Distance: Less than a mile

Time: Completely up to you

If you enjoy history and historical beauty, look no further than Petoskey. Many of the buildings, both business and residential, were constructed from the 1870s to 1930s – and the ornate iron street posts simply add to the charm and sophistication. Streets are, as to be expected, more on the narrow side, so keep that in mind when you venture in. If you don’t want to walk everywhere, or if you want a change of pace, hop on the Victorian-inspired trolley for a free ride.

Stop #1: Begin your tour down by the waterfront at Bayfront Park. You can easily spend some time simply walking around its 25 acres, including a central promenade, marina, and waterfall area. There is also a playground if young legs need to move about. The park is home to the Little Traverse Historical Society Museum, which is housed in the restored Pere Marquette train depot. There are several collections related to Michigan history in the Victorian era and historic figures. Entry is a few dollars, and children can visit for free. (P.S.: The Museum hosts several types of 90-minute walking tours of their own for $15 per adult.)

Stop #2: Across the parking lot from the museum is a tunnel that takes you under U.S. 31. You’ll come out the other side in Petoskey’s well-known Historic Gaslight District. This has been the central shopping area for more than 100 years and is home to more than 170 shops and eateries… so take your pick and meander around for a couple hours! Favorite spots include Symons General Store, which has been in business for over 60 years; and Grandpa Shorter’s, an iconic shop full of provisions, gifts, and wisdom that opened in 1946. Downtown Petoskey is particularly charming when it’s all dressed up for Christmas.

Stop #3: Pennsylvania Park on Lake Street has a lovely white gazebo, gardens, and a statue of a young Ernest Hemmingway, who used to summer Up North in nearby Walloon Lake (nine miles away). The picnic tables make it an ideal location to enjoy lunch or a snack, or perhaps some gelato from American Spoon Foods. On Friday nights in the summer, there is an outdoor concert followed by a family friendly movie.

Stop #4: About a 15-minute walk back across the river is Bear River Valley Recreation Area. It’s the perfect location to walk or bike along a 1.5-mile path. There are pedestrian observation decks on the north end of the river, and it’s a popular spot for fishing. If you’re feeling adventurous, there is also a quarter-mile long whitewater course offered here through Bahnhof Sport.


Within easy driving distance… You can visit Bay Harbor, located just a few miles south of Petoskey. This charming location is home to a beautiful hotel, shops, waterfront dining, and more. You almost feel like you’re walking down Main Street, USA. Don’t miss Maple & Batter if breakfast is your favorite meal of the day, or Mammoth Distilling if you want to meet up with friends. If you go northwest around Little Grand Traverse Bay, you’ll reach the beautiful village of Harbor Springs, which has the deepest freshwater harbor in the Great Lakes. Though small, Harbor Springs has phenomenal shopping, plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating, beaches, and numerous art and music events in the summer. The colorful, old-fashioned cottages that line the streets call one back to a bygone era, yet the porches and yards teem with life each season. Harbor Springs is also a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts, from skiing in the winter to bike riding the trails in the spring.