Bay Harbor Northern Michigan

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

There is nothing else like golfing at Bay Harbor. The pristine fairways and greens on the immaculate shores of Lake Michigan set the backdrop for a true one-of-a-kind experience. Often referred to as “The Pebble Beach of the Midwest,” the Bay Harbor Golf Club offers three distinct and varied Arthur Hills courses with 27 holes of championship golf. While the courses and setting may be gifts in themselves, the health benefits of golfing at Bay Harbor are also worth exploring. Here a few more reasons why golf at Bay Harbor should top your bucket list:


Exposure to the outdoors – The nature of playing golf on courses as large as 200 acres requires players to be outdoors. Basking in nature provides us many health benefits for our mind and body. Studies have shown that constant exposure to green areas relaxes the body, reduces stress and can aid in alleviating anxiety. Furthermore, exposure to sunlight allows the body to soak up vitamin D from the sun, promoting bone growth in youth and reducing the risk of depression, heart disease and certain cancers


Good for your brain – As your heart rate increases, so will blood flow to the brain, which can stimulate and improve nerve cell connections. This can delay mental illnesses such as dementia. While competing against others, golfers will also compete with themselves for personal best scores. This type of challenging boosts confidence and self-esteem, while the mental alacrity involved in tallying scores, improving strategy and fostering hand-eye coordination will keep the brain active in logical functions.


Better sleep – Since you are getting quite a bit of exercise, your tired body will thank you at night when it’s time for some long deserved rest. Golfers will fall asleep faster, sleep more profoundly, and are able to remain in a deep sleep for longer periods of time due to the amount of energy expended. Deeper sleep is necessary for your body to regenerate cell and repair any muscles and tissues.


A good night’s rest is sure to be on the docket after conquering Bay Harbor’s three distinct courses. The Links, with its towering bluffs and dunes, is reminiscent of great Scottish seaside courses, set along miles of magnificent Lake Michigan shoreline. The Preserve was designed to showcase the natural beauty of Northern Michigan, with dense hardwoods, lush greens, wildflowers, wetlands and an abundance of wildlife. The Quarry has rightly earned its reputation as one of the world’s most unique courses. Carved out of a shale quarry, the course winds its way through 40-foot gorges, surrounded by stone cliffs, natural ponds and a gentle waterfall. You’ll also enjoy the Club’s expansive practice facilities, expert PGA instruction and wide selection of top-of-the-line equipment for rent.


Spanning more than five miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline, Bay Harbor, Michigan is a cherished destination for vacationers and residents alike. Whether you’re looking for the best golf around, Lake Michigan vacation rentals, waterfront homes for sale, or simply the best place to visit in Northern Michigan, you’ve found it at Bay Harbor.

Click here to sign up for a complimentary issue of Explore Bay Harbor Magazine to discover what else makes Bay Harbor, Michigan unlike any other place in the world.

The unofficial kick off of summer is finally upon us and there is only one place to be this Memorial Day Weekend – Bay Harbor, Michigan. The beautiful, lakeside town provides the perfect backdrop for your holiday weekend. Gorgeous waterfront homes, unrivaled championship golf, delicious dining options and plenty of boutique shopping options – all in the center of Michigan’s best Memorial Day festivities. Here is a quick preview of why Bay Harbor is the only place to be this weekend.

Stroll the charming streets of the Village at Bay Harbor and enjoy the shopping bliss of Bay Harbor’s Sidewalk Sales. Bay Harbor boasts some of the finest and fun shops in Northern Michigan.

Propellers offers a wide variety of colorful resort wear, footwear, nautical gifts and accessories, carrying brands such as Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer and Sperry. J. Phillips provides classic women’s apparel and accessories for every occasion including stylish brands such as Joseph Ribkoff, Frank Lyman, Brighton, Bylyes and Mary Francis Handbags. At the Bay Harbor Logo Store, you’ll discover an extensive collection of apparel and accessories with the signature Bay Harbor logo. Enjoy seasonal retailers like Tulips Little Pop-Up Shop featuring brands like Trina Turk, Calypso, Cortland Park, Linda Richards, Joseph Ribkoff, Elan and more – you never know what treasures you might find.

For all their many differences, the communities of Charlevoix, Bay Harbor, Petoskey and Harbor Springs have one big thing in common: location on Little Traverse Bay That connection has proved key to the foundation of a road race that is uniting all four communities and bringing increased attention to the area: the Stafford’s Community Marathon, scheduled to be run on Saturday, May 27.

The race, now in its second year, runs from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs, and includes a marathon, half-marathon and a 10K race/walk, as well as a team marathon.

Families can pedal the day away as they bike the Little Traverse Wheelway, the 26-mile bike path along the blue waters of the bay from Harbor Springs through Petoskey and on to Charlevoix. This Northern Michigan bike path is a mostly-asphalt dedicated surface that winds from one downtown to another, with lots of perfect places to stop along the way.

Start your day at East Park near Bay Harbor, and cruise along the breathtaking bluff views of Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan. Bring a backpack and pause to snack along one of the trail’s benches, or take the steps to the rocky beach for a quick dip in the lake.  Head back toward Bay Harbor for a bite to eat outside at Knot Just A Bar, where you can watch the boats bob and the sun start to set in Bay Harbor Marina.

