Tucked between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, the town of Charlevoix is a prime spot for a Northern Michigan summer vacation. Here are five must-see spots you don’t want to miss when you visit.
Earl Young Mushroom Houses
The Mushroom Houses, as they’re affectionately called, were designed and built by artist Earl Young. Made of stone with unusual rooflines and wavy eaves, the houses have a storybook feel to them. A nature lover, Young designed the houses to blend with the landscape and sourced the stone from the beaches of Northern Michigan. The 26 homes are private residences. While they’re not open for inside tours, you can view the Mushroom Houses from the outside. Mushroom House Tours offers a guided tour. You can also take a self-guided walking or driving tour through the neighborhood. Please be considerate of the homeowners and don’t trespass on private property.
As the name suggests, there is a castle in Northern Michigan! The castle was built in 1918 by the president of Sears and Roebuck, modeled after the stone barns and castles found in France. Today the grounds of Castle Farms are open to the public. You can view the incredible architecture of the castle and outbuildings and the beautiful botanical garden. You’ll also find the world’s largest outdoor model train in the garden. The building that once housed the farm’s blacksmith shop is now a WWI museum filled with memorabilia from the era. You can also see the owner’s private collection of antiques. Stop by the castle’s 1918 Cellars Tasting Room and Bistro to sample the farm’s Northern Michigan-produced wines and grab a bite to eat.
Fisherman’s Island State Park
Fisherman’s Island State Park has six miles of pristine, undeveloped beach along Lake Michigan. With that much sand, it’s easy to find a quiet spot along the water. It’s named for a small island off-shore. When lake levels are low the island can be reached by wading out to it. Currently, the lake is too high for that. A 2.5-mile hiking trail takes you through rolling sand dunes, forests, and bogs. It’s a great spot to take in the natural beauty of Northern Michigan.
Charlevoix South Pier Light Station and Michigan Beach Park
The Charlevoix South Pier Light Station is an iconic symbol of Northern Michigan. It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the state. The bright red tower makes a striking contrast against the backdrop of Lake Michigan’s blue water. It’s located in Michigan Beach Park where you’ll find a large, white sand beach. There is also a playground and walking trails at the park. The restaurants and shops in downtown Charlevoix are within walking distance from the beach.
Lake Charlevoix is just inland from Lake Michigan, connected to the big lake by the Pine River Channel. The lake is a favorite spot for water sports, fishing, and swimming. With over 60 miles of shoreline, kayaking is also a popular activity on the lake. Ferry Beach Park, a public beach on Lake Charlevoix, has a playground and a boat launch. For a unique experience ride the Ironton Ferry, a cable-operated car ferry, across the south arm of the lake.