Petoskey – Harbor Springs, Michigan

Best Places to Retire in Michigan


Petoskey (population 6,100) is a year-round resort community in the northwest corner of the lower peninsula, nestled along the southern shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. Long known as the “land of the million dollar sunsets,” and a great place to visit, it is now attracting retirees. Petoskey is the county seat for Emmett County (population 32,000). The area is a four-season vacation destination that offers outstanding alpine skiing, championship golf layouts, a variety of summer water sports, and beautiful fall foliage. The primary economic force for the area continues to be tourism, however, there is an expanding base of industry, specialty shopping, education, and healthcare. Emmet County dates to 1853 and was named in honor of an Irish patriot, Robert Emmet. French fur traders and missionaries also once inhabited it. Remaining turn-of-the-century Victorian cottages are a reminder of its long history as a summertime vacation get-away for city dwellers.

Historic downtown Petoskey is the retail center for Emmett County, and it draws a regional clientele that includes residents from neighboring counties. It offers abundant dining choices, entertainment and special events, including those hosted at Pennsylvania Park. Other amenities include specialty stores, galleries, clothing stores, bookstores, specialty foods, antiques, gifts, and more.

Petoskey has a busy events calendar with many activities throughout the year, including arts and crafts shows, festivals, concerts in the park, sidewalk sales, gallery walks, and the Petoskey holiday parade at Christmas time. There is also a performing arts series presented by the Crooked Tree Arts Council.

Harbor Springs (population 1,600) is located just north of Petoskey across Little Traverse Bay, and less than 10 miles by car. It is a quaint and picturesque small town with a generous natural harbor and attractive waterfront. It boasts quick access to outstanding alpine slopes, championship golf courses, hiking, cycling, canoeing, and fishing. Like nearby Petoskey, Harbor Springs has served as a summer vacationing spot since before the turn of the 19th century and a number of its beautiful “summer cottages” remain.

Harbor Springs offers the many pleasantries that go with small town living. It is a family-oriented, safe community, yet there is civic involvement and pride. Where else, but in a great little town could you bowl on Main Street? It also has good schools and strong community support services.

As part of its small-town charm, Harbor Springs offers a number of well-appointed antique shops boasting fine European furniture, art galleries with fine paintings, glassworks, jewelry, works in clay, wood, and ceramics. There are also boutiques, clothing and sporting goods stores. There is fine dining with attentive service, family fare, pub-style, or fast food. The city’s public facilities include sandy beaches, boat launch ramps, and a community pool.

These two areas offer a very interesting and stimulating lifestyle. The beauties of the natural settings, the activities, a variety of amenities and cultural events all combine to make them attractive. It is not surprising that retirees have discovered them as well.

Arts & Culture

The Crooked Tree Arts Center is home to visual and performing arts programs. The building is a century-old structure that began as a United Methodist Church. It has been completely renovated and houses a 260-seat theater, dance studios, and spaces for pottery, painting, music lessons, and administrative offices. The arts program has been very firmly established and has built a very substantial financial base. Upgrade facilities are under consideration. The center hosts a performing arts series, arts programs, children’s programs and a variety of teaching/learning opportunities.

Blissfest offers a concert series at the Crooked Tree Arts Center.

Concert/ConcertsWinter05.htm “Festival On The Bay” is an annual August event, sponsored by many local businesses. It features entertainment, live music, arts and crafts, food, and plenty of activities for the younger set. There is also a canoe race across the bay (participants can choose a kayak or any human-powered watercraft).

Charlotte Ross Lee concerts in the park take place from June through August at Pennsylvania Park Gazebo and at Waterfront Park.

Petoskey’s Downtown Gallery Walk is a very popular June event. All participating galleries greet their guests in an open-house atmosphere. Many offer food and beverages and some will have music. Many artists will also be on hand at various galleries.


There are 19 golf courses and three ski areas within easy reach of the Petoskey – Harbor Springs area. At the peak ski season, there are more than 10,000 skiers at nearby Boyne Highlands and Nub’s Nob.

Petoskey Municipal Marina, located in Bayfront Park, which is connected to downtown via a walking tunnel, features 100 slips, with accommodations for both transients and seasonal boaters. (616-347-6691)

Wilderness State Park is an 8,000-acre site with wilderness areas and a beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. The park has 250 modern campsites, playground facilities, swimming, fishing, picnic sites, 16 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking and more.

Petoskey State Park consists of 304-acres at the north end of Little Traverse Bay. The park has a sandy beach and two separate, modern campgrounds. The park offers swimming, hiking, biking, picnic sites and more.

Colonial Michillimackinac Historic State Park offers a reconstructed fur-trading village and military outpost, and an 1892 lighthouse. There are picnic sites on the grounds.

Odawa Casino.

Victories Casino & Hotel offers 1,100 slot machines and video poker machines, plus a variety of table games.

Nub’s Nob Ski Area is regarded as among the best “day skiing” locations in the country. It offers 49 ski runs with 100 percent coverage by snowmaking equipment, and has a lift capacity of 15,600 skiers per hour. While it has no lodging, there are 58 lodges, hotels and condos within a 15-mile radius.

Boyne Highlands Resort ranks among the best ski resorts in the Midwest. Ski facilities include 50 downhill runs, up to one mile in length, with lift capacity to transport 17,400 skiers per hour. It also features four 18-hole championship courses, extensive convention facilities, including a convention center with seating for 1,500 people, and a main lodge with full service dining, as well as other less formal dining facilities. Other amenities include indoor and outdoor tennis, three heated pools, ice rink, hiking and biking trails, and more. Lodging capacity is 1,200 guests.

Boyne Mountain Resort in nearby Boyne (17 miles south of Petoskey) offers 67 downhill runs, of up to 1 1/4 mile in length. It has a combined lift capacity of 19,200 skiers per hour. It also features two championship 18-hole courses. The resort can accommodate up to 600 guests. Its convention center has a capacity of 1,500 people.


North Central Michigan College was established in 1958 as a two-year institution, offering associates degrees and certificate programs.

Senior Programs

The Friendship Center in Petoskey, (231) 347-3211. The Friendship Center in Brutus (231) 529-8803 and the Friendship Center in Pellston, (231) 539-8201. Hospital McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital is an acute care facility with more than 150 physicians and 202 licensed beds.


Pellston Regional Airport, in the heart of Emmett County, offers scheduled commercial service, connecting to Detroit-Wayne County International.

Harbor Springs Airport offers charter service and general aviation services.


The seasonal average temperatures for the Petoskey and Harbor Springs areas for January are a high of 26 degrees and low of 14 degrees. By May, the averages are a high of 60 degrees and low of 43 degrees. The average temperatures for July, the warmest month, are a high of 75 and low of 59 degrees. Average snowfall is 140 inches.


Petoskey News-Review —

Property Taxes

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce —
Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce —

State Aging Agency,1607,7-234-47083-171789–F,00.html

Distances (from Petoskey)

Harbor Springs – 9.5 miles
Alanson – 10.5 miles
Boyne – 15.5 miles
Charlevoix – 16.5 miles
Mackinaw City – 36 miles
Traverse City – 66 miles
Saginaw – 165 miles
Grand Rapids – 185 miles
East Lansing – 200 miles
Detroit – 264 miles

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