Cadillac, Michigan is a beautiful city in the northern part of the state, surrounded by lakes and forests. It has a charming small-town feel while still offering plenty of activities and attractions for visitors.
Cadillac is located in the northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, about 150 miles north of Grand Rapids. It sits in Wexford County, surrounded by rolling hills, forests, and lakes.
Here are some of the top things to do in Cadillac.
Explore Downtown Cadillac
Downtown Cadillac has a quaint main street lined with local shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. Take a stroll down Main Street to check out the variety of boutiques, antique stores, and art galleries.
Stop for a bite to eat at one of the cafes or bakeries. The downtown area often hosts festivals, parades, and events throughout the year as well.
Chestnut Street District
The Chestnut Street District encompasses Cadillac’s downtown area. This National Register Historic District contains many well-preserved 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings. Notable sights include the 1883 Octagonal House, the Cadillac Museum, and the famous Vanity Ballroom dance hall.
Octagonal House Museum
Address: 317 W Harris St, Cadillac, MI 49601)
This unique historic home was built in 1883 with eight equal-sized octagonal rooms. Period furnishings and decor transport visitors back in time. Operated by the Wexford Historical Society.
Address: 1024 Newport St, Detroit, Michigan
Dating back to 1936, this classically elegant ballroom hosted many big bands and orchestras during its heyday. It still hosts concerts and community events in its preserved art deco interior.
Go for a Hike in the adjacent State Forests
Cadillac is surrounded by the beautiful Manistee National Forest, Pere Marquette State Forest, as well as other state and local parks. These wooded areas have extensive hiking and biking trails that wind through the lush forest landscapes.
Rifle River Recreation Area Trails
Just 10 minutes northeast of Cadillac, Rifle River Recreation Area has nearly 50 miles of hiking trails. Walk through wooded forests and keep an eye out for whitetail deer, black bear, and bald eagles.
Big M Cross Country Ski Trail
Located in the Manistee National Forest near Caberfae Peaks ski resort, Big M is a 23 mile trail perfect for cross country skiing in winter or hiking & mountain biking in summer. Enjoy scenic views of the surrounding lakes and forests.
Lake Mitchell Pathway
Walk along the shoreline of Lake Mitchell right in town. This paved recreational path circles the lake, passing by parks, scenic wetlands, and fishing docks.
Go for a scenic drive around Lake Cadillac
Lake Cadillac is a large lake just northwest of downtown Cadillac. Take a relaxing drive along the lake Loop Drive to see beautiful views of the water and surrounding forests. Stop at one of the many parks or public lake access points to get out and enjoy lakeside activities.
Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center
Address: Mitchell State Park, Cadillac, MI 49601
Managed by the Michigan DNR, this center offers educational information about hunting, fishing, and conservation. Visit the “Wall of Antlers” display with over 1,800 deer antlers. Guided hunting and fishing excursions available.
Lake View Motel
Address: 214 S Main St, Lake City, MI 49651
Built in 1940, this classic motor lodge has lovely views overlooking Lake Cadillac. Stop by to take in the vintage neon signs and looping lakefront location.
Cadillac puts on great local events
Throughout the year, Cadillac hosts fun community events like festivals, farmers markets, and art fairs. These are wonderful ways to experience the city alongside the friendly locals.
Back to the Bricks Car Show
Each August, hundreds of classic cars roll into downtown for this annual show. Main Street gets closed off for the day so attendees can admire these beauties up close and enjoy live music.
Cadillac Freedom Festival
Celebrate Independence Day at this popular lakeside festival. Two nights of fireworks, a carnival, live music, food trucks, craft vendors, and children’s activities entertain the crowds. Held annually around July 4th.
Cadillac Farmers Market
From May through October, the open-air farmers market sets up weekly. Browse the selection of fresh produce, baked goods, arts & crafts and more from local vendors. Open Saturdays 9am-1pm.
National Morel Mushroom Festival
Taking place in nearby Boyne City each May, this festival draws crowds who savor morel mushroom inspired cuisine and live music. Guest chefs lead cooking demos too.
Michigan Brew Pumpkin Festival
In late September, this festival held at Mt. Holiday celebrates fall with craft beer tastings, pumpkin activities, live music, and family entertainment.
Family fun at the carnivals
For families visiting Cadillac with kids, the carnivals offer a full day of excitement. Ride the thrilling rides, play arcade games, and enjoy classic fair food like cotton candy and elephant ears.
National Cherry Festival
Taking place each July in nearby Traverse City, the National Cherry Festival draws over 500,000 visitors for parades, air shows, and one of the biggest carnivals in the Midwest. Ride spectacular thrill rides and enjoy carnival treats like elephant ears and funnel cakes.
Caberfae Peaks Oktoberfest
Every September, this popular ski resort transforms into a Bavarian festival ground for Oktoberfest weekend. Along with German food and beers, they have an entertaining carnival midway and live music.
Learn about history at local museums
Cadillac and the surrounding area have several interesting museums that chronicle the local history. From railroads to Native Americans, these museums make for worthwhile visits.
White Pine Village
Address: 1687 S. Lakeshore Srive, Ludington, MI 49431
Experience what life was like in Michigan’s logging boom towns of the 1880s. The village has a restored railroad depot, sawmill, blacksmith shop, barber shop, and other authentic buildings. Costumed interpreters demonstrate crafts.
Chippewa County Historical Society
Address: 115 Ashmun St, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
The society was founded in 1904, making it one of the oldest historical societies in Michigan.
The society operates a museum located in a historic Victorian home built in 1883. The museum has over 10,000 artifacts related to local history, including Native American tools, logging equipment, household items, textiles and more.
Port Oneida Farms Heritage Center
Address: 3164 W Harbor Hwy, Maple City, MI 49630
Port Oneida Farms Heritage Center is an outdoor museum that preserves and interprets the historic rural landscape of the Port Oneida Agricultural Community. This National Historic Landmark District contains well-preserved farmland, orchards, and architecture dating back to the 19th century.
Whether you’re traveling through Cadillac or planning an extended stay, the city offers a great home-base to experience northern Michigan’s natural beauty. The downtown area provides a friendly small town vibe with historic charm.
And you’re never far from the lakes, trails, and forests that make this region so special. Use this local’s guide to make the most of your Cadillac getaway!