Michiganders of all ages know Detroit as the Motor City, they know Grand Rapids as Beer City USA or Furniture City and they know Ann Arbor as A2. But did you know that there are many more Michigan cities with unique nicknames?
From the Lake Michigan coast to the coast of Lake Huron, from Detroit to Traverse City, and from one side of the Upper Peninsula to the other, the Mitten State is full of cities with some colorful nicknames.
Adrian | The Maple City
This southern Michigan city is called The Maple City because of how many species of maple trees are found around town, including the sugar maple.
Adrian’s affinity for maples extends to Adrian High School’s athletic teams, which are known as the maples and it’s not uncommon for businesses to use maple in their names, including dental offices, glass shops, plumbing businesses, and financial institutions.
Alma | Scotland, USA
A sign greets visitors as they arrive in town, welcoming them to Scotland, USA. That’s because Alma College was founded through the efforts of the Presbyterian Synod of Michigan and the Presbyterian Church was originally founded in Scotland.
The school embraced its Scottish roots, with athletic teams coming to be known as the Fighting Scots. The embracing of Scottish traditions includes the annual Alma Highland Festival & Games each May.
Ann Arbor | Tree Town
The home of the University of Michigan is commonly known as A2 (or A squared), but it is also referred to as Tree Town because of its many parks and the thousands of trees found around town.
It’s estimated the city has more than 50,000 trees in it and numerous parks. The parks range from small neighborhood parks to larger recreation areas, including the Nichols Arboretum, which has hundreds of tree and plant species, and the Matthael Botanical Gardens.
Atlanta | Elk Capital of Michigan
Though it is an unincorporated community between Alpena and Gaylord, Atlanta is known for its natural beauty and for its large elk population. Upon entering Atlanta, visitors are greeted by a large elk behind a glass case.
Michigan’s elk population dates back to the early 1900s and the state’s elk population today is estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 animals. Atlanta is one of several northern Michigan spots where the massive majestic animal can be spotted and Atlanta earned its moniker in 1986.
Battle Creek | Cereal City
Battle Creek is known as Cereal City nationwide because it is the home of Kellogg’s, which was founded in 1906 and produces Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, and a host of other delicious cereals.
Battle Creek’s reputation as a cereal haven was further cemented when C.W. Post founded Post Consumer Brands after he invented Grape Nuts.
Battle Creek celebrates its nickname each June during the National Cereal Festival.
Beaver Island | America’s Emerald Isle
Beaver Island, which sits in the middle of Lake Michigan is known as America’s Emerald Isle.
Beaver Island earned its moniker because of the influx of Irish Catholic fishermen who developed a unique connection to the island, which was once one of the biggest suppliers of freshwater fish in the United States.
As the largest island in Lake Michigan, Beaver Island is a peaceful destination that offers plenty of activities for both nature lovers and history buffs alike.
Beaver Island is actually part of a 13-island archipelago, that also includes Garden, Hog, and North Fox Islands.
Belding | Silk City
Located northeast of Grand Rapids, Belding was once home to Belding Brothers and Company, which was a major manufacturer of silk in the 19th and 20th centuries.
At one time, the company employed hundreds of young women, before the city’s silk mills closed in the 1930s due to the emergence of synthetic thread.
At one time, the town was the top producer of silk (up to 90%) in the state and the country.
Berrien Springs | Christmas Pickle Capital of the World
Boasting arguably one of the state’s most interesting nicknames, Berrien Springs in Berrien County holds an annual festival, honoring the Christmas pickle, which is part of German-American Christmas traditions.
The festival is held in July and includes, games, live entertainment, and the crowning of a Pickle Festival prince and princess.
Calumet | Coppertown USA
Located way up in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Calumet was once the center of a thriving copper industry in the Upper Peninsula, and the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company produced half of the nation’s copper between 1871 and 1880.
A booming copper industry gave Calumet an economic surplus, which was used to build infrastructure like the historic Calumet Theatre and St. Paul the Apostle Church. Calumet’s copper legacy is also remembered by Calumet High School’s athletic teams, which are known as the Copper Kings.
Colon | Magic Capital of the World
This small village in St. Joesph County is both the home and burial site of several famous magicians, including “The Great Blackstone” Harry Blackstone Sr., and has been recognized by the U.S. Congress as the Magic Capital of the World.
Colon is also home of the Abbott Magic Company, founded by magician Percy Abbott, and supplies customers both nationally and internationally with magicians’ supplies and tricks.
During the summer, the company performs weekly magic shows and also hosts Abbott’s Magic Get-Together, a four-day magic convention and celebration, each August.
