Located in southern Michigan, Marshall is a quaint town with historic architecture, unique museums, performing arts, and scenic nature.
Marshall is a charming city located in the southern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, about halfway between Battle Creek and Jackson.
With a population around 7,000 people, Marshall has a quaint small-town feel while still offering things to see and do.
Marshall was founded in 1830 by Sidney Ketchum, who saw opportunity for development along the Kalamazoo River.
The town was first named Marshall in honor of Chief Justice John Marshall. By the late 1800s, Marshall became a prosperous city with sandstone quarries, agriculture, mills, manufacturing, and a once-thriving wine industry.
Today, Marshall is probably best known for its incredibly well-preserved Victorian architecture in the downtown historic district.
Over 100 Victorian commercial buildings line Michigan Avenue, making it one of the most intact 19th century downtowns in Michigan. The whole district is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to downtown, Marshall has several other historic homes open for tours, including the 1860 Italianate Honolulu House Museum and the 1916 Italian Renaissance style Schuler’s Restaurant.
The city pays homage to its past with two history museums – the Marshall Historic Home Tour and the Marshall History Museum.
Outdoors, Marshall has scenic parks and trails perfect for recreation. Riverwalk borders the Kalamazoo River and leads to iconic Brooks Fountain. Brooks Nature Area offers hiking trails, fishing, and playgrounds. And kids love the skatepark and splash pad.
Marshall has a lively arts and cultural scene as well. Franke Center for the Arts is downtown, hosting all kinds of performances in their beautiful theater. The Bogar Theatre is a 1920s movie palace still in operation. And Dark Horse Brewing Company offers brewery tours.
With its small-town charm, historic architecture, scenic parks, cultural attractions, unique museums, and variety of shops and eateries, Marshall is certainly worth a visit!
Here are the top 10 things to do when visiting Marshall, Michigan:
1. Marshall Drive-In Theater
Address: 15370 15 Mile Rd, Marshall, MI 49068
Box office opens at 7:30pm nightly
Enjoy a double feature under the stars at Marshall’s vintage drive-in theater operating since 1967. Gates open at 7:30pm with shows starting around dusk.
Tune your car radio to the provided station. Concessions available on site.
2. Firekeepers Casino
Address: 11177 E Michigan Ave, Battle Creek, MI 49014
Firekeepers Casino is one of the premier attractions in Marshall. This massive casino complex located just south of downtown on US-27 features over 2,700 slot machines, 70 table games, an 18-table poker room, and both high limit and non-smoking gaming areas.
Dining options at Firekeepers include a 24-hour buffet with seven live-action cooking stations, the Dacey’s Taphouse sports bar with 40 TVs, and the Cafe 24/7 for quick bites.
With regular slot tournaments, live entertainment, and special events, Firekeepers offers non-stop gaming excitement around the clock. Check their event calendar online prior to your visit.
3. Historic Homes Driving Tour
Tour maps available at Marshall Historical Society (323 W Michigan Ave)
Marshall has over 100 historic homes dating back to the 1830s and 1840s. The self-guided driving tour takes you past immaculately preserved Italianate, Greek Revival, and Victorian residences along Mansion Row on Mansion Street.
Prime examples include the 1859 Italianate Honolulu House Museum (112 South Kalamazoo Mall) and the elaborate 1887 Queen Anne home at 217 N Kalamazoo Ave.
Informational brochures detailing the history and architecture highlight of each home are available at the Marshall Historical Society.
Try to visit on a sunny day when the ornate details of Marshall’s historic abodes shine.
Downtown along the Kalamazoo River
Marshall’s scenic Riverwalk features a paved walking path that follows the Kalamazoo River through shaded parks and wooded areas.
Starting from downtown, stroll along the Riverwalk to take in views of the rippling water and city sights.
Keep an eye out for the artistic painted statues that line the trail. You can access the Riverwalk from several points downtown including Ketchum Park on Green Street.
5. Dark Horse Brewing Company
Address: 511 S Kalamazoo Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Tasting Room Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-Midnight, Sunday 11am-10pm
Beer lovers shouldn’t miss visiting the acclaimed Dark Horse Brewing Company located east of downtown Marshall. Join one of their weekday brewery tours at 3pm, 4:30pm or 6pm to learn about the entire beer making process.
Afterwards, hang out in the lively Taproom to sample flights and pints of Dark Horse’s craft beers like their signature Crooked Tree IPA. There’s frequent live music on weekends.
