Seeking a relaxing getaway? We recommend exploring one of the best small towns in Upper Peninsula Michigan!
Separated from the rest of the state by three bodies of water, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula takes on a personality all its own. With rocky shorelines, rugged terrains, and vast stretches of land between any signs of life, this is a place where nature reigns supreme, and the local people are a hardy bunch, known for their resilience and warmth.
Drummond Island may only have a year-round population of about 1,000 people, but this vast, forested island is actually the second-largest freshwater island in the country. Located off the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula, Drummond Island rests between Michigan and the Canadian border in the waters of Lake Huron.
The town itself is quaint and charming and is best known for its outdoor recreational activities. There’s an intricate network of ATV trails that exist throughout the island, making this a preferred mode of transportation among visitors and locals alike.
In addition, you will often find people kayaking and canoeing on the Heritage Water Trail that winds around the perimeter of the island.
Nestled in the mountains and tucked away on the northern tip of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, Copper Harbor is an idyllic town where the views are incredible, and the atmosphere is restorative.
This is a destination that combines the natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula with the state’s storied past. Visitors often find themselves exploring historic sites that offer insight into the copper mining industry, which has long played a significant role in the community’s growth and development.
Along the southern coast of the Upper Peninsula, you will find the harbor town of Hessel, which is quickly earning a reputation for being one of the best towns in the Les Cheneaux Islands.
This tiny community has been built around Hessel Bay, and it has become a place where arts, culture, and flavor dominate the local atmosphere. Hessel is home to the Les Cheneaux Culinary School, which means that it also boasts some of the best dining experiences in the Upper Peninsula — complete with sparkling waterfront views.
While there’s something to be said for exploring the coastal areas of this part of the state, you would be remiss if you didn’t take a trip through the heart of the U.P. In the center of it all, you will find Newberry, a quiet town with plenty of potential that is becoming one of the top tourist destinations in the state.
Munising is one of the most well-known towns in the Upper Peninsula, thanks to its close proximity to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. However, it’s only home to about 1,900 residents, making it a bona fide small town.
When you are not enjoying a cruise along the colorful sandstone rock formations, you will want to head into the heart of Munising, where you will find local flavor in abundance.
If you are the type of person who is craving adventure in the great outdoors, then Crystal Falls is the U.P. destination that you should visit next. Crystal Falls is situated in the midst of Iron County and can be found along the western border of the Upper Peninsula.
Throughout the community, you will find several inland lakes that are perfect for boating, fishing, and other water activities. Hunting is a treasured pastime in this area, and people of all ages find themselves hitting the trails in order to reach Chicagon Falls.
Boasting a population of about 4,500 residents, Hancock might actually be considered a large town by U.P. standards — but the heart and soul of this community have been perfectly preserved, giving it the feel of a welcoming neighborhood.
Hancock is located just across the Keweenaw Waterway from Houghton, and it is home to the historic Quincy Mine. In Hancock, you will find big-city amenities as well as the local charm that people love about the Upper Peninsula, making it a popular vacation destination among families.
Ishpeming is a quiet town that can be found on the western edge of Marquette County. Featuring an expansive network of recreational trails, this U.P. town is a favorite among those who like to ride four-wheelers, ATVs, and snowmobiles in the winter months.
While it is perhaps most well-known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, Ishpeming has a burgeoning cultural scene that is bringing travelers of all ages and interests to the area.
The downtown area offers that historic charm that makes visitors feel as if they have stepped into a bygone era, yet the eclectic collection of stores reminds them that they are still experiencing the beautiful diversity of our modern times.
Many people mistakenly use St. Ignace as a quick port town, a brief stop on their way to Mackinac Island. Others drive right on by, in favor of destinations such as Newberry or Tahquamenon Falls. However, this town is worth a prolonged stay.
While in St. Ignace, you can experience the rich, cultural heritage of the Native American tribes who have long called the Upper Peninsula home when you visit attractions such as the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and the Straits Cultural Center.
Paradise has a name that makes one think that they are heading to a tropical locale, where palm trees might dot the white sand beaches. Paradise Michigan, however, is quite the opposite — it’s a beautiful town that offers breathtaking views, but it’s situated on the daunting Shipwreck Coast of the Upper Peninsula.
If the tragic tales of the shipwrecks appeal to you, you can visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. If you would rather soak up the uninterrupted natural views that Paradise has to offer, perhaps bird-watching at Whitefish Point is a better option.
The Crisp Point Lighthouse is another favorite attraction in Paradise. It takes a bit of an effort to reach the lighthouse, but most who make the journey say that the peace and serenity that encompasses you when you arrive makes it all worthwhile.
For that quintessential Upper Peninsula experience — one in which you can rest on the shores of a sandy beach against the backdrop of a stately lighthouse — then consider a visit to the quiet town of Eagle Harbor.
Located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, Eagle Harbor features a rugged coastline and miles of hiking trails, many of which are known for their peaceful, genteel nature. It’s one of the best places to go agate hunting in the Upper Peninsula, which keeps treasure hunters of all ages busy for hours as they search along the rocky shorelines for the stones that feature colorful banding.
Enjoy the Best Small Towns in Upper Peninsula Michigan
No matter which town you choose to visit in the Upper Peninsula, you are likely to be greeted by smiling faces who can tell you where you can find the most delicious pasty in the area.
These are the kind of places where you can forget the world around you, all while finding yourself, so don’t delay your trip to the Upper Peninsula. Begin building your Upper Peninsula itinerary today.