Bay Harbor Northern Michigan
Request Free Magazine

Discovering a summer playground in and around Northern Michigan resort area

They came by the thousands every summer.

Wealthy city dwellers from Chicago and cities as far as the East Coast traveled to Northern Michigan to escape the choking smoke, stifling heat and industrial grit plaguing urban areas at the end of the 19th century. Lake steamers docked along Little Traverse Bay, south of the Straits of Mackinac, and when the railroad arrived in 1873 the population of the tiny town of Petoskey took off. By the turn of the last century it had grown to 6,000 full-time inhabitants, swelling to 125,000 in the summer as trains unloaded as many as 5,000 passengers a day.

And they’re still coming.

The preferred mode of transport isn’t a boat or train these days, but the family auto loaded with golf clubs, beach blankets and other gear needed for a summer getaway in one of Northern Michigan’s most popular resort areas.

While the epicenter lies in Petoskey, this vacation playground encompasses a cluster of resort communities, some still sporting their Victorian roots in graceful mansions and grand hotels, others showing off modern resort amenities.

Take Bay Harbor, for instance. This luxury community sits on the site of a cement factory that churned out 80 percent of the concrete in the Mackinac Bridge. The factory came down in 1995 in what was the nation’s largest land reclamation project at the time. Up went a yacht club and marina, upscale shops and restaurants, and the Bay Harbor Golf Club, one of the top three public courses in Michigan. The Inn at Bay Harbor, part of Marriott’s prestigious Autograph Collection, looks like a grand Victorian hotel sprawled along the shoreline, but it and its rental cottages sit squarely in the 21st century. Travel & Leisure magazine lists it among the top 500 hotels in the world.

On the opposite shore of Little Traverse Bay, Harbor Springs dates back more than a century. This old-money community, built by the captains of industry back in the day, remains an affluent enclave. Its private neighborhood on Harbor Point is so exclusive, motorized vehicles are banned. Even in this day and age anyone permitted onto the point must take a horse and carriage. In Harbor Springs’ small downtown the hoi polloi are welcome to browse the shops but won’t be grabbing lunch at a fast-food restaurant — they’re not allowed.

Petoskey’s larger downtown takes a step back in time at its Gaslight Shopping District where real gaslights illuminate summer nights. Independent shops and boutiques beckon, including the Rocking Horse Toy Company, Symons General Store housed in the town’s oldest brick building, and Ward & Eis Gallery where the fine handicrafts of Native American artisans figure prominently in displays. The gallery gives a portion of its sales to local charities.

Just one of 20 of Petoskey’s grand old hotels still stands a short walk away. Stafford’s Perry Hotel dates from 1899, but its 79 rooms have been updated with such modern amenities as air conditioning and Wi-Fi. An old-fashioned trolley departs from the hotel on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in summer for free tours of Petoskey with a stop at Bay View a few miles east of town.

Chautauquas, those traveling shows and cultural assemblies that were all the rage in the 19th century, live on in Bay View. Founded in 1875 as a Methodist campsite, the community’s 440 Victorian cottages make it a National Historic Landmark. Visitors take self-guided walking tours to admire these colorful painted ladies. Two museums open to the public during the summer when the Bay View Association hosts its music festival and program of lectures, concerts and adult education classes. The eight-week season includes music from classical to pops, jazz to opera with the musical “Pippin” and opera “Carmen” on the program this summer.

Of course, summer means trips to the beach and in the Petoskey area vacationers divide their time between lolling in the sand and hunting for Petoskey stones. Michigan’s official state stone looks like the surface of the moon in miniature, but the circles on its surface aren’t craters, but bits of fossilized coral. One of the best places to search for them is the 1,000 feet of Little Traverse Bay shoreline at Magnus City Park Beach, walking distance from downtown Petoskey.

