First Timers Guide to Charlevoix, Michigan

Posted by Brook Walsh on Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 at 9:45am.

Charlevoix became a village in 1871 and a city in 1905. The city has been a summer vacation destination for decades. Unless you can spend the entire summer, Charlevoix offers far more things to enjoy than you you’ll ever be able to experience during a single vacation.

Things to Do in Charlevoix

Charlevoix offers many places to visit and things to do for you to try. There are summer activities such as baseball games at the Carpenter Ball Fields and Fourth of July festivities. Since Charlevoix is on Lake Michigan, waterfront activities such as sunning on beaches, boat rentals, and charter boat tours are available.

Charlevoix Public Library

The signature piece in the Library's Art Collection is painted on the curved wall in the entry. Artist Charles Thompson designed the mural to reflect the era of the late 1920's in Charlevoix, Michigan, the time of the original construction of the building. This is must-see location with lots of interesting pieces of artwork, historic charm, and Michigan artifacts.

Michigan Beach Park

Michigan Beach on Lake Michigan is a favorite spot for all. It offers white sandy beach, Petoskey stones, playground, walking trails, basketball court, volleyball net, pavilion, concessions, restrooms, swimming area, and the iconic Charlevoix Lighthouse are within walking distance of downtown Charlevoix. Also, if you're looking to fish and don't have a boat, fish off of the pier on Michigan Beach! One of Charlevoix's best beaches, enjoy sandy shores and great sunsets. 

Castle Farms

Built in 1918 by the acting President of Sears Roebuck, Castle Farms was a dairy farm. Now, it is open to the public with the castle, a museum including items from the Sears Roebuck catalog; gardens; an enchanted gnome forest; duck and fish feeding; the Alphabet Garden; a hedge maze; a model railroad with G, HO, and N-scale trains; a gift shop; a resident dragon; and a venue for weddings. Self-guided tours are available year-round. You should allow at least two hours for a self-guided tour. In the summer, you’ll be able to take a guided tour. Many people spend the day and bring a picnic lunch. Contact Castle Farms for assist with weddings. It’s located at 5052 M-66 North, and it’s open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Sunshine Charter Boat Charters

They offer three daily sailing trips, morning, afternoon, and an evening sunset cruise. Sunshine Charters loves the water and they want to make sure they get as many people as they can out there to experience the amazing sights and thrills of sailing. Their sailing season typically begins in early June and lasts through Labor Day. All three tours usually visit both, Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. They provide free pop and a good time, however, you’re welcome to bring any food or additional beverages on board.

Fisherman's Island State Park and Beach

Located just a few miles south of the City of Charlevoix, Fisherman's Island State Park is not actually just an island, but a 2,678-acre park with five miles of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline. The park encompasses a tiny island, Fisherman's Island, currently connected to the mainland, due to low lake levels.

The Michigan State Park features a rustic campground with a few sites nestled in the dunes along the lakeshore. The park road travels through the campground to the picnic area with access to the beach and miles of hiking trails. The interior terrain consists of rolling dunes covered with maple, birch and aspen broken up by bogs of cedar and black spruce. Fisherman's Island State park is located just south of Charlevoix Michigan along the shore of Lake Michigan.

Depot Beach

Located on Lake Charlevoix, this historic beach offers a playground, pavilion, picnic area, and restrooms. This iconic park is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy great views of Lake Charlevoix. For the avid paddler, the easy access to the water provides easy kayak or stand up paddleboard access to Lake Charlevoix. Visit the historic train depot which recently celebrated its 100th birthday. 

Ferry Beach

A sandy beach on Lake Charlevoix with boat launch, playground, volleyball nets, basketball courts, and horseshoes. Pavilion, concessions, and restrooms. There is a swimming area, stand up paddle board rentals and located directly next to the City's boat launch. 

Charlevoix Fountain Of Youth

Open until 9pm during the summertime! The Charlevoix Fountain of Youth can be found in Downtown Charlevoix, immediately adjacent to the Charlevoix Municipal Marina's Harbor Master Building at the foot of East Clinton Street. Enjoy 

Interactive Mode 10am-9pm

In interactive mode, the heated fountain is open for play. The 30 foot high center nozzle is powered down and the stanchions and ropes are removed to allow access. Please properly supervise children. Use at your own risk.

