Visiting Petoskey: A Michigan Gem

Nestled on Michigan's Northern Coast, Petoskey is a seaside town that beckons travelers with its charming Main Street, high-quality cuisine, and downright gorgeous views. After a quick visit this past May, this town has quickly earned on my list of favorite small towns. So, when the day comes that you find yourself Petoskey, use this itinerary to enjoy this gem of a town in all its glory.

If you're in need of a java jolt to start the day, head to North Perk Coffee. This coffee shop churns out espresso, drip coffee, and a variety of pastries. I went for a mocha that turned out to be among the best I've ever had, and I'd recommend one to any espresso fan. 

For a hearty breakfast, check out Julienne Tomatoes.

Flickr/Nurit Pazner

Yes, it really is a tomato-themed restaurant, and they're everywhere; they even make for a cute and homey décor. Try the eggs or order the blueberry pancakes for a true Michigan experience. The juicy sausages here are also worth ordering.

If you're a jam fan, you'll want to visit American Spoon. The company sent me a jar of strawberry preserves that disappeared fast; it was just sweet enough without being overly sugary. If strawberries aren't your thing, try the cherry preserves (Michigan produces 70 to 75 percent of the tart cherries grown in the United States) and go for the red raspberry, lemon curd, pear, or even the chocolate milk caramel. If you're a souvenir fan, consider buying a Petoskey stone — the official state stone of Michigan — at Grandpa Shorter's Gifts.

Once you're done buying knick-knacks, it's time for a snack. Food lovers will especially enjoy Fustini's Oils and Vinegars. This specialty olive oil and vinegar purveyor stocks what you'd expect, but also offers cooking classes. The restaurant showed me and a group of other travel writers how to create surprisingly sweet strawberry shortcake made with the shop's lemon olive oil and balsamic. Plus, trying out funky flavors (lavender balsamic, anyone?) is always fun.

After all that eating, you'll probably want to exercise for a bit. Petoskey is also home to a beautiful waterfront park, so you can spend a few hours soaking up the sun. Take the short walk over there, take photos, and just admire the water.   

When dinnertime rolls around, try the Italian spot Twisted Olive Quattro. This restaurant overlooks the shore and serves up fresh Mediterranean cuisine with a twist. Try the fish; I had some impossibly fresh and tasty seared tuna at this spot. If fish isn't your thing, Twisted Olive also has soups, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.

To finish your day, consider having a nightcap at Stafford's Perry Hotel's Noggin Room. Be sure to walk around the historic hotel's lobby and then head downstairs. The Noggin is dark, laid-back, and an ideal place to end your night. Enjoy bar bites like fried pickles, fried oysters, chicken wings, salads, burgers, pizzas, and fish tacos. And then there are the drinks. Order a beer, cocktail, or one of the Noggin's signature creations: the smooth-as-a-Thin-Mint Grasshopper. If it's still daylight, consider watching the sunset and soak up those stunning vistas one last time. 

Teresa K. Tobat is a travel writer and editor based out the Washington, D.C. area. Follow her tweets @ttobat88.