Looking for a fresh alternative to a seaside escape? Harbor Springs is just the place. With its horse-drawn carriages, the town is a veritable throwback to an earlier time. Indulge in some Americana and explore the great outdoors of northern Michigan that was such an inspiration to Hemingway. There’s no wrong time of year to visit, with skiing in the winter, and northern lights in the fall.
Harbor Springs is known as the watersports capital of Michigan, with a famous regatta that brings crews from around the world, and a natural harbor perfect for waterskiing. The vastness of Lake Michigan is reminiscent of the ocean, and diving in feels like submerging yourself into one large, refreshing swimming pool. So, do yourself a favor and check out Harbor Springs.
PUT ‘EM BACK
Pier Restaurant // 102 E. Bay Street, Harbor Springs, Michigan 49740
The only waterfront dining in Harbor Springs, the Pier is popular with tourists and locals alike. Stroll the Harbor Springs Municipal Docks beforehand to see how the offshore crowd lives.
Pierson's // 130 State St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Newly opened in the old Juilleret's building (a Harbor Springs staple that is dearly missed), this ski-themed bar is the perfect alternative to the nautical-themed Pier.
Bar Harbor // 100 State St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Follow the famous sign in the middle of town to Bar Harbor: the restaurant has the best Olive Burger in town and—even better—cheap beer.
Petoskey Brewing Co // 1844 M 119 Harbor-Petoskey Road, Petoskey, MI 49770
This institution brews their own beer in an old factory building from the 1890s. Try the Horny Monk, a local favorite.
IF YOU CAN GET IN
Little Harbor Club // 130 Traverse St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Indulge in some lakeside tennis and check out the Pit Bar afterwards—a social staple for the community. Order a Hummer (the Harbor Springs version of a Mudslide)—but, word to the wise: more than three of these milkshakes will note bode well for surviving the rest of your evening.
Wequetonsing Golf Club // 5543 M-119, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
The tight layout has plenty of trees, and numerous blind shots makes for a difficult round.
Harbor Point Golf Club // 8475 S Lake Shore Dr, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Well-maintained with tough greens, Hole #7 (with the view of Little Traverse Bay), is the club’s signature.
The Depot Dining Club // 111 W Bay St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
This relatively new dining club is located in the old Harbor Springs rail depot and has a beautiful and unique ambiance. Dress up a bit for the occasion: depending on the season, it is accessible to the public.
Legs Inn // 6425 N Lake Shore Dr, Cross Village, MI 49740
Located twenty minutes down the road in Good Hart, this spot is known for its Polish far, amazing Lake Michigan sunsets, and rowdy Sunday night dance parties. Make the trip—the live band is always worth it.
The Sassy Loon // 8865 M-119, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
As the name implies, at this bar (located in the Northern Lights Bowling Alley), anything goes.
Mitchell Street Pub // 426 E Mitchell St, Petoskey, MI 49770
Just down the road in Petoskey, this local favorite is known for hearty, casual fare and is the kind of place where you’ll find peanut shells scattered all over the floor.
Chandlers // 215 1/2 Howard St, Petoskey, MI 49770
Upscale fair in Petoskey with an amazing wine cellar and delicious food—order the Hummers.
The New York // 101 State St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
A staple in downtown Harbor Springs for years, this more formal option is the last remnant of the original New York Hotel, which opened in 1904. Good date spot overlooking Little Traverse Bay.
Gurney's Bottle Shop // 215 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Don't underestimate the sandwich counter in the back of this liquor store. Show-up too late, and the line is out the door, or—even worse—they’re out of bread. Cash only, and no tomatoes—which, let’s be honest, just make your sandwich soggy anyway.
Turkey's // 250 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
The best (and only) pizza in town with a laid-back atmosphere and famously flaky braided crust.
GET YOUR FIX
Stained Cup // 181 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
The go-to spot for coffee, pastries, and Wi-Fi in downtown Harbor Springs. Sit outside and watch-the comings and goings.
Howse's Fudge // 201 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Northern MI is known for its fudge, and this is the best place to get it. Head there for fudge, caramels, and chocolate-covered anything. Tastes and smells like summer.
Tom’s Mom’s Cookies // 267 S Spring St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
World-famous, Tom’s Mom’s has appeared on Food Network, and the Today Show. Chocolate & Dried Cherries is the local favorite. This is also a great gift to bring home with you—and, when all your friends become addicted as well, the indulgence can continue for the foreseeable future: you can now order by mail.
Yummies // 220 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
The best ice cream shop in town, grab a cone and walk the docks.
Nub’s Nob Ski Resort // 500 Nubs Nob Rd, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Chalet-style ski area, favored by the locals and tourists alike. Award winning snow-making, voted best in the Midwest. Great live music in the Nubs Pub for Après
Hit a local beach –
If you don't get in the water, you're doing it wrong. Recommendations are Sturgeon Bay (great sand dunes), Petoskey State Park (Dunes and waves, amazing for kite-surfing), Zoll Street Beach (dog-friendly) and Zorn Park (main public beach downtown—swim out to the raft through the springs that the give the town its name).
The Pointer Boat // 102 E. Bay Street Harbor Springs, Michigan 49740
Get out on the water—take a ride on the pointer from the Pier, which offers a historical tour and cocktails. Or rent paddle boards and kayaks from the Outfitter for a more DIY experience.
Tunnel of Trees // M-119
Drive scenic M-119 from Harbor Springs through the famous tunnel of trees (reminiscent of Fern Gully). Great for leaf-peeping in the fall.
OFF THE GRID
Pond Hill Farm // 5699 S Lake Shore Dr, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Beautiful farm on the bluff with a zoo (and squash rocket) for kids, and seasonal wine dinners for slightly older ones as well.
Cross Village / Good Hart
These artist communities are worth checking out for the quirky galleries and beautiful sunsets—drive through the tunnel of trees on your way there.
Knot Just A Bar // 820 Front St, Bay Harbor, MI 49770
Laid-back bar with great burgers and seafood, and an amazing beer selection. Go via boat for the full experience. Try them all to get your name on the wall.
FILL YOUR BAG
The Outfitter // 153 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Outdoors store with everything you need for all seasons in Harbor. Paddle boards and kayaks in the summer, ski equipment in the winter.
Propellers // 262 E. Main St Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Walstrom Marine’s retail shop: all the nautical gear you’ll ever need.
Between the Covers // 106 E Main St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Basement bookshop with a knowledgeable staff and great selection.
Harbor Wear // 161 State St, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Kitschy gear with Harbor Springs and Northern Michigan gear—buy an ‘unsalted’ crewneck.
HANG YOUR HAT
Colonial Inn // 210 Artesian Ave, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
This is the only hotel in Harbor Springs, though technically located in Wequestonsing Association (or ‘Weque’ to locals). Charming spot with a pool and a dock for waterfront access. Only a ten-minute walk from town.
Birchwood Inn // 7291 South Lake Shore Drive, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Three miles from downtown Harbor, this is a nice option (made even nicer by the fact that it has its own golf course for guests).
Stafford's Perry Hotel // 100 Lewis St, Petoskey, MI 49770
Located in Downtown Petoskey, it's the oldest hotel in the area. Hemingway has stayed here before, so grab a cigar and a stiff drink and pretend to be the famous author.
did we miss anything? Hit us up in the comments....
Special thanks to John Gibbs and Wells Ross for the insider tips!
did we miss anything? Hit us up in the comments....