Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Petoskey, MI

  • Published 2023/03/29

Petoskey is a small city in the state of Michigan in the United States.

Home to vast lands, this city boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Petoskey is bursting with culture and history and provides visitors with the classic experience of life in a small city.

You can find the most beautiful valleys, rivers, sunsets, and the most historic museums all around this lovely destination.

Here are the best things to do in Petoskey, Michigan:

Go Riverside Camping at the Bear River Valley Recreation Area

Bear River in Petoskey

ehrlif /

Riverside camping with a bonfire, marshmallows, and good company makes for an unbeatable combination, and you can experience this in Petoskey’s Bear River Valley Recreation Area.

This beautiful riverside camping experience is going to be the liveliest activity that you have in this city.

Beautiful trail with scenic trails at Bear River Valley Recreation Area

Fsendek /

The river is full of scenic beauty, with large grey rocks to climb on, along with the perfect flow of chilled water for you to dip your legs into at night.

You can go rafting in the river during the daytime as the rapid waves are tremendous, making it a really adventurous activity to indulge in.

There are trails all along the river where you can go hiking or running with your companions.

River flowing under a pedestrian bridge at Bear River Valley Recreation Area

Fsendek /

You may even get a chance to spot brown bears at this recreational river valley.

This is a very peaceful place with awe-inspiring scenery and a great deal of adventurous activities for you to indulge in.

Experience Petoskey’s Nightlife in Odawa Casino

This modern gambling house and casino bar is the perfect place for a night out with your friends.

Odawa Casino comes with a hotel, so you can stay the night after trying your luck at the slots and drinking your woes away.

The in-house restaurant offers the best wine-and-dine experience with the best quality food and drinks.

Odawa Casino itself is well-built, clean and well-maintained, and the overall vibe of this place is really low-key and sparkling.

The casino is best suited for you if you are visiting with your friends, as the joyous atmosphere of this place is sure to hype you up.

Do visit this casino if you are a fan of occasional gambling nights or if you simply want to experience the best dining in Petoskey.

Spend a Day at the Lovely Petoskey State Park

Waves at Petoskey state park

Nicholas Roth /

Petoskey State Park is a beautiful park filled with lush green bushes all over the place.

The park is surrounded by a diverse beach, making it a really fun experience for you.

You can have all sorts of fun at the beach, from taking a dip into the warm waters and making sand castles to playing beach games like volleyball or Frisbee and relaxing on beach blankets.

Sand dunes on the shore at Petoskey State Park

ehrlif /

The park also has a lot of swings for kids to enjoy, along with a volleyball court for indulging in games.

The beach is large and sandy, and you can hunt for hermit crabs and seashells in the warm sand.

Waves crashing on the shores of Petoskey state park

Protopian Pickle Jar, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are a lot of spots around the park where you can set up tents and experience camping right on the beach.

This park is great for picnic dates with your family.

You must definitely check out this beautiful park and beach, for the scenery and serenity of this place are not going to fail you.

Go Sledding at Petoskey Winter Sports Park

Petoskey Winter Sports Park is the best place to experience sledding, skiing, and all other snow activities.

This park is covered with beautiful white snow during the winter season and becomes the perfect spot for playing around in the snow.

You can visit with your friends and family and go ice skating, play ice hockey, or have snowball fights.

Sitting and playing in the snow and warming up with a cup of piping hot chocolate is not something one gets to experience a lot.

So, grab your coats and head to Petoskey Winter Sports Park when you’re in the city during the winter.

Explore Your Creativity at Crooked Tree Arts Center

Exterior of Crooked Tree Arts Center

Thomas Barrat /

This amazing and unique art center in Petoskey is the best spot to find crazy art events and creativity classes.

Crooked Tree Arts Center holds beautiful art exhibitions that display various forms of arts and aesthetics like modern art, paintings, handmade sculptures, and more.

This gallery has got everything from ballet to painting, pottery, and theater.

Its rotating exhibits and intimate atmosphere add to the experience it offers to visitors.

