Niles is a charming city in southwest Michigan, located along the St. Joseph River. With its historic downtown, great parks, and proximity to South Bend, Indiana, Niles has plenty to see and do for visitors. Here are my top 10 recommendations for things to do in Niles Michigan.
1. Explore Downtown Niles
Historic downtown Niles has a delightful small-town vibe, with quaint brick buildings housing boutiques, galleries, antique stores and restaurants. Start at Riverfront Park located along the St. Joseph River. Stroll the walkways, admire the flower gardens, and check the schedule for summer concerts at the gazebo. Pop into the Niles District Library next door. Walk north along Main Street to window browse the shops. Designs on Main features home decor and gifts. Brushstrokes Gallery highlights local artists.
For antiques, visit Niles Antique Mall, packed with vintage finds across two floors. Nearby, the Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce has area info. When hunger strikes, downtown Niles has delicious dining options. Front Street Pizza bakes gourmet pizzas and calzones. Nelson’s Coffee & Doughnuts erves breakfast alongside Stardust Donuts and gourmet coffee.
2. Discover Niles History at the Niles History Center
Address: 508 E Main St, Niles, MI 49120
To soak up the history and heritage of Niles, visit the Niles History Center. This museum complex includes three historic buildings. The centrepiece is the Chapin Mansion, an 1839 Greek Revival home that belonged to one of Niles’ founders, Henry Chapin.
Tour the mansion’s period rooms like the formal parlors, dining room, and master bedroom. Learn about the Chapin family and Niles’ early days. Outside, stroll through the heritage gardens and visit the 1838 log cabin and one-room schoolhouse.
3. Have Fun at Plym Park
Address: 401 Marmont St, Niles, MI 49120
For recreation and fresh air, head to Plym Park, Niles’ top park. Families will love the amusement rides like the carousel, tilt-a-whirl, and rollercoaster. Mini-golfers can tackle the two 18-hole mini-golf courses.
The park also has softball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, volleyball courts, a skate park, batting cages, and playgrounds. Kids will enjoy feeding the ducks in the lagoon. Work up a sweat at the outdoor exercise stations and walking paths. Have a picnic or family reunion at the pavilions. Plym Park has activities for all ages to enjoy!
4. Hike Trails Along the River
Niles has beautiful riverfront hiking trails to please nature lovers. Madeline Bertrand Park has 5 miles of woodland hiking trails that wind through prairie, marshland, and forests along the St. Joseph River Wetlands. Spot wildlife like birds, turtles, and deer as you walk. You can also fish in the ponds and river.
Downtown, the Riverfront Trail is a 2.5 mile paved trail following the St. Joseph River and rapids through wetlands and woods. Access it from Riverfront Park or Madeline Bertrand Park.
These trails are great for walking, jogging, biking, and birdwatching against the scenic backdrop of the river and lush vegetation.
5. Shop for Antiques and Vintage Finds
Niles has some excellent places to hunt for hidden treasures:
- Niles Antique Mall: Over 40 dealer booths packed with antiques, vintage furniture, jewelry, glassware, toys, books, collectibles, and more. Wander through two floors brimming with finds.
- Junque in the Trunk: Stock retro fashions from the 1920s to the 1980s.
- Cherry’s Vintage Marketplace: Offers antiques alongside handmade crafts, baked goods, and products.
Niles’ antique shops offer endless treasures for thrifters and collectors. Search to uncover your own hidden gems!
6. Get Thrills at the Niles Scream Park
Address: 855 Mayflower Rd, Niles, MI 49120
For frightful fun around Halloween, visit the Niles Scream Park. This 44-acre park transforms into an intense spook-fest with elaborate haunted houses, a haunted hayride, carnival rides, food trucks, and more.
Brave the haunted houses like the Temple of Terror, Maniac Mansion, and Fields of Fear as monsters jump out at you inside. The haunted hayride takes you through the ominous woods. You can also watch zombie paintball and try your hand at the carnival games.
7. Tee Off at Orchard Hills Country Club
Golfers, grab your clubs and head to Orchard Hills Country Club, conveniently located inside Madeline Bertrand Park. This scenic public 18-hole course rolls through the lush park landscape, presenting challenges like wooded areas, sand traps, creeks, and ponds.
The reasonably-priced green fees make Orchard Hills a favorite for locals. The full bar and grill is great for drinks and meals after your round. With beautiful scenery and smooth greens, Orchard Hills offers an excellent golf experience.
8. Cross Country Ski Through the Parks
When winter hits, Niles’ parks transform into prime spots for winter recreation. Madeline Bertrand Park grooms almost 6 miles of trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Glide through snow-covered prairie, marshland, and forest scenery along the river. Rent equipment if needed. The sledding hill also provides family fun.
Downtown’s Riverfront Park has an ice skating rink set up in winter. Ice skate under the twinkle lights by the St. Joseph River for a magical experience. Rug up and get active at Niles’ parks all winter long!
9. Enjoy the Local Dining Scene
Niles’ dining scene shines with delicious flavors to sample. Here are top local eateries:
- Iron Shoe Distillery: Gastropub with handcrafted cocktails and pub fare
- Fork’s: Fine dining with seasonal, locally-sourced cuisine
- Antonio’s Italian Restaurant: Authentic red sauce Italian since 1963
- Front Street Pizza: Gourmet brick oven pizzas and calzones
- Nelson’s Coffee & Doughnuts: Coffee, doughnuts, breakfast
- Fudge’Ns More: Old-fashioned soda fountain and chocolates
- Niles Ice Cream: Over 50 flavors of premium, homemade ice cream
- DiCosimo’s Italian Deli: Italian deli and imported groceries
- Barron’s: Classic Italian cuisine since 1974
With its mix of dining establishments, Niles offers tasty flavors to suit all appetites and occasions!
10. More Things to Do Nearby – Things To Do in Niles Michigan
Venture just outside Niles to uncover more things to do:
- St. Joseph: Quaint downtown, beaches, museums, and lighthouses along Lake Michigan
- South Bend: Shop, dine, museums, and sports attractions like the College Football Hall of Fame
- Warren Dunes State Park: Hike towering beach dunes and swim in Lake Michigan
- Shipshewana: Amish country town with buggy rides, shopping, and shows
- Three Oaks: Journeyman Distillery, theatres, antiques, bikes, and nearby wineries
- New Buffalo: Lake Michigan beach town with restaurants, shops, and nightlife
With its central location, Niles makes a great base for exploring wider southwest Michigan.
As you depart Niles, its charm and friendly spirit will linger. Whether you reveled in its rich history, explored its natural beauty, or indulged in its local delights, Niles offers a unique blend of experiences that leave a lasting impression. So, if you’re searching for inspiration for your next getaway, consider crafting an itinerary based on the ideas explored in this article. Niles awaits, ready to surprise and enchant you at every turn.
With its friendly community and wealth of attractions, Niles is one of Michigan’s hidden gem towns waiting to be discovered.