Eau Claire | Cherry Spitting Capital of the World
Eau Claire, located on the southwest edge of Michigan, gets the honor of being named the Cherry Spitting Capital of the World.
It is so named because it was the home of the International Cherry Pit-Spitting Championship, which it hosted from 1974 to 2019 until the farm where the contest took place each year was sold.
Each contestant in the contest got three chances to spit and a Guinness World Record was set there in 2004.
Fairview | Wild Turkey Capital of Michigan
Tucked away in Oscoda County, this unincorporated community, proclaims itself to be the Wild Turkey Capital of Michigan.
In recent years, the wild turkey population has dwindled, but the Michigan DNR has made efforts to help revitalize the population between Mio and Fairview.
Because the community is centered right in the Huron National Forest, it’s possible for outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts can see turkeys, bears, deer, and Kirtland’s warblers among other wildlife.
Flint | Vehicle City
Detroit may be known as the Motor City, but Flint is just as important to Michigan’s reputation as an important center of the automobile industry and is officially known as Vehicle City.
From the late 19th century until roughly the mid-20th century, Flint was the leading producer of vehicles. General Motors was founded in the city in 1908 and showed its production mettle for years as a leading producer of Buick and Chevrolet vehicles.
Flint also played a role in the later formation of the United Auto Workers.
Frankenmuth | Michigan’s Little Bavaria
Anyone who’s visited Frankenmuth knows how rich the city’s German heritage is (right down to the name Frankenmuth) and is therefore known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria.
Many Michiganders make an annual trek to Bavarian Inn and Zehnders for their famous chicken dinners, but a stroll through downtown Frankenmuth reveals a city decked out in German decor and visitors will feel like they’re walking through a quaint German village.
Whether visitors want to embrace the top tourist spots or go off the beaten path, there’s plenty for folks of all ages to do.
Fremont | Baby Food Capital of the World
This western Michigan city is rightly known as the Baby Food Capital of the World because it is the headquarters of Gerber Products Company, which has been manufacturing baby food since 1927.
Fremont lives up to its moniker by hosting the annual Baby Food Festival every July. The festival typically draws more than 50,000 people each year. Festival events include a baby food-eating contest, a baby crawl, a car show, and much more fun for the whole family.
Glenn | The Pancake Town
Nestled within Ganges Township on the shore of Lake Michigan, Glenn’s reputation as Pancake Town comes from a 1937 event during a snowstorm when stranded travelers at a local eatery had nothing to eat there except for pancakes.
The pancakes, which were served to travelers for three days, became a symbol of the town’s hospitality. Travelers were housed in the town schoolhouse and in private homes before the snow was cleared away.
Jackson | Birthplace of the Republican Party
While it’s also known as The Rose City, Jackson, which was founded in 1829 and named for President Andrew Jackson, was also known for many years as the Birthplace of the Republican Party.
The city got its name because politicians met there to argue against the expansion of slavery in 1854. The city’s importance to the Republican Party is commemorated with a plaque at Under the Oaks City Park.
Today, Ripon, Wisconsin is recognized as the GOP’s birthplace, but Jackson’s park and plaque are said to have been visited by Republican presidents.
Kalamazoo | Celery City
The county seat of Kalamazoo County is also known by some as the Mall City, Kzoo, and The Zoo and has been the site of many areas of production, including cigars, automobiles, and windmills.
It was also once a center of celery production, where the “white” or “yellow” celery was cultivated for its sweet taste and said to be a cure-all for stomach disorders and many other ailments.
By the 1870s, Kalamazoo was the second-biggest shipper of celery in the state, and, in the 1920s, many celery packing plants arose for year-round shipment. Various factors led to the death of the industry there before the city became known as Mall City.
Marquette | Queen City of the North
Many cities around the nation as known as Queen City, but Marquette gets the distinction of being the Queen City of the North. As a major port in the Upper Peninsula, Marquette is known as the Queen City because it is a center of industry.
Michiganders and out-of-town visitors alike love Marquette for its picturesque buildings and many industries, which include lumbering, mining, and manufacturing.
Marquette offers something for visitors young and old with its quaint shops, scenic parks, and lakeside views. It’s also one of the best sports to spend a weekend in the UP.
Mesick | Mushroom Capital of the World
The hunt for morel mushrooms is one that hundreds of Michiganders look forward to each year. These mushrooms are prized for their nutty taste and meaty texture, and some folks just love the thrill of the hunt.
An abundance of these mushrooms can be found in Mesick and eager hunters travel there each year in hopes of getting some.
