Monroe County Historical Society

Monroe County MI, Rural Experiences, Small Towns, and Family Fun

In Family Resort, Family Travel, Farms, Great Lakes, Piers, Recreation, Rural Amenities, Small Town Culture, Small Towns, Travel, Waterfront Townby My Town TodayLeave a Comment

My Town Destination: Monroe County Michigan 

Trip Type: Weekend Trip

Date of Visit: 11/14/19- 11/17/19

Town Ambassador/Contact: Matt Zook Phone: 937.599.5121 email:

Monroe County Michigan is an exceptional area that encompasses 680 square miles, 130 of which is water. Its unique attributes collect an array of variation from great rural experiences, to small town shops and eateries, and great roadside attractions! Monroe county’s location is also ideal and accessible as it lies next to Lake Erie, and the River Raisin runs through many of its towns. Monroe County’s strategic location puts it less than an hour drive from Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Toledo, making these small town attractions, destinations.

The Small Towns of Monroe County


Downtown Dundee

The Small town of Dundee may only have a little less than 4,000 residents, but it is an amazing small town to visit. Downtown Dundee has so much to offer, with great eateries (like River’s Edge), unique shops, and wonderful ambiance. Downtown Dundee is also located alongside the River Raisin, making this a great place to walk around for the afternoon, or to go trout fishing! There are also a few large surprises in Dundee you can read about in additional sections of this article.

Luna Pier

Luna Pier is a hidden gem resort town situated right on Lake Erie. This beautiful location offers great rentals within steps of Lake Erie, a famous eatery, park, beach, and market all within walking distance. Luna Pier is only six miles from the Ohio border and is conveniently located right off I-75. This makes Luna Pier a great destination for fishing off the piers and four miles of shoreline. If you haven’t heard how good the Walleye fishing is on Lake Erie, you need to plan a trip. Luna Pier also lies next to the Erie Marsh Preserve, and you can see Maumee Bay State Park across the Bay in Ohio. You will love meeting the locals in these establishments who have lived here for generations, and will assure you that this small town has an atmosphere that has not changed in decades. Check out more pictures from Luna Pier and a great lunch at Chateau Louise Here.

Luna Pier Market
Luna Pier Market


Downtown Monroe

Monroe is the largest city in Monroe County and the county seat, but it still has a wonderful small town vibe. As you parooze downtown you will see great antique shops, eateries, and a beautiful history museum. In addition, Monroe has a great river walk as it too joins with the River Raisin. A few more great small town features; you can catch a show at the River Raisin Centre for the Arts, and walk along the Lake Erie waterfront at Sterling State Park.


Founded by the railroads in 1873, the small village of Maybee is named after Abraham Maybee, and still has a functioning quarry from its founding days. The village of Maybee may be small at less than 600 people, but it has one of the best restaurants in Monroe County! The Little Brown Jug is not just a town but a county favorite, serving yummy eats like the Canadian inspired Maybee Poutine (waffle fries with cheese curds, bacon, and gravy). This is definitely a diners, drive-ins, and dives worthy establishment, and a fun stop in Monroe County.

Rural Amenities Make Big, Small Town Fun

Calder Dairy and Farm

While in Monroe County, the My Town Family took a trip to Calder Dairy & Farm. Offering delicious ice cream made on site, and a great barnyard experience from cows to peacocks! You can get fresh milk, butter, and several other items here too, including My Town’s favorite- the wood fire pizza cheese curds. A highlight was the look on my son’s face watching in fascination as the cows were milked. This is a wonderfully unique and memorable experience for families. The funny part of our experience was that we live in a rural area, but our children still had not seen cows being milked up close. This experience of learning together was something to be remembered. Also, wanted to note their fun and creative “Did you know” wall. Some were truths, and some were just goofy fun!

Duke Farms

Another great rural experience in Monroe County is Duke Petting Farm. My Town had a blast with the animals. There was a sweet little calf that was raised with goats, and is having a bit of an identity crisis. What a fun part of the visit to Duke Petting Farm! Click here for video.

Inns and Institutions

It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions, and brings them back to life. In Monroe County you will find these investments at Dundee Old Mill Museum, River Raisin National Battlefield Park, and Monroe Historical Society.