The art center showcases works by various local artists from the city.

It is a great place to take gorgeous pictures for your social media accounts.

This place is a must-visit for people who are a fan of arts and aesthetics.

Admire the Gorgeous Views at Bayfront Park

Entrance of Bayfront Park

Kenneth Sponsler /

Bayfront Park is a quiet, clean and serene park in front of the bay.

It’s a great place to get the most breathtaking views of the city and the ocean.

The bay is perfect for clicking the most amazing photos of yourself and the scenery.

Boats docked at Bayfront Park

Thomas Barrat /

The playground right next to the bay is great for playing games like football, volleyball, and more.

You can get the most fantastic view of Lake Charlevoix and the waterway into Lake Michigan.

Picnic tables at Bayfront Park

Thomas Barrat /

The bay offers panoramic views of Lake Michigan, Bay Harbour Inn, and Harbour Spring and is a great place to have a picnic.

The park has a lot of trails for you to walk or hike on.

You can also find beach glass and Petoskey stones at the magnificent Bayfront Park.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Desserts the from Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen

The Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen is a famous chocolate shop in Petoskey.

This place offers a wide variety of desserts to satisfy your sweet cravings.

The shop was built in 1947 and remained to be one of the most popular places in the city.

You can try delicious free samples during your visit and order your favorites from the wide range of sweet treats available.

The place serves ice cream, fudge, and all sorts of chocolate treats.

On top of all that, the Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen offers an open view of the chocolate manufacturing process so you can watch and learn how chocolate is made.

Overall, it is a great place to stop to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Travel Back in Time at the Little Traverse Historical Museum

Exterior of Little Traverse Historical Museum

Bobak Ha’Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Little Traverse Historical Museum in Petoskey displays a great deal of historical and cultural items from years ago.

You can keep your kids indulged in building ice castles and playing in the museum’s yard while you learn about the history of the town.

From antique crockery to equipment, you can find a great deal of cool articles at this historical museum.

The museum presents a fascinating history of early settlements and indigenous tribes of American Indians.

It is worth a visit if you’re in the area and are interested in learning about its history.

Visit the Grand St. Francis Xavier Church

Aerial view of Saint Francis church

Laurent Fady /

St. Francis Xavier Church in Petoskey is an absolutely beautiful Roman Catholic Church located in the downtown area.

The church has a grand entrance with two large sets of stairs, making it a very beautiful sight to behold.

Front view of St. Francis Xavier Church

rossograph, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can enjoy a banquet-style luncheon in the basement portion of the church.

It is the perfect place to attend a mass and attain some peace.

Do visit this church if you’re in Petoskey.

Sample Exquisite Wines at Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery

Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery is a great place to go for dining and wine-tasting.

You can taste and purchase various types of wines and beers from this winery and brewery.

The place serves the most delicious food and drinks for you to enjoy.

Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery is considered one of the top places to visit, not just in Petoskey but in the entire state of Michigan.

You can get the opportunity to walk around the tasting room and learn more about the vineyard and the wines that are made here.

Apart from that, you can also discover more about the winemaking process.

The place has a vast vineyard where you can enjoy the view and take gorgeous pictures.

Catch a Live Music Performance at Pennsylvania Park

Cannon at Pennsylvania Park

Kenneth Sponsler /

This beautiful park and garden in downtown Petoskey holds some of the city’s best events.

Some of the festivities hosted here include art shows, sidewalk sales, live music performances, and a whole lot more.

Gazebo at Pennsylvania Park

Paul Massie Photography /

Pennsylvania Park allows visitors to experience live music shows by local bands and is a perfect spot for picnicking with your friends or family.

You can take pictures of the beautiful scenery or yourself in this park.

It is a great place to spend a relaxing time and reconnects with nature.

Break Free from the Escape Rooms at Know Way Out

Know Way Out offers one of the most enjoyable escape room experiences you’ll ever have.

This famous interactive attraction in Petoskey is very challenging and fun, and the clues are fascinating.

You will be given a chance to take your pick among various room themes according to your liking.