Mesick is also the home of the Mesick Mushroom Festival, which has been going strong for more than 60 years. Each May, festivalgoers flock there for a mushroom hunt, games, a market, and much more.
Newberry | Moose Capital of Michigan
Located in the eastern UP, Newberry is surrounded by natural beauty, including lush forests, and is close to Tahquamenon Falls.
It was designated as the Moose Capital of Michigan by the Michigan Legislature because there have been more sightings of these majestic beasts in Luce County than anywhere else in the state.
The Michigan DNR estimates there are more than 400 moose in Michigan and a trip to or from Newberry may just net a peak at a wild moose in the Mitten State. Visitors can also get a look at black bears up close at Oswald’s Bear Ranch.
Onaway | Sturgeon Capital of Michigan
In Northeast Michigan, Onaway is known as the state’s sturgeon capital because there is a rearing facility for lake sturgeon on the nearby Black River. The bony, ancient fish eventually migrate to the Cheboygan River and then to Lake Huron.
The sturgeon fishing season on Black River each February is a popular event for fishing enthusiasts, who try their luck fishing for this prized catch.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources sets strict limits for the number of fish caught and the one-day season can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours.
Pellston | Icebox of the Nation
Though some places in the Upper Peninsula get dozens of feet of snow each year, the small northern Michigan village of Pellston gets the distinction of being the Icebox of the Nation.
Pellston’s temperatures during the winter rival towns in Colorado and Minnesota as some of the coldest and the town typically records sub-zero temperatures for at least 40 days during wintertime.
Pellston sits in a sand basin between two ranges of hills and cold air tends to gather there as daytime cloud cover disperses and drives away heat.
Pinconning | Cheese Capital of Michigan
Pinconning is known as the Cheese Capital of Michigan because it produces rich, delectable Pinconning cheese.
The cheese, which is a Colby-style cheese, was invented by Daniel Horn in 1915, and products made today follow Horn’s original recipe. Michiganders love it for its levels of sharpness, which range from medium and mild to extra sharp and super sharp.
It’s the perfect addition to dishes like macaroni and cheese and can also be ordered as cheese curds.
Rogers City | Salmon Capital of Michigan
While it is also known as Nautical City for its location on the shore of Lake Huron, Rogers City has been designated as the Salmon Capital of Michigan because of its once-abundant salmon fishery.
The city once held two separate salmon tournaments which anglers eagerly participated in for their chance to hook into big Chinook salmon catches, among other species.
The salmon population has seen better days, but many local and downstate anglers still visit Rogers City and several other nearby fishing waters for the chance to catch salmon, trout, and steelhead during the summer and fall.
Sault Ste. Marie | Michigan’s Oldest City
Settled by French colonists in 1668, Sault Ste. Marie, or The Soo as it’s commonly called, has the honor of being Michigan’s oldest city.
It was first the site of a Jesuit mission by Catholic missionaries in 1668 but developed later into one of the oldest European cities in North America before the formation of the United States. It was later an important center of the fur trade.
Sault Ste. Marie also became the site of the Soo Locks in 1855, which allowed ships to travel between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes.
South Haven | Blueberry Capital of the World
Years ago, timber was harvested in South Haven and the resulting clear-cut forests were used by fruit farmers to grow a variety of fruits, including blueberries.
On the shores of Lake Michigan, South Haven boasts one of the state’s bumper crop of berries, which also led to the creation of an annual blueberry celebration.
Today, South Haven hosts the National Blueberry Festival in August. The festival, which was inaugurated in 1963, is one of the longest-running such festivals in the nation.
Traverse City | Cherry Capital of the World
Traverse City has a lot of nicknames, but it’s most well-known for its production of cherries and being the home of the National Cherry Festival.
Traverse City is a cherry production hotspot and is one of the biggest producers of tart cherries in the nation. The festival has been a mainstay in the area since 1925 and draws thousands of visitors each year.
The city and surrounding area have embraced the cherry moniker with everything from the Cherry Capital Airport to the summer league baseball Traverse City Pit Spitters paying homage to the tart fruit.
Visit a Michigan Town With a Fun Nickname
Michigan is known to Michiganders by many nicknames, including the Mitten State, the Wolverine State, and the Great Lakes State.
But within Michigan, plenty of cities with unique nicknames with unique and rich histories.
Whether you want to visit the Moose Capital of the World, the National Cherry Capital of the World, the Icebox of the Nation, or any one of the dozens of towns with official and unofficial nicknames in Michigan, there are plenty of places to have an adventure.