Enjoy Northern Michigan waterfront dining at these restaurants serving bright-blue bay views and peaceful river scenes, from Mackinac Island to Traverse City and everywhere in between.
This article was updated in June 2020. Please check online or call ahead to view the restaurants’ updated hours or policies due to COVID-19.
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Mackinac Island | Cheboygan | Harbor Springs | Cross Village | Petoskey | Pellston | Walloon Lake | Bay Harbor | Charlevoix | Elk Rapids | Bellaire | Gaylord | Glen Arbor | Leland | Maple City | Omena | Traverse City | Frankfort | Elberta | Manistee | Ludington | Arcadia | Onekama | Cadillac
Old-World charm, piano bar. Regional menu: whitefish, filet mignon and seafood. BLD • BAR • $$$ 7260 MAIN ST., 906-847-3321
Centennial inn: Harborview Dining Room—with American cuisine. BLD • BAR • $$ The Pink Pony Bar & Grill—The island’s entertainment oasis—loud, bustling, with pastas and steaks. LD • BAR • $$ 7221 MAIN ST., 906-847-3341
The movie Somewhere in Time was filmed here. Boasts the world’s largest front porch. Enjoy views of the Straits of Mackinac from the Dining Room— BLD, Geranium Bar—B and Cupola Bar. ALL RESTAURANTS: BAR • $$-$$$ GRAND AVE., 906-847-3331.
Serving chicken pot pie, wood-grilled tuna, sirloin with horseradish sauce and grilled bananas. LD • BAR • $-$$ MAIN ST. AT STAR LINE DOCK. 906-847-9911
Bistro on the Greens—LD • BAR • $ Chianti—house-made Italian pastas LD • BAR • $$ The Round Island Bar & Grill–Burgers and sandwiches LD • BAR • $ Boxwood Coffeeshop & Cafe—crafted coffees, from-scratch baked goods BLD • $$ MAIN ST., 906-847-3000.
Refreshments with a view of the harbor and Straits of Mackinac. BL • BAR • $$ 906-847-3331.
Hikers on Black Mountain love settling in post-walkabout for the glorious view of East Twin Lake and freshly prepared trout, perch, quail, lobster and homemade bread with honey-walnut butter. D • BAR $$-$$$ 10621 TWIN LAKES RD., CHEBOYGAN, 231-625-9322
Classic 1894-era hunting and fishing lodge on the Cheboygan River near Mullett Lake specializes in steaks and seafood. Dock space and overnight slips. LD • BAR • $-$$$ 8131 BEEBE RD., CHEBOYGAN, 231-625-2919
Regional cuisine. Pointer Room—Fresh seafood. LD • BAR • $$ Dudley’s Deck—LD • BAR • $$ Chart Room—D • BAR • $$ 102 BAY ST., HARBOR SPRINGS, 526-6201.
On a bluff above the Big Lake, Stanley Smolak created this fieldstone, timber and driftwood landmark more than 75 years ago. Polish and American specialties, tree-stump seats. Garden dining, entertainment. LD • BAR • $$ 6425 LAKE SHORE DR. (M-119), CROSS VILLAGE, 231-526-2281.
Gracious 1886 inn with big veranda, glorious gardens and bay view, American fare. Sun. brunch. BLD • SF • $$-$$$ 2011 WOODLAND, PETOSKEY, 231-347-2771.
Circa-1899 hotel with wraparound front porch and killer views of Little Traverse Bay. LD • BAR • $$–$$$ CORNER OF BAY & LEWIS, PETOSKEY, 231-347-4000.
With views of the Maple River, this classic family dining establishment offers a bit of everything plus all-you-can-eat chicken dinners. D • BAR • $$-$$$ 6705 WOODLAND RD., PELLSTON, 231-539-8851.
Up North ambiance, two fireplaces and a view of the lake pair with big steaks, whitefish, ribs and lamb. D • BAR • SF • $$$ 7314 DOUGLAS LAKE RD., PELLSTON, 231-539-8588.