The themes include Alice in Wonderland, medieval room, Mad Hatter, and more.

There are a lot of challenging puzzles, quests, and mysteries for you to enjoy.

Add Know Way Out to your Petoskey itinerary and have a fun time while putting your mystery-solving skills to the test.

Have a Picnic at East Park

East Park in Petoskey is the most beautiful and serene garden you will come across in the city.

The park provides the most alluring views of the sea.

The sun fills the sky with hues of pink and purple at the time of sunset, which is a mesmerizing view.

East Park has multiple trails for you to walk, go for a hike, ride your bike, and more.

The garden is filled with covered picnic tables, making it the perfect spot for picnic dates with your friends or family.

There is a playground for children, so your kids can have a fun time of their own while you chill out at the park.

This place is perfect for taking a break and relaxing for a while.

You can read a book, meditate, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature while you’re at this lovely park.

It is definitely a must-visit if you are looking forward to taking a break and relaxing for a while on your vacation.

Explore Petoskey’s Wineries and Cafes

Resort Pike Cidery and Winery at Petoskey

Thomas Barrat /

There are a lot of wineries and cafes in Petoskey for you to explore.

Walloon Lake Winery is one of the most famous wineries in the city.

This winery provides outdoor seating with a view of the vineyards, making it a really great experience and sight.

Resort Pike Cidery and Winery is another beautiful and famous winery in Petoskey that provides customers with an amazing experience of white and red wines.

There are so many other beautiful wineries and cafes in the city with different and unique themes and items for you to explore.

Experience the Thrill and Excitement at Boyne Mountain

Boyne Mountain has offered wonderful skiing and boarding for those in the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Thanks to their many slopes and trails, there’s plenty for every type of snow fanatic, including young skiers trying to get started and old pros looking for one last run before retirement.

The resort boasts over 60 runs and seven terrain parks for you and your friends/family to play around on, as well as a 500-foot vertical drop and 12 lifts to help you catch air when on your skis or snowboard.

Since 1948, Boyne Mountain Resort has been a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Parents can feel at peace knowing their children can also have fun in the indoor water park with waves, hot tubs, and inflatable pools for playtime.

Other activities to do in Boyne Mountain include SkyBridge Michigan, activities in the summer and winter, Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, golfing, fly fishing, and other sports.

Seek Out Petoskey’s Unique Mushroom Delicacy

In Boyne City, Michigan every May is crammed with hundreds of people from all over the country who seek out their unique mushroom delicacy – the delicious morel.

This delicious treat can be found in woods and clearings nearby.

You’re going to need an expert tip or two on how to spot these tasty morsels.

Morels are a universal culinary delight, and to celebrate their festival, they prepare succulent dishes with morel-infused recipes.

Some singers and guides exalt the mystical charm of the morel’s flavor, and those in the know share their secret treasure trove locations.

The delicious food, art show, morel hunting, beer tent, and carnival with the Morel Mushroom Festival make it a fun time for everyone to enjoy.

Snap a Selfie with the Ernest Hemingway Statue

The Ernest Hemingway Statue is an important statue commemorating famous author Ernest Hemingway, and it’s based on a photograph of Hemingway from when he was still a young man.

It was based on a picture taken in January 1920 that shows Hemingway preparing to move away from his hometown to go to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for a job.

Best-selling novelist Ernest Hemingway’s birth was on July 21, 1899, and his death was on July 2, 1961.

He spent the majority of his childhood near Petoskey.

His honeymoon was to Horton Bay in 1921 with his first wife.

He published short stories set in Michigan, which featured the characteristic adventures of young “Nick Adams” all over Northern Michigan.

You can always take a selfie with the statue of famous writer Ernest Hemingway.

The statue features him wearing a popular hat from many years ago, and he’s holding his briefcase.

Andy Sacksteder made this sculpture famous by making it exactly like how Mr. Hemingway looked when he was alive.

Attend the Annual Emmet Charlevoix County Fair

Running well over 100 years now, the annual Emmet Charlevoix County Fair is one of the most anticipated events in Petoskey.

