Small Town Spotlight: Bear Lake, MI.

OH. MY. GOD. You guys! I’m STILL shaking from last night’s Super Bowl!!! I legit had so many ups and downs the entire game. I was pissed right off by the time half time rolled around, then got in much better spirits at Halftime (I loved Lady Gaga’s show!) and then I was a shaking nervous wreck the entire second half (seriously… I have like zero nails left today) and then I FLIPPED OUT when we got to OT. And then well… I just couldn’t stop screaming and jumping when…


Hands down, the BEST Super Bowl I’ve ever seen.

In other Super Bowl news… did anyone else think the commercials were super lame this year? I can only think of a handful that I loved! But I have to say, my favorite the Buick ad with Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr. I couldn’t stop laughing!

And now this morning, I drank about 4 buckets of coffee to get myself up and moving. Whoever decided working the day after the Super Bowl should be a thing, was not thinking. If you think this too… you can sign this petition from Kraft Heinz here 🙂

Okay… it’s time to move on!

Today, I’ve decided that every once in awhile on Mitten Mondays, I’m going to bring you a Small Town Spotlight. Why? Because these perfect little towns that are scattered all across Northern Michigan don’t get enough credit. They are the pass through towns. The one you don’t even notice on your drives Up North. The places you “blink and miss”.

What I’ve learned in my short time on this earth is that these little places are filled with the best kind of people. They have weird traditions, everyone knows everyone else, and they will welcome you in with open arms. These little towns in Northern Michigan are some of our very best kept secrets.

Chances are, you probably haven’t heard of them. But after a little time in the spotlight, I just know I’ll have you booking a trip down a two lane road.

First up… a place near and dear to my heart.

Bear Lake, Michigan. 

Photo courtesy of Manistee County Visitors Bureau 

Ever heard of Manistee? How about Benzie? Or Traverse City? If you have, chances are, you’ve passed through Bear Lake, and probably didn’t stop. They don’t have a stoplight, there’s literally only two restaurants (well, 3 if you count the pizza/sandwich counter at the BP), and a downtown area that doesn’t have very much to offer.

But, just as anything else, when you look beyond what others see, you find something truly magical.

Yes, they only have a few restaurants, but Grille 44 will have you coming back every time you’re in the area. No stop light? No traffic problems. This is the kind of village where you can walk anywhere you need to. Small downtown, means that the shops that are there have some pretty amazing treasures. And the biggest draw? The lake of course!

Getting Here. Finding Bear Lake is easy. If you’re on US 31, you have to drive right through it.


Where to Stay. The village of Bear Lake does have one hotel. However, and this is the ONLY time you will EVER hear me say this, if you’re in Bear Lake, you should be camping. I don’t like to camp. I love to be outside, but I don’t want to sleep outside. Not in a trailer, or a tent or an RV. But Bear Lake is home to a campground that people absolutely LOVE. Every year, it’s always booked up all summer. So you have to call and reserve your spot early. It’s not a big campground, but it has everything you could want while in Northern Michigan. Peace and quiet, and direct access to a lake. You’ll find Bear Lake is the perfect lake for every kind of boating activity. Not a day goes by in the summer that you don’t find people fishing, jet skiing and wake boarding from one end of the lake to the other. The campground is also home to a great little play ground for your kids too. Or, if like me, camping isn’t your style, check out these great rentals on VRBO.


Where to Eat. If you’re in Bear Lake, you HAVE to eat at Grille 44. It’s so yummy you guys! I’ve never had anything there that I don’t love. Plus, it’s a super cute little bar. But if the dining options aren’t your cup of tea, fear not. Bear Lake is a quick 10 minute drive to Benzie, and 20 to Manistee.


What to Do. Spend time on the lake. Of course! Bring your own gear, or check out the Bear Lake Marine Supply for everything you could ever need from boats to rafts and SUPs. Besides that? Head just outside the village to other super small villages in the area. Like Arcadia, where you can play a round of golf at the world renowned Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course, or hike on one of the many beautiful dunes overlooking Lake Michigan (I’d recommend the Old Baldy Trailhead). Or, if you’re looking for a break from the outdoors, head into down town and spend some time at Serendipity. It is seriously the world’s cutest shop and I can’t go in there without buying something! But… if you’re really smart, you’ll plan to be there during Bear Lake Days.


Bear Lake Days. You know how on Hart of Dixie they go all out for their small town festivals? Bear Lake does this during Bear Lake Days. You guys. Think pig roasts, parades, street dances, pancake breakfasts and some of the best fire works in the area. bear Lake Days is pretty much the definition of small town charm.


The greatest thing about Bear Lake is that even though you feel like you’re a world away from everything else, you’re really super close to bigger areas. Choosing to stay here over places like Manistee and Traverse City, you will be able to get your Up North Getaway for less than HALF the cost. Plus, you’re so close to these places, you can easily drive and enjoy them for the day, and head back to your quiet getaway at night.

Curious about what else you can do near Bear Lake? Check out my post on Manistee County here.

You guys… I’m exhausted. I don’t know if I’m going to make it until The Bachelor tonight but I really hope I do because I seriously can’t get enough of Corinne. She just may be my favorite Bachelor contestant ever.

I’m off to make Cheese Pasta.


10 thoughts on “Small Town Spotlight: Bear Lake, MI.

  1. Hi Savannah! There needs to be a LOVE button because I would hit it! I grew up in Bear Lake. I graduated from BLHS in 1984. My maiden name is Ware. Thanks for this nice blog about Bear Lake. Loved your photos too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice article on Bear Lake! Thank you for writing it. Next time you come through Bear Lake drive one block off on Main Street & you will find Bear Lake Bed & Breakfast for lodging. We are on the corner of Smith & Main Streets, one block off US 31. Thank you again for the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s too bad that the downtown is so run down and crumbling. Our state rep lives a few miles away and never did anything to bring our tax dollars home to help our struggling small towns. Franz was too busy making sure his billionaire handlers got their tax breaks.


  4. Thanks for recognizing our bit of paradise in northwest Michigan. Looking for more to do — biking, hiking, walking, and snowmobile trails offer a closer view of nature at its best. Don’t forget the fishing and hunting in all seasons. Camping is great at our Village Park or Kampvilla — want something less rustic — try the B and B or any of the rental cottages. Mingle with the locals. You will find new friends eager to share the reasons they love Bear Lake. A source of pride is our Village Council, Township Board, and all the volunteers working in many groups to return Bear Lake to its former glory. Improvements have been made and more are coming. Come visit. We love to share this fantastic community.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How cool! I also went to Elementary school there, in the mid 90s 🙂 You may have had my mom as a teacher at some point! She’s been there for 30 years! Glad you enjoyed the post… Go Blue!


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