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Things To Do In Petoskey With Kids

If you’ve been to Petoskey or a nearby town, you’ll agree: 24 hours isn’t much time to explore things. I know. Yet, we managed to see quite a bit of loveliness in that short amount of time during our summer road trip through Michigan. Read on to see all the things you can do in Petoskey if your family only has one day to explore.

Disclosure: Our visit was hosted by Visit Petoskey Area. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Things to do if you only have one day in Petoskey

Our main goal while visiting the Petoskey area? Find a Petoskey stone. It was at the top of my Little Traverse Bay Bucket List.

Our second goal: Enjoy the scenery.

And my third goal (not quite shared with the family but since they were with me, they had to come along): Find some Hemingway history.

We accomplished all three.

Things to do in Petoskey with kids

We arrived in Petoskey on a gorgeous, summer day. I’m talking blue skies, 72 degrees, birds-chirping-on-my-should kind of day (I might be exaggerating on that last part).

Clear water lake front in Petoskey, Michigan
The Little Traverse Bay has crystal clear water. My kids immediately began looking for Petoskey stones along the rocky shoreline.

We went down Bayfront Park for the view of the lake and immediately my kids started looking for Petoskey stones.

Petoskey waterfront
The hunt for Petoskey stones begins.

No luck. But, lunch called so we gave up the pursuit for a little bit. The kids are easily distracted by things like waterfalls.

Waterfall at Bayfront Park in Petoskey, Michigan
There’s a little waterfall and a creek that winds through Bayfront Park in Petoskey, Michigan.

Near the Bayfront Park is Bear River Recreation Area. This pretty little creek runs through the heart of Petoskey and is a great little escape. We walked just a little ways, before moving on (there were Petoskey stones to be found, you know).

Bear River Recreation Area in northern Michigan
It’s an easy walk along the trail that runs through Bear River Recreation Area in downtown Petoskey.

Our best luck with the Petoskey stone hunt was at Petoskey State Park, which you’ll need a park passport to enter (an additional fee). The lake has a great beach area and an abundance of smooth stones washed ashore. We did luck out and found a few beauties!

Petoskey State Park
The look of a happy kid, satisfied that he found an elusive Petoskey stone while at Petoskey State Park.

The sandy beach was wonderful but the water was frigid, so we kept the stone hunt close to shore.

The final place we enjoyed nature was in Alanson, a very small town near Petoskey. Our hotel, Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge, felt removed from everything in a good way. It was beside a river, where if we had time, we could’ve used the hotel’s kayaks to explore down river.

Crooked River at sunset
This was the entry point at the hotel for kayakers.

Instead, we sat on the stone patio, near the fire pit and soaked in the sunset’s reflection on the clouds over the river. Bliss.

If spending a lot of time outdoors is not your thing, Petoskey has a charming downtown area that’s full of local shops.

American Spoon storefront in Petoskey
Downtown Petoskey has a mix of retail and restaurants. It’s very near the waterfront.

Our favorite stop was the bookstore ,McLean and Eakin. The kid’s department there was large.

Dining with kids in Petoskey

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Petoskey, and so, I only have two recommendations. They’re good ones, though.

Hemingway plaque in front of City Park Grill in Petoskey
The City Park Grill is an old Hemingway haunt in Petoskey, Michigan. He usually sat in the second seat from the end of the bar.

Petoskey has some Ernest Hemingway connections, including one bar that he had visited. You can go there today and sit in his seat, which was the second seat from the end of the bar. The place is called City Park Grill (though in Hemingway’s day, it was the Annex), and it’s in the heart of the very charming downtown area. I was with my family, so instead of saddling up to the bar, we sat at a dinner table and ordered lunch. There is a kids menu, so, it’s totally fine to bring well-behaved kiddos along.

Parmesan fries at Petoskey Brewing Co.
We had parmesan fries, ice cream bars and beer at Petoskey Brewing Co. The brew pup is near Petoskey State Park.

Close to Petoskey State Park is our second food recommendation, Petoskey Brewing Co., though we can only vouch for the exquisite, tiny homemade ice cream bar there (and the beer, of course). There are several flavors to choose from, though my family all picked one that involved mint ice cream and Butterfinger candy bars. I dined on some parmesan fries, because that sounded way better food to accompany a craft beer than ice cream.

Where to stay near Petoskey

Our hotel, Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge, was about 10 miles away from Petoskey. It was a lodge-like getaway without really being too far from modern conveniences like book stores, fancy shops, and microbreweries, then take a look at this hotel.

Exterior of Stafford's Crooked River Lodge in Michigan
Dusk at Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge in northern Michigan. If you look closely, you can see a bit of the fire that was crackling in the hotel’s fire pit.

If you’re set on staying in the quaint town of Petoskey, you might want to check out another of the Stafford’s properties: Stafford’s Perry Hotel in the heart of downtown Petoskey. It was built in 1899.

Anyway, back to Crooked River Lodge. The room we stayed in was spacious—the biggest on our entire trip. There were two bedrooms each with a king bed, plus a living room area and kitchen. And, then, the best part, there was also a private patio for our room.

The pool and hot tub were indoors, and included a little waterfall that delighted my kids.

Fire pit at Stafford's Crooked River Lodge in northern Michigan
The view of the lawn at Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge. Just beyond the lawn is the river.

The hotel had lawn games to check out, as well as the kayaks mentioned above. Additional kid-friendly things included a fish pond (with free fish food), hiking trails, complimentary popcorn in the lobby, and my daughter’s favorite thing of all: A little playhouse with toys and a play kitchen. She loved that space almost as much as she loved getting gobs of free popcorn.

There is a complimentary breakfast included with the stay.

Read more about Petoskey area

Family-friendly things to do in Petoskey if you only have 24 hours in Petoskey #PetoskeyArea #Michigan #PureMichigan #familytravel #outdoors

The Petoskey area was in the middle of an epic road trip for my family. To plan your own epic road trip through Michigan, read my Michigan road trip recap featuring restaurant highlights, sights to see, and where to stay.

For Petoskey Area highlights, read these posts:

A Nature Getaway Near Petoskey – Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge – Aug. 20

My Petoskey Area/Little Traverse Bay Bucket List

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