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Area small towns highlighted as best in Michigan to visit

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The online publication AwesomeMitten.com is highlighting what it calls the 24 BEST Small Towns in Michigan to Visit and a handful from Southwest Michigan made the cut.

Writer Matt Heffner published the list in late November, saying, “Some of the best small towns in Michigan are home to just a few hundred residents — yet they highlight the character of the Midwest, the natural beauty of the Great Lakes state, and the ingenuity of the local people.”

Making the list from our region are St. Joseph, New Buffalo, South Haven, Saugatuck, and Holland. 

“Whether you are searching for a getaway that includes a scenic drive and a pristine beach, or you are hoping to step back in time and experience the rich history of the area, you will find that these cute towns in Michigan are worth visiting.”

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Here are the brief writeups from AwesomeMitten.com on why each locality made the list:

St. Joseph
Tucked away in the corner of Southwest Michigan is one of the state’s best beach towns. St. Joseph is home to two popular beaches — Lions Beach and Silver Beach, both of which are located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

While those who are looking for a quieter, more peaceful day on the beach may opt to set up their towels and umbrellas on Lions Beach, you would be remiss if you didn’t stop at Silver Beach too.

The city’s well-loved beach is also home to the Silver Beach Carousel, a historic artifact that was restored to its former grandeur and has been delighting riders of all ages since 2010.

New Buffalo
Located just before the border of Michigan and Indiana, New Buffalo serves as a port of entry for all of those who visit the Great Lakes State.

Not surprisingly, this incredible town gives off a great first impression. Its top attractions are its local beaches and the nearby Four Winds Casino New Buffalo, but what this town is quickly becoming best known for is its food.

The local restaurant scene is growing and thriving, bringing eclectic flavors from around the world to the heart of Southwest Michigan.

South Haven
Those who are searching for a home away from home on Michigan’s west coast will love the town of South Haven, which is a favorite among visitors but has not been taken over by the travel and tourism industry.

This family-friendly beach town has a surprisingly eclectic foodie scene, which has generated interest among travelers from farther away than Michigan. Ultimately, it’s one of the best places to go if you are looking for colorful sunsets, beaches with soft sand, and a healthy dose of culture and history.

A little further north, but still reachable for an easy day trip:

Saugatuck
Ranked as one of the best beach towns in the United States, Saugatuck combines the breathtaking beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline with the creative genius of some of Michigan’s most beloved artists. This small West Michigan town is situated on what has been dubbed the state’s Art Coast. In addition to being home to spectacular sand dunes and beautiful beaches, Saugatuck is a cultural destination filled with art galleries, museums, boutiques, and more.

Holland
Named by Dutch settlers who first established the community, Holland is a town in Michigan that offers an unparalleled European flair. Around every corner, you will see influences from Dutch culture, but the most iconic spot in the city is the towering Dutch windmill on Windmill Island.

Whether you are visiting for the city’s annual Tulip Festival — which showcases colorful springtime blooms every year — or you are coming to spend a day on the beach, you won’t be disappointed by everything Holland has to offer.

You can see the full list here at AwesomeMitten.com