I have to admit that Charlevoix has my heart. I don’t know if it is the cozy town, the amazing green water, or the chance to touch base with one of the first friend couples we met when we moved to Grand Rapids 11 years ago. It is amazing how quickly life goes and this chance to refresh is always welcomed. Where there was once a little blonde-haired toddler, there is now an almost teenager watching my preschooler and our other grade-school kids. We don’t see each other often even though we live quite close and that’s fine. It’s how life works sometimes. But it just makes this weekend all the more special for us.
But enough about me, let’s talk Charlevoix. This town is a sweet mix of cute and stylish stores, good food, gorgeous water, boating, beaching…. you name it, Charlevoix has it. As I mentioned, we are fortunate enough to stay with friends who have a family condo on Round Lake and invite us up every summer. This is the perfect location- we can walk to downtown, hop on a boat, sit and stare at the water … definitely my kind of a vacation. Abby from Abby Manchesky Interiors, and her family are our hosts. You can certainly see that much of her beautiful design is influenced by the pure green water and lake lifestyle; follow along with her inspired design over on Instagram.
Before I tell you what we did, let me give you some brief fun facts about Charlevoix taken from Visit Charlevoix. Charlevoix plays host to 27 of Earl Young’s mushroom houses. You can read more about them in this interesting book. It is also home to the Chicago Club, which is a summer association originally formed by University of Chicago professors who visited after the Civil War. Charlevoix was a popular destination for midwesterners. In fact, when the Prohibition was going on, Chicago gang members moved to Charlevoix. A barge was transformed into a speakeasy and was a stylish way to travel between Charlevoix and Boyne City. In subsequent years, Charlevoix made news with the sinking of a freighter in 1858 and a B52 aircraft that crashed in 1971. (In fact, if you go for a swim in Oyster Bay- read more below,- you may get a glimpse of several sunken ships.) Last interesting fact… The first nuclear plant in the nation was built in Charlevoix and was named Big Rock; it was in operation from 1962-1971.
Now that you know a bit about Charlevoix, here are some suggestions of what to see, where to go, and what to do. I would highly recommend renting a boat and spending the day in Oyster Bay in Lake Charlevoix, jumping from the boat into the clear emerald colored water, paddle boarding around the protected bay, or just lounging and listening to summer music (now just to agree on what that is…).
The downtown is not only cute but also super stylish. There are so many boutiques featuring both home decorations and clothing. One of my favorites is Northbound, which has a wonderful selection of Duffield Lane clothing, perfect for any lakeside occasion. It also has these subtle sparkling earrings that I haven’t seen in stores back home.
I also immediately fell in love with a flower boutique called Bloom. It is located on an adorable alleyway just off the main drag. Not only were there fresh flowers (insert rose scents here) and pre-made flower arrangements but there was also a great selection of home gifts. It was difficult not to buy the entire store!
Downtown Charlevoix also has a variety of restaurants to choose from. Harwood Gold is new to me and worth the hour that I likely spent in the store/restaurant sampling maple syrups of every variety, including Michigan Lavender, Coffee Bean, Ginger Root, etc. etc.. You can buy gift boxes or small crates of three, or individual bottles– perfect for those teacher and administrative assistant gifts that I am always scrambling to find around Christmastime. I bought as much as I could carry but will definitely be shopping online here around the holidays too. Not only does Harwood Gold sell delicious syrups and condiments, but they also have a cute cafe that sells breakfast and lunch/dinner items as well as fancier coffee drinks. I just got the organic coffee (and thought it was a really good cup, which says a lot, because I’m a bit particular about my coffee), but Abby chose the Golden Milk. All I’m going to say about the Golden Milk is that it is 1) a must purchase and 2) a perfect day-after drink. Oh, and I will definitely be trying to replicate it at home.
Another great restaurant option for something that you can order at the counter and then either stay or go is That French Place. It is a creperie in a small but adorable storefront. The crepes are oh-so-yum!!!
We also usually end up at Bridge Street Tap Room. The food is great, there is a good children’s menu, and you can sit outside and look at all of the happenings on Round Lake. But the part we may love the most is that there is a park right next to the restaurant so the kids can go run, play, and/or watch the boats, sit down to eat for the typical .5 seconds and then go back on their way.
If you are out on the boat on Lake Charlevoix, The Landing is a must. The atmosphere is casual with a beachy vibe and outdoor dining directly on the water. Our kids had a lot of fun getting the Italian Seafood Salad and picking out the octopus. Aside from being fun, I also tried the salad and it was delicious! The lobster roll looked amazing too, as in lots of lobster, not too much dressing.
Speaking of parks, there is another open area right downtown, again overlooking Round Lake, with an amphitheater, large running space, trout ponds, and fountains for children to run through on a too-hot day.
Given that this is a family trip, we cannot leave without hitting up The Rocking Horse Toy Store. It is full of board games, water games, art crafts, trains, cars, and so much more. Of course, we got a car and noise making putty (not a good mom approval moment).
The Taffy Barrel is incredibly fun for both adults and children, but especially children. Just grab a basket and find your favorite flavor (or fifty).
And of course, you need to take a sunset tour… every night you are there. It is a short boat ride from Round Lake (but also a completely doable and recommended boat ride from Lake Charlevoix) down the channel and out into Lake Michigan to watch the gorgeous sunsets.
As I think I’ve mentioned a million times now, we were fortunate enough to stay with friends, but if you are looking for a recommendation, Abby suggests the Edgewater Inn where every room is a condo with a deck view to the boats. I also came across this possibility in my search of Mushroom Houses.
Even though we’ve been to Charlevoix a good amount of times now, there is still so much that we haven’t done (just another amazing aspect of this small village). Next on the list is to get a cocktail and appetizer on the deck of the Weathervane. And, for lunch, grabbing some panini and pretzel burgers at Scovies.
Whew- that was a long post! I could talk about Charlevoix for days, so this was as condensed as I could make it. And I’m sure I missed something… Have you been to Charlevoix? Where are your favorite spots?
Here is a pin in case I have you convinced that Charlevoix is a must-visit place…
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