6. Sandhill Crane Vineyards
Address: 4724 Walz Rd, Jackson, MI 49201
Open Friday-Sunday 12pm-6pm
Sample some locally made wine about 20 minutes outside Marshall at Sandhill Crane Vineyards.
Their hilltop tasting room offers picturesque views of the vineyards and ponds. Taste through wines like the crisp Pinot Grigio, semi-sweet Concord, and tart Sour Cherry. Buy a bottle to enjoy outdoors on their picnic tables.
On weekends, they also serve wood-fired pizza. A perfect spot for an afternoon tasting and light lunch.
7. Marshall Historical Village
Address: 703 Green St Marshall, MI 49068
Hours: Saturday & Sunday 1pm-4pm, June-August
Step back in time at the Marshall Historical Village where you can explore 13 restored 19th century buildings set up to replicate a 1880s town.
Costumed guides populate the General Store, Train Depot, and other shops, explaining how life in Marshall looked over a century ago.
Inside the homesteads, schoolhouse, and firehouse you’ll find historical exhibits and antique furnishings that provide an immersive glimpse into the past.
8. Marshall Entertainment District
Stroll through downtown Marshall’s Entertainment District showcasing blocks of restaurants, galleries, pubs, and specialty shops.
Events are frequently held here like music festivals, craft fairs, and classic car shows. Stop for a bite at popular restaurants like Louie’s Steakhouse or Redwood Steakhouse. Pop into old-fashioned soda fountain Poppa’s Place Ice Cream Shoppe for dessert.
There’s always something fun happening in Marshall’s lively Entertainment District.
Downtown Marshall contains over 100 stunning Victorian buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Popular architectural styles include:
- Italianate: Distinctive for their decorative bracketed cornices, tall narrow windows, and emphasis on symmetry. The 1860 Honolulu House museum is a pristine example of Italianate style.
- Queen Anne: Characterized by busy, mixed-texture facades, large porches, bay windows, and irregular rooflines/turrets. The 1891 Albion House B&B exhibits classic Queen Anne features.
- Romanesque Revival: Identified by semi-circular arches over windows/doorways, recessed entryways, and rough-faced stonework. The 1857 First Congregational Church has Romanesque elements.
- Gothic Revival: Pointed arch windows, steep gables, and board-and-batten siding typify Gothic Revival buildings like the 1864 First Methodist Church.
- Second Empire: Mansard roofs with dormer windows, molded cornices, and elaborate bracketing define this mid-19th century style present on the 1872 Courthouse.
Must-see stops include the iconic 1860 Honolulu House Museum, an impeccably preserved Italianate mansion now open for tours. Peek inside the historic 1927 Bogar Theatre which still has its original interior details like plasterwork, pipe organ, and velvet seats. The imposing 1872 Italianate Courthouse anchors a corner of Michigan Ave.
Schuler’s Restaurant and Pub is a downtown landmark since 1909, serving classic American fare in a casual setting filled with wood accents and stained glass.
Browse the shops like Treasures of Time Antique Mall with its nostalgic finds, Eclectic Kirk boutique with stylish clothing and gifts, and Painted Turtle gift shop with home decor and jewelry.
Grab a coffee at one of the cafes like Coffee Bar or Jet City Espresso. If you need a sugary treat, stop into Huckleberry’s Sweets or Louie’s Bakery for fudge, truffles, cookies and cakes. The Marshall Mural painted by Scott Hocking on the side of Franke Center brightens up Michigan Avenue.
Be sure to stroll by the iconic Brooks Memorial Fountain on the Riverwalk path just off Michigan Avenue.
The giant fountain contains cascading waterfalls surrounded by seating. And don’t miss the historic sandstone buildings that once housed wine cellars. The Visitor’s Center inside offers tourist information.
With so much vibrant history and charm, downtown Marshall is a pleasure to explore on foot. There’s always another ornate building, shop, or restaurant to duck into as you admire this incredibly well-preserved Victorian streetscape. Allow plenty of time to wander downtown Marshall.
Address: Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
9. Franke Center for the Arts
Address: 214 E Mansion St, Marshall, MI 49068
Box Office Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 9am-3pm
Catch a professional show or concert at the elegant Franke Center for the Arts. This restored art deco facility houses two theaters, an art gallery and a ballroom. Upcoming events range from comedy shows to live music to theater performances.
Guided tours are offered on Mondays and Fridays at 1pm if you want a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Marshall’s gorgeous performing arts venue.
Don’t miss the stunning 16-foot chandelier in the lobby too.
