Last Updated on October 7, 2022 by JaimeSays
Many Thanks to Western Michigan Tourism Association, Visit Charlevoix, and the Petoskey Area CVB for hosting me. This site contains affiliate links.
With people avoiding air travel because of COVID and coronavirus related fears, driveable trips are booming. Chicagoans and suburbanites are heading to every state in the Midwest, exploring more local destinations instead of those far-off. For those of us who have lived in Chicagoland for a long time, Southwest Michigan is a very common place to visit. Spending a weekend in Northern Michigan, however, is more distant and thus, a little more exotic and exciting. There are so many things to do in Northern Michigan–check out my recommendations for how to spend a weekend in Petoskey and beyond.
Planning Your Time
Petoskey is the largest city among a quintet of beautiful, Northern Michigan towns. Comprised of Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Harbor Falls and Boyne City, each town has its own feel and majesty about it. If you are spending a weekend in Petoskey, there is so much to see that you may overlook the other towns. However, if you are looking for more things to do in Northern Michigan in general, budget time to hit all three. I’ll list here how to build out a trip to Northern Michigan depending on the number of days you have. If you only have one day, just do Day 1; for two days, do Day 2, and so forth.
Day 1 Recommendations for a Weekend in Northern Michigan
Grab some breakfast! If you only have one day to spend in Petoskey, you’ll need to make sure you keep the tank full for all of the activities on your plate. Where you stay may very well dictate where you get breakfast. If you are staying at a Stafford property, I highly recommend having breakfast on site. Stafford Hospitality is well established in Northern Michigan, and prides itself on its attention to detail. These properties do not skimp on anything, and breakfast is no exception. You won’t find powdered eggs and serve yourself continental breakfast, but instead, truly tasty home cooked meals in a beautiful setting.
Up First: Enjoy Northern Michigan’s Natural Splendor
No matter the season, Northern Michigan’s unique landscape allows for endless outdoor recreation.
|Winter||Skiing, Fat Tire Biking, Snowshoeing, Snowmobiling|
|Spring||Birding, Hiking, Golf|
|Summer||Golf, Hiking, Watersports, Biking, Berry Picking, Lavender Farming|
|Autumn||Biking, Golf, Hiking, Apple Picking, Fishing|
Lunch or Chocolate?
After exerting yourself, you’ll be peckish. You may be looking for a sit down meal at one of Petoskey’s great restaurants, but perhaps just a snack will do. If you are looking for something small, consider Kilwins! For Midwest readers, you may be thinking, “hey, that’s a chain and I’ve been to the one near my town.” Surprise! The original Kilwins is from Petoskey. It originated in town in 1947! My favorite midday treat/snack is Kilwin’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Apple. It’s a fruit, it’s a sweet, it’s got antioxidants….good enough for lunch in my book! If you don’t get a chance to visit a Kilwin’s in Petoskey, there are several Kilwin’s locations throughout Northern Michigan.
Up Next: Pick a Tour for your Weekend in Northern Michigan
A weekend in Northern Michigan is more fun when you know about the history of the area. but I tend to think getting to know about the town I’m visiting is more important. There are several tour operators through which you can get a great feel of Northern Michigan.
Active Tours (Walking or Biking)
- Petoskey Yesterday specializing in Hemingway and Hemingway character history
- Northern Home and Cottage Tour offering once yearly access to private homes to benefit Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan
Car Tours (Self Guided and Operator Led)
- Little Traverse Tours and Taxi offer custom tours based on your interest
- The Fall Color Guide offers several different driveable paths to see the different colors of Northern Michigan in fall
- Northern Michigan Wine and Beer Tours allow you to enjoy the great wineries and breweries that Northern Michigan has to offer
- Michigan Food Tours guide you though the best eateries of Petoskey (and Charlevoix if you have time)
- A Mushroom House Tour is an architecture lovers delight and was my favorite tour of the seven days and two different trips I made to the area
Depending on when you visit, there are also several tours that run only for a particular year. For example, there may be a schooner or boat tour, a garden tour, or town tour running when you visit. The best way to determine if there are any special events or tours during your weekend in Northern Michigan is to contact the town tourism bureau.
Sunset Dinner is a Can’t Miss for a Weekend in Northern Michigan
Northern Michigan is known as the land of million dollar sunsets. As such, it is absolutely crucial that you experience a sunset dinner while in town. Here are a few places where I recommend you snag a reservation:
If you only have one full day to spend in the area, I hope this itinerary helps you. For those of you a lucky enough to spend more time around town, read on for my recommendations for the perfect weekend in Northern Michigan.
Day 2 Suggestions
If you get to spend another day in Northern Michigan, lucky you! In a region that has so much to offer to tourists, so enjoy your additional time.
- Head to That French Place in Charlevoix for a quick and delicious, crepe-to-go breakfast. Right in downtown Charlevoix, don’t forget to order a hot cocoa! (It’s so good, I went two of my four days in town!)
- A great all-weather, all-seasons locale to visit is Castle Farms in Charlevoix. Originally known as Loeb Family Dairy Barn, this unique destination offers something for everyone. There is a historic tour, highly decorative gardens and grounds, and a winery.
Additionally, the history of Castle Farms is quite extraordinary. Its first owner was a Sears Roebuck executive that used the farm as a showroom of sorts. Here, he displayed and put in action farm equipment that was available to purchase through Sears. With a baseball diamond on site, it was a trip by the White Sox to practice that coined the term “farm team” that is still used today.
Another notable owner turned the site into a major concert venue, with concert acts like Guns ‘n Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, and the Rolling Stones making appearances at the lakeside gem.
Other Day 2 Suggestions
- If you didn’t have a chance to go on a tour of the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix, you must make time for it on your next day in town.
- Download the Boyne City Historic Walking Tour app for your phone and stroll down Main Street of this charming town. I thought this area had a very Stars Hollow/Gilmore Girls vibe and I adored it.
- No weekend in Northern Michigan would be complete without hunting for Petoskey Stones! These rocks are made of the fossils of prehistoric coral. They are the remnants of a glacier period about 350 million years ago, prior to the establishment of the Great Lakes. The best place to look for them is along the shores of Lake Michigan, and remember, you must get raw stones wet in order to see their patternation.
If you are lucky enough to spend a third day in town, I would suggest partaking in one of the outdoor activities that you may have missed out on. This may be boating, hiking, or biking, but whatever it is, it will be a simply delightful way to round out a weekend in Northern Michigan. As a bonus, I’d certainly consider stopping off in Holland, Michigan on your way back to Illinois. There are some of the most beautiful nurseries to help make your beginning gardener dreams come true.
- The Chicago Return of Spanish Great Match Does Not Disappoint - July 18, 2023
- Finding the Right House and the Right Movers - February 6, 2023
- Free Things to do in Wisconsin: Tour Two Frank Lloyd Wright Designs - January 8, 2023
- Love Architecture Travel?13 Cities with Architecture Open Houses - November 14, 2022
- An Afternoon with Bodegas Salentein - October 20, 2022
- Fall Wardrobe Staples - October 13, 2022
- 5 Small Town Midwest Architecture Tours Worth Taking - September 9, 2022
- Things to Do This Month in Chicagoland! - September 1, 2022
- I Hired an Interior Designer and Was Disappointed - November 10, 2021