Home to approximately 9,500 people, the City of Howell is a charming and vibrant Midwestern town in southeastern Michigan, situated about 40 minutes east of Lansing and 35 minutes north of Ann Arbor. Howell is noted for its beautiful historic architecture, unique shops, and popular restaurants. As the county seat and most populous city in Livingston County, Howell offers residents a good quality of life as well as easy access to some of the more urban areas of Michigan. Grand River Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Howell's picturesque downtown area, was named among the 10 best Main Streets in America in a 2016 Readers' Choice poll conducted by USA Today. Even more recently, Howell was revealed to be one of the 10 semi-finalists for the 2018 Great American Main Street Award, an honor announced by Main Street America, a program associated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. With its wealth of community activities, lively atmosphere, and central location, it's easy to see what attracts people to Howell and why people love living there.
Festivals and Seasonal Activities
Howell may be a relatively "small" town, but it's big on community events. Its annual festivities include:
Michigan Challenge Balloonfest — T
his annual June event is a competition, arts festival, carnival, and summer celebration of hot air balloons (and other flying objects) that has been attracting people to Howell for more than 30 years.
The Howell Melon Festival is 57 years old and still rocking! This annual 3-day event held in mid-August celebrates the "perfect" cantaloupe, a unique specimen grown only in the Howell area. There's everything you could wish for in a summer festival: classic cars, live entertainment, athletic events, and lots of food! Who could pass up melon ice cream on a sunny summer day?
The Legend of Sleepy Howell — This pre-Halloween event includes trick-or-treating, costume contests, scary stories, food, and live music. Rumor has it that there are Headless Horsemen racing through the local cemetery, too!
The Pink Party — Once a year, adults in the Howell area convene for an evening of food and wine tasting, discount shopping, and live entertainment. Proceeds from this ticketed event benefit the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Livingston for breast cancer research and supportive care.
The Fantasy of Lights Parade — Howell kicks off the winter holiday season on the Friday following Thanksgiving with a spectacular nighttime parade of illuminated floats, marching bands, and a appearance by a large, bearded fellow dressed head to toe in red.
Farmers' Market — Michigan is home to some seriously outstanding flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Just try to stay away from their blueberries, cherries, or peaches! From May through October, the vendors at Howell's Sunday Farmers' Market sell their tantalizing wares to hungry and appreciative consumers.
Michigan is fortunate to have an abundance of natural beauty, including dense forests, beautiful beaches, rolling green hills, cliffs and waterfalls, and more than 11,000 inland lakes. It is, of course, the state with the most access to the Great Lakes, and therefore has the nation's longest freshwater coastline — nearly 3,300 miles of shoreline.
Brighton Recreation Area has more than 4,900 acres of hills, lakes, forests, and lowlands. Visitors can engage in a wide variety of water and land sports, camp out overnight or stay in a cabin, or just stop by for a quick picnic or a little bird-watching.
Pinckney State Recreation Area is an 11,000 acre site, and like Brighton, contains miles of trails, many campgrounds, lakes, and playgrounds, and provides a place for outdoor enthusiasts all year round.
Though Island Lake Recreation Area is a little smaller and generally flatter than the Brighton Recreation Area, it has some unique features, including the only hot air balloon launch area in the Michigan park system.
Howell Nature Center is a wildlife sanctuary that offers refuge to injured animals and also acts as a recreational and educational center for human visitors of all ages.
In addition to those sites, other fun opportunities are available at the parks and recreational facilities in and around Howell that are maintained and operated by the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority.
Arts and Culture
Besides the popular festivals, great recreational areas, and delightful downtown shops and restaurants of Howell, is there anything else to do? There definitely is! Here are just a few of the other attractions that Michiganders in the area can enjoy:
The Howell Opera House is owned and operated by the Livingston Arts Council, a non-profit organization committed to supporting the arts in Livingston County. The Opera House hosts concerts, dance performances, lectures, rotating art exhibits, and other events throughout the year.
There are concerts every Friday night throughout the summer on the courthouse lawn in Howell. Bring your dog and some snacks and enjoy the music.
The Community Theatre of Howell stages 4 to 5 performances a year, ranging from dramas to comedies to large musicals.
The Historic Howell Theater is not your typical movie theater. It prides itself on showing indie, classic, and silent movies, and hosts community events and live performances.
Artifacts and exhibits of the Howell Area Historical Society are housed in The Depot Museum, an 1886 railroad station preserved for the public and open for tours on Sundays from spring to fall.
For more information on art exhibits, performances, and other attractions, please visit the Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Most of the children who reside in Howell and nearby areas attend Howell Public Schools.
Options for colleges and universities include:
Lansing Community College
Mott Community College
Michigan State University
University of Michigan
and many more just a short drive away.
For other information on Howell and nearby communities, please visit these links:
City of Howell
Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Video: Howell as Great American Main Street Award Semi-Finalist
Howell Area Chamber of Commerce: Great American Main Street award announcement
Pure Michigan: Southeast Region
Livingston Daily Press & Argus
Photos of Livingston County Courthouse in Howell, Howell Train Depot, and Fantasy of Lights by Joshua Young (Joshuay04 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0).