10 Top-Rated Things to Do in Mt. Pleasant, MI

Written by Meagan Drillinger
Feb 21, 2023
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Author Meagan Drillinger visited Mt. Pleasant in the fall of 2022 while on assignment for PlanetWare.

The city of Mt. Pleasant is a vibrant, dynamic hub and one of the top places to visit in central Michigan. It's home to the main campuses of Central Michigan University, and the high student population means the city is constantly moving with creative, academic, and cultural energy. You'll find interesting things to do here year-round.

Mill Pond Park, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Mill Pond Park, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

It's also an important city for the history of Michigan, bringing together centuries-old traditions and customs with a modern edge and vibe.

Today Mt. Pleasant, Michigan is known for its rich wildlife and natural beauty, from its lakes and rivers to forests and sprawling farmland. The downtown is charming and eclectic, with many restaurants, cafés, galleries, and shops. The student life surrounding the city always keeps it fresh and engaging, making Mt. Pleasant a fun place to visit in Michigan.

Plan your trip with our list of the best things to do in Mt. Pleasant.

1. Learn at the Ziibiwing Center

Ziibiwing Center
Ziibiwing Center | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Michigan is rich with Native American history all across the state. According to the 2020 census, approximately 50,000 Native Americans call the state home. It is one of the best places in the country to learn about the many different tribes that have lived on the land for centuries.

In Mt. Pleasant, the Ziibiwing Center is an important place to learn about the tribal heritage of the region. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe created the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways to educate the surrounding communities on the people of the Great Lakes.

The sprawling center occupies almost 35,000 square feet and is a cultural treasure trove for educational experiences revolving around the Saginaw Chippewa Indian story. Among the projects the center is involved in are the tribal collections maintenance, Ojibwe language revitalization, and caring for sacred sites.

The center's main exhibit, Diba Jimooyung, translates to "Telling Our Story," but the entire center is dedicated to celebrating and honoring the culture and diversity of the many different tribes of Michigan.

Address: 6650 E Broadway Road, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

2. Explore the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum

Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum
Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Mt. Pleasant is a wonderful place to visit for families. Not only does it have loads of outdoor activities and cultural opportunities, but it also has an indoor discovery museum dedicated exclusively to kids — which is particularly popular when those frigid Michigan winters hit.

Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum has several exhibits that are hands-on and educational for kids of all ages. The largest exhibit is the Beemazium, where visitors can learn all about the lives of bees. Other exhibits cover everything from international culture to gravity and nutrition. The Luminary Lab is another popular exhibit that focuses on the exploration of light through a life-sized Lite Bright.

One of the newest exhibits is the Honey Money Bank. This interactive exhibit invites kids to use their imagination while learning all about the banking experience. Kids can exchange honey money at the teller, learn to recognize patterns at the ATM, and practice their math and practical skills in a fun and engaging way.

If you're visiting Mt. Pleasant with the family, this may be a great stop to enjoy time together.

Address: 5093 E Remus Road, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

3. Get Outside at Deerfield Nature Park

Deerfield Nature Park
Deerfield Nature Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

No matter the time of year, you can always find something to do at the Deerfield Nature Park. Covering nearly 600 acres, the park is beloved among Mt. Pleasant residents for its eight miles of hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trails.

One of the most popular trails is the Deerfield Nature Park Loop. The three-mile trail is relatively easy and takes about an hour to complete. It's one of the best multi-use trails, popular among hikers, mountain bikers, and birders.

But the park has much more than just pathways. It also has two 18-hole disc golf courses, two canoe landings along the Chippewa River, and the historic Fisher Covered Bridge.

Camping: You can even camp within the park at one of the 10 campsites. The rustic campgrounds are open year-round. To get to the campsites requires a one-mile hike or a canoe trip. A hand water pump is available for tent sites.

Address: 2425 W Remus Road, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

4. Splash Down at Soaring Eagle Waterpark

Soaring Eagle Waterpark
Soaring Eagle Waterpark | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

One of the top tourist attractions in Mt. Pleasant is the palatial Soaring Eagle Waterpark within the Soaring Eagle Hotel. The indoor water park is open year-round and features 45,000 square feet of aquatic adventure. It's a space where everyone in the family can find something to enjoy.

Among the main features of the park are a wave rider, a body slide, rock climbing wall, lazy river, children's play area, and even a private adult pool, as well as a hot tub and sauna. No matter the time of year, this is one of the most-visited attractions in Mt. Pleasant.

If you're feeling like you need to be extremely close to the action, you can make a weekend of it. Book a room in one of the 243 guest rooms and suites and keep the fun going. The property also has a fitness center and restaurant that serves Italian and American cuisine. It's one of the top hotels in Mt. Pleasant, and provides direct access to the acre-sized water park.

Address: 5665 E Pickard Road, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

5. Catch a Game at Kelly Shorts Stadium

Kelly Shorts Stadium
Kelly Shorts Stadium | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Michiganders love their football, and that is certainly true for the residents of Mt. Pleasant. Kelly Shorts Stadium is their home stadium for the Central Michigan University Chippewas. Open for more than four decades, the massive stadium is the largest on-campus stadium in the Mid-American Conference, with a capacity for more than 30,000 people.

