Fall Color Tours in Northern Michigan

Mother Nature's Color Tour

Mother Nature’s Color Show

We know it’s difficult to let go of summer for another year, but when it’s followed up by an incomparable northern Michigan autumn, all is good and right! Enjoy the amazing colors and crisp air that are the essence of fall in northern Michigan. Be sure to visit some of our favorite spots listed below!

M-119 – The Tunnel of Trees
Drive north and enjoy a scenic car ride through the Tunnel of Trees from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. Take the tour on your own or purchase a narrated CD for a guided tour – available at any one of our hotels.


Bear River Valley Recreation Area
Strap on your walking shoes and head to the Bear River Valley Recreation Area in Downtown Petoskey. The rushing waters and rich fall colors will knock your socks off. You may even spot fish swimming by.

bear river trees

Bay View Area
Take a walking tour of the Bay View Association. The changing leaf colors combined with the historic buildings and architecture make for an exciting adventure.


Inland Waterway
What’s makes a more beautiful backdrop for the Inland Waterway and Crooked River than rich fall colors of a northern Michigan fall? Nothing! Hop in a boat and tour the Inland Waterway (boat rentals available at Ryde Marine, Windjammer Marina and Indian River Marina). When you are finished, the nature trails, fish pond and swings at Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge await you.

Crooked River

Harbor Springs Bluff
Head to higher ground in Harbor Springs for a view that cannot be beat – no matter the season! No words can express the beauty in the landscape paired with the vibrant and changing colors of fall.

Harbor Springs

Little Traverse Wheelway
Take a bike ride along the Little Traverse Wheelway, a 26 mile bike trail extending from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. You will enjoy views of Little Traverse Bay paired with the autumn landscapes of northern Michigan.


Lake Charlevoix
Take in all the sights with a 35 mile drive around Lake Charlevoix! See driving directions below (provided by the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau).

Depart Boyne City North on Lake Street (c-56) to US-31. Turn left at US-31 and continue for about 1 mile. Turn right at Mercer Boulevard and continue to the last street. Take a left at the end, and then another left. Continue to Mount McSauba Road and turn right at the stop sign, return to US-31. Continue on US-31 straight into town. Depart Charlevoix on US-31 to M-66. Take a left into Ironton. Turn left and board the ferry (nominal fee). Continue straight along Ferry Road to Boyne City.

We’d love to hear about your favorite northern Michigan fall spot! For complete driving tours in the area, visit the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau Fall Color Guide.

Ten Things To Do This Labor Day Weekend

Crooked Lake Nov 19

Crooked Lake – Part of the Famed Inland Waterway

It’s hard to believe Labor Day Weekend is upon us. Here is a small list of  our “Top Ten Things To Do Over Labor Day Weekend” in the area – for visitors and locals, too!

1. Hit The Beach Or Cruise The Inland Waterway
Ahhh, toes in the sand, and waves splashing in the background. Need we say more? The Petoskey State Park, Sturgeon Bay, Harbor Springs City Beach and the Michigan Beach in Charlevoix are among our personal favorites, here’s a full list of local beaches. We also recommend cruising the famed Inland Waterway. Boat rentals are nearby.

2. Listen To Local Musicians

  • Catch the last of Harbor Springs’ popular Street Musique on Thursday. Stroll the streets and listen to performances by outstanding musicians from 7 to 9 pm.
  • The Noggin Room Pub at Stafford’s Perry Hotel features entertainment nightly Thursday – Sunday, 8:30 to 11:30 pm. Get a full entertainment schedule here.
  • Enjoy some Friday night entertainment by Michelle Chenard in the Wheelhouse Lounge at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant. Bring your friends!

Little Traverse Wheelway

3. Bike
The most scenic bike trails are right here in northern Michigan. The Little Traverse Wheelway spans from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix and offers breathtaking views of Little Traverse Bay. The North Western State Trail can be accessed on M-119 and continues on a newly paved trail all the way to Alanson.

4. Browse The Boutique Shops In The Historic Gaslight District Of Downtown Petoskey
A little something for everyone can be found in the quaint Gaslight District. While you’re there, hop on the Historic Trolley for a tour, available Thursday – Saturday. You can find a Trolley Schedule here.

