Northern Michigan’s small town famous for Hemingway haunts swells to three times it’s population of 6,000 with each summer’s vacationers, but the three slower seasons offer plenty of allure for visitors without the crowds and chaos. From the quaint downtown shops to outdoor recreation with changing colors and beautiful snowfall, Petoskey’s an ideal getaway the other nine months of the year. Here are a few of our favorite things about the town from our last visit.
Haunted with History
The Michigan Hemingway Society recently dedicated 11 particular sites as stops for Hemingway followers, but the literary legend is believed to have been almost everywhere in this town. From the watering hole he’d frequent to the diner he ate in and homes he lived in, every haunt is said to have inspired his writing, and many are said to be haunted.
After a self-guided tour of Hemingway’s Michigan, try a ghost tour, where locals will show you City Park Grill’s basement, the site of former owner Frank Fochtman’s hanging, and The Perry Hotel, reportedly with paranormal activity on the third floor and lobby, and more. Schedule a private tour or attend the occasional $5, hour-long group Ghost Walk.
Northern Michigan is also home to captivating railway and architectural history. Steamships, railway cars and dummy trains all played integral roles in Petoskey’s development, the stories of which are housed in the Little Traverse History Museum where visitors can also learn about the innovative architecture and design of the Victorian era. The Bay View Association’s hundreds of Victorian homes and historic buildings have become a National Historic Landmark with community events and programs open to the public.
For more captivating architecture, take a driving tour of Earl Young’s unique, incomparable homes referred to as “mushroom houses” in nearby Charlevoix.
Enchanted with Charm
Browse boutiques, gift shops, and eateries downtown for famous pie and fudge, distinctly Michigan trinkets and souvenirs, and local artists’ works. From handmade jewelry or baskets to specialty oils, vinegars or jams, there are a variety of stops to try something local.
Dine in Palette Bistro for local produce, fish and beer with a beautiful view of Little Traverse Bay and rotating local art as décor. View more local art in any of a dozen galleries or the Northern Michigan Artists Market, and finish with dessert at Jesperson’s, a local favorite going on 110 years of famous pies where yes, Hemingway once ate.
Petoskey’s general stores combine the charm and history with local goods, gifts, wine and eats. Horton Bay General Store, featured in The Last Good Country, combines a B&B, restaurant and gift shop with hospitable and knowledgeable local owners. Don’t miss Symons General Store while downtown though, with a basement wine cellar, restaurant and craft goods.
Bewildered with Nature
Discover the beauty and wildlife that drew Hemingway here from Illinois and throughout his childhood summers for fishing, camping and hunting. The area’s abundant lakes and rivers offer trout, salmon and walleye fishing in addition to boating, sailing, kayaking or canoeing. The surrounding woods burst with color in the fall perfect for hiking or biking, and winter boasts snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and snowshoeing opportunities.
The winter also brings hunting seasons with all kinds of game in Northern Michigan’s extensive forests. Enjoy nature walks and cycling trails in these any time of year, plus horseback riding or off-roading. Find a wide range of camping and RV sites, local sporting outfitters and recreation guides through Travel Michigan. They can guide on where to stay, eat, golf, play or shop as well.
Tell us what you’ve discovered in Northern Michigan in Best of the Road reviews or use our Hemingway Road Trip to make new discoveries on your next visit.