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Petoskey Michigan Weekend Guide

My husband and I spent our first anniversary in "up north" Michigan (if you know, you know) in the quaint town of Petoskey. We've been to Petoskey one time before and had great memories of the water, outdoors, and lots of wine. So we were excited to go back to Petoskey and spend the weekend doing our typical fun, active adventures.


In this guide you will find our favorite outdoor activities, eats, things to do and shop, and more from both trips. I have compiled my favorite memories both trips to make it easy to plan an active outdoor getaway.


WHERE TO STAY

Inn at Bay Harbor - We stayed at the Inn about 5 years ago and I will never forget the experience. This beautiful hotel is top notch with fine dining options, beaches to lounge on, a spa, and spacious huge rooms. In fact, our room was more like a suite with a full kitchen, living room and bedroom. The spa did an exceptional manicure and I loved the polish so much I purchased the color from them. As for the fitness center, it was small and seemed to have no air conditioning; but if I am correct, they re-opened a state of the art fitness center that is more spacious and provides group fitness classes as well.


Courtyard Marriott - This property is the newest hotel in Petoskey and it is where we stayed during our trip this year. It was very clean and the room was a nice size with a big chair, refrigerator, microwave, big bathroom and desk space. There was no free breakfast or coffee in the morning but they had a Starbucks inside the hotel to purchase these items. They had a huge fitness room with enough equipment and space to fit at least 10 people inside without feeling squished; but we never worked out with more than 1 or 2 others.


OUTDOOR RECREATION

As you know, Mike and I love to hike, bike, and submerse ourselves in the great outdoors. In Petoskey, there are plenty of opportunities to do so! Here are some of our favorites:


Little Traverse Wheelway - A long, paved path that runs all the way from Lake Charlevoix to Harbor Springs (about 26 miles); this path is perfect for a long bike ride! We've biked this path twice now and always enjoy it. It is completely paved and relatively flat with some incline in certain areas. You will have beautiful views of the water and see many tourist attractions along the route.


Little Traverse Wheelway


North East Trail - This is another trail I'd recommend biking because it is very long and you'll see a lot more than if you were to take this trail by foot. We started near Petoskey Brewery and ventured along this relatively flat trail and saw lots of landscape, greenery, old farms, and small quaint neighborhoods. This was our longest bike ride of the trip; clocking in 14 miles. This trail is extremely long and goes on for 70 miles total.


This map is from the Top Of Michigan Trail Council.


Petoskey State Park - If you're in the mood to hike, Petoskey State Park is a great option that has many trails connecting to each other. We started on Old Baldy, circled around Portage trail (the harder side) and finished with Campground trail. In total, we hiked around 3.5 miles. The state park is well maintained; but while hiking, be sure to follow the color or symbol of trail to ensure you don't get lost. They don't mark the trails very clearly.


Mike hiking the Petoskey State Park trails


Rent a Pontoon in Lake Charlevoix - I don't have specifics with how we did this as I did not plan this experience. However, it is one of my favorite memories of Petoskey to this date. My in-laws rented a pontoon boat for the entire afternoon and we ventured around Lake Charlevoix. Tons of people boat on this lake, so the energy was fabulous. There is a cute restaurant called The Landing that we docked our boat and ate right on the water. It was a fabulous time and I highly recommend doing this!


EVENTS

Sign up for a race - Every time I travel to Petoskey or Traverse City, I find myself signing up for a 5K. The running routes are gorgeous because they typically take place right next to Lake Michigan. The crowds aren't as a big as your typical race; I assume this is because mostly locals run these races. My favorite 5K was the Stafford's Top Of Michigan 5K. It was a chilly morning but once you began running, the views were stunning and the sun came out. It was an incredible way to start the morning.

Top Of Michigan 5K 2022


Traverse City Cherry Festival - If you're visiting Petoskey in July, it is worth the 45 minute drive to attend the Traverse City Cherry Festival. Located in downtown Traverse City; the entire town turns cherry red with food, home goods, decorations, you name it, involving cherries. There are rides and games galore, a dog jumping contest, and live music. We went to the festival 5 years ago and had an absolute blast.


THINGS TO DO

Wineries - Specifically, Boyne Valley Vineyards! This piece of heaven was one of the highlights of our trip. They have a variety of sweet and dry, white and red to try. We went on a Sunday and they had a live band playing outside. We were able to get lawn chairs, bask in the sun, and enjoy some wine on a 75 degree afternoon. It was perfect. I've also been to Petoskey Farms Winery which is a bit closer to downtown Petoskey. Their tasting experience is exceptional as you look out over the vineyards.


