Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Owosso, MI

  • Published 2022/08/20

Owosso is the biggest city in Michigan’s Shiawassee County and offers plenty of fun activities and attractions.

In the city, you will experience rich culture and history alongside its beautiful farms, lakes, and the Shiawassee River.

The city gets its name from the 19th-century Ojibwe leader Chief Wosso or Wassoin the Shiawassee area.

He was a signatory in central and southeastern Michigan in the 1800s.

In 1859, Owosso was incorporated as a city.

It’s famous for its Great Lakes Central Railroad, which caters to Northern and Southern Michigan.

For those who want to escape the busyness of the big city, Owosso is a great destination for a change of pace.

You can’t ignore this city thanks to its fun-filled outdoor excursions, unique shopping, and cultural activities.

Are you ready for a new adventure?

Here are the best things to do in Owosso, Michigan:

Learn about James Oliver Curwood at Curwood Castle

Exterior of the Curwood Castle Museum

Sean Mooney Photography /

Standing on the banks of the Shiawassee River, Curwood Castle houses the writing studio of the famed novelist James Oliver Curwood.

He wrote more than 30 novels primarily based on adventures, consistently becoming top 10 bestsellers in the US.

Likewise, the museum features his novels, books, and memorabilia.

Built in 1922, the small castle is close to Curwood’s home in downtown Owosso.

Side facade of the Curwood Castle Museum

JoannaPoe, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Curwood lived in the castle until he died in 1927.

Today, the home is now a museum open to the public.

The small castle is a romantic replica of a Norman chateau with exteriors made with yellow stucco and fieldstones that Curwood chose.

Curwood Castle is a must-visit spot in the city if you’re a fan of his works or simply a nature lover.

You can find it on Curwood Castle Drive, only a few steps from The Curwood House, which operates as a bed and breakfast.

Book a Stay at The Curwood House

The Curwood House is a bed and breakfast that offers comfort away from home.

It features private rooms and suites where you can stay while in Owosso, offering easy access to the city’s best tourist spots.

James Oliver Curwood, a famous author and conservationist, owned and built the Hoddy-Curwood House in the early 1900s.

Rick and Michelle Finley purchased the house in 2019 following a January auction by the Baker College of Owosso.

Since then, the Finleys have carefully curated the house to offer visitors a great stay and maintain its vintage ambiance.

What’s more exciting is that The Curwood House is within walking distance of the historic Curwood Castle!

Have Fun in the Water at the Shiawassee River

The Shiawassee River stretches 110 miles long and passes through historical towns and cities, including Owosso.

The term “shia-was-see” comes from the Chippewa folk language of Michigan, which means”the river straight ahead.”

The river is one of the top preserved warm-water river systems in the southern Great Lakes region.

You can go paddling in the river through the Owosso weirs, although you might need to have prior experience to do it safely.

There are also designated areas for first-timer paddlers along the Shiawassee River with landing docks.

Several eco-parks also sit by the river banks in the city, where you can have a picnic while sightseeing.

The novelist James Oliver Curwood was one of the frequent visitors to the Shiawassee River.

He would sit beneath a large oak tree in a park by the river and start writing.

The famed nature novelist was a massive fan of the Shiawassee River, where he spent time on the banks writing some of his short stories back then.

Breath Some Fresh Air at DeVries Nature Conservancy

You’ll find a beautiful spot where you can breathe fresh air only a few minutes from downtown Owosso.

This place is the DeVries Nature Conservancy, which offers a great view of the Shiawassee River, where you can paddle or walk to experience calming nature.

This 136-acre park features a nature playscape, gorgeous gardens, beautifully maintained trails, and many animals for you to pet.

Also, it’s where you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

The veterinarian Jack DeVries and his wife, Frances, founded the DeVries Nature Conservancy in 2006.

Visit the Shiawassee Arts Center

Located in Curwood Castle Park, the Shiawassee Arts Center houses many art exhibits in nine galleries and a gift shop.

It also offers art classes for both kids and adults.

Inside, the center showcases the paintings of Frederick Frieseke, an impressionist painter born in Owosso.

There are also public art sculptures and a consignment gallery for all artists.

Established in 1972, the center also offers rentals for special occasions and events and many fun activities on the art side.

Shop for Fresh Produce at the Downtown Owosso Farmers Market

On Exchange Street in the historic and beautiful downtown Owosso, you can find an over two-block spot filled with local Owosso vendors.

The Downtown Owosso Farmers Market opens between May and October, showcasing local produce, flowers, fish, meat, crafts, and more.

Local Owosso artists and farmers make and grow these products and then showcase them at the market.

This exceptional and fun event has gone on since 1974 to support local farmers and artists to help them grow their small businesses.

If you find yourself in Owosso between May and October, the Downtown Owosso Farmers Market is a must-visit spot.

Dine at Greg and Lou’s Family Restaurant

Your hunger cravings will meet the finest food at Greg and Lou’s Family Restaurant.

From starters, fresh salads, soups, meat, and seafood to their daily specials, you can trust that the restaurant gives you the best flavors of Owosso.

They also offer the kids a wide variety of dishes.

Experience the restaurant’s family-friendly ambiance, which is their highlight, mainly since the entire Redmond Family manages it.

The Kanan family established the restaurant in 1983.

Eric and Christa Redmond used to work there for over 20 years.

