Explore Clare Michigan - Small Town Worth Visiting! Top 16 FUN Things To Do | Amish Shops, Irish Festival, Cops and Donuts, Pere Marquette Rail Trail, Restaurants, Downtown Shopping

Explore Clare Michigan -  Top 16 Awesome Things To Do | Amish Shops, Irish Fest, Pere Marquette Rail Trail, Restaurants, Downtown Shopping | Charming Michigan Small Town Worth Visiting

By: Sherry Trautman | Travel-Mi.com | Updated: August 5, 2023

OMG, you guys, Clare Michigan is such a charming small town in Central Michigan!  The downtown shopping area offers lots of outside seating at their restaurants (plus a super cute diner you have to check out) colorful hanging plants everywhere AND the original Cops and Donuts! 

Did you know Clare Michigan has a blow out party each St. Patrick's Day?!  AND the fall color tour train goes to the train depot. No wonder its considered the City of Festivals!

What is Clare Michigan Known For? 

Well for me, Clare is known for their cute downtown area with lots of shopping, huge Amish Community with several Amish shops open to the public and the Clare Irish Festival that happens every March. OH and it's home to the original Cops and Donuts!

Let's Explore Clare Michigan! Our Fun Video!

Clare Michigan Map

  • Click on the plus and minus in the left corner to zoom in or out of the map.
  • Click on the icons for more info, addresses and photos of the stops.
  • Click on the map to drag and move it to view surrounding areas.
  • In the Header, click on the rectangle in the upper left of the map to see a menu of all of our stops. Click on anything that looks interesting to see where it is on the map. To hide the menu, click the rectangle in the header.
  • In the Header, click on the "square" icon in the upper right side to expand the map for better viewing.

1. Grab a Yummy Breakfast (and Coffee) at the 505 Café in Downtown Clare

I highly recommend grabbing a table inside or outside at the 505 Café in Downtown Clare.  This café is super cute, very relaxed and fun! They prepare fresh full breakfasts and of course, great coffee drinks and pastries.

I'm a greens FREAK so this avocado toast (I ordered gluten free) with sliced eggs topped with everything seasoning and mounds of greens was everything. Those greens! YES! I ate every last tiny green tendril on this plate and was happy! I highly recommend it!  My cousin ordered an egg and sausage skillet that was also enjoyed.

Isn't it cute?

2. Walk or Bike the Nearby Pere Marquette Rail Trail in Clare Michigan

After breakfast, leave your car in the parking lot at the public library and walk to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail.  This trail goes all the way to Midland, right past the iconic 3 way bridge called the Tridge!

+Find Fun Things to Do in Midland!

3. Grab Lunch at Herrick House and The Mulberry Cafe in the City of Clare MI

Located right downtown, in the city of Clare MI is THE CUTEST lunch spot called Herrick House and The Mulberry Café.  They have a super cute shop and cafe with both inside and outside seating. And cute umbrellas! 

I had a salmon salad and this is a grilled sandwich my cousin ordered. What a great place to enjoy a lovely lunch with great conversation!

4. Catch a Movie at the Ideal Theater in Downtown Clare!

5. Tour the Clare Union Railroad Depot

So, funny story, I was wandering by the hardware store trying to find this red caboose. I ran into a guy covered in paint, carrying a container of paint. I said something to the effect of, "well, looks like you are knee deep in a project!" He says, "yeah, my wife has me painting EVERYTHING for an upcoming home tour!"

After chatting a bit, he gives me directions to the caboose, tips on more fun things to see in Clare and says, "oh, and I'm the Mayor of Clare!" How about that! So I got to meet Mayor Pat Humphrey!

The depot was built in 1895 and is now home to the Clare area chamber of Congress, Clare county arts council, a museum, and soon home to the rail trail. 

Oh, and there is usually an art exhibit to enjoy on the main floor and downstairs but call ahead if you are interested to make sure there is currently an exhibit.

  • Be sure to tour the museum (free) as it has some super interesting artifacts such as old ledgers showing how much buggies cost, vintage cash registers and model trains. This self- guided tour of the Depot museum artifacts and memorabilia spans over 120 years.
  • Restrooms downstairs

The depot was moved to this site in 2014 so this historic building could be preserved and renovated.

This spot is the junction between the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad and also the Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Michigan Railway. These railroads gave access to lumberjacks, farmers and businessmen.

