12 Things To Do in Northwest Michigan

Bay View, Michigan
Bay View, Michigan

Joshua and I recently spent a week with his family in beautiful Northwest Michigan. During our trip, we discovered so many fun places to visit, that we wanted to compile a list. If you ever find yourself in the area (concentrated around Bay View where we stayed, dotted along Little Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan) - here are 12 things to do!

1. Take a walking or driving tour of Bay View
Named one of the 12 "Prettiest Painted Places" in the country by The Paint Institute, this association of approximately 450 cottages is too cute not to stop and tour. Make Stafford's Inn and adjacent Memorial Garden part of your tour as well.
2. Attend a concert
Bay View's bustling arts program will keep you entertained all summer long. Check out the many concerts and musical theater performances open to the public here.

Bay View, Michigan
Bay View, Michigan
Stafford's Bay View Inn

3.  Visit downtown Petoskey and marina
This cute little town has everything you could ever want for a leisurely afternoon of shopping, dining and taking in the sites. Have lunch at Julienne Tomatoes, hit up the many shopping options, and take a stroll along the Petoskey Marina.
4.  Swim at Petoskey State Park
Looking to take a swim on a sandy beach? Hit up scenic Petoskey State Park located on 303 gorgeous acres along the bay.
5. Dine at Petoskey Brewing
Michigan is known for its many micro-breweries and Petoskey is no exception. This local hotspot is located in a cool brick building with great food and local brews. 

Petoskey Brewery
Petoskey waterfall

6. Take a day trip to Mackinac Island 
Arguably the most well-known tourist destination in northwest Michigan, Mackinac Island is well-worth the ferry ride to visit this magical place!! Read all of our top recommendations in this blog post.
7. Tour the Fish Hatchery in Oden
The fish hatchery was established in 1921, and has almost a million fish under its roof. Locals will tell you that it's well worth a visit.
8. See the mushroom houses of Charlevoix
These unique structures are the brainchild of famous architect of Earl Young. Take a driving tour, or rent one for your next vacation.  
9. Visit Dam Site Inn
Don't let the name deceive you, because it's neither a dam or an inn. Instead, this restaurant and bar is a time-capsule, frozen in time, that you have to see to believe. If the fried chicken family style meal is not your forte, then definitely stop in for a drink at the bar - it's just too unique to pass up.

Mackinac Island - The Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island - Arch Rock
Mackinac Island lighthouse

10. Spend the day in Harbor Springs
I had the best birthday afternoon in Harbor Springs! We dined at Stafford's Pier Restaurant, ate ice cream at Kilwins, watched the sailboats come in at the marina, and visited several of the many shops.
11. Plan a bike ride
Visit the North Michigan Trails Council site to plan out your route along Little Traverse Bay.
12. Plan a family day at the lake
Lake Michigan is breathtaking, but the waters are rough, like an ocean! There are plenty of other lakes in the area, though, like Crooked Lake or Pickerel Lake where you can plan a picnic or a day of boating.

Did we leave any of your favorite places off the list? We'd love to hear your suggestions for our next visit! 

Harbor Springs, Michigan
Bay View, Michigan

Today's post is dedicated in loving memory of Joshua's cousin, Maggie Loyd. This swing was placed in Bay View in her honor by her family.  [I knew Maggie first as a reader of this blog - imagine her surprise when I married her cousin! I was really looking forward to meeting her for the first time this summer.]