Tag Archives: Petoskey

Petoskey: Downtown

27 Jun

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Today we find ourselves in Petoskey MI, a picturesque coastal town on the southeast shore of Little Traverse Bay. This quaint little community is home to charming galleries, boutiques, fine dining, cafes, coffee shops and great architecture. Ernest Hemingway spent every summer from 1900-1920 on Walloon Lake and used this part of northern Michigan as the setting for several stories. And of course, as all Michiganders know, this is where our state stone, the Petoskey Stone resides.

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We park on Division St near the Crooked Tree Arts Center, a gorgeous, newly restored, 130+ year old church used for art exhibitions, concerts and live theater. Walking, we make a right on Mitchell, businesses line both sides of the street; this is the Gaslight District, think of Mitchell as Main Street. We stop in the Northern Michigan Artists Market, the name says it all, works by local artists include glass, spectacular sunsets captured in oil, jewelry, hand-dyed scarves, handmade cards, photography and wood-carved items from boxes to bottle stoppers; I like the variety of mediums. Next door is Petoskey Cheese, in addition to a nice selection of domestic and imported cheeses they sell jams, pickles, crackers, mustard and olives. They also serve pizza and salads, they’ll even pack you a picnic basket to go–sounds perfect for a sunset on the beach.

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Continuing our walk we pass Pennsylvania Park, the sky is getting dark, it looks like rain, on Howard Street we pop into North Perk Coffee. The coffee menu is lengthy; hot, cold, latte, nitro, you name it. They roast their own beans (Petoskey Roasting Company) so the staff is knowledgeable about what they serve. We sip on cold brew until the rain lets up. We duck into NorthGoods, this is a store you can really spend some time in, two floors of beautiful things everywhere you look. A combination gift shop and fine art gallery they carry the work of about 100 artists and craftspeople including Gwen Frostic, Pewabic and Motawi Tile Co. There is definitely an “up north” feel to the merchandise, lots of mitten-shaped items, Petoskey stones galore, unique hand-made furniture–the pieces look like they  grew in the woods. Watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, jewelry and glassware, chess sets, clocks, ok, you get the idea. If you’re looking for something special as a gift or for your home, you’re sure to find it here. Be sure and check out the original safe, this wing of the shop was an old bank.

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Flower boxes and planters decorate storefronts, Tulips are still in bloom this far north, umbrella stands are filled with giant red, white and blue pinwheels. The streetscape is charming, shop windows draw us in, staff members at each business are friendly and helpful. We taste vinegar and oils at Fustini’s, have a second cup of coffee and an awesome toasted coconut donut at Dripworks, Mettlers American Mercantile features a wonderful handpicked assortment of American-made items from men’s and women’s clothing to items for the home–the speakers made from instrument cases and old suitcases by Vintage Volume are super-cool.

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Tom Symons General Store opened in 1956 in one of the city’s oldest brick buildings, he brought luxury items like coffee, spices, gourmet products and a vast wine selection to the people of Petoskey. In the late 1970’s Symons began offering freshly baked breads, cookies, croissants and deli sandwiches to its customers. Tom’s son opened two restaurants, Pierson’s at Boyne Mountain Resort and Chandler’s just around the corner from the general store. Today the family still runs the business, it maintains its old-world charm with original wood floors, tin ceiling and selection of old-fashioned candy. You can sample cheese, do a wine tasting, purchase gourmet seasonings, sauces and Michigan-made food products. Downstairs the wine cellar is rustic and enchanting; old brick floors, ancient wood beams and low plank ceiling. I’m told 500 bottles of wine line these walls, looking around I believe it. To our surprise and delight there’s a small amount of seating in the cellar for Chandler’s, we are so having lunch here. Lunch turned into brunch once we got a look at the menu. The Blueberry pancakes are outstanding, made with ricotta they’re tender and fluffy with the perfect amount of fresh blueberries and a touch of lemon. Taylor’s Hash is a poached egg sitting on a stuffed hash brown topped with a tasty hollandaise, super delicious!