Display Mode 9:30pm-11pm

The Fountain's choreographed music and light shows take place on the half hour and the fountain is to be enjoyed from behind the stanchions and rope as the high-pressure nozzle is engaged and the facility is unsupervised. Please remain out of the fountain during display mode.

Wildwood Rush

Located along high ridges and over scenic valleys just outside of beautiful Boyne City, Wildwood Rush is Michigan’s Ultimate Zip Line Canopy Tour! Fly through the forest canopy on over 7,000 feet of zip lines, cross five suspended sky bridges, and enjoy the amazing views of Lake Charlevoix from our six tree-top platforms. Experience a new perspective on the same hills and valleys that provided Ernest Hemingway with the inspiration for the Nick Adams stories nearly 100 years ago.

Wildwood Rush is much more than just a thrill ride. They take their stewardship responsibility seriously and are committed to preserving the natural beauty of our forest environment. From the beginning, our course was designed to minimize tree removal, and those trees that were cut have been recycled into many of their course elements, contributing to the unique, natural atmosphere of their facility. During your tour, their guides provide a humorous and entertaining commentary on the local ecosystem and area history that is sure to be the highlight of your visit.

For those not interested in the full canopy tour, try racing your friends on our 1,200-foot triple racing zip line. With three parallel lines and speeds of over 40 miles per hour, it’s the only one of its kind in the Midwest! If you are interested in pushing your personal boundaries, learning more about our Northern ecosystem, or just looking for an adrenaline rush, Wildwood Rush has what you need. 

South Pier Lighthouse

The Charlevoix Lighthouse overlooks Lake Michigan, nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan and the Pine River Channel. This historic lighthouse has been guiding sailors home for a hundred years. 

With all this shoreline, it isn’t surprising that Charlevoix developed into a resort destination, featuring extravagant hotels and three summer associations. An early admirer of the village called it “Charlevoix the Beautiful,” and ever since the local Chamber of Commerce has been using the appellation in its promotional material.

Bridge Park

Conveniently located downtown with a great view of the drawbridge. This is a great location to take pictures of Round Lake and the drawbridge or have a picnic on the large grassy lawn. There are bike racks and picnic tables available in the park. 

Round Lake

Round Lake offers fishing for carp, crappie, bullhead, largemouth bass, yellow perch,
northern pike, and sunfish using worms, minnows, and artificial bait. Boat rentals are available at Don's Party Store.

Mt. McSauba Recreational Area

Mt. McSauba Recreational Area offers year-round recreational activities. Summer activities include beaches, sand dunes, disc golf, and hiking trails. In the winter, you can go sledding, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or ice skating. It’s located at 9223 Mt. McSauba Rd., Charlevoix.

Serviced by four tow ropes, most of Mt. McSauba’s six runs are on the front facing the day lodge but on the backside is Tornado Alley, so named because it catches the wind blowing off Lake Michigan. At the top of the Alley, you enjoy a panorama of the lake and the frozen shoreline and then can tackle the Mt. McSauba’s longest run, a 1,100-foot-long intermediate slope with a vertical drop of 150 feet.

Trails are moderately paced and connect to Lake Michigan. This beautiful trail system also features an 18 disc golf course that offers changeling holes with breathtaking views as well.  While exploring the Mt. McSauba Recreation Area, climb to the top of the sand dunes to capture an awe-inspiring sunset. This trail system has a .7 mile loop to explore.  

More than just a ski slope, Mt. McSauba is a true winter recreation area. There is a skating rink with a warming cabin on the south side, a lighted sledding hill on the north side and behind the towering dune a cross-country ski trail.

Beaver Island

Beaver Island, Lake Michigan's largest island, is 32 miles from the Charlevoix coastline. It offers swimming, kayaking, canoeing, disc golf, biking, hiking, birding, cross-country skiing, shopping, dining, a lighthouse, and a museum. To reach the island, you can take the ferry or one of the two daily flights.

Earl Young Mushroom Houses

Earl Young built 26 houses and four commercial buildings using local materials including stones, boulders, limestone, and fieldstone. Each unique house blends into its surroundings and has its own name. The entire collection, the Mushroom Houses, takes it’s named from one particular house, the Mushroom House. They are also called Gnome or Hobbit houses. A self-guided tour map is available at 109 Mason Street. While you have to drive to see a few of the homes, many of them are within walking distance of downtown Charlevoix.

