My friends sometimes share their stories of spring break vacations and occasionally, I’ll admit, I’m jealous. By April I’m ready for some warmer temps. But honestly, I hate the crowds that pack Florida beaches this time of year. What I want most when I can get away by myself, or with just my husband or a couple of friends, is the chance to simply BE – and not have to cater to anyone else’s agenda.

The Petoskey Area of northern Michigan offers just the right mix of things to do without all the hurry up and wait that goes with some vacations. April is peaceful in Bay Harbor, Alanson, Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Boyne City. Peaceful, but not boring.

Here’s some thoughts on what to do while enjoying a relaxing getaway in these waterfront communities:

Boyne City Bakery. I love to start the day slowwwww-ly, sipping a really good cup of coffee and nibbling on an even better pastry. You may not expect to find an authentic French bakery in little Boyne City, but there it is. Be sure to try the croissants – they’re flaky and irresistible and, if you want, you’ll most likely find another friendly guest with whom you can chat.

Hit the trail. I don’t keep this girlish figure (HAH!) by just eating buttery pastries. April is a little tricky with trails in the area – they may be still snow or ice covered, but Yaktrax or snowshoes will take care of that. Some years I’ve been able to ride my bike. Either way, Avalanche Preserve, the Little Traverse Nature Conservancy, the Little Traverse Wheelway or the Northwestern State Trail all offer scenic escapes.

Find a good book. There’s something about the feel of a book in my hand that I just like. Yes, I have a device I can read on, but this is vacation. I want to curl up with my favorite cup of tea and lose myself in a story that I spent an hour finding at McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey or Between the Covers Bookstore in Harbor Springs. The staff at both shops are top-notch with suggesting titles and talking about the latest bestsellers.

Take in a movie. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You won’t find a nicer small town movie theatre than the Lyric Theatre in Harbor Springs. I can even catch a classic at this downtown respite while eating popcorn with real butter instead of chemically engineered butter wannabe. And Wednesdays and Fridays in Petoskey, free movies are shown at the Carnegie Building downtown. No, it’s not as comfortable and the popcorn isn’t as good as at the Lyric, but it’s a fun community time.

Take a class. I never seem to have time for these kind of things and I love to learn! There are 17 different cooking classes or demonstrations this April at Fustini’s in Petoskey and you can bet I’ll be at at least one of them. These hands-on events feature the wonderful Fustini’s oils and vinegars and best of all, always end in eating! Harbor Springs’ Gather-A Festive DIY Studio also has a few intriguing looking classes that speak to my creative side.

Enjoy a culinary experience. Beer and wine tasting opportunities are all around the region. While it’s quiet, I feel like I can ask questions while sampling and maybe figure out the whole swirl and sniff thing. And there are so many good restaurants to try. This is where you can actually savor food instead of just getting through a meal.

April is a transition time in the Petoskey Area. Nub’s Nob will still host skiers and boarders through April 7th and Boyne Mountain will keep spinning the lifts even after that. Yet on April 26, Crooked Tree Golf Club will put out the flags and the golf season will be under way. Either way, it’s a slower time and the lodging rates reflect it, making it a great time for a low-key runaway from everyday life.

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About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all the lakeside communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Alanson and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has ‘been there — seen that’ when it comes to virtually every area attraction. Her blogs give potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.