15 Best Things to Do in Cadillac, MI

Cadillac, MI
Shelly MD Photography / shutterstock.co

The city of Cadillac, Michigan, makes for a fitting hideaway laced by acres of forests, miles of active rivers, and a network of walking trails.

Cadillac is a growing city in Wexford County that got its name from Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a prominent Michigan explorer and adventurer.

Travelers tread upon the city at all times of the year and find contentment in the range of things to do— from outdoor leisure in the spring and summer, to hunting and color tours in the fall, to skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, there is always plenty to keep one’s days occupied in Cadillac.

There is quite a bit to see in Cadillac: its beautiful downtown area with historical sites, gorgeous rolling landscapes, and the lovely breezy view of Lake Cadillac on whose shores it rests.

No matter what time of the year it is, there is an abundance of adventures to keep any curious wanderer in this charming city on the lakes.

Here’s a good guide of the best things to explore while in Cadillac:

Venture Into the Huron-Manistee National Forests

Wooden Bridge in Huron-Manistee National Forests
Small Town / Shutterstock.com

If you long for more of the outdoors, think about a trip to these two adjoining forests nestled between the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

The nature lover inside you will marvel at the majestic forest and its lush greenery, strange flora, and glimpses of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.

You will uncover a plethora of recreation opportunities, trails, and campgrounds at the pristine rivers and lakes, sandy beaches, and the natural treasures that are the forests.

Bring a canoe through the swift waters and float on the scenic river amidst wild aspen, oak, and pine.

Fish for the perfect catch in rivers running with trout, steelhead, and salmon.

Start bird-watching and experience the thrill of spotting rare bird species out in the wild.

Go on a bike tour under the canopy of the leafy hardwood and circle the oak and aspen trees in a fun, flowy ride.

Hike among red pine trails and overlooks and go on a backcountry camping trip.

Go on a scenic drive and witness the ever-changing hues of the forest from your windshields, following byways that wind along sandbanks, water, wood, and wetlands.

Make the best of the water and the woods at serene lakeside campgrounds beneath a wide-open sky and the cool forest breeze.

Take your explorations into the Huron-Manistee National Forests to see what wonders they hold for you.

Stroll at the Cadillac Commons

This lakeside place is a hub where you can enjoy open space, fresh air, and special gatherings and serves as a connection between downtown and Lake Cadillac.

You can see a market space that lodges vendors, artists, and events; a plaza for the public that holds a splash pad and skating rink; a rotary pavilion that hosts performers, concerts, festivals; and many open picnic spots.

Peruse the sundry artisan crafts, souvenirs, home decorations, delicacies, and more at the Cadillac Commons.

Hang out in the green jewel of the Cadillac City Park, which holds the Kris Eggle Memorial Fountain, named to honor a Cadillac native who was shot and killed in the line of duty while pursuing members of a drug cartel.

Likewise, see the Shay Locomotive, a steam-powered creation used for logging that was small, powerful, and geared to operate on steep grades and sharp curves, now repurposed as a tourist attraction in the Cadillac City Park.

See how Cadillac Commons brings forth the historical charm and elegance that characterize this city.

Treat Your Kids at Toy Town

View of Toy Town
Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Toy Town aims to give children (and toy enthusiasts of any age) a dose of adventure, imagination, and discovery.

It’s located in downtown Cadillac and has been considered one of the best toy stores around this part of Michigan.

At this place, you will see a vast range of well-priced toys, educational items, kits, books, puzzles, collectibles, craft and novelty items, and a whole lot more.

It has an incredibly fun-loving and amiable staff who are also quite knowledgable about the history of toys and will help out in any way they can.

One of their missions is to sell playthings that one doesn’t always encounter in mass culture, and they grace Toy Town with cheer and the spirit of discovery.

Drop by Toy Town and get a very singular experience for people of every age.

Witness Rock History at the KISS Monument

At Cadillac High School in 1973, songs from the band KISS were often blared in locker rooms of the football team as part of the coaches’ ploy to boost their morale before the games.

It worked: the football team won its final seven games and the championship with KISS as its icon and inspiration.

