Start your summer right with a Northern Michigan vacation featuring locales, lodging and libations chosen from among 303 Red Hot Best winners voted on by thousands of our readers.

Take it easy in Benzie.

Book your stay at Chimney Corners Resort in Frankfort, a favorite mom-and-pop resort offering old-fashioned summer cottage rentals nestled among wooded hills and on the shores of Crystal Lake. Pick from beachfront or bluff cottages and take in scenic views from your private deck or patio. The resort’s 300 acres include plenty of wooded paths, or take the day to hike Arcadia Dunes, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s largest preserve, with more than 15 miles of trail. Stop by the Oliver Art Center in Frankfort afterward before catching dinner at The Fusion (Pan-Asian cuisine married with American flair) or Stormcloud Brewing Company (for Belgian-inspired Michigan-made brews).

City Park Grill; Photo by Carly Paszek

Peruse Petoskey.

If you’re in the mood for beach-strolling (um, yes, please!), find your perfect Michigan state stone at Petoskey State Park. For more rock-hounding fun, visit Grandpa Shorters, a gift shop known for Petoskey stone items. A trip to this coastal town isn’t complete without a stop at Crooked Tree Arts Center, where you’ll discover your next favorite Northern Michigan artist. Grab a bite to eat at City Park Grill or a cup of Joe at Roast and Toast. Stay in the heart of downtown at the historic Perry Hotel.

Spectate a (seriously fun) canoe race.

An endurance race favorite—for both athletes and fans—is the Au Sable Canoe Marathon, which starts in Grayling and ends in Oscoda, on the shores of Lake Huron. This year’s race starts at 9 p.m., July 28. Fuel up for all-night-long spectating at Paddle Hard Brewing. The fun of cheering on paddlers is finding access to the river in total darkness, and navigating among thousands of other super fans in order to get a glimpse of your favorite team. (Just think, no need to book a hotel for that night, so you save money on lodging!)

Grand Hotel; Photo by Kelly Rewa

Mark the Fourth on Mackinac.

For a small-town, supremely patriotic Fourth of July, take the ferry across the Straits to Mackinac Island, voted favorite island among Traverse Magazine readers. The ultimate historic lodging experience is found at the majestic Grand Hotel, of course, where special lodging packages for families feature things like an American Picnic at Fort Mackinac followed by fireworks, ice cream social and children’s programs. Don’t forget to watch the Fourth of July parade and annual stone-skipping tournament, held at 10 a.m. at Windermere Pointe Beach (next to Hotel Iroquois).

Did you miss Northern Michigan’s 2018 Red Hot Best winners? Find all 303 winners in the June issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine!

Northern Michigan Travel Ideas

Photo(s) by Taylor Brown