Be sure to check out the beautiful red caboose that was recently renovated by Ben Yob, for his Eagle Scout project. He said, “I decided to work on this because I needed an eagle project and saw the depot was being reconstructed and I thought hey that would be an interesting project to work on.” Read more about his Eagle Project!

I was really excited to tour of the inside of the caboose! I was absolutely enamored with the artifacts and super cool things to see. What a fun thing to do in Clare Michigan!

6. Go Shopping in Downtown Clare MI

Downtown Clare is a great place to dine and shop! There are several great restaurants for inside and outside seating. 

7. Stop in the Original Cops and Donuts in Clare Michigan!

Visitors absolutely love stopping at the Cops and Donuts shop in downtown Clare. Killer good donuts and treats in this fun small city!  

8. See Johnson's Elevator!

Located right downtown Claire Michigan, is Johnston's Elevator, a Midwestern Original Since 1953. They have feed, seed and supplies for farmers. I dig elevators and super cool old trucks so I had to go snap a few photos! It's within walking distance of the downtown area.

9. Spend an Afternoon at Lake Shamrock Park!

Lake Shamrock Park is a nice city park to enjoy some time walking or sitting by the water. There are covered picnic areas and restrooms. Paved, free parking area. 

10. Go Fishing at the Dam at Lake Shamrock!

Just a few blocks east of Lake Shamrock Park is a lovely scenic dam! It's definitely worth checking out just for the pure cool factor. There's a dirt walking trail too if you need to stretch your legs. 

No restrooms, gravel parking area. Free to visit. 

11. Grab Dinner at the Whitehouse Restaurant, Super Cute Clare Diner!

Stop into Whitehouse Restaurant in Clare Michigan for live music, corn hole, inside and outside seating and freakin' awesome burgers!

12. Book a Night at the Doherty Hotel in Downtown Clare Michigan

In 1924, the Doherty Hotel opened to the public.  The original hotel contained sixty rooms and 36 of those rooms contained either a tub or a shower bath.  The ground floor housed the Clare Public Library, a coffee shop, the lobby, a large dining room called the Wedgewood Room, a soda fountain shop, a barbershop, the kitchen, pantry, refrigerator room, and Senator Doherty’s office. 

Now, the Doherty Hotel has 157 guest rooms, an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, in-house dining and over 1400 sf meeting/banquet/conference space! You gotta check out the chandelier in the entryway, it's fantastic!

13. Check Out the Amish Owned Colonville Country Store!

The Colonville Country Store in Clare Michigan is open to the public, so check it out! Incredible handmade furniture and more!

14. Shop at Yoder's Kuntry Market Bulk Foods and Deli

I LOVE shopping at Yoder's Kuntry Market and Deli.  They have a sandwich bar where they make sandwiches right in front of you. Yoder's also has an ice cream counter where they hand dip luscious cones filled with creamy ice cream.  

You can get refrigerated food items and TONS of bulk items including beans, spices, flour, brownie mix, pie ingredients, and lots more.  I like to buy my spices there such as lemon pepper and minced onion.

15. Attend Cool Amish Events: Clare County Amish Auction in May and September

Did you know there is a HUGE Amish Community in Clare Michigan? Twice a year, in both May and September, there is a Clare County Amish Auction. The Yoder’s and their friends hold a large quilt auction, craft show, and flea market that you've gotta check out. We will be going this year!

16. Party with Leprechauns at the Clare Irish Festival - Clare's St. Patrick's Day Party

The Clare Irish Festival is one heck of a shindig every March! Craft vendors, parade, food trucks, leprechaun contests and much more! This St. Patrick's Day event is HUGE and brings thousands to the Mid Michigan area. 

Best Michigan Small Towns Worth Visiting!

Best Michigan Small Towns Worth Visiting! Perfect For Michigan Getaways! | Quaint, Cute Downtowns with Great Shopping, Kayaking, Biking, Exploring, Fun Things To Do!

FYI: Clare Michigan is Often Spelled Claire Michigan

Clare or Claire, it's the same place! 

Nearby Michigan Small Towns Worth Visiting

Sherry Trautman Bio Picture

About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "Travel-mi.com." A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of Travel-MI.com. This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
Read More About Us Here

Join our newsletter of Michigan Explorers!

Share Social

When you wish destinations came with a 30 second trailer so you can see what you’re getting yourself into.  

If you whine and are nice, IM us and we will tell you if you are truly screwed or not. 

Where Do You Want To Start Your Next Adventure?

Slickstream Search Box