Premier Michigan resorts offer so many choices, from golf to spas and kid’s activities-- you’re sure to find one just right for you. Golf is just the beginning. Our premier resorts qualify as destinations in their own right, with growing a lineup of family fun, pampering spas, exceptional food and more.
Golf on a total of nine courses stars at three Boyne USA resorts—Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and the Inn at Bay Harbor. But plenty of other activities—from new zip lines to the spa and Boyne Mountain’s huge water park—appeal to families at these resorts, located about 45 minutes apart near Petoskey in the northwestern corner of the Lower Peninsula. A stay at one of these properties comes with priority access and some discounts at all.
The Inn at Bay Harbor, rising like a grand 19th-century lake resort on the shore of Little Traverse Bay, exudes an upscale vibe. That impression is reinforced by 27 holes of golf that have been called the Pebble Beach of the Midwest. Bavarian-style Boyne Highlands lodge stands amid 7,000 wooded acres just east of Harbor Springs. Nearby, you’ll find lodgings ranging from condos to cottages.
Down the road from the sprawling lodge, you’ll find the country club complex, serving four courses, including the acclaimed Arthur Hills and the Donald Ross, which re-creates some of this noted designer’s most famous holes.
Not in the Boyne USA area, there’s still plenty to do on and off the green at other Northwest Michigan family-friendly resort destinations.
This comfortable family-owned resort takes full advantage of its woodsy northeast Lower Peninsula setting. Horse-drawn wagons take guests through the forest to an elk preserve and a five-course dinner cooked on wood-burning stoves in a lovely, spacious cabin. Sleighs make the trip in winter.
The resort owners are partnering with local outfitters to offer more ways to experience the area’s natural beauty, including canoeing on the Thunder Bay River. Woods also frame the resort’s 18-hole course. Golfers find ample challenge on this pretty layout, especially the big finish over water and rocks to No. 17’s elevated green and No. 18’s two-tier green.
Secluded deep in the forests of the northeastern Lower Peninsula (30 miles southeast of Gaylord), this year-round resort is likely to inspire love at first sight. The massive log lodge could be the centerpiece of a movie about the perfect North Woods retreat. Inside, the lobby’s two-story cathedral ceiling, massive stone fireplace and beautiful stained-glass window support that impression. It’s a bit of a work in progress as a renovation updates rooms and facilities, but a sense of pride, attention to detail and positive energy runs through the entire property.
Four championship courses dotted with sparkling water and blooming flower beds draw golfers who probably won’t be able to resist playing at least some of every day. Off the courses, guests canoe, tube and fly fish on the famed nearby Au Sable River. Hiking and mountain biking trails weave through the 3,000-acre enclave. Specialties in Herman’s Dining Room include local delicacies such as morel mushrooms and pheasant.
GRAND TRAVERSE RESORT & SPA
You can see the 17-story glass-sheathed tower from miles away. It’s surrounded by trees and carefully manicured golf courses. This huge retreat—900 acres, with 600 guest rooms, suites and condos, plus condos lining nearby beachfront property—founded its reputation on golf. But it also has built an impressive list of amenities, including a spa, indoor tennis and sports center, and fine dining in the tower-top restaurant. The Bear, a par-72 designed by Jack Nicklaus and rated Michigan’s most challenging, is perhaps the best-known of three championship courses. Evenings, golfers can wear their shorts and polos up 16 floors to The Aerie restaurant, with 360-degree views reaching to Grand Traverse Bay. Seasonal ingredients flavor an inventive menu that changes weekly. Over steak and a glass of Michigan wine, it’s the perfect place to watch the sun sink into the bay.
SHANTY CREEK RESORTS
A $10 million renovation has transformed the Lakeview Hotel & Conference Center, the heart of this 4,500-acre golf-ski complex near tiny Bellaire (25 miles northeast of Traverse City). Lushly appointed rooms have kitchenettes, fireplaces and flat screens. Some have balconies looking out on Lake Bellaire. Under the stunning beamed cathedral ceiling of the lobby and framed by a two-story wall of windows, the Lakeview Restaurant has the same view. Time your reservation for sunset, and indulge in a signature steak or specialty such as osso bucco.
Cradled in folds of the forested landscape, the resort’s Cedar River Village, built around Michigan’s only Tom Weiskopf course, caters mostly to golfers. A third area, Schuss Village, offers basic lodgings convenient to a third golf course.
All three areas share a wide menu of activities. You can swim in the four pools, mountain bike and hike. Youngsters sign up for horseback riding, crafts and other activities. The Golf Academy includes programs for women and juniors. The resort’s other star golf course is the Legend, a dramatic and challenging Arnold Palmer design winding through hills and along ridges.
CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN RESORT & SPA
Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa in Thompsonville (34 miles south of Traverse City) has evolved into a first-class retreat. Whether guests come to ski, golf or hit the new Crystal Spa, they find ways to nourish mind, body and spirit.
Lodgings range from hotel rooms to lovely three-bedroom cottages along the golf course and mountaintop homes where you can ski out your back door. Splashing in the enormous pool and water playground, mountain biking and golf on two player-friendly courses entertain families who fill the resort in summer. You also can find quiet along the forested trails in the resort’s 30-sculpture Michigan Legacy Art Park.
The spa took five years to build, as owners traveled the world to find and incorporate their favorite elements. At 11,000 square feet, the result is amazing—from the organic decor to services like the fresh-air facial.
A Lake Michigan beach lures families to this laid-back retreat (25 miles west of Traverse City). Almost surrounded by vast Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this complex of condominiums and townhomes grew around a historic inn that started as a school 70 years ago. The inn still serves as the centerpiece for more than 700 condos, hotel rooms and vacation homes.
And, there’s still a lot of learning going on at the resort’s tennis, fly-fishing and golf schools. Guests also can rent canoes and kayaks to paddle the river. Dinner at beachside Cafe Manitou is the perfect finale to any day. Other highlights include children’s programs, shops and trails into the dunes.
For a complete list of Michigan golf destinations,click here.