Fall in Love with Petoskey, MI
Petoskey, located in northwestern Michigan, is a short five-and-a-half hour drive from my home in North Central Ohio. Close enough that one would have thought I’d have heard the name Petoskey in passing at some point in my life. If I had, I certainly don’t remember but now that I’ve been to the Petoskey area, I’ll never forget it.
Surrounded by lush woods and sparkling waters, the quiet town offers a hometown atmosphere you don’t find everywhere. From checking in to my lodging to dining at the Morel Wine & Dine Festival to shopping in the historic Gaslight Shopping District, I felt as though I was among friends. Not just any friends, close friends who were eager to share everything they loved about the area in hopes that I would grow to love it too.
I arrived as the fog was rolling across Walloon Lake and checked into Elvyn Lea Lodge, a charming rustic property that caters to groups. Managed and owned by Michael and Monica Farrier, the property is a place to unplug, relax, and get in touch with nature. The wood paneled rooms are welcoming, with comfortable quilt covered beds with local photography adorning the walls. A Great Room with a fire pit becomes the perfect evening hub for guests, an ideal location to enjoy hor d’oeuvres and a glass of wine with friends. Outside exploration of the property leads to paths through an old growth forest. Walking along the nature trails painted with wildflowers, one almost expects to see a fairy or two; adding to the enchantment of the name Elvyn Lea.
Exploration of the area leads to further lessons in nature. Boyne City is the site of the National Morel Mushroom Festival, which celebrated 55 years during my visit. Featuring the National Mushroom Hunt, Morel cooking classes, carnival rides, music, and more, the magic of the morel extends beyond the festival to nearby restaurants who serve specialty dishes with the famous delicacy.
To the trained (and not so trained eye) the beach at Petoskey State Park becomes a treasure seeker paradise. Thanks to Nikki, from the Chamber of Commerce, I learned how to spot the famous Petoskey Stone, found only in Michigan. The stones are polished, cut, made into jewelry and sold in local boutiques.
The Little Traverse Wheelway connects city parks and Northern Michigan towns of Charlevoix, Bay Harbor, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs located along the Little Traverse Bay. The popular bike trail is over 23 miles in length and is part of a turn of the century trail.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample hiking, bird watching, boating, fishing, cycling, zip-lining, and skiing opportunities in and around Petoskey. Star gazers will enjoy a visit to the Headlands, home to a Dark Sky Park. With less than 20 of these parks worldwide, this park offers exceptional views of the night sky and provides visitors an opportunity to see the northern lights in March and September.
A stroll through Bay View will transport you back to a simpler time when people knew who lived next door, and the neighborhood kids played together from sunup to sundown. Second and third generation family’s call this Chautauqua community home five months out of the year. Properties are also available to rent for those looking for a laidback extended summer vacation.
The Gaslight Shopping District offers one of the premiere downtown shopping experiences in the country. With a store dedicated entirely to pampering your pet, to one of the top independent bookstores in the nation, to one of the last JC Penney’s still in operation in a downtown environment, this shopping mecca will have the most reluctant shopper swiping their plastic. I couldn’t help myself from shopping during my visit and bought home décor items and some tasty treats for my family at home.
Well-known author, Ernest Hemingway, spent every summer in Northern Michigan from the time he was born until he married in 1927. You can walk in his footsteps and sup where he drank. Dine at the City Park Grill, once called The Annex, where Hemingway is said to have penned notes for short stories he wrote about the area. I ate lunch at the restaurant/bar and thought it was phenomenal. The portions were huge, the service was great but my favorite part of the experience? The tasty biscuits that were served straight out of the oven. You can grab dessert at the restaurant, or head to Kilwins of Petoskey for a scoop, or two, of ice cream, or their legendary chocolates.
A few minutes from downtown Petoskey, you’ll find Maple Moon Sugarbush & Winery, the only winery in the country that makes and serves maple wine. This family-owned business utilizes nearly 5,000 maple trees from their property of 80 acres for the wine and Pure Michigan Maple Syrup they produce.
Mountain Grand Lodge at Boyne Mountain provides large, comfortable rooms in an Alpine Village-type setting. You’ll also find cabins and condo rentals available. Guests can eat, play, and relax on-site. Enjoy the day as you hike the trails, sun bathe by the outside pool, challenge your friends to a race on the dual zip line, or take the chairlift to the top of the mountain to take in the view. During the winter, guests can hit the slopes then relax in The Solace Spa, one of the best spas in the world. Michigan’s largest indoor water park, Avalanche Bay, is open year round and provides hours of fun in the 88,000 square-foot facility.
Petoskey, MI offers something for nearly every type of traveler. Nature enthusiasts, history buffs, avid shoppers, empty nesters, solo travelers, families, foodies, and adventure seekers- there’s something for everyone. Would you like to visit the area and fall in love with Petoskey, MI like I did? Visit the website for the Petoskey Area Visitors Center and request information. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
So what are you waiting for?
Disclosure: Special thanks to the Petoskey area CVB, attractions and lodging for hosting my stay and introducing me to the area.
© 2015 – 2016, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.