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We continue wandering through the Gaslight District. If you’ve been to Petoskey you’ve been to Cutler’s, you’ll recognize it immediately by the yellow awning. They have everything you could want for the kitchen from small appliances to serving pieces and linens; you’ll also find up north themed goodies. Store owners make the shopping experience interesting for men too, take Robert Frost Fine Footwear, sure they sell high-quality men’s and women’s fashions but check out the model wooden boats, motors, scale model cars and airplanes. Next we meander through Dave’s Boot Shop and Russell’s Shoes, to be honest I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins because they connect through an interior open doorway. What I can tell you is together they carry every kind of footwear you need or want for every member of your family. The interiors of the buildings appear as I imagine they did back when the structures were built; lovely embossed tin ceilings, built-in wooden shelves and a fantastic array of antique light fixtures. They have church pews to sit in for trying on shoes, a ladder that slides on a ceiling track to reach boxes on the top shelf, vintage counters and showcases, they even have an old Buster Brown clock.

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We’ve had a wonderful day in Petoskey from the shopping to the food and that view… It’s always hard to leave this area, we’re already looking forward to our next visit.

MICHIGAN: Coasting…..

24 Jun

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It’s our last full day up north, we’ve got things to do! We pack up the Jeep with beach towels, food, cold drinks and head toward Sturgeon Bay.  After a picnic lunch we cruise through tunnel of trees on our way to Harbor Springs; we park by the water then explore the quaint little town on foot. More than a century old, this waterfront community was once a thriving port-of-call for steam ferries and passenger ships carrying people from Detroit and Chicago to Little Traverse Bay. At one time a lumber mill, gristmill and toothpick factory took up real estate at the head of the harbor. Today beautiful historic structures grace the community, people come from all over to enjoy swimming, sandy beaches, boating, fishing and golfing.

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The downtown business district follows the course of the bay, boutiques, bakeries, restaurants and galleries fill cute little storefronts. We meander in and out of shops selling designer fashions, glassware, cookware, artful pieces and home goods. The whimsical entrance at Boyer Glassworks draws us inside, a bevy of colorful glass pumpkins in orange, purple and blue fill gallery shelves. At Knox Gallery beautiful paintings line the walls, most impressive are the life-sized, phenomenally detailed bronze works. In the outdoor sculpture garden, bronze children hold hands and laugh, I really like the donkey, kinetic sculptures are active. We grab a cookie at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies on Spring Street, yum! Houses with roomy porches rest on hills, a red-brick church is adorned with Gothic windows, the hexagonal-shaped house was built in 1890 by Ephraim Shay–the guy who invented the Shay locomotive, the most widely used geared steam locomotive, the old Bar Harbor neon sign is cool. The view of Little Traverse Bay is exceptional, the water a deep blue today; we watch a sailboat glide past.

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Going south on M 119 we then turn west on 31, Stafford’s Bay View Inn is our landmark, making a left on Encampment, we are now in Bay View. Founded in 1875 the Bay View Association of the United Methodist Church  is nestled into 337 terraced acres featuring more than 30 public buildings, nearly 450 cottages and 2 inns that have been in operation since the early 1900’s. Originally formed as part of the Methodist Camp Meeting movement, it is now part of the Chautauqua movement. Educational programs of lectures and music began in 1886, in time programs for children and classes were added. By the late 1800’s Bay View Association had a Chautauqua series summer university attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the “intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.” During this time the early “tent city” was transformed into the lovely Victorian resort community you see today.

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The best way to experience Bay View is to stroll the shady, tree-lined lanes, taking in gingerbread laden cottages finished with crisp white trim, screen doors and lacy curtains. Each cottage is a different color; sunflower yellow, navy blue, white, grey. Rocking chairs and wicker furniture fill expansive porches, baskets of flowers hang from fancy trim, red geraniums fill a flower box. A sky blue beauty literally matches the sky today, the third floor of the turret is open to the outdoors, the view must be spectacular. Grand cottages are reached by concrete steps built into the hill, fish scale siding, ornate railings and gobs of spindles adorn the residences. Leaseholders are here from May through October, the community is closed November through April and the cottages must be vacated.

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Our walk continues, we pause at the Happiness Is….. cottage decked out in bright yellow, orange and green, just looking at it really does make you happy. American, state and college flags shift in the breeze, many cottages are in the hands of third and fourth generations of a family. We come to the cottage I consider the Queen of all the Victorians, you can see it from 31, it’s this rambling, gorgeous, burgundy and cream doll house plastered with fine Victorian details, the wrap around porch is stunning. In the campus area all is quiet at Evelyn Hall and the John M Hall auditorium. A small group of tuxedo and gown wearing teenagers have gathered at the Terrace Inn. The front doors are open, we follow the trail of concrete stairs to the lobby, tonight is the local prom, it’s being held in the 1911 restaurant inside the Inn. The room is magnificent; the wooden floor gleams, columns are wrapped in white lights, wooden beams criss cross the ceiling, crystal chandeliers glow, they’re going to have a wonderful time.

