Last week we spent the week up north with family in Petoskey, Michigan. It was a much needed time to unplug and get some quality time with our loved ones. We have been going to Northern Michigan since we were as old as our babies are now, so it is a very special place to us. Typically we go to a family camp, Camp Michigania, through the University of Michigan Alumni Association, but it didn’t open this year. Although we were majorly bummed that we didn’t make to to camp this year, we were so excited to be able to spend time with family during the week we were all supposed to be there.
Due to the change in vacation plans, we did not do too much outside of the house we stayed at, but we wanted to give you some ideas that you could do if you ever make a trip up north. If you have not been to Northern Michigan, then you should try to make it up there. It is absolutely beautiful (it also has great skiing for the midwest in winters!). We stayed in a house on Crooked Lake and there are so many other wonderful lakes that have similar rental options. Camp Michigania, where we normally go, is on Walloon Lake and we absolutely love Walloon!
We had so much fun going on boat rides and tubing…. even our 90 year old grandmother went tubing! If boating isn’t your style, paddle boards, kayaks, and sailboats are available to rent to spend time on the water. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time on the water.
Bring your bikes if you are driving, if not then rent them! There are a handful of places to go biking, walking, running and even hiking in the area. Bear River Valley Recreation Area has a 1.5 mile path along Bear River. Little Traverse Wheelway is a 26 mile paved path that will take you from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix. Another option that is even longer is North Western State Trail. This combination paved and gravel path goes for 32 miles in all.
One activity that we do at Camp Michigania that we replicated was archery. This was Hunter’s first time doing archery and he LOVED it. Grayson (and the babies obviously) were a little to young to enjoy it the way Hunter did. Other than that, a bunch of yard games were so fun for the littles to have access to all week. In the middle of the week we had a Camp Michigania inspired Family Olympics with sack races, a water balloon toss (turned water balloon fight), a balance the egg relay race, penny drop, and so much more! We had a great evening of games – and you don’t need to go anywhere to do them, you can host your own Family Olympics in your backyard!
Again, we wanted to be as safe as possible during our trip so we didn’t want to be around too many people but when we did venture out we were happy to see that everyone was wearing masks and was being safe. Downtown Petoskey is adorable and fun to even just walk around. They have cute boutiques for shopping and a number of little coffee shops to pop into. After playing at the lakefront park, we stopped at Petoskey Pretzel Co and got the best soft pretzels we’ve ever had! Although we didn’t go out to eat in Petoskey we have heard that Chandler’s, Petoskey Brewery, and Vintage Chop House & Wine Bar are all wonderful places and easy to bring kids to.
It is a tradition in our family to go to Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix, Michigan. Charlevoix is about a 30 minute drive from Petoskey, but is just as adorable. Weathervane was a hit with the kids because it is on the river so they loved watching the boats go by while waiting for our food. The restaurant is at a point on the river where there is a bridge that will open up for taller boats to go through from Lake Charlevoix to Lake Michigan, and that was super exciting for the little ones to see. Another restaurant that was recommended to us in Charlevoix was Smoke on the Water, and it is just across the river from the Weathervane.
This year we went to dinner in Harbor Springs on our last night. In all the years we’ve been coming up here we have never been to Harbor Springs in the summer. We can not get over how darling this little town is! It is picturesque and has an all American look to it. We ate at The New York Restaurant and had a delicious meal. Although they were wonderful there, this may not be a place that we would recommend taking your kids- it has a quieter atmosphere. Harbor Springs has a number of restaurants on the water that we will try next time we are in Northern Michigan including Stafford’s Pier Restaurant and Willow. Harbor Springs is also home to Nub’s Nob which is consistently ranked number 1 for skiing/snowboarding in the Midwest.
We did not make it up to Mackinac Island this year, but typically we do and we love it there. Mackinac Island is just a quick ferry ride away from Petoskey and it is the sweetest little island to visit. There are no cars for personal use on the island which is a nice change of pace and you literally get a bit of fresh air when you are there. You can rent bikes by the hour, half day, or full day to get around the island and there is no shortage of carriage rides as well. Two years ago, when we were in Mackinac, we rode around the island with the boys. They had a great time enjoying the ride and throwing rocks in the water along the beach. Mackinac is known for its bike riding, but no trip is complete without the famous Mackinac Island Fudge. There is no shortage of fudge on the island and every place we have tried over the years has been delicious. Kilwins is a favorite of ours.
Here are some throwback pictures from the last time we were in Mackinac, 2 years ago. Look at those little babies!!!