Amazingly, in 1975, KISS itself gave back to the football team by coming to Cadillac High School and playing at their homecoming concert, an event that is now enshrined in rock-and-roll history.

And in 2015, the city hosted the 40th anniversary of the KISS Cadillac Homecoming in commemoration of the unforgettable event and unveiled this now historic landmark.

The KISS monument stands at beyond 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide, is 5000 pounds in weight, and has been laser-etched in deep black granite: the only one of its kind in the world.

Come and view this magnificent touchstone of rock-and-roll at Cadillac.

Find Entertainment at Adventure Island

Find your way to Adventure Island, an amusement park that promises hours upon hours of enjoyments on which to spend that vacation energy.

It is a lively and busy place scattered with walkways, evergreen trees, and broad lawns that are pleasing to the eye.

Challenge yourself and your family to a Mountain Golf game made more exciting with rushing waterfalls, walkways, caves, and ponds.

Sports fans will flock to the batting cages, which offer softball and baseball pitching adjusted to different speeds and skill levels.

Children will enjoy the free playground mainly designed for youngsters or the arcade running with quarter-operated games.

And everyone will have a blast at one of the craziest Go-Kart tracks in the entire Midwest, which runs a quarter-mile and zips the drivers over and under bridges, down steep hills, and around sudden hairpin bends.

Double Karts are available, and you can take along a date and have a screamingly fun race!

The park also offers date and family packages to do everything at more affordable deals.

If a fun-filled outing for your loved ones sounds good to you, head on over to Adventure Island.

Visit the Wexford County Historical Museum

Outside View of Wexford County Historical Museum
Andrew Jameson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Start your days navigating the history surrounding Cadillac.

This classic revival-style building was once the original Cadillac Public Library and numbered among the Carnegie Foundation’s collection of libraries.

It was also the Cadillac Police Department from 1969 to 1977.

The Wexford County Historical Society proposed turning the building into a museum.

It is now one of the most architecturally and historically significant places in Cadillac and the leading source of displays centering on Wexford County.

Immerse yourself in the area’s rich history as you view the museum’s comprehensive collection of artifacts, photographs, paintings, maps, and documents portraying daily life in Northern Michigan starting from 1870.

Step back to earlier times at one of the museum’s recreations of life back then: a barbershop that also provided dentistry, surgery, and shoe shining services; an early-days Main Street stretch of shops; an old one-room schoolhouse filled with artifacts; and a shop to fix pocket watches.

Come and appreciate this site for the preservation and presentation of history and culture in Cadillac.

Follow the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail

The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail is the longest rail-to-trail linear state park, spanning 92 miles, crossing five counties and 14 open deck bridges.

It is a former railroad bed purchased by Fred Meijer and turned into a trail, with open and shady spaces, paved on and off between towns, and no difficult inclines in sight.

In Cadillac, it connects to a sizeable local trail system spanning the lakes and connecting the communities.

The portion at Cadillac is maintained spectacularly, patrolled by volunteers, and has good visibility on the paths, with handy pit stops at local shops and easy access to town.

For miles on this trail, one can go biking, jogging, hiking, roller-blading, skateboarding, or cross-country skiing during the winter.

The trail is seamlessly available for wheelchair users as well.

It serves as a very well-kept trail and the colorful scenery during the seasons is unparalleled, giving you great glimpses of nature, scenic landscapes, and even woodland creatures.

Ramble along the White Pine Trail for hours and have leisurely moments chatting with someone you love, or just absorb the quiet while passing by the woods.

Read at the Cadillac Wexford Public Library

Outside View of Cadillac Wexford Public Library
Gpwitteveen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps you’re a bookworm eager to get your hands on a stash of tomes at every stop.

Well, you’re in luck, as this welcoming library filled with essential resources and widespread selections is right here in Cadillac!

Here one can scout for lesser-known children’s books, chance upon young adult and middle-grade gems from their Book Boxes, discover the next favorite adult thriller from their collection, or just hunt down the next great read around the corner.

