This summer, the MyNorth editorial team drove down to Manistee to explore the city. We checked out local shops and restaurants, visited the new Next Generation Learning Center, toured the Vogue Theatre and went fishing on Lake Michigan. It was an amazing trip! Here are a few highlights from the visit and our favorite things to do in Manistee.
The Victorian homes and buildings, blooming gardens and fountain are just a few of the photo opportunities you’ll find downtown. Bonus, parking is free!
Grab a Bite at The Fillmore
We fell in love with the modern, industrial vibe mixed with historical photos of Manistee. And the menu, well, let’s just say we wanted to try everything. A few of our favorites: the fish tacos, slow-smoked pulled pork nachos and the dirty blonde fries. Plus, they’ve got craft cocktails, beer, wine and espresso drinks. (The Fillmore also made our list of 11 restaurants to visit on a summer food adventure featured in Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine!)
Find awesome kitchen gear, eclectic home decor, Michigan-made gifts, collectible antiques and more right downtown. We picked out several items to feature in MyNorth’s annual Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide. Get your free copy this November! (You’ll also be able to find it online here.)
Chat with Little River Band Ogema Larry Romanelli
Managing Editor Lissa Edwards talked with Larry about the history of the Little River Band, a new business venture and the tribe’s recent accomplishments. Watch the video on Facebook.
Discover the Next Generation Learning Center
This new center offers affordable child care and early childhood education with onsite medical and dental services, tuition assistance, organic meals, indoor and outdoor playgrounds and classrooms, a greenhouse and so much more. Check it out!
See “The Shoe” at Snyder’s Shoes
Have you heard the tale about how this local shop became the owner of a shoe belonging to the world’s tallest man? As the story goes …
Robert Wadlow was born in Alton, Illinois on February 22, 1918. He grew at an astounding rate, reaching 6 feet tall and weighing 195 pounds by the time he was eight years old. When he turned 20 (now over 8 feet tall) he started visiting towns and shoe stores as a representative for the International Shoe Company, which made his size-37 shoes for free. While marching in a parade in Manistee (home to Synder’s Shoes), a blister on his foot got infected. He had an emergency surgery and blood transfusions, but the infection was fatal. He passed away on July 15, 1940. Synder’s Shoes has one of Robert’s shoes on display and a life-size statue of Robert. Ask the staff for the whole story!
Catch a Film at The Vogue
The Vogue is at the heart of an economic upswing in Manistee. The beautifully renovated theater is credited with bringing new businesses to downtown such as Famous Flynn’s, the Fillmore, Iron Works Cafe and the Daily Bakehouse, and several more are on the way! Read more about the economic ripple and see the theater’s future plans.
Picnic at the Little Manistee River Weir
Voyaging on, we found ourselves driving down a dirt road with our guide, Tim Ervin, who was kind enough to set up this trip for us. When we reached the parking lot of the Little Manistee River Weir we were greeted by Scott Heintzelman, a DNR officer, who chatted with us about the importance of the facility, which collects eggs from salmon and steelhead to populate the Great Lakes. It’s also a popular spot for tubing and kayaking because of the easy river access.
Grab Coffee at Ironworks Cafe
Ironworks is a massive 72,000-square-foot building currently functioning as a warehouse with a cafe up front serving farm to table dishes and coffee. It’s also home to a community garden and the Manistee Community Kitchen, which is a nonprofit organization working to end hunger and obesity in Manistee County.
After checking out the cafe area, we ventured into the warehouse where we couldn’t help chuckling in shock at the size of the facility. The space is available for rent or sale if someone has a good idea for what to do with it. For 30 minutes, seven of us stood in a circle tossing back ideas of what the place could be made into; residential apartments, a concert venue, a space for local vendors and greenhouses—it went on. The conclusion, we’re waiting for Elon Musk to come and give us the idea of a lifetime. (If you have an idea, though, give them a call.)
Book a Stay at Portage Point Resort
In 1903 an elegant inn opened on the shores of Portage Lake designed by the same firm as Mackinac Island’s iconic Grand Hotel. Steamships from Chicago would ferry vacationers to the sandy shore right out front. Over the years, the inn struggled and eventually went bankrupt. Now, the new owner plans to restore the resort’s luster, and the renovations are incredible. Take a look.
Fish the Big Lake
At the end of the day, Tim Ervin took us out on his boat for an evening of fishing on Lake Michigan. The water was calm and the fish were biting. It was a perfect way to end the day!
Find more awesome things to do in the free Benzie/Manistee Vacation Guide!