Small Towns Bring Big Pure Michigan Fun

I think I say it in my sleep: You could vacation in Pure Michigan your whole life and never see everything our great state has to offer!

From Chelsea to Calumet, meet five small towns (population under 6,000) that serve up big portions of history, intrigue, Great-Lakes fun and fury, foodie favorites, cruises, dramatic draws and more. Remember your getaways to these iconic locales with ornaments from Bronner’s!

FIRST STOP – CHELSEA.

Actor Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre makes its home in this southeast-Michigan small town and offers four professional plays each year.

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Actor Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre photo source: tripadvisor.com

Snack time? Chelsea Milling Company, home of “Jiffy” Mix, has been baking America great for over 100 years. Taste-test and tour the packaging facility during a free tour.

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Photo Sources: chelseamich.com and @JIFFYmixes (Facebook)

Historic walking tours, brewery tours, a self-guided sculpture walk, maple syrup tours in early spring, Sandhill crane migration tours in the fall and an organic farm tour provide a smorgasbord of options for guests to Chelsea.

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Garden sculpture photo source: chelseamich.com

WILKOMMEN TO FRANKENMUTH.

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Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Little Bavaria, is our home – Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the World’s Largest Christmas Store. Settled in the mid-1840s by German missionaries to the local Native Americans, Frankenmuth is big on German food, music, culture and “gemuetlichkeit” or hospitality. Relax with a carriage ride or river cruise, taste test cheese, fudge, brews and more.

Make your own giant pretzel, kayak the Cass River, and bring the kids to Grandpa Tiny’s Farm. Golf the Fortress, stop by the woodcarver’s guild and take in a comedy show.

Two of the top 10 family restaurants in the United States are in Frankenmuth and offer all-you-can-eat chicken dinners, German dishes and American cuisine. With about 40 eateries offering scrumptious meals to delicious desserts and snacks, to beer, wine and chocolate tastings, you’ll never go hungry in Frankenmuth! Shoppers will love the dozens of emporiums dotting Main Street and Riverplace along with the over 50,000 trims and gifts for all seasons, reasons and budgets that will catch their eye at Bronner’s.

Every season brings something new to Frankenmuth: from Auto Fest and Oktoberfest in the fall, to Christmas and Snowfest in the winter, to Bavarian Easter Celebration (Osterbrunnen) and ’80s Fest in the spring, to Balloons over Bavarian Inn and Dog Bowl to kick off the summer. Frankenmuth’s vibrant farmers market offers locally sourced products, and the local Jaycees offer a series of competitive road races popular with runners of all ages.

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Photo Sources: frankenmuth.org and @GrandpaTinysFarm (Facebook)

TAKEN INTO CUSTODY IN CLARE? YES, PLEASE!

Be taken into custody at the internationally known Clare’s Cops & Doughnuts Bakery, owned by local police officers.

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Photo Source: @CopsDoughnutsClareCityBakery (Facebook)
 
Clare County, located in the middle of Michigan’s mitten and a gateway to “up north,” draws skiers, snowboarders, boaters and campers. Originally a lumbering town, Clare’s oil boom in the 1920s and 30s attracted the notorious Purple Gang, who moved into the area to launder money. The Doherty Hotel and Tobacco Ranch tell this mob’s infamous story today.
 
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Clare Michigan’s Purple Gang. Photo Source: http://purplegangdetroit.leadr.msu.edu/


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Photo Source: @CopsDoughnutsClareCityBakery (Facebook)


Join St. Patrick’s Day festivities in this small town with Irish roots, or time your visit to shop the local Amish quilt auction and craft show/antiques sale/flea market held one weekend each spring and late summer. Or get away in November or December to the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm and meet Santa’s team!

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Photo Source: @Rooftop-Landing-Reindeer-Farm (Facebook)


PICTURESQUE MUNISING

Another beautifully patterned mosaic (this one made of sandstone) can be found at Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, one of only four national lakeshores across the U.S. The town of Munising hugs the shore of Northern Michigan’s Lake Superior and serves as the hub for your lakeshore visit. When the weather is warm and the breezes mild, enjoy the beaches, waterfalls and lighthouses throughout the Munising area.

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Lighthouse Photo Source: exploremunising.com

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Photo Source: @PicturedRocksCruises (Facebook)


View the sandstone cliffs and formations from a Pictured Rocks Cruise, see shipwrecks from a Glass Bottom Boat Tour, dive Lake Superior wrecks in the Alger Underwater Preserve, enjoy the trails of the Hiawatha National forest from an ATV, kayak the lakeshore, book a fishing charter or turn the adrenaline up a notch with a tour of the lakeshore aboard Rip Tide, a Navy Seal vessel bringing extreme speed!

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When the cold and snow hit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, snowmobile over 300 miles of groomed trails in Alger County, climb the ice formations and frozen waterfalls, or explore the Eben Ice Caves.


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Photo Source: @EbenIceCaves (Facebook)


CALUMET IS CALLING

In the mid-1800s the discovery of vast deposits of copper in Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula drew mining companies and a large Scandinavian, Cornish, Polish and Eastern European population to the area to work the mines.

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Photo Source: Wikipedia


The settlement of Red Jacket, named for a Native American Seneca Indian chief, became a hub for the red-metal industry. (Red Jacket was renamed Calumet in 1929.) Copper mining down turned with a strike in 1913, a decreased demand for copper following World War I and the Great Depression. Thousands left Calumet with many moving to the booming automobile industry in Detroit. But the rich history of Calumet and the wild countryside remain to be explored! Coppertown USA Mining Museum and Copper Country Firefighters History Museum tell tales of times past.

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Photo Source: Wikipedia, Pinterest & @CopperCountryFirefightersHistoryMuseum (Facebook)

 

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  Catch a concert or play at the historic Calumet Theatre, which opened in 1900 to a touring Broadway production and hosted names like Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Russell, Lon Chaney, Jason       Robards, Sarah Bernhardt and John Philip Sousa. Or take a guided or self-guided tour throughout the theatre.

 Pasties, a traditional Cornish pastry filled with beef, potatoes, rutabagas and onion seasoned with salt and pepper, was common fare for Copper Country miners. Be sure to sample this traditional   dish of the region at one of several local establishments during your stay in Calumet. If you happen to be in town the Saturday before July 4, you can celebrate this popular baked pie with the   locals  during Pasty Fest! Several historic churches dot the landscape in Calumet. Fine art, jewelry, furniture, antiques and more, some featuring the Keweenaw’s red metal, are on display and     available for purchase at Vertin Gallery and Paige Wiard Gallery. Swedetown Ski trails offers well-groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails and a sledding hill for the whole family. The trails   are popular with mountain bikers during the warm weather months. 
 

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Photo Source: @SwedetownTrails (Facebook)


WANDERLUST

Which of these small Michigan towns attracts your attention?


FEATURED PRODUCTS IN CHELSEA

FEATURED PRODUCTS IN FRANKENMUTH

FEATURED PRODUCTS IN CLARE

FEATURED PRODUCTS IN MUNISING

FEATURED PRODUCTS IN CALUMET


Author: Lori Libka