Located on the Northwestern shores of Lake Michigan nestled in-between Harbor Springs and Charlevoix on the Little Traverse Bay is the adorable town of Petoskey.
The small town of Petoskey and surrounding area is known for its beautiful, crystal clear-water, its vacationer and second home communities, being home to Ernest Hemingway, and signature Petoskey Stones. But what My Town loved most about this resort town, is its local community and laid-back atmosphere.
Personally, I felt very at home in Petoskey. In fact, it did not feel like I was a guest on vacation, but more of being at home and having the perfect day. Don’t get me wrong, vacation is a wonderful feeling, but what I liked about Petoskey, was the much larger population of local residents. In comparison to its neighboring communities that also get an influx of summer visitors, Petoskey, has a great local vibe that My Town adores!
Petoskey has residents from all over the country; some who came every summer and decided to stay, others who have lived in this beautiful area their entire lives. The generational homes, small businesses, and lakeside retreats are all over Petoskey. This gives you a welcoming family feel you will love when visiting. Read more on Petoskey here.
Traveling In Today’s Environment
In a post-pandemic world- many travelers are finally able to “get back to normal” as far as travel is concerned this season. But, if your still having trouble deciding on places to go- Let me tell you what we observed in Small Town Petoskey. A common observation was how much this community banded together to make sure their guests felt safe. Everywhere I visited was open and welcoming and went above and beyond to accommodate for visitors no matter their status in relation to social comfort level.
Walking through the Historic Gaslight District, people had smiling faces because they were able to enjoy themselves in a safe environment created by the Petoskey business and tourism community. In addition, the outdoor recreation in the Petoskey Area is endless, making your small town planning that much easier, for whatever needs you are trying to accommodate.
You can make your travel plans with confidence this season and have an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful places on the Michigan Coast. Below are My Town’s favorite picks for visiting Petoskey.
Inns and Institutions
It seems like every small town has unique old buildings that capture your attention and your imagination. It is wonderful when you’re able to visit a town that has invested resources in these institutions and brings them back to life, or they have been lovingly maintained. In Petoskey, you will find these investments at The Terrace Inn and 1911 Restaurant and Bay View Association.
Recently, I had the privilege of staying at the Historic Terrace Inn Hotel in Petoskey, Michigan. This small town gem is located in Bay View (a private community), and gives you great access to the Michigan Coast. This hotel has tons of old-world charm. You will feel like you’re one of the original resorters who used to “summer here,” back in the days when the Terrace Inn was built (Est. 1911).
The hotel’s outward appearance has not changed in 100 years. The pillars of the grand outdoor upper terrace are the same as when built. The beautiful dining room, common areas, and guest rooms have the same structure and many original features, but with a twenty first century upgrade. If you want to know what it felt like to stay in Petoskey a century ago, you will get that feeling here. It’s not hard to imagine. What I liked most was its proximity to the water, the size of the guestrooms (we were in a Queen Suite ) and the hospitality of the staff. To add even more goodness, the Terrace Inn spoils you with amazing food!
The 1911 Restaurant
Not only does the 1911 Restaurant serve the community with upscale dinners, but they serve guests gourmet breakfasts that are included in your stay! This is not continental breakfast. This is fresh bacon, sausage, waffles, quiche, fresh fruit, and their famous vegetable eggs, just to name a few items that may be on the menu that day.
Plus, of all the many food choices there are in Petoskey, I was told not to miss 1911’s Sunday Special of Gourmet Pizzas and Planked Whitefish. We tried the BBQ Chicken Pizza and ordered their house Old Fashioned, and a Negroni. The pizza was delicious as described, and along with our drinks, my husband and I enjoyed our time on the upper terrace. It was a perfect evening, and a great way to start our time in Petoskey.
Bay View Association
The Bay View Association is a Christian-founded resort community that now is an incredible historical, community, vacationer, and second home resource for Petoskey! After its founding by the Methodist Community it became a Chautauqua. Chautauqua’s were a movement of educational and cultural centers in America that attracted millions from the 1870’s to the 1920’s. Bay View is part of the Chautauqua Trail you can learn about here.
