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Petoskey Michigan Travel Guide

Discover Petoskey Michigan

You can’t help but fall in love with Petoskey, Michigan.

For us, the feeling starts every time we drive into this pretty coastal resort town, slowing climbing US-131 until the sparkling blue-and-aqua Little Traverse Bay comes into view.

As we travel though this charmingly historic northern Michigan spot, the feeling never goes away.

From the smells of fresh fudge wafting through the air in the Gaslight Village shopping district to the winding hiking and biking trails that take you along breath-takingly beautiful scenery, Petoskey always provides a perfect escape.

Read on to discover more about this beautiful northern Michigan town.

Petoskey MI

About Petoskey MI

The sparkling blue water of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay; the majestic towering trees – lush green in the summer and shimmering gold and red in the fall; and the gentle, rolling hills of the landscape…this is Petoskey.

It’s also the land of Ernest Hemingway, set to paper in perpetuity and described in reverent detail in many of the authors’ works, where he recalls early days traipsing through this naturally beautiful land.

It’s a magical place, and it’s east to see why the Petoskey is area one of Michigan’s top vacation destinations.

petoskey michigan

Discover Petoskey MI

Located near the tip of Michigan’s mitten, and this scenic part of the state is naturally beautiful throughout all four seasons.

It’s part resort community, part year-round outdoor paradise and this city by the bay manages to combine quaint, small-town charm with all of the amenities of a much-larger city.

Petoskey is also the county seat of Emmet County, surrounded by other stunning vacation destinations including Harbor Springs, Walloon Lake, Boyne City and Boyne Falls.

Charlevoix, another must-visit vacation destination, is just a short drive west.

This stunning area has something for travelers of all ages, beginning with the miles of Lake Michigan shoreline that offer some of the most picturesque bay views in Michigan.

beach in petoskey mi

Petoskey is Known For…

  • The Gaslight District, a charming downtown shopping area rife with independent shops, upscale boutiques and eateries, and course, fudge shops.
  • Picturesque Little Traverse Bay, a Lake Michigan bay with wide sandy beaches and crystal-clear water: take the Little Traverse Bay Ferry across the bay for a beautiful boat ride. You can pick it up from downtown Petoskey or Bay Harbor and go across the bay to Harbor Springs for the fun day exploring.
  • The Petoskey Pierhead Light, a 30-foot high red and white tower jutting out into Little Traverse Bay at the end of a long pier, pretty walk when the water is calm.
  • Pennsylvania Park, a lush, grassy expanse near the downtown shopping area. Complete with a charming white gazebo, this is arguably one of the prettiest city parks in northern Michigan. Concerts in the park are held regularly, check the schedule here.
  • Vibrantly active, outdoors-loving community, filled with scenic trails for hiking and amazing bike trails in a natural setting
  • Petoskey State Park Beach, one of the prettiest state park beaches in the lower peninsula. Set on Little Traverse Bay, it’s also a favorite Michigan camping destination
  • Ski Resorts galore: Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob are nearby, and Boyne Mountain is an easy drive south
  • The abundance of Petoskey Stone’s: fossilized coral with a distinct pebble-shaped pattern that is a pure Michigan treasure…and the official state stone.
  • Balloons Over Bay Harbor, an annual event that sees beautiful hot air balloons lifting into the air over Little Traverse Bay.
petoskey hiking and biking trails

Hiking and Biking Petoskey MI

One of our favorite things to do when we visit Petoskey – no matter the time of year – is to start the visit with a walk along Lake Street.

The city of Petoskey and the parks and recreation department have done an excellent job of providing endless trails for hiking and biking along the shoreline, including trails that offer excellent accessibility for users of wheelchairs.

The Little Traverse Wheelway is a bike path that runs 26 miles from Harbor Springs to Petoskey to Charlevoix and is mostly paved.

You’ll pass through Bayfront Park, a large park offering almost 8000 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline, even offers an ADA-accessible fishing pier.

The Little Traverse Histor Museum, located in the Pere Marquette railway station, is located here, too.

Petoskey’s Bear River Valley Recreation Area is 1.5 miles of rushing rapids, forested trails, and beautiful nature walks.

Whether you need to throw a little adventure into your trip with some white water rafting or let yourself breathe among nature for an hour or two, Bear River is the place to stop.

petoskey michigan at christmas
Photo by Memories Captured by Lisa Baird

Petoskey and Harbor Springs Weather

The weather in Petoskey, MI and Harbor Springs, MI is typical northern Michigan: cold and snowy in the winter and delightfully warm in the summer.

Expect temperatures to range from 70 F to 80 F during the day from June-September. During the summer months, mornings and evenings may be cooler; typically lower 70 – 60 F.

Lake Michigan Sunsets

Watching the sun sink slowly into Lake Michigan is a sight to remember, and the shorelines of both Petoskey and Harbor Springs offer great opportunity to catch this magnificent sight.

Be sure and include the Lake Michigan sunsets into your vacation itinerary: you’ll thank us later.

Best Beaches in Petoskey

Set along the shores of sparkling blue Little Traverse Bay in northern Michigan, the area around Petoskey and Harbor Springs includes some of Michigan’s best beaches for swimming and splashing along the shoreline.

From beaches with an abundance of amenities such as picnic tables, concessions and paddleboard rentals to wilder, secluded beaches, there is a beach for everyone along this spectacular part of Michigan’s freshwater coast.

We’re sharing some of the area’s best beaches below.

