Northern Michigan has a long history of enticing people to make the trek north and settle in to spend their summer vacation.
In part one of our series on the towns that make this area so desirable we focus on Petoskey and Bay Harbor.
A Little History
Early on Petoskey's growth was sustained by Michigan's logging industry, which featured a boom due in part to Chicago's Great Fire. In the late 19th century steamships like the South American carried passengers from Chicago to Detroit and everywhere in between, to Little Traverse Bay. The railroad arrived in 1873 and with it came an influx of visitors, including the Grand Rapids reporter who described the area as the "land of the million dollar sunsets" a phrase still in use today. Resort communities like Bay View, Harbor Point and Walloon Lake soon began appearing. Bay Harbor emerged from an abandoned quarry and cement factory nearly a century later in 1993, proving the resort life is here to stay.
A Natural Choice
The area's biggest draw has arguably always been the water. Breezes from Lake Michigan keep summer temperatures at bay and on-water activities like boating, swimming, and kayaking are always popular ways to keep cool. Rent a boat and explore the 38-mile Inland Waterway, beginning at Crooked Lake and ending at Lake Huron. Emmet County is home to 20 public beaches, ideal for swimming, exploring, and finding small treasures like Petoskey Stones, and of course, viewing that sunset.
Getting off the beaten path is easy to do with hundreds of miles of trails and pathways crisscrossing the area, starting with the Little Traverse Wheelway and including The North Country Trail, which passes through seven states and bisects the Petoskey Area, as it continues north through the Upper Peninsula. Natural beauty also inspires. Crooked Tree Art Gallery in Petoskey offers art exhibits, concerts, classes, lectures and other special events throughout the year. Bay Harbor is about to break ground on The Center, a 500 seat venue that will host concerts, theater, special lectures and educational presentations, The Metropolitan Opera, and studio-released movies. Bay View also has a tradition of bringing nationally known speakers and artists to the area. Bay View's Music Festival is recognized as the longest reigning music festival in the United States.
A Foodie's Delight
Culinary enthusiasts have much to celebrate when visiting the Little Traverse Bay area. Vintage Chophouse and Wine Bar is quickly establishing itself as one of the best venues in the region with a view you simply can't experience anywhere else. The heart of Petoskey is filled with delicious finds from breakfast to dinner to after hours. There are six wineries in the immediate area and Petoskey Brewing, originally opened in 1898 and reopened in 2012, has been creating craft brews that are steadily gaining in popularity (try the hard root beer!).
Next week we travel north on US 131 to discover Harbor Springs!