Greensky Hill Church

Built in the 1850s, the Greensky Hill Church is a log cabin-style church founded by Peter Greensky. The original church was built in 1844 from bark and tree boughs. Greensky was a Chippewa chief whose name was Shagasokicki. In 1833, after becoming a member of the Methodist Church, set out to convert other Native Americans. Originally, the church had a circle of "council trees" where meetings of Indian chiefs could discuss tribal issues. The church is located at 8484 Green Sky Hill Road.

The Ernest Hemingway Tour

As he was growing up, Hemingway spent his summers in Horton Bay. The self-guided tour includes sites he frequented and sites that were included in his "Nick Adams" stories. Locations listed below are included in the tour.

  • The Perry Hotel
  • Summer Road Public Access on Walloon Lake -- Hemingway enjoyed rowing across Saloon Lake and featured it in "Wedding Story."
  • Horton Bay General Store -- The store was featured in "Up in Michigan" and "The Last Good Country."
  • Little Traverse Historical Museum -- The museum is a former train depot and offers a Hemingway exhibit.

Information about the Ernest Hemingway tour is available at the Charlevoix Convention & Visitors Bureau at 109 Mason Street.

Venetian Festival

The Venetian Festival is held in downtown Charlevoix. It features art, crafts, music, street and boat parades, a carnival, games, and fireworks.

Summer Activities

Carpenter Ball Fields

For baseball enthusiasts, Charlevoix provides the Carpenter Ball Fields. This community ball park offers a T-ball field, a Little League Field, and a men's softball field. While open to the public, the fields can also be reserved for private events. The fields are located at 406 West Carpenter Avenue

Fourth of July

Charlevoix celebrates the Fourth of July in two locations. At Beaver Island, the festivities run from 9 am to 11 pm with a parade at 2 pm and end with a firework display. At Walloon Lake, the festivities run from 7 pm to 10 pm. Live music is followed by fireworks.

Waterfront Activities

South Pier Lighthouse

Built in 1885, the lighthouse is on Lake Michigan and Pine River Channel. The 100-foot wide channel between Lake Michigan and Round Lake was created in 1868. The lighthouse was originally on the North Pier but was moved to the South Pier in 1914. Originally, there was a 750-foot wooden walkway, but it was replaced with a 720-foot metal walkway in 1904. Information about the South Pier Lighthouse is available at the Charlevoix Convention & Visitors Bureau at 109 Mason Street.

Charter a Boat and Explore the Northern Michigan Waterways

Little Traverse Charter’s "Open Wide" offers a large, comfortable seating area for small groups as well as state of the art electronics and safety equipment. They are located at Dock B24 Charlevoix City Marina.

Sunshine Charters

Sunshine Charters offers morning, afternoon, and sunset cruises on Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. Your excursion will be on a 29-passenger catamaran. Sunshine Charters provides beverages and allows guests to bring food. They are located at 299 Bridge Park Drive.

Ferry Beach

Ferry Beach is on Lake Charlevoix. It offers a boat launch, a swimming area, and stand up paddle board rentals. In addition, it has a playground, basketball courts, horseshoes, volleyball nets, a pavilion, and concessions. Ferry Beach is at 224 Ferry Avenue next to the city's boat launch.

Depot Beach

Depot Beach is on Lake Charlevoix and is named after the old train depot that is located there. The depot is over 100 years old. The beach offers a playground, a pavilion, and a picnic area. You also can launch kayaks and stand up paddle boards from the beach. It’s located at 307 Chicago Avenue.

Shopping

Charlevoix offers far more shopping opportunities than we can possibly cover here. Be sure not to overlook any that match your interests.

Bier Art Gallery

Located in a red and white schoolhouse, the Bier Art Gallery offers the artwork of over 60 regional and national artists providing a diverse selection of art. It is located at 3500 US 31 South and is open daily 10 am to 6 pm during the summer.

True North Interior Design and Antiques

True North Interior Design and Antiques features antiques, vintage finds, women's clothing, jewelry, handbags, handcrafted furnishings, accessories, and lighting. They so offer interior design services such as window treatments, upholstery and furniture selections, space planning, lighting plans, fixture selections, flooring & tile design, color consultation, and fabric selection. They are located at 108 Van Pelt.

Friskes Orchards

Friskes Farm Market allows you to pick your own apples and cherries. In the store, they offer food and snacks as well as a farm market, gifts, artwork, toys, and books. Your children can enjoy the Orchard Playland while shop. They are located at 10743 N. US 31 in Atwood, Michigan and are open Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm.

