Northern Michigan Vacation: Relaxing is a vacation art, worthy of practice. Where better to rehearse than on a classic, big and breezy porch—complete with absorbing novel, classic board game and tall glass of something tasty on ice. At these getaways, the art’s been perfected over a century or so.

Stafford’s Bay View Inn

This gingerbread beauty in Petoskey’s historic Bay View district has much to boast about, but come sunset, there’s no better place to be than on its Reed Avenue porch. The wicker rockers and couch are great for cuddling as the sun sinks into Little Traverse Bay. Checkers and croquet are the games of choice but are given a modern twist with the Pomegranate Cosmo, a popular addition to this summer’s drink menu. The Summer Memories Package—four nights lodging, one dinner for two at the inn and two ferry tickets to Mackinac Island ($575) ensures porch practice time. 231.347.2771;

Grand Hotel–Grandest of them all

Be it with a cup of Earl Grey during high tea or a special Veuve Clicquot cocktail created especially for this summer’s 125th anniversary, everyone should (at some point) spring for the $10 hotel access fee and sit in a white Grand Hotel rocker. Relax high above the Straits of Mackinac, and toast to the history of the Grand and what claims to be the world’s longest porch—660 feet of geranium-scented beauty.

Hexagon House

Two porches—one ground level, one above, connected by the original spiral staircase—wrap around all six sides of Pentwater’s Hexagon House, for a grand total of 4,000 square feet of space-for-the-lounging. Each of the inn’s five guest rooms opens onto the wide veranda, but booking the Cottage Rose Suite secures time in the antique wicker swing, ideally with a borrowed book from the staircase library nook. Everyone gets porch time come breakfast, when offerings like stuffed croissant French toast with triple berry syrup are served with a view. Fun fact: Two porch posts (for reasons nobody seems to know) were intentionally installed upside down. 231.869.4102;

Hillside Homestead

This inn’s simple Victorian farmhouse porch is long and narrow, just right to hold the old-fashioned swing that faces nearby vineyards and orchards and offers the occasional entertainment of heritage chickens and pigs at play. A stay here is as authentic as it comes since owner Susan Odom’s specialty is period-correct cooking. Just sip your Raspberry “Shrub” before reading the recipe. The mix of mashed raspberries, vinegar and sugar is said by The New Buckeye Cookbook of 1883 to be “notably good in sickness, particularly fevers.” 231.271.1131;

Watervale Inn

With all the card playing, tale telling and cocktail sharing on the wide, lake-view porch of the Watervale Inn lodge, no one’s complaining about the lack of Wi-Fi or TV. Simple pleasures are emphasized, and intentionally so, at this circa 1917 inn that still runs on the American plan. Those in the know arrive early and stay late for the 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. meal sittings, knowing the pre- and post-meal porch gatherings are where the action is. Most of the cottages, all once family homes for Arcadia lumberjacks, boast of their own distinct porches, too. 231.352.9083;

This article was first featured in August 2012 Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. Order your copy today!