Petoskey, Michigan on Little Traverse Bay should be the winner of Yachting Magazine's Top 50 Yachting Towns contest. In my lifetime, this Lake Michigan town has reclaimed waterfront industrial areas transformed into public access for recreational boating for all. It sets an example of what can be done to improve the environment and promote fun on the water for residents and vacationers.
This year, Petoskey City Marina has expanded and now offers 144 slips, half dedicated to transient usage. Slips go up to 40' with a face dock of 92'. The visiting boater can dock and walk one block into the postcard perfect downtown filled with independently owned and run shops, restaurants, bookstores and natural food store. The area is famous for locally-grown produce and fruit.
An extensive bicycle path built largely on old railroad beds, runs along the bay. Take the bike path south from the Petoskey marina and the new luxury community of Bay Harbor. Growing up, this area was a cement plant with towers that dominated the skyline. The entire area has been reclaimed for a protected harbor. The Bay Harbor marina has 112 slips and can accommodate boats up to 200'. The village has bars, restaurants and shopping open to the public.
Take the bike path north from Petoskey through the neighboring summer resort community of Bay View. On the National Register of Historic Places the 600-acre community has 300 Queen Anne style residences built in the 1890s. Bay View offers the public a waterfront program, Sunfish races and sailing instruction. The bike path continues through the State Park beach and campgrounds and on to Harbor Springs, a home of competitive sailboat racing.
For locals and small boat owners, Petoskey's Bayfront park includes an affordable public launch facility for trailerable boats. The Bear River in the heart of downtown is a brand-new whitewater kayaking facility and park area with launching, haul-out, parking and picnic facilities.
Waterfont areas formerly used to process timber and other industrial activities are now used by families, fisherman, kaykers, power boaters and sailors. In the summer, the sun doesn't set until after 9 and it doesn't get properly dark until long after. Residents can easily enjoy a boat ride after work.
Petoskey's the place where everyone has access to a beautiful bay for a day of relaxation. The beautiful sandy beaches and blue water of stunning clarity are captivating. One would never need to leave Little Traverse Bay to have the best boating experience; but being on Lake Michigan, people can and do set sail on world-wide voyages.
To be fair, the entire bayside community: Petoskey, Bay View, Bay Harbor and Harbor Springs are what makes Little Traverse Bay special. I grew up in Petoskey and now have a summer cottage in Bay View. The area has had a lot of foresight in cleaning up the waterfront and making it available to the public for all types of watersport enjoyment.
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Post by Tracy Datlen