by Jill P and Robin B
Ernest Hemingway spent a couple dozen summers walking the streets and wandering the natural environs of Petoskey, Michigan. Today, this is still the perfect place to take a slow-paced vacation with your family! Enjoy the historic downtown, timeless lakeside, and exciting modern attractions you can find here.
The Petoskey area actually encompasses a number of resort communities along Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay – offering a wide variety of attractions from zip lining to river boat tours and more! Here are some great discover, dine, stay, and play ideas for your next trip to Petoskey, Michigan! If you want to experience history and make lifelong memories, don’t miss these fun opportunities.
We have yet to find a kid who doesn’t love chocolate! Everybody in the family will enjoy Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen, located on Bay View Road. They offer a FREE half-hour tour Monday-Friday between 10:00 am and 7:30 pm to learn how fine chocolates and other candies are made! For large groups call 231-347-7112 to make a reservation. We loved the tour so much we came back the next day and had ice cream! My children said this was the highlight of our trip.
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau
For a relaxing afternoon, visit Downtown Petoskey and check out some of its 170 shops. You’ll find everything from toy stores to art galleries. One of our favorites shops is the local bookstore, McLean and Eakin, where there is something for everyone in the family. Another store not to miss is Grandpa Shorter’s – offering unique gifts and of course Petoskey stones! Also, don’t forget to visit the Friday morning farmers market!
Tired feet? Make sure to hop on the Petoskey Downtown Trolley that runs during the summer months. The trolley makes stops at Stafford’s Perry Hotel, Bay View, Crooked Tree Arts Center and the Downtown Gazebo. Additional stops are at the Marina and at Magnus Park. The trolley ride takes about an hour and is FREE.
Since finding a Petoskey stone was on our agenda, we figured a boat tour was in order and The Pointer Boat was just the ticket! Several tours are offered daily (as well as evening tours). The Pointer Boat hugs the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay, offering up-close views of the landscape and cottages. Captain Dave shared lots of fascinating information about the area and even let our kids take the helm – definitely a highlight! We loved the fact that the tour was a little over an hour so the kids weren’t antsy. Note: The 12-seater water taxi doesn’t have a bathroom, so make sure to go before departing.
Located at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs – just across the bay from Petoskey, no more than a 15 minute drive.
102 E. Bay Street
Need some caffeine or a quick bite for lunch? Don’t miss the the vibrant Roast & Toast for a Latte or one of their housemade soups.
We had lunch at the Tap 30 Pourhouse and loved the open atmosphere – the service was quick and they offered a decent kid’s menu.
For a quick afternoon snack – check out the newly-opened Petoskey Pretzel Co. – offering delicious soft-baked pretzels with a wide array of dip options such as maple syrup or carmel dip. The shop is located on the walk to Bayfront Park so you can let the kids can play on the playground structure while you take in the views of Little Traverse Bay. Make sure to walk to the nearby breakwall in front of the City Marina for the best spot to find a Petoskey stone. We were in luck and found several on our hunt!
You’ll love the dockside dining available at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs. They offer great views of the harbor. After dinner, we strolled down the pier to check out all of the yacht’s.
Do you have pirate aficionados in your crew? You’re in luck! Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf is pretty much guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have at mini golf. This place is designed to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a 17th-Century pirate setting! You’ll even learn about real pirates as you play.
Take you family to the edge of civilization at Petoskey State Park. For a small entrance fee (or use the Michigan Activity Pass), you can wander the nature trails or even take a tour of the three lakes in the park. Another option is Magnus Park located in downtown Petoskey at the west end of West Lake Street.
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Just north of Harbor Springs is the iconic Tunnel of Trees on M-119. This stretch of road runs 20 miles along a spectacular bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. The narrow roads are bordered by the hardwood forest, thus the aptly named “tunnel”. There are a number of quaint stops along the way. We found Pond Hill Farm offering a little bit of everything from hiking trails to a café and winery/brewery for tasting. Our kids loved petting the farm animals and checking out the cool on-site playground. Make sure to walk to the top of the vineyard for spectacular views of Lake Michigan.
A biking excursion (there are several bike rental options available) allows you to take in the awesome views of Lake Michigan while riding the Little Traverse Wheelway. This paved 26-mile stretch leads through several parks as well as the scenic Bay View.
The Wheelway passes the Little Traverse History Museum. If you happen to be in the area on Tuesday afternoons, the Museum has a number of outside games and activities for kids to do on the front lawn. The museum is housed in the restored Pere Marquette train depot (admission is $3 for adults; children free).
There is no shortage of lodging options in the Petoskey region – resorts, vacation rentals, historic inn’s, camping and more. Located in the quaint village of Alanson on the historic Inland Waterway is Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge. This family-friendly resort is open year-round with an indoor pool, spacious rooms – most with balcony’s overlooking Crooked River. Our family enjoyed the number of free amenities on property that felt like a vacation in itself:
- Hike the Nature trail that is located at the north end of the property. Make sure to grab a map from the front desk
- Make use of the free paddle boats and kayaks
- Go fishing in the fish pond near the lagoon.
- Head out to the patio in the early evening to enjoy the fire pit
Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge
6845 US 31 N
Alanson, Michigan 49706
Another option in the heart of Petoskey is Hampton Inn & Suites. This hotel is located near all the things you’ll want to do while you’re in town, like the historic gaslight district and Little Traverse Bay. Or, consider the Apple Tree Inn “A Boutique Hotel” with stunning sunset views. The Inn offers complimentary adult bikes to check out the Little Traverse Wheelway and an indoor heated pool as some of its amenities. And, what child can resist the complimentary limousine ride that will have you riding in style in to Petoskey shopping & attractions.
For an extra-special experience, the Inn at Bay Harbor is a wonderful place to spend time with family. Enjoy some of the extra pleasures offered here, such as the kids club, great outdoor pool, free biking rentals, or the evening s’mores.
The Petoskey region is like a choose-your-own-adventure vacation with so many options. Make sure to check out the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau or their Facebook page to see everything the region has to offer and build your own itinerary. They truly have year-round family fun, making it the perfect getaway any time of the year!
Our hotel stay at Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge was hosted by Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, we thank them for their hospitality. All opinions are our own.