Cadillac is a city in the state of Michigan. The community has a population of approximately 10,000 within city limits, and over 40,000 within the surrounding two counties. Established as an industrial town, Cadillac was originally known as the Village of Clam Lake. The village was incorporated into a city in 1877, changing its name to Cadillac after the 17th and 18th century French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (the car brand is also named after him). The area became a popular tourist destination following World War II, and remains so today.
Cadillac is the gateway to northwest Michigan. Nearly a million visitors come each year to the area, to enjoy the scenic lakes and quaint small town. While popular, Cadillac is quiet and makes a great Northern Michigan destination for summer and winter recreation enthusiasts.
There are two large lakes in the Cadillac vicinity. Lake Cadillac lies entirely within the boundaries of the city; this has led to a geographically unique community, with most city commerce taking place on the east shore of the lake—the downtown—and many businesses catering to tourists located on the west shore. Locals refer to this western portion as Cadillac West. Knowing this terminology can be helpful if you plan to stay in the area.
To the west of Lake Cadillac lies the larger Lake Mitchell. While both lakes offer public access, Lake Mitchell is more nearly surrounded by private residences and may be more difficult for non-homeowners to reach. The two lakes are connected by the small Clam Lake Canal which has an unusual feature: as winter approaches, the canal freezes over. But once the two lakes freeze over, the ice on the canal thaws and the canal remains unfrozen for the remainder of winter.
The residents of Cadillac and the surrounding area, like most Midwesterners, are open and friendly. If you need directions, locals will be happy to assist. Visitors are also welcome to ask for advice on where to get a tasty lunch or, if needed, a quick repair for their bicycle.
Driving is the most practical means by which to visit Cadillac. The primary route, US-131, comes in from Grand Rapids. The state route MI-115 is used by visitors from the Detroit area. MI-55 comes in from Manistee and Lake Michigan, passing through Cadillac on its way to Lake Huron. Be sure to enjoy the scenery of Northern Michigan on your way to Cadillac.
Indian Trails offers bus service to Cadillac from various Michigan cities.
- 1 Wexford County Airport (CAD IATA) (lies approximately two miles north of the downtown area.). Accessible to private aircraft
Personal automobile is the most convenient means of getting around, with free parking available around the city. Parking downtown is convenient and plentiful, even during major events.
Biking is highly recommended for those staying on or near the lakes. Cadillac has a bike path along the shores of Lake Cadillac, so east-west travel between the downtown and the Cadillac West is convenient. Biking on the local streets is safe, and there are a number of nature trails in the area that provide great off-roading. Rental facilities are available at McLain Cycle and Fitness.
Walking around the downtown area is easy and safe in the summer. As with most cities in the northern part of the country, winter conditions will vary from day to day; even sidewalks which have been shoveled clear will lead to street crossings filled with melting snow and ice, so winter footwear is advisable for walking farther than just to your parked car.
The Cadillac/Wexford Transit Authority runs a demand response bus service. In the summer the Authority runs a mid-day fixed-route service. The line runs between Cadillac West and the downtown.
Cadillac surrounds Lake Cadillac and part of Lake Mitchell. The downtown is adjacent to the former, and public docks make it easy to tie up a boat and walk to shops and food.
Many of the restaurants around the lake provide docks.
Launching your own boat or renting is highly recommended. Some local businesses (such as Cadillac Sands) offer watercraft rentals. Renting a campsite at Mitchell State Park entitles you to dock your boat in the canal alongside the park.
The city of Cadillac is surrounded by more than 200 miles of snowmobile trails; visitors to the area should be aware that operating snowmobiles is illegal within the city limits.
The downtown, which includes a number of quaint shops, a movie theatre  and a park, is picturesque. It is popular with tourists year-round.
- Courthouse Hill Historic District. Adjacent to the downtown, part of the original Village of Clam Lake. Many of the homes in the District are large, Victorian-style residences built by the lumber barons and businessmen who helped establish Cadillac more than a century ago.
