23 Michigan Communities with More Famous Counterparts

HellIf you’re from one of these villages, townships, or cities in Michigan, you might dread the small talk obligation of answering where you’re from. Or, maybe you love seeing the confused look on people’s faces when you tell them you hail from a small town with a much more well-known destination they might have in mind. Check out these Michigan hometowns that likely give residents a great conversation starter.

Athens This small community of about 2,500 people takes its namesake from Athens, Greece, one of the oldest cities in the world and the birthplace of western civilization.

Bellaire “In West Philadelphia, born and raised, on a playground is where I spent most of my days …” If those lyrics don’t make you immediately think of the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” you probably didn’t grow up in the ‘90s. Will Smith’s character moves to the affluent California locale from Philadelphia to live with his rich relatives. Hilarious antics ensue. Bellaire, Michigan is a village located in Antrim County, boasting a cute shopping district and prolific brewery, Short’s, which is enough of a reason to skip Bel Air and head to Bellaire.

Berlin Michigan claims three Berlin townships, located in Monroe, St. Clair, and Ionia counties. With populations in the thousands, Michigan’s Berlins are tiny compared to Germany’s capital city, which has a population of 3.5 million people.

Beverly Hills The Village of Beverly Hills in Oakland County has about one-third the population of the more well-known Beverly Hills, California. Census data from 2010 shows the village at 10,267 residents to the California community’s 34,290. We blame Beverly Hills, 90210 for the ubiquity of the L.A. locale.

Bohemia A historical country of Central Europe, since 1993 this approximately 20,000-square-mile area forms much of today’s Czech Republic and is home to about 6 million people. Its Michigan counterpart, a township in Ontonagon County, is miniscule in comparison, with only 82 residents counted in the 2010 census.

China According to China Charter Township’s website, this approximately 3,500-person community is primarily residential and agricultural “offering the amenities of rural country living.” Depending on how much you like people, taking up residence in the St. Clair County township might be preferable to moving to the other China, the world’s most populous country with 1.35 billion people.

Christmas Imagine having to explain where you’re from if the answer is Christmas. Insert elf jokes, right? Still, the small Upper Peninsula town located in Alger County might have the last laugh. Local businesses have embraced the name, carrying out a holiday theme and making it a destination for holiday travelers.

Eden Two townships named Eden in Lake and Mason counties grace our fair state. We’ll let residents decide if they live up to their Biblical namesake.

Hell There’s no suffering going on in Hell, Michigan. The small community near Ann Arbor seems downright giddy about welcoming visitors, inviting them to send a postcard from Hell, get married in Hell, or purchase any number of souvenirs declaring they’ve been to Hell and back.

Holland West Michigan’s Holland definitely doesn’t shy away from its namesake. You’ll find windmills, wooden shoes, and an annual  Tulip Time festival that pay due homage to the Netherlands original.

London This Monroe County township doesn’t have a gov’nah, but rather a Supervisor and township board, like most townships. Okay, technically, neither does London, England. The capital city of England is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Moscow Russia’s capital city, Moscow, had the distinction of being home to the largest number of billionaire residents in the world in 2013 and is known as one of the world’s most expensive cities. The Hillsdale County township in Michigan was originally called Little Kalamazoo, according to their website. It is said the name Moscow was chosen by drawing it out of a hat!

Nashville According to this Barry County village’s website, Michigan’s Nashville was named after Garaudus Nash, chief engineer of the Grand River Valley Railroad in 1869. No word on whether or not there’s a happening country music scene there.

Paris Vive la différence between Michigan’s two Paris locales and the one you may have heard of in Europe. Huron and Mecosta counties both lay claim to a Paris, one a township and one a village, respectively. The romantic European dream destination is the capital of France, home to the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Louvre art museum.

Salem Thankfully, the two Michigan Salem townships in Allegan and Washtenaw counties don’t have nearly the storied history as Salem, Massachusetts, host to the famous late 17th-century witch trials.

Sidney The Fred Meijer Heartland Trail passes through Montcalm County’s Sidney Township, which is also home to Montcalm Community College. Sidney, Australia, is the country’s most populated city and home to cultural landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House.

Venice While the streets might not be waterways, residents of Shiawassee County’s Venice Township can get their float on in the county’s 120-mile Shiawassee River.

Wyoming The City of Wyoming, Michigan, is just south of Grand Rapids in Kent County and is home to over 70,000 residents. More people live in Wyoming, Michigan, than live in the state of Wyoming’s capital, Cheyenne. That city’s population is approximately 63,000 people.

We know this isn’t a comprehensive list of Michigan cities that could be confused for other places in the world. Add your hometowns to the list in the comments or let us know more about what life in the listed communities is really like!

Photo credit: suzanne chapman

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  1. Great story. I grew up in Wyoming, Michigan and my parents almost moved us to Alaska, Michigan. But, we moved to Caledonia, instead. And, as I travel all across the Midwest, I realize Caledonia is a popular town name. 🙂

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