Michigan Mojito on Jeff's Deck in Charlevoix

Michigan Mojito on Jeff’s Deck in Charlevoix

5. Enjoy Al Fresco Dining
Whether it’s lunch, dinner or cocktails with friends, you won’t want to miss your chance to enjoy the last days of Al Fresco Dining! Dudley’s Deck in Harbor Springs is a summertime favorite. The Rose Garden Veranda at Stafford’s Perry Hotel offers exquisite views of the picturesque Little Traverse Bay or try Jeff’s Deck in downtown Charlevoix to watch the boats cruise by on the Pine River Channel.

6. Explore And Hike New Trails
Northern Michigan is surrounded by hiking trails. Discover a new one at the Little Traverse Conservancy Nature Preserves. Or visit Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge & Suites and discover our nature trails through the wooded areas and along the Crooked River.

7. Watch Lake Charlevoix’s Regatta
The 46th Annual Red Fox Regatta happens this weekend and it’s fun to watch. More details found at the Charlevoix Yacht Club.


Brunch at Stafford’s Bay View Inn, Petoskey

8. Indulge In Sunday Brunch at Stafford’s Bay View Inn
A tradition since 1962 and voted Northern Michigan’s Best Brunch! Our Sunday Brunch is served 8:30 am to 1:30pm. Enjoy chef-carved meats, homemade waffle station, breakfast favorites, lunch entrees, traditional sides, salads and a sweets table! $20.95 adults, $11.95 children. Reservations encouraged, 231-347-2771.

9. Harbor Springs Street Sales & Celebration
Downtown Harbor Springs merchant’s will be hosting the annual Street Sales & Celebration. Find some great “end of season” deals! More information can be found here.


The Mackinac Bridge Walk is in it’s 57th Year

10. Walk The Mighty Mac
The best way to view the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac! The 5-mile span welcomes thousands of visitors each year to participate in the walk. Head to St. Ignace where the walk begins (bussing is available in Mackinaw City). More details can be found here.

Recipe Box: Smoked Salmon Croque Monsieur

Corque Monsiuer

Smoked Salmon Corque Monsieur

Straight from his recipe box, Chef Britt from Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs, shares a simple and delicious appetizer of Smoked Salmon Corque Monsieur.


  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon (we prefer John Cross Fisheries of Charlevoix)
  • 8 slices of rustic bread, preferable sourdough
  • 2 cups high quality grated Gruyere cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • Layer the smoked salmon and Gruyere between slices of bread.
  • Butter the outside of the sandwiches. Toast the sandwiches over medium heat slowly so that the outside is golden brown and the cheese is thoroughly melted on the inside.
  • Cut the sandwiches in ¼ sections and serve immediately.
  • Optional: Serve with a side of Béchamel or Mourney sauce for dipping.


Celebrate Summer – August Lodging Special

Petoskey Sunset

Petoskey Sunset

Relax in an Adirondack chair. Sip on your favorite wine. Listen to the waves. Walk, hike or bike. Sleep in. Eat a delicious breakfast. Enjoy time with loved ones, family or friends. Sound good? Head to northern Michigan for an August getaway filled with unforgettable memories at Stafford’s Bay View Inn, Crooked River Lodge & Perry Hotel. Our lodging package includes:

  • Two nights lodging
  • Breakfast vouchers each morning of your stay
  • $40 in Stafford’s Dining Dollars (redeemable at any Stafford’s location)

    North Western State Trail

    North Western State Trail

Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge
Available Sunday – Thursday, August 17 – 21 and August 24 – 28, 2014
Reservations: 866-548-0700 or 231-548-5000

Stafford’s Perry Hotel
Available Sunday – Thursday, August 17 – 21 and August 24 – 28, 2014
Reservations: 800-737-1899 or 231-347-4000

Stafford’s Bay View Inn
Available Sunday – Thursday, August 24 – 28, 2014
Reservations: 800-258-1886 or 231-347-2771

Starting at $280, based on two guests per room (plus tax and gratuities). Please mention Celebrate Summer when booking. More information can be found here.


