Set on the shores of Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey is an Up North, lower peninsula gem punctuated by charming Victorian homes, a quaint gaslight shopping district and miles of walkable trails and sparkling, sandy beaches—plus outdoor recreation galore.
The area is famous not only as inspiration to Ernest Hemingway, but also for its namesake stones that beckon waterfront waders to hunt for a handful of fossilized treasures.
From Grand Rapids, it's about a three-hour drive up US-131, making it a close-to-home destination that still feels like a proper escape. In a time of limited travel, Petoskey offers an oasis for those looking to enjoy a winter—or any season—getaway as safely as possible. That's thanks in part to The Pure Michigan Pledge many area businesses have taken, vowing to follow protocols intended to protect visitors, employees and residents. Add in an abundance of outdoor activities and you have a vacation that's less crowded and requires fewer indoor interactions.
Walking, hiking, skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, ice-skating, biking, golfing, fishing, and boating all allow for physical distancing and fresh, open air.
Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands resorts are regional favorites featuring on-site lodging and all-season fun. Together, they boast more than 100 downhill runs, plus additional terrain for other winter adventures like horseback riding, fat tire snow biking, sno-go biking, and even ziplining. In spring, fall and summer, other activities open up, allowing for outdoor enjoyment no matter when you visit. Accommodations include condos, lodges, villas, cabins, suites and hotels rooms—ranging from rustic to upscale. Nub's Nob, also in the area, adds another 50-plus ski slopes and is more focused on winter sports, with plenty of nearby overnight rental options.
Photo courtesy of Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.
Off the slopes is Bear River Valley Recreation Area, with its 1.5-mile mile path along the Bear River that's ideal for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, birdwatching, or a leisurely stroll. In neighboring Boyne City, there's the 300-acre Avalanche Mountain Preserve, a mostly wooded area that welcomes guests to enjoy all of these outdoor activities, plus snowmobiling, archery and disc golf.
There are plenty of restaurants, specialty shops and breweries, distilleries, and wineries within the Petoskey Area Culinary Trail to fuel your next escapade. While in-house dining may be either reduced or prohibited, many establishments are offering curbside pickup, delivery and retail shopping.
Stop at Grain Train Natural Foods, Symons General Store, Crooked Tree Breadworks, and Petoskey Cheese to gather everything you need for an informal picnic. Order carryout from popular local pick Julienne Tomatoes, or maybe some pub grub and suds to go from Petoskey Brewing or Beards Brewery—to name a few.
Bring home sweets, souvenirs, gifts and imbibables from other area go-tos, like Kilwins of Petoskey, American Spoon, Murdick's, High Five Spirits, Maple Moon Family Sugarbush & Winery, and Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery.
Throughout the downtown district and beyond are a multitude of shops and restaurants to make your visit delicious and memorable. Find a full listing on petoskeyarea.com, plus a comprehensive directory to make the most of your time. It's also a great resource for the most up-to-date information for planning and avoiding potential setbacks.
Allison Kay Bannister, a West Michigan resident since 1987, professional writer since 2002 and GVSU alumna, recently launched her own freelance writing business. Allison enjoys travel, art, dance, food and exploring world cultures—and, of course, writing about all these and more.
This article originally appeared in the Feb/Mar 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.
Photo courtesy of Pure Michigan.