If you’re looking for an idyllic Great Lakes experience, go no farther than Charlevoix, MI. Located on an isthmus between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, this picturesque village, with its downtown adjacent to the state’s largest natural harbor, Round Lake, has views of the water from almost every spot.
Charlevoix has it all, from unique architecture and limitless family-friendly activities to golf courses and boutique shopping. The true highlight of Charlevoix is the stunning natural geography. If you’d like to plan a day at the beach, start your excursion on Lake Michigan at Michigan Beach Park. Enjoy the fresh water and view of Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse.
After lunch in town, head to the other side of Round Lake to Depot Beach Park, the home of an historic train depot on Lake Charlevoix. To see the water from a different vantage point, hike up Mt. McSauba for an elevated view of Lake Michigan. Even more hiking and camping can be found at Fisherman’s Island State Park, which runs for five miles along Lake Michigan’s shore.
Recreation in Charlevoix is hardly limited to the water. Play your way through the five golf courses within 20 minutes of downtown. Take a walking tour of builder Earl Young’s funky mushroom houses. The gardens at Castle Farms are also worth a few hours of your time. Built in 1918 by the president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., Castle Farms is a retired dairy farm that’s home to fantastical gardens, the state’s longest model train set and Norm the dragon. It’s a great stop if you’re traveling with kids who might like looking for fairy houses.
Other family-friendly stops include Friske’s Farm Market, which has a large play area and Raven Hill Discovery Center with exhibits on science, art and history. With or without kids, Charlevoix is a gem among the Great Lakes. With its quaint downtown, endless activities and water all around, it is a bucket list destination.
Along the shores of Lake Charlevoix, Irish Boat Shop offers upscale amenities and dockage at two marina basins: one north of Ferry Beach Park on Ferry Avenue, and the other on Stover Road south of the park.
Located at the base of East Park, right on the main street in Round Lake, this marina offers 77 slips, a boaters lounge and laundry facilities. Reserve slips six months in advance.
A bakery, café and coffee bar with a seasonal menu that takes inspiration from a host of international cuisines. Creativity and wholesome ingredients are top priorities at this Park Avenue corner store.
The 38-year-old downtown establishment is a diner/pub with an eclectic menu. A popular local watering hole, the Villager Pub boasts friendly staff and fun 1950s décor.
Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant
An Earl Young design in a renovated grist mill, Weathervane serves delicious seafood on the water. The focal point of the indoor dining room is a great hearth made from local stone shaped like the state.
Another fixture of downtown Charlevoix, Bridge Street Tap Room specializes in local drinks. The bar offers 32 Michigan brews as well as a local wine and spirits menu. Enjoy your small plates and comfort food with a view of Round Lake.
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