Chasing fairies, crafting in nature, paddling a pristine river—these three simple summer family outings will stoke your nostalgia and leave your little people smiling from Charlevoix to Glen Arbor.

This article first appeared in Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. Find this article and more when you explore our digital issue library. Want Traverse Magazine delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Paddle for Pudding in Glen Arbor

Glen Arbor’s first food truck, Fried, started slinging falafel and fried fish this summer along with chicken tenders and grilled cheese for kids. The real fan favorite, however, is the chocolate pudding. It’s downright decadent. Located between Crystal River Outfitters and Riverfront Deli, the food truck lot has several picnic tables so you can eat by the lazily flowing Crystal River, which we suggest you kayak first. You’ll start and end your adventure at the newly rebuilt Crystal River Outfitters, which re-opened this spring after a fire last August. The 4.5-mile paddle takes from two to three hours to complete, and “shooting the tube”— a culvert large enough for you and your kayak to fit through—is always a thrill.

Photo by Allison Jarrell

Photo by Allison Jarrell

Photo by Allison Jarrell

Related Read: 4 DIY Northern Michigan Souvenir Ideas from Photo to Pottery.

Create Art Outdoors in Thompsonville

Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain is offering drop-in art activities on Saturdays and select Sundays all summer long. Press wildflowers, write nature haikus, make a pine cone mobile and more. The mobiles can be taken home or added to the park’s large-scale community project called “The Pine Cone Forest” that will be on display through the fall. Art activities are free with paid admission (adults $5, children free). No reservations required.

Hunt for Fairies in Charlevoix

Tiny doors have been popping up around downtown Charlevoix. Gnome homes? Or fairy apartments perhaps? The 13 magical doors, with more to come from artist Kristi Jenkins, are hidden inside local shops. Go on a scavenger hunt and see how many you can find. The list of shops is online at charlevoixmi.gov. Search “tiny doors.”

Searching for more more fairy doors in Northern Michigan? Check out Alden’s dinky doors!

Alden Volunteers Dinky Doors

Photo by Alden Volunteers

Photo(s) by Angela Brown