Visitors who leave Little Traverse Bay behind for other forms of recreation find a pair of ski resorts, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, that turn to horseback riding, hiking, biking and, of course, golf in summer. Michigan tops the nation in numbers of golf courses and more than half in northwest Michigan have a PGA slope rating of 120 or above.

Visitors who’d prefer to take in the scenery on a drive rather than walk a fairway head into the countryside. They might motor along Walloon Lake where Ernest Hemingway spent much of his boyhood in a summer home still in the author’s family. An old-fashioned general store in nearby Horton Bay has memorabilia related to the novelist, a frequent customer.

Up the road, Lavender Hill Farm makes a worthwhile stop in July and early August when its 25 varieties of lavender usually reach full bloom.
Guests tour the grounds, walk a seven-circuit labyrinth, sip lavender lemonade and enjoy scoops of lavender ice cream. The gift shop stocks all manner of lavender items, including essential oil made with a still on site. During Fridays on the Farm, through Aug. 25, visitors can try their hand at making a lavender handicraft and enjoy live musical performances on Friday, Aug. 4.

A drive along Lake Charlevoix ends in the city of Charlevoix on Lake Michigan. Among its claims to fame are the Hobbit-like Earl Young houses. A brochure from the Chamber of Commerce takes travelers past about two dozen of these distinct buildings dubbed “mushroom houses” for their undulating lines, curvy cedar shake roofs and rustic stone walls. Young studied architecture in college for just one year before moving on to a 60-year career in real estate, designing the whimsical homes on the side. Most date from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Drivers on the main route through town can’t help but notice the petunias lining the roadside. When the weather warms in late spring between 800 and 1,000 Charlevoix residents launch Operation Petunia. In just a few hours they put 70,000 of the plants into the ground along five miles of U.S. Route 31. The idea grew out of a 1982 beautification campaign and enthusiasm for it shows no sign of wilting these many years later.

Planting petunias, it seems, remains just one of many traditions in the Petoskey area.

For more information about Bay Harbor and the Petoskey area, please get a complimentary copy of Explore Bay Harbor Magazine, here.

Original content published by Katherine Rodeghier, Daily Herald Correspondent

READ MORE ARTICLES

Not-To-Miss Winter Sporting Events For Thrill Seekers Near Bay Harbor Harbour Ridge style=

Not-To-Miss Winter Sporting Events For Thrill Seekers Near Bay Harbor

It’s a great time of year for winter sports in Northern Michigan. Here’s a list of events you won’t want… Read more »

Top Three Winter Activities in Northern Michigan! Harbour Ridge style=

Top Three Winter Activities in Northern Michigan!

Early December in Northern Michigan means that there’s snow, and snow means adding more activities to the schedule-and here, there… Read more »

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year at Bay Harbor! Celebrate These Three Christmas Events! Harbour Ridge style=

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year at Bay Harbor! Celebrate These Three Christmas Events!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There are so many festive events happening in Northern Michigan this December… Read more »

Top Wineries in Northern Michigan and Special Vacation Packages Harbour Ridge style=

Top Wineries in Northern Michigan and Special Vacation Packages

Michigan is home to more than 100 wineries across the state, and the Bay View Wine Trail features many of… Read more »

Literature Stays Alive in Petoskey, Michigan With These Cool Author Spots Harbour Ridge style=

Literature Stays Alive in Petoskey, Michigan With These Cool Author Spots

There’s no lack of history in Michigan – think of Michigan’s storied relationship with the automobile industry, and its role… Read more »

Annual Holiday Celebrations Begin In Northern Michigan Harbour Ridge style=

Annual Holiday Celebrations Begin In Northern Michigan

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone is coming out to celebrate. See where the holiday celebrations… Read more »

Dinner with Ghosts in Downtown Petoskey Harbour Ridge style=

Dinner with Ghosts in Downtown Petoskey

Have a spooky dinner on Friday, October 27 starting at 6pm at the Historic Perry Hotel in Downtown Petoskey. This… Read more »

