Midwest Living Review
If you approach Petoskey from the south on US-31 (as most travelers do), you might suffer a momentary disillusion. Chain hotels and restaurants, heavy traffic -- it feels almost like being out in suburban sprawl. Where is the legendary Gaslight District? The Victorian charm? But as the highway rounds Little Traverse Bay atop a bluff, the scenery changes. To the left, you'll see boats sailing in the breeze on Lake Michigan. To the right, Petoskey's picturesque downtown, lined with enough shops and restaurants to keep any vacationer busy. North of town, the road curves past spectacular old lake homes that form Bay View, Northern Michigan's answer to New York's Chautauqua arts colony. With its high-end mix of restaurants and shops, Petoskey is a great fit for girlfriends and couples. Families will enjoy it, too, but should keep in mind that unlike in nearby Charlevoix, beach access in Petoskey is limited. (In town, Magnus Park Beach is pleasant but stony; Petoskey State Park has a wide sand beach, but is not walking-distance from town.) And some travelers might be initially put off by Petsokey's summertime crowds and froufrou vibe. The town definitely feels fancy and touristy. ("Resort wear" is the defining look in many shops, with pastel cable-knit sweaters and plaid shorts.) But dig a little, and you'll find the Crooked Tree Arts Center, which spearheads a vibrant cultural scene; the Bear River Recreation Area, which offers pleasant hiking in the heart of town; and the Little Traverse Wheelway, a gorgeous bike path with sweeping views of Lake Michigan. Whether you spend your trip strolling the Gaslight District or escaping its crowds, there is one universal draw to Petsokey: the legendary "Million-Dollar Sunsets." On a typical summer night, it's not uncommon to see groups gathering at the best vantage points, awash in the evening's glow.