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My Little Traverse Bay Bucket List

There’s a big Michigan road trip in the works and one of our stops will be in the Little Traverse Bay Region. There are so many things to do and places to see, I’ve started a Little Traverse Bay bucket list.

Given the itinerary of the road trip this summer, I get about 24 hours in the bay area – so this is a big wish list that will have to be checked off over additional trips. Here’s my Little Traverse Bucket List, featuring things to do in Petoskey, Charlevoix and other nearby cities.

Find a Petoskey stone

I’ll fess up, these stones were the reason I looked into visiting Little Traverse in the first place. They’re so intriguing! The stones are actually fossilized coral that have a pretty distinct pattern on them. We can head to the beach of Petoskey State Park to hunt for them.

Petoskey stones are actually fossils found in Michigan
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Taste local brews

I can’t resist a good microbrewery, and in Petoskey, there’s Petoskey Brewing Co. You know what sounds good on the menu (besides beer)? The Ultimate Fries: beer-batter fries topped with a melted three-cheese blend, chopped bacon and served with ranch dressing. The building has an interesting history. The building was opened in 1898 and was once known as the Old Brewery, serving Petoskey Sparkle beer until 1915.

Petoskey Brewing Co. is home to the Ultimate Fries, beer-battered fires topped with three cheeses, bacon and served with ranch dressing.
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Do as Hemingway did

Petoskey has some legit Ernest Hemingway haunts. The historic City Park Grill dates back to the 1800s. Sit at the bar (second seat from the front) and you can have a drink where Papa Bear once sat.

You can order the Hemingway Martini to complete the experience. Here’s a full tour of Hemingway’s Michigan.

Visit Pond Hill Farm

This sounds like a place that caters to everyone in my family: There’s a farm to feed animals, a hayrack ride to a trout pond, and a winery and brewery.

Pond Hill Farm is guaranteed animal encounters in Michigan
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Shop the Gaslight District

Petoskey’s six-block Historic Gaslight District looks like a charming area to spend an afternoon shopping. American Spoon is located in the Gaslight District, where they sell artisan jams. 

A visit to Mclean and Eakin will be great too. It’s one of the top independently-owned bookstores in the U.S.

The historic Gaslight District in Petoskey, Michigan., features quaint shops and trendy restaurants, as well as one of the top independently-owned bookstores in the U.S.
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Look for the Mushroom Homes

In Charlevoix, there are 26 homes that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale. Designed by Earl Young, these Mushroom Homes are privately-owned, but you can get a self-guided driving tour brochure from the chamber of commerce.

There's a self-guided tour of the
Photo courtesy Visit Charlevoix

See a show – If my road trip started a little later in the summer, I could catch a performance at Great Lakes Center for the Arts. The first show of the summer season is July 7, 2018. Since it’s a bucket list, I can wish for the impossible (my rules), so I’d have tickets to the already sold-out performance of Pink Martini. Love that band!

Drive the Tunnel of Trees – M-119 got the nickname for obvious reasons, this well-known 20-mile route ends at a state park said to have beautifully-colored stones to discover.

One of the most scenic drives in Michigan is along M-119, also known as the Tunnel of Trees.
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Stargaze – Skies don’t get all-too-dark in a city, so rare is the chance to find something like stargazing like I could at Headlands International Dark Sky Park (the ninth in the world!). Located in nearby Mackinaw City, it’s free to visit, day or night.

Northern Michigan nights are meant for stargazing.
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Maple syrup tour – The Little Traverse Conservancy offers a variety of events year-round, including a chance to visit Parsons Farm and taste the Hardwood Gold Maple Syrup. The Parson family opens the taps during the event, and just maybe, those on the tour get to taste the maple.

Tapping a maple tree at Maple Moon Sugarbush & Winery in Petoskey, Michigan
Photo courtesy Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau

Need more ideas? Start with Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau and then check out head over to Michgan Pinterest Board and see all the great stuff I’ve pinned.

A small-town getaway bucket list for Little Traverse Bay in Michigan. This wish list of things to do in the Michigan region includes where to see the night skies, hunt for Petoskey stones, drive a well-known tree-lined route, and seek out the famous Mushroom Homes | Things to do in Michigan USA | Michigan road trip ideas | Little Traverse Bay family vacation

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Stacey Kassel

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

What is the State Park's name at the end of the Tunnel of Trees? What to find some pretty rocks!


Wednesday 17th of March 2021

There are a few nature preserves in that area. I had the best luck at Petoskey State Park.

Joseph Bingaman

Tuesday 17th of July 2018

I was fortunate enough to grow up and spend most of my adult life there. You should check out historic Bay View, have brunch at Stafford's Bay View Inn, go to Burt Lake State Park for swimming (water is warmer than LTB and shallower, with no undertow). Instead of Petoskey Brewing Co., try Beards Brewery in downtown Petoskey, with a great view of the bay. You want an excellent burger? Hit Mitchell St. Pub in the center of downtown or Tap 30 nearby. Feel like fresh fish? Bob's Place in Alanson has an amazing Friday Night Fish Fry.

Other places to see: Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island/Historic Michilimackinac. The island alone is amazing.

Like I said, I was fortunate to live there. There are so many hidden places, I could write a book in the comments. Enjoy your trip to LTB!


Tuesday 17th of July 2018

Hi Joseph - Thank you for these tips! I love getting a local's perspective on a place.

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