In the withering temperatures of July, we took a few days to tour the northern shore line of Lakes Michigan and Huron and had such a blast we decided to take a little shorter trip in August not only to enjoy some cooler temperatures, but also to spend a little more time exploring along the way. We decided this would be a good 3 day trip exploring Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs. M-37 north from Grand Rapids through the Manistee National Forest is always a pleasant route to the north country, and one we have taken often. Baldwin is a good place to stop for fuel and lunch. If you're in the mood for an ice cream cone, Miller's is always serving some of the best ice cream anywhere. Everything else you might need is right on the highway which runs through the heart of town. Both Miller's and the local watering hole are biker friendly and across the street from one another. Just look for the bikes parked in front.
We chose Bellaire, MI as our base for this trip if only for the reason it was far enough from the tourist towns to keep the motel rates reasonable. We were in for an unexpected treat, however, the first clue being the natural beauty of the road. Bellaire is on M-88 a few miles east US-31 between Torch Lake and Mancelona, MI. It's a beautiful road through orchards and farm land with plenty of sweeping curves and rolling terrain. Even if you don't intend to stay long, it's well worth the time as a little side trip. Everybody likes a friendly town and Bellaire defines the word. From the staff at All Seasons Motel to the Bellaire Bar and Restaurant, everyone we encountered over our two night stay was congenial and helpful. (Note: Although M-88 runs for 26 miles between US-31 and US-131, the road loses some its lustre east of Bellaire and becomes fairly flat and straight.)
Charlevoix is the type of town that begs you to stop and spend a little time for lunch and maybe some leisurely poking around. Snuggled up to Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Charlevoix on the other, this beautiful little town features dozens of relaxing possibilities from its marina and city park to the shops and restaurants, or maybe a stroll along the channel out to Lake Michigan. The draw bridge opens at the top and bottom of the hour from 6 am to 10 pm. Keep this in mind as you approach Charlevoix. An open bridge effectively shuts down US-31 in each direction downtown until boat traffic clears. There is a City Ordinance that prohibits idling while you wait for traffic to move again. We figured we might as well park and stretch our legs for a bit since we wouldn't be moving for 10 or 15 minutes anyway.
Traverse City is a tourist trap or at least that's how I've always thought of it until we got off the highway on this trip and spent some time downtown. There are shops and restaurants, many of which have inside and outside dining beneath one of the many trees lining the streets. An added bonus for checking out TC's downtown area is the M-22 shop. If you love the M-22 experience you'll want to check out this shop for a window decal and some of the other gear they carry.
We rolled right through Petoskey figuring we'd stop on way back later in the day. We were excited to get up to Harbor Springs and ride the fabled 'Tunnel Of Trees' on M-119. That is one of the most beautiful and interesting roads I've ever travelled on 2 wheels. Hilly, curvy, narrow, and so shady we had to stop to remove our sunglasses. Traffic was light (Monday) and the ride was at a leisurely pace all the way to Legs Inn at Cross Village. It was a busy place and although we were looking forward to lunch on the deck overlooking Lake Michigan, we were told there would be at least a 45 minute wait for a table and after a quick walk-through, we were on our way again. The place is definitely worth a stop and we plan on going back someday to have that lunch.
This is a great trip if you have a few days. All Seasons Motel in Bellaire has a couple of different room types. The one we chose was middle of the road. The rate was $75.00 or so per night and we could park a couple of feet from our door.
A burger and beer at Bellaire is good and it's very reasonable. Try the walleye if you get down there. It's great!
This is a motorcycle ride in the state of Michigan. This motorcycle route has 8 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by speedpony in August. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by speedpony