Published: June, 2021
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Harbor Springs, Michigan

Don't miss a walk on Main Street with an "itsy bitsy" from Yummies and a Tom's Mom's Cookie!
— ANGELA HOWENSTEIN
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Family, Beach
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: That all depends.....

to & from

Harbor Springs is not an easy place to get to!
Driving from Chicago can take 6+ hours and Detroit a solid 4 hours. Holidays and weekends can be full of traffic, so traveling on an off day is best.
Flying to Harbor Springs can be a challenge. Pelston is the closest airport, (20 minutes), BUT, the flights are few and far between and they are expensive! Pelston is also known to cancel flights with little or NO warning. Your other option is Traverse City. TC has direct flights from big cities like Denver and New York. Here’s the catch…..TC is 1.5 hours from Harbor Springs, so make sure you get a rental car 😉

  • Pelston Regional Airport
  • Cherry Capital Airport - Traverse City

Where to Stay

Don’t get too excited about hotel options in HS! There is really only ONE hotel in town and it is the Colonial Inn. This is no Four Seasons, but it is a quaint inn with only 42 rooms. It’s a perfect blend of downtown (1 mile) and the beach (across the street). The hotel has a pool, but is also has a dock on the lake so you can take the plunge into the crystal blue water anytime!

Boyne Highlands is a full resort with dinner theater, golf, hiking, biking – everything. You can’t walk to town, but you have all of your activities right there.

AirBNB is a great option if you plan to stay more than a week. There are homes in town that get zapped up QUICKLY and for a steep price, but there are houses a little out of town as well. You’ll just need a car to get to town and to the public beach.

The BEST option to find a house to rent is with realtor Lee Ford. Lee has spent her entire life in HS in the summers and she now has a bustling real estate business. Lee knows ALL the secret spots that won’t show up on AirBNB!

Where to Eat and Drink

There are MANY choices for food in Harbor Springs. There aren’t too many options on the water, but right in the town, you can find anything from a great burger to planked white fish (a HS favorite). We love Stafford’s Pier for waterfront dining or their casual bar, Dudley’s Deck. For an AMAZING burger right in town, check out Bar Harbor. It’s kinda dark and small, but the burger is well worth the visit! A little out of town is a FAVORITE, Teddy Griffin’s. If you want finger-lickin’ ribs and gorgeous white fish…this is your spot! The BEST sandwich in town is found in….a liquor store! Yes, you read that right. Gurney’s is the PLACE. The bread is SO soft and delish. Don’t ask for lettuce on your sandwich…they don’t offer it 🙂
We can’t forget a town favorite, Yummies Ice Cream and Tom’s Mom’s Cookies – not to be missed.

What to Do

Don’t miss the Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Local farmers come with their beautiful flowers, amazing vegetables and some of the best baked goods you’ve ever tried.

There are lots of cool hikes just out of town. Boyne Mountain or Nubb’s Knob (the local ski mountains) offer great hikes and bike trails. Boyne also has a couple of GREAT golf courses, if there is a golfer in the group.

For a GREAT view of Harbor Point and the harbor, head over to The Pier and jump on The Pointer. This boats hold 12 guest and takes a great slow tour around the harbor. Super fun!

Take a trip to Pondhill Farm – an adventure for the whole family! There is a livestock farm, a vineyard, a Gnome House scavenger hunt – I could go on. The season food in the cafe is a 10!

Downtown Harbor Springs offers SO many great shops anywhere from fine linens, to monograms to home goods – they have it ALL. Every store is in either a quaint cottage (J.McLaughlin) or a two-story building that are in keeping with the town feel. Dad can enjoy a cup of coffee outside of Monogram Goods and be perfectly happy while Mom shops.

There are terrific art galleries on Main Street. HS’s most famous artist, Pierre Bittar has had a gallery there for years – a must-see.

If you’re in Harbor Springs over the 4th of July, don’t miss the art show that takes place right on the waterfront. Local artists bring in the most beautiful paintings, jewelry, and pottery you have ever seen.

One of the oldest buildings in HS is the public library. We went in once with our kids and it was the most quiet, peaceful place….very old school.

The public beach in town has a great swim area for the kids. If you’re so inclined, you might also drive a little out of town to the check out the beaches and dunes. For some fun day trips, head out to Waloon Lake, Charlevoix or Petoskey to see what little northern Michigan towns have to offer.

inside scoop

The greatest place that is off the beaten path is Bluff Gardens. Have you ever seen miniature vegetables? You can make the most beautiful and delicious veggie plate that your guests and friends will LOVE with the mini veggies and their homemade curry dip. Bring some home as a gift for your mother-in-law 🙂

  • Bluff Gardens, 231-526-5571

skip it

Ha! If you are making a trip to Mackinac Island to see the Grand Hotel (historic and beautiful) SKIP a place called, “The Mystery Spot”. It’s a tourist attraction that is a whole lot of nothin’. 🙂

  • The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

What to Pack

Harbor Springs has a casual yet preppy vibe. Before you leave, be sure to check the weather – let’s just start there. The weather can be cool and even rainy, BUT you can also run into muggy, hot, sunny days. In a nutshell, you’ll need a pair of jean – either white or regular to wear with a cute top. Shorts for your everyday look and sundresses for early evening dinners. Be absolutely sure you have brought a rain jacket of some sort in case an east wind kicks up and brings in a storm. Sometimes, they come out of no where :0

Speaking of travel….do you have a Perfect Blue Blazer? If not, this is IT. It runs SMALL, so size up. It’s the Duchess Blazer named after….you can guess :). Pink Top; Best White Jeans; Sandals!; City Tote

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One thing that people don’t realize is that Harbor Springs is on Little Traverse Bay just off of Lake Michigan. Therefore, the water is CRYSTAL clear and turquoise blue!

If you are staying in town, be sure to rent bicycles! The best place in town is Touring Gear 231-526-7152

The best way to see all of the beautiful homes and the lighthouse that are on the water, is by boat or paddle board! So, if you know how to run a boat, check out Irish Boat Shop 231-526-6225 to rent….or buy :). For any paddle board rentals, check out The Outfitter, 231-526-2621

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