Smack dab in the center of the snow belt that is Antrim County is the village of Bellaire, just two square miles, founded in 1879 by property owner Ambrose E. Palmer and many of the buildings from its historic heyday still stand. Bellaire has an antidote for any cabin fever that ails you. Itching to spread your wings and scream? Your remedy comes courtesy of Shanty Creek Resort (1 Shanty Creek Road, 800-678-4111). Fly down one of the twin mountains’ 49 downhill runs, take a 15 mph-plus spin down the tubing hill, or hit the 30K of Nordic ski trails.
If you’re hungry for a taste of summer, drop your line in a hole cut in the ice covering Lake Bellaire and yank out some perch, pike, trout or walleye.
Those less inclined to exert their food-chain status can commune with mink, otter, deer and snowshoe hare at the 1,164-acre Grass River Natural Area (6500 Alden Highway, 231-533-8314). Showshoers can approximate the hare with a hop along the one-mile footpath that follows Finch Creek; X-C skiers can swoosh down nearly 2 miles of groomed, tree-lined trails and access a 4-mile-long rail trail.
When the Great Indoors beckon again, soul-warming spots abound in this wee village. In the alley with most every local at Bellaire Lanes and Lounge (4800 S. M-88, 231-533-8413); on the greens at indoor putt-putt and pizza hub, PaPa K’s (201 S. Division, 231-533-6844); next to the fireside at North Perk coffee and wine shop (113 N. Bridge, 231-533-5540); over bubbling fondue pots – one cheese, one chocolate – at Lulu’s Bistro (213 N. Bridge St., Bellaire. 231-533-5252) on Sunday nights; and under the stage lights at Short’s Brewing Co. (121 N. Bridge, 533-6622) – where open-to-all acoustic jams rock your Sunday nights, an open mic makes Tuesday nights sing, and phenomenal beer is on tap every night but Thursday, the one night Short’s pub is closed.
Stay the NightGrand Victorian Inn B&B, rated one of top 10 romantic inns in America, 231-533-6111 or grandvictorian.com.
Bellaire Bed and Breakfast, Arrington’s 12th best overall B&B in America 2006, 231-533-6077 or bellairebandb.com.
Stone Waters Inn, family-friendly inn downtown on the river, 231-533-6131 or stonewatersinn.com.
Lynda Twardowski is travel editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine[email protected]
Note: This article was originally published in February 2007 and was updated for the web February 2008.