Fun Things to Do in Northern Michigan

Northern Michigan has so much to offer for a family vacation destination.

My family visited Northern Michigan for a weekend getaway that allowed us to reunite with family that we live far away from.

The drive from Cincinnati is mostly expressway on I-75 North and our final destination, Boyne Mountain Resort, was about 7 hours away.

Fun Things to Do in Northern Michigan
Things to do in Gaylord Michigan

 Things to Do in Gaylord, Michigan

Gaylord is centrally located on I-75N about an hour south of Mackinaw City and all of the buildings in downtown have to follow the Alpine theme in their design..even the Walmart!

On our way to the resort, we stopped to eat lunch at Diana’s Delights in Gaylord, Michigan. 

Diana’s Delights is a dining gem that serves incredible breakfast and lunch. My all-time favorites are the stuffed croissant french toast and the fruity grilled chicken salad.

A few other noteworthy dining mentions in Gaylord are Big Buck Brewery for beer cheese soup and a local brew and the Sugar Bowl Restaurant is known for its raspberry pie.

Kids will enjoy observing up to 70 elk at the 105-acre Elk Park. The Elk Viewing Area is located within a short distance from downtown Gaylord.

There are lots of cute shops downtown and one of my all-time favorites is The Old Spud Warehouse which offers one-of-a-kind gifts. I might have bought a gift for myself and deemed it from my kids. How nice of them!

Boyne Mountain Resort

Things to Do at Boyne Mountain Resort

Boyne Mountain Resort offers year-round fun for guests. In the winter months, you can ski or snowboard. In the warmer months, there are lots of fun outdoor activities that can easily fill your schedule.

Make sure that you pick up a daily schedule at the front desk when you check in. The alpine theme throughout the property creates a wonderful vacation atmosphere.

inside Boyne Mountain Resort

Boyne Mountain was the perfect place for my boys to reconnect and have fun with their cousins who live 3 hours away from the resort.

chair lift at Boyne Mountain Resort

During our visit, we rode the scenic chairlift to the top of the mountain for a beautiful view of the surrounding area.

swimming pools at Boyne Mountain Resort

Swimming Options at Boyne Mountain Resort

Boyne has heated pools that are indoor/outdoor all year round. The pools stay 10 degrees cooler than the hot tub which means that you won’t be as reluctant to swim with your kids ask.

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark 

Year-Round Fun at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark 

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark is the largest indoor waterpark in Michigan and is connected to the resort. There is an additional fee for the indoor waterpark but it’s worth it!

The waterslides and play areas appeal to all adventure levels and ages. The waterpark sells food and does not allow outside food or drinks. There is a lazy river if you would rather relax and there is plenty of seating.

Big Couloir waterslide at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark 

If you are feeling extra adventurous, check out “The Big Couloir.” This water slide begins in the launch capsule angled 10° from vertical, the steepest drop in the industry, where a trap door releases you into a narrow tunnel instantly accelerating riders to 38 feet per second.

Powerful G-forces glue the rider to the wall the entire way around 360°.

cornhole game at Boyne Mountain Resort

Daily Activities Onsite at Boyne Mountain Resort

During our visit, we took advantage of the free activities available. In addition to the scenic chairlift and pools, we enjoyed the lawn games, rode in the hay wagon, and sat by the bonfire.

activities at Boyne Mountain Resort

For an additional fee you can golf, rent bikes, zipline, ride horses, play paintball, kayak, enjoy the spa, and take a segway tour.

Boyne Mountain also has beach access to Deer Lake on the property, shops, and several restaurants. You could easily stay there all weekend and never need to leave.

Salzburg Suite at Boyne Mountain ResortAccommodations at Boyne Mountain Resort

During our visit, we stayed at the Salzburg Suite which slept up to 10 people. The main living area with a fireplace had a kitchen, balcony, full bath, sleeper couch. On the second floor, there were 3 bedrooms.

YouTube video

The master had a king-size bed, the guest room had a queen-size bed, and the kids “castle room” had 2 bunk beds that slept 4. There was a vanity with a sink in the hallway and another full bath with vanity on the 2nd floor.

There was plenty of room for our group of 10 to spread out and the kids LOVED the castle room.

The kitchen equipped with everything that you would need to cook a meal in the unit makes it affordable for larger families who would prefer to save on meal costs.

Pier in Petoskey

Top Things to Do in Petoskey

Petoskey is one of my all-time favorite cities. I love the views when you drive into town. It takes about 25 minutes to get to Petoskey from Boyne Mountain.

pier in Petoskey Michigan

You can walk downtown, discover cute shops, enjoy a meal with a view at the Stafford’s Perry Hotel, or walk the pier for another perspective of the bay.

Another great dining option off the beaten path from May-October is Legs Inn known for Polish food and quirky decor. 

Walloon Lake in Michigan

Sunset Views at Walloon Lake

If you are looking for a restaurant with great food AND a sunset view, check out Barrel Back Restaurant! 

Barrel Back Restaurant

We were there just in time to catch the most magical sunset. The atmosphere is relaxed with garage-style doors that can open up during good weather and an indoor fireplace to keep it cozy, making it perfect for a date night or evening out with friends.

The menu has everything from specialty sandwiches to pasta to specialty dishes. The restaurant is located less than 15 minutes from Boyne Mountain and I would highly recommend checking it out!

downtown Boyne City

Things to Do in Boyne City

Boyne City is less than 15 minutes from the resort. The downtown has cute shops and restaurants within walking distance to Lake Charlevoix.

Red Mesa Grill is a great dining option. This was one of my all-time favorite restaurants when I lived in Northern Michigan. Their burritos with smoky refried beans are delicious!

view of the lake in Boyne City

Downtown Boyne City is located steps away from Lake Charlevoix. There are nice walking trails by the water and plenty of benches to take in the view.

Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City

Top Things to Do in Mackinaw City

On our last day, we decided to drive up to Mackinaw City. It’s only an hour’s drive from the resort and it’s worth it if you have never seen the Mackinac Bridge before.

Mackinaw Crossings has lots of shops and eateries and I would HIGHLY ENCOURAGE you to visit Scalawags Whitefish & Chips for incredible locally sourced whitefish.

Scalawags Whitefish and Chips

If you enjoy history, you will want to visit Fort Michilimackinac where you can learn more about life in the 18th century.

under the Mackinac Bridge

Go Over and Under the Mackinac Bridge

The Mackinac Bridge is about an hour from Boyne Mountain and it’s worth the drive to see the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere that connects the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.

Mackinac Bridge

There is a toll to cross the bridge. $4 each way if you are in a car. I would suggest bringing cash or it will take longer when you get close to the booth. Mackinac Island is nearby by ferry but I would suggest dedicating at least a full day to make the most out of your visit.

KIA Niro

Roadtrip Vehicle

We tried out the KIA Niro Hybrid on this trip which had FANTASTIC gas mileage! This trip put on some miles which made getting great gas mileage even better with an average City/Highway/Combined of 46/40/43! My kids had enough room in the backseat and I loved being able to plug in my laptop to get work done while my husband was driving.

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid

Thanks again to Boyne Mountain Resort for hosting our stay and KIA for providing our loaner vehicle. 

Fun things to do in Northern Michigan

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