Relax In Our Garden Areas

Home of the Million Dollar Sunset – Top 5 Sunset Spots in Northern Michigan

As soon as you experience a sunset in Northern Michigan you understand why the phrase ‘Million Dollar Sunset’ is so fitting for our area! Watching the sun fade into the horizon is breathtaking from any view – but we’ve compiled a list of our top five sweet-spots in the area!

Little Traverse Sunset cropped

Sunset Park – Petoskey, MI

#1: Sunset Park, Petoskey
Whether you pull off 31 into Sunset Park for just a few minutes, or you pack a picnic and make an evening out of it, you’ll watch in amazement while the glorious colors stretch the horizon and blend with Lake Michigan.

#2: Rose Garden Veranda, Petoskey
Sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite beverage on the Rose Garden Veranda at Stafford’s Perry Hotel – all while watching the sun fade into the waters of Little Traverse Bay.


Charlevoix Pier – Charlevoix, MI

#3: Jeff’s Deck, Charlevoix
Locals and tourists alike would agree, you just can’t beat Jeff’s Deck at Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant for a view of the sunset. While you’re waiting you may even see the bridge raise as the Beaver Islander cruises through the Pine River Channel. Or, take a walk along the Charlevoix Pier and enjoy the view near the lighthouse.

#4: The Bluff, Harbor Springs
Strap on your tennis shoes and head for high ground in Harbor Springs. Just a short walk from downtown Harbor Springs you’ll find the perfect frame for a northern Michigan sunset.

#5: East Park, Petoskey
Near Bay Harbor, enjoy the breathtaking view along with a brand new playground. Enjoy some time on high ground, then follow the path toward the shore and skip stones into Little Traverse Bay.

Did we miss one? Where is your favorite spot to enjoy a ‘Million Dollar Sunset’ in northern Michigan?

Stafford’s Wine Collection

S Wines 3Last summer, we introduced our first three wines in our private label collection. Today we are pleased to introduce our fourth wine – a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford Napa Valley!

Our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford Napa Valley, was chosen for Stafford’s Bay View Inn. This wine is a crisp, flavorful wine with refreshing acidity with notes of orange blossom, melon and a tropical pineapple finish.

A full bodied, jammy and slightly tannic wine is our 2011 Pinot Noir from Carneros. This was selected specifically for Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix to complement their salmon, chicken and pork tenderloin entrées.

Chosen for Stafford’s Perry Hotel is our Chardonnay from Russian River. This wine has notes of lemon, pineapple and balanced with a long finish. This wine was selected to pair with our classic whitefish entrées.

Third, we introduce our 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. This wine is a classic Napa grape with great cherry preserves and snappy! This wine was specifically chosen for Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs to complement our all-natural steak selections.

Our wines are available at each of our dining locations and offered on our banquet menus for weddings and special events. Our wines are also available at a special retail price at Stafford’s Gallery of Art & History in downtown Petoskey, along with wine gifts and accessories. Cheers! Pinot Noir Wine

Live Music & Festivals in Northern Michigan

The Annual Blissfest Music Festival takes place this weekend

The Annual Blissfest Music Festival takes place this weekend

Local and talented music festivals and musicians fill our northern Michigan communities with fantastic entertainment in the summer months. If you haven’t had the chance to experience the events below – you’re missing out! Be sure to mark your calendar and catch one of these fun-filled events.


  • 34th Annual Blissfest Music Festival
    Friday – Sunday, July 11 – 13, 2014
    A celebration of music! If you find yourself in northern Michigan – this is a must do. The weekend can be shared with families and friends of all ages, with cultural and diverse music featuring: Bluegrass, Blues, Zydeco, Celtic, Folk, Jazz, Latin, Ethnic and World music. View a full schedule here. Full weekend and day passes are available at the gate. All events take place at Blissfest Festival Farm, 3695 Division Rd., Harbor Springs, MI 49740.



  • Annual Alanson Riverfest
    Wednesday – Sunday, August 6 – 10, 2014
    A celebration of the Inland Water Route! Fun for the whole family, this festival features live music in the entertainment tent beginning on Friday, August 8. View entertainment schedule here. All events take place in downtown Alanson and feature an arts and crafts fair, antique flea market on the hillside, bouncer carnival, river stories, a lighted boat parade and more!