Specializes in slow-roasted meats, pizzas, Great Lakes fish and seasonal favorites. Indoor or outdoor seating and views of the lake. BLD • BAR • $$ 4069 M-75, WALLOON LAKE, 231-535-6000
Chef David Beier’s exceptional culinary skills play out in a century-old pine-paneled lakeside lodge. Find inspirational cuisine from France, Asia and the Mediterranean. D • BAR • $$-$$$ 4178 WEST ST., WALLOON LAKE VILLAGE, 231-535-2999
Contemporary sports and oyster bar perched on the Bay Harbor marina. LD • BAR • $-$$ 840 FRONT ST., BAY HARBOR, 231-439-2770
Nouveau Victorian inn with glorious Lake Michigan views and sophisticated gourmet fare. Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Live music on weekends. South American Grille and Wine Bar—Enjoy casual fare, a game of chess or a cocktail in this intimate leather-and-mahogany lounge. Live music on weekends. BLD • BAR • $$-$$$ THE INN AT BAY HARBOR, 3600 VILLAGE HARBOR DR., BAY HARBOR, 231-439-4000
Come by boat or car and watch the Ironton Ferry motor back and forth while you enjoy this lakeside favorite. LD • $, $$ • BAR • 10231 FERRY RD., CHARLEVOIX, 231.547.9063
Local fish, seafood and regional cuisine in a Hobbit-style Earl Young stone structure with massive fireplace overlooking the Pine River Channel. LD • BAR • $$ 106 PINE RIVER LN., CHARLEVOIX, 231.547.4311.
Gourmet meals offered to-go or eat-in, plus a wine bar. Not directly on the water, but the back deck has a beautiful view of the harbor. LD • BAR • $, $$ 152 RIVER ST., ELK RAPIDS, 231.264.9000
Craft beer, seafood and grill fare, plus a waterside deck overlooking Elk Lake. LD • $, $$ • BAR • 106 AMES ST., ELK RAPIDS, 231.264.0377
Pull up by boat or car and enjoy custom ground burgers, beer, and summertime sunsets on Torch Lake. LD • BAR • $-$$ 6340 OLD TORCH LAKE DR., BELLAIRE, 231-377-7777.
Lakeview—Regional cuisine, view of Lake Bellaire. BLD Ivan’s Mountainside Grill—Schuss Village. Pub food. BLD Weiskopf’s Grill—in the Lodge at Cedar River. BLD The River Bistro—chic appetizers and sandwiches, specialty sides, fresh-fruit cocktails, in a sophisticated setting that overlooks the golf course. D • BAR • $$ 1 SHANTY CREEK RD. (M-88), BELLAIRE, 800-678-4111.
Casual, Up Northy, with a lake view, steaks and seafood. LD • BAR • $–$$ 1535 OPAL LAKE RD., MICHAYWÉ, 989-939-8800.
The Hungry Fisherman offers home-cooked meals with a river view. Excellent trout, perch, homemade hash browns and apple dumplings. BLD • SF • $-$$ 471 STEPHAN BRIDGE RD., GRAYLING, 989-348-8462.
Exquisite regional cuisine from chef Randy Chamberlain in an intimate setting on Sleeping Bear Bay. D • BAR • $$-$$$ LAKE ST., GLEN ARBOR, 231-334-2530.
Fine family dining in a renovated lakeside inn. LD • BAR • $-$$ 7345 W. GLENMERE ROAD, GLEN LAKE AT THE NARROWS, 231-334-0150.
Eat pesto or shrimp Alfredo pizza on the banks of the river. Or grab a Thai salad or fresh wrap from the deli. LD • $ 6281 WESTERN AVE., GLEN ARBOR, 231-334-3876.
A mainstay for locals and boaters since 1927. Specialties: cinnamon rolls, whitefish, seafood, steak, pasta, creative ethnic feasts during the off-season. Sun. brunch. LD • BAR • SF • $$ 102 E. RIVER ST., LELAND, 231-256-9081.
Great deck with casual menu overlooking the river in Fishtown. Upscale dining inside. Open May–Oct. LD • BAR • $$ 111 RIVER ST., LELAND, 232-256-9834.
Come by boat or land to dine on creative dishes made with seasonal local ingredients in this handsome 100-year-old spot with a relaxing river vista. Award-winning Sun. brunch. D • BAR • SF • $$-$$$ 302 E. RIVER ST., LELAND, 231-256-9971.
Refined cuisine in a beautifully renovated, century-old farmhouse on Little Traverse Lake. D • BAR • $$-$$$ 149 E. HARBOR HWY., M-22, MAPLE CITY, 231-228-5060.
Fish and burgers in a modern, beachy pub perched over pretty Omena Bay. LD • BAR • $-$$ 5019 BAY SHORE DR. (M-22), OMENA, 231-386-7393.
Rough-hewn eatery affords a great bay view along with ribs, steak, pasta and salad. LD • BAR • $$ 13671 S. WEST BAY SHORE DR., TRAVERSE CITY, 947-7079.
Casually elegant spot with nautical-rustic decor, fireplace, fabulous view and great steaks, seafood, large local wine selection. Sunday brunch. D • BAR • $$-$$$ 14039 PENINSULA DR., TRAVERSE CITY, 231-223-4030.
A dazzling small-plate menu, sushi, steaks and burgs at a sophisticated hotspot on the river. LD • BAR • $-$$ 310 S. CASS ST., TRAVERSE CITY, 932-1310.
