Top 6 Up North Vacation Destinations

Emma Bowman, Photo Editor

   If you are trying to get away this summer without wanting to leave Michigan, consider staying in these top 5 Northern Michigan cities.


downtown Petoskey street sign (Emma Bowman )


   Petoskey is located on the west side of our state, about an hour and thirty minute drive from Traverse City. It is a small Victorian- inspired town with something for everyone. The downtown has a range of different shops and restaurants, some of the most popular restaurants include Beards Brewery and Duffy’s Garage and Grill. Both have an amazing view of Lake Michigan. Some of the most commonly known stores downtown are Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts, and NorthGoods, which are both stores where you can find Petoskey Stones. If you want to find the state’s rock yourself, you can go to the Petoskey State Park. The park has hiking trails, camp ground, sand dunes, and a beach right on Little Traverse Bay. From it’s amazing sunsets in Magnus Park to the Kilwins Chocolate Factory, Petoskey is an amazing place to get away this summer.


View of a boat from Clinch Park in Traverse City (Emma Bowman )

Traverse City-

   Traverse City is probably one of the most popular places to go up north in the summer, aside from Mackinac Island. From its boat tours and city life to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, this town seems to have everything for a perfect summer getaway. Traverse City downtown has many great restaurant and local owned stores that will appeal to everyone. One of the most popular places to visit if you are looking for Traverse City apparel is Momentum, it is also located in Petoskey and Charlevoix. If you are looking for a place to stay, stay in Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. It is a really nice ski resort that is only 20 minutes away from downtown. All in all, Traverse City is a great place to go this summer if you want to escape for a weekend.


a seagull enjoying the sunset in Magnus Park, Petoskey (Emma Bowman )


   Charlevoix is located right in between Petoskey and Traverse City on the west side of the state. It is known for its drawbridge that will open to allow ships from Lake Charlevoix to pass through to Lake Michigan. Other than the bridge, Charlevoix has many great beaches and in general a lot of water activities. One of them includes paddling down the Jordan River on a canoe or kayak. If you want a more downtown trip, there are great shops to pick up some Charlevoix apparel like Gilks. Also, it has amazing restaurants that are located right on the water that will give you the perfect view for the beautiful sunsets. Charlevoix is an amazing vacation destination, especially in the summer. It is definitely worth the drive; consider it next time you are wanting to get away.


view of the Mackinaw Bridge from Lighthouse Park (Emma Bowman)

Mackinac Island-

   Mackinac Island is one of the most- if not the most- popular places to travel in northern Michigan. Although it sees a lot of tourism between the actual island and the city, it’s a must do this summer. The island is famous for not allowing cars on it, and offering horse drawn carriages and bikes to get people around. They have many biking trails on the island, including one that will take you completely around the island. Downtown there are many stores, restaurants and activities to partake in. One of them is the Haunted Theater, which as the name states is a movie theater that you can walk through that has haunted elements to it. Another popular place to go to on the island is The Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. It is a little garden full of all different kinds of butterflies. The island also has Mackinac Island State Park, which on top of its beautiful views, it is one of America’s oldest state parks. If you’re looking for a place to stay on the island, The Grand Hotel is an amazing place to stay. Since the Victorian era Mackinac island has been a great place to escape to for people all over Michigan, from all of the beautiful sites to the amazing state parks. Mackinac is for sure worth a visit this summer.


view from the start of the pier in Magus Park of downtown Petoskey (Emma Bowman)

Harbor Springs- 

   Harbor Springs is also located off of the coast of Little Traverse Bay and is about a twelve minute drive from downtown Petoskey. Harbor Springs is a lot like Petoskey except there is a little bit more to do. If you want to spend a day on the lake, they offer paddle boarding and beautiful beaches that have a perfect view of Petoskey from across the bay. They also have amazing places where you can go hiking like Thorne Swift Nature Preserve. Also there is a biking trail that leads all the way up to Bike The Zoo-De-Mackinac. Downtown Harbor Springs has a lot of stores that cater towards everyone, including some ice cream shops. If you’re looking for a relaxing summer trip up north, Harbor Spring is definitely the place to go.


Another seagull staring at the people jumping off stonewall in Petoskey


   Ludington, along with most of the destinations on this list, is located on the westside of Michigan. It is about an hour and 30 minutes from Grand Rapids, and a two hour drive from Traverse City. Ludington is home to beautiful views of Lake Michigan and spectacular sunsets all seen from Stearns Park. There also are lakes surrounding the area that you can go canoeing, kayaking, or pontooning on. If you want a more historical trip, check out the many lighthouses that surround the area. Downtown Ludington is full of many different shops and restaurants that will appeal to everyone. You can even take a bike tour around the town and the marina. Ludington also has their very own Fourth of July firework show called Freedom Festival Fireworks. If you’re looking for a new place to stay, definitely consider visiting Ludington.