Dam on River Raisin outside The Old Mill Museum

Starting with Dundee’s treasure, The Old Mill Museum. The museum is now restored and offering permanent and changing exhibits of local history. This includes Henry Ford’s Legacy in this area, and the Macon Reservation. Plus they offer paranormal ghost hunts and are on the beautiful River Raisin. This is not your average museum! While visiting, we ran into some locals trout fishing outside the museum on the dam. It was great fun to see their catch, and another unique attribute of this part of Monroe County culture.

Monroe is a small town with big plans, starting with its redevelopment of the National Landmark River Raisin National Battlefield Park. The park commemorates battles that took place on the River Raisin and historic Frenchtown during the war of 1812. Specifically, the wars of January 1813, resulting in the largest U.S. defeat. This super important piece of history is continuing to be preserved for future generations to learn about “Remembering the Raisin”.

So Much History to Explore

The Monroe Historical Society Catalogues Monroe County through its 200 year history. An interesting part of this beautiful museum is that the current building is built on the location of General Custer’s home. A highlight is the upstairs exhibit with great pictures of the past resort days of Monroe.

Musket Balls in Oldest Wooden Structure in Michigan- Historic Navarre Trading Post

Navarre-Anderson Trading Post- What an investment of the residents of Monroe County. The Navarre Trading post, located in historic Frenchtown on the River Raisin, and was made to represent the historic trading post. The main wooden building, built in 1789 by Utreau Navarre, is the oldest wooden residence still standing in the state.  This landmark has a very interesting focal point, as the old wooden structure actually has musket balls in it you can see from a battle of the war of 1812 !

The Unique, Interesting, Yours, of Monroe County

What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever, perhaps a piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? In Monroe County they have more than one entire town whose unique attributes are worth visiting. Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Monroe County.

Splash Universe Dundee

Splash Universe and Cabela’s– In Dundee there are amazingly large small town finds. Dundee may be a small town, but it has two huge roadside attractions- Splash Universe and Cabela’s. What fun to have huge water park outings for the family, and the ultimate outdoor shopping experience added to your small town adventure! Check out the video here for some of My Town’s first impressions.

A couple more fun finds from Splash Universe:

Breakout Room-Clue- Splash Universe

Breakout Room! Escape Room Experiences have been around for a while now. But if you have ever wanted to do one with your family, the Breakout Room Floor at Splash Universe is fantastic! My Town did a Clue themed room, and the family loved it, fun not scary! A super fun way to incorporate an experience into a small town trip.

There’s also convenient and delicious food on site at Splash Universe’s Treehouse Pub and Grub. I could never get my kids to eat jalapenos, but at the Treehouse Pub and Grub, Momma can have what she wants, and the kids can have what they want. Ahhhh food harmony!

My Town Today and Co. with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Silver Bells

Here is a super fun reason to visit small town Dundee- to see Santa of course! And this particular Mr.& Mrs.Claus are pretty amazing, as is the magical store of Silver Bells. The My Town kiddos had a blast in this magical Christmas wonderland.

Book Nook Monroe, 50th Anniversary

Did you know you can still find great small town book stores? In Monroe you can by visiting the adorable Book Nook. Absolutely loved hanging out in this store that is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, Congratulations, Book Nook!

And of course, the most unique part about visiting Monroe County- The Water! You have Lake Erie, and the River Raisin all within minutes of any town you choose.

MTT Antique and Market Finds

Silver Bells, Dundee

Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This includes Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! In the small towns of Monroe County there are great Antique and Market finds everywhere you look, so below are a list of My Town Musts.

Swan Creek Candle Co. – Dundee Antiques and ArtCK Antiques and Restoration Brown Bag Boutique The Book NookThrift Shop Association of Monroe Manny’s Antiques and Collectibles

MTT Referral

My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town, and finding out what town the majority of its citizens would recommend My Town to visit next.

The referral for this entry is: Tecumseh, MI. Stay tuned for My Town to pop up there soon.

My Town visits are based on exploring and discovery as a first time visitor, and we certainly never want to leave anyone out of our articles. Missed seeing your business, service, or experience offered in your town? Contact My Town to see how we can promote your unique offerings on Social, in Newsletters, and on our Website. In addition, we offer great opportunities to Join our My Town Marketplace for Small Town Vendors, and post your Small Town Events for Free!

Click Here for My Town’s Monroe County Photo Gallery:

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