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The BEST Main Street In Michigan! | You’ll NEVER Guess

Just a few weeks ago, USA Today released their list of 10 best reader’s choice of 2024 best main streets and you’ll never guess what was number one.

I’ve talked about this city quite a bit over the years, I even went to college there too, and I’m glad this city is FINALLY getting the recognition it deserves for have the #1 best main street of 2024. This list was nominated by an expert panel and voted by readers as the best in the U.S. What’s cool about this list is it’s not just based on just a road, it factored in the history, vibrant culture, and the community atmosphere it creates. I’m going to rattle off the top 10 main streets, so be sure to stick around for number one.

The TOP 10 Main Streets In The United States:

10. Haddonfield, New Jersey

9. Hickory, North Carolina

8. Grand Junction, Colorado

7. Ellicottville, New York

6. Bellevue, Pennsylvania

5. McMinnville, Oregon

4. Deland, Florida

3. Ogden, Utah

2. Emporia, Kansas

1. Howell, Michigan

howell michigan best mainstreet

So why exactly was Howell Michigan chosen for the number one main street in the united states? Great question.

Before I hop into the response, I did some further research out of my own curiosity to hear about what makes a downtown good or the characteristics that make a successful downtown? Which is something you can think about when weighing the pros and cons of a downtown area going forward.

Characteristics of a GREAT Downtown:

There's 12 of them

I came across an older issue of Let's Talk Business and it still holds so true in my opinion, with 12 distinct characteristics, but prefaced the whole thing by saying the number 1 aspect to understand is no single organizational model exists, meaning the layout of the community.

Number 2 is Successful downtowns tend to have multiple traffic generators that supplemented the presence of a larger institution(s), all within short walking distance. The sample to solidify this point referenced universities, colleges, sports venues, museums, etc.

Number 3 is that downtowns are beloved by citizens, as in people are passionate and affectionate toward their community.

Number 4, the downtowns have been and are continuing to overcome challenges and obstacles, it makes sense, they distinguish themselves from other cities and come together to jump those hurdles.

Number 5 is successful downtowns are walkable, and this was a point they wanted to hit home hard about, because it’s true, and that’s why you see a lot of communities, focusing on sidewalks and creating a walkable scenery instead of the traffic flow.

Number 6 is having a commitment to mix use development, they tend to be integrated and made part of the community.

Number 7 is there being a broad public and private investment in the future of the downtown, and Howell has just that with their downtown development authority made up of 7-9 members working toward the same goal of representing businesses, property owners, and residents of the community.

Number 8, the nature of downtown retail appears to be in flux. Having No or minimal vacancies with the businesses.

Number 9, entertainment is a driving market segment. Entertainment needs to be a main driver to getting community involvement.

Number 10, there’s a strong presence of residential neighborhoods within walking distance to downtown, and that point is very prevalent in downtown Howell as you stroll around and see all the well maintained historical homes that line the streets just outside of main street.

Number 11, the market for housing downtown is strong and growing. Which also holds true for Howell, recent redfin data was released and home prices were up 15.6% compared to last year selling for a media price of $289,000, and homes are on the market for hardly a week before going pending, compared to 17 the year before.

And last but not least, Number 12, Universities help but are not the sole answer. As I mentioned I went to college in Howell at Cleary University. It’s a smaller university that doesn’t exactly have a huge sprawling campus, but there are countless events each year that get the community involved on campus every single year, which is a traffic generator as mentioned before.

howell michigan downtown

For those of you that don’t know, Howell's downtown is like a time capsule, it’s like experiencing the 1950s without a DeLorean, with its wonderfully preserved historic buildings and tree-lined streets. Granted, the main strip of downtown is small, but it’s dripping with quaintness, and when you think of stores these days, In downtown howell you Forget about the big-box stores and cookie-cutter chains. Howell's downtown is all about supporting local businesses and creating that community centric atmosphere we all desperately want in the places we live. From the friendly uptown coffee house on the corner, where the barista knows your name (and your complicated coffee order) to the quirky boutiques that somehow always have exactly what you didn't know you needed, Howell's downtown is a mom-and-pop paradise. Plus, where else can you buy handmade soap shaped like the state of Michigan?

Nothing brings the community together more than the events. Main street downtown is the place to be for festivals, fairs, and all-around fun. Whether it's the annual Melon Festival (yes, they really do celebrate melons), the legend of sleepy Howell, balloon fest, the Fantasy of Lights parade, as well as the Sunday farmers markets, there's always something happening to bring the community together. Just be prepared for everyone wearing melon hats in August. Kidding that doesn’t happen, it could though. I linked their events page in the HERE because I know you want to celebrate melons too.

Howell Michigan has earned its stripes for several reasons. One being for the community aspect as I mentioned before, the next reason being that small town charm that seems to be fleeting these days as more and more areas across the country continue to be so built up and jam packed full of people. The difference between the small town of Howell and other smalltowns across the country is Howell has a close proximity to everything. Commutes to Ann Arbor, Brighton, Detroit, and several desirable Metro Detroit suburbs won’t be a day event to make a visit to, and it’s a great advantage to have to be able to live outside the hustle and bustle but be able to dabble in it from time to time without having to live in it.

The city also has a sizable events calendar that keeps growing by the year and isn’t just one of those instances where you hop online to a website that was made in the 1800’s and is never updated, Howell prides themselves in making that priority for their community. Howell also has some natural beauty too that is often overlooked. Whether you're hiking through Howell Nature Center, fishing on Lake Chemung, or just enjoying a leisurely stroll in one of the many parks, there's no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had.

howell michigan downtown

It’s true, Howell may not have the glitz and glamor of big-city downtowns, but what it lacks in skyscrapers it more than makes up for in heart. The sense of community here is palpable, from the friendly waves exchanged between strangers on the street to the way everyone rallies together to support local causes. In Howell, you're not just another face in the crowd; you're part of the family. And I believe that’s what makes a city’s downtown truly great. Whether you're visiting the Howell Area Historical Society or simply admiring the historic architecture downtown, you can't help but feel a sense of connection to the past to say the least.

If you want to know more about Howell Michigan, I created a video about the pros and cons of living in Howell Michigan, 5 attractions in Howell Michigan, as well as a comparison video between Brighton, Howell and Milford.

For those of you that stayed for the number one best main street in the United states for 2024, did Howell Michigan surprise you, why or why not?



Andrew McManamon is a Michigan REALTOR® with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty and provides real estate services to Buyers, Sellers and Investors throughout SE Michigan including Livingston County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, Genesee County & beyond. Andrew has become one of the pillars of Michigan real estate. Prior to his real estate career Andrew was responsible for managing a senior living facility in Brighton, Michigan as a dining supervisor and an activities assistant. Andrew’s passion to help people is unlike any other, and he continues to strive to be best resource he can be. Andrew graduated from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan with a double major and currently resides in Brighton, Michigan.

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