The Allure of Northern Michigan

Marshall University professor, Brian Hoey, has for some time now been studying why people have been migrating to Northern Michigan. The cultural anthropologist turned his urban-to-rural migration study lens on a part of the country where he found people drawn by lifestyle—not job perks—and often by joy-filled memories of simple vacations past. He saw how they would start with a vacation then gradually move toward full- or part-time living in the North.

Lifestyle choices are always a bit more complicated than that, and draws ranged from natural beauty to the exploding food and wine scene. But what he found most striking was how many said that their time in Michigan’s north was the only time they would step out of busy life routines and give full attention to simple pleasures like board games or evening bonfires.

His new book is fittingly called “Opting for Elsewhere,” for vacationers have been opting for the elsewhere of the Little Traverse area and beyond for generations now—some say since the first passenger train pulled into the Petoskey station. Grand Rapids newspaper reporter George Gage was on the train, and the arrival time of 5 p.m., in November, 1873, would have had him rumbling into town not long before sunset.

The day by all accounts was a spectacular clear one, because Gage is credited with coining the “land of million sunsets” still used by the region today, further describing the colors as something out of “Tales of Arabian Nights.” He must have had a lot of readers, for before long, up to 90 trains moved in and out of Petoskey some days, most carrying tourists eager to escape the city to a place of pure water and air—and more.

Historically Beautiful Petoskey

The railroad donated land to the United Methodist Church to start a camp that evolved into the circa-1875 Chautauqua community of Bay View and the Victorian homes that grace the Petoskey community today. Resorts communities like Harbor Point, Wequetonsing and Walloon Lake followed, as well as gracious hotels like the Perry; by 1900, 14 Petoskey hotels were hosting up to 2,000 guests on a given night. One of the Perry guests was author Ernest Hemingway, also one of the area’s most famous early resorter’s.

The region still inspires artists, writers, chefs and many other creative pursuits. Nearby Traverse City plays host to the National Writer Series, bringing monthly talks by best-selling authors, and artists can be found creating along lake shores or in local galleries so numerous it’s hard to explore them all on a single gallery walk. Creativity in brews is a newer offering, with four microbreweries opening in the Little Traverse region in less than a year, far more in the broader Northern Michigan area. Local wineries are part of a growing wine trail and new nationally-recognized accredited Viticulture Area. Nearby parks like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake- shore in Empire are not just popular; they’re fashionable.

The clothing brand Nautica opened New York’s fashion week a few years back with a color palette inspired by these dunes—browns by the sand, blues by the water, and orange as homage to the U.S. Coast Guard. Some draws, as Hoey’s study proved, never go out of style.

Come see for yourself how this area has captured the hearts of so many people from across the country. Make the move to Hearthside Grove in Petoskey, Northern Michigan, and experience the luxury RV lifestyle of supreme beauty and distinction.