You may know Michigan is one of the top wine-producing states. But when you think of wineries, you might not think of the Petoskey Area.
After all, winters are just too darn cold up there, right?
Too cold for chardonnay grapes, maybe. But vineyards in the Petoskey Wine Region plant hybrid grapes that can withstand temperatures as cold as 30 or 40 degrees below zero.
“We’re making wines that are very crisp and have higher acidity, which makes them different than grapes grown in other regions,” said Tracie Roush, an owner of Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery.
“The acidity balances the sugar in the fruit so you get a really nice balanced wine, and what we find is that both dry wine drinkers and sweet wine drinkers are enjoying the wine because of the balance.”
Just a few years ago there weren’t many wineries in the Petoskey Area. Now there are 12 and wine tasting has become one of the most popular things to do in the area.
It makes our list of 10 northern Michigan adventures for your summer bucket list:
Launch a squash rocket – Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs makes wine. It also brews craft beer and features a farm market full of fresh produce and unique canned items. Speaking of unique, have you ever fired a squash rocket? There’s tons of family fun at pet-friendly Pond Hill including farm animals and fish that you can feed, hiking trails, a scavenger hunt for gnomes and a giant squash rocket that sends fruits and veggies zinging out into the fields. During weekend afternoons in the summer, you can go on a hayride around the farm.
Immerse yourself in purple – For a completely different farm experience, visit Lavender Hill Farm in Boyne City. One of the largest commercial lavender farms in Michigan offers daily tours and, as you might guess, it looks beautiful. The lavender smells and tastes amazing, too! Lavender Hill also is home to The Series, a schedule of live music concerts on weekend summer nights.
Eat at a Michigan Historic Landmark Dining Destination – Many people drive through the Tunnel of Trees in the fall to envelop themselves in the stunning colors of the season. But the winding route along M-119 from Harbor Springs north to Cross Village also offers breathtaking views in the summer. The peaceful stretch hugs Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan as it passes through small towns with cute little shops and art galleries. At the northern end of the route is Legs Inn, an historic Polish restaurant with distinctive architecture and a beautiful garden overlooking the water.
Pedal your breath away – No matter how slow you ride, the scenic beauty of the Little Traverse Wheelway is breathtaking. The 26-mile paved trail runs along the waterfront between Harbor Springs and Charlevoix, going from one eye-popping vista to the next as it passes through historic Bay View and elegant Bay Harbor. You can rent a bike or rollerblades or bring your own. Try to keep your eyes on the path!
Play disc golf up a mountain – In the winter, Avalanche Mountain Preserve in Boyne City is “Michigan’s Best Sledding Hill.” In the summer, it’s a great place to go for a hike and get a heavenly perspective on northern Michigan scenery. It’s a 462-step climb to the top of one side of the mountain, where a thrilling view of Lake Charlevoix awaits. On the other side, you can play disc golf along your way up the mountain on one of Michigan’s top courses. There are several other trails, too, both for hiking and mountain biking, with a wide range of difficulty. The 300-plus-acre, city-run preserve also offers an archery range in the summer.
Become one with nature – For more hiking trails, download the LTC Explorer app and set off on a path of discovery in the Little Traverse Conservancy Nature Preserves. There are some 80 preserves, many within the Petoskey Area, where you can enjoy low-impact activities including hiking, birdwatching and, of course, fishing. Michigan is surrounded by the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes, and that affords many opportunities to get out on the water. That’s especially true in the Petoskey Area. Rent a kayak or paddleboard. Go boating. Make a splash and savor the most natural form of refreshment. Hunt for Petoskey stones or build sandcastles on the beach! Summer doesn’t last forever in Michigan, and that makes warm, sunny days that much sweeter.
Play the best and the beautiful – No list of outdoor recreation in northern Michigan is complete without golf. The Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed Heather at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs has been named the 2019 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, and Bay Harbor again has been named by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. Those are just two of 18 amazing golf courses within about 30 minutes of each other in the Petoskey Area.
Find extraordinary treasures – You can find treasured Petoskey stones on the beach, but there are one-of-a-kind finds all over the Petoskey Area in the region’s charming downtowns. For example, there’s Bay Harbor, the golf course, and then there’s Bay Harbor, the cute village with unique boutique shops to explore. When you’re done shopping in Bay Harbor, you can head over to Boyne City or Harbor Springs or Petoskey. You’ll find more of the same uncongested, easygoing pace, and yet it’s completely different because each downtown has a relaxing character all its own.
See a real gingerbread house – If you’re a lover of arts and culture, check out the new 500-seat Great Lakes Center for the Arts with a wide variety of national acts or the Crooked Tree Arts Center that holds events in a renovated church building that still features stained glass. If you’re an admirer of interesting architecture, tour the Bay View neighborhood with 450 historic buildings including authentic gingerbread houses that make it one of the Prettiest Painted Places in the country.
Plan a week of remarkable day trips – Whether you spend an afternoon on Mackinac Island, go for a climb up the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, watch the stars come out at Headlands International Dark Sky Park or go elk viewing in Gaylord – or all of the above! – you can find a home base in the Petoskey Area that’s perfectly suited for your adventures.
“Getting off the beaten path is so easy to do here,” said Diane Dakins, assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.