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PETOSKEY / HARBOR SPRINGS, MICHIGAN
In 1873, George Gage, a Grand Rapids reporter, described
Petoskey as “the land of the million-dollar sunsets”.
Not much has changed since then.
The beautiful Little Traverse Bay outlines the town and its
nearby neighbors – trendy Harbor Springs and exclusive
Bay Harbor – with ocean-like views and sunsets hard
to match anywhere along the Great Lakes.
It doesn’t take long to criss-cross the downtown streets,
packed with plenty of great shops and inviting restaurants
to explore. In fact, the area has flourished as a summer resort
town since the late 1800s. It expanded its popularity in the
late 1940s by becoming a winter skiing destination.
Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Petoskey and surrounding towns
in his younger years, was said to have been a regular at the
City Park Grill, which is just a block from Pennsylvania Park.
The Grill features a turn-of-the-century atmosphere, with
a hand-carved black walnut, cherry and hickory bar, tin ceilings,
and good food at reasonable prices.
When out-of-towners stop at the local visitors bureau office,
they can pick up the helpful walking tour and shopping-and-dining
guides to plot their adventures and to learn about other area
hangouts, such as the Bistro, a popular breakfast spot for
It’s easy to get around this welcoming community of
6,100 residents. The easy-to-follow walking tour brochure
highlights the historic structures and briefly explains their
Culture buffs will want to swing by the Crooked Tree Arts
Center on Mitchell Street, which recently wrapped up a $4
million restoration. The center features works of art, music
studios, a pottery lab, and performances throughout the year.
A Sculpture Invitational runs through September 24 and every
fall (October 4 through November 4), the 114-year old Victorian
structure presents an intriguing Native American Anishnaabe
“Most of the buildings you see during the walking tour
were constructed during the 1870s through 1930s, when the
Victorian style of architecture was popular”, says the
executive director of the Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Boyne
Country Visitors Bureau.
In addition to the historic stops, there are dozens of galleries,
antique shops, specialty stores and boutiques. Time is well
spent browsing at Symons General Store and Grandpa Shorter’s
Gifts. If the weather is good, there are concerts in Pennsylvania
Park on Tuesdays and Fridays. Visitors can stroll the picturesque
waterfront, wander through the History Museum in the old railroad
depot and take the pedestrian tunnel (under the main highway
that skirts the town) to Bayfront Park.
“Petoskey means concerts in the park and walks on the
waterfront with the kids to watch the sunset, followed with
a round of ice cream cones” says a member of the local
chamber of commerce. “Petoskey is the hub of Little
Traverse Bay, yet offers the peaceful serenity of just being
in one of the most beautiful spots on the Great Lakes.”
Come late January, more than 250 tons of thick block-ice
transform Bay Harbor into a glistening wonderland of ice sculptures
during the Bay Harbor Ice Festival. Complemented by a hot
and spicy Chili Cook-off.
You can’t say Petoskey without mentioning morel mushrooms
and the fascinatingly patterned Petoskey stones. Both are
elusive but plentiful for the dedicated hunter. Hundreds make
a pilgrimage to local forests to find mushrooms, especially
during the 44-year-old National Morel Mushroom Festival in
May. The area’s many public beaches dot the beautiful
Little Traverse Bay coastline, from the sands of tony Harbor
Springs to the waters west of Bay Harbor. Or head north on
M-119 through the famous Tunnel of Trees route for a few miles
to quieter sunning spots in tiny Good Hart.
Be sure to pack the golf clubs or skis, too, as there are
almost as many golf holes and ski runs as there are boat slips.
And the area fall color tours are exceptional. Boyne Highlands
in Harbor Springs serves up excellent fall golf and winter
A quick drive to the east along U.S. Highway 31, the main
road through town, is Bay View, a Chataqua community of 500
Victorian structures founded in 1875. The area is a national
historic landmark. Guests are encouraged to tour, dine at
the inns, and enjoy the cultural events.
Victorian charm is abundant in this corner of northwest Michigan.
Once you’ve seen the sites, explore the hiking and
biking trails or tee off at any one of the 20 nearby public
golf courses. It is difficult to poke into every nook and
cranny in one day, but visitors can experience a pleasant
acquaintance with what was once the Bear River area when the
missionaries first arrived in 1852. The village was later
named Petoskey in honor of an American Indian named Pet-o-se-ga
and, in 1895, the town was officially incorporated.
While there are a variety of options for an evening meal
at the Perry Stafford’s restaurant or others in town,
a new popular hot spot a few miles away is Latitude at nearby
Bay Harbor. Two other recommended restaurants are the Rowe
Inn and Tapawingo, both about 45 minutes away in Ellsworth.
The area’s newest community, this year marking its
10 th anniversary, is Bay Harbor, just west of Petoskey along
U.S. 31. The development meanders more than five miles along
the Little Traverse Bay shoreline and has become a destination
for those seeking the good life.
In the Village of Bay Harbor, there are upscale shops ranging
from fine clothing and jewelry to impressive art and yachts.
Bay Harbor is also home to the spectacular 27-hole Bay Harbor
Golf Club. Golf magazine ranked the three nine-hole courses
among the top eight public courses in the United States in
the club’s first season.
Petoskey certainly is upscale and can be expensive (just
check the real estate), but there is plenty to see and do.
Shopkeepers are polite and friendly even when you don’t
buy, and the general surroundings will make you glad you came,
say local community leaders.
“It is what hasn’t changed here that is our lure.
This is small town America at its best,” says a local
The owner of a major specialty food store chain, adds: “I’m
like a lot of people. We all come here as children and fall
in love with Petoskey. It becomes part of our psyche. Then,
after living somewhere else for a while, you say to yourself,
‘I’m not happy here – where was I happy?’
and pretty soon you’re back.”
Management's exclusive properties are within ½ hour to ½ days
drive of 38 scenic lighthouses.
JRD is Your Michigan Gold Coast
Connection for Exclusive Vacation Rentals.
and photography is becoming one of the premier trips in the
are 106 total lighthouses in Michigan alone, one of the most
prolific locations of lighthouses anywhere in the world.
Whitefish Point is Michigan's
most famous light station. It's a 2-hour drive from JRD
Management's exclusive Harbor Springs/Petoskey rentals.
First established in 1849, the current Whitefish Point Lighthouse
dates back to restoration in 1861. The significant restoration
in 1920 upgraded the keepers quarters during the tenure of the
Endress family, the most notable keepers of the light station.
In recognition of a significant
number of visitors to the JRD properties being lighthouse hobbyists,
we can advise you on potential lighthouse visits, trip mapping,
and a complimentary $14.95 lighthouse souvenir are available
specific information on the lighthouses in proximity to the
½ day or less proximity to the JRD properties, you can go to
on the "Order Form to make your
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