- 1 Clam Lake Canal. Constructed originally to transport logs from Lake Mitchell to the mills on the shores of Lake Cadillac. It is now used exclusively by recreation lakecraft. With the canal, the two lakes comprise approximately 3700 acres of open water.
The Cadillac area is very popular with tourists who favor active recreation activities. The city surrounds Lake Cadillac and is adjacent to Lake Mitchell. There are a number of public boat ramps; there is a launch on the northwest side of Lake Cadillac, in Kenwood Park, while on the northeast end of Lake Cadillac, next to City Park and the downtown, there is another ramp.
- 1 Adventure Island, ☏ . 6083 E MI-115. Waterslides, mini-golf, batting cages and go-carts. Arcade activities indoors.
- 2 Sound Garden. Truly unique hands-on sculpture on the shores of Lake Cadillac. Native materials, primarily silver maple, beach, and ironwood were used to make this set of sculptural instruments.
- 3 Mitchell State Park, 6093 E MI-115, ☏ . Located between the two lakes. It is home to the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center, which documents the history of hunting and fishing in Michigan. The Center is open year-round. There is also a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) nature trail that leaves from the Hunting and Fishing Center.
- 4 Cadillac Pathway. Lies east of Cadillac and is part of the Pere Marquette State Forest. The trails of the Pathway are well suited to biking, hiking and cross country skiing. Trail map.
- 5 Manistee National Forest. Lies immediately to the west of Cadillac. The national forest is popular with ORVers.
- 6 Eldorado, 7839 E 46 1/2 Rd, ☏ . 18 hole public golf course. The Cadillac Grill Restaurant is on site.
- 7 Evergreen Resort (Formerly McGuire's Resort), 7880 Mackinaw Trail, toll-free: . 27 hole public golf course. Views of Lake Cadillac.
- 8 Cadillac Country Club, 5428 E MI-55, ☏ , (Winter). Established in 1910, the Cadillac Country Club course is a 6017 yard, par 70 classic.
- 9 Caberfae Peaks, 1 Caberfae Drive (East of Cadillac on MI-55), ☏ . Nine-hole course located in the Manistee National Forest (listed rate is for 18 holes; players play the course twice) $38 weekends.
- 10 Emerald Vale, 6867 East 16 Road (North of Cadillac on US-131), ☏ . Located just outside of Manton (about a ten minute drive north from Cadillac) $45 weekends.
- 11 Lakewood on the Green (Wedgewood, Briar South), 128 Lakewood Drive (West of Cadillac on M-55, then south on 33 Road), ☏ , ✉ Golf@LakewoodontheGreen.com. 18 hole layout winds through a residential neighborhood $42.
Events and Festivals
- UpBeat Cadillac. This jazz-in-the-park series is offered nearly every Thursday in the summer. Downtown Cadillac, City Park, Rotary Pavilion.
- [dead link] First Night Cadillac. Annual New Year's Eve celebration held at various locations throughout the city. Music, games, face painting, dog sleds, petting zoo, displays of local artists' works.
- North American Snow Festival. Held every winter, over frozen Lake Cadillac. Events include snowmobile racing, sleigh rides and an ice fishing tournament.
- 1 McLain Cycle, 311 N Mitchell, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Bicycle sales and service
- 2 Toy Town, 122 S. Mitchell, ☏ . Independent toy store in downtown Cadillac
- 3 Serendipity, 101 S. Mitchell, ☏ . Women's clothing and gifts
- 4 The Sweet Shop, 111 S. Mitchell, ☏ . Candy shop with homemade chocolate; famous for their "snowbirds", white chocolate and pecans.
- 5 [dead link] WarGames North, 313 N. Mitchell, ☏ . Gaming supplies, comic books, and collectibles.
- 1 Hermann's European Café, 214 N Mitchell St, ☏ . Selections change daily. Offers seafood and fine international cuisine.
- 2 G & D Party Store, 223 S Mitchell St, ☏ . Carry out and delivery. Locally famous for its pizza.
- 3 Lakeside Charlie’s, 301 S Lake Mitchell Dr, ☏ . American cuisine. Located in Cadillac West, on the shores of Lake Mitchell.
