Surrounded by lakes – Bass, Pentwater and Lake Michigan – the village of Pentwater is a recreational dream. You can swim or boat or laze on the beach all day, then head into town for more fun. 

Start near the marina and work your way up. The gingerbread-decorated, wooden-floored shops, most dating to the late 1800’s, are packed with high-end beachwear, toys, trains, antiques, art, crafts and gifts.

At The Bitchen Kitchen/Chez Moi (320 South Hancock, 231-869-4522), owner Marty Rapp specializes in gourmet kitchen items, linens and handmade monogrammed bags. For unique home, garden and cottage accessories, stop at Gardeners Folly (119 South Hancock, 231-869-7773). Its attached sister store, Max & Chloe’s (231-869-8328) is filled with artsy hats, clothing, shoes and jewelry. Don’t leave before checking out artist Renee Berggren Connoy’s Studio RBC in the alley behind Good Stuffs (111 South Hancock, 231-869-5535), where you’ll want to round out your art browsing with a big, delicious Rueben made with home-roasted corned beef.

You’ll find more good eats at the Cottage Garden Café (40 Third Street, 231-869-8188) where the signature is breakfast and lunch with a fresh-food slant. At Village Café & Pub (347 South Hancock, 231-869-4626) the perch, steaks and patty melt come with a view of Pentwater Lake.

Pick up imported cheeses and a good bottle of vino from Durand Wine Company (161 South Hancock, 231-869-5520), which stocks fine cigars and more than 1,500 kinds of wine. And don’t miss the three-story Gustafson’s Gifts (189 South Hancock, 231-869-2231) with its vast collection of cottage-stockers like ceramics, candles, nautical items and lamps.

If it’s a Thursday evening in the summer, do as the folks of Pentwater do and head to the Village Green to hear the Pentwater Civic Band toot out classics from show tunes to Sousa. Now there’s a rousing end to a perfect Pentwater day.

Patty Lanoue Stearns is a freelancer based in Traverse City, Michigan.

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