The Best Weekend Trips in Northern Michigan

Over 11,000 people voted in Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine’s Red Hot Best list. We’ve combed through the results and put together four fantastic Northern Michigan vacation weekends featuring the winners voted the best in Northern Michigan hotels, Northern Michigan restaurants, attractions and more. Enjoy working your way through the list!

Romance: Mackinac Island

Take the “best boat you buy a ticket for” (winner Shepler’s Mackinac Ferry or finalist Arnold Line) to the best island, Mackinac Island, a finalist for best tract of protected land. Then look for the most elegant carriage at the dock; that’s your ride to the Grand Hotel—our clear reader favorite for the Northern Michigan’s most romantic hotel. Book a Straits-facing suite, watch the sun rise over the water, and know why the Grand also topped the list for best hotel view. Romantic is the whole island this month as thousands of lilacs perfume the island and paint it every shade of lavender. A formal multi-course dinner is included in your Grand Hotel stay. But do venture out for an after-dinner pink drink—a legendary Rum Runner—at the patio of the Pink Pony, a finalist for most happening happy hour.


Family time: Traverse City

Book the Wolf Den at the Great Wolf Lodge (winner “best hotel stay with kids”), and not only will kids memorably sleep and play in the in-room cave, entertainment is covered by the free passes to the indoor water park. Swimming makes everyone hungry, so head to Bubba’s, winner of both best burger and best children’s menu; favorites like their cheese quesadillas run just $3. On funky weather days, explore the Great Lakes Children’s Museum or take in a 25-cent Saturday matinee at the beautifully restored State Theatre. Any other time, take to the bay on a $15 kids cruise on the Nauti-Cat (another boating finalist). Everyone can help raise the sails and Hula-hoop to Disney Tunes on deck.


Girlfriend Getaway: Glen Arbor/Empire

Glen Arbor’s Homestead Resort topped the list for best view from a ski run; fortuitously, you can score that same panoramic Lake Michigan view from your roomy condo or the bluff-top spa that offers a sunset happy hour. Sign up for endurance event favorite, the M-22 Challenge, or leisurely bike the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail connecting Glen Arbor to the Glen Haven beach and popular Dune Climb. Beach hopping’s a must: all three reader-favorite stretches of sand are within a short drive. Beach-winner Empire (readers say) is where you’ll want to try a stand-up paddleboard, available for rent at Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak. Catch up on each other’s lives on a sunset stroll to best-view favorites Pyramid Point and Sleeping Bear Dunes, or en route to the “best place to find a handbag”—Haystacks, in Glen Arbor. Hungry? Try the chart-topping chicken jalapeno soup at Glen Arbor’s Art’s Tavern, also a finalist for best neighborhood bar.


The Hunt: Petoskey

The most memorable getaway often starts with a quest, and Petoskey State Park topped other beaches by several hundred votes as best place to take your hunt for the elusive Petoskey stone. Other hunts are artfully done here too, at say, Crooked Tree Arts Center (a best gallery finalist), Grandpa Shorter’s (a best gift shop finalist) or Mackinaw Trail Winery (a runner up by just one vote for best new wine tasting room). But your favorite hunt might be for best beach read, and you’ll find plenty at best independent bookstore winner Horizon and finalist McLean and Eakin, both located within a best neighborhood shopping district finalist that boasts some 77 one-of-a-kind shops.

This article was featured in the June 2013 issue of Traverse Magazine—subscribe today!