- 4 House of Hunan, 505 N Mitchell St, ☏ . American-style Chinese cuisine, a local favorite.
- 5 Maggie's Tavern, 523 N Mitchell St, ☏ . Full-menu restaurant in a family-friendly bar setting.
- 6 After 26 Depot, 127 W Cass, ☏ . Tue-Fri 7am-2pm,Sat-Sun 8am-2pm, Closed Monday. Located inside a former railroad depot, this non-profit restaurant benefits adults with developmental disabilities and cognitive impairment
- 1 Clam Lake Beer Company, 106 S Mitchell, ☏ . Brewpub features 40 different beers on tap plus a full menu.
- 2 Cadillac Party Lounge, 516 N. Mitchell, ☏ . Open until 2AM. Sports bar with a full kitchen. Easily the most upscale bar in town. Well lit.
- 3 Roaring 20s Saloon, 210 S. Mitchell (next to Cadillac 5 movie theater), ☏ . Open until 2AM. Loud music, usually crowded to the rafters on ladies' night. Go there to drink, not to talk.
- 4 [dead link] Escape (Formerly Sally's), 101 E. Harris (corner of Mitchell & Harris), ☏ . Wed-Thu until 10PM, Fri-Sat until 2AM. Caters to the LGBT community, but all are welcome regardless of orientation
- 5 Busy Bee, 514 N. Mitchell (next to Cadillac Party Lounge), ☏ . Open until 2AM. Primarily for bikers. May want to avoid if you are not a tough guy. Shares a building with Cadillac Party Lounge, use the left door for the Party Lounge.
- 6 Curly's, 7880 Mackinaw Trail (Inside Evergreen Resort), ☏ . Open until 1AM. Free popcorn. Features karaoke some nights.
- 7 The Pines (Cadillac West), 5992 E. M-55, ☏ . Attached bowling alley and pizza restaurant. Popular with the young folks (particularly the under-21 set).
- 8 Coz's 8-Ball Lounge, 1341 N. Mitchell, ☏ . Also known as "Stopless Topless". Topless dancing. Do not bring the girlfriend or kids.
- 1 Evergreen Resort (Formerly McGuire's Resort), 7880 Mackinaw Trail, toll-free: . Standard rooms with double or king beds, studio rooms with fireplaces and deluxe suites are available. Tennis courts, pool and sauna, 27 holes of golf.
- 2 Holiday Inn Express, 7642 S US-131, ☏ . 70 guest rooms and suites, indoor pool, whirlpool and fitness room.
- 3 Hermann's Hotel, 214 N Mitchell, ☏ . Seven rooms, on the second floor of Hermann's European Cafe in downtown Cadillac; more of a "destination" than a room for the night
- 4 Caberfae Peaks Resort, Caberfae Rd, ☏ . 36 guest rooms in MacKenzie Lodge, with year-round heated pool and hot tub. Ski slopes with 34 runs, rental shop, day lodge with cafeteria and bar; 9 holes of golf.
- 5 Mitchell State Park, 6093 E MI-115. This state park lies between Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell and in fact straddles the canal connecting the two lakes. There 221 campsites, with modern toilet buildings, showers and sanitation stations. Eight campsites are wheelchair-accessible. A mini-cabin is also available for rent. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially for the sites along the canal.
- 6 Camp Cadillac, 10621 E 34 Rd, ☏ . Private campground, located 3 miles (5 km) to northeast of the city. It has a number of amenities including a petting zoo, a pool and internet access.
- Traverse City is 1 hour north on M-115 and M-37.
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is 1.5 hours northwest on M-115.
- Manistee is 1 hour west on M-55.
- Grand Rapids is 1.5 hours south on US-131.
|Routes through Cadillac|
|Petoskey ← Kalkaska ←||N S||→ Reed City → Grand Rapids|
|Manistee ← Jct ←||W E||→ Lake City → Houghton Lake|
|Frankfort ← Jct ←||W E||→ Clare → END|