Alma is a city in Central Michigan, nicknamed "Scotland, USA," and is the largest population center of Gratiot County, with 9,275 residents.
Its small-town atmosphere is ideal for people who are looking for safe neighborhoods and easy driving, yet its active community organizations still provide a vibrant calendar of events for people who enjoy theater, music, and other forms of entertainment. Alma's historic downtown district is located on Business US-127. Alma is famous for its annual Scottish-themed Alma Highland Festival & Games, held on the campus of Alma College, a prestigious 4-year private liberal arts institution founded in 1886. Both the City of Alma and Alma College have embraced a Scottish heritage. Another historic landmark, Masonic Pathways Senior Living Services has been located in Alma since 1911, and is also home to the Michigan Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. MidMichigan Health has a large presence in Alma, with its recently expanded Gratiot Medical Center.
Alma is served by both Greyhound and Indian Trails bus lines with connections to the larger metropolitan areas of Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Chicago. There is a local bus service known as Dial-A-Ride Transit (DART) that provides service throughout Alma and neighboring St. Louis.
The Great Lakes Central Railroad and Mid Michigan Railroad bisect Alma, used predominately for freight service. However, special passenger train tours have recently become a summer tourism attraction, transporting riders from as far south as Owosso, north to Mt. Pleasant or Cadillac and back. Often tours temporarily stop at Alma College, allowing riders to explore the Alma College campus and the downtown shopping district.
The Gratiot Community Airport, located 3 miles southwest of Alma, offers flight services to business, individual, and freight customers. The airport features a 5,000 ft east-west primary runway and a 3,200 ft north-south crosswind runway, capable of handling commercial aircraft and small jets. Three Point Aviation manages operations, including flight plans, aircraft maintenance, catering, and self-serve fueling.
The Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, a paved converted railroad line, connects Alma to the hamlets of Elwell and Riverdale to the west. It is expected that the trail will soon be completed between Riverdale and Edmore, which will make the trail one of the midwest's longest uninterrupted paved trails, reaching from Alma to Greenville. Area residents frequently utilize the trail for bicycling, jogging, walking, and inline skating.
The Pine River winds through Alma, connecting many hamlets and cities throughout the region that once depended on the river for industry. The occasionally narrow river is conducive to paddle sports and no-wake motor boating. The Bushwhacker Challenge is a major canoe challenge that takes paddlers up to 150 miles from Alma to Midland and back, connecting with the Chippewa River. A local livery, Pine River Outfitters, offers canoe, kayak, and pontoon rentals for tourists and area residents.
Dial-A-Ride Transit (DART) provides transportation service throughout Alma and neighboring St. Louis. Alma's 2.6-mile Riverwalk follows the Pine River, connecting the northeast and southwest corners of the city, also linking to the extensive Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, making Alma a exceptionally walkable community.
St. Mary Church, 510 N. Prospect Ave. (Immediately south of Wright Park.), ☎ 989-463-5370. Completed in 1970 by William Wesley Peters of Talesian Architects (Frank Lloyd Wright foundation); the church is a rounded building with sweeping conical towers. Enter off of Prospect Avenue if front doors are locked. Sunday and Daily Mass.(43.380443,-84.663863)edit
Pine River Outfitters Canoe Livery, 1010 Michigan Ave., ☎ 989-681-2559, . Offers canoes and pontoons for hourly or daily rental. Launch at Horse Creek, or get transported to/picked up from other spots along the Pine River.edit
Alma is "on the way" to many larger metropolitan destinations throughout the state. Following US-127 north will lead to Mt. Pleasant, and many northern Michigan communities before US-127 becomes I-75 near Grayling. I-75 continues north across the Mackinac Bridge to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, before ending in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. US-127 will take travelers south to Lansing, Jackson, and all the way to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
M-46 is an east-west highway that reaches from Muskegon on Michigan's West Coast, to Port Sanilac on the East Coast. Saginaw is a major city located 38 miles east of Alma on M-46.
Several other larger metropolitan areas can easily be reached from the highways that intersect Alma.