  • 12th Annual Festival on the Bay
    Thursday – Sunday, August 14 – 17, 2014
    Another family-friendly festival filled with blues, funk and steel drum entertainment, right on the bay in Petoskey. Festival on the Bay also includes a children’s area, youth fishing derby, arts and crafts fair, chalk & chocolate festival, petting zoo and so much more! All events take place on the waterfront in Petoskey. A complete entertainment schedule can be found here.
Charlotte Ross Lee Concerts in the Park

Charlotte Ross Lee Concerts in the Park

Weekly Music Around Northern Michigan

  • Harbor Springs Community Band
    Monday evenings, 8 to 9 pm through August 25, 2014
    Grab a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy this group of local musicians. They play on the lawn next to Stafford’s Pier Restaurant.




  • Charlotte Ross Lee Concerts in the Park
    Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s throughout the summer
    Grab a blanket and head to Pennsylvania Park Gazebo in downtown Petoskey to enjoy the return of this concert series.  Tuesday’s (12 pm), Wednesday’s – Kid Themed (12 pm) and Friday’s (12 and 7 pm).


  • Petoskey Rocks!
    Friday’s through August 1
    Continuing its third season, this Friday night program is fun for the family! Browse downtown shops and catch the great line-up of concert series!

    Bay View Association -  John M. Hall Auditorium

    Bay View Association – John M. Hall Auditorium

  • Bay View Vesper’s Concerts
    Sunday’s through August 10, 8 pm
    A Bay View Association tradition, the Sunday evening Summer Sunset Vespers Concerts continues the ongoing tradition of evening music, a staple since the 1800’s when families gathered at the end of the day to sing hymns. Complete details here.

    Petoskey Steel Drum Band

    Petoskey Steel Drum Band

  • Petoskey Steel Drum Band
    The local and talented Petoskey Steel Drum Band performs all around northern Michigan. Follow them on Facebook to stay up-to-date with performance dates.Noggin Room
  • Noggin Room Pub
    Nightly, 8:30 to 11:30 pm
    Local musicians fill the pub at Stafford’s Perry Hotel. Grab your friends and come on down. View our schedule here.


Have you attended any of the above? Share with us your favorite experience!

The Drawbridge Bistro, Downtown Charlevoix – Now Open

The Drawbridge Bistro in Downtown Charlevoix

The Drawbridge Bistro in Downtown Charlevoix

We are pleased to share that The Drawbridge Bistro in Downtown Charlevoix is now open for breakfast, lunch and cocktails! Guests will enjoy a casual and relaxed setting with beautiful waterfront views of Round Lake and gracious hospitality in a community rich with history. 10429235_474262516053577_7137050179489951600_nLocated next to the drawbridge on the east side at the Edgewater Inn, The Drawbridge Bistro serves breakfast, lunch, cocktails and Michigan Craft Beer. We will begin dinner service late this summer season.

Our menus feature Michigan products and signature cuisine sure to please any palate.

Pictured here is breakfast item North n’ South: Fresh granola from Crooked Tree Breadworks, organic yogurt from Thomas Organic Creamery and assorted berries. North and South 2

A few of our lunch items include: Tomato & Watercress Salad – Heirloom tomatoes, pickled red onion, goat cheese, EVOO and balsamic. Heirloom Salad 2

Great Portobello – Sauteed spinach, roasted red peppers, melted fresh mozzarella, house dill bun and housemade chips.Portobello

View our full menus here – The Drawbridge Bistro Menus. MenusConnect With Us!
Facebook: facebook.com/drawbridgebistro
Instagram: instagram.com/staffordshospitality
Website: drawbridgebistro.com

Celebrate the red, white and blue!

Stafford's Bay View Inn is decorated for the holiday.

Stafford’s Bay View Inn is decorated for the holiday.

The 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays to celebrate in northern Michigan! We hope you’ll enjoy any and all of our local activities in celebration of our nation’s birthday!