Franke Center for the Arts is Marshall’s premier performing arts venue located right downtown. The state-of-the-art 400-seat theater inside hosts a wide variety of shows and events year-round.
For theater, check the calendar for upcoming Broadway musicals, dramas, comedies, and children’s theater shows produced by Franke Center and visiting companies. The annual performing arts season runs September through May. Here’s more about the performing arts experiences visitors can enjoy:
- Broadway Musicals: Franke Center produces lavish Broadway musical productions like Fiddler on the Roof, Mamma Mia, Grease, and more. Enjoy Marshall talent bringing these classics to life.
- Plays/Dramas: Catch comedies, dramas, and thought-provoking plays performed by Franke Center’s theater company and visiting troupes. Productions range from Shakespeare to contemporary premires.
- Children’s Theater: Kids will love the lively musicals and plays aimed at young audiences. Franke Center offers imaginative shows the whole family can attend.
- Concerts: Listen to rock, pop, folk, classical, jazz, and other musical acts grace the Franke Center stage. Concerts feature both student performers and professional touring musicians.
- Comedy: Laugh out loud at stand-up comics, improv troupes, and comedic plays brought to the theater stage. Franke Center mixes music, drama, and comedy.
- Guest Speakers: Franke Center invites authors, leaders, poets, historians and more for engaging speaker series. Previous guests have included journalists, scientists, social activists and politicians.
In addition to performances, Franke Center has an entire wing dedicated to visual arts. Aspiring artists can sign up for adult classes in painting, drawing, jewelry making, pottery, photography, and more. Kids can enrichment classes on visual arts, theater, dance, and music. The gift shop sells artwork too.
10. Cornwell’s Turkeyville USA
Address: 18935 15 1/2 Mile Rd, Marshall, MI 49068
This family attraction offers fun activities like musical revue shows, a haunted hayride in fall, train rides through the woods, falconry demonstrations, butterfly encounters, and more throughout the year.
Kids will love panning for gemstones and fossils at the on-site Mineral Mountain.
Turkeyville’s farm-to-table restaurant serves classic American fare along with turkey specialties.
11. Brooks Nature Area
Address: Stuart Lake Rd, Marshall, MI 49068
Trails open daily 8am-30 minutes after sunset
Immerse yourself in nature at this scenic 740-acre park. Hike over 7 miles of woodland trails that wind past ponds, meadows, and wetlands where you can spot turtles, frogs, and birds. An 18-hole disc golf course is on site.
Well-marked trails range from easy 1-mile loop to more moderate 3-mile trek.
12. Marshall Skate Park
Address: 1401 N St Joseph St, Marshall, MI 49068
Open daily 8am-10pm. Free admission.
This free skate park features ramps, rails, bowls, and obstacles suitable for skateboards, scooters, inline skates, and BMX bikes. Helmets and pads recommended.
The street course mimics real street terrain with ledges, bumps, and curb cuts. All skill levels welcome.
13. Ella Sharp Museum
Address: 3225 4th St, Marshall, MI 49068
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm
This museum complex houses permanent and rotating exhibits covering science, art, and local history.
Kids love the hands-on Mineral Mountain where you can pan for real gemstones and fossils to take home.
The Blehm Gallery showcases contemporary Michigan artists.
14. Marshall District Library
Address: 124 W Green St, Marshall, MI 49068
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday-Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm
Check out over 56,000 books, DVDs, music, and more at this public library. Services include free wifi, printing, scanning, and faxing.
The extensive local history archives are worth browsing. Computers are available for public use.
15. Marshal Antique District
Downtown Marshall is known for its many antique shops, malls, and specialty vintage collectible stores. Look for treasures at Merle’s Relics, Marshall Antique Marketplace, Vintage Peddler, and more. You can easily spend a few hours browsing.
Most stores open at 10 or 11am.
16. Bbogies Sports Pub & Grill
Address: 219 W Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-2am, Sunday 12pm-12am
Catch the latest games on 30+ HDTVs at this lively downtown sports bar. Choose from 20 beers on tap and pub grub favorites like wings, nachos, burgers.
There’s shuffleboard, arcade games, trivia nights, karaoke, and a nice outdoor patio.
17. Kalamoo Brewing Company
Address: 236 North Kalamazoo Mall, Marshall, MI 49068
Hours: Daily 11am-10pm
Sample award-winning craft beers like Raspberry Blonde and Whiskey Barrel Stout at this downtown brewery.
The gastropub menu features elevated pub fare made with locally sourced ingredients.
