We are pretty much halfway through summer here in gorgeous Northern Michigan. I know, I know, I feel like summer just started too!! I swear the kids just got out of school yesterday and I’m already seeing back-to-school sales everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some back-to-shopping. I have a tendency to hoard washable markers. The kids go through them like crazy and are constantly forgetting to put the caps back on but I digress.
We had a huge joint birthday party for our older two kiddos yesterday; bounce house, water slide, yard games, adult beverages, the works! After everyone left in the evening my husband and I ventured into town with his sister and decided to jump off the Petoskey break wall. It was so hot outside and it just felt like the perfect thing to do. Have you ever walked out on the Petoskey break wall? It’s one of those things you just do on hot summer evenings here in Petoskey. It’s a favorite local hang out spot for teens and tweens who jump off and swim out there. It’s essentially a rite of passage really. So, we did it. It’s been years for me and we were easily the oldest people jumping off and swimming but wow, the water felt great and it was so much fun!
This got me thinking, what are some fun summer bucket ideas here in Northern Michigan? I feel like we really try to cram so much into our short summers, so today I’m bringing you a Northern Michigan Summer Bucket List.
#1. Jump or swim off of Petoskey’s break wall. Want to feel young again? Take a running leap into the refreshing (ok, somewhat icy) Lake Michigan water. It’s so fun! Afraid to jump? Climb down one of the provided ladders and swim. I promise you won’t regret it.
#2. Grab some ice cream at one of the multiple ice cream hot spots in downtown Petoskey, Harbor Springs or Charlevoix. Walk down to the harbor and watch the boats come in or catch one of our gorgeous sunsets. We love walking downtown Petoskey in the evening with the kids and grabbing some yummy ice cream at Murdicks or Kilwins, then walking over to Pennsylvania Park or down to the Waterfront park and letting the kids run while we relax.
#3. Day tripping to Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City. Play tourist for a day and step back in time with a day trip to the island. No vehicles are allowed so bring your bikes (you can also rent them on the island) and wear comfy shoes and just hoof it (no pun intended) around the island. The Mackinac Island has tons of historical sights, parks and restaurants.
#4. Take a day and cruise some of our gorgeous inland lakes. Don’t own a boat? You can rent a boat at one of our local marinas. Stop by some favorite local hot spots: Maple Bay sand bar up on Burt Lake, Crooked Lake sand bar and the Black Hole between Crooked and Pickeral Lake. Let the kids swim and make friends with the locals. There are always fun games going on out on the lake and friendly conversation to enjoy.
#5. Have a beach day. Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks, grab some towels and beach chairs and head to the beach! We have multiple State Parks in the area: Petoskey State Park, Young State Park in Boyne City and Burt Lake State Park over in Indian River as well as local beaches: Walloon, Harbor Springs and if you’re up for a little bit of a drive, Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan is north of Harbor Springs and Cross Village.
#6. Ocequeoc Falls. It’s a little bit of a drive from Petoskey (about an hour), but totally worth it. Head over to Indian River and then take M-68 out to Onaway and Rogers City. Ocequeoc Falls is a semi-hidden little gem for locals and those that love out of the way places. Swim in the falls (bring water shoes) and cook out.
#7. Check out a local festival. It’s summer here in Northern Michigan and we have festivals galore. Venetian Festival starts this week over in Charlevoix, the Petoskey’s Festival on The Bay runs August 14th-15th, Boyne Falls Polish Festival is August 1-4 and Alanson Riverfest is August 14, 15 and 16th. Enjoy rides and local foods while taking in the sights.
#8. Shop the downtown Petoskey Gaslight District. Enjoy the boutique stores and unique gift shops such as Grandpa Shorter’s and J.W. & Son’s Mercantile. Head into Roast & Toast for some delicious coffee drinks and peruse Mclean & Eakin Book Sellers for your newest beach read.
#9. Go Camping! We have tons of local State Parks and campgrounds to choose from: Magnus Park is located right below McClaren Hospital in town. Prefer an out of town experience? Try Wildness State Park near Mackinaw City or Camp Petosega out on Pickeral Lake.
#10. Adults only wine tour. Enjoy an afternoon or evening with friends trying out the local wineries here in Northern Michigan.
Have any other ideas to add to the Northern Michigan Summer Bucket List? We’d love to hear them!