PetoskeyCharles Hershberger Inn at Bay Harbor
The Inn at Bay Harbor quickly became one of Michigan’s premier resort destinations upon opening in 1998, a reputation due in part to the staff’s attention to detail and a concierge team ready with the answers. Here’s a sampling of concierge Charles Hershberger’s recommendations for fun in the Petoskey region. 800-462-6963, innatbayharbor.com.
Raven Hill Discovery CenterNorthern Michigan is a family-friendly vacation and Hershberger finds himself relying on this natural science and art center to help families have fun on rainy days. Find art projects, a museum, trails on site and a kid-savvy staff. East Jordan, 231-536-3369, ravenhilldiscoverycenter.org.
Little Traverse WheelwayRunning from Harbor Springs to Petoskey and on to Charlevoix, the 26-mile-long paved bike trail travels right past the Bay Harbor gate, allowing Hershberger’s guests easy access to one of Michigan’s premier cycling trails. Some groups rent several bikes from Petoskey’s Bahnhof Sport (800-253-7078, banhof.com) and keep them at the inn.
Tunnel of TreesFor guests with a free afternoon, Hershberger suggests a driving tour along M-119 north of Harbor Springs. Officially designated a historic highway, the narrow, twisting byway shrouded in trees forces a relaxed pace and offers divine diversions. Stops at Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, Legs Inn in Cross Village and the Good Hart General Store have become part of Michigan travel lore. 231-526-7999, harborspringschamber.com.
Traverse CityRalph Kennedy Park Place Hotel
Rising 10 stories at the base of West Grand Traverse Bay – and from the heart of downtown Traverse City – the Park Place has been an icon of Up North travel for more than a hundred years. Front-of-the-house man Ralph Kennedy says he knows he can always count on these three suggestions to please guests looking for activity in the region. 231-946-5000, park-place-hotel.com.
Downtown TC With one of the state’s premier small downtown’s just a block away, Kennedy is quick to suggest spending time in the restaurants and shops within walking distance. Looking for an even more relaxing pastime? Kennedy suggests the beach, two blocks away. 231-922-2050, downtowntc.com.
Old Mission Lighthouse Americans still love an evening drive, so Kennedy often recommends a trip to the lighthouse at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula. A state park with miles of beach lets guests settle into the sand for a sunset. oldmission.com.
Wine tours With 18 local wineries (and growing), Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula have fast become a wine destination travel spot, and meeting goers have taken notice. lpwines.com, wineriesofoldmission.com.
CadillacTricia Yaklin McGuire’s Resort
McGuire’s Resort likes to bill itself as the closest Up North resort for downstate travelers, and concierge tips from Tricia Yaklin prove the point: a solid dose of the North Country vibe that everyone coming North craves. 800-634-7302, mcguiresresort.com.
The lakesWith Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell a stone’s throw from the resort, Yaklin often steers visitors to boat rentals at Laura Lee’s Landing. Fishermen can explore 3,700 acres of some of Michigan’s best angling – walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and panfish. And Laura Lee’s pontoon boats can ferry people who want nothing more than to putt-putt in the glow of sunset on the water. 231-775-2648, lauraleeslanding.com.
Lake Cadillac Bike PathThis seven-mile pathway skirts Lake Cadillac and is the perfect place to run, walk or bike the circumference. Cyclists looking for a few more miles can add on a trip around Lake Mitchell – 11 miles – for an 18-miler. Find bike rentals at McLain Cycle and Fitness. 231-775-6161, mclaincycle.com.
Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing CenterNear the shore of Lake Mitchell, this center run by the Department of Natural Resources offers an auditorium, natural resource museum and hikes on 2.5 miles of easy trails. Visitors can drop by the center and just enjoy the nature exhibits on a walk-in basis. The center is named after the founder of the Michigan Conservation Foundation. At William Mitchell State Park, 6093 East M-115, 231-779-1321.
FrankfortLesley Perkins Betsie Bay Inn
Right in downtown Frankfort and just blocks from a sprawling Lake Michigan beach and pier, Betsie Bay Inn is perfect for anyone looking for a quiet place close to some of Michigan’s finest natural wonders. Owner Lesley Perkins, a Scot by birth, runs the inn with her husband. She shares some of her A-list recommendations. 231-352-8090, betsiebayinn.com.
Old Indian TrailAbout 3.5 miles of mostly gentle trail that leads to a secluded Lake Michigan beach. The trail makes a superb place for re-energizing (walk or run, but no bikes). The trail lies just north of Frankfort on M-22 and is within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 231-326-5134, sleepingbeardunes.com.
Point Betsie LighthouseLocals say the Point Betsie Lighthouse is the second-most photographed lighthouse in America – accurate or not, the lighthouse is without doubt postcard and worthy of a visit. The light is just a 10-minute drive north of Frankfort, so its a perfect spot to catch quintessential sunsets and wander miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. 231-352-4915, pointbetsie.org.
Frankfort’s downtownEveryone is taken with the walkability of Frankfort’s downtown. Right out the front door of Betsie Bay Inn, visitors find shops stocked with curious antiques, smart home decor items, gourmet food and more. Docks are packed with charter fishing boats (another great group thing, by the way), and the Lake Michigan beach begins where the street ends. 231-352-7257, frankfort-elberta.com.
Jeff Smith is editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.[email protected]
Note: This article was originally published in March 2008.