Centrally located in the heart of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Mt. Pleasant is a perfect destination for those who seek something larger than themselves.
From pristine parks to a glittering casino and a famous state college, there are tons of things to do in Mt Pleasant Michigan the entire year — yet it has somehow retained that sense of rural charm that has long drawn people to this community.
Meet Mt. Pleasant | A College Town Full of Spirit & Heart
Home to more than 27,000 people — as well as the vibrant Central Michigan University campus — Mt. Pleasant is a town with a welcoming atmosphere and a rich, storied past.
While it’s often referred to as one of Michigan’s great college towns, it offers so much more than great football games, a sprawling campus, and a lively party scene.
The History of Mt. Pleasant
Established in 1831, Mt. Pleasant was originally settled as the county seat of Isabella County — a title it continues to hold to this day.
For decades, it was primarily a farming community, but the discovery of oil in the early 20th century led to an oil boom that significantly altered the local economy.
Today, the city continues to pay tribute to its heritage by honoring the most influential chapters of its history as part of the city seal.
The symbols that are incorporated into the seal represent Native American heritage, education, oil, and agriculture — all of which played a significant role in helping Mt. Pleasant become the place that it is today.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
Mt. Pleasant’s history and the history of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe have long been intertwined.
Not long after the community was first settled, the Treaty of 1855 relocated the Chippewa from their lands in Saginaw, Black River, Swan Creek, and other communities throughout the region to the Isabella Indian Reservation.
Given the proximity of the reservation and the fact that Native American people have long contributed to the growth and development of Mt. Pleasant, the city has worked to honor the history and culture of the tribe.
Throughout the year, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe hosts community events and festivals that celebrate their culture and heritage while simultaneously raising awareness about issues that are important to the tribe.
Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
On the reservation, visitors can spend time at the thriving Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, which is one of the most successful economic endeavors in the county.
In addition, the tribe operates the Ziibiwing Center, which is an immersive and engaging cultural center designed to provide guests with insight into the tribe’s past, present, and future.
Outdoor Things to Do in Mt Pleasant Michigan
With more than 1,000 acres of parkland and 19 distinct natural preserve areas, Mt. Pleasant is the perfect place to get outside and soak up the beauty of Michigan.
Whether you are visiting during the quiet, snowy months of winter, or planning for a summer getaway to mid-Michigan, you will find that these are some of the best outdoor things to do in Mt Pleasant.
Explore Deerfield Nature Park
Comprised of nearly 600 acres of land, Deerfield Nature Park is a truly idyllic escape in the heart of Mt. Pleasant.
Whether you are visiting during the spring as colorful blooms erupt from the grasses or looking to breathe in some of Michigan’s crisp winter air, you will find that this is one of the best parks to visit in mid-Michigan.
The Deerfield Nature Park features more than 8 miles of trails, which are perfect for biking, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. As you traverse these trails, you may feel as if you are walking through the pages of a storybook.
You will cross more than four bridges, including two swinging bridges that will add a sense of excitement and thrill to your hike. And, you will pass by the shores of the glistening Chippewa River.
Disc golfing is another treasured pastime at the park, which is home to two, 18-hole courses. They’re designed to be both inviting and challenging for disc golfers of all skill levels, making this the perfect activity for anyone who is spending time in Mt. Pleasant.
Traverse the GKB Riverwalk Trail
The Chippewa River cuts through the heart of Mt. Pleasant, adding a sense of peace and serenity to the community’s atmosphere. Neither visitors nor locals can resist the pull of the river, which is why the GKB Riverwalk Trail is so popular.
This paved pathway spans more than 2 miles of the river’s shoreline, making it a favorite among those who are looking for a stroll with a view or those who are hoping to fit in some exercise for the day. On any given day, you will likely see locals rollerblading, parents pushing strollers, and students jogging to alleviate the stress of exams.
Also, this trail is the perfect gateway to the river. Along the trail, you will find several canoe landings, as well as observation decks and scenic overlooks.
NOTE: Designed and developed in 2009, the trail is one of the newest additions to the city’s recreational scene, and it serves as a point of connection between many of the most well-known Mt. Pleasant parks. Along this trail, you will find both Island Park and Chipp-A-Waters Park.
Delight in the Beauty of the CMU Campus
The main campus of Central Michigan University is located in the heart of Mt. Pleasant, and during the academic year, it is bursting with life as students swarm the city in hopes of pursuing their goals and accomplishing their dreams.
Known as clean, comfortable, and secure, CMU is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon. On campus, you will find winding paths that meander around historic buildings as the excitement of education and possibilities permeates the atmosphere.
Adding to the welcoming and inclusive nature of this college campus, there are fountains, gathering spaces, public art displays, and more.
