Best places to explore in northern Michigan

As the summer of 2019 comes to a close and the new academic year begins, I am grateful to have a bit of time to reflect on the summer. 

From my first column of the summer, I spoke about my move to Petoskey, Michigan, for two months on a Summer Leadership Project with Campus Outreach. Now that the two months are over, it’s time to reflect and share the places I visited and explored while up north.

There are many things I had the chance to experience this summer, but these are the few favorite places I had the chance to go to and recommend you visit if you get the chance:



Sunset Park

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Though a small park by the harbor, there’s a beautiful waterfall in the park. It’s a sort of hidden gem, and it’s nice to plan a picnic or simply sit by. I recommend to check it out if you like little scenic sites!

Coveyou Scenic Farm Market

Though this isn’t much of a tourist sight, it was one place I loved visiting! If you are one for local farmer’s markets, this is one of the places you can find locally grown fruits and goods from around northern Michigan. There was quite a bit to explore and a garden to walk through, alongside a patio you can sit out for a beautiful view of the river and hills!

North Perk Coffee and Roast ‘N Toast

For the coffee, tea or food lovers, Petoskey, like any small town, has many  local restaurants and cafes to explore. North Perk and Roast ‘N Toast are the places I fell in love with this past summer and consistently went back to! If you like a semi-quiet coffee shop with a laid back atmosphere (similar to Flatlands Coffee), North Perk is your place. If you like the busy atmosphere with all types of people there (similar to Grounds for Thought), Roast ‘N Toast is your place. Both places have select coffee and tea options, with North Perk only having coffee and tea options while Roast ‘N Toast has a good selection of food and drinks. Nonetheless, take a stop at these places to get a decadent taste of Petoskey!

Petoskey Breakwall

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A common tradition in Petoskey is to jump off the Breakwall. It gets its name from its breaking of the waves whenever there are large waves in the lake, preventing the waves from affecting the harbor. People love to jump into the water, which is at least 15 feet deep, and can be dangerous but nonetheless exhilarating. I jumped in a few times this summer and I can say it is quite an experience, both fun and a bit nerve-wracking. If you ever get the chance to go to Petoskey, I definitely recommend to jump off, especially during a sunset. It is absolutely breathtaking to watch the sunset off the wall!



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Charlevoix, roughly a 25-minute drive from Petoskey, is similar to a small town, with a port, beach and small attractions like restaurants and shopping. As I explored Charlevoix, two things I loved to do was to watch the sunset at Charlevoix Beach Park or to walk and/or sit in Van Pelt Alley. I went to a few sunsets at the beach, and each one was beautiful and unique in its own way; I highly recommend going to see a sunset there. In Van Pelt Alley, there was one day I took a few hours to read, journal and write in the alley, just watching the world go by. It was a semi-quiet place, still with people going about, but it has a pleasant atmosphere when wanting to take a step away from the hustle n’ bustle of life. There’s also a flower shop, Bloom Floral Design, where you can get fresh flowers and other little goods, alongside other small shops and restaurants to check out!


Mackinac Island

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Mackinac Island was one of the best memories of the summer! The island is roughly a 45-minute drive from Petoskey and there’s a short boat ride out to it. There are no cars on the island, and it’s known for bikes and horse-drawn carriages being the sole means of transportation. There are different things to do around the island including dining, shopping, biking and much more. The two things I can recommend are the Lucky Bean Coffeehouse and a bike ride around the island! For my coffee lovers, if you love finding new and local coffee shops (like I do), definitely check out this one. For the bike ride around the island, precisely 8.2 miles, I recommend renting a bike for a few hours and experiencing all the charming sights the island has to offer!


Headlands International Dark Sky Park

The experience of the park was one of my favorites this summer! Around the same distance as Mackinac, the “dark park,” as we called it for short, was a wonder. Though there was still a little light pollution from Mackinaw City nearby, there was still a chance to see the stars, planets, globular clusters, bits of the Milky Way and other fun astronomical features! As a huge astro-nerd, it was definitely one of my favorites as it’s amazing to be able to see and experience the sight of the universe with the naked eye!


The Tunnel of Trees

The Tunnel of Trees along M-119, roughly a 28-mile trunkline highway, was a planned evening with friends, and I didn’t know what to expect prior. As we were leaving and hitting M-119, it was cool to see a literal tunnel of trees, especially off the coastline. I recommend going during the evening, because as you drive, you’ll be able to see the sunset. It’s such a pretty sight!

Petoskey and Northern Michigan have a lot to offer and explore, and I highly recommend to take a journey up north! Aside from my mentions, there’s a lot more to do and see, but these places lent to great memories, so, if you get the chance, I would definitely recommend these areas! Overall, the summer in Michigan was amazing and I hope to return next summer. I’d say, add the area to your bucket list for next summer!