Have you ever been to Northern Michigan? Once you visit, you’ll always feel a pull to go back. The air is pure, the water crystal clear and something about spending a sumer vacation in small-town America just oozes relaxing charm. These are the travel tips I pass on to anyone visiting where I grew up. Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix are all towns which make the most of their Lake Michigan location. Each offers a glimpse into the past with candy colored Victorian cottages, historic downtown streets minus the modern day impersonal flash, and coastlines dotted with beaches and boats bobbling across the waves. All this makes a great spot for a summer vacation.
There are certainly more than five things you need to do when you visit Northern Michigan but I wanted to keep the list small. And please no twitter wars because I did not write about someone else’s choice regarding the area. If you want to add to the list you are welcome to in the comment section. These are what I do, every time I go back. Summer vacation in Northern Michigan is what a vacation is meant to be, a slower pace in a relaxed vibe, flip-flops, boat shoes and welcoming mindset are all you need. Leave the uptight whining for home. While these vintage postcards showcase a different era, the theme of Northern Michigan being a very special place still holds. The area was first settled for the abundance of timber and in short order progressed to a summer retreat for the uber wealthy. Plenty of trees remain and a handful of affluent types enjoy their anonymity without need for Jimmy Choos or paparazzi in this small slice a of paradise. Gone are the days of pretense.
I almost forgot, see the stones in the above picture? Those are Petoskey Stones. These shores of Lake Michigan is the only place in the world they exist. You might want to add rock hunting to your list.
Life is simple, your vacation can be simple. Pop a tent at the Petoskey State Park amongst the native terrain and explore sand dunes and an expansive sandy beach. Children happily frolic in the surf making sandcastles. Parked at the head of the bay, the waves here make for enjoyable body surfing. Or come by boat and picnic like the old days. The beach is easy, high heels stay home.
The food can be easy too from a simple sandwich on homemade bread, minus the frou frou names or endless strange options, from Gurney’s Bottle Shop in Harbor Springs. It comes with a pickle (a good garlicky kosher dill) in a nameless paper bag, add a pop, chips and walk on down to your personal picnic at water’s edge. This is my first stop when I go home, all for the same sandwich I’ve had since I was a teenager when, as a treat, I would walk downtown to buy my lunch. There is nothing like it.
A little less simple but not the least bit complicated is the American Spoon Cafe a sideline to their classic fruit preserves business. Bursting with local ingredients and inventive flavor combinations, this little cafe in Petoskey serves delectable options from morning until night.
Northern Michigan is a place to relax and unwind and just be. Enjoy the big lake or inland lakes, the woodland vistas, the architecture, the food and abundant fresh air. The drive between Harbor Springs and Cross Village is a fun jaunt too. Ask if you have questions, I’m happy to offer travel tips to my hometown as long as you promise to leave any city slicker attitudes at home. 🙂