Go Birding at the Audubon Woods Preserve
After taking just a few steps into the Audubon Woods Preserve in Mt. Pleasant Michigan, you will feel as if you have been transported into another era — one in which nature reigned supreme and time seems to stand still.
The quiet stillness of the woods is only interrupted by the birds who call the preserve home — and there are so many birds who thrive in this 40-acre wooded preserve. Visitors can walk along the footpaths that wind throughout the preserve to soak up the scenic river views and spot some of the most magnificent species of birds in the region.
Since the preserve was founded in 2008, more than 110 species have been recorded here. As one of the most well-known locations for the Acadian Flycatcher, this preserve attracts bird enthusiasts from around the state and even throughout the country.
Aside from birdwatching, other popular activities at the preserve include fishing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Paddling is also allowed along the river. For those who want to learn a little more during their time at the preserve, guided nature hikes are scheduled throughout the year.
Indoor Things to Do in Mt Pleasant Michigan
If you want to escape the elements and spend the day indoors, you are in luck. Mt. Pleasant is home to some of the most exciting and engaging indoor attractions in the state.
From trying your luck at the casino to discovering the rich heritage of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, you will find that there is always something to enjoy indoors in the city. These are the best indoor things to do in Mt. Pleasant.
Immerse Yourself in Culture & History at the Ziibiwing Center
Often described as a local treasure, the Ziibiwing Center is an immersive and engaging museum that works to celebrate the culture, history, and continued contributions of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, as well as other Great Lakes Anishinabek tribes.
The permanent exhibit at the Ziibiwing Center is a must-see for all Mt. Pleasant visitors. Consisting of 15 distinct sections, this exhibit provides an opportunity to experience and understand the story of the original people of the Great Lakes region in their own voice.
It highlights the struggles that the tribe has faced as they try to preserve their culture, language, traditions, and history.
Rotating & Seasonal Exhibits
In addition to the permanent exhibit, which features valuable artifacts and hands-on experiences, guests can enjoy rotating and seasonal exhibits that highlight tribal art, artifacts, plants, and more.
Throughout the year, the center hosts community events for residents and visitors alike, allowing everyone to experience the authentic beauty of the people who have long called this place home.
Try Your Luck at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort
As the premier entertainment attraction in Mid-Michigan, Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort attracts visitors from across the state and country. Known as a Midwest gaming center, Soaring Eagle is considered Michigan’s premier casino.
Featuring more than 210,000 square feet of space on its gaming floor, visitors over the age of 18 are invited to experience one of the most exciting and thrilling casinos in the state.
There are thousands of slot machines clanging and chiming on the floor, plenty of tables to play cards, and even bingo tables for those who want to enjoy a game or two.
Concerts & Events
In addition to its expansive gaming area, the casino hosts shows, concerts, and other performances throughout the year, giving all guests a well-rounded experience. In many ways, Soaring Eagle feels like a taste of Las Vegas in the heart of Michigan.
Not far from the casino is a more family-friendly attraction — the Soaring Eagle Waterpark and Hotel. Families who want to combine a bit of luck with lifelong memories will love this water park and attached hotel, which features:
- Little Beaver’s Bend is a kid-friendly lazy river that winds around the water park and through the hotel.
- Gizi’s Splash and Dunk is an aquatic basketball course that results in plenty of splash dunks.
- Hot Springs Hot Tub is a luxurious escape from the elements for parents and older kids.
- Arcade is a gaming spot with plenty of classic video games that the whole family can enjoy.
Take Your Kids to the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum
Whether it’s a rainy day in Mt. Pleasant Michigan or you are simply looking for a safe space where your kids can burn off some energy while learning a few new things, the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum is one of the best places to take the family in this city.
Open daily throughout the year, this hands-on museum emphasizes the importance of science, discovery, and exploration. Children of all ages can explore a wide range of exhibits:
- 3, 2, 1 Blast Off is a brand-new space exhibit that lets kids control their own mission to space.
- Beemazium is the largest exhibit in the museum and a favorite among the youngest visitors. Guests are invited to experience life from a bee’s perspective as they dress up and explore a life-sized hive.
- Fish Bowl is a live exhibit where people of all ages can see fish exploring and enjoying their aquatic habitats.
Local Mt. Pleasant Michigan Restaurants
From the local college kids who come in starved for a tasty bite to the travelers who want a taste of mid-Michigan flavor, there are local restaurants in Mt. Pleasant that have been pleasing palates for generations. These are the local spots that you simply have to try during your stay.
Mountain Town Station
Located on the edge of town in a building that was once the local train station, Mountain Town Station is a community mainstay that is beloved by residents and visitors alike.
