Ah, the great outdoors – as wonderful as many of us find it, it’s also nice to relax and experience things that have nothing to do with woods, water, nature or exercise. In those times, the Petoskey Area is still a terrific place to be.

So what kind of cultural things will you find when visiting our area? Here’s a brief sampling:

Visit an art gallery

Boyne City’s Freshwater Gallery offers up fun and funky art along with an impressive collection of serious works. Here you’ll be greeted by a unique sculpture out front that will have you smiling before you ever enter the door.

In Harbor Springs, Trisha Witty’s gallery welcomes visitors to a serene setting. If you weren’t in love with this waterfront community before visiting, you will be once you visit Witty Galerie where many of the paintings depict the artist’s passion for the town. If you’re looking for a small gift, Hanni Gallery is the perfect choice. This artist owned venture has something for everyone in a variety of prices; cute and inexpensive trinkets to exquisite jewelry, painting and handmade tiles.

Crooked Tree Arts Center has graced downtown Petoskey since 1971 bringing big town art to this small northern Michigan town. 3 galleries and rotating shows, including last year’s Ansel Adams exhibit, a theatre, and a wealth of children’s and adult classes, make it a constant hub of activity for those seeking an artistic refuge.

Sandra Lee adds her artistic flair to the Village at Bay Harbor. You’ll see dazzling photography of all kinds at Sandra Lee Photography and Studio, much of it shot locally of nature and its forces.

If you have time, give yourself a day to do your own gallery walk. The ones mentioned are but a very small sampling of a wonderland of pottery, paintings, and most any medium you can imagine.

See a show

Young Americans Dinner Theatre

For 40 years, the Young Americans have called Boyne Highlands Resort home during July and August. Each year, an incredibly talented array of young people from all across the country gather in Harbor Springs to sing, dance and serve dinner to sold out audiences. The consistently dynamic presentation has made the Young Americans the second-longest-running dinner theater in the country. Order your tickets early!

Little Traverse Civic Theatre

This community theater program seems to get better every year. Well-designed stages, great scripts and intense auditions and rehearsals are the hallmark of a good play. Little Traverse Civic Theatre delivers whether they’re performing a mystery, comedy or classic show. Woody Allen’s “Death” will be on the stage this August 9 – 12.

Bay View Music Festival

From mid-June to mid-August, the Bay View Association is a hotbed of entertainment. Each year there’s a musical and an opera (this year “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “The Marriage of Figaro” respectively) as well as a multitude of other live musical performances, including the wildly popular Vesper concerts held on Sunday evenings. Films are shown each week and classes and lectures are offered in culinary arts, music, books and much more. All the events in this historic enclave are open to the public and the most difficult thing about them is trying to decide which to take advantage of.

Great Lakes Center for the Arts

The culmination of planning, strategizing and fundraising is coming to fruition on July 7 when the Great Lakes Center for the Arts opens in the Village at Bay Harbor. A 500-seat state-of-the-art theater will greet guests and offer the opportunity to see a wide variety of programming. The lineup for 2018 is a mixed bag of fantastic entertainment from Matthew Morrison, comedian Tom Papa and more. Come see this awesome new venue on July 8 when the Center is hosting a free open house with entertainment at the facility from 1 until 4pm.

But wait, there’s more

In addition to all of this, there are free outdoor musical performances in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. Walloon Lake Village, Petoskey, Harbor Springs and, new for 2018, Alanson, each entertain with a free family-friendly movie night, too. What’s better than concerts and movies? Concerts and movies that are free to enjoy!

Culture is alive and well and found all over the Petoskey Area. So, when you’re visiting and it’s time to hop off the trail, the zipline, the boat or the golf course, remember there’s more to do than watch the sun set (although that’s pretty spectacular as well). Start planning your cultural getaway now at PetoskeyArea.com.

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 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.