The stadium opened in 1972 and has undergone several renovations and expansions since. Today, in addition to being the home for the Chippewas, it also hosts several events and concerts throughout the year. It's definitely a community gathering point for residents of Mt. Pleasant and the surrounding area.

Among the amenities at the stadium are nine luxury suites, a club lounge, concessions, and a 3,200-square-foot video scoreboard. If you see one college football game in Michigan, it might just have to be a Chippewas gem at Kelly Shorts Stadium.

Address: 2400 East Campus Drive, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

6. Explore Chipp-A-Waters Park

Chipp-A-Waters Park
Chipp-A-Waters Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Chipp-A-Waters Park is a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Much of the park is part of a state conservation area, and as such visitors have the opportunity to have a look at some beautiful wildlife.

Among the features of the 30-acre park include a playground and nature interpretation trail.

The park also has access to the Chippewa River and wraps up the southern portion of the GKB Riverwalk Trail, which starts at Pickens Field and connects five of the parks in Mt. Pleasant, including Mill Pond Park and Island Park. You'll also find picnic shelters within the park and a playground.

One of the top trails within the park is the Chipp-A-Waters Riverwalk Trail, which follows along the Chippewa River. The .8-mile out-and-back trail is used for running and walking. It crosses a scenic bridge that goes over the river, which makes for great views. The path is paved, which makes it accessible for most people, as well.

Address: 1403 W High Street, Mt Pleasant, Michigan

7. Wander around Downtown Mt. Pleasant

Downtown Mt. Pleasant
Downtown Mt. Pleasant | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Perhaps the most charming section of Mt. Pleasant is its lovely and quaint downtown. Here is where the historic heart of the city can be found. The settlement of Mt. Pleasant dates back to the mid 19th century, and you'll find many of the historic facades that tell its story.

The Mount Pleasant Downtown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. The area spans eight blocks and contains 70 buildings that date from the 1870s to the 1950s.

But the city is thoroughly modern, as well, with a small town, cultural vibe thanks to the large student population. The main thoroughfare of downtown is Main Street, but the entire historic district is home to more than 100 businesses, from art galleries and restaurants to boutiques and cafés.

Beyond being the commercial heart of Mt. Pleasant, downtown is still in the heart of nature, bordered by the Chippewa River and home to Island and Nelson parks. In summertime, downtown Mt. Pleasant comes alive with farmers markets, art walks, and outdoor dining with live entertainment.

8. Visit Downtown's Island Park

Island Park
Island Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Nature is a big part of the identity of Mt. Pleasant, with so many parks and outdoor spaces to choose from. Not far from downtown Mt. Pleasant is the sprawling, 50-acre Island Park. Just behind City Hall, Island Park is one of the most popular places for families to come and spend a beautiful afternoon.

Among the features of Island Park are horseshoe pits, a playground, gazebo, grills, a canoe landing, and the Michigan Vietnam Veterans memorial. It has a shocking amount of sports fields and courts, like two basketball courts, three softball fields, two tennis courts, and six pickle ball courts. It even has outdoor fitness equipment.

It is a top spot for gatherings, friendly pick-up games, and community sporting events. Plus, the fact that it is so close to downtown means it's easy to pop by for a quick visit before or after shopping or dining along Main Street.

It also connects to nearby Mill Pond Park, which expands the amount of green space you can explore.

Address: 331 N Main Street, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

9. Skate at the Martin Ice Arena

Martin Ice Arena
Martin Ice Arena | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

Michiganders love their winter sports, so you can imagine that the Martin Ice Arena is one of the most popular places to visit in Mt. Pleasant. Located in the Isabella Community Sportsplex, this community rink is most used for hockey, figure skating, lessons, tournaments, and more.

But you don't have to be part of a club or team in order to use the facilities. The Martin Arena does public skates several times throughout the week, which are open to everyone. The arena is also open year-round, which means you can get your frosty fix in the middle of summer, which can be a refreshing change of pace.

The ice arena is next door to the Morey Courts Recreation Center, a community sports complex that has indoor basketball and volleyball courts, a walking and jogging track, racquetball facilities, a fitness center, and more. A day pass gets you full access to the entire facility, though group exercise classes come at an additional fee.

Address: 5165 E Remus Road, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan

10. Enjoy Mill Pond Park

Mill Pond Park
Mill Pond Park | Photo Copyright: Meagan Drillinger

By now you know that you don't have to go very far to find lovely nature in Mt. Pleasant. Mill Pond Park is a lovely pocket-sized park that is located right in the heart of the city.

Spread out over 90 acres, Mill Pond Park has beautiful views of the Chippewa River, nature trails, wildlife, and picnic areas.

Some of the top things to do in Mill Pond Park include casting a line off the fishing deck, kayaking the river, or wandering the many beautiful paths that are lined with local flora. This city park is a favorite among visitors and residents and is an easy way to escape into nature for the afternoon.

One of the favorite trails in Mill Pond Park is the Mill Pond Park Loop Trail. The two-mile loop is paved and is popular for hiking, running, and walking.

You can access Island Park from Mill Pond Park if you want to get a few more steps in.

Address: 607 S Adams Street, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan