OUR FAVORITE SMALL TOWN FAMILY VACATIONS IN MICHIGANSlow down this summer and get away for a day or maybe even a weekend to experience the small towns in Michigan. Pick a peninsula and a Great Lake and... OUR FAVORITE SMALL TOWN FAMILY VACATIONS IN MICHIGAN skip to Main Content



Slow down this summer and get away for a day or maybe even a weekend to experience the small towns in Michigan. Pick a peninsula and a Great Lake and start planning your family getaway to one of these Pure Michigan cities.



90 minutes from Detroit

A small city in Sanilac County, Lexington is a great place to experience a getaway for a day. Far enough to feel like a trip, but close enough to get home for bedtime – get that Up North trip without the traffic. 

  • Spend the day at the beach. Lexington has three beautiful public beaches on the Lake Huron Shore. Lake Street Beach, Simon Street Beach (Beach Volleyball Courts), and the Public Beach north of Jefferson Street.
  • Walk along Main Street, find the fudge shop and a whole lot of ice cream.



3 hours from Detroit

Muskegon boasts 26 miles of beautiful beaches, parks and a resurgent downtown with local breweries, distilleries and restaurants. 



4 hour drive from Detroit

Alpena overlooks Lake Huron’s picturesque Thunder Bay in northeast Michigan and has the perfect blend of local businesses, shops and outdoor recreation. 

  • Explore the Shipwreck Century and see a full-size replica of the wooden Great Lakes schooner at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Walk the decks, feel a Great Lakes storm and touch the massive timbers of the boat resting on the lake bottom, all from the comfort of dry land. If you want to hit the water, the Lake Alpena Shipwreck Tours takes visitors on a two hour cruise to explore the shipwrecks of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
  • Take family pictures in front of famous lighthouses. You can find them at Presque IsleThunder Bay Isle and 40 Mile Point.
  • Walk the pedestrian bridge to Island Park and spend the day swimming, canoeing and hiking the 500-acre wildlife sanctuary in the middle of the city.



4 hour drive from Detroit

Manistee is an hour south of Traverse City and more affordable than the notable tourist destination. The Manistee River runs through the historic downtown and Lake Michigan beaches are within walking distance.

  • Put together a playlist and cruise the M-22 Scenic Drive along the Lake Michigan coast. Stop along the way to admire the scenic views or take a hike for a closer view. The peaceful setting will help you reset and connect as a family.
  • Catch a movie at the Vogue Theater in downtown Manistee. The historic theatre is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, but don’t worry the two screens running hit movies. Another historic theater in the community, the Ramsdell, is where James Earl Jones got his start.
  • Take an afternoon stroll along the historic Manistee Riverfront, the 1.75 mile walk includes a self-guided that tells the story of the industrial boom along the Big Manistee River.


Sault Ste. Marie

5 hour drive from Detroit

Get some fudge in Mackinaw City and cross the bridge into the Upper Peninsula. Up North is nice but the UP is incredible. Pull out the maps and explore the natural wonders in Michigan.

  • The oldest city in Michigan celebrates its semiseptcentennial this year and the 350th Anniversary Festival is July 20-27 The festival will include historical and cultural events, kid zones and more! 
  • Tour the Soo Locks and see how boats move from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, the industrial feat will awe and inspire the littles in your life.
  • Take the Toonerville Trolley to  Tahquamenon Falls. The day long trip includes a train and riverboat ride and provides unique access to one of the most beautiful sites in Michigan.


Photo credit: Facebook



About Carrie Budzinski

Carrie Budzinski is the Vice President of LittleGuide Detroit. She grew up in Livonia and Detroit and continues to live life in both cities. Carrie loves exploring the city and finding hidden gems in the suburbs..

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