In 2014, the couple purchased the restaurant and continued the tradition of offering the best American food in town.

You can find Greg and Lou’s Family Restaurant at North Michigan 52.

Buy Vintage Items at New & Old Unique Treasures

On West Main Street, you can find a vintage store that houses a vast collection of antique furniture, beautiful artworks, and collectibles.

New & Old Unique Treasures is one of the most visited shops in Owosso because of its fantastic presentation of antiques and artworks.

The new and old resale shop specializes in and highlights modern and vintage products such as vintage video games, VHS, bird houses, crafts, clothing, and many more.

Established in 2016, New & Old Unique Treasures tells a unique story of this beautiful city.

So if you’re in Owosso, bring a unique gift to your loved ones back home!

Hop on Board the Historic Steam Railroading Institute

Quincy smelter locomotive at Steam Railroading Institute

Chris857, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historical railroad equipment like the steam locomotives in Owosso offer train rides that put you on a fun and exciting adventure.

Established in 1969, the Steam Railroading Institute educates the public about railroading in the steam era.

These locomotives were Chicago and North Western Railway 175 and Pere Marquette 1225.

Between April and September, visitors learn how steam locomotives work and how mechanics restore, maintain, and operate them.

Outside those months, you can book a tour to see how it works on special days.

You can find the Steam Railroading Institute on Washington Street, the former site of the Ann Arbor Railroad steam shops and roundhouse.

Participate in the Annual Curwood Festival

The Curwood Festival is an annual celebration to honor Owosso’s local and world-renowned novelist, James Oliver Curwood.

Visit Owosso in the first week of June to join this lively city festival.

Experience the fun that awaits you in the city of Owosso, where you can enjoy its rich history through the works of Curwood.

There are arts and crafts stalls, river races, ultimate air dogs, carnival, parades, flea markets, tournaments, and more exciting activities.

The Curwood Festival started in June 1978, the late novelist’s 100th birthday.

See the Old Mature Trees and Unique Ornamentals at Nash Nurseries

For those who have eyes on plants and trees, Nash Nurseries features many old trees that have stood there for decades.

The centennial farm also grows unique ornamentals, shrubs, perennials, pawpaws, and sweet edible chestnuts.

The farm has existed since 1860, including the barn and the house itself.

Bill and Abby Nash and their son Jonathan own and operate the farm.

They also offer landscaping and custom planting.

You can find Nash Nurseries at Grand River Road.

Sit and Have Coffee at Foster Coffee Company

Foster Coffee Company is not just a regular coffee shop where you can sip delicious craft coffee.

In 2014, founders Jonathan Moore, Nicholas Pidek, and Jonathan Williams envisioned bringing communities together through craft coffee.

Then, they partnered with local businesses to help build sustainable ecosystem developments.

Together, they built and fostered communities by facilitating conversations, reading and listening to concerts, and many more.

Visit Foster Coffee Company if you seek delicious craft coffee and a pleasing ambiance with great conversations!

They are located on South Washington Street.

Take Scenic Walks at Harmon-Patridge Park

Off Michigan 52 on Curwood Road sits Harmon-Patridge Park, where you can enjoy picnicking, hiking, and sightseeing.

In 1928, Laura Partridge donated the property formerly known as Green Meadows Park.

The Harmon Foundation of New York also donated $2,000 to aid in the improvements of the park.

Since then, the city changed the park’s name to Harmon-Patridge Park, featuring well-maintained walking trails, picnic tables, and a beautiful view of the Shiawassee River.

To this day, the park’s large oak tree remains standing.

The tree used to shade James Oliver Curwood during his writing sessions at the park.

Browse Carefully Curated Books at Owosso Books & Beans

There’s no better time than having a good read.

With carefully curated books, children’s magazines, and delicious coffee and tea, Owosso Books & Beans doesn’t disappoint.

If you’re spending a quiet day in Owosso, one of the best spots to visit is the Indie book cafe, where you’ll be served great books, coffee, and warm smiles.

It also has a specialty gift shop selling local and national products that you can buy for your friends and loved ones.

Cookies and other baked products will also give you warm and happy smiles while you’re there.

Owosso Books & Beans was established in 2019 and is nestled on North Washington Street.

Try the Italian and Chicago-Style Pizza at Roma’s Back Door

Would you like to try Chicago-style pizza?

Nestled on East Comstock Street, Roma’s Back Door offers authentic Italian and Chicago-style pizza in a casual dining setting.

The family-friendly restaurant offers tempting and delectable dishes ranging from pizza to classic dishes like lasagna, chicken parmesan, and more.

You can also use their heated outdoor patio while having your meal.

Then, drink wine, craft beer, or cocktails at their full bar.

The restaurant’s large courtyard also hosts events and special occasions with live music.

Likewise, don’t forget to grab a slice of their signature Chicago-style pizza.

Established in 1968, Roma’s Back Door will give you a hearty meal in Owosso.

Final Thoughts

Owosso is a historical city in the beautiful state of Michigan, telling the story of one of its famous sons, James Oliver Curwood.

The city is more than ordinary, especially since it’s part of the Shiawassee River that stretches towards Michigan’s other scenic towns and cities.

There are many fun and exciting activities to enjoy in this historic city with many things to be proud of.

Book your trip today and discover the best things to do in Owosso, Michigan!

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