The Perfect Autumn Weekend in Northern Michigan Harbour Ridge style=

The Perfect Autumn Weekend in Northern Michigan

As autumn arrives, it’s the perfect time to head up to Northern Michigan for a romantic getaway to see the… Read more »

Discovery Channel Names The Tunnel of Trees A Can’t-Miss Fall Destination in Northern Michigan Harbour Ridge style=

Discovery Channel Names The Tunnel of Trees A Can’t-Miss Fall Destination in Northern Michigan

People come from all over the world just to see the scenic Lake Michigan Circle Tour. But did you know… Read more »

5 Favorite Northern Michigan Fall Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss Harbour Ridge style=

5 Favorite Northern Michigan Fall Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

Welcome the fall weather with your family and friends at the exciting October festivals in Northern Michigan. With so much… Read more »

This Northern Michigan Golf Resort is Worth the Drive, Especially with Fall Colors In Play Harbour Ridge style=

This Northern Michigan Golf Resort is Worth the Drive, Especially with Fall Colors In Play

Fall is the perfect time to explore Bay Harbor golf. Between the great offers and complimentary upgrades you won’t find… Read more »

A Special Offer from the Inn At Bay Harbor Harbour Ridge style=

A Special Offer from the Inn At Bay Harbor

Experience the Romance and Charm along with Northern Michigan’s true colors with a Picnic on the Bay. We invite you… Read more »

5 Reasons to Drop Everything and Move to This Northern Michigan City Harbour Ridge style=

5 Reasons to Drop Everything and Move to This Northern Michigan City

Northern Michigan will leave you breathless. Whether you’re looking for a new vacation spot, the ideal setting for a destination… Read more »

Bay Harbor’s Ten Outdoor Events You won’t Want to Miss in the Petoskey Area Harbour Ridge style=

Bay Harbor’s Ten Outdoor Events You won’t Want to Miss in the Petoskey Area

Bay Harbor’s vibrant year-round schedule of events is packed with active outdoor activities, festivals, antiquing, area farmer’s markets and so… Read more »

Why Are Wealthy City Dwellers from St. Louis and Chicago Moving to Northern Michigan? Harbour Ridge style=

Why Are Wealthy City Dwellers from St. Louis and Chicago Moving to Northern Michigan?

Discovering a summer playground in and around Northern Michigan resort area They came by the thousands every summer. Wealthy city… Read more »

Insider’s Look at Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Northern Michigan Harbour Ridge style=

Insider’s Look at Bay Harbor Yacht Club in Northern Michigan

The Club Is The Hub, The Bay Harbor Yacht Club That Is Nestled into the eastern shoreline of Bay Harbor… Read more »

Hot Off The Press: Grand Traverse Scene Explores Destination Bay Harbor Harbour Ridge style=

Hot Off The Press: Grand Traverse Scene Explores Destination Bay Harbor

Brian Chermside and his wife regularly traveled from the Saginaw area to northern Michigan for winter sports. Then they stayed… Read more »

3 Michigan Destinations Where You Can Chase The Northern Lights Harbour Ridge style=

3 Michigan Destinations Where You Can Chase The Northern Lights

Did you know Michigan is one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights? Without getting… Read more »

Golf Digest Ranks Bay Harbor Golf Club Among ‘Greatest Public Courses’ in U.S. Harbour Ridge style=

Golf Digest Ranks Bay Harbor Golf Club Among ‘Greatest Public Courses’ in U.S.

There is nowhere quite like Northern Michigan. A rare gem filled with lush greenery, peaceful great lake waterfront property…and the… Read more »

Plan the Perfect Day Out on the Boat with These 3 Easy To-Do Tips Harbour Ridge style=

Plan the Perfect Day Out on the Boat with These 3 Easy To-Do Tips

There is simply nothing better than a warm summer day on Lake Michigan. The boat is cruising along providing a… Read more »

Why Should You and Dad Explore Bay Harbor for Father’s Day Weekend? Harbour Ridge style=

Why Should You and Dad Explore Bay Harbor for Father’s Day Weekend?

