20 Things To Do In Petoskey

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At the northern tip of Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan is the city of Petoskey, the most populated city in the Great Lakes State’s Emmet County. Petoskey is a destination that’s has natural beauty and cultural attractions. Not only was Petoskey the summering destination of choice for none other than Ernest Hemingway but the city also forms part of the Petoskey Wine Region, one of the Midwest’s premier wine-producing regions.

Petoskey, Michigan

20 Things To Do In Petoskey

Petoskey in winter aerial view
Looking for things to do in Petoskey? You’ll find some interesting activities for all seasons.

1- Stop By The Great Lakes Center for the Arts

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts in downtown Petoskey is a hub for the performing arts in northern Michigan, specialising in a variety of mediums such as dance, theatre, music, cinema and intellectual dialogue.

Officially opened on July 7, 2018, the centre overlooks Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan to the north and is 3.6 miles (5.8 km) outside central Petoskey.

525 patrons can pile into the venue at any given time to catch internationally renowned artists and world-class productions under one roof, with educational programs and special events held all year round.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts is at 800 Bay Harbor Dr, Bay Harbor, MI 49770.

2- Explore The Historic Gaslight District

petoskey gaslight clock
Exploring the Gaslight area is one of the interesting things to do in Petoskey.

The Gaslight District has been the go-to shopping destination in Petoskey ever since opening in the 1890s, well over 120 years ago.

Petoskey’s century-old district evokes memories of the Midwest during the 19th century and features gas-lit streetlights, brick facades and plenty of public parks, as well as several quirky shops and cafes.

Free to enjoy, the district perfectly blends old with new and is well worth stopping by if you’re planning to stop, dine or just sightsee in Petoskey.

3- Take A Stroll Along The Little Traverse Wheelway

Regarded as one of Michigan’s most scenic trails, the Little Traverse Wheelway is a stunning 26-mile (42 km) paved pathway that’s ideal for jogging, strolling, cycling or inline skating.

The trail connects the town of Harbor Springs to the north with Charlevoix to the southwest, running right past Petoskey as it hugs the shores of Little Traverse Bay.

Following the same path as the original Little Traverse Wheelway dating back to the 1880s, the trail is easy to access from downtown Petoskey and is great for discovering the nearby towns and scenery on foot.

4- Hop Aboard The Petoskey Downtown Trolley

The Petoskey Downtown Trolley is a free-to-use seasonal sightseeing and transportation method stopping by several of Petoskey’s attractions.

Running between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. from Thursday through Saturday and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, the trolley is a great way to take in central Petoskey without having to walk all over the place.

As much an iconic Petoskey landmark as it is a useful way of getting from point A to point B, the trolley’s schedule can vary quite a bit, so be sure to check its availability if you plan on using it to get about Petoskey.

5- Venture To Scenic Petoskey State Park

Perched along the shores of Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey State Park is a serene 303-acre (123 ha) outdoor recreational space that boasts a mile-long (1.6 km) stretch of beach and access to the Little Traverse Wheelway.

The park can be found just 4 miles (6 km) northeast of downtown Petoskey and serves roughly as the halfway point between Harbor Springs and Petoskey.

Home to William Wirt Rice’s tannery from 1885 until 1952, the park certainly knows how to dazzle nature lovers with activities ranging from swimming and exploring dunes to camping and hiking.

Petoskey State Park is at 2475 M-119, Petoskey, MI 49770.

6- Tour The Little Traverse Historical Museum

Housed inside the former Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Station, a National Register of Historic Places-listed landmark, the Little Traverse Historical Museum is a Petoskey attraction steeped in history both inside and out.

The museum operates on a seasonal basis and boasts several hands-on exhibits and interactive displays to recount the region’s most memorable moments and people.

Be sure to swing by during the summer for free programs and guided tours of the museum’s vast collection of artefacts and items, including exhibits detailing the life of Ernest Hemingway.

The Little Traverse Historical Museum is at 100 Depot Ct, Petoskey, MI 49770.

7- Spend An Afternoon In Pennsylvania Park

The proverbial beating heart of downtown Petoskey, Pennsylvania Park is the town’s go-to urban recreational space complete with all your favourite public park amenities.

