3 of the Best Town Squares in Michigan

Amy S. Eckert
| February 1, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
Patrons enjoy dining in a sunny outdoor eating area. Some tables have umbrellas. Downtown Detroit Partnership

Public art, interesting architecture and great people-watching make these town squares the finest in Michigan.

Campus Martius Park, Detroit

Detroit’s busiest plaza sits surrounded by glass and steel office towers and lies within an easy walk of the city’s best restaurants, hotels, sports venues and theaters. Café tables (above) and food trucks make Campus Martius a popular spot for outdoor lunch and coffee breaks, and free outdoor concerts entice visitors to remain into the evening. At the height of summer, the city of Detroit delivers 400,000 pounds of sand, beach chairs, umbrellas and sand toys, converting Campus Martius into an urban beach park. Return in the winter to skate on the Rink at Campus Martius Park, and to catch live holiday music performances.

A neon sign reads, “Zehnder’s Famous Frankenmuth Chicken Dinners” outside the restaurant. Frankenmuth Convention & Visitors Bureau


Much of the activity in Frankenmuth centers around the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and Lodge, where visitors gather four times each day to watch a performance of the inn’s popular Glockenspiel Tower. Thirty-five carillon bells and brightly painted figurines top the 50-foot tower and play a selection of songs before the characters march and twirl to recount the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Once the performance has finished, linger among the landscaped grounds and flower beds, head inside the Bavarian Inn Restaurant or walk across the street to Zehnder’s (above)—both restaurants offer German menus—or head just south of the square for a walk across a Bavarian-style covered bridge.

A smiling woman receives her order at a food truck. iStock

Rosa Parks Circle, Grand Rapids

This popular plaza in the heart of the downtown is surrounded by shade trees and café tables, perfect for enjoying snacks and indulging in some peoplewatching. The amphitheater-style space was named to honor the civil rights leader who made Michigan her home. Rosa Parks Circle is designed to accommodate year-round outdoor concerts and festivals like Relax at Rosa, a lunchtime event that includes live music, food trucks (above) and yard games every Thursday from May through September. In September, Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize competition centers on the plaza, which sits next to the Grand Rapids Art Museum. When winter arrives, Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink opens, allowing visitors to skate beneath trees covered in sparkling lights.

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