Bay Harbor has scheduled the perfect pair of weekends to kick off the summer season the right way! Fully stocked… Read more »

This Bay Harbor Tradition Will Have You “Digging” Summer in Northern Michigan Harbour Ridge style=

This Bay Harbor Tradition Will Have You “Digging” Summer in Northern Michigan

Very few places have as many diverse wonders as Bay Harbor in Northern Michigan. Charming towns dot the coastline –… Read more »

Linking Up Harbour Ridge style=

Linking Up

Great play begins at the award-winning Bay Harbor Golf Club, showcasing 27 holes of Arthur Hills’ best. Its three distinct… Read more »

Greetings from Bay Harbor Harbour Ridge style=

Greetings from Bay Harbor

Welcome to our home, one of the most breathtaking and pristine waterfront settings in the world. Nestled along the North… Read more »

The 3 Biggest Health Benefits of Golfing at Bay Harbor You Never Thought Of Harbour Ridge style=

The 3 Biggest Health Benefits of Golfing at Bay Harbor You Never Thought Of

There is nothing else like golfing at Bay Harbor. The pristine fairways and greens on the immaculate shores of Lake… Read more »

See Why Everyone Wants to Be in Bay Harbor This Weekend Harbour Ridge style=

See Why Everyone Wants to Be in Bay Harbor This Weekend

The unofficial kick off of summer is finally upon us and there is only one place to be this Memorial… Read more »

TRENDING: What New Wedding Secrets Will You Need to Make Your Special Day Stand Out? Harbour Ridge style=

TRENDING: What New Wedding Secrets Will You Need to Make Your Special Day Stand Out?

It’s your special day. All eyes will be on you and everything needs to go perfectly. We have complied this… Read more »

HOME SWEET HOME Harbour Ridge style=

HOME SWEET HOME

Bay Harbor offers a wide selection of golf, waterfront and preserve homes with prices, sizes and views to match your… Read more »

Why is Bay Harbor, MI Considered the “Napa of the North”? Harbour Ridge style=

Why is Bay Harbor, MI Considered the “Napa of the North”?

For those unfamiliar with northern Michigan, wine might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but there’s a… Read more »

Why Are Top Broadway Shows and Recording Artists Paying Close Attention to Bay Harbor? Harbour Ridge style=

Why Are Top Broadway Shows and Recording Artists Paying Close Attention to Bay Harbor?

One day, in the no-so-distant future, Bay Harbor, Michigan may very well be the next, must-see, event destination in the… Read more »

What made Bay Harbor the Perfect Location for the Geiger Family to Call Home? Harbour Ridge style=

What made Bay Harbor the Perfect Location for the Geiger Family to Call Home?

As more and more uncover the secret paradise that is Bay Harbor, current residents have begun to reach out to… Read more »

Stroll Our Sidewalks and Walk the Waterfront at the Village at Bay Harbor Harbour Ridge style=

Stroll Our Sidewalks and Walk the Waterfront at the Village at Bay Harbor

You’ve decided to make a stop in Bay Harbor and you want to make the most of your visit.  Where… Read more »

Powerhouse Marketing Alliance Launches New Era of Growth in Bay Harbor Harbour Ridge style=

Powerhouse Marketing Alliance Launches New Era of Growth in Bay Harbor

The Bay Harbor Community Council, Bay Harbor Company, Harbor Sotheby’s International Realty and Boyne Resorts have announced the creation of… Read more »

INSIDER’S LOOK: Why Does Bay Harbor Golf Club Always Top the List? Harbour Ridge style=

INSIDER’S LOOK: Why Does Bay Harbor Golf Club Always Top the List?

Every spring, as tour pros gear up for the upcoming summer season, golfers around the country plot of their own… Read more »

Updated Newsletter