Dating back to the 1880s, the park is one of the oldest attractions in the town’s downtown area and is home to a series of interesting attractions and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Pennsylvania Park is home to an eye-catching gazebo, the Ernest Hemingway Statue, the Blue Star Memorial and Farragut’s Cannon, all top-notch attractions in their own right.

Pennsylvania Park is at 411 E Lake St, Petoskey, MI 49770.

8- Swing By The Crooked Tree Arts Center

A community art centre catering to the residents of northern Michigan, the Crooked Tree Arts Center organises everything from art exhibitions and art classes to lectures and theatrical performances.

The centre is home to the local CTAC School of Ballet and plays host to the Paint Grand Traverse, an annual Plein Air painting festival held during the summer.

The Crooked Tree Arts Center is at 461 E Mitchell St, Petoskey, MI 49770.

9- Charter A Boat At Bay Harbor Lake Marina

The Bay Harbor Lake Marina is a 111-slip marina where travellers can get in touch with boat charters and tour operators to get out onto the blue waters of Lake Michigan.

Doubling as an outdoor recreational space, the marina is situated within walking distance from the Little Traverse Wheelway and is bordered by several top-notch accommodation options.

Even if you’re not looking to hop aboard a sightseeing tour of Lake Michigan, the marina provides visitors with a tranquil outdoor experience that’s ideal for picnicking or enjoying an afternoon stroll.

The Bay Harbor Lake Marina is at 832 Front St, Bay Harbor, MI 49770.

10- Wine And Dine Along The Petoskey Wine Region

One of northern Michigan’s often overlooked attractions is its award-winning vineyards and wineries, which travellers can explore and experience throughout the Petoskey Wine Region.

The Petoskey Wine Region’s vineyards and wineries cultivate wines produced from rich and robust grapes that thrive in colder temperatures, giving the region’s wines a distinct flavour and aroma not found in your typical European varieties.

About 19 wineries can be explored and visited between Petoskey, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, Indian River and Alanson, making Petoskey and northern Michigan the ideal travel destination if you’re a vinophile.

11- Walk In The Footsteps Of Ernest Hemingway

Petoskey shares a special place in literary circles as it is just up the road from “Windemere”, the preferred summer destination of Clarence and Grace Hemingway along with their children and siblings, including a young Ernest Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway, a Nobel Prize-winning author, made the pilgrimage north from his family home in Chicago every summer via train to their cottage on Walloon Lake, passing through Petoskey on the way.

Petoskey and the surrounding area very much ignited Hemingway’s love and passion for writing and served as the setting for a couple of his novels, including “Torrents of Spring” and “The Nick Adams Stories”.

12- Go Shopping For Petoskey Stones

Designated the official stone of Michigan in 1965, Petoskey Stones are pieces of fossilised colonial corals that can be found along northern Michigan’s beaches and select inland locations.

The stones are renowned for their unique patterns and colouration, and are littered around beaches and gravel pits near the city of Petoskey.

If you’re not in the mood to go looking for the stones yourself, be sure to pop by gift stores and souvenir shops in and around Petoskey to snap up a stone or two to take back home with you.

13- Experience The Local Arts Scene At The Boyne Arts Center

The non-profit Boyne Arts Center is a public arts and culture institution in downtown Boyne City that serves as one of the region’s premier destinations for fine arts exhibitions and art workshops.

Opened to the public in 2022, the centre is still a recent addition to the region’s tourism scene and boasts an ever-expanding collection of ceramics, paintings, jewellery and pottery for visitors to tour.

The venue is situated about 15 miles (24 km) outside Petoskey and is ideal if you’re looking to learn more about the region’s local art scene as well as participate in an art class or workshop.

The Boyne Arts Center is at 1 Water St, Boyne City, MI 49712.

14- Go Skiing And Golfing At The Boyne Mountain Resort

Billing itself as a weatherproof resort, the Boyne Mountain Resort near Petoskey is the region’s premier skiing and snowboarding destination come wintertime and a world-class golfing spot during spring and summer.

The resort boasts 63 downhill ski runs and 11 ski lifts, as well as ski-in-ski-out accommodation options to ensure travellers are hitting the slopes all day long.

Situated just 17 miles (27 km) south of downtown Petoskey, the resort is ideal to stay at or visit, offering activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fly fishing for visitors to enjoy.

Boyne Mountain Resort is at 1 Boyne Mountain Rd, Boyne Falls, MI 49713.

