Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Otsego named one of top small towns in Michigan

Otsego’s Main Street was among its featured highlights in an article on the website Only In Your State. (Photo provided)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

The website “Only In Your State” recently published an article titled “Michigan Just Wouldn’t Be The Same Without These 5 Charming Small Towns.”
Among the featured small towns? None other than Otsego.
“Main Street Otsego has an all-American feel to it with small businesses, a quaint coffee shop and tasty local restaurants,” wrote Emily Tieman in the article. “Many people travel to Otsego during the winter months to buy a season pass for Bittersweet Ski Resort. Bittersweet has 20 ski runs for all levels of experience and even offers night skiing and snowboarding.”
Otsego City Manager Aaron Mitchell found out about Otsego’s inclusion after former Mayor Cyndi Trobeck’s husband Gary shared the article on Facebook.
“I was surprised, since we were on the list with some big hitters like Ludington,” Mitchell.
South Haven, Elk Rapids and Houghton joined Otsego and Ludington on the list.
“Otsego is a special place,” Mitchell said. “I think in so many ways, it is still the same small town that many residents grew up in 40 or 50 years ago. Yet, it has also stayed up with the times with its investment in its riverfront and downtown along with the efforts to hold large events to bring visitors to Otsego.
“It offers the longtime residents a sense of nostalgia while also offering new residents a friendly, safe, and inviting community with unmatched city services.”
Mitchell cites the city’s public school system and public library as two of the main draws for residents.
“Few cities of Otsego’s size offer a public school system and library like we do,” he said. “Both of those entities are huge draws for our community.  I personally came to Otsego for my children to go through Otsego Public Schools and have still been overwhelmingly impressed with the great job that superintendent (Jeff) Haase and his team are doing. 
“And (library) director Andrea Estelle finds incredibly innovative ways to make the Otsego District Library a leader in the region. Otsego offers a lot for a city of 4,000.”
The fact that Otsego is located between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids is also part of its appeal, according to Michell.
“The location is ideally situated,” he said. “One can work in a large city, while enjoying all of the benefits of small town living.”
Visitors can also enjoy that small-city charm.
“Whether it is driving through on the way to the lakeshore, or spending a Saturday and Sunday in town participating in our annual Gus Macker tournament, come to Otsego looking at it as a small traditional hometown as if you grew up here,” Mitchell said. “You will find the friendly, welcoming demeanor of our residents to be a breath of fresh air. 
“If you grew up in a small town, you will find many similarities whether you are from across the county or the country.”

5 Replies to “Otsego named one of top small towns in Michigan

  1. Wow, finally Otsego is recognized. It’s the best-kept secret in SW Michigan. (So is it’s wonderful Catholic school, St. Margaret.)
    Moved here from BC in the 90’s & love it. Class B schools offer your kids sooo much more than class A in the way of opportunities to perform & to bond with teachers & other students. Bigger is not better!
    1st impression: these parents really take time w/ their kids! Regularly sit in inclement weather to watch their kids/their kids’ friends at a practice, don’t miss a game either.
    Otsego’s marching band surprised me upon sight. Great uniforms that they proudly wear, More outstanding than usual this year the band was honored across the state! And their Pep Band at games brings back the good ol days of deep school spirit.
    Women’s sports a favorite, skiing @ Bittersweet is just part of P.E., Halloween is hosted by downtown churches & businesses.
    All very safe & directly after school.
    Sports teams are adamant re good sportsmanship, reflecting their coach & parents’ pride in fair play. Refreshing!!
    Plenty of parking behind Mezzo coffee house& barber shop off M-89. Free! Come visit 1 of many churches in the Otsego area. Our new UMC pastor, Pastor Jeremy, is personal and earnest in his sermons. Our church is very old & full of old interior wood.
    So as they say, “OTSEGO, come to play, come to stay.”

  2. In addition to the quality school system, public library, and ski resort, Otsego’s dance school, Patti Herm School of Dance is one of just a few small town dance studios in Michigan that produces a full length Nutcracker Ballet at the Christmas season.

  3. Otsego is a great place to live. The schools are excellent. Bittersweet and the Lynx golf are nearby. Too bad F. Biden and Come and get it are displayed on the main road near downtown and near a church. My sons school bus passes by it every day. I may just move elsewhere because of it…..

  4. So many good things in Otsego! Including the new small businesses right down town by the VFW, the 8/9 collective tattoo shop as well as the Small clothing boutique Blessed Honey Suckle! Don’t for get Judy’s and and Our Table for some good home cooking!

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