Saugatuck, Bellaire, Detroit: Three Michigan Cities Vying for Best Town Honors From Outside Magazine

Saugatuck, Bellaire, Detroit: Three Michigan Cities Vying for Best Town Honors From Outside Magazine


Outside Magazine has released its bracket for the 2015 Best Town in America voting. The winner will be determined by a public vote in a “March Madness” style field of 64 cities tournament. Three Michigan cities (Bellaire, Detroit, Saugatuck) need your votes to come out victorious in their first round matchups.

Here is a look at the three Michigan matchups, all in the Midwest Region:

  • #1 Ely, Minnesota vs. #16 Saugatuck, Michigan
  • #3 Yellow Springs, Ohio vs. #14 Detroit, Michigan
  • #6 Bellaire, Michigan vs. #11 Rochester, Minnesota

As of 5pm today, all three Michigan cities were trailing their competitors. Detroit had only 35.8% of the vote, Bellaire 42.7% of the vote, and Saugatuck had a respectable 47.7% of the vote.

Belle Isle Bridge Detroit

Belle Isle Bridge Detroit

Here is a look at how each of the cities mentioned above were described to voters:

  • Ely: population 3472, Superior National Forest, Walleye fishing, Boathouse Brewpub
  • Saugatuck: population 2944 (not sure how they got that), artsy liberal beach town, said Lakeside Red Dock bar could be best in Michigan
  • Bellaire: population 1080, two stoplight town, Shanty Creek Ski Area, Shorts Brewing Company
  • Rochester: population 110,742, third largest city in Minnesota, known as home for Mayo Clinic, features 85 miles of paved bike lanes
  • Yellow Springs: population 3513, hippies and artist town, the 330 mile Little Miami Scenic Trail is the longest paved off-street trail system in the United States
  • Detroit: population 688,701, great bike town, Eastern Market is one of oldest and longest Farmers Markets in the country
Huma Lupa Licious From Short's Brewing Company

Huma Lupa Licious From Short’s Brewing Company

Voting for each of the first five rounds will last five days. The first round began on May fourth and will end on May eighth. You can vote only once per round for each matchup. May 29th will mark the start of the finals, where two cities will square off for top prize honors. Voters throughout the contest are eligible for winning prizes like a three night vacation or a $300 Toad & Co gift certificate. You do not have to sign up for the contests or subscribe to anything in order to vote.

Saugatuck was named the “Best Coastal Small Town in America” in a recent USA Today reader’s poll. It would be a little surprising to see the town knocked out as early as the first round. We profiled Mayor Bill Hess of Saugatuck in our My 5 Favorite Places in Michigan segment, which you can see here. We also shared the best places to visit in Saugatuck in another article.

This marks the fifth annual release of the Best Town by Outside Magazine. The magazine has changed their rules for cities and the voting process several times. This year even marked the first time a wild card round was used to decide the final four teams. Instagram followers of Outside Magazine picked the last four teams in, which included Michigan’s own award winning town of Saugatuck.

Saugatuck Dunes

Saugatuck Dunes

The official description of the cities included in this year’s tournament from the release is, “We looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene—all while excluding the winners and runners-up from the past three years to make room for hidden gems, underdogs, and towns on the rise.”

Here is a look at the winners from previous years, with Michigan town featured in parenthesis:

2014: Duluth, Minnesota (Grand Rapids, Houghton)

2013: Park City, Utah (Ann Arbor)

2012: Richmond, Virginia

2011: Chattanooga, Tennessee (Traverse City)

2010: Had a range of winners in first year, Grand Rapids was named the Best for Mountain Biking, Grand Marais (Michigan and Minnesota) was named Runner-Up for “Best for Flatwater”.

Our great Mitten State of Michigan features a wide assortment of towns that are known and unknown on a national level. Let’s give these three towns some love and help one of them advance from the Midwest region.