September 21, 2023


A Harbor Towns Special
By Rachel Pasche | July 3, 2021

Rock-strewn coasts and windswept beaches rightfully claim much of the fame for our corner of Lower Michigan’s vast shoreline. But amid the miles of Petoskey stones and golden sand, there blooms an idyllic series of civilizations, tiny harbor towns that offer shelter from Lake Michigan’s occasional storms and a much-needed escape from the usual landlocked 9-to-5 grind. Whether you’re a landlubber on a daylong escape or a boater on a weekend tour, most any one of the region’s lake- and bayside hamlets are worth setting your engine to idle and exploring. Here, a tour of one of our favorites, Charlevoix.

Sandwiched between Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan is the endearing town of Charlevoix. Full of rich history, unique architecture, and a distinctive drawbridge over the channel that splits the town in two, a visit to Charlevoix promises to kindle a sense of adventure. Spend your days soaking up the sun on the clear waters of Lake Charlevoix or at one of the nearby beaches, explore the local arts scene, or peruse some of the local storefronts for a one-of-a-kind souvenir. 

The Bridge Street Inn is a charming bed and breakfast with a huge emphasis on hospitality. Visitors receive free breakfast, as well as cheese and wine in the afternoons and homemade cookies in the evening.

Perched on a hill overlooking Lake Charlevoix and the marina, the Edgewater Inn boasts stunning balcony views.

Hotel Earl is Charlevoix’s newest boutique luxury hotel; historical roots and a chic, cosmopolitan atmosphere blend to create a unique Northern experience.

Musts for your Mouth
Anyone who has tried it before can attest: The whitefish at The Villager Pub is a must-eat in the area. It’s mouthwateringly flaky, perfectly crispy, and caught in the Great Lakes, so it’s delightfully fresh. The whitefish varies from $18–$23 depending on how many pieces you order.

Grey Gables serves up elegant "New American" fare in a picturesque Victorian setting, making for a classic date night in Charlevoix. 

Terry’s of Charlevoix describes it as “casual fine dining” and creates delicious menu items from locally sourced foods (seafood included). The setting is intimate and the service is fantastic.

Don’t Leave Town Without …
Checking out the antique furniture and European fine art — 19th and 20th Century are the specialties here — at Northseas Gallery.

Watching the comings and goings of the Beaver Island Ferry, big yachts, small sailboats, and more from the expansive deck at the Weathervane Restaurant, which provides unparalleled views of the drawbridge and one of the best French onion soups in northern Michigan.

Touring the fabled Mushroom Houses of Earl Young, a self-taught builder who created these iconic homes of limestone, fieldstone, and boulders he found throughout northern Michigan. Each house was designed to blend into the surrounding landscape, and each is entirely unique. $22.

Sprawling out on the sand at Michigan Beach Park, a stunning stretch along Lake Michigan, complete with a fishing pier, volleyball nets, basketball courts, walking trails, and a snack bar. 

Visiting Castle Farms, a minutes-from-downtown escape that feels like taking a brief excursion to Europe. The immense grounds are home to Michigan’s largest outdoor railroad, and a visit to the stonewalled 1918 Cellars for a glass of wine tops off the entire experience.

Dock It
The Charlevoix City Marina has 61 transient slips and features water, electricity, showers, restrooms, gasoline, marine repair services, ice, pump-out, a fishing pier, a dog run, grills, and picnic tables, cable TV hookup, laundry, Wi-Fi, and courtesy bicycles. Search "Charlevoix City Marina" at

Want more?
Click to read about three other harbor towns highlighted this issue: Petoskey, Northport, and Suttons Bay.


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