If you’re like me, you tend to eat and drink more when you’re on vacation. I just can’t help it. From eating breakfast (which I seldom do) to snacking and feeding my sweet tooth, there’s more time to indulge while on vacation and I take advantage of it. I also stop worrying about fat content and calories and instead focus on what makes me and my taste buds happy.

In the Petoskey Area, there are lots of reasons and foods to lead even the strictest dieter down the path to tummy gratification.

Some of my favorites:

Tom’s Mom’s Cookies, Harbor Springs – Those who visit here probably dream about these chocolate chunk, raisin-filled and peanut butter spherical delights. The tiny shop in Harbor’s downtown is a favorite stop for vacationers and locals alike who want to choose from the 18+ flavors of award-winning cookies. Locals tip: Order as gifts for the people you like best!

Planked Whitefish at the Terrace Inn, Bay View – Even if the presentation of this lightly flavored fish weren’t so darn pretty, it would still make my list. Freshly caught, seasoned just right and baked/served on an oak plank, this freshwater dinner can be enjoyed in the inn’s 1911 Dining Room or on the terrace overlooking the lawns of Bay View. Locals tip: Dine when Nathan Towne is entertaining with his beautiful guitar playing.

Plath’s Meats, Petoskey – It you’re staying in a condo, a house rental or a suite that offers cooking facilities, you really need to make a stop at Plath’s. Mornings never taste as good as when paring up farm fresh eggs with Plath’s thick and tasty bacon. Add the bacon to a spinach salad or layer it on your favorite bread for lunch later in the day. Grab a smoked turkey and some of the whitefish reeled in from Lake Huron and smoked at Plath’s. Locals tip: Sneak in a $2.00 hotdog with all the fixins’ before you get back to your family and friends.

Crooked Tree Breadworks, Petoskey – Don’t let the name fool you; Crooked Tree Breadworks is much more than bread (but for heaven’s sake don’t pass up the bread either!) The turnovers and cookies are amazing and make a wonderful complement to a sandwich made on any of a variety of these artisanal loaves of delight. Or savor a delicious white-chocolate cherry scone with a cup of tea or your favorite java while sitting in nearby Spring Lake Park. Locals tip: Wednesday is the day for brioche cinnamon rolls. Get there early. 

Red Mesa Grill, Boyne City – Anyone who tells you that all guacamole is created equal has never had the guac at Red Mesa. Served with homemade chips it’s hard to push away from the creamy jalapeno enriched goodness to save room for the main course. These folks roll the flavors of Latin America into one taste tempting meal after another and serve them up with some of the best margaritas you’ll find anywhere. Locals tip: Great tasting gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available.

Sage, Odawa Casino, Petoskey – The ambiance is super relaxed and the 16-foot wine tower is like no other in town. But what about the food? Delish! It’s all I can do not to lick the plate clean when I order the Sage Signature Roasted Mushroom Gnocchi. And the seafood pasta will take care of the biggest seafood craving as it’s loaded with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and lobster meat. Locals tip: Sage accepts reservations and it’s good to have one.

Petoskey Cheese, Petoskey – If you’re one of those who grew up on processed American cheese slices (me, too!), you need to check this place out and find out what real cheese is all about. Get your crackers, pickles and other delectable accoutrements here, too. Locals tip: Try their lunch specials; they’re just too “gouda” to pass up! 

Stafford’s Hospitality, Petoskey, Charlevoix & Harbor Springs – From the casual Noggin Room, the beautifully appointed H.O. Rose Room, to the Pier Restaurant, to the Victorian Roselawn Room at the Bay View Inn to the Weathervane in Charlevoix, each of Stafford’s restaurants’ menus is thoughtfully planned out and executed by creative chefs – some who have been with the company for more 30 years! Locals tip: If you like beer, sign up for the Noggin Room’s Hall of Foam. Fish – the perch at The Pier can’t be beat and is served with a side of delightful scenery.

Vernales, Harbor Springs – I’m not a big red meat eater, so when I decide it’s a beef kind of a day, I want the good stuff and the Wagyu beef at Vernales is definitely primo. No hormones, no antibiotics and tons of flavor! Voted #1 Steakhouse in Michigan, the team here starts with a high quality product and finishes it off flawlessly. Locals tip: Work up your appetite with a hike at nearby Petoskey State Park.

Chef’s Table Dinners, Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs – These spectacular events don’t happen often – in fact, there’s only one left this summer (8/23/20), but these are bucket list meals. An intimate occasion – only ten tickets are sold for each dinner – true foodies will be enthralled by Chef Dean Grill’s tutelage during the five course meal. Locals tip: Follow Boyne Highlands on Facebook so you know as soon as these fabulous dinners are scheduled.

With this year’s added twist of the coronavirus, I’d be remiss in not telling you that indoor dining has been capped at 50% occupancy. Many places have added or expanded their outdoor areas and even more places are offering take-out or curbside deliveries.

This list could go on and on, but you get the gist. If you visit Petoskey, Harbor Springs or Boyne City this summer (or fall, winter or spring), you won’t leave hungry. A little heavier perhaps, but never hungry. 

Find your room – and a restaurant too, at PetoskeyArea.com.

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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 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.