Families have been flocking to Bay View since 1875, for the beautiful lake Michigan activities, relaxation, and views, but what really makes Bay View special is its programming. Since its inception, Bay View has offered educational, worship, performing arts, and recreational programming to all its residents and members. The programs at Bay View are sought after, and offer activities for all ages. They even have scholarships for summer internships focused on the arts.
Their beautiful historical buildings now also serve as community venues for musical performances, theatrical shows, seminars, and more. Interested in a second home? You would not believe the value you will get at Bay View. You can also be a part of Bay View’s community by renting or becoming a member for its programs. Bay View’s programs and way of life are values My Town holds dear, and is a way of living that is slowing disappearing. This is why the level of facility and programmatic use with their fused-community model is so impressive and appreciated in small town Petoskey.
The Delicious and Delectable of Petoskey
There are tons of wonderful choices in Petoskey when it comes to great food. From formal dining to casual downtown staples, here are a few My Town Picks:
My Town had the pleasure of talking with Mim’s Mobile Grill at The Back Lot in Petoskey. Mim’s serves amazing Mediterranean cuisine, and shared with My Town what a wonderful set up The Back Lot and Outdoor Beer Garden has been for the food truck community. It’s a fun way to experience food in Petoskey and keep to social distancing. Visit Mim’s at The Back Lot, or at their home location on Highway 31. My Town Recommends: Mediterranean Platter- featuring: Grape leaves, falafel, hummus, pita, tzatziki, and tabbouleh. Or Mim’s Classic Gyro, Baklava, and Mim’s famous Spicy Feta Garlic dipping sauce!
The food experience at The Back Lot and Mim’s Mobile Grill is one you don’t want to miss when visiting Small Town Petoskey!
If you’re venturing out to visit the surrounding areas of Petoskey, stop in at Red Mesa Grill in the adorable town of Boyne City. Red Mesa Grill is a Latin American restaurant roasting all their meats in house and smoking all their beans for signature dishes for over 23 years.
This local favorite use over 100 pounds of fresh tomatoes a day for salsa and has the best margaritas around! There is outdoor seating, or grab curbside to take with you on your Petoskey Area adventures. My Town recommends: Chicken and Chorizo Stuffed Poblano with chihuahua cheese, Panama red rice, onion, and roasted corn, served with their homemade tomato chipotle sauce, gringo rice, and black beans (pictured). Make sure to scroll though the gallery for food and menu pics and their tequila bar choices!
You cannot visit Petoskey without visiting Kilwins. Founded in Petoskey in 1947 by Don ad Katy Kilwin, the franchise is now known throughout America. Kilwins’ are known for their boutique shops offering quality hand-crafted chocolates, confections, and ice cream, but it all started in Petoskey. You can find everything your heart desires from fudge to chocolate covered pretzels and Oreo treats! Stop in and visit them for your sweet tooth craving while shopping downtown. Or visit their large facility on Bay View Road for tours and gifts.
Visit Petoskey’s Unique Wineries
Michigan has been building a reputation as a wine destination for quite some time. Petoskey is a great place to visit these wineries, as they have very unique choices in a small town setting.
Welcome to Maple Moon Sugarbush and Winery- America’s First Maple Winery. This truly is a spectacular winery, not just for its uniqueness and quality- but for its array of Pure Michigan Maple Syrup products and the small town feel provided by the Petersen Family (owners). Pictured is their Early Spring Reserve Wine and several other delicious products!
You may be wondering how maple syrup makes wine taste? It actually has a very smooth and robust flavor, it is not a super sweet wine, it’s just smooth and delicious! You can learn all about Maple Wine by calling to schedule a free tour, followed by a fun tasting! This was one of My Town’s favorite stops while visiting Petoskey. Their family atmosphere and learning about how the maple wine is made really made an impression.
Everything I tried had a wonderful and unique flavor you can only get at Maple Moon. The bourbon-barrel aged syrup is so good, I have friends now wanting it for their small town bakery! Maple Moon’s products are great for upcoming Christmas gifts, check them out, and make sure to check out My Town’s upcoming podcasts for their awesome story!
