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Charlevoix

Once nicknamed “Queen of the Northern Resort Country,” Charlevoix still has a drawbridge and enough vacation fun to please even a royal. It’s hard to beat the idyllic harbor or the many concerts and festivals held along it. There’s also great shopping, gourmet food, and some of the best long stretches of sand in this part of the state.

Spread your beach blanket most anywhere, but if you want the feel of being hidden away on some of the longest sandy stretches, opt for Fisherman’s Island State Park just south of town on Bells Bay Road.

PICNIC: Try Scovie’s Gourmet for traditional deli fare like braunschweiger with dill havarti and whole grain mustard.  Or John Cross Fisheries for some Three Fish Dip to go.

SHOP: Check out the North Seas Gallery and Antiques for unexpected paintings by Dutch masters, Beir Street Art gallery for pottery made on site, or Round Lake Books for great recommendations.

LINGER: The Bridge Street Bistro boasts boat watching by windows overlooking the channel while enjoying the decadent lobster butter burger; after, choose from among 32 taps (keeping the water view) at Bridge Street Tap Room.

BOYNE CITY

Here, you’re on the sunset end of Lake Charlevoix, a fact that should figure into your day’s planning. The clear-blue lake was recently named America’s second-best lake by
 readers of USA Today — second only to the more famous Lake Tahoe. But the best reason to plan a day in Boyne City is that it’s simply fun. This friendly town throws a festival most every weekend, and restaurants boast innovative cuisine with a casual vibe. And then there are the beaches …

Spread your beach blanket at Young State Park, where 560 public acres offer lots of land for exploring, and the sandy beach was voted “best beach of the year” by Petoskey News Review readers.

PICNIC: Go to the Lake Street Market, where most everything’s homemade and names like W-2, Hazardous Waist and The Big Canoe are almost as creative as the sandwiches themselves.

SHOP: At the light-filled, Fresh- Water Studio, hand-carved log beds may be a perfect fit for your bungalow, and the delicate, locally-made jewelry is easy to pack. Also, Boyne’s Beyond Borders takes you around the world via gifts.

LINGER: Try out Cafe Sante. You’ll be overlooking the lake while feasting on European-style mussels and frites. In an Italian mood? Try the wood-fired pizzas, made like they do in Naples, just $5 every Monday.

ELK RAPIDS

This village is only one square mile in size, but planners made the most of it — especially for day trippers heading to the water. Much of the downtown’s prime lakefront is public, and an island library boasts what may be the most scenic reading nook anywhere (note: they also sell used books for your beach read). With Grand Traverse Bay to the west, Elk Lake to your east and a river to boot, you have no shortage of sandy beach goodness.

Spread your beach blanket at Veterans Memorial Park, a sugar sand beauty at the end of River Street. Grandchildren in tow? You’re in luck. Waters are shallow and warm, and it’s easy to find a shade tree.

PICNIC: Java Jones serves great coffee, but also a lot more: sandwiches on house-made bread and smoothies make perfect lunch fare, and you’ll often find a local musician adding to 
the ambience. Think brick walls, gleaming wood floors and a cozy table by the fireplace.

SHOP: Blue Heron, Twisted Fish and Mullaly’s galleries.

LINGER: Over dinner or a drink at Siren Hall, where the mermaid on the sign draws you in for oysters on the half shell, and the tasty hush puppies come infused with bluefin crab.

 

With all of this to discover in beautiful Northern Michigan, you’ll be so glad that you have your home-base set up at Hearthside Grove so that you will be able to experience all that this spectacular place has to offer … all year long!