picture of couple walking along dock of bay harbor

It is a well-known fact that Bay Harbor, Michigan is a gorgeous destination along the Little Traverse Bay shoreline of Lake Michigan in the lower peninsula. This cherished year-round destination for residents and visitors alike is a picture-perfect setting for endless adventures. Here are 15 facts you might not have known about Bay Harbor and the surrounding area that will have you booking a trip to visit!

1. Hemingway Vacationed Here

During his youth, American Novelist Ernest Hemingway vacationed at Michigan’s Walloon Lake in his family’s waterfront home near Petoskey. Here, he learned many outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, and camping in the woods. Explore eleven sites where Hemingway traveled on a marked tour.

2. The Land Is Reclaimed

Bay Harbor’s beautiful site used to be mining operations and cement manufacturing before the industry faded out. Many tried salvaging the land before, David V. Johnson took ownership in 1993 and transformed it into the luxurious residential community we know today as Bay Harbor, Michigan. This went on to be North America’s largest land reclamation project and won awards for its visionary planning and development.

History of Bay Harbor Land Reclamation

3. Fossils Can Be Found

You may have heard of the Petoskey Stone, but did you know it is actually a fossil of coral? The unique hexagon pattern we see today comes from the prehistoric rugose corals that used to make up reefs decorating the lake floors. The best areas to find these stones are on rocky beaches or in surrounding areas near uprooted trees.

4. Revitalized Castle

A short drive away sits a castle just outside of Charlevoix. Castle Farms was built in 1918 and was briefly used as a concert venue in 1969 with performers such as Bob Dylan and the Police. It has been brought back to its original grandeur so guests can tour the grounds and view the beautiful gardens, castle towers, and even get married in this magical location.

5. Tour a Hobbit Home

Experience Hobbiton without having to travel all the way to New Zealand! Right in the charming town of Charlevoix, Michigan is a collection of mushroom houses designed by Earl Young. Transport yourself into the world of The Lord of the Rings by touring these homes that have dotted the town since before the Great Depression.

6. Natural Surrounding Beauty

This coastal community exemplifies a lifestyle that many people assumed was long gone. Most visitors to Bay Harbor are astounded by the area’s natural beauty. Without nearby light pollution, experience the awe-inspiring Northern Lights and a breathtaking star-gazing opportunity in Headlands Dark Sky Park. The best time to view these spectacular sights is August through April.

7. Tie the Knot

With its scenic vistas and poignant beauty, Bay Harbor is a popular destination wedding location including 15 unique venues. Offering breathtaking lake views, nestled along Little Traverse Bay, it is the storybook fantasy location to marry your best friend!

Photo of wedding at Bay Harbor

8. Memorable Scuba Diving

Lake Michigan’s fresh water has provided great preservation of the many shipwrecks littering the Great Lakes. This makes Michigan home to the only freshwater shrine in the world. In honor of local scuba divers and all who have perished at sea, a memorial was built in 1962 right off the shore of Little Traverse Bay in Petoskey. Aside from diving, there is a chance during winter for visitors to walk out to see the shrine.

9. Can’t-Miss Microbreweries

Ranked fifth in America, Michigan has some of the best breweries with over 200 throughout the state and is widely known for its beer production. Along with great brews comes trivia nights, open mic sessions, and local musicians to enhance the experience. Open year-round, the microbreweries host special events and offer plenty of options for sampling their craft beverages.

10. A Golf Destination To Remember

Bay Harbor received accolades and a myriad of global awards for “Top 50 Best Resort Courses” by Condé Nast Traveler, “America’s 20th Top Golf Resort” by Golf Digest, and “Best Residential Development USA” by CNBC. The Bay Harbor Golf Club is often called “The Pebble Beach of the Midwest” for its three extraordinary courses, The Links, The Quarry, and The Preserve, designed by Arthur Hills. Totaling 27 holes, the Golf Club celebrates 25 years of exceptional play and extraordinary views.

