimpse what the great Michigan forests looked like before they were cut down, take a walk through Hartwick Pines State Park. The Old Growth Trail in Grayling is one of several paths crisscrossing the park’s 9,600 woody acres, and it leads to the famed Hartwick stand of virgin, or old-growth, red and white pines like the Monarch (989/348-7068; www.michigan.gov/hartwickpines 

Hidden Lake Gardens
Lush hillside plantings, scenic overlooks and hiking trails make Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton a lovely spot for a walk or drive in the woods (517/431-2060; www.hiddenlakegardens.msu.edu 

Huron City Museums
A historic site with roots in the area’s logging history provides hour and a half long tours of several historic buildings, including an 1837 log cabin, intact with original furnishings. Located in Port Austin, days and times it is open are very limited (989/428-4123; www.huroncitymuseums.org 

Iargo Springs
A winding staircase (294 steps!) leads to the lovely woodland springs that feed the Au Sable River. You can hear the water babbling all around you as you explore the springs on an extensive boardwalk system. Located in Oscoda (989/739-0728).

Irish Hills Antiques
In Brooklyn, this shop offers old brass typewriters, hand-carved furniture and country store collectibles (517/467-4646).

Kean’s Store
The prices are one of the only things that have changed at this former Five & Dime, the oldest continuously operating business in Mason (517/676-5144; www.keansstore.com 

Lumberman’s Monument
Fifteen miles west of Oscoda, at a stunning overlook of the dam-widened Au Sable River, is a monument to the men who harvested the white pine forests that helped build the western US. (800/821-6263 or 989/362-8961).

Riptide Ride
Zip around Munising Bay on the Riptide Ride, a 28-foot inflatable boat equipped with 700-horsepower twin-jet propelled engines. (906/387-8888; www.riptideride.com 

Shiawassee Arts Center
Just a short walk from Curwood Castle in Owosso, this combination art gallery, shop and visual arts hub features exhibits by Michigan artists (989/723-8354; www.shiawasseearts.org 

Threefold Vine Winery
Sample the only wine grown and made in the UP at Threefold Vine Winery in Garden (906/644-7089; www.exploringthenorth.com/threefold/vine.html 

Tibbits Opera House
Coldwater’s refurbished opera house is the county’s cultural center with year-round events and presents sold-out summer stock shows (517/278-6029; www.tibbits.org 

Williamston Theatre
The six professional productions each season at Williamston Theatre aim to excite and engage the audience (517/655-7469).


More Places to Eat

Chet & Pat’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor
Enjoy generous portions of ice cream for decent prices at this old-fashioned parlor and soda fountain in Curtis (906/586-6120).

Courtside Cafe
Breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, coffee and desserts are all served up with a smile at this brightly decorated cafe in Owosso (989/720-8161; www.courtsidecafe.net 

Dawson and Stevens Classic 50’s Diner
Sandwiches named after songs and a lifetime’s worth of Coke memorabilia ramp up the retro atmosphere at Grayling’s authentically restored downtown diner (989/348-2111).

Evans Street Station
Home-cooking gets a shot of sophistication at this small-town dining destination in Tecumseh (517/424-5555; www.evansstreetstation.com 

The Farm Restaurant
Decorated in a cozy country theme, expect to find fresh food made from local ingredients at this restaurant in Port Austin (989/874-5700; www.thefarmrestaurant.com 

Gracie’s Place
This farm to table restaurant in Williamston offers mouth-watering food and smart decor to boot (517/655-1100).

The Lunch Box
Breakfast is served all day at this cheerful eatery in Bellaire where Dave and Julie Budas promise they “specialize in fat and calories … with that homemade taste you’ve been looking for” (231/533-6678; www.lunchboxbellaire.com 

Mainstreet Beanery
A warm and welcoming cafe in Zeeland, expect to find an assortment of coffees as well as fresh-baked muffins, scones and biscotti; soup joins the menu at lunchtime (616/748-7689; www.mainstreetbeanery.com 

Navigator Restaurant
A family favorite in Munising, this nautical-themed restaurant has a great all-you-can-eat Friday Fish Fry for $10.99. And when they say the fish is fresh, they mean the fisherman is on his way over with the latest catch (906/387-1555).