Join the library’s writing contests, add your creations to their art shows, talk about your favorites in the book groups, and join in on a joint Cadillac storytelling session.

You might also want to look up genealogy information in their comprehensive yearbooks, cemetery records, and newspaper archive.

Be sure to have a chat with the staff and seek help when it’s needed – it is, after all, what librarians are here for.

Libraries are truly invaluable to the community at large, and Cadillac Wexford Public Library is no exception.

Admire Kenwood State Park's Beauty

Kenwood State Parks lies on the northern shoreline of Lake Cadillac with its picturesque shaded fairways, big and widespread trees, and sandy swimming beach.

The park is ideally well-maintained and clean and makes for a good getaway after a long day.

The place is breezy and inviting, featuring fully-equipped bathhouses, shaded picnic areas complete with grills, daytime lifeguards on duty, and a gorgeous beach with clear water for swimming on hot days.

You can easily organize a nice group outing or even have a lakeside date at this destination.

If you’re going with a combined group, there is a wooden play area to set your kids loose in, a disc course and trails for sporty recreation seekers, and a sprinkling of resting spots for older folks to bask in and chill.

Make a day of it at the lake and take in the scenic views along the shoreline: an ideal place to contemplate, watch sunrise on the lake, and get away from city crowds for a while.

Golden shades tinge the park and lakeshore in the autumn, and winter transforms it into a tranquil scene with trees cutting through a fall of white snow and walkways straight out of a postcard.

Kenwood Heritage Park has something for everyone no matter what season, so stop by and enjoy what it has to offer.

Take Pictures at Cadillac Sound Garden

Bring your family to see this most unusual attraction at an otherwise fun and quiet spot.

Cadillac Sound Garden is a lovely park overlooking the lake with boundless gardens of charming flora and plants, a beautiful spot for a walk and a breath of air.

In the spring, you’ll see that it holds tens of thousands of daffodils and hundreds of perennials.

You’ll find a rustic musical art sculpture that one can actually play with the beats filling the air around the individual music stations, and your children will love making up their own sounds there.

The grounds are clean and well-kept, and you can take lots of fun photos at the other structures: a ground sundial, a kinder tulip structure, and a stone child memorial collection.

Stop by and be charmed at the sights of Cadillac Sound Garden.

Enjoy the Outdoors at William Mitchell State Park

View of William Mitchell State Park
Notorious4life at English Wikipedia, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

William Mitchell State Park is situated right between Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac, with both lakes connected by the historic Clam Lake Canal running through the park.

Whet your appetite for adventure in this awe-inspiring outdoor haven with immense pine trees, arresting scenery, and dramatic views of the two Michigan lakes.

Sleep under the stars at the campgrounds, swim in the fresh lakes, sunbathe at a sandy beach, or have a fun day fishing and boating out on the water.

Or seek a pleasure boat and travel between the lakes down the picturesque Clam Lake Canal, where felled trees were once floated from Lake Mitchell to the sawmills at Lake Cadillac.

You won’t want to miss walking across bridges and boardwalks that go into woodlands or hiking down the Heritage Nature Trail, where one may observe all sorts of unique wildlife while going further into the marsh.

The area turns into a winter wonderland once the seasons change, and you can spend an exuberant snow day with your companions, cross-country skiing, ice-shoeing, and snowmobiling in the park, or ice fishing at the lakes.

Make a stop at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center and learn about hunters, sporting, and wildlife, or join archery and pellet shooting programs at the ranges.

William Mitchell State Park will let you forge a connection with the great outdoors of Michigan.

Play Golf at Eldorado Golf Course

There are many golf courses within twenty minutes of Cadillac’s downtown which carry the unique Michigan beauty and are accessible from the area freeways.

Eldorado Golf Course will give you a first-rate experience at its rolling landscape south of the city.

Putt your way through challenging and rewarding shots at 18 holes laid out across sprawling grounds, flowering wetlands, and panoramic views guarded by mature trees.

Challenge your friends and family to tee time and get the hang of navigating the various course architectures and sailing shots over the expansive green.