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Although the Bay View Association is only open to Christians, all of the programs are open to the public including the nationally renowned Music Festival which has been running for over 100 years. You are welcome to attend Sunday morning worship services, weekday religion and life lectures and musical performances.  There’s a real sense of tranquility here, folks work in their garden, sit in a comfy chair drinking lemonade, everybody waves or says hello. The view of the bay is stunning. It’s exactly the way I imagine summers were a century ago.

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A little further west is Bay Harbor. For more than 100 years, a cement plant and mining operations filled over 1,200 acres and 5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline; industry left leaving a no-mans land of vacant, scarred property some described as a moonscape on Little Traverse Bay. In 1993 David V Johnson began the task of turning this forgotten land into one of the most luxurious residential communities in existence, it became the largest land reclamation project in North america. You’d never imagine it to be anything other than the extraordinary, year-round resort we see today. The greater community is made up of low-density neighborhoods, nature preserves, a marina, golf course and business district, all on the water’s edge. The Village Hotel offers boutique hotel rooms with a panoramic view of the bay. A small shopping area includes high-end boutiques, eateries and a coffee shop. The water is a deep turquoise, perfectly landscaped homes are carved into the natural setting, it looks like a postcard.

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After a little r & r back in Charlevoix at the Earl Young cottage we are renting, we follow the tribe of sunset worshipers to the beach. I never tire of a Lake Michigan sunset, no two are the same. Sitting on a brick wall we watch as the sun descends, a lone wooden boat passes in the horizon. As the sun drops out of view the sky takes on the warm hues of summer; splendid, dazzling, memorable, as this whole trip has been. We close the night out in town at the Bridge Street Tap Room. Offering 32 taps of Michigan craft beer it takes us a few minutes to decide. Kris is having Short’s Soft Parade and I’m drinking Right Brain CEO Stout. We have fun thinking back over the last few days; the beautiful sights, tasty food and friendly people have made this a trip to remember.

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UP NORTH: From Tip to Traverse…..

19 Aug

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We awoke to the sound of absolutely nothing; all that peace and quiet, we slept later than planned, “Up North” will do that to you. Today would be spent in the Jeep, enjoying another scenic ride. We made the decision to take a direct route up to the ring finger area of the mitten, also known as Sturgeon Bay, then enjoy the slow pace and picturesque views along the water coming back down; this was a good plan. Lakeshore Drive runs along Sturgeon Bay for miles, the length of it remote beach, finally ending in Wilderness State Park. Cars pull off and park roadside; swim suit wearing pedestrians carry beach bags and towels, looking for their own private stretch of beach. It was hot, the temperature near 90 when we left Traverse City, the warm sand squeaking as we walked, the water clean and clear. Finding a spot not too close to anybody else we laid our towels out on the soft sand and sat down; again finding ourselves staring out into the aquamarine lake. I find it a daunting task grasping for words to describe such a scene; remarkable, dazzling, and resplendent come to mind. Lake Michigan is a force, a living, breathing entity, it draws me in and takes me under its spell; no matter how many times I see it, I can never get enough. The drive ahead will provide us with marvelous views of both lake and land; M-119, the Tunnel of Trees

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Because of our late start, it was already lunch time; Cross Village was just ahead, it is one of the oldest settlements in Michigan, but what has really put it on the map, so to speak, is a unique restaurant, built high on a bluff overlooking the big lake, serving Polish Food for over 90 years; this my friends is Legs Inn. Referred to as an “architectural marvel”, the building is the hard work and dream of one Stanley Smolak, a Polish immigrant who created the furniture and structure from tree stumps, limbs, roots, driftwood and stones he found in the surrounding area. Cross the threshold and enter a fantasy land of nature tamed into whimsical usefulness and purpose; tables, chairs, ceiling timbers and benches, it is an incredible sight! This was our first visit ever where there wasn’t a line to be seated. The business has grown through the years and now includes manicured gardens and outdoor dining; it was a perfect August day, we headed straight for the patio. Tourists mill about on the lush green lawn, posing for photos by the different hand carved totem poles, perennial beds, and most popular, standing by the wall that overlooks the lake. Service was swift; before we knew it we were scooping up forkfuls of bigos, golabki, and dutifully dipping pierogi into cups of sour cream. Along with the combination plate we indulged in apple and cheese nalesniki; everything was outstanding. No time to linger, we have over 27 miles of fantastic, twisty, and winding road ahead!

