A good day in Alden begins by paddling the turquoise waters of Torch Lake. Alden Outfitters (10520 Coy St., 231-331-6979) will get you on the water in a sit-on-top kayak.
Afterward, give your arms a rest, and walk through Alden's adorable small-town downtown. Stop by Alden Mill House (10480 SE Torch Lake Dr., 231-331-4711), a spice-lover's fantasyland; and the famed Higgins Store (5105 Helena Rd., 231-331-4200), open since 1892 and home to Indian summer's day essentials like pulp fiction paperbacks, tackle, BBQ fixins and hand-dipped Hudsonville ice cream. Work off that double-dip with a stroll through the wooded, winding Coy Mountain Natural Area just two minutes from downtown (1/2 mile east of Valley Street). Dinner is at Poma's Pizza (11921 SE Torch Lake Drive, 231-331-6262).
Stay the Night
All Seasons Hotel: clean and comfy, Bellaire, 231-533-8323.
Applesauce Inn B&B: cheery, historic foursquare farmhouse, Bellaire, 231-533-6448.
Chain-O-Lakes Campground: tents, rustic cabins, RV's, Bellaire, 231-533-8432.
Lynda Twardowski is travel editor at Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.
Note: This article was first published in September 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.