Boyne Valley Vineyards


Shopping Downtown Petoskey - Downtown is full of lovely shops! Mike and I found many goodies in the boutiques, adventure stores and specialty grocery stores. I loved American Spoon as they sold all natural peanut butter with no added sugars! They have a divine selection of jams, salsas, cocktail mixes, and butters.


City Center Gym - If you know me, you know I love checking out local gyms while on vacation! Petoskey doesn't have many options as most people spend their time outside; but I found a gym in the heart of downtown. City Center Gym would earn the description of "grungy" which Mike and I totally love. Upstairs is bright and airy with equipment that is taken care of but older. Downstairs gets a bit more rough with rooms like "The Vault" that are so dark you may need a flashlight (kidding!). I would have liked louder music but the vibe was fine and their was a mix of young and old working out. They had full locker rooms and protein drinks available as well.



City Center Gym


WHERE TO EAT (AND AVOID!)

I'm going to be a bit harsh in this next section; we have come to realize "up north" restaurants don't cater to foodies. People that vacation in these places like fried, easy finger food overlooking the water. By all means, I like that too. But I don't live my lifestyle this way and so it was very hard to find quality fresh ingredients at these popular restaurants. I will give my honest opinion and experience at each of these; but please note my experience will be different than the next persons and to not compare.


Best Breakfast - Our all time favorite breakfast was Maple + Batter in Bay Harbor. The whole restaurant space was decorated in simple and clean colors with plants decorating the interior of the restaurant. I ordered eggs benedict with no hollandaise sauce and Mike ordered the biscuits plus avocado toast. Both dishes were exceptional!


Maple + Batter: Eggs Benedict (with no hollandaise, using egg whites)



Worst Breakfast - Roast & Toast was incredibly disappointing. The inside looked like an old toy store; extremely dirty and little to no investment in making it look nice. The service was unaccommodating to changes or swaps on their very simple menu. Once ordering, your name was yelled from the kitchen when it was ready and you had to go up to the kitchen window to retrieve it. For being a coffee shop, I was a bit shocked at this. Below is a photo of my very disappointing food plate.

Roast & Toast: Classic Breakfast Plate... terrible


Best Lunch - This was easy.. Salad Fork! Okay, so this is technically in Lake Charlevoix. We ventured here on our last day of the trip before heading home and it beat all of the other lunches we had that weekend. It was simple; walk up to the window and "build you own salad". I was craving heavy greens and vegetables so this was a great change of pace.


Salad Fork: BYO Salad with chicken, tons of veggies, and chick peas


Best Dinner - Barrel Back restaurant, hands down! This restaurant was located in Boyne about 15 minutes from our hotel. It was exactly what we were looking for; healthy options, great views, and lively vibes! We got a seat by the window that overlooked the lake. We ordered smoked chicken wings as an appetizer. I ordered an entree salad and salmon for dinner. Everything was simple but delicious.


Barrel Back: Appetizer of smoked chicken wings and Salmon Salad Entree


Worst Dinner- Pour kitchen. I had high expectations for this restaurant as they had sushi on their small menu and the atmosphere was very nice. The restaurant was small but very taken care of. Our server was a bit rude as he challenged me on my wine knowledge. I am not a wine expert but I do know the varieties and differences between old and new world wines. Anyways, Mike and I ordered sushi and were extremely disappointed as every roll was extremely bland. The fish actually tasted bad. We left there super disappointed and will not go back.


Pour Kitchen: One of my sushi rolls.. terrible


Honorable Mention - Palette Bistro. We ate here on the first night and enjoyed the food tremendously. The process of finding our seat was a bit annoying; they tried to sit us outside when it was 50 degrees.. and I had made reservations! So we ended up sitting at the bar and had a lovely time. My go-to order (salmon salad) was excellent here as well.


Palette Bistro: Salmon salad + Quilt cabernet


Honorable Mention- Chandler's A Restaurant is another joint that needs to be recognized. Although we did not eat here this trip, I've been before and the food is spectacular. I would describe this restaurant as a fancy, hidden gem. It is not big and would most likely require reservations to eat at during the summer months.


RECAP OF PETOSKEY

This is a perfect weekend trip to get away to the great outdoors. From our past two experiences, we've found these are the main attractions when it comes to Petoskey, Traverse City and Lake Charlevoix. That being said, plan around that! Pack plenty of hiking gear with good shoes and a backpack. Pack a reusable water bottle to refill and reduce waste. Pack a swimsuit to bask in the sun on the water. And of course, pack sunscreen!


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