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At first glance the road appears to be a single lane, as a center line is non-existent; with a little give and take, it is accommodating to two-way traffic. Lining the roadway are mature trees giving you the feeling of driving through a forest; the largest ones actually meet over the road creating a tunnel. Adhering to the eastern shoreline, the pavement rewards us with awe-inspiring glimpses of Lake Michigan.

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We find ourselves in Good Hart; a series of small businesses make up the miniscule town. We park roadside, the appeal of the Northern Crepes cart too much to resist; something sweet to follow up our lunch. We stretch our legs with a walk through Primitive Images, a splendid cabin circa 1840 that was moved from Quebec and rebuilt on this spot. Beautiful pieces of furniture made from Birch, Willow and Hickory twigs, etched glass pieces, and an antler chandelier are all browse worthy. In the back the Good Hart and Soul Tea Room resides; we purchased cold drinks then retreat back outdoors for a simple, delicious, butter, sugar and cinnamon crepe. A Studio is filled with more good things, catering specifically to women; scarves, T-shirts, shoes and jewelry, it’s all lovely.  This charming little group of shops is totally unexpected and a fantastic find on a road that is a destination in itself.

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A little further south we find ourselves in a tight horseshoe curve known as Devil’s Elbow, the corners of Kris’s mouth tilt up in a grin as he maneuvers the Jeep. Here and there it is possible to pull over and take in the surroundings; the alluring waterscape, picture perfect farms, and gorgeous countryside. We arrive in Harbor Springs, a well-known resort town that looks like it would be right at home on the east coast. We drive up to the top of the bluff; a residential area with grand old homes and enjoy the remarkable view of Little Traverse Bay. Cutting back through town the sidewalks are crowded with tourists; cars drive up and down the main street in search of parking; wedding guests meander toward the large white tent near the lake.

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M-119 ends at Bayview, part of the Chautauqua movement, it was founded by a group of Methodists to be used as a retreat, it is sensational! There are said to be 440 cottages, most built in the high Victorian style. We parked by one of the community buildings and hit the pavement; you have to go on foot to see all of the amazing details. The array of colors make each cottage unique, many are surrounded by well-tended gardens; plan on spending at least an hour walking around. Now on US 31 we arrive in Petoskey; we ascend into the gaslight district with its wonderful view of the bay. Petoskey is the largest town on this coast, its quaint downtown area is made up of several blocks of shops, restaurants, hotels and cafes. If your sweet tooth is calling, there are plenty of places you can pick up some fudge or ice cream. A visit to American Spoon is a must; in addition to their vast selection of jams, jellies, sauces and salsa’s you can also indulge in Gelato or sorbet, yum!

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And onward we go…..In Charlevoix we check out the whimsical homes built by Earl A Young; the largest concentration located along Park Avenue, Clinton and Grant Streets. Built entirely of stone with cedar shake roofs, they are known as fairy or mushroom houses; no two are alike. As we walk I am continually pointing and saying “make sure you get a picture of that” door, or window or chimney. I’d love to see the inside! Next we take a quick stroll through downtown; standing on a strip of land that separates Lake Michigan from Lake Charlevoix, the vista is awe-inspiring; there needs to be a word  just for this! Throughout the entire day I have seen nothing but smiling faces; of course the ice cream and fudge may have something to do with that……When you visit this area the beauty gets right into your system; it soothes you. We planned the day as a drive, but each one of these attractive old-fashioned towns is worthy of a day spent roaming in and out of shops, a walk on the beach and a fabulous meal. 

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After a stop at the condo to freshen up for dinner we mosey back to Traverse City for dinner. Because of the film festival everything is staying open late, lucky for us because it almost 10 pm. We wanted something light; FireFly on Cass has a broad menu that includes sushi, just what we were looking for. The place was packed, but a table for two was easy to come by. After a wonderful meal we roamed around on foot, the streets still thick with festival-goers. We popped into Phil’s on Front for coffee and dessert, if you like chocolate be sure to stop in any time of day….We split a piece of the Northern Star, along with really good coffee and live music it was a relaxing way to end a perfect day.

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