Marine News from the Great Lakes

Harbor Springs, MI: This Resort Town is a Real Treasure

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017

Harbor Springs, Michigan, touts the deepest freshwater harbor on the Great Lakes. However, the tradition and love of the town goes even deeper with those who live there, and makes this coastal town a great place to visit — with or without your boat.

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, Harbor Springs is a charming town of about 1,200 residents. The Harbor Springs Municipal Marina welcomes guests with open arms and offers 46 well-maintained transient slips in addition to 31 seasonal slips. Day dockage is available, but you’ll want to stay for more than just 24 hours! The staff at the marina is knowledgeable, helpful, and stay on top of things like making sure that the restrooms and showers are clean. Dockage is also available at Irish Boat Shop and Walstrom Marine, both noteworthy facilities with stellar reputations for taking care of their customers.

So, you’ve made the trip and Harbor Springs is your port of call. Now what?

Shop Around

You’re virtually in the downtown when you get off your boat. You can try just window shopping, but you’ll be hard pressed to leave your wallet in your purse or pocket when browsing in Harbor Springs.

Kids of all ages love Rocking Horse Toy Company where they have everything for sunshine-filled beach days. Zoll Street Beach and Zorn Park are both within walking distance of the marina. A number of clothing shops for both men and women offer beautiful resort wear and designer clothing. There are contemporary and traditional jewelry stores to sparkle up the day, and art galleries beckon guests with everything from sculptures to paintings, pottery to woodwork. At Boyer Glassworks, watch new glass pieces being blown by Harry Boyer and his protégé. Those searching for a hand-rolled cigar can find one at Julieta Y Romeo, and passionate readers share their love of good books at Between the Covers book store.

In keeping with tradition (and providing boaters with all those items that can easily be forgotten), Harbor Springs still has a pharmacy downtown, Kelbel Pharmacy. It has all the goodies you remember from the good ol’ days when every town had a local drug store that carried all sorts of things you didn’t know you needed — and was staffed by a pharmacist who was almost as smart as your dad.

Get Back on the Water

Just because you’re off your boat, doesn’t mean the fun on the water has to stop. Josh and his crew at The Outfitter can set you up with a paddleboard or kayak to skim along the Caribbean-colored waters of Little Traverse Bay. They’ll even deliver! Or leave the piloting to someone else and take a tour on the Pointer Boat, which runs out of Stafford’s Pier Restaurant, and get a little history of the area at the same time.

Dine In or Out

If you’re just as happy enjoying lunch on your boat, check out Gurney’s Bottle Shop — homemade bread lays the groundwork for individually made sandwiches with all your favorite condiments and veggies. (Except tomatoes — they don’t offer them. Ever.) Beer, wine, and liquor, too, make this a busy place year ‘round. Keep it simple and bring back a pie from Turkey’s Cafe & Pizzeria. Or try some great takeout options from the Paper Station or Muer Kitchen; both also have indoor/outdoor dining on site.

For those times you want to step out, Harbor Springs also shines. From the traditional, upscale New York Restaurant, to Sam’s Graces casual style, to the recently renovated and trendier Pier Restaurant, food lovers will not be disappointed.

Get Your History On

Once home to the Emmet County Courthouse, the Harbor Springs History Museum has changing exhibits and a wealth of information about the thriving community and former resident and entrepreneur Ephraim Shay (Shay locomotive), and his influence on the shaping of Harbor Springs. A great place to spend some time, the museum is open year-round and does a number of interesting programs and talks.

Andrew Blackbird Museum — The former home of this important figure in Harbor Springs’ history, this building also served as one of the first post offices in Harbor Springs. Learn about the heritage of Indian customs, arts, and music. This building also houses the Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, where you can find answers to all your Harbor Springs-related questions.


Rent a car and go beyond walking range. Play a round of championship golf at Boyne Highlands’ impeccable Heather or Arthur Hills courses, or at Little Traverse Bay Golf Club. Tour Petoskey or the historic Bay View Association — both are just across the bay from Harbor Springs. Or head north and be star-struck at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City.

What Else?

Harbor Springs Lyric Theatre – Not your ordinary theater by any means! New in 2016, this beautifully appointed building offers three theaters of varying sizes (22 seats, 39 seats, 195 seats). A non-profit, charitable organization, the Lyric Theatre brought movies back to Main Street more than 35 years after the original Lyric closed further up the street. Real butter on the popcorn and a selection of beer and wine make the concession stand a unique place in the movie business.

Harbor Springs Farmers Market – On Wednesdays and Saturdays in the summer, and Saturdays in the fall, part of Main Street is blocked off for the Harbor Springs Farmers Market. Fresh veggies, eggs, wine, baked goods, flowers, and more are available, along with musical entertainment, special events, and a lovely setting!

When the day ends and the sun sets over Harbor Springs, listen. Just listen. This is the peace and quiet you’ll appreciate after enjoying a relaxing day in one of Michigan’s premier vacation towns.

For information, visit

tags: Destination, Lake Michigan

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