An Annual Summer Getaway to Harbor Springs, More than a Family Tradition

Melanie Dawson currently lives in Minneapolis, but she’s been visiting Harbor Springs, Michigan for 15 summers now. Today, she shares with us what draws her family back to the area year after year.

Photo credit: Lou Peeples-Photography; www.pointephotography.net


I grew up in Phoenix, AZ, the desert landscape being infinitely different from northern Michigan. But I lucked into marrying a Midwestern man from Indiana, whose family comes to Harbor Springs every summer. I’ve been visiting Harbor Springs for 15 summers now, my husband for 39. His mother spent her summers there, as did his grandmother and her parents, making our daughter the fifth generation. It’s more than a family tradition, for them (and now for me) it’s a way of life. A summer not spent in Harbor Springs is a summer with something missing. Every year we look forward to revisiting old favorites and finding new gems.

Restaurants we love: Depot Club & Restaurant, serving gourmet food. Coat required indoors, more casual on the patio. New this year is Petoskey Brewing, housed in an old brewery from 1898. This family-friendly place serves delicious microbrews (try a flight of three or four 4 oz pours) and a solid pub menu and is located on the drive between Harbors Springs and Petoskey. We also thoroughly enjoy sitting outside at Dudley’s Deck, which provides covered dining on the patio or the open grass area across from the dock. On a gorgeous night it’s a pleasure to sip one of their famous Hummers and watch the sun go down. Don’t miss Turkeys Café & Pizzeria (serving pizza and sandwiches) and Gurneys Harbor Bottle Shop (a liquor store that makes amazing cold sandwiches to order at lunchtime). There’s nowhere to sit at Gurney’s so take your sandwiches down to the pier and watch the yachts come in and out.

For ice cream and treats, my daughter would tell you that Yummies is a must, serving her favorite flavor of ice cream: Superman. As a grown-up, I am loving the new Velvet, an ice cream shop with a more sophisticated interior and delicious flavors. Not a summer goes by where we don’t get a cookie from Tom’s Mom’s. Housed in the tiniest shop you may have ever seen, the cookies are fresh baked. If you love fudge, check out Kilwin’s and Howse’s.

Leaving the downtown area, Pond Hill Farm is a wonderful way to spend a few hours. The farm is home to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and geese. It features a café and winery with farm fresh ingredients.  There’s a trout pond to fish in, a squash rocket to experiment with, and a market that features pesticide and herbicide free produce hormone and antibiotic free organically raised beef, pork, and lamb, plus other organic products. My daughter’s grandparents enjoy taking the grandchildren to Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, featuring a boardwalk through dense woods and beach frontage and several stopping points with educational information on trees, flowers, animals, insects, and environmental topics. You can’t go wrong visiting the beach at Petoskey State Park where you can spend hours searching for the hard-to-find Petoskey Stone.

Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf in Petoskey is my daughter’s number one favorite activity to do when we visit Northern Michigan. With several locations around the country, it isn’t exclusive to Michigan, but it provides an hour or so of wicked fun. What kid (or kid at heart) doesn’t enjoy miniature golf with the family?

If you love being active on the water, visit The Outfitter. This comprehensive shop features all the gear you need (you can rent paddleboards and kayaks) plus a generous amount of activewear, shoes, and accessories for all of your active pursuits.

Melanie Dawson is an avid traveler who loves exploring the United States and abroad with her husband John and 8 year old daughter Reese. She lives in Minneapolis, MN where she pursues her passions of cooking, nutrition, and living an active lifestyle.

For more things to do and see in Harbor Springs, visit michigan.org.

How Did Michigan Cities Get Their Names? Part 6

In our ongoing series of how cities in Michigan got their names, we’ve been able to share with you the history of cities from around our state. In case you missed them, here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. This week, check out part six, which shares the stories of how five more Michigan cities were named.

