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US-12 & Irish Hills



This tour showcases attractions on or near US-12, one of the oldest and well-traveled transportation corridors east of the Mississippi River. US-12 provides access to some of the most extensive and significant historic, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources in Michigan. As a result, the roadway was designated a Michigan Historic Heritage Route in 1994. Spanning approximately 212 miles in the southern lower part of the State, US-12 has had many names over the years, including the Sauk Trail, the Chicago Road, and Michigan Avenue (a number of stretches are still known as such today).


The tour begins in Saline, a small town just to the southwest of Ann Arbor, and travels through one of the more scenic stretches of the US-12 Heritage Route. The highlight of the journey is the Irish Hills near Brooklyn, a beautiful area of rolling countryside and 52 sparkling, spring-fed lakes.



Saline [A]

A growing community in the vibrant Ann Arbor Metropolitan area, Saline was chosen as one of the most attractive small cities in America by Money Magazine in 1996. Though only 10 minutes from Ann Arbor, the city has a country feel. Thus, Saline is able to combine the best aspects of small town life with the progressive attitude of a growing city. While in town, check out the Bixby Marionette Museum, Rentschler Farm, and Railroad Depot Museum.




Clinton [B]

Clinton was the birthplace of Wirt Rowland, a 1920s architect instrumental in shaping Downtown Detroit. He is best known for designing the Buehl, Penobscot, and Guardian buildings, structures that define the Detroit Skyline to this day. The Village has a rich history which includes the Clinton Inn and the operation of the Clinton Woolen Mill, a vital part of the area economy for over 90 years and noted by a Michigan Historical Marker near the center of town along US-12.


Irish Hills [C]

History of Irish Hills dates back to the 19th century as a stopping point during the 5-day stagecoach trip between Detroit and Chicago. The early 20th century saw the region develop into a popular tourist destination, a theme that exists today. A unique combination of picturesque countryside peppered with the occasional tourist trap, there is something for everyone here. As you begin to explore this area, don't miss the 755-acre Hidden Lake Gardens, the Walter J. Hayes State Park, and the amazing views of the surrounding lakes and land as seen from the Twin Towers.


Brooklyn [D]

Continuing along US-12 towards the western edge of the Irish Hills brings you to Brooklyn. Pay a visit to Historic Walker Tavern, one of the first tourist attractions in the area in the 1920s Here you will discover the early days of stagecoach travel and trace the development of US-12. A short distance down the road is the hard-to-miss 1,400-acre Michigan International Speedway, the State's largest sporting venue. Thousands of race fans flock to the track each season to enjoy NASCAR, Indy Racing League, and ARCA series action on the two-mile oval speedway that opened in 1968. Heading north on M-50 leads you to downtown Brooklyn, a cozy little town nestled between three lakes and featuring a town square-like setting with a cupola in its center.


Manchester [E]

This quaint riverside village features 19th Century Italianate architecture, specialty shops, an eclectic mix of restaurants, and a rich history. Year-round events such as the Chicken Broil, Fourth of July Fireworks, Riverfolk Music and Arts Festival, and River Raisin Canoe Races draw are popular with locals and visitors alike. Great antiquing, fall color displays, and numerous recreational opportunities add to the allure of this charming little town.



Tour Map

Number of Destinations: 5

Distance: 43 miles

Overall Tour Time: 1-2 days


Irish Hills



Click Me to Rent a Car!!!


Extended Tour

Combine this excursion with our Highway to Hell Tour to see more of fantastic Southern Michigan.

Related Tours

Detroit Sports

Highway to Hell

Lakes Area

Resources & Links

Brooklyn-Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce

City of Manchester

City of Saline


Michigan's US-12 Heritage Trail

Michigan.org -- Irish Hills

Village of Brooklyn

Village of Clinton

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