The golf course can easily adjust arrangements towards golfers of all skill levels, so you will have an easeful visit whether you are an experienced golfer or not.

Afterward, unwind at the Cadillac Grill restaurant, called the ‘cathedral of golf,’ featuring spectacular views of the course during the summer and a lighted landscape during the winter.

Take beverages on the full-length deck and dig into some of the area’s best-tasting meals from a state-of-the-art kitchen.

The course staff can always arrange specific golf experiences that fit your needs and have Stay and Play packages that provide the tournament amenities you desire.

Get in touch with Eldorado Golf Course for some quality tee time and make sure your golf getaway is something to remember.

Buy Cheese at Boon Country Store

Locate nearly fifteen minutes outside of town, a bit off the main road to Cadillac, Boon Country Store is an excellent stop for anyone going on a country drive.

This little landmark country store is a favorite among people who like snowmobiling and drag racing in the nearby area and then stopping by for fuel and nourishment.

For travelers, it makes for a beautiful drive to the heart of the National Forest, with a delicious reward at the end!

Boon Country Store is known for its collection of over 20 varieties of aged cheeses in various unique flavors.

It all started in the 1920s when a train derailed right outside of town and had to offload several pounds of cheese.

The Boon Country Store owner back in the day offered to help the railroad crew and take the cheese off their hands.

They struck a deal, and ever since, there has been signature Boon cheese at the store.

Try these tasty cheeses: chocolate cheese, morel and leek cheese, red wine cheddar, dilly jack, smoked cheddar, and smoked Swiss cheese are just a few of the seemingly endless possibilities.

They also have other comfort offerings such as homemade food, home-cooked soup and chili, and specialty meats.

Give Boon Country Store a visit and fuel up for your further journeys.

Go on a Ski Trip at Caberfae Peaks

View of Caberfae Peaks
RomanKahler, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Caberfae Peaks, located 20 minutes west of Cadillac, is one of the oldest ski areas in the nation and has produced generations of skiers for almost 60 years.

The resort, named for the Gaelic word for ‘stag’s head,’ is a downhill ski area that looks out over a vast forest stretching all the way to Lake Michigan in the west.

Warmer months are when golf enthusiasts hit the Peaks Course with its tree-lined fairways and beautiful wetlands in the middle of the woods.

Winter is prime season for skiing and snowboarding on the slopes, and Caberfae Peaks has some of the best and longest ski runs in the Great Lakes region and some of the finest skiing and riding this side of Michigan.

With 34 trail runs stretched over 200 acres, five chair lifts, a vertical drop of 485 feet, and two peaks, there is enough terrain to go around for every level of skier, and the resort gives out lessons so that even beginners will be making their way down the mountain slopes in no time.

The rock-solid runs at the resort are a delight to ski and ride, and its peaks boast many ways to keep intrepid skiers on edge.

Hit the slopes and blow off steam at Caberfae Peaks and make it your next ski destination.

Ride Together With Shemhadar Dog Sled Adventures

If you’ve never tried dog sledding before, grab this chance now!

At the Shemhadar Kennels, the friendly and welcoming team will make you feel like family as you bundle up before a toasty fire with hot chocolate and cookies, learn about dog sledding, and hear stories of their experiences.

You will learn to harness the dogs, hook them up, put them into position, and then pair with a trainer on a special touring double sled allowing you to stand up and drive.

Then you will get your own team, get the knack of driving with their instruction, and finally start dashing your dog sled through the snow.

With your team, enjoy bringing the agile and experienced dogs down enduring trails and picture-perfect woods and fields in an exhilarating experience you won’t soon forget.

You can also go on a Kennel tour where you will meet, pet, and bond with the playful dogs, and sometimes even see puppies if you come at the right time.

Get ready for Shemhadar Dog Sled Adventures to take you on unforgettable rides.

Final Thoughts

No matter what season finds you in Cadillac, you are sure to have an enriching and adventurous vacation.

Consult this list when you get there so you will not run out of ideas for things to do and sights to see.

Cadillac is a place to traverse the outdoors, seek tourist attractions, and cherish the wild natural wonders that the world holds.