If you’re still looking for other things to do this weekend, check out the Crooked Tree Arts Center Artisans and Farmers Market. Stop by Crooked Tree Arts Center Friday from 10:00am until 1:00pm to see a wide variety of locally grown and handmade goods. On Monday, honor our Veterans by attending one of our local Memorial Day Parades. The Petoskey service beings at 9:00am and the Harbour Springs service begins at 10:00am.

It’s happened many times before.  Visitors come to vacation in Bay Harbor and never want to leave.  Learn more about Bay Harbor’s impressive community and fun activities through the pages of Explore Bay Harbor Magazine. Request your free copy for all of the area’s insider information.

It’s your special day. All eyes will be on you and everything needs to go perfectly. We have complied this specific list to help you make sure the plan is on the right track. These are a few of the top wedding trends of 2017 to make sure your day is unforgettable:

Location, Location, Location:
Today’s couples want a wedding that will blow their guests away, and one of the key elements to an unforgettable event is the choice of venue. Advice: Bay Harbor Michigan. Sweeping elegance and beauty combined with state-of-art venues combine to make Bay Harbor the absolute go-to wedding destination in 2017 and beyond. Bay Harbor is an incredible year-round setting for a destination wedding. It’s picture perfect and loaded with charm. It’s a great place to keep your guests entertained with excellent golf, fishing, skiing, shopping and a luxury spa, And best of all, no matter what size, budget and type of wedding you’re planning, Bay Harbor has a perfect location for your special day. Just ask Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee. To learn more click here!

Paired up
Wine-and-cheese pairings have become a familiar site at cocktail receptions, but the idea of matching different foods with different drinks is being carried over to other types of beverages and appetizers. It elevates the guest experience by keeping guests active and engaged. Some duets to consider: wine and pasta, cake and craft beer, margaritas and guacamole, or for a wedding brunch, try mimosas and pastries.

Setting a mood
Lounge areas have been an important decor element at wedding cocktail hours for years, but as after-parties come into fashion, wedding pros find themselves setting up more lounge-style seating vignettes closer to the dance floor.

Reaching new heights
Couples can’t get enough of the unique perspectives offered by drone technology for both videos and aerial stills, and pros are following suit, offering packages that include drone footage as an add-on option. Poised for take-off: professional-quality, user-friendly drones for non-pros (and perhaps a wedding guest).

The beautiful drone footage on the shores of the majestic Lake Michigan, the perfect wine and cheese combination and a lounge that would make even Sinatra proud can all be accomplished with just a click of a mouse. If you are looking for the perfect wedding ceremony and reception venue in Northern Michigan, check out all the great selections in Bay Harbor. From the country club feel at the Bay Harbor Golf Club to the elegant Inn at Bay Harbor, from a ceremony right on the beach at The Bay Harbor Village Hotel to a nautical wedding at the Yacht Club, you can find the perfect venue for a wedding of any size and budget, right here in Bay Harbor.

To get started, check out our website at where you can register for an insider’s look at the area. Chock-full of local information, this publication offers insights into what makes Bay Harbor, Michigan unlike any other place in the world.

Bay Harbor offers a wide selection of golf, waterfront and preserve homes with prices, sizes and views to match your lifestyle. From lavish estates on a private peninsula to stylish condos located right in the Village, there are many varied ways you can live here. Choose from luxury single family and multi-family residences to building sites and yacht docks. Single family homes typically range from $350,000 to $8 million with condominiums ranging from $95,000 to $2 million. Building sites are offered from $25,000 to $1.2 million. A big part of how you live depends upon where you live.

With over 30 unique neighborhoods, Bay Harbor provides a myriad of opportunities for year round and seasonal living with family-friendly, resort-style amenities. Gated neighborhoods are also available for those seeking ultimate privacy. Here are the community’s four major lifestyle areas:

• For golf enthusiasts, nothing is better than a relaxing view of any one of Bay Harbor’s 27 magnificent holes of golf. That’s why we call this area Fairway Living. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of neighborhoods, ranging from condos with incredible, cliffside views to large, architecturally distinctive custom homes. One asset they share, however, is that whether they are tucked in the area’s lush woods, resting beside a perfectly groomed green or overlooking the dramatic shores of the lake, they all offer spectacular views and close proximity to some of the best golf courses you’ll ever experience.
• The incredible Lake Michigan vistas are one of the biggest draws to Bay Harbor. Whether residents arrive in a yacht or not, Harbor Living provides an elegant, nautical way of life. The magnificent homes in neighborhoods such as The Shores, Harborside and The Peninsula, allow residents to enjoy the Bay Harbor Lake Marina’s impressive amenities and active social life, including day trips, cookouts and more. First, they are within walking distance of all the fun and excitement of this resort town. If they want to grab a cup of coffee, shop for a gift, go to the Fitness Center or relax by the pool, they are just steps away. And, they have access to incredible lake views—a pretty great combination!
• For those individuals who are looking for a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of this ancient hardwood forest, Woodland Living is the perfect choice. Here, in neighborhoods such as Preserve and Preserve South, they can enjoy large homesites with magnificent views of the golf course, the woods and the lake. Life here is serene and private—just the way these residents prefer.

Learn more about Bay Harbor’s impressive real estate options through the pages of Explore Bay Harbor magazine. Request your free copy for all of the area’s insider information.