Most walkable core communities of Northern Michigan



Want to find some healthy walkability ratings for downtown areas in Michigan? Then head due north to the Northern Lower Peninsula and/or the Upper Peninsula. Below are listed 19 cities and towns with walkability scores of 60 or greater for their central core neighborhoods. Sixteen are located in the Northern Lower peninsula, while four are in the Upper Peninsula. These communities should be very proud of their ratings and should strive to maintain and/or improve these scores using sound planning and economic development/gardening techniques.

  1. Escanaba = 93
  2. Ludington = 85
  3. Petoskey = 85
  4. Traverse City = 82
  5. Gaylord = 80
  6. Manistee = 78
  7. Cadillac = 77
  8. Houghton = 75
  9. Ironwood = 74
  10. Alpena = 73
  11. Ishpeming = 72
  12. East Tawas = 70
  13. Cheboygan = 68
  14. Charlevoix = 67
  15. Clare = 68
  16. Iron Mountain = 66
  17. Boyne City = 64
  18. Reed City = 62
  19. Harbor Springs = 61
  20. Grayling = 60
90–100 Walker’s Paradise
Daily errands do not require a car
70–89 Very Walkable
Most errands can be accomplished on foot
50–69 Somewhat Walkable
Some errands can be accomplished on foot
25–49 Car-Dependent
Most errands require a car
0–24 Car-Dependent
Almost all errands require a car


This is not to say that Southern Michigan is devoid of walkable communities, but Up North they seem more abundant. Probably the biggest threat to these communities is sprawl on their fringes or in adjacent townships – sounds familiar.



One only need drive M-32 west from Gaylord and I-75 to see this clearly taking place as one big box after another has popped there up like dandelions over the past decade (see photo above). These have sprouted in the city’s western edge, as well as in adjacent Bagley and Livingston Townships on either side of M-32. While the city’s walkable score remain’s strong at 80, one can see this dropping if stores and services in or near the core start to close due to competition or relocate to this corridor. While similar examples exist elsewhere, including here in Northern Michigan, none is quite so visually obvious, even to a casual observer.

This entry was posted in Active transportation, Alternative transportation, business, cities, civics, downtown, economic development, economic gardening, entertainment, geography, historic preservation, infrastructure, land use, new urbanism, placemaking, planning, shopping, spatial design, sprawl, Statistics, sustainability, third places, tourism, Trade, transportation, Travel, walking, zoning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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