“Up North” is a Michigan way of life. It doesn’t refer to a single city, county, or lake, but rather anywhere in the northern part of the state. For us, Gaylord Michigan is our Up North.
My family (Brooke’s family) has had a cottage in Gaylord for as long as I can remember. Before that, my mom and dad travelled to Gaylord as kids. It’s also where I met and five years later married James.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Northern Michigan, there is a good chance you’ll find yourself passing right by Gaylord. Here are 7 reasons you don’t want to miss Gaylord:
Gaylord is known as America’s “Golf Mecca” because here you can find about 15 beautiful golf courses that feature woods, lakes, rivers and all within the Gaylord area. We love the Gaylord Country Club and the Otsego Club.
Now, I’m definitely biased here but Otsego Club is my number one in Gaylord for several reasons. I’ve been a member here since I was 2 years old. It’s where I became friends with my sisters and cousins. I worked my first job here as a ski instruct at 14. We celebrate every single New Years Eve here. I met the love of my life (James) at Otsego when I was 17, and married him there when I was 22.
Otsego is a ski resort in the winter and golf course in the summer. The Club (as it’s affectionally called) offers two golf courses, The Tribute and The Classic. Both great courses, but The Tribute stands out in elevation and beauty. See for yourself….
#2. Downhill & Cross Country Skiing
- Hands down the best way to enjoy winter in Michigan is to get out and be in it. James and I both started skiing at 2. There is something so magical about snow covered pines in the falling snow with snow crunchy under your feet. The sound of ski boots clicking is one of my favorite sounds in the world.
- We ski at the Otsego Club, which offers 5 chairlifts and miles and miles of beautiful trails for cross country. UPDATE: The Otsego Club is open to the public this season for the first time in history! If you’re in the area, don’t miss this hidden gem.
- Gaylord also offers public ski resorts including Tree Tops and Boyne Mountain which is less than 40-minutes away.
Call of the Wild is a true Gaylord classic. They have real “cottagey” decorations, souvenirs for all ages, a great fudge shop, and a museum featuring northern wildlife. Right next door you have Bavarian Falls which has go karts, and putt-putt. I’ve played a lot of putt-putt in my day but this is one of my favorites. Don’t forget to stroll down main street. You’ll find several bars, restaurants, breweries, and gift shops to browse to your heart’s content.
#4. Lakes & Rivers
Otsego Lake. Again, I’m biased. I basically grew up on this lake. But I love this lake. Boating, sailing, fishing, stand up paddle board and plenty of sandy beaches. There is a State Park and County Park where you can rent stand-up paddle boards, camp, or grab some ice-cream.
There are also plenty of other beautiful lakes in the Gaylord area including Big Bear Lake and Big Lake. Rivers include the Sturgeon River, AuSable River, and Manistee River which are known for the fishing. (James and I inherited some beautiful fly fishing rods and plan to give them a try this fall! We’ll let you know how it goes…)
#5. Restaurants There are so many great restaurants and bars around town, but here are my top picks:
For breakfast/lunch – Diana’s Delight THE place for breakfast or lunch. For my family, it’s a tradition. I have so many memories here with my cousins, sisters, and grandma. James ate here with his groomsmen on our wedding day. Real comfort food.
For Dinner – Bennethum’s Northern Inn Truly the ‘Up North’ feel. They have the sweetest back patio, and a fairly diverse menu for dinner and drinks. I have yet to be disappointed.
For Dessert – Alpine Chocolat Haus Located in downtown Gaylord, this is the place to satisfy your sweet-tooth. I have yet to find a caramel corn that rivals theirs, and TRUST ME – try the chocolate covered potato chips.
Deer, fish, fox, elks, ducks, eagles, maybe even bears? Gaylord has state land for hunting and fishing (make sure you get a license). You can also view a elk herd in the Gaylord’s City Elk Park.
#7. Location, Location, Location
Just three hours north of Detroit, Gaylord is right off of I-75, making it a good home base for those wanting to continue traveling north to Mackinac Island or the Upper Peninsula, or west to Petoskey, Traverse City, and Charlevoix. Boyne’s Avalanche Bay Waterpark and mountain biking trails are less than an hour away.
What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, and head Up North.