Wander Charlevoix's Castle Farms

Start your adventure in downtown Charlevoix by snapping up picnic essentials at Scovie's Gourmet Deli & Bake Shop (111 Bridge St., 231-237-7827). The just-baked-today goodies here are fit for a queen – carrot cake, key lime pie, lemon bars and rich turtle brownies laced with fresh caramel. Pick your pleasure and a sandwich to-go; the Cool Runnings wrap is a thrill with Jamaican-jerk chicken, curry-mayo, coconut, oranges, celery, peanuts and Napa cabbage tossed in roasted sesame dressing.

With your picnic basket packed, drive south up Bridge Street and veer left onto M-66 toward East Jordan. A few miles up the road, the regal mien of Castle Farms (5052 N. M-66, 231-237-0884, castlefarms.com) looms to your left. The stone castle and barns here were once part of a 1,600-acre farm built by Albert Loeb, former president of Sears, Roebuck & Company. Since its creation in 1918, the farm has served widely varying purposes – dairy farm, storage facility, artists studio, rock concert hall and, now, backdrop for picturesque weddings, conventions and day trips like yours.

Enter at the King's Pavilion, where you can watch a quick film documenting Castle Farm's history and pick up a map for a self-guided tour. Wander the grounds as you please, making sure not to miss the 1918 Museum – stocked with WWI memorabilia and grainy photos of the original Loeb Farm – and the airy Queen's Courtyard, where you can pose like a princess next to the artesian spring-fed fountain. Your kids will love playing a game of oversized checkers in the gardens or getting lost in the Hedge Maze; when they finally work up an appetite, just plop down on a sunny spread of lawn with your picnic and let the feasting commence.

Emily Bingham is assistant editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. [email protected]

Note: This article was first published in May 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    My four-year-old’s eyes grew wide as we came around the corner from the north. All her dreams came true that day. We took the car ferry across and my daughter asked the captain where all the fairies were. He told her they liked to stay down below out of sight, smiling at her with a wry grin and a wink.

    The Castle wasn’t open to tours the day we went (Saturdays its booked for private weddings) but seeing all the brides and bridesmaid outside getting photos was enough to convince her that alot of princesses lived there.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone remember horseshows being held at Castle Farm? I remember old friends talking of going to a horse show at Castle Farm aka The Castle . They talked about what fun they had there and the unusual jumps they had there(Like jumping the horses over picnic tables) and swimming their horses in the lake. If anyone knows please let me know. Thank you G.T.