For many folks, the day of the leisurely summer road trip is only a memory.
This need not be the case, however, and this is the best time of year to light out, while days are long and the stars bright.
When you do venture out for an afternoon’s drive in Northern Michigan, the adventure is well worth the effort if you point your truck to one of the many local bars and restaurants that serve local flavor, as well as local color.
When driving along the Leelanau Peninsula, for example, a sure thing is Dick’s Pour House in Lake Leelanau. Opened at the end of the Great Depression, Dick’s features great perch, a Northern Michigan summer staple, along with a full selection of other great food, including hefty 1/3 pound burgers and great onion rings.
Heading north, I like to stop in at the Keyhole in Mackinaw City, where the key theme is nowhere more evident than in the long bar top, accented with hundreds of old keys in shapes both recognizable and new. I recommend the perch, the whitefish, or the wraps, particularly the steak and Swiss version.
Over Indian River way, a great choice is The Brass Rail, where the beer is also plenty cold, the burgers are tasty, and Bloody Marys go down easy, but the ping-pong is the real draw. The ping-pong balls and paddles are free, but the lights in the game room, ringed by mesh to keep the balls from flying everywhere, require coins. The jingle in your pocket is well worth the entertainment value.
Around Petoskey, where there is no shortage of good places to eat and drink, a local favorite is still Don’s Bar, mostly because it ignored pressures to upgrade.
Unchanged in all the years I have been frequenting, Don’s offers tabletop shuffleboard and pool to go along with cold beer and good times. Leave your appetite at home, however, as Don’s serves up only chips and pretzels.
So when you get a chance to resurrect the classic American road trip, whether your journey points you to a pool table, some ping-pong, a good burger or cold drinks, Northern Michigan has you covered, wherever the road may lead. Enjoy the ride.