Aerie—16TH-floor panorama of East Bay and regional fine dining. Music on weekends. D • BAR • $$-$$$ Sweetwater American Bistro—BLD • SF • $$ The Clubhouse Grille—open seasonally, with steaks, chops and fish. D • BAR • $$ U.S. 31 N., ACME 534-6000.
Fine regional cuisine in a romantic, wood-paneled former lumber baron’s bayfront mansion with an extensive wine list, herb garden and wine-producing vineyards. D • BAR • SF • $$$ 13512 PENINSULA DR., TRAVERSE CITY, 231-223-4222.
The Bistro— Offering Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, our Continental American fusion cuisine features fresh and locally sourced meats and produce. BLD • BAR • $$$ The Patio—Beachside dining and entertainment. LD • BAR • $$$ 615 EAST FRONT ST., TRAVERSE CITY, 231-947-3700.
Whether you prefer an elegant dining experience or a casual drink on the patio, West End Tavern has it. LD • BAR • $$ 12719 S WEST BAY SHORE DR., TRAVERSE CITY, 231-943-2922
Fresh fare, friendly folks and fabulous views of Betise Lake. BLD • $$ • BAR • 727 MAIN ST., FRANKFORT, 231.399.0399
Asian delights like fiery curries and lettuce wraps (plus creative cocktails) served in a serene atmosphere on Frankfort’s main drag. BLD • $–$$ 300 MAIN ST., FRANKFORT, 231.352.4114.
Fine dining on the shore of Crystal Lake. The menu features Michigan farms and ranches, as well as sustainable seafood from around the globe. D • $$ • BAR • 1577 CRYSTAL DR., FRANKFORT, 231.399.0158
A rambling produce warehouse from the late 1800s is home to serene views, great suds, and superb eats like seared scallops, rack of lamb and Ritzcrusted walleye. D • $-$$ 198 FRANKFORT AVE., ELBERTA, 352-9843.
At the crook of Betsie Bay, find a classic fisherman’s bar with herbed, pan-fried perch and walleye, wet burritos, liver and onions, 8 rotating taps. LD • BAR • $-$$ 515 FRANKFORT AVE., ELBERTA, 352-9136.
New American cuisine, traditional fare and vegan/vegetarian options alongside the Manistee River. LD • BAR • $$, $$$ • 312 RIVER ST., MANISTEE
River Street Station
Cheers-esque, smoky burger-and ribs joint with a summer deck that affords an up-close view of the freighter action along the Manistee River. BLD • BAR • $-$$ 350 RIVER ST., MANISTEE
Flour and corn tortillas are made in-house every day, along with special seasoning blends, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and more. Waterfront views of the Manistee Channel. LD • BAR • $ • 344 RIVER ST., MANISTEE
While not directly on the water, the large back patio has beautiful views of Pere Marquette Lake and the marinas. LD • BAR • $, $$ • 410 S. JAMES ST., LUDINGTON
Located across from the city marina in Ludington, where anyone can enjoy a view of the boats entering and leaving the harbor. Dining is available either indoors or out. Dinner, cocktails and kid’s menu available. D • BAR • $$ • 502 W. LOOMIS ST., MANISTEE
The view of Lake Michigan’s the thing here, and the wine list is long. Get a spot on the deck, grab a glass and take it all in. Clubhouse dining room and deck. LD • BAR • SF• $$$ Sunset Grill—Casual dining. L • BAR • $ 14710 NORTHWOOD HWY., ARCADIA, 800-494-8666 OR 889-3001.
Casual dining, almond-battered shrimp and bleu cheese filet mignon, homemade desserts from Chris and Donna Short. Screen porch with water view. Gourmet lunch and Sunday brunch Memorial Day through Labor Day. LD • BAR • $–$$ 4604 MAIN ST., ONEKAMA, 889-3734.
Built by the same folks who did Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. Four-course dining in the off-season, themed buffets in summer, Sun. brunch and ethnic specials on Portage Lake. BL (Jun.–Aug.) • D • BAR • SF • $$ 8513 PORTAGE POINT RD., ONEKAMA, 889-4222.
A fine deck on Lake Mitchell. The hunt club–style restaurant features burgers, aged beef, fish and wild game. LD • BAR • $$ 301 S. LAKE MITCHELL, CADILLAC, 775-5332.
Passage North Grill—Stellar water and woods views plus American fare, Sun. brunch and sandwiches. BLD • BAR • $$ Curly’s Up North Bar & Grill—Casual bar food in a snug knotty-pine setting. Live entertainment. LD • BAR • $$ 7880 MACKINAW TRAIL, CADILLAC, 775-9947.