Between the tourist frenzy of Traverse City and the polished club-iness of Harbor Springs, the casual town of Petoskey (population
6,028) has its own identity on the northeast coast of Lake Michigan.
The vibrant downtown is compact and fueled largely by summer visitors, but the steep streets, historic architecture, and miles of waterfront make it a great place to settle year-round.
With the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore a few hours south, Harbor Springs’ upscale shopping 10 minutes north, and the resort of Mackinac Island an hour north, Petoskey residents fit right into the nation’s least heralded coastline partly thanks to the Little Traverse Conservancy. The LTC began in the 1970s as a grassroots effort to conserve land from development. Tom Bailey has worked with the LTC for 26 years and says residents of Petoskey and surrounding towns take pride in the natural beauty.
“As we grow the number of homes, we also grow the natural preserve areas,” he says.
The 100-year-old Gaslight District’s shops and restaurant, a farmers’ market every Friday in summer, and homemade soup at
Roast & Toast.
Your best beach is: The Bayfront Park trail about a mile from downtown to Petoskey State Park.
Your favorite restaurant could be: the casual Side Door Saloon for burgers and an outdoor deck in the summer.
On the weekend you might: drive one hour north to Sturgeon Bay for the miles of public beach, historic waterfront, and towering sand dunes.
Your view is: the Petoskey Bayfront Park and Bay Harbor Lake Marina, and the turquoise Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan.
Averaging in their late 30s and earning modest incomes slightly below the state average. They golf, sail out of downtown Petoskey
City Marina, fish and hike in summer, and cross-country ski and snowmobile in winter.
Stay a week: The historic Stafford’s Perry Hotel has water views. Rates start at $99; 800/737-1899 or staffords.com/perryhotel.
Stay a month: Lakefront cottage with four bedrooms, one bath. Weekly rates start at $700; 989/928-2895 or homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p178541.