Happening in the summer months of August, Emmet Charlevoix County Fair is known for their awesome carnivals and their wild monster truck motoring events.

The monster trucks you’ll see during the fair is like no other—showcasing thrilling destruction and high-flying tricks that’s perfect for the entire family.

The county fair also features a lot of other entertainment, food, and tournaments that make this an overall stellar event to look forward to.

Emmet Charlevoix County Fair is typically held at the open grounds of Fair Road, near Lake Michigan.

Go Shopping at Bay Mall

Bay Mall is a neat place to do some shopping, especially if you’re running out of essentials during your trip.

They have a dollar tree, Dunham’s, Bed Bath, & Beyond, and a bunch of other famous chains that may be helpful during your trip to Michigan.

There are also several food options here if you’re craving for some classic chains during your trip.

Overall, it’s a fantastic place to spend a laid back afternoon or lunch session with the family.

Bay Mall can be found conveniently along Green Arrow Route and Spring Street, making it a perfect stopover going in or out of Petoskey.

Grab Breakfast at J.W. Filmore’s Family Restaurant

J.W. Filmore’s Family Restaurant is one of the most iconic local eateries in Petoskey, attracting thousands of people on a weekly basis.

They’re best known for their breakfast meals, but try visiting even earlier because the place gets crowded real fast—a testament to their fame.

Homey both in terms of flavor and ambiance, the family restaurant specializes in hash browns, clam chowder, biscuits, and a bunch of breakfast skillets.

If you’re going for lunch or brunch, J.W. Filmore’s Family Restaurant is also known for humble but flavorful burgers.

You can find this restaurant along Spring Street.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Southwoods Pub and Grill

While J.W. Filmore’s Family Restaurant is a great way to start your day, Southwoods Pub and Grill is meant for festive dinners.

Serving huge and thick pizzas, Southwoods Pub and Grill is perfect for large groups who want to share a big meal.

Besides its pizzas, the restaurant is also known for their hearty plates of fish and steaks.

Some of their bestsellers include their deep-fried battered cod and their New York strip steak.

Of course, you’ll have access to a wide range of cocktails and other alcoholic beverages here along with a great interior that features a nice bar with TV.

Southwoods Pub and Grill is just a stone’s throw away from J.W. Filmore’s Family Restaurant, so go check it out.

Take a Breather at Riverbend Park

Pickle ball court at Riverbend Park

Thomas Barrat /

Riverbend Park is a neat little stopover if you want to take a look at the Bear River that flows from Lake Michigan.

Because of this, the park gets a lot of serene vibes especially with the large amount of plantlife present along the bank.

If you’re feeling a little more energetic, Riverbend Park is also famous for a couple of sports amenities like volleyball and pickleball courts.

There’s even a decent skatepark here if you’re bringing your skateboard with you.

Located along Standish Avenue, Riverbend Park is away from the busier parts of the city, making it a great place for recreation.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Bask in the Beauty of Nature at the Preserves Near Petoskey

There are a lot of nature and wildlife preserves around Petoskey for you to experience.

These places help in keeping the local culture alive.

The Charles A. Ransom Nature Preserve is one of the most beautiful nature preserves near Petoskey.

It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna and is the most suitable place for horseback riding.

The Offield Family Viewlands is another nature preserve that offers the best golfing and hiking opportunities.

It also serves the most scenic views of lakes, hills, and the sunset.

Hailand Nature Preserve is yet another beautiful preserve near Petoskey that offers awe-inspiring views and the chance to see local wildlife.

You must pay a visit to these areas to experience the beauty of nature and wildlife.

Final Thoughts

Petoskey, Michigan is a great destination year-round to get away with your family and have fun in the sun.

With gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, you’ll be distracted by sites like awesome gift shops and even eateries.

You can explore unique museums documenting area history and geological oddities preserved throughout the county.

There are tons of great little shops which primarily catered to tourists.

Make sure you take a look at this list before heading out; there are plenty of interesting things to see and do that might suit your taste perfectly!

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