Fall Getaway to Classically Hip Petoskey

October light sets off Petoskey’s 19th-century spires from Little Traverse Bay and color-saturated hills. Nature’s palette alone justifies a trip to this town between Traverse City and Mackinaw City. Escape to this northern resort town, where trend-forward boutiques and dining options energize timeless landscapes and Victorian architecture.

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Little Traverse Wheelway passes through the Petoskey waterfront. Credit: Tony Demin
Find autumn splendor via M-119, which connects Petoskey to Cross Village. Five minutes north of downtown Petoskey, make a stop at Indian Hills Gallery, where Odawa artisans showcase jewelry and beads. 

Up the road at Petoskey State Park, climb the half-mile Old Baldy Trail for dune-top vistas and miles of Lake Michigan coastal forest.
The lake’s shifting moods color Petoskey’s Bayfront Park, near the mouth of the Bear River. Adjoining Bear River Valley Recreation Area offers kayaking and a hiking and biking path. Climb the observation tower for views of a valley and rapids.
From Bayfront Park, walk to shopping and dining in the Gaslight District, named for its 19th-century streetlamps. Browse locally made ceramics and jewelry at NorthGoods, or delve the shelves at indie bookstore McLean and Eakin.
Savor gelato at American Spoon. Its jam shop captures farm and orchard flavors, some from Coveyou Scenic Farm and Bill’s Farm Market on the outskirts of town. On the same block as American Spoon, the City Park Grill serves craft cocktails at a vintage mahogany bar. Ernest Hemingway used the place as inspiration for a short story.

The original American Spoon. Credit: Tony Demin
A walk-in adjacent Pennsylvania Park leads you past historic and eclectic Meyer Ace Hardware. Down the street at the Crooked Tree Arts Center, the restored church’s stained-glass windows complement the ever-changing visual art exhibitions. Find Victorian-style lodging at Stafford’s Bay View Inn. During cocktail hour, the hotel’s wraparound porch provides a perfect spot to watch the setting sun reflect off brightly painted gingerbread houses.
Tunnel of Trees
While you’re in Petoskey, take time to experience one of the nation’s best fall foliage drives. M-119 starts at the north end of town, becoming the Tunnel of Trees north of Harbor Springs. The narrow road snakes 20 miles along a Lake Michigan bluff, making sharp turns at Devil’s Elbow and Horseshoe Bend. Hardwoods lean into the road, their overlapping crowns forming a canopy of color over the pavement. Brief gaps in the roadside forest offer peekaboo views of the lake. The blazing corridor ends at Cross Village.

By Tim Tebeau

For information, contact the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau.