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The crown jewel of Michigan’s island parks has been a beacon of summer vacation bliss for more than a century. Go ahead and embrace the tourist-tailored must-dos: eat fudge, take a horse-drawn carriage tour, pedal the island’s perimeter. But then, wander off the beaten path: Mountain bike the island’s hilly interior, golf with hickory sticks at historic Wawashkamo Golf Club, have champagne and scones at Grand Hotel’s daily high tea (non-guests are welcome with an admission fee). EAT: The Chuckwagon, a snug diner right on Main Street, is home to the island’s best burgers. (906.847.0019). STAY: Lodging on the island runs the gamut both in price and style, from sprawling historic inns to intimate B&Bs. For a splurge, stay at the sophisticated Hotel Iroquois, where the dazzling waterfront scenery includes a view of 1895-built Round Island Light, pictured below (906.847.3321, iroquoishotel.com).
This 300-acre oasis on the protected inner curve of Little Traverse Bay has been a summertime haven since the early 1930s, when it was known as Petoskey Bathing Beach. As its original name suggests, the park’s main draw is its gorgeous, crescent-shaped shoreline: an enormous expanse of white sand flanked by soft dunes and crystal-clear, shallow waters. (This is one of the best spots in the region to hunt for Petoskey stones, so bring a pail to take home any treasures.) When you’re ready for a break from the sun, follow the half-mile hiking trail to the top of Old Baldy, a nearly 800-foot-tall sand dune that affords a magnificent view over the bay. EAT: Outfit your picnic at Julienne Tomatoes, a favorite local spot for sandwiches made with fresh, local ingredients (231.439.9250, juliennetomatoes.com). STAY: Of the park’s two campgrounds, Tannery Creek is more secluded—and the sites will get you closest to the water (231.347.2311, midnrreservations.com).