Parade: 11 am

Bay Harbor
Steel Drum Band: Thursday, 8 pm
Parade: Friday, 11 am

Bay View
Parade: 10 am
Reading of the Declaration of Independence: 11 am
Evening Festivities: 8 pm

Boyne City
Parade: 10 am
Fireworks: 10:30 pm

Parade: 10 am

Harbor Springs

Paul Revere Run: 8 am
Parade: 1 pm
Beer Garden & Live Music: 2:30 to 5:30 pm
Fireworks: Dusk

Mackinaw City

Fireworks: 10 pm

Fun in Pennsylvania Park: 4 to 6 pm
Parade: 6 pm
Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social: 6 to 7:30 pm
Fireworks: Dusk

And of course, in between all of the fun, feel free to join us for lunch, dinner or cocktails at any one of our properties!

Our Top Ten Kid-Friendly Things To Do List


Petoskey State Park

Petoskey State Park

Whether you are a local resident or visiting from out of town, there is always something to do in northern Michigan! Here is our “Top Ten Kid-Friendly Things To Do” list.

  • Walk or bike miles upon miles of paved trails! Two of our favorite trails are The Little Traverse Wheelway - which goes along the water and stretches from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs (26 miles). Connecting to that is the Northwestern State Trail. From the Little Traverse Wheelway you can connect to this on M-119, or you can catch the trail in Alanson. Both of these trails expose the beauty of northern Michigan and have spectacular views. View trail maps and more here.

    North Western State Trail

    North Western State Trail

  • Head to Harbor Springs and visit Zorn Park Beach to swim, play in the sand or take in the views. There is also a playground nearby. Here is a complete list of beaches in the northern Michigan area.
  • Visit Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs. Feed the animals, hike the trails and take a hayride! Great family fun for all.
  • Petoskey is famed for the “million dollar sunset.” A few of our favorite spots to watch: Petoskey State Park, Petoskey Waterfront, Sunset Park or The Rose Garden Veranda at Stafford’s Perry Hotel.

    Petoskey Sunset

    Petoskey Sunset

  • Stroll the Petoskey Breakwall and take in views of Little Traverse Bay, Bay Harbor and Petoskey.
  • Visit the Oden State Fish Hatchery on US-31 in Oden. The Fish Hatchery has nature trails, exhibits and hatchery tours daily.
  • Enjoy some of the talented music and musicians in northern Michigan! Here is a list and links for complete information:
    Downtown Charlevoix Concert Series (and movies) are every Thursday, 7 to 9 pm in the East Park Performance Pavillion. Schedule and information here.
    – At Crooked Tree Arts Center, the new outdoor Bidwell Plaza hosts a Singer/Songwriter series on Thursday’s, June 5 – July 24 at 12 pm. View complete event line up.
    - Downtown Petoskey is now home toRed Sky Stage, hosting Blissfest Jam Sessions every Sunday, 1 to 4 pm.
    – Harbor Springs Street Musique returns Thursday evenings beginning Thursday, June 26 until Labor Day. From 7 to 9 pm, stroll the streets of Harbor Springs and listen to local and musicians.
    Charlotte Ross Lee Concert series at the Pennsylvania Park Gazebo in Downtwon Petoskey return on Tuesday’s (12 pm), Wednesday’s – Kid Themed (12 pm) and Friday’s (12 and 7 pm).
    – The Petoskey Steel Drum Band has performances all around northern Michigan! Mark your calendars for these upcoming performances: Wednesday, July 2 (Stafford’s Perry Hotel); Thursday, July 3 (Bay Harbor); Friday, July 4 (Downtown Petoskey); Thursday, July 10 (Charlevoix Summer Concert Series); Sunday, August 10 (Alanson Riverfest); and Friday, August 15 (Festival on the Bay, Petoskey). *These dates are scheduled to change without notice.

    Street Musique - Harbor Springs

    Street Musique – Harbor Springs

  • The Charlevoix marina is a fun place to walk around and look at the boats, watch the Beaver Island Ferry or splash around on the splash pad.
  • Kilwins Chocolate Factory offers free Chocolate Tours! Located on US-31 just 1 mile from Downtown Petoskey.
  • Take a treasure home and hunt for Petoskey Stones along the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay.

Have you experienced any of these events or attractions? What was your favorite thing? View our complete 100 Things To Do In Northern Michigan list.


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