Dining

Charlevoix has a large variety of restaurants. You should explore as many of these restaurants as you can. Here are just a few of the restaurants.

Terry's Place

Terry's Place offers full course dinners. Crab cakes, escargot, and wild mushroom ravioli, are among the appetizers. Entrees include duck, chicken schnitzel, shrimp or scallop Provençale, New York strip steak, filet mignon, veal, scallop Florentine, whitefish, perch, and walleye. Terry's Place is located at 101 Antrim Street and opens at 5 pm daily.

Harbor View Cafe

Harbor View Cafe offers home cooking, hearty portions, and affordable prices for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast include eggs in a variety of dishes including omelets and eggs benedict, a complete variety of breakfast meats, pancakes, waffles, and French toast. For lunch, you can have soups, salads, and sandwiches such as Rueben's, clubs, grilled cheese, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, deli sandwiches, and burgers. They are located at 100 West Antrim Street and are open daily from 7am until 2 pm.

Stafford's Weathervane

Stafford's Weathervane is open for lunch and dinner with menu items made from scratch from seasonal ingredients. Their menu features fish as well as lamb chops, tenderloins, and ribs. As you enjoy your meal, you can view the stone fireplace made from glacial boulders. The fireplace is shaped like Michigan’s lower peninsula and includes highways and interstates. The restaurant provides a view of the Pine River Channel. The Weathervane offers both formal and casual areas. Stafford's Weathervane is located at 106 Pine River Avenue and is opened from 11 am to 9 pm.

Brian's Ice Cream Experience

Brian’s Ice Cream Experience makes their own ice cream. They create a denser, more flavorful ice cream. They are located at 220 Bridge Street and are open May through October.

Charlevoix Pizza Company

Their first location is now open for your pizza cravings in downtown Charlevoix. Rooted in the sense of community and the love of good pizza, CPC was a brainstorm of individuals who remember working in small pizzerias and the pride of a team effort creating a quality pizza. They believe in providing high-quality ingredients and don’t mind the extra work that goes into preparing a great pizza. From scratch made dough, fresh ingredients prepared daily, to brushing the golden crust of a freshly baked pizza, they care.

Shanahan's Pub

Shanahan's Pub is located at the Charlevoix Country Club. They offer a wide variety of food and beverage options! Serving lunch and dinner everyday and Sunday Brunch from 10-2pm. Come out and enjoy a great view over the golf greens.

Scovies Gourmet

Stop on in and enjoy a setting of Charlevoix's Drawbridge and Round Lake. Serving their lunch menu all day long or their dinner menu begins after 5. Just looking to relax? They also have a fully stocked bar and many local beers to choose from.

Villager Pub & Restaurant

Providing both dine-in and take-out meals, the Villager Pub in Charlevoix has been serving northern Michigan vacationers and locals alike for nearly 3 decades! Their menu selection and reasonable prices make them a perfect match for families, couples on dates, and just about anyone else. Whether you're entertaining a business client or taking your favorite gal out for a burger and fries, their expansive menu and full bar offer something for everyone.

The Taffy Barrel

Remember the days of penny candy, the old general store and when the cost of gasoline was only 23 cents a gallon? Unfortunately, the cost of penny candy is no longer a penny and none of us will ever understand the cost of gasoline, but the look and feel of an old fashioned general store does still exist at the Taffy Barrel. Imagine, over 150 barrels and baskets loaded with your favorite candies, that old creaky wood floor, the old decorative tin ceiling and the cool breeze from the ceiling fan on a warm summer’s day.

Northern Michigan Escapes Vacation Rentals

If you are planning to vacation in Northern Michigan, consider renting your lodging from Northern Michigan Escapes Vacation Rentals. They have year-round access to everything from one-bedroom condos to large seven-bedroom homes. They also offer concierge services and are available 24/7. Northern Michigan Escapes Vacation Rentals also can manage your rental real estate and help you to buy or sell rental real estate through their Brook Walsh real estate division.

Pointes North Inn

The boutique style condominium suite hotel, Pointes North Inn, provides 20 suites in downtown Charlevoix. The suites offer a living room, one or two bedrooms, mini or full kitchens, a sleeper sofa, a flat screen TV, a washer and dryer, a balcony or screened-in porch, and an indoor and outdoor pool. Some suites have a two-person jetted tub and an electric fireplace. The Inn is pet friendly.

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