Magnus City Park Beach
Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Picnic Area, Bike Paths, Play Area, Scenic Overlook

Petoskey State Park
Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Picnic Facilities, Playground, Volleyball Court, Concessions

Solanus Mission Beach
Beach Area, Swimming

Thorne Swift Nature Preserve
Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Dunes, Observation Platform, Gazebo, Nature Center

Zoll Street Beach
Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Lifeguard, Picnic Tables

Zorn Park Beach
Beach, Swimming, Restrooms, Lifeguard, Picnic Tables

Our Favorite Petoskey Beaches

Petoskey State Park

One of the gems – among many – in the Michigan State Park system, Petoskey State Park is near perfect. With a wide, soft sand beach that meets the shallow waters of Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey State Park is Lake Michigan at its finest.

The comfortable park – which also offers lodging accommodations in the form of camping and cabin rentals, has all of the amenities needed for a perfect Michigan beach visit.

Good Hart and Cross Village Beaches

North of Petoskey and Harbor Springs are the tiny villages of Good Hart and Cross Village. Stunningly beautiful, there are a few quiet, secluded beaches where you can experience Lake Michigan in a completely natural setting.

Drive north along highway M-119, also known as the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route.

Watch for signs directing you to park behind the St. Ignatius Mission Church and , a little further north, the Cross Village beach. It’s worth the drive; you’ll find a pristine Lake Michigan beach waiting for you.

ADA accessible beaches in traverse city

ADA and Wheelchair Accessible Beaches in Harbor Springs and Petoskey

The Petoskey and Harbor Springs Area does a fabulous job of providing accessibility to both the Lake Michigan shoreline for users of wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

Petoskey State Park
A Mobi Chair (a floating wheelchair) and a Brock Dock (a vinyl beach pathway) are available at Petoskey State Park, now making this beautiful Little Traverse Bay beach universally accessible.

Zorn Park Beach in Harbor Springs
Zorn Park Beach has both a Mobi-Mat and Chair to allow visitors access to the park’s beach.

Petoskey State Park Beach Access Project
Petoskey State Park also offers excellent access to the Lake Michigan shoreline for users of wheelchairs and other mobility devices through a Mobi Chair and a Brock Dock (a vinyl beach pathway), purchased in conjunction with support of the local community, the DNR and the Northern Michigan Disability Network.

dog friendly beaches in michigan

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Petoskey

Magnus City Beach
Dogs Allowed in Play Areas but not in Swimming Areas
231-347-4150

Zoll Street Beach (in Harbor Springs)
Dogs Allowed on Beach
231-526-7999

Downtown Petoskey

There’s a reason that Petoskey was named one of the “Best Small Towns in America” by the Smithsonian Magazine. It’s comfortable, walkable and just a delightful spot to explore. It’s easy to spend at least a day exploring downtown Petoskey: a mix of upscale boutiques, giftshops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants, with an obligatory fudge shop thrown in here or there.

The charming and historic brick-paved “Gaslight District,” offers around 170 shops to explore, and the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau is conveniently set here for additional traveler information. Nearby Pennsylvania Park offers a scenic place to rest during your shopping trip.

Don’t miss these fun spots on your visit:

City Park Grill – This Victorian-era spot was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, who may-or-may-not have come up with some of his Nick Adams stories here.

Grandpa Shorter’s – This fun spot specializes in Petoskey stones and other Michigan-themed gifts.

Kilwin’s Chocolate Kitchen – What would a trip tp northern Michigan be without fudge? This spot kick it up a notch with fudge, ice cream, and other sweet treats.

pier in petoskey Mi

Things to Do in Petoskey

Petoskey Pierhead Lighthouse
Take a stroll along the break wall jutting into Little Traverse Bay all the way out to the Petoskey Pierhead Lighthouse, and take in the lake breeze and amazing views across the Bay of Harbor Springs and beyond.

Biking in Petoskey
This part of northern Michigan was made for biking. Bike trails, both paved and unpaved, abound throughout the Petoskey and Harbor Springs area. Bike enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy rides through the scenic natural beauty. If you don’t bring your bikes, check out local bicycle rental outlets like Latitude 45 in Petoskey and enjoy. For more on some of our favorite Michigan Bike trails, click HERE.

Hunt for Petoskey Stones

Michigan’s official “State Stone”, the Petoskey, is a fossilized piece of rock. These prehistoric fossils are ancient pieces of coral that are scattered around the beaches of northern Michigan (and a few other places, too, see here for more information) and are prized beach treasure for children and adults alike.

A visit to a northern Michigan is not complete without a search along the beach for these gems and both the beaches of Petoskey and neighboring Charlevoix are prime Petoskey Stone hunting grounds. If you are lucky enough to find one – or even two – take the time polish them up and keep them forever!

CHECK OUT OUR GUIDE TO HUNTING FOR PETOSKEY STONES!

Explore the Tunnel of Trees

Its one of the most scenic rides in Michigan: the 20-mile long journey down state highway M-119 through a tunnel of age-old hardwoods. Pick up M-119 north of Harbor Springs and continue through the trees along a spectacular bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

Odawa Casino
This Northern Michigan Casino Resort is owned and operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. the sprawling complex offers fifty thousand square feet of gaming space as well as a gourmet restaurant and spacious, comfortable rooms.

Artie Stefans

Monday 20th of June 2022

Is it possible to get a paper copy of the Petosky Travel Guide ? We are planning a Michigan vacation with a visit to Petosky in mid or late July

Bobbi Arends

Sunday 12th of June 2022

I would love a paper copy of your travel guide-we are planning a circle Lake Michigan vacation

My Michigan Beach Team

Saturday 18th of June 2022

Hi Bobbi- Thanks for reaching out. We are in the process of publishing some updated guides. We'll let you know as soon as they are ready!