15- Indulge Your Sweet Tooth At Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen

Calling all chocoholics, Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen in downtown Petoskey has been crafting sweet treats and chocolate confections since opening back in 1947.

Founded by Don and Katy Kilwin, the store/chocolate factory doubles as a tourist attraction and organises guided tours of the facility to give visitors a sneak peek at how Kilwins’ treats are made.

Among the store’s best-selling products are its Mackinac Island Fudge, Caramel Brittle and Waffle Cups, making it one of Petoskey’s sweetest attractions to visit.

Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen is at 1050 Bay View Rd, Petoskey, MI 49770.

16- Stop By The Old Town Emmet Farm Market

Empty Farmers Market Stand Full Of Fresh Local Organic Products
Old Town Emmet Farm Market things to do in petoskey this weekend.

Lasting from late June until early October, the Old Town Emmet Farm Market is the best place in town to pick up the freshest produce and homemade goodies.

The market is a Saturday-only market and hosts special events throughout the year such as cookouts, “Christmas in July” and food truck gatherings to keep things fresh and interesting.

Organised at the Friendship Center parking lot just outside downtown Petoskey, the market is free to enjoy and attracts dozens of farmers, bakers and makers from around the northern Michigan region.

The Old Town Emmet Farm Market is at 1322 Anderson Rd, Petoskey, MI 49770.

Enjoy The Outdoors In Petoskey’s Public Parks

17- Take In The Scenery At Sunset Park

Colorful Sunset
Enjoying the sunsets is one of the things to do in Petoskey Michigan, during the summer.

Perched on the stunning shores of Little Traverse Bay and overlooking the blue waters of Lake Michigan, Sunset Park is, as the name suggests, a Petoskey destination renowned for its gorgeous sunset views come sundown.

The park boasts binoculars to take in all the sights and features plenty of greenery and a gazebo to take sunset picnics to a whole other level.

Situated less than a mile (1.6 km) from downtown Petoskey, the park provides visitors with access to Bayfront Park and is just across the road from the Petoskey Winter Sports Park.

Sunset Park is at 101 E Lake St, Petoskey, MI 49770.

18- Spend A Snowy Afternoon At Petoskey Winter Sports Park

Legs of ice skater on the ice rink.
Going ice skating is one of the things to do in Petoskey.

The Petoskey Winter Sports Park is a real winter wonderland in downtown Petoskey, providing visitors with free access to sledging runs, hockey rinks and ice skating arenas during the cold winter months.

The park got its start back in the 1890s and was created to provide the residents of northern Michigan with a free-to-use wintertime outdoor recreational space.

Expanded and upgraded extensively over the decades, the park now includes skate rentals, concession stands and a warming hut, so be sure to check out the park’s website to make sure it’s open before you arrive.

The Petoskey Winter Sports Park is at 1100 Winter Park Ln, Petoskey, MI 49770.

19- Relax And Unwind At Magnus Park

The lakefront Magnus Park is a 21-acre (8 ha) outdoor space nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan that boasts over 1,000 feet (305 m) of shoreline for nature lovers to enjoy.

about 1.2 miles (2 km) outside downtown Petoskey, the park borders the Little Traverse Wheelway and is a popular camping spot thanks to the park’s top-notch amenities and natural beauty.

One of the most popular draws of Magnus Park is its Petoskey Stone deposits, which visitors can scour for along the park’s lengthy shoreline.

20- Hunt Petoskey Stones At Bayfront Park

A beautiful small table with a cover in the park on the background of a beautiful mountain landscape.
Relaxing at Bayfront Park is one of the things to do in Petoskey, Michigan.

The 25-acre (10 ha) Bayfront Park is a scenic lakefront outdoor space that’s situated adjacent to the Bay Harbor Lake Marina.

A former industrial site, the park was created as part of a bigger revitalisation and gentrification process of Petoskey’s lakefront and boasts a couple of sports fields and playgrounds where visitors can enjoy the great Michigan outdoors.

The park is home to more than 7,800 feet (2,377 m) of shoreline, making it a popular hunting ground for Petoskey Stones.

Bayfront Park is at 101 E Lake St, Petoskey, MI 49770.

Petoskey tunnel of trees
Going on the Tunnel of Trees drive is one of the lovely things to do from Petoskey.
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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.