This family-owned and operated restaurant is known for its homemade recipes and rotating specials, which always give patrons something new to look forward to.
Whether you are sitting inside the cozy dining room during the winter months or dining al fresco on the patio that sits along the railroad, you are sure to enjoy your meal at Mountain Town Station.
Some of the most well-known items on the menu include its Mac and Cheese with a house-made sauce and its Pork Morel entree.
Bird Bar & Grill
Perfectly situated in the heart of downtown Mt. Pleasant Michigan, the Bird Bar & Grill has been a longtime favorite of locals and the college students who relocate to the city throughout the school year.
Most people affectionately refer to this restaurant as The Bird, and it has become the go-to gathering place in the city.
While it’s easy to stop and grab a drink whenever you please, you would be remiss if you didn’t try at least a few of the menu items. Known for its mouthwatering burgers and specialty pizzas, this place serves comfortable, casual fare that will satisfy any appetite.
With its bright pink and turquoise stripes stretching across the roofline, it’s impossible to miss the fun and lively Pixie Restaurant. It is often described as a classic diner with a sense of flair, and many consider it to be the most enjoyable and eclectic place to eat in Mt. Pleasant.
On the Pixie Restaurant menu, you will find classic Michigan coney island concoctions. While you can, order that tried-and-true coney dog that every Michigander loves. You will also find a coney-of-the-month on the menu, which may surprise and delight you.
For more than 75 years, Pixie Restaurant has been serving delicious meals and unforgettable memories, so you will certainly want to make time to stop by this restaurant during your time in Mt. Pleasant.
Hotels & Other Lodging in Mt. Pleasant Michigan
Hotels are plentiful in Mt. Pleasant thanks, in large part, to the Soaring Eagle Resort & Casino. If you are looking to avoid the cookie-cutter decor and experience at some of the chain hotels near the city’s center, consider this local boutique hotel or bed and breakfast.
The Ginkgo Tree
The Ginkgo Tree is a historic boutique hotel and private event venue that has earned a reputation for being one of the best places to stay in Mt. Pleasant.
Located in a house that was built in 1901, it has a charming and peaceful atmosphere that allows guests to fully relax and enjoy their stays.
Guests who book a room at the inn can enjoy a homemade, gourmet breakfast each morning as they sit in a dining room that overlooks the river.
While the serene landscaping and lush gardens make it difficult for guests to leave the property, many appreciate that they are only steps from downtown and some of the best parks in the city. It’s truly one of the most distinctive and convenient places to stay in the area.
Country Chalet and Edelweiss Haus
The Country Chalet and Edelweiss Haus beckons travelers with its enchanting European flair and rustic charm.
This delightful bed and breakfast offers a tranquil escape from the everyday hustle, providing guests with a unique blend of Midwestern hospitality and Old World ambiance. Each room is lovingly adorned with distinctive decor, featuring cozy furnishings and all the comforts of home.
Visitors can unwind in the quaint surroundings, where attention to detail and personalized service create a truly bespoke experience. Coupled with peaceful, well-manicured grounds, the inn’s proximity to local attractions makes it an ideal spot for a romantic getaway or quiet weekend retreat.
From the moment you arrive, it promises a stay that’s as memorable as it is comfortable, with all the charm of a countryside haven in the heart of Central Michigan.
FAQs About Mt. Pleasant Michigan
What is Mt. Pleasant known for?
Mt. Pleasant is a rural community located in mid-Michigan that is known for being the home of Central Michigan University.
It is also located near the Isabella Indian Reservation, where the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe operates the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort and the Ziibiwing Center.
What are the best things to do in Mt Pleasant Michigan?
While one of the most popular attractions and entertainment venues in Mt. Pleasant Michigan is the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, visitors also enjoy exploring the local parks, hiking trails, and nature preservation areas.
Is Mt. Pleasant Michigan a college town?
Mt. Pleasant is home to Central Michigan University, which is a public university. Visitors love to explore the CMU campus for its historical architecture and beautiful landscaping.
When is the best time of year to visit Mt. Pleasant Michigan?
Mt. Pleasant Michigan is a year-round destination that offers exciting opportunities for all types of visitors. During the spring and summer, the weather is perfect for exploring the local hiking trails and picturesque parks.
The fall season is a favorite among local visitors, particularly those who want to soak up the fall colors on campus or cheer on the Chips at a football game. Then, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities in Mt. Pleasant.
Discover Where Mid-Michigan Comes to Life
Whether you are looking to cheer on the Chippewas or hoping to hit the jackpot, you will find more things to do in Mt Pleasant Michigan than you expect.
Filled to the brim with cultural pride and local charm, this Michigan destination is a hidden gem that will leave you begging for more.