Rudbeckia and Burnt Marshmallow Brewstillery is a family-owned winery and brewery located in the rolling hills outside Petoskey. The location is nothing short of stunning, especially if you come during dusk for dinner. Rudbeckia is starting to do tours of the winery, where you can ride up into the vineyard (with a glass of wine in hand of course!).
Learn about their umbrella method of farming, try grapes right off the vine, hear Rudbeckia’s story of how this property used to be the largest dairy farm in the area for over 100 years, and the family ties to Napa, CA. What I loved here was the family feel. There are several outdoor areas to choose for seating, including private party areas with fire rings. In addition, you cannot miss saying hello to Rudbeckia’s two very special residents. Coco and Posey are the friendly free-range pot belly pigs, located in the Piggy Palace just behind the Tasting Room! Just another fun and unexpected facet to visiting Petoskey wineries.
Unique, Interesting, Yours of the Petoskey Area
What is it about a town that makes it special? A local attraction, a family-owned business that has been there forever? A piece of history you can’t find anywhere else, or a bookstore with just the right vibe? Here are a few of the Unique, Interesting, Yours of Petoskey.
What was the perfect day in Petoskey for My Town? Paddling at Petoskey State Park! You can do it too, by grabbing a Kayak from Bahnhof Sports! I loved the friendly staff here, they helped get our kayak strapped to my Pilot, and we were off for the day! Kayaking, paddleboarding, whatever you love to do on the water, they have you covered. Or visit in winter and grab your skis here or rent a bike and head to Petoskey’s beautiful Historic Gaslight District downtown.
I love the freedom that having a kayak gives you in a place like Petoskey. There’s so much to see from the water, and just being out there is good for the soul. Plus, at Petoskey State Park you have great changing and restroom facilities, so you can add playing on the sand dunes and hunting Petoskey Stones to make an all-day adventure!
What an incredible way to experience the Little Traverse Bay for only $10.00! Yep, it’s the best deal in Petoskey, and a great way to take in beautiful views, and travel to Bay Harbor and Harbor Springs from Petoskey. Why drive? The Little Traverse Bay Ferry is also a nonprofit, so check out their schedules and support them when you visit the Petoskey Area.
The Avalanche Mountain Preserve is made up of 300 wooded acres on the southern border of Boyne City that is a destination for hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling. But the crown jewel of the area is The Overlook. You must climb 462 steps to get to the top overlooking Boyne City and Lake Charlevoix, but it’s worth it! You can even see Lake Michigan in the far distance.
A trip to Petoskey must entail exploring downtown. Petoskey’s Historic Gaslight District has been a shopping area for over 100 years. You will be completely impressed with the number of boutique and specialty shops in this area, and the number of great places to eat, ranging from small town coffee shops to fine dining! Check out a few of My Town’s Favorite Finds below.
Oden Fish Hatchery is a great way to spend a morning in nature, be socially distant, and it’s free! I was extremely impressed with this facilities trails, educational areas, and overall beauty. Plus, no matter your age, it is just fun to look at the trout! The water is so clear you will really enjoy watching the wildlife in this peaceful environment.
Hunting for Petoskey Stones
A Petoskey Stone is a pebble shaped rock that is fossilized Rugose Coral called Hexagonaria. This coral was left from glaciers that used to inhabit Northwestern Michigan and has been deposited on the Petoskey shores.
The stones are identified by their unique hexagonal pattern. The name Petoskey comes from a native Odawa Indian Chief. These stones are now sought after in the area to make jewelry, and for collectors’ items. Even former President Obama had a Petoskey Stone spotted on his desk! Hunting for these stones is fun way to enjoy time on the Petoskey Michigan shores, and leave with an incredibly unique souvenir!
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This includes Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! In Petoskey, there are great Boutique and Market finds everywhere you look. Below are some of My Town‘s Favorite Finds.
Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts– Crooked Tree Arts Center– McLean and Eakin Booksellers– Roast and Toast– Ward & Eis Gallery, Native American Jewelry and Art – Cutler’s Kitchen, Home, and Gifts –Symons General Store– The Katydid
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on visiting a town and finding out what town the majority of its residents recommend My Town should visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Elk Rapids, MI. Stay tuned for My Town to pop up there soon.
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