10 Reasons to Love Charlevoix and Chain of Lakes

1. Stone Circle: Listen by bonfire as host Terry Wooten and bards share tall tales, ghost stories and poetry under the stars. Fridays and Saturdays during summer; 10 minutes north of Elk Rapids, look for a sign on the east side of U.S. 31. 231-264-9467.

2. Alden Mill House: A foodie’s dream come true – lip-smacking dips, dressings, marinades, spices, dehydrated soup mixes and kitchen doodads for every culinary occasion. Open May through December. 231-331-4711 or aldenmillhouse.net.

3. John Cross Fisheries: This 60-year-old Charlevoix establishment dishes up fresh fish daily – check the chalkboard for options. Cooking tips and ice packing for your purchase is always available, no charge, from the friendly staff. 231-547-2532.

4. Avalanche Bay Water Park: Slide, float and surf at Michigan’s largest indoor water park – attached to the Mountain Grand Lodge at Boyne Mountain. 800-GO-BOYNE or avalanchebay.com.

5. Lulu’s Fondue Night: Find your way to this decadent dinner featuring bite-sized delicacies dipped into bubbling cheese, and dessert of teensy cake and fruit pieces served with melted chocolate. Glorious. Sunday nights in Bellaire. 231-533-5252.

6. Castle Farms: Tour this magnificent last-century stone chateau, then play croquet and giant chess or lawn bowl on the beautiful grounds. Bring along a picnic if you like. Tours are noon-4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Memorial through Labor Day. 231-237-0884 or castlefarms.com.

7. Beaver Island: A 2 1/2-hour boat ride opens up an island’s rich past and lush forests. Stop at the Mormon Print Shop and the Marine Museum for a dose of quirky history, or head into the heart of the island for hiking and camping. beaverisland.org.

8. Alden’s Evening Stroll: Open-air music, sweet desserts, shopping and sidewalk entertainment make this Torch Lake burg the place to be on summertime Thursday nights. aldenmichigan.com.

9. Earl Young Hobbit House Tour: Mushroom-capped stone cottages sprinkled throughout quiet Charlevoix neighborhoods make for enchanting sight-seeing by car. Tour maps available at Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce. 231-547-2101.

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10. Jordan River Pathway: Vistas of hills, wetlands and forest unfurl along this 18-mile hiking trail loop through the Jordan River Valley. Find the trailhead – and a jaw-dropping view – off Dead Man’s Hill Road, just south of the M-32 and U.S. 31 junction.

Emily Bingham is assitant editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine. [email protected]

Note: This article was first published in May 2006, and was updated for the web February 2008.

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