Home Sweet Home.
There is no place in the world like the one that you call home. Usually, it’s the kind of place you can’t wait to leave while you’re growing up, and can’t wait to come back to after you move away. It’s where your family is. It’s where all your happy memories are. It’s where you feel happy and one of your favorite places in this world. For me, Home is Manistee, Michigan.
Manistee is situated right on Lake Michigan, and gets the “Up North” stamp of approval. It’s small enough for everyone to know each other, yet big enough to have a little bit of everything to keep you busy. Visiting in the summer? We’ve got beaches and lakes for days. Coming in the winter? You can’t miss our Sleighbell Parade or awesome ski hills. Turns out, my home, that I couldn’t wait to get away from when I was young, turns out to be a tourists dream.
If you’re in need of a relaxing get away, Manistee is your place. Less crowded than the Leelanau Peninsula, and not quite as remote as the UP, you’ll find a little bit of everything here. Within city limits, you’ll find two beautiful, beaches, that literally rival any beach on Florida’s coasts. Swimming here is better than swimming in any ocean. The water is fresh, never salty, and you have no sharks to worry about. You’ll find a charming little downtown, and all sorts of delicious places to eat. Head out into the county, you’ll find endless forests, small towns chock full of small town charm, hiking trails, sand dunes, and lakes. So. Many. Little. Lakes.
So, without further ado, here is my guide to exploring Manistee County.
Getting Here: You’ll find Manistee County is easily accessible by car, boat or plane. Coming in from a different state? You can fly from Chicago right into Manistee’s own Blacker Airport. Driving up from down state? Find your way to US 31. It runs directly through Manistee County. More into the whole riding a boat thing? Manistee is surrounded by water, I’m sure you’ll find it 🙂
Where to Stay: I want you to know that I will ALWAYS be completely honest on my blog with you. This being said… the hotel situation in Mansitee is kind of lacking. You won’t find a Waldorf Astoria or Ritz Carlton anywhere near here. What you will find are a few “mom and pop” type motels, and your typical Days Inn and Super 8. If your heart is set on a hotel, I’d say The Ramsdell Inn is your best bet. Stepping in to this beautiful boutique hotel is like stepping back in time. It is in the heart of downtown, and close to shopping, restaurants and beaches. If you’re looking for a more “resort” type feel, you’ll want to check out The Little River Casino Resort. However, take the word “resort” lightly. The hotel, casino and restaurants are always a huge hit with tourists. You might even be able to catch a concert while you’re there. Look into it in advance, concerts do sell out. Personally, I think your best bet is a vacation rental. Check out VRBO or Airbnb.
Where to Eat: I am a HUGE fan of eating like the locals wherever I go. Lucky for you, I was a local in Manistee for 24 years and can tell you exactly where you need to eat. You ready? It’s an easy one to remember. It’s only two words… Big Al’s. Yup. Thats the only place I’m going to talk about because honestly, it’s the best. Is it fancy? No. It kind of looks like its falling apart on the outside. Do they serve a four course dinner? Not unless you count breadsticks, pizza, stromboli and subs as “four courses”. But, their greasy delicacies drowned in their super top secret Sub Sauce has kept locals and tourists coming back to satisfy their cravings for decades. I can honestly tell you, I’ve never met someone who hasn’t liked Big Al’s. What I order: Turkey and Cheese Sub with Lettuce, Mayo and Sub Sauce, or Stromboli filled with my favorite toppings and Sub Sauce to dip it in. (Okay, for those of you not into pizza joints, check out Doc’s, The Bungalow, TJs Pub, or House of Flavors.)
What to Do: Manistee county is truly a nature lovers dream, no matter what season. Summer time brings PERFECT weather. It’s never too hot or humid, because there is always a nice cool breeze that comes in off the lake. If you’re spending some time in the city, take a walk on the river walk, head to the beach, eat an amazingly fresh fish fry, and end your evening with s’mores around the fire. Head out of town and enjoy hiking trails, kayaking or canoeing on the Little Manistee river, golfing at Arcadia Bluffs, or checking out one of the small towns near by. Fall brings insanely pretty colors to Northern Michigan, pumpkin patches, and festivals. Winter is SO COLD and SO SNOWY in Manistee County, but you can’t miss skiing at Crystal Mountain and The Sleighbell Parade the first weekend of every December. Any time of year is perfect for a stop at the Historic Vogue Theater, for a movie, or the Ramsdell Theater to catch a play.
Home really is where the heart is. And for me, my heart is in Manistee. Maybe I glorify it a bit, because I love the town and the people in it so much. But I think if you stop by, you’ll find yourself falling just as in love with it as I am.
And in case you still aren’t convinced, check out the town’s pride and joy, our Pure Michigan commerical.
I hope you all are having a great Monday! I’ve been catching up with Jesse Metcalfe (I’d forgotten how much I loved him! Shhhh don’t tell Trev. HAHA) on Hallmark Channel all day. I’m loving their new Sunday Night show, and I DVRd all the movies they showed yesterday. It has been a perfect lazy day!