Rochester:
The city of Rochester was settled in 1817 and drew pioneers because of its location between the Clinton River, Paint Creek and Stoney Creek – all of which powered mills to cut timber, grind grain, card wool, and press apples into cider. The city was named for Rochester, New York, as many early settlers to the area were formerly from the state of New York.

Harbor Springs:
In 1847, L’Arbre Croche had the largest concentration of Native Americans in the states. At that time, Harbor Springs was called L’Arbre Croche, which means Crooked Tree. Later, French traders renamed the area Petit Traverse, or Little Traverse, when they arrived in the area. The village was eventually incorporated as Harbor Springs in 1880.

Flushing:
The original Flushing  was located in the borough of Queens, New York, and named after the city of Vlissingen, Holland – also known as Flushing, Netherlands. Flushing sprang up in Michigan as a railroad town long ago and Charles Seymour, formerly of the city in New York, is credited with naming the Michigan community in the 1830s.

Birmingham:
Birmingham was founded in 1818, when four enterprising men purchased land in the area. The founders quickly established a manufacturer based local economy that brought foundries, tanneries, blacksmith shops, broom and brick making factories to the area. The name Birmingham was chosen after Birmingham, England, in hopes that the Michigan city’s manufacturing capabilities would take after England’s biggest industrial center.

Jackson:
On July 3, 1829, Horace Blackman, accompanied by Alexander Laverty, a land surveyor, and an Indian guide passed through what is today known as Jackson. Blackman returned in August with his brother Russell, and claimed 160 acres of land in the area. In 1830, the area settlement agreed on the name of ‘Jacksonburgh’ in honor or President Andrew Jackson, and in 1838 the name was changed to Jackson.

Zipping Through the Trees in Pure Michigan

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Brian Confer, a contributing photographer for Michigan Travel Ideas, shares his zip lining adventure at Boyne Mountain.

Sometimes it seems like the whole world has turned upside down. On the Zipline Adventure Tour at Boyne Mountain, it really does.

On a wintry blue-sky day, my 13-year-old son, Jackson, and I journey to Boyne Mountain to capture photography of their Zipline Adventure Tour. Jackson zip-lined at camp this past year and assures me it’s exciting, fun and easy to go upside down.

Not for me, I assure him.

Jackson and I have a bit of time before we meet our group, so we don our harnesses and head to the Twin Zip Ride. With the Grand Mountain Lodge as a backdrop, we warm up by descending side-by-side.

Well, I warm up.

Jackson jumps off the platform and immediately flips upside down, descending at a high rate of speed, arms spread wide, laughing. We zip over the fountain, and I’m guided onto the landing platform—upright—and wait for my stomach to catch up.

Once all my parts are reacquainted, we join a group for the nine-line adventure. This group is more my speed—a gaggle of children, ages 6­–12, chaperoned by three dads. Surely there are no daredevil showboaters like my son here.

Ha! First up, a smiling 6-year-old girl dressed in pink. There she goes, upside down over the heads of skiers on the Cold Spring run. Next up, a 7-year-old boy who has our guide turn him upside down before he leaves the launch pad. Older brother, upside down. His friend from down the road, upside down. One father, two fathers, three fathers, all upside down. Obviously, I’m missing out on something that my camera gear regrettably (thankfully) prevents me from trying.

Over the next six lines, our guides demonstrate how to ride in every position imaginable and show us how to do a flip off the platform. Cheers erupt when every participant but me attempts the maneuver. “Too bad you have that camera gear! You should try it,” I hear repeatedly, until, finally on zip line No. 7, I decide they’re right.

I hand my camera gear to our guide and jump from the platform. I swing my legs forward, use the momentum to carry my feet over my head and then lock them around the supporting lanyard. I settle in, spread my arms and over the head of a skier below, the skier looking up at me, following my arc and hearing me laugh the entire way into the landing.


More Winter Zip Lines:

Brian Confer lives in northern Michigan with his wife and two sons. In addition to contributing to Michigan Travel Ideas, he focuses on fine art photography and other freelance work.