Are you planning on traveling with your children? Here's a complete list of family-friendly locations to visit with your family. Each of the locations offers different activities, hands-on opportunities, and classes.
Lavender Hill Farm
Not only is Lavender Hill Farm an amazing place to go for kids’ activities such as kids’ art and crafts and movie night, it’s also perfect for family portrait sessions set amongst the fragrant purple blooms. Peak bloom is in July, but the landscape is beautiful well before and after that time frame. The farm features walking trails so you can enjoy the beauty of Charlevoix’s countryside.
The downtown district of Charlevoix is jammed packed with opportunities for the whole family. Watch the boats pass through the channel and catch the drawbridge going up every hour and a half hour. Cool off in the Fountain of Youth splash pad next to the marina. Feed the trout in the trout stream. Grab some picnic fare at one of the many restaurants that offer carry-out and dine al fresco in East Park or enjoy a bird’s eye view from atop the Harbor Master building. Explores downtown shops for clothes, toys, books, and more. And there are multiple options for ice cream- need we say more?
We know how nerve-wracking it can be to take a young child to a restaurant where you have never been. Some of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants include The Villager Pub, Bridge Street Tap Room, Happy Troll, Jax, and The Landings. Insider Tip: Take advantage of the hotel rooms in Charlevoix that come equipped with kitchenettes, so you can eat some meals in too.
Beaches and Parks
There is a beach for everyone in Charlevoix. Families will find bathrooms, playgrounds, free parking, and pavilions at Michigan Beach, Ferry Beach, and Depot Beach (the latter two on Lake Charlevoix with fewer waves and milder water temps). Mt McSauba is a great beach for those who don’t mind a bit of a hike through the sand to reach this rustic quiet beach. Petoskey and Charlevoix stone hunting and sunset watching are a must-do at Michigan Beach or Mt. McSauba. Click here for a complete guide on how to find these unique fossils.
This once-dilapidated farm has been beautifully restored to its original 1918 glory, and now serves as an event venue and tour destination. Take a self-guided or tram tour of the gardens including the popular railroad garden (the largest in Michigan), feed ducks at the pond, play giant chess, and attend a royal story time all while learning the fascinating history of the property. Kids will find plenty of things to do at Castle Farms.
Charlevoix Public Library
The Charlevoix Public Library is the place to be. With seemingly endless kid’s activities such as story time, art projects, Kindermusik, and book yoga as well as the dedicated children/tween wing, playground, and garden at the library, your family will find plenty of opportunities to explore this community gem. Make sure to attend a jazz concert in the garden on Wednesdays throughout the summer!
The best way to enjoy the water is to be on it. Sunshine Charters is a sailing catamaran that sets sail from the downtown marina and goes into Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. For a quick trip on the water, take a ride on the Ironton Ferry. It is such a unique experience. Or set your own course and rent kayaks or paddleboards with Schulman Paddleworks or rent a boat for a day at Summertime Rentals (we encourage you to make reservations beforehand). If you are traveling with older children, book a tour with Jordan Valley Outfitters to explore the natural beauty of the Jordan River.
Northern Michigan is home to lots of great local orchards. Two of our favorites include: Royal Farms and Friske’s Farm Stand are awesome places to take the family. A visit to Friske Orchards would not be complete without a trip to the playground and a wagon ride through the orchard. If you’re visiting during the fall, Royal Farms offers families a chance to try their luck at navigating a corn maze. Also, both places have amazing donuts!
The Great Outdoors
If you are traveling with older children, these ideas are just for you. The Charlevoix area has a lot of great trail systems just waiting to be explored. We enjoy the ease of Susan Creek Nature Preserve, the views of Charles Ransom Nature Preserve, and the quiet beauty of Fisherman’s Island State Park. If you’re looking for a biking trail, check out the Little Traverse Wheelway. This trail is 26 miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline. For children learning to play tennis, there are free public courts located at Shanahan Field or next to the Charlevoix Golf Club on Elm St. For new golfers, try your luck at the Charlevoix Golf Club. This nine-hole, walkable course, is perfect for beginners or avid players.