North Woods Coffee Company
Beyond vintage display windows and a coffee and sandwich counter, the cafe and specialty shop sprawls between the weathered wood floors and the pressed-tin ceilings of the once-renowned Branch Department Store in Coldwater (517/278-1998 or 517/278-1999; www.northwoodscoffeeco.com 

Roma’s Corner Cafe
Famous for its carrot cake, Roma’s offers home-style dinners plus a selection of fresh, lighter fare and vegetarian choices in Marshall (269/781-7477; www.romascornercafe.com 

Tait’s Bill of Fare
While not gourmet by big city standards, the menu has a variety of tasty choices. It’s one of the best places for casual, higher-end fare in Oscoda (989/739-1518).

Vault Delicatessen
Specialty foods, artisan cheeses and breads fill this old bank building in Mason (517/676-2696).

Viola Cafe
The inviting cafe in Three Oaks is a great place for a hearty breakfast and lunch (269/756-9420; www.violacafe.com 

West Bay Diner and Delicatessen
This classic diner in Grand Marais features a “bigger is better” menu with stacked deli sandwiches and freshly baked monster cookies (906/494-2607).

More Places to Stay
 
Barefoot Beach Resort
These clean and well-stocked cottages on the Lake Huron shore are perfect for families who want a quiet and affordable week on the beach in Oscoda (989/739-1818; www.barefoot-beach.com 

Chelsea House Victorian Inn
The Chelsea House is the highlight of the charming community of Chelsea and perfect for holing up on cold winter nights (877/618-4935; www.chelseahouseinn.com 

Chicago Pike Inn
An award-winning retreat, Coldwater’s Chicago Pike Inn has an in-house spa and on-site restaurant (800/471-0501 or 517/279-8744; www.chicagopikeinn.com 

Chicago Street Suite
One of few places to stay in Tecumseh, The Chicago Street Suite satisfies with its simple but centrally located apartment-style lodging (517/424-8314 or 517/424-7463; www.tecumsehdailygrind.com 

Comstock Inn
When looking for a place to stay in Owosso, your best bet is the Comstock Inn,  conveniently located downtown (989/725-0999; www.thecomstockinn.com 

Hilltop Cabins & Motel
Perched on a hill overlooking the harbor in Grand Marais, the Hilltop Cabins and Motel is an ideal family resort, with everything from grills and picnic tables to a giant chess set (906/494-2331; www.hilltopcabins.net 

Huron House
A romantic getaway on Michigan’s sunrise coast awaits at this charming beachfront B&B in Oscoda (989/739-9255; www.huronhouse.com 

Mountain View Lodges
The comfortable cottages in Ontonagon have Lake Superior sunset views and include kitchens, fireplaces and screen porches (906/885-5256; www.mountainviewlodges.com 

Pinewood Lodge B&B
Experience homey comfort, lush gardens and pristine lake views at this log cabin B&B in AuTrain on Lake Superior (906/892-8300; www.pinewoodlodgebnb.com 

Purple Rose Theatre
Intimate seating, reasonably priced tickets and plays highlighting its middle-American roots make this theater a popular regional destination in Chelsea (734/433-7673; www.purplerosetheatre.org 

Shanty Creek Resorts
Just east of Bellaire, this massive resort offers 72 holes of golf, 55 ski runs, a spa, fine dining and accommodations ranging from hotel rooms to links-side condominiums (800/678-4111; www.shantycreek.com 

Topliff’s Tara B&B & Llama Farm
This charming and peaceful country B&B sits on a 50-acre llama farm 6 miles from Williamston (517/655-8860; www.topliffstara.com).

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