A Guide to Northern Michigan

Did you know Michigan has waters as clear as the Caribbean? I didn’t! Not until last week, at least, when I got to tour Charlevoix, Frankfort, and Ludington with Pure Michigan.

I learned a ton about the Great Lakes State, including why everyone uses their hand to indicate a place on the map (the state looks like a mitten! get it?) and that the whole northern coast is obsessed with fudge. I hiked, shopped, and ate more good food than I ever thought possible, which totally helped in putting together this post: a guide to Northern Michigan complete with food options, lodging recommendations, and a broad list of outdoor activities.

 
globetrottingblonde
 

GETTING THERE

Your best bet for getting to Northern Michigan is flying in through Detroit. From there you’ll head to Traverse City, a town of about 15,000. The airport is tiny, which means you’ll be out of there and exploring in no time. From here, you can go just about anywhere. I recommend heading to Charlevoix, just an hour drive away.

 

CHARLEVOIX

Charlevoix is a charming, little town dotted with ice cream shops, book stores, and a free bike rental system. Shortly before arriving, you’ll pass the Bier Art Gallery & Brewery. Stop in at this family-owned ex school house turned gallery and brewery, grab a craft beer or wine, and marvel at the amazing Lake Michigan views. 

WHERE TO STAY:

The Thatch House: An original mushroom house that has been renovated and reimagined. The house has 6 bedrooms (perfect if you’re traveling with a larger group!), the coziest fireplace, and even a wine cellar.

 
globetrottingblonde
 

WHAT TO EAT:

Terry’s of Charlevoix

That French Place

WHAT TO DO:

Charlevoix South Pier Light Station: perfect for sunset pictures!

Tour Castle Farms: A 100 year-old structure renovated to be an incredible event space, wine tasting room, and photo-op.

Boat Tour with Dewitt Marine: Board a pontoon boat and sail Torch Lake – the water is so green & blue that you’ll forget you’re not in the Caribbean.


FRANKFORT

A little further south and just an hour from Charlevoix is the town of Frankfort, Michigan. Located on the coast of Lake Michigan, this small town is dotted with Victorian homes, maple-lined streets, and a ton of unique shops.

WHERE TO STAY:

Hotel Frankfort: A historic hotel right in downtown Frankfort. The larger rooms feature whirlpool tubs and saunas, which was such a treat to walk into after a rainy day. Mine had one of the whirlpool tubs in it, which if you watch my Instagram stories you know I dropped my phone into. Nonetheless, this hotel was incredibly charming. The staff even helped me find a bag of rice from their on-site restaurant to try to revive my phone.

WHAT TO EAT:

Rock’s Landing

Birch & Maple

Crescent Bakery & Cafe


WHAT TO DO:

Point Betsie Lighthouse

Frankfort Sailing Excursions: Capt. John takes you out sailing on his boat called Elly. The trip is around 2 hours and includes views of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Lake Michigan. One of my favorite parts of my trip to Michigan!

globetrottingblonde
globetrottingblonde

Alpaca Farm & Boutique: Go meet their alpacas, rescued llama, and newly born donkey!

St. Ambrose Cellars: Try mead! It’s beer made out of honey, in a ton of different flavors. I had a pomegranate one that was really good.

Stormcloud Brewing Company

LUDINGTON

Our last stop in Michigan was Ludington, a beachy town an hour away from Frankfort. Stop in Manistee on your way there and check out the historic downtown & movie theater, Victorian architecture, and cute coffee shops. If you’re in the mood for lunch, Blue Fish Kitchen has some great seafood dishes.

WHERE TO STAY:

Barothy Lodge: A community of all-wooden lodges tucked away in the woods. It’s the perfect place to get ‘away from it all’. I spent a lot of my time outside because I couldn’t get enough of the fresh air.

 
globetrottingblonde
 

WHAT TO EAT:

Table 14

House of Flavors: Breakfast AND ice cream! Could it get any better?

WHAT TO DO:

Stearns Park

Ludington State Park: They have one of the cutest lighthouses I’ve ever been to. Michigan lighthouses work on a volunteer program where anyone can apply to be a keeper and live at the lighthouse for up to 2 weeks at a time. Definitely has me thinking… 🙃

globetrottingblonde
globetrottingblonde

 And that pretty much wraps up my time in Northern Michigan! Thank you so much to Pure Michigan for the invite – Michigan really impressed me and I can’t wait to be back during the fall.

If you visit Northern Michigan, tag me in your pictures! I’d love to see them.