Bay Harbor's breathtaking golf destination

11. Amazing Annual Events

There is always a fun event happening at Bay Harbor. Whether visitors and residents are attending annual events such as the In-Water Boat Show, Vintage Car Show, Sailing Races or Hot Air Balloon Festival, there is always something to celebrate. The Fourth of July firework display is one of Bay Harbor’s most notable events and always brings a patriotic crowd together. And you won’t want to miss the exciting 52 Super Series race on August 20 through August 22. Two of Bay Harbor’s very own will be making an appearance out on the water!

Picture of balloons over Bay Harbor

12. Great Lakes Center for the Arts

Open since July 2018, The Great Lakes Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art theater amongst the Village at Bay Harbor. Hosting many live events including music, film, theater and dance, this art center always has a dynamic performance happening. Check out the list of upcoming performances.

Picture of piano on a stage at Great Lakes Center for the Arts

13. Spa at the Inn

The Spa at the Inn at Bay Harbor serves as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This upscale spa provides a plethora of high-end services including luxury body treatments, therapeutic massages, and rejuvenating facials. Relax and unwind in pure tranquility.

14. Dining Galore

There are plenty of dining options in the Village at Bay Harbor. Between bars, traditional restaurants, sweet shops and convenience stores, there is a place that will capture everyone’s interest. Knot…Just a Bar is a popular dining destination with lunch and dinner menus overlooking the marina. A sweets lover’s dream, Candy Harbor specializes in homemade ice cream, chocolates, and other sweet confections. There is even a quick service store, Salvatore’s Grocery Kitchen, that provides hot meals as well as everyday items. With all types of cuisine options, there is a place for everyone to eat. Explore all the restaurants located in the Village at Bay Harbor.

15. Welcoming Marina Docks

Bay Harbor Lake Marina open for residents and visitors alike. Simply cruise up, dock your boat, and stretch your sea legs with a bit of shopping and dining at Bay Harbor. With such an easygoing, welcome invitation, it’s a destination that needs to be visited often. Experience quaint, lakeside living at the breathtaking Lake Michigan Village at Bay Harbor.

Picture of the Lake Marina at Bay Harbor

Last but certainly not least? The lifestyle of your dreams doesn’t have to end when the day does. It’s never been a better time to visit Bay Harbor, and in the summer months things are heating up in northern Michigan. Located in the heart of the action is Bay Harbor, a coastal resort and golf community that offers a lifestyle like no other. Encompassing 5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, Bay Harbor’s natural beauty – serene lake views of crystal-clear water, lush woods and gently rolling topography create a peaceful haven away from the noise of everyday living. Families often enjoy boating, swimming, and fishing off the shores of Lake Michigan or walking or biking along the Little Traverse Wheelway. The Bay Harbor Golf Club has been called “The Pebble Beach of the Midwest” and the Bay Harbor Yacht Club is known as the social centerpiece of the entire community.

Bay Harbor Yacht Club has recently undergone a multi-million-dollar transformation that was unveiled this summer. This renovation brings a state-of-the-art Wellness Center, Relaxation Spa, full Aquatics Center, and upgrades to the member dining experience making this cherished lifestyle even more spectacular. There is so much interest in Bay Harbor that real estate inventories are very low. Joining Bay Harbor Yacht Club has become a great way for potential homebuyers to enjoy the lifestyle and stay updated on the newest listings. A great way to move to the top of the waiting list is to own a home at Bay Harbor.

Bay Harbor makes for a great place to stay a day, a week, or a lifetime. With more than 30 neighborhoods, Bay Harbor offers a wide array of homes and a price range to match your lifestyle. Visit ExploreBayHarbor.com to learn more about the local real estate opportunities and becoming a Bay Harbor neighbor. For those who want to visit and explore the possibility of ownership and membership, two outstanding hotel options are available within Bay Harbor. Check out the Inn at Bay Harbor and the Village Suites Bay Harbor and start planning your dream.

No matter how long you stay, you’ll wish it could be longer. It’s not too late to plan your summer adventure today by requesting a complimentary digital copy of the 2021 edition of Explore Bay Harbor magazine. Through its pages, you’ll find information on the area, more local events, and tips for planning your trip. Go to ExploreBayHarbor.com to find out more!