18. Brooks Memorial Fountain
Downtown on Michigan Ave
This bronze three-tiered fountain in Brooks Memorial Park is one of Marshall’s most iconic landmarks. Dedicated in 1911, the fountain memorializes Samuel Brooks, a local banker.
At night, colored lights illuminate the dancing water of the fountain for an especially lovely sight.
Bring your camera and take a seat on one of the surrounding benches to fully admire this Marshall landmark.
19. Browse the Honolulu House Museum of Hutchins
Honolulu House is Marshall’s most iconic historic home. This impeccably preserved 1860 Italianate mansion is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday. Knowledgeable docents dressed in period clothing guide you through the elaborately decorated rooms.
Inside marvel at the intricate hand-carved rosewood chairs, marble fireplaces imported from Italy, stained glass windows, and large collection of Victorian Moser glasswork. Don’t miss the grand piano and extensive library in the parlor.
Climb the staircase to view the spacious bedrooms upstairs furnished with canopy beds, dressers, chandeliers, and vintage toys. Docents will point out interesting details as you explore the home. Photos are permitted.
After touring the interior, stroll through the period-appropriate Victorian gardens on the property. The home’s carriage house is also open to explore. Temporary exhibits rotate too, focusing on photography, furniture, fashion, and life during the 1860s.
End your visit by shopping the gift store filled with books about Honolulu House and 19th century history. Pick up vintage-inspired gifts and souvenirs commemorating your tour of this amazing Italianate time capsule.
- Books: Find several books about Honolulu House’s architecture and history, collections, and the family who built it. Books also cover clothing, decor, and customs of the Victorian era.
- Home Goods: Shop home accessories with a classic look like scented candles, frames, linens, and reproductions of items seen in the house.
- Jewelry: The shop sells antique-style jewelry such as cameo necklaces, perfume bottles, hat pins, and brooches based on Honolulu House’s collections.
- Clothing & Accessories: Choose from Victorian-inspired hats, purses, shawls, fans, parasols and other period attire and accessories.
- Kids: For children, there are old-fashioned toys, games, activity books, and costumes allowing them to reenact the time period.
- Souvenirs: Pick out souvenirs like postcards, posters, magnets, and ornaments featuring the house imagery to commemorate your visit.
The gift shop at Honolulu House Museum makes it easy to take home a little piece of history. Find creative gifts and mementos related to Marshall’s iconic 1860s mansion.
Address: 107 N Kalamazoo Avenue, Marshall, MI 49068
20. Tour the Historic Winery and Sandstone Buildings
One of Marshall’s unique historic sites is the cluster of sandstone cellar buildings that once housed a booming winemaking industry in the late 1800s. Visit these buildings today to explore and learn more about Marshall’s past.
The cellars were carved right into the hillside along the Kalamazoo River downtown using local sandstone. Several stone buildings remain standing and now contain shops. Walk down Winery Lane to admire the old wine cellars up close.
The buildings house retail stores like Winery Lane Gift Shop with Michigan-made arts and crafts, Marshall Garden & Art Gallery selling local fine art, and Albion Starr Gallery dealing in antiques. Sweetwater’s Restaurant occupies one cellar.
Don’t miss visiting the Marshall Historic Society Visitor Center inside the Red Schoolhouse building. Chat with docents, view history exhibits, and browse the gift shop.
Kids will marvel at the large model display of Marshall as it appeared in the late 1800s. Seeing these remaining cellars provides a glimpse into Marshall’s early days as a booming winemaking town.
Address: 112 W Michigan Ave, Marshall, MI 49068
21. Catch a Movie at Bogar Theatre
For an authentic Marshall experience, catch an evening movie at the historic Bogar Theatre located downtown on Michigan Avenue. Opened in 1927, the single-screen theater still contains its original interior decor.
Arrive early to admire the ornate plasterwork, chandeliers, and velvet seat cushions. Make sure to listen to the restored Wurlitzer pipe organ played before shows start. This instrument once provided sound effects during silent films.
Climb the balcony stairs to experience the theater from above, or grab main floor seats with a perfect view.
Then sit back in the velvet chairs and enjoy current movie hits surrounded by Bogar’s vintage elegance and ambiance.
Look up to see vintage light fixtures and brass rails along the balcony.
With just one screen, you’ll share the movie experience with everyone else in the intimate 400-seat theater. For a night out with dinner and a show, Bogar Theatre can’t be beat.
Address: 223 E Michigan Ave (at Hamilton St), Marshall, MI 49068