Chelsea is a lovely town less than 20 miles west of Ann Arbor, in Southeast Michigan. It has a vibrant community and a historic downtown area that features eclectic shops, numerous coffee houses, and fine dining. Set aside time to browse antique shops and art galleries when staying at Chelsea’s bed and breakfasts.

As in all of Michigan, there is fabulous outdoor recreation close to Chelsea. Waterloo Recreation is the largest state park in the Lower Peninsula. It features 47 miles of hiking trails and additional trails devoted to mountain biking and horseback riding. Play a round of golf at Pierce Lake Golf Course, within the recreation area. Waterloo is also an excellent spot to birdwatch, particularly when Sandhill Cranes visit the area between late August and early November.

Lakelands Trail State Park consists of a 13-mile long abandoned railroad corridor that’s been converted into a trail. It’s a great spot to hike, bike, horseback ride, and cross-country ski. The trail runs between Pinckney and Stockbridge, just north of Chelsea. Mountain bikers will love the nearby Pinckney Recreation Area, as will anglers and boaters.

There are several excellent spots for birdwatching in the area – ask Chelsea’s bed and breakfast innkeepers about them. Independence Lake County Park has a tall-grass prairie, marshes, and forest, accessible by trails and boardwalks. Climb to the top of the observation tower in the spring to view migrating waterfowl.

Back in town, pick up fresh local produce at the weekly Farmer’s Market, or taste it in restaurants that feature locally grown food. Stay at a bed and breakfast┬áduring the Sounds and Sights Festival in July, and for the Chelsea Antique Show in August. Or come into town for a performance at the Purple Rose Theatre Company, which is dedicated to creating opportunities for actors in the Midwest. Productions at the Purple Rose may be American classics, French farces or World Premieres, but they are always good.