northern michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs & Walloon Lake

I count myself lucky to have a lifelong tie to Northern Michigan. My family has spent our summers visiting Walloon Lake dating back to my grandfather's childhood. The family history and peaceful beauty calls me back year after year. And while a lot has changed over the years, the low key lifestyle and slower pace is intoxicating for me. Cell phone reception is spotty and the long summer days make it easy to slow down and forget the long to do list you have waiting for you back home. The area is full of fun day trips and there are plenty of activities to do, but I often find myself passing the days on the dock, getting lost in a good book and losing track of time. 

Pack... Plenty of swimsuits, then layers for when the temperatures drop at night.

Read... The Nick Adams Stories by Earnest Hemingway. 

Sleep... For spectacular views on Lake Michigan, a yummy restaurant and indulgent spa, The Inn at Bay Harbor is my hotel pick for the area. Conveniently located off Highway 31, about 10 minutes south of Petoskey. Or better yet, rent a place to stay on Walloon. 

Bring home... A B.May bag (can't help myself!), some American Spoon jams and grilling sauces, a Petoskey stone magnet and a box of Tom's Mom's chocolate chip cookies. 

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{ eat } 

Chandler's (Petoskey) - This cozy restaurant is my favorite spot for lunch or dinner in town. Delicious salads, sushi and yummy entrees are always a hit. Built out of a well-stocked wine cellar, there's a nice feel to this place and a stellar wine list to boot. 

Happy Taco (Petoskey) - While I was initially so disappointed to learn that the American Spoon Cafe closed, Happy Taco was a pleasant surprise for well-made Mexican food in a bright, well-designed space. Don't miss the American Spoon gelato bar on your way out. 

Roast & Toast Coffee & Cafe (Petoskey) - A classic spot with four fresh soups plus salads and sandwiches on the menu, you can't go wrong for a quick and satisfying meal. 

Twisted Olive (Petoskey) - This new spot boasts amazing views of Little Traverse Bay, and also has great patio seating as well. Best for breakfast and lunch, their salads, sandwiches and main dishes all have a Mediterranean twist. 

Parkside Deli (Petoskey) - This deli makes the best bread, which in my book is a key ingredient for a delicious sandwich. I love the Veggie, but you can't go wrong here for a quick lunch. 

North Perk Coffee (Petoskey) - My new favorite place to refuel when I'm window shopping in town. Their chai hit the spot - I want one right now! 

Barrel Back (Walloon Lake) - For those of us on Walloon, taking a boat to lunch or dinner is a fun activity. The destination is more impressive than the food here, but its a fun spot and a great place to watch the sunset if you are lucky enough to get a table by the window. 

Walloon Lake Inn (Walloon Lake) - For a more upscale dining experience on the lake, the Walloon Lake Inn is an institution that has been around since 1891. Recently renovated, the Inn serves classic dishes like whitefish and a delicious Caesar salad.  

Knot Just a Bar (Bay Harbor) - A casual spot on the harbor, Knot Just a Bar is perfect for grabbing a drink at sunset or a quick bite to eat while oogling the big boats docked at Bay Harbor. 

Sam's Graces Cafe & Bakery (Harbor Springs) - This cute cafe has yummy salads and delicious thin crust pizza. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, so plan accordingly. 

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{ do } 

Spend time on the lake. Swim, sail, paddle board, water ski, jet ski or just enjoy the sunset... That's what you came for!

In Petoskey, shop at McLean & Eakin for books to read on the dock, Threads for fashion forward clothes and American Spoon for locally made jams and sauces (I stock up on a bunch of these every summer). Then drive twenty minutes around the bay over to charming Harbor Springs. On your way, stop at B.May for the coolest leather bags, then once you find yourself on the quaint main street, Huzza is a well-curated shop to browse and find inspiration, and W. Wear has a funky collection of women's clothes. And don't leave without picking up a box of Tom's Mom's chocolate chip cookies. They are seriously the best. 

Gallery hop. There are wonderful local artists across Michigan and I've filled my home with lots of their work. Tvedten Fine Art in Harbor Springs is my favorite gallery. Pierre Bittar is a classic and I love Hramiec Hoffman's unique work as well. 

Go berry picking... raspberries, cherries, blueberries all come into season throughout the summer. A fun activity especially with kids -- this used to be the highlight of our summer when we were young. Bonus points if you make raspberry jam or a cherry pie with your berries!

Eat some fudge

Workout at The Yoga Cave and C...Pilates

For a day trip, head to Mackinac Island. Cars are still